My One Word for 2020 #OneWord2020

 

pine-cone-sig

 

I was going to switch this up a bit for 2020 but guess what? I’m not. This is (unfortunately) perfect:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Seriously. Like Move Yer Arse, Girl! Or, you know, something nicer, like, Excuse me but would you mind moving? Same, same. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea.

I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

my One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

Well. Isn’t that something? And here we are again. Another year, another word. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

 

I’ve noticed my blog has its share of posts about overwhelm. Just a few, really, not, like, dozens. Ahem. So I got to thinking about being overwhelmed. Too much. Too many things. So, naturally, I need to make lists. And prioritize. That will work. Except for the times it doesn’t. Which is to say always. Or never. Whatever.

I’ve got to sort out my priorities. This is more important than that. That is more pressing than the other. Things get put on The List, shifted, knocked down a number, back up, and so forth and, soon enough, nothing is done.

So, instead of putting my life on a piece of paper in order of importance, I’m changing my mindset. (FYI, this is always, always, a good idea. You should try it.) I’ve always sucked at multi-tasking but I’m not sure that’s what this is anymore. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m utterly unfocused.

So here is my ironic focus word for 2020:

FOCUS

I was at a cemetery last month and grabbed my phone to take a picture.

When I tapped on the screen to focus on the little pinecone in my face, the gravestones blurred in the background. And vice versa. Right? Because whether it’s a mobile phone or a fancy camera, it cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.

I hadn’t written my One Word post yet but, there, right then, in that cemetery, I wrote it in my head.

I’m not prioritizing the pinecone over the gravestone. But if I try to focus on both of them, they’re both blurry and I don’t get either one. If I tap and zoom in on one, I get an amazing shot. Then, *tap*, another great shot. Done.

Obviously, there will be times when something will demand my focus be drawn to that issue or situation but I will focus on it and move on.

If I’m constantly trying to focus on everything, then everything is out of focus.

Narrow my focus and, boom, I’ve got a clear shot.

As always, a definition (because I’m a nerd):

 

focus

/fōkəs/

noun

  • the center of interest or activity.

center, focal point, center of attention

Get me a spotlight, man. I’m shining it on whatever shit needs attention. Laser focused, my friends. 

  • the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

clear, clear-cut, well-defined

Producing a well-defined, clear-cut visual? Please hold. Your patience is appreciated. The clear visual will be with you shortly. 

verb

  • (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Seeing clearly? Yes, please. Adapting and becoming able to see clearly are HUGE challenges for me. Two great goals.  

  • pay particular attention to.

give emphasis to, highlight

Dude, this makes me want to whip out one of those big, neon yellow markers and highlight the hell out of the book of my life. On it!

 

I’m going to focus this year. I know I said this last year but 2020 will see another book from me. The manuscripts are sitting here glaring at me. They are more patient than I.

Happy New Year, my friends. ❤ Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 🥂

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2020.

 

When the Year Grows Old

 

 

When the Year Grows Old

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget–
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net…

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her…

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

The year has grown old, died, and been reborn. It is ‘new’. There are beginnings. Yet I acutely feel the year growing old.

When the clock struck midnight December 31st, when the calendar ceased to count days for 2019…what happened?

Nothing.

It’s as if I’m waiting for some unknown force to press the ‘reset’ button.

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I’m stuck. Not in my decision of which word to choose but in the way I feel caught at the end of last year. In a time when I listened to the wind whistling a melancholy tune and brittle leaves scraped the window panes, begging to be let inside.

When I had the look of a frightened bird flapping helplessly inside a net.

Yet there is a difference. The trap has weakened, loosened. I can breathe.

I find familiarity in the world around me and there is comfort and beauty in that. In the moments when I take that first sip of coffee, tie my hair up with an elastic band, lace my warm, winter boots. When I lose myself in sunlight creating intricate patterns on my floor or notice wind catching a hydrangea flower hidden since last spring.

Sometimes, when the stress is too much, when the weight is too heavy, when the ropes are too tight, our struggles increase the pain. Sometimes relaxing into the discomfort and fear is all we can do and, sometimes, that shifts our world enough to see the beauty.

 

Health and happiness to you, gentle readers.

 

Hinting at Shadows #BookReview by Harmony Kent

 

 

First wonderful surprise was seeing a tweet with the hashtag #amreading followed by my book. I smiled all day. What a lovely thing to do.

But look what I found today… A glowing 5-star review. From Harmony Kent, a multi-genre author with more than ten books to her name. (And a rating system that notes: ‘I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to. I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.’) So, yeah, I’m thrilled.

Short and brilliant

I reckon I shall be re-reading this one over and over again.

I read this in one go and couldn’t put it down. It gets a solid five stars from me.

Thank you, Harmony! 💖

Please stop by, read the full review, and explore her blog. Her writing ranges from non-fiction to romance, poetry to post-apocalyptic. (With a new holiday romance due out the 6th of December.) There’s something for everyone so do check out her books.

She also writes for Story Empire: This is the home of six bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction. 

 

I’m putting Hinting at Shadows back on sale for the holidays. ⛄️ Because why not? You can get a copy for just 99c/99p HERE.

Hinting at Shadows #BookReview by Colleen Chesebro

 

 

What a wonderful surprise to find a review of Hinting at Shadows over at Colleen Chesebro’s blog this month. (I’ve been out sick but couldn’t let this review go…unreblogged? Is that a word? Well, it is now. So says me.) Colleen’s review is awesome:

the brevity of words deepens the message.

Brentyn excels at finding and revealing even the darkest of human truths in her writing.

I’ve read this book numerous times…Brentyn is a master storyteller…

Have I mentioned the review is awesome? I am thrilled my book of flash earned five magical fairies from Colleen. 🧚‍♀️ Thank you!

Please stop by, check out the review, and explore her blog. It’s a wealth of information, magic, book reviews, and more. She also hosts a fabulous weekly poetry challenge. (While you’re there, do check out her books.)

 

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

 

Wonderful Bloggers of OZ_2 - sig

 

We aren’t people anymore.

Have you noticed?

We’re the Wonderful Bloggers of OZ.

When you read an article or post or tweet, look at the language. “Bloggers”. Like some group of lost writers who crashed a hot air balloon, landing in a bizarre world: The Blogosphere.

We perform tricks to dazzle—with words and photos that aren’t quite as real as we’d make them out to be.

Because, sometimes, your dog’s foot is in the background of that perfect tulip shot and needs to be cropped out. Sometimes that amazing idea gets caught in a tornado and thoughts whirl around and around until you plop down near a Technicolor yellow brick road.

You land on a witch and get her sparkly shoes (which are wicked cool). So there’s that. But there are flying monkeys to watch out for. So there’s that, too.

The Blogosphere can be a scary place.

It’s filled with dangers and strangers but also with wonderful people who rally around you and tell you how awesome you are for arriving here with your blog.

There are always a few who are on the same journey and are more than happy to skip along that brick road with you even though there are lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my.

When we get to The Emerald City Blog, and see the “Blogger of Oz” is just a man behind a curtain, we will show compassion.

Why?

Because none of us are wizards. We are human—vulnerable and lost and busy and stressed and trying to make the Blogosphere think we have our shit together. That we are the Great and Powerful Oz.

So, as I tag this post with “bloggers”, I know that you are, indeed, fellow travelers on this blogging journey. Or writing journey. Or both. But I do know, and do keep in the forefront of my mind, that you are people.

Here’s the thing I think we sometimes forget:

We ARE people. We HAVE blogs.

We are not our blogs.

We are human beings. (Weird, introverted, writer-types, some of us, but still.)

Just remember, gentle readers, there is a person behind the screen.

 

If you need a break, just close your eyes, click your mouse 3 times, and walk away. We’ll be here when you get back–we’ve got water balloons for the Witch of the West and flaming potatoes to fight the flying monkeys. 

 

Book Launch: Fireworks or Fizzled-Out?

 

 

The other day, I got a tweet. It was like, ‘Hey, Lemon Shark. I feel all ARGH! Is this normal for a book launch?’ And I was like, ‘Hmm… I’ve never done one but, yeah, I’d say it is.’

The question was from Lucy over at BlondeWriteMore. She’s publishing her first book (finally…ahem). It’s a long-awaited romcom sure to be a smash hit. Anyway, the lovely blonde writer was wondering my way and it got me thinking.

Yes, I’ve released a book. Two, actually, but I’ve never had a launch. It was more of a whisper. I actually worked one of my releases into a post script on my blog here. Yup: ‘P.S. I’ve got a new book out.’ Shame on me, I know.

While a lot of people get a rocket launcher and have the crowd count down to blast off, I have a sparkler in my hand and run about the yard on a balmy summer’s evening alone.

If I’m honest, it’s probably more like a stick of incense. The faint aroma of ‘new book’ wafting in the air, smoke swirling and curling in beautiful patterns that go completely unnoticed (unless you happen to be passing by).

No street team, no online marketing, no book tour. I’m not blasting through the blogosphere with my new book. I’m relaxing, drinking a beer, and watching my sparkler burn down and fizzle out.

 

Where are you on the days (or months) leading up to your release date? How do you announce your new book? Fireworks? Sparkler? Smoke signals?

 

 

Beauty Is Not Enough

 

 

Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.

Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

It’s spring. Though it feels more like a distant cousin. A time of year in which we struggle to find our place during the uncertainty of seasons. When we throw off our jackets and listen to blue jays. Then huddle in our heavy coats and listen to howling winds. When we both turn our face to the sunshine and dance between raindrops.

It is that unpredictability we crave when the earth beneath our feet is frozen solid in winter or lush with summer greens. But the fickle springtime plays in quicksand, leaving us wishing for stability, making us wary.

Sometimes we know what we know, regardless of the beauty around us. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough to quiet us.

It is then we raise our voices. To communicate. To be heard. To say that we will not be lulled into silence with the unfurling bud and promise of a bright and beautiful thing.

We will not hush.

We will shout.

 

 

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Here’s to finding your voice, being heard, and speaking up for yourselves. Happy shouting, gentle readers. ❤

You can read the entire poem here: Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

Stampeding Rhino

 

 

 

It’s the end of the month. The end of the mini WriMo I took part in. I’d love to say I crushed it but, in fact, it crushed me.

The way Diana set this challenge up, with all the choices and flexibility, there was kind of no way to fail. But I am spectacularly inept and managed to do it. Fail, that is.

So. I can beat myself up, as I’m wont to do, or I can move on. I can try again next month or wait a month and try again or never try again (ever) and realize this type of challenge is not for me. We’ll see.

Regardless, I don’t get a badge with a star. But I did get this adorable drawing from the fabulous Ree and I’m excited to have this sweet little Ninny Rhino to keep my cold keyboard company. Maybe she’ll inspire me to attempt this challenge again. Who could say no to that face?

 

My not-so-random thoughts in 200 words or less.

How did you do this month? Did you reach your writing goal? Did you write at all? What did you accomplish? I’d love to hear of your successes. Drop me a comment and let me know. ✍️ 🦏 

 

top photo source: pixabay (inspired by the dynamic D.Wallace Peach)

Ninny Rhino

 

 

 

I’ve posted before how I’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo and how I’ve never had the slightest desire to and how I applaud those wacky writers who do.

But this is a rhino of a different color. Ninny can be any color I want him to be. He may even have polka dots or stripes. Who knows? Point is, Mini-Wri-Mo’s a different sort of challenge, as Ms. Amazingly Prolific Peach explains in her post.

March is looking like a difficult month for me but, eh, which one isn’t? And that clichéd quote “It’s never a good time for…” is cliché for a reason. (It’s true, people. That’s what I’m saying here.)

So off I go. Ready to take on this month-long writing challenge. Wish me luck, fellow writers. I’ll need it.

 

My not-so-random thoughts in 200 words or less.

 

Joining in Diana’s challenge? Why not, right? Set your own goals and celebrate your accomplishments. You get to create a Rhino that’s all yours. (And you get a badge. I mean, honestly, who can resist a badge? With a rhino. And a star.) ✍️ 🦏 

Starts today, March 1st, so figure out what you’re doing and get moving, my friends.

 

photo source: pixabay (inspired by the dynamic D.Wallace Peach)

My One Word for 2019 #OneWord2019

 

pine-cone-sig

 

Wow. So this is fun. I love reading posts from past years and seeing I’ve learned my lesson…

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

So, last year, my One Word for 2018 was: Self.

It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

The year before that, my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

And…here I go again. Another year, another word, another promise. Despite everything, I really do believe in the power of focus words (and in the power of me not failing). Success to me and my One Word!

It’s difficult choosing just one word when we writers love language the way we do, but, unlike past years, it wasn’t too bad this time. I’ll say right up front, I did shop around for synonyms because it’s not a pretty word but, eh, what the hell. Here it is, my friends:

MOVE

As I said, not the most beautiful word but, seriously, check this out:

 

move

/mo͞ov/

verb

  • go in a specified direction or manner; change position.

proceed, progress, advance

Proceed? Advance? Count me in.

  • change or cause to change from one state, opinion, sphere, or activity to another.

change, shift one’s ground, change one’s tune

Changing opinion/activity as we speak (or, read, whatever). Already whistling another tune, my friends. Done.

  • take action, act, take steps, do something

inspire, prompt, motivate

“she was moved to act”

Dude, just reading this makes me want to DO SOMETHING. Watch me take action. I am motivated! I am moved to act!

  • provoke a strong feeling, especially of sorrow or sympathy, in.

stir up (an emotion) in someone

affect, touch, upset, disturb, make an impression on

“I was deeply moved by the story”

This. Yes. This is what I hope to accomplish with my writing so I’m keeping this one in here. I would love to provoke strong feelings in readers. Affect people. Even upset or disturb them with my stories. It’s all good as long as it makes an impression.

  • make progress; develop in a particular manner or direction.

make progress, advance, develop

I’m marching here. I am. Advancing. Stepping ALL OVER the enemies: self-doubt, imposter syndrome, procrastination, stress, overwhelm… I am making progress!

 

I’m moving. And 2019 will see another book from me. (Preferably two.) Here’s to moving, my friends! ❤

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2019.