Living in the Light, Writing in the Dark

 

 

I’m thrilled to be over at Myths of the Mirror today where the talented, gracious, lovely author D. Wallace Peach has allowed me to pants my way through a guest post about the light and darkness of life and writing:

 

I’ve been asked how it is (or why it is) that I write a light-hearted, pseudo-humorous blog then turn around and pen some seriously dark fiction. I’m here to answer that question.

I am Dr. Jekyll.

Okay, I’m not. Or I could be. You don’t know.

Buckle your seat belts. We’re in for a bumpy ride. I’ve no idea where I’m going with this.

Here’s the thing about me. I’m a conversational writer. People often say I write in a stream of consciousness narrative. That’s fair. I do. It’s why I like pantsing. (In the writing sense, that is. I’d never pull your trousers down to humiliate you. No, I would not.)

Continue reading here: Living in the Light, Writing in the Dark

 

She has also included a gorgeous review of Hinting at Shadows:

 

A string of story pearls

I just finished Hinting at Shadows and had to rave a little about this book of short fiction. When Brentyn says short, she means short. Most of the stories are about 100 words, what I refer to as flash fiction. I enjoy flash fiction, but wasn’t sure about reading a whole book of it. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.

Every story is a pearl. The writing is exquisite and full of pathos with a focus on the poignancy of the human condition. Hinting at Shadows is the perfect title as each story is a tiny hint at a larger human story, one that is characterized by shadows – sometimes secrets, but more often complex feelings of loneliness, regret, longing, disappointment, and hope.

It would be possible to whip through this book in a couple hours, but I think it’s meant to be savored, just as one might read poetry. So that’s what I did. It’s perfect for someone who enjoys filling their free moments with words or someone who just loves beautiful writing.

 

Thank you, Diana! ❤

Hinting at Shadows in on sale for .99 for a limited time.
Click here to purchase a copy.
🙂

 

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The Day My Muse Sent Her Sister

 

 

“Oh, no,” I gasped.

She rolled her eyes.

“What did I do to deserve this?” I whined. She’d only visited once before, when I’d stopped writing and started wallowing in self-pity. I didn’t know why, but I knew I was in for it. My muse’s sister is a diva.

“Let’s get this over with,” she huffed. “I’ve got a manicure at three.”

I turned my chair to her. “Fine.”

She put her hand on her hip. “You’re not funny. I mean, your sense of humor is so dry, it needs a chaser. Or a shot of tequila. Or both.”

“Yeah, I know.”

She started ticking off my offenses on her fingers. “You’re sarcastic and snarky.”

“I’ve been called worse.”

“Every once in a great while, you manage a bit of wit but that’s it. And you’re completely crazy with your alliteration and internal rhyming.”

“I’m not the only one,” I mumbled.

“Also, the adverbs.”

“Whoa, now… I am firmly in the adverb camp. I don’t care what the ‘experts’ say, adverbs are very cool. Seriously.”

“Oh, and, you’re a commaholic. So there’s that.”

“Yes, well…”

“I’m running out of fingers to count your faults.” She crossed her arms and began tapping her foot. “What’s with the fragments?”

“Love ‘em. Huge fan. Big, big fan of fragments.”

She raised one eyebrow, “Not that I mind, personally, but you swear.”

“Sometimes. Like the smooth ones that effortlessly slide into a conversation and enhance the hell out of it.” I smiled. “I’m picturing Rhett standing by the door, ready to walk out but turning to Scarlett and saying, ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ What a spectacular moment.”

“Actually, it was,” she swooned. “But watch your mouth.”

“No, no. See, I’m trying to be more…me. Not giving a damn what others think.”

“Honey, you should care what I think because… Eh, keep the swears. But I’m about to call the parentheses police on you!!!”

I bit my lip, “I do have a lot of those, don’t I? Still, would you mind not using so many exclamation points?” I held my stomach. “I think I’m exclamation point intolerant.”

Excuse me?” She glared.

I lifted my chin and smirked. “Glares are fine.”

She flipped her hair over her shoulder. “You. Are impossible.”

“Was this supposed to help me with something?”

“No. I’m here for the fun of it. I love spending my time with writers,” she spat the word.

I leaned back in my chair. “Still not clear what this was supposed to accomplish.”

“Don’t even.”

“I won’t, erm, even.”

She looked around. “I do like what you’ve done with the place. It’s not me but,” she tapped her chin. “Very…you.”

“Thank you…” I waited.

“Are we done here?”

“Hey, you’re the one who…”

“Whatever.” She waved her hand. “You should cut back on the ellipses, too. When’s the new book coming out?”

“Ah. I see. Well, the collection of short fiction will be published this fall. The novel, next summer.”

“Good.” She was already walking away. “I’ll let Miss Muse know.”

 

 

Please check out Diana’s hilarious post about her muse. Thanks, Diana, for the fun read and inspiration to spend some quality, fictional time with our own muses. (Or, you know, their siblings.) 😉

 

Image source

My Virtual Facelift

 

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been taking stock lately. Assessing. Appraising. You know…having a mid-life crisis.

In a good way. And without the new cherry-red corvette.

I’m trying to get my sh*t together. Deciding what truly matters to me. Getting rid of what I don’t care about and making room for what I do care about.

Part of this wonderful evaluation was the rediscovery of joy last week. (Which I intend to keep up.)

Another part of this includes online stuff, such as my little Lemon Shark and its sister, Lemon Shark Reef. As you can see, there’s been some changes around here.

I’ve talked about how far removed from myself I’ve become. This space (as well as my other online platforms) has not represented me or my writing for a long while. I decided to do something about that. I went ahead and got a virtual facelift.

I’m remodeling. Seeing what works. Creating something that brings…wait for it…joy. I’m feeling more at home here already.

Oh, and that picture up there? It’s all mine. It’s me. I’m in love with that amazing, gritty, broken, beautiful heart. It speaks to me. It also captures my writing perfectly. Darkness, emotion, imperfection, beauty… I call it my distressed heart. Yup, that’s about right.

It was tough to think about getting rid of so much. I tend to stick with stuff. (I haven’t changed anything in three years.) But, when the time came, it was easy to do.

It’s freeing to let go. When our hands are empty of what we no longer need, they’re able to reach for what we now want.

 

My Sunday thoughts in (slightly over) 200 words.

ThoughtBubble

Why do we hold on to things that no longer suit us? Are we afraid of change? Do we become too comfortable or set in our ways? Or do we just put it off for “another day” until we realize two years have gone by?

 

My Life as an Introverted Writer

 

J.A. Allen’s “Scribble Challenge” invites writers to drop a response to a weekly flash fiction prompt in the comment section.

I had to take part in it. I mean. Flash.

It was fun. But the thing is, I won. I was a bit shocked, to be honest. (Thanks to the writers who voted for my entry!) The winner is invited to guest post over at J.A. Allen’s blog: Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins. Squee! So that is what I did. And I am there. A huge thank you to J.A. Allen for allowing me to muck up her beautiful space with my words. 🙂

Please check out: My Life as an Introverted Writer

 

Have You Cleaned Your Book Links Yet?

 

 

Everyone loves cleaning, right?

Yeah.

Here’s a quick and easy (don’t you just love those words?) way to clean something super important: buy links for your books.

 

Hmm… Long, messy link. (Clean-up on aisle five!)

Happy, clean, pretty link!

How did I get that? Easy. Delete everything highlighted in yellow. (That would be everything after your ASIN.)

What are those reference, encoding, string of letters and numbers thingies? Why are they there? If the link works without them (it does), why include them? You need your ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) but after that…?

You could take out the “https” or the “www” (or even the title of your book if you’d like) to shorten it for sharing or just to look nice. But, for now, I’m thinking that stuff at the end there would be great to, you know, not be there.

I don’t know much about the mumbo-jumbo techie stuff like algorithms or backlinks or tracking or, actually, anything of the sort but I still think cleaning links is a good idea. If there’s even a potential problem, why risk it? I read this post on D.G. Kaye’s site a few months ago regarding Amazon links. She gives info on what all this stuff might mean for you and your books. If you haven’t read it, you really should.

And, though I’ve seen many people write about this, I’m still seeing lots of long links out there. Perhaps it’s not crucial to remove that gobbledygook but…what if it is? Get rid of it.

I guess that’s all I’m saying.

So now you’re saying, “Yah, well my links are clean, lady!”

Then I say, “That’s great! What about the links to other people’s books? The ones you’re promoting on your blog or posting on social media?”

Uh-huh.

Clean those up, too, you know? Because. You’re nice that way.

A global or universal link will eliminate the need to do this for your books but a lot of people haven’t gotten around to that yet. *raises hand* Also, that doesn’t help when you’re sharing other people’s books or they’re sharing yours and don’t have your link. If you get into the habit of dropping that gunk after the ASIN (see the highlighted link up there ↑↑↑), it won’t be an issue. You’ll always have clean links. And your fellow authors will, too.

 

Are your links clean? If not, why? Is this a choice or have you just not gotten to it yet? (P.S. Even if you use clean links in your posts, please check your sidebars… Just saying.) 🙂

 

P.P.S. I’m just taking a shot in the dark here but you should probably clean before creating a universal link. I mean…who knows what happens if you use a long link with all those encoded reference thingies to paste into a global link? Does it clean for you? Does it forever track you? No clue.

 

I’m sharing Debby’s comment in the post here for more info:

it’s important to clean off the links of other’s books when you’re promoting them because anyone who…decides to buy from the link provided to get to Amazon can be misconstrued as a ‘friend’ of the author…it’s a target and flag to Amazon that the book was purchased from a tracked link making you look like you knew the author because it was a trailed link, not the clean link you’d see if you actually just went to Amazon direct to the book page. 🙂 [Also]…Universal links should be clean…”

 

Book Lovers Tag

 

 

First spotted this fun, little tag on Ritu Bhathal’s blog, But I Smile Anyway, then saw it on Shelley Wilson’s blog, Motivate Me.

I’m a book lover and both Ritu and Shelley invited anyone to play. So here I am. And here we go.

 

Do you have a specific place for reading?

 

I wish. Like a spot under a weeping willow or in a gorgeous garden blooming with roses or a soft window seat with sheer, billowing curtains. *sigh* No, I read in the car, in bed, while I’m walking from room to room, sitting on the couch…

 

Bookmarks or random pieces of paper?

 

I have a ginormous collection of the silliest, sweetest, loveliest, most awesome bookmarks ever. Yet…when I need to keep my place in a book (which is often as I’m constantly interrupted), I usually grab a random receipt, scrap of paper, or business card.

 

Can you just stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?

 

I can stop anywhere. Literally anywhere. Mid-paragraph. Mid-sentence. Hell, mid-word. This isn’t my preferred way to read (or, rather, stop reading) but has become that way. I used to finish chapters but, alas, times have changed. Or lack of time has changed. That said, if I’m two sentences away from the end of a chapter, I try to crawl my way to the finish line.

 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

 

Yes. I love sitting with a cup of tea or glass of wine while reading. It’s my “me” time. But that doesn’t happen very often. I’m usually reading whenever I get a spare moment so I’m chugging some water or my morning coffee before I’m on to the next thing. I don’t really eat while reading though. That would be disastrous.

 

Music or TV while reading?

 

I can barely concentrate when the neighbor is mowing his lawn so, no. No music or TV. As a matter of fact, if the kids are awake when I want to read, it’s DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) time! (A.K.A. silence-in-the-house time.) Luckily, I have a book-loving family.

 

One book at a time or several?

 

Something a bit more than “several”. Always a few nonfiction/reference books plus a novel or two and some anthologies and short stories. I’m… Ooh! Shiny! *runs away*

 

Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?

 

Home. But I will read in my car provided there is NO ONE else there and I’m parked somewhere quiet. Never in a coffee shop or even a library because, regardless of how quiet places are supposed to be, there are always distractions.

 

Read out loud or silently?

 

Hmm. Do people read out loud? Now I’m wicked curious who reads out loud to themselves. Do you? Let me know in the comments. (Do I need to say that I read silently?) Although…now I must admit I read out loud to my children. But that’s totally different.

 

Do you read ahead or skip pages?

 

No. No! Who does this? Do you? What are these questions? I mean, if it’s a reference book, sure, but not a novel (novella, novelette, short story, whatever).

 

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

 

You could sell my 15-yr-old books in a bookstore they’re so new-looking. And I’m a big fan of rereading. Still…spines intact. (Except my Harry Potter series. They’re like an old, favorite stuffed animal. Worn and loved.)

 

Do you write in your books?

 

All the time. I draw and doodle and make rude comments in the margins. No! No, I don’t write in my books. That’s like… Just no. In my nonficiton/reference books, I highlight. I’m a huge highlighter. (Oh, and I will admit to trying some black-out poetry in a completely destroyed, unreadable copy of Harry Potter that was going to be thrown away and I saved. Because. Harry Potter.)

 

I’m going to follow suit in the nomination/tagging here and say that if you’d like to play, you’re tagged. (You should play. Just saying.)

Have fun, fellow book lovers!

 

Why You Should Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post

 

lemon-shark-screen-shot-sarahb

 

I shared how to embed tweets in a blog post but you may be asking yourself why you’d want to.

 

You: “So, Sarah, that was cool and all but why would I need tweets on my blog?”

Me: “What?! Because!”

You: …

Me: “It’s awesome, that’s why!”

You: …

Me: “Okay. I’ll tell you.”

 

These embedded tweets are… Psst… Come closer… *whispers* Interactive.

I know, right? How cool is that?! Readers can do anything right from your blog.

  • Open your tweet
  • Visit your timeline
  • Check out a hashtag
  • Follow
  • Like
  • Retweet
  • Reply

Everything is clickable. It’s basically a live tweet. One that you’ve highlighted. One that you want to share with your blog readers.

I do like Twitter but, let’s face facts, that thing moves like ticker tape. It’s so easy to miss tweets from your tweeps. Depending on how often you post, that tweet is going to be much more visible here.

And it doesn’t have to be just one. You can make an entire post from tweets. Maybe you’ve had an interesting conversation about traditional vs indie publishing. Or the best way to make brownies. Or whether spiders or rats have had better PR. (I’ve had that last convo quite recently: Mickey Mouse and Spider-Man. It was weird.)

Regardless, it makes for a fun post and people can interact with each tweet by liking, retweeting, and even replying to it right from your blog.

 

FOLLOW:

This allows readers to…well…follow you.

Click to enlarge

 

TIMELINE:

Your name/avi brings readers directly to your timeline. (They can open a specific tweet by clicking on the time/date of the embedded tweet.)

Click to enlarge

 

LIKE:

Click to enlarge

 

RETWEET:

Click to enlarge

 

REPLY:

Readers can reply to your tweet right here.

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A pop-up box appears, they write 140 characters (or less) in reply to you, then click “tweet”. This shows up on their timeline and yours. Nice!

Click to enlarge

 

Let’s try this, shall we? I’ll embed a tweet or two, you have fun:

 

 

* I tried a poll a few years ago and, when I posted about it, most bloggers said they hadn’t seen the poll on Twitter. If you embed it, both your blogging friends and your tweeps can vote.

 

Hope you found some fun ways to use a tweet on your blog. Remember…a well-placed tweet can make a good post great. (I just made that up but it’s kind of cool.) 🙂

Happy blogging (and tweeting) days, my friends!

 

How to Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post

 

lemon-shark-screen-shot-sarahb

 

Tweets aren’t just for Twitter anymore.

Here’s a neat thing you can do with those tweets right here on your WordPress blog. It’s wicked cool. And easy. 3 steps…done.

All of you lovely bloggers know I’m not a techie but I wanted to share this fun find with you.

I have visuals, too, which is awesome. Admittedly, I went a bit bonkers with the arrows but…you get the point. (I know. I’m hilarious.)

First we’re going old school with a “cut and paste” URL option, then we’ll embed an html code like we know what we’re doing.

No need to hurt your eyes squinting at the screenshots—you can click to enlarge them. Let’s get tweeting on our blogs.

 

Copy Link Option:

STEP ONE:

Choose the tweet you want. Click on the cute, little grey v-shaped thingy in the top, right corner.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP TWO:

You’ll see a drop-down menu with all sorts of neat things like “pin to your profile page” (or “unpin” if it’s already pinned), “share via DM”, and “delete tweet” (for those times when Twitter decides to add a typo after you’ve posted). Click on “Copy link to Tweet”.

Click to enlarge

Here is what you’ll see. Select and copy. It’s a URL so you can use this anywhere you’d use a link. (UPDATE: OCTOBER 2017 – There is no longer a URL to cut and paste. Once you click on “Copy link to Tweet”, the URL is automatically copied.)

Click to enlarge

 

STEP THREE:

Open a post and paste the copied link. You’ll be in “visual” view for this. Hey! There’s a tweet!

Click to enlarge

Copying the link works well on WordPress but may not work on other platforms. On a website, for example, this option will simply create a URL to the tweet.

 

Embed Code Option:

STEP ONE:

We’re going to embed that tweet now. Hold on to your hats. Choose the tweet you want. Click on the cute, little grey v-shaped thingy in the top, right corner. There’s that drop-down menu. Click on “Embed Tweet”.

Click to enlarge

Here is what you’ll see. Select and copy the html code.

Click to enlarge

 

STEP TWO:

Open a post. Switch to “text” view. Paste the code. Hmm…there’s a bunch of html stuff there I don’t understand. *shrugs*

Click to enlarge

 

STEP THREE:

Let’s switch to “visual” view and see what happens… There they are! Except, erm, they look different. Click “Preview”.

Click to enlarge

No worries! When you preview, they look the same.

Click to enlarge

Embedding has a few more options and benefits but, for the sake of brevity (and for those who don’t play well with html), these are two ways to get a tweet into a WordPress post. Pick one, have fun, and tweet on.

Tune in tomorrow, Same Bat-Time, Same Bat-Channel, for my follow-up post on embedding tweets. What they are and why you want to use them.

And…here it is: Why You Should Embed Tweets in Your Blog Post (the what and why of embedding tweets)

Happy blogging days, my friends.

 

Nomination & Thanks #BloggersBash

 

◊ Bloggers Bash 2017 is almost here! ◊

 

Lemon Shark was nominated in the “Best Pal” category. Apparently, I make people want to drink. With me, I mean. Have a drink with me. Which would be awesome. I’d love to sit in a pub with you and toast to, well, pretty much anything. “Here’s to kangaroos! Cheers!”

 

Thank you to everyone who nominated me. Truly. I’m just honored that some of you thought of me for this award. It’s nice to see my little Lemon Shark swimming with the big fish.

 

 

There are some fabulous blogs up for these awards (including some lovely ones in the category I’m in). Just saying. ❤ Congrats to all the nominees and cheers to all my best bloggy pals!

 

Guestapostophobia (The Fear of Writing Guest Posts)

 

 

I was going to write an awesome guest post.

It was going to be spectacular.

Then I sat down to write.

It turned out to be a post about writing posts. I couldn’t believe it. And it was bad.

I don’t have trouble writing posts for my blog. They’re pretty easy. In fact, I write them in my head all the time like some crazed commentator.

Then I tried to write for someone else’s blog. This caused much panic, self-doubt, writer’s block, and a small amount of sweating, which shall collectively and henceforth be known as SEBS (Someone Else’s Blog Syndrome). SEBS can range from mild to severe.

Cure?

Just type.

If you’ve been offered a guest post, go for it. If you follow someone who has a guest series, ask about it. You might even write something great. But, hey, if it’s bad, that’s okay, too. Move on.

If it really sucks, well…you’ll make a lot of people happy. Because they’ll think, “Wow, that stinks. I could write a post so much better than that.” And they will. And they’ll submit it and guest post. See? You’ve helped a fellow blogger or two. Doesn’t that make you happy?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Have you written any guest posts? Do you develop SEBS? Is it just me or is writing a guest post more difficult than writing your own?

 

* Look at the photo again. Sure, the pink flowers seem pretty…until you stick your face close to them and realize there’s a spider sunbathing inches from your nose. That’s my photographic metaphor for writing a guest post.