Happy Holidays

 

sun-and-pine-tree_holidays-sig

 

Snow and Sun settle

Upon the slumbering pines

Yuletide gleaming bright

The longest night – hidden hope

Darkness surrenders to light

A Winter Solstice tanka for you, gentle readers.

May you find peace & joy this holiday season.

 

❄️ Happy Holidays ❄️

 

 

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The Blogging Snow Globe

 

 

Lemon Shark’s Blog Tip (for WordPress).

Let’s have a bit of silliness. ‘Tis the season to be silly.

 

The Blogging Snow Globe:

My blog started snowing a little over a week ago. I was way too excited about the whole thing.

I realized I had never turned the Blogging Snow Globe off and it announced December in the most delightful way. (Please don’t search for “Blogging Snow Globe”—I made it up.)

If you find these blog flakes hideous and annoying, swim away…

For those of you who are seeing other blogs with bits of snow and are jealous bitter curious, keep reading.

Okay, bloggers, hold on to your winter hats. We’re gonna make it snow. It’s really difficult so try to keep up. Ready?

 

Go to your Dashboard (through WP Admin).

Dashboard > Settings > General

If you see Title, Tagline, Timezone, Date…you’re in the right place. (FYI: Your site icon is there so, if you’ve been looking for that, boom! There it is.) Scroll down until you see “Snow”. Seriously. It actually says “Snow”. And, next to that, it says: “Show falling snow on my blog until January 4th.”

Click the box.

 

Your blog is now snowing. ❄️ And will automatically stop on January 4th. You are like a frickin’ weather wizard. (You know you want to do this in real life.)

 

Go to your Dashboard (through The-Powers-That-Be Admin).

Dashboard > Life > Weather

Scroll down until you see “Show falling snow for the weekend that melts by my Monday morning commute.”

Click the box.

 

 

❄️ Happy blogging days, my friends. ❄️

 

Wedgwood and Wine

 

Delighted to be over at Sue Vincent’s place today, sharing the story of Tracy and her family’s not-so-perfect Christmas dinner. I enjoyed writing this one. It’s not a feel-good holiday feast and involves family drama, fine china, and a Prince Charming…of sorts. You can read it here: Wedgwood and Wine

Ani (Sue’s adorable ‘Small Dog’) invited me to write a story for her Advent posts this year. Do think about sending Ani your letters, stories, or holiday memories this season.

 

 

Wedgwood and Wine

Sarah Brentyn

 

“That’s not how it happened,” Terri barked.

“Maybe…” Tracy began.

“Who cares,” Kim interrupted, “I want to hear more about Tracy’s new ‘boyfriend’.”

“He had a…” Tracy said.

“No, no,” Mark gestured with his beer, “let’s hear more about this supposed thing I said about Tracy. I hurt her wittle feelings?”

Britney laughed. “It’s bullshit. Like her new job.”

“Tracy?” Her mother glared. “Don’t just stand there like an idiot.”

Tracy concentrated on smoothing her velvet dress, which was quite free of wrinkles.

She swore the merlot wouldn’t flow this Christmas but found herself holding a crystal goblet like a life vest in the storm that was her family.

Slow sips, at first, then an empty wine glass. More merlot and wishes of civility or, at the very least, quiet.

It was a gift she wouldn’t get. Dinner was excruciating. Six courses served with cruelty and foie gras on floral Wedgwood china.

 

Wedgwood and WineContinue Reading…

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New Book for Christmas – On the Edge of a Raindrop

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop is on the shelves as a “New Book for Christmas” at Sally’s.

Sally Cronin is a generous, supportive, and prolific blogger with her own, lovely virtual book shop: Sally’s Cafe & Bookstore. Take a peek at the post and browse through her bookstore while you’re there. Thank you, Sally! ❤

Delighted to share the new collection of Flash Fiction from Sarah Brentyn published on November 23rd. On The Edge of a Raindrop. Perfect for lovers of short stories with an edge… Continue Reading…

 

 

I also had a wonderful surprise this morning. I must say, it made my day to see a lovely review on Terry Tyler’s blog for On the Edge of a Raindrop:

there are some beautiful and haunting snapshots of subjects’ lives, perfectly written and evocative.

Sometimes, I could see a whole life in a paragraph, so insightful and artfully captured are they. I think the collection would be enjoyed by anyone who likes to read poetry, or just admires the well drawn sentence.

Thanks, Terry!

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop ~ Published #NewRelease

 

 

My lovely, little flash collection is here!

On the Edge of a Raindrop is now available in eBook.

As I mentioned in my post, Hinting at Happiness: “Good flash fiction packs a punch. It heightens emotional responses, engages readers, makes them think…and keeps them thinking.”

I hope to engage readers this way with a glimpse of lives on the edge.

Thanks to all my amazing tweeps, lovely blogging friends, and fellow writers who supported and encouraged me. You are, all of you, awesome. ❤

 

Blurb for On the Edge of a Raindrop:

 

WHEN YOU’RE ON THE EDGE, IT’S EASY TO FALL

These are stories of lives on the edge.

A girl tortured by the world within her. A boy powerless to escape his home. A mother doomed to live with her greatest mistake. A man lost in a maze of grief.

 

Each raindrop provides a microscopic mirror of ourselves and those around us. But we can’t always trust what we see. The distorted images disorient the mind, altering our view of reality.

This second collection of flash and micro fiction explores the depths of the human condition and the fragile surface of our perceptions.

Dive into these tales of darkness and discover what life is like On the Edge of a Raindrop.

 

Each selection is approximately 100 words, with a bonus section of Microbursts in which each story is told in 50 words or less.

 

Available:

eBook

Paperback (coming soon)

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop will be FREE November 26th, 27th, & 28th so…download your copy!

 

 

Guest Author – Sarah Brentyn

I’m super excited to be the featured author over at D. G. Kaye’s blog. Debby (an ENFJ, by the way), has interviewed me on a number of subjects including my personality status (INFJ), time management (an oxymoron), and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (influence on my writing or fantastic cult classic)… Hmm…
Oh, yes, and my upcoming books. 🙂

You can read the post here: Guest Author Feature – Sarah Brentyn

The post is so pretty, with covers and book trailers. And here’s Debby’s fantabulous intro:

 

I was thrilled when Sarah accepted my invitation to visit here because she reminds me of those reclusive movie stars who’d rather stay hidden behind her words, only I’ve noticed she’s stepped out and done a few interviews this year, and I’m glad that I’ve managed to snag her over here too.

Sarah is known for her micro-fiction. She can tell a story using minimal words that have a tendency to linger long after you’ve read them.

 

Thank you, Debby! ❤

Please go check out my off-the-cuff responses and have yourself a chuckle. Or throw tomatoes. Either way.

 

Hinting at… Happiness?

 

 

What does a Harvard University professor have to do with flash fiction? Nothing. And everything. Or, at least, something.

I’ve thought for a long time now that good flash fiction packs a punch. It heightens emotional responses, engages readers, invites them to be a part of the story, makes them think…and keeps them thinking.

As I said in a recent guest post at D. Wallace Peach’s blog, “I want to make readers wonder what the hell just happened then decide for themselves three hours later because they can’t stop thinking about it.” Well, I’ve found a bit of scientific proof on why that could be a good thing.

Daniel Gilbert is a professor, psychologist, writer, speaker, award-winner, and all sorts of other cool stuff. He’s done numerous studies on our ability to imagine the future, anticipate outcomes, make decisions, and how all these things affect our happiness. He’s written and talked about it. A lot. You should check him out.

But what I’d like to focus on today is one study he referred to in an interview on NPR: Why We’re Bad At Predicting Our Own Happiness — And How We Can Get Better. Participants watched a movie. Some got to see the end and some did not. (I know, right? Gah!) Here’s part of the transcript:

 

GILBERT: Well, there’s no doubt that uncertainty can amplify emotions

We did a study in which people watched a movie. And for some of the people in our experiment, we didn’t let them watch how the movie ended. We didn’t let them see what happened to the main character. Now, if I asked you, which of these two movies would you rather see, 100 percent of the hands go up and say, I’d like to see the end of the movie, please.

But what we discovered was people who didn’t see the end of the movie liked it more, thought about it for longer, were still engaged in it and still enjoying it, even hours or days later. They didn’t see what happened to the last – the main character in the end, and so they kept wondering, gosh, I wonder if he went to college or he became a football player. What an interesting thing to be thinking about and enjoying.

 

Look at that: “people who didn’t see the end of the movie liked it more, thought about it for longer, were still engaged in it and still enjoying it, even hours or days later.”

You see where I’m going with this…

Flash fiction.

I know it’s not exactly the same thing but, wow, it really is similar if you think about it. I mean, you read a flash. And, although it often has a beginning, middle, and end…it hints. You finish the story with some fulfillment but with questions clinging to your brain.

A good flash story will give you enough to sink your teeth into but leave you wondering what happened before, what could happen next, what is going on around the edges of the story.

Readers might enjoy the story better when they use their imagination and creativity. Or not. Just a theory. Either way, they’ll most likely be thinking about it a bit longer, engaging a bit more, and perhaps even be a bit happier as they ponder all the possibilities.

 

The Breakfast Club #FoodInFilm

 

 

Five high school students, profoundly different, thrown together on a Saturday at school for detention. Hilarity and drama ensue. Obviously. It’s an 80s flick.

The characters are stereotypical and over-the-top representations of a brain (nerd/geek/academic/unpopular), an athlete (jock/varsity guy/popular), a basket case (outcast/odd/loner), a princess (rich/pretty/spoiled/popular), and a criminal (trouble-maker/rebel/misanthrope).

When I saw the Food in Film blogathon, I immediately thought of this. Yes, the title has a meal in it. That’s not why we’re here. I want to talk about the lunch scene. Aside from being comical, the food (and presentation of it) personifies each character. You can learn (almost) everything you need to know them from a 3-minute clip.

 

The criminal has no lunch and takes the opportunity to harass and belittle the other students about what they’re eating.

The princess brings out an elaborate sushi tray, complete with chopsticks, and delicately pours the soy sauce.

The athlete piles a full-size bag of potato chips and cookies next to his three sandwiches, an entire carton of milk, then, almost as an afterthought, looks in his bag and digs out a banana and an apple.

The basket case discards the deli meat in her sandwich, dumping sugar on the remaining (mismatched) pieces of bread and adding sugared cereal before eyeing the rest of the kids and taking a colossal, crunchy bite.

The brain, whose lunch has been grabbed by the criminal, has an embarrassingly juvenile meal of peanut butter and jelly (with the crusts cut off), apple juice (in a juice box with attached straw), and a thermos of soup.

 

It’s just such a brilliant scene. In a few minutes, you know who these kids are and what their home life is like. Even the bags (or lack of) give viewers a glimpse of each character.

You don’t need to have seen The Breakfast Club to understand this, it won’t ruin the movie, and I barely did it justice in the description. So, please, click here to watch the lunch scene. It’s awesome.

 

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club

 

I simply can not write a Food in Film post without mentioning Rusty from Ocean’s Eleven. Even with a cast of top-notch actors and fab performances, he still stands out. Why? Well, one reason is that he’s eating or drinking in pretty much every scene. I find this kind of hilarious and a fun little fact that many who have seen this movie notice. And talk about. And laugh about. And, apparently, put up on YouTube. Check this out: Rusty’s Food Supercut

When others are fretting, fighting, planning, spying, whatever…Rusty is eating. He is also doing many other things but this becomes a character trait. One that sticks in the minds of viewers.

As writers, this is one thing you can (and really should) do for your characters. Give them a quirk, a habit, something that makes them a bit more three-dimensional and memorable.

 

Hey, writer friends, here’s something to chew on: How does food feature in your story?  What does your main character like to eat? Are there any foods he or she hates? Why? Also, as in the case of Rusty here, what food-related habits does your character have (if any)? 

 

 

 

This post is part of the Food in Film Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. Thanks to Kristina and Ruth for this fun, foody blogathon. #FoodInFilm2017

 

photo source IMDb

photo source IMDb

Is It Really Self-Doubt?

 

 

What is doubt?

When we say we’re experiencing self-doubt, what are we talking about? Self-doubt is, well, doubting yourself. Pretty simple. But I think it’s become a catch-all phrase for beating ourselves up. (And writers tend to do that a lot. Just saying.)

Let’s dissect this, shall we?

 

verb: doubt

  • 1. feel uncertain about.

disbelieve…have misgivings about…question…feel uncertain or unsure…hesitate;

 

Basically, you’re unsure. You’re questioning something (yourself, in this case).

We’d say something like, “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” Or, “I’m not certain I’m up to this.” Or even a flat-out, “I don’t think I can do this.”

Does that sound familiar?

 

Or does this?

“I’m not submitting my story. I’d never win.”

“This chapter is crap. Forget editing…I’m deleting it.”

“I can’t believe I ever thought I could write.”

“What was I thinking, calling myself an ‘author’? What a joke.”

“Everyone else is so much better.”

“No one will like this.”

“I’m a fraud.”

“I can’t write.”

“I suck.”

Does that sound doubtful? Because it sounds pretty UN-doubtful to me. It sounds certain. Which is the opposite of doubt.

It sounds like…judgment.

 

verb: judge

  • 1. form an opinion or conclusion about.

form the opinion, conclude, decide…believe, think, deem…regard as, rate as;

 

When you form an opinion (whether you think it or voice it), you are judging. Judging yourself, your work, your worth.

When you say these things, with certainty and conviction, you, my friend, do not have self-doubt, you have self-judgment. We need to differentiate between the two, call it what it is, and do something about it.

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.ThoughtBubble


Do you really have self-doubt? Or are you judging yourself? (I know what I’m doing… And I intend to stop. Easier said than done, but I’m damn sure going to try.)

 

People are like stained-glass windows…

 

 

People are like stained-glass windows.
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

 

 

It’s easy to sparkle and shine when there’s light in your life. When you reflect what external sources provide.

There is beauty in a stained-glass window as sun gleams off it.

It’s more difficult when life is cold and dark. When you must rely on your internal flame.

Oh, the breathtaking beauty of a stained-glass window that glows in darkness.

Light yourself a candle, gentle readers.

 

 

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

Still taking a little blogging break but wanted to share this magnificent quote from Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. It is speaking to me now. I’m trying to keep a candle burning. Hope you all are, too.

 

photo source