My One Word for 2021 #OneWord2021


pine-cone-sig

 

I’ve been participating in One Word since 2017. Wow. Five years.

This quote from 2018 says it all:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it鈥檚 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.

I’m feeling a bit like Scrooge. Another year? Another One Word? Bah! Humbug.

And so, of course, I was in for a visit from… 馃懟 馃帄馃帀

The Posts of New Year’s Past:

 

One Word for 2020 was:聽Focus. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid overwhelm? Fab plan, lady. Alas…

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea. I鈥檓 still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

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

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

 

What I’ve learned from these Posts of New Year’s Past is I’m trying to be positive, providing some word to nurture, encourage, help… That’s lovely, but something was pulling me away from that. 2020 was a tough year. For many people. For many reasons. The celebration of that year being over is everywhere.

I’m not celebrating. Not yet.

I decided I’m not going to force positivity on myself. Oh, I know I mean well but, hell, things kind of suck at the moment, new year or not. Why not acknowledge the suckiness? And why force positivity when we all know that never works?

When you shove those negative feelings down, they resurface. Always. In one way or another, they bob up like a rubber duck in a tub.

So I’m going with a negative One Word this year.

Sort of.

I’m acknowledging the negativity that clouds my life and letting myself know it’s okay to not be okay about it.

My focus word for 2021:

ALLOW

With everything going on, I’m giving myself permission to feel however I need to feel. If I feel bad, that’s okay. If I feel sad, that’s okay. If I feel stressed, angry, or hurt, that’s okay.

No guilt. No “should”. None of that nonsense.

I’m allowed to feel however I feel.

If I happen to feel good, or even happy, that’s allowed, too. So, yay.

As always, a definition (*nerd alert*):

allow

[蓹藞lou]

verb聽
  • give (someone) permission to do something.

grant someone the right 路聽give one’s blessing toapprove of聽路聽give the go-ahead to聽路聽give the thumbs up to 路聽give the OK to聽路聽give the green light to

I’ve got the green light here, my friends. The go-ahead. The thumbs-up. I’ve been granted the right and given a blessing. What else could I ask for?

  • give the necessary time or opportunity for.

Time and opportunity to feel. I guess that’s what else I could have asked for. *shrugs* Got it.

  • admit (an event or activity) as legal or acceptable.

My feelings are hereby legal and acceptable. Right on.

I’m allowing myself to feel however the hell I feel without the dreaded “should” and “shouldn’t”. And without guilt. I’m allowing my feelings to break free of that self-imposed New Year’s cocoon of positivity, emerging in whatever shape, size, and color they are. If I feel angry, well, The Hulk and I can hang out for a bit. If I feel sad, so be it. If I happen to feel happy, it’s going to be a genuine bubbling glass of joy.

 

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

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鈥檇 love to hear what your One Word is for 2021.

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Graeme Cumming

Every time one of my books gets a review, I’m delightfully surprised and so grateful. Every. Time. When I see a review from someone who either doesn’t like short fiction, doesn’t read it, or prefers epic novels yet loved my collection, well, it’s a remarkable feeling. It is. And I’ve seen more than a few reviews like that.

When someone prefers to sink their teeth into a story with lots of characters, worldbuilding, and/or action, it’s quite the compliment when they enjoy my little book of flash. This review for On the Edge of a Raindrop, by Graeme Cumming, is one of those. It’s brilliant. I’m humbled by the praise from this author:

Her ability to capture the essence of an emotion or a moment in so few words is staggering.

Savour each morsel…

In a single line, she can encapsulate something that I and many other authors would struggle to do in several pages.

Thank you, Graeme! 馃挅

Please stop by his blog and read the full review here. It really is brilliant.

He’s recently released a book, Carrion, the sequel to Raven’s Gathering, both of which have gathered a number of great reviews. (Pun completely intended.) Do pop over and check out his books.

 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Harmony Kent

What a wonderful surprise to find a review for On the Edge of a Raindrop. It made me smile all week. I needed that smile. A lovely 5-star review from Harmony Kent (who has 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…’) Yup. Smiling. 馃檪

Brilliantly done.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods.

Thank you, Harmony! 馃挅

Please stop by, read the full review, and explore her blog. A prolific author whose writing ranges from non-fiction to romance, poetry to post-apocalyptic. There’s something for everyone so do check out her books.

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

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

When 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.

 

I found this post from last year and thought how fitting, in a very different way, it was this year. The struggle to find our place during this uncertainty. Our craving for unpredictability then, when it arrives, our wish for stability. The wariness. The need to communicate. The promise of an unfurling bud turning into something beautiful not being quite enough anymore.聽

Be well, gentle readers. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Create your own joy. Dance between raindrops and turn your face to the sun when it shines.

 

My random thoughts in (a bit over) 200 words.

 

 

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

 

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鈥檚 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,聽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

/f艒k蓹s/

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.聽

  • 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.聽

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. 聽

  • 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. 鉂 Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 馃

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鈥檇 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鈥hat happened?

Nothing.

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

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I鈥檓 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! 馃挅

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聽is the home of six bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction.聽

 

I’m putting Hinting at Shadows back on sale for the holidays. 鉀勶笍 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鈥檚 blog this month. (I鈥檝e been out sick but couldn鈥檛 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鈥檝e 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. 馃鈥嶁檧锔 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鈥檛 people anymore.

Have you noticed?

We鈥檙e the Wonderful Bloggers of OZ.

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

We perform tricks to dazzle鈥攚ith words and photos that aren鈥檛 quite as real as we鈥檇 make them out to be.

Because, sometimes, your dog鈥檚 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鈥檚 that. But there are flying monkeys to watch out for. So there鈥檚 that, too.

The Blogosphere can be a scary place.

It鈥檚 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鈥攙ulnerable 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 鈥渂loggers鈥, 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.聽

 

Book Launch: Fireworks or Fizzled-Out?

 

 

The other day, I got a tweet. It was like, 鈥楬ey, Lemon Shark. I feel all ARGH! Is this normal for a book launch?鈥 And I was like, 鈥楬mm鈥 I鈥檝e never done one but, yeah, I鈥檇 say it is.鈥

The question was from Lucy over at BlondeWriteMore. She鈥檚聽publishing her first book (finally鈥hem). It鈥檚 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鈥檝e released a book. Two, actually, but I鈥檝e 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: 鈥楶.S. I鈥檝e got a new book out.鈥 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鈥檚 evening alone.

If I鈥檓 honest, it鈥檚 probably more like a stick of incense. The faint aroma of 鈥榥ew book鈥 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?聽How do you announce your new book? Fireworks? Sparkler? Smoke signals?