Writer’s Reading Corner – Sarah Brentyn #amreading #shortreads #literature #FridayReads

Happy to be spending a little time over at Teri Polen’s ‘Writer’s Reading Corner’ today chatting about a favorite story that influenced my writing.

Books and Such

Stories that affect us don’t always have to be full length novels.  Sometimes, they’re short stories, and today’s author shares how one in particular changed her life and helped shape her writing career.  Welcome Sarah Brentyn!

Winning the Lottery

It won’t surprise most of you that the last book I read is not a book. It’s a short story.

I was introduced to “The Lottery” during a lit class for my undergrad degree.

It spoke to me.

It said something like, “Hey! You, there! College chick. Check me out. I’m short and spectacular. I mean, seriously, I’m awesome. Read me again!”

I did. And still am (obviously) many years later.

One dark and stormy (actually, it was clear and starry) night in January, I decided to revisit this favorite. I fell asleep thinking about it, woke up thinking about it.

I could not stop thinking about it.

Her writing…

She weaves different…

View original post 527 more words


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!


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.


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!


I Like Short Books and I Can Not Lie




Last summer, this happened: James Patterson’s BookShots.

I love it. I want to sing it to the world! I’ll settle for the tiny corner that reads my blog but I’m singing, my friends. Loud and proud. “I like short books and I can not lie!”

Take a look at this. (And, if you’ve seen it, heard of it, know everything about it…don’t spoil my fun.)

Their message for readers is:

Under 150 Pages. Under $5.00
Impossible to Put Down.

All the info you need (plus a modest boost) in a small, catchy slogan.

What’s this all about? This is what it’s all about.

Patterson’s catering to people who love to read but have very little time to do so. In fairness, he’s also targeting those who don’t read often or have the attention span of…what was that? Aw. A chipmunk! How cute!

The bonus for me, aside from having very little time to read, is that, as we’ve established, I love short books. I’ll be writing more on my undying love for novellas later but, the thing is, BookShots is bringing back novellas for the digital age with some clever marketing. Because, really, they’re just novellas in disguise.

(This whole line of books kind of reminds me of pulp fiction but, eh, what do I know about that?)


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.


Have you heard of BookShots? What are your thoughts on it? In general, do you prefer shorter or longer books?


Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Hinting at Shadows


Hinting at Shadows is “New on the Shelves” at Sally’s Cafe & Bookstore. I’m excited to be on the virtual shelves here with so many other talented authors (including Sally).

Sally Cronin is a prolific blogger who is extremely generous with her space and time. Take a peek at this lovely introduction and browse through the bookstore while you’re there.

Today’s author is Sarah Brentyn with a collection of flash and micro fiction. Hinting at Shadows was released in November 2016. Continue Reading…


Share the Love of Reading #BookGivingDay



Oh my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
Oh my love is like a brand new book
That’s in a waiting room

What? (I know. Hold on. I have a good reason for that atrocity.)

I’ve written about my love of books before.

I also have a few essays out there complaining about Valentine’s Day.

Red roses, puffy pink teddy bears, gaudy glitter-covered greeting cards, caramel chocolates, and the fact that this stupid day clearly brings out alliteration in full force. Along with the need to butcher perfectly beautiful poetry.

So February 14th is a wonderful holiday. Yes, I’ll say it again. Wonderful.

It’s International Book Giving Day.

It’s true! A glorious day dedicated to the love of reading and, in particular, sharing the love of reading by giving books away.

Know about this? Awesome. Get out there and spread the love.


Never heard of it? Check it out.

Here are a few ways to get involved, from a toppling pile of books donated to your local school or library to dropping a single book off at a hospital or waiting room. You can even give books from the comfort of your own home to the organizations listed here.

My family? Well…


My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.


What will you do for International Book Giving Day? Let me know—I’d love to hear some good book-giving stories.

If you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, tag it: #bookgivingday



I posted this last year on February 14th which didn’t give people who hadn’t heard of this holiday time to plan so I’m re-posting this year to give you a little nudge, heads-up, or reminder that you’ve got a few days to give books. And here’s a PDF to download printable bookmarks to place inside those books you give. Seriously, give a bunch of books or leave just one in a waiting room somewhere. It’s all good.


The birds and books blog badge by Marianne Dubuc

The cute foxes bookplate by Karl Newson

The space cat & moon mouse blog badge by Ben Newman


Poetry Foundation {Robert Burns}  The poem I ruthlessly butchered in the beginning of this post.

Time, Time…Ticking Away




Some people are always whining about not having enough time.

I am one of those people.

Inevitably, I’m subjected to someone telling me, “We all have the same number of hours in a day.” They then tell me I’m choosing to spend these hours not writing or reading or blogging and that, they claim, is my problem.

Uh huh.

Well, I’ve got to say, that really used to tick me off. (Get it? Tick me off? Tick. Tock. That was fun.)

But I guess, if you think about it, they’re right. I am choosing.

What they don’t realize is that the choices some of us make are significant: Write or eat? Read or sleep? Blog or bathe? Respond to post comments or spend time with our children?

While most avid readers would lose a bit of sleep to finish a good book, please… Be kind when someone says they are short on time. Because there are people who actually do have extremely limited free time due to circumstances beyond their control. And their choices aren’t always easy.

There are writers who are choosing between finishing their physical therapy exercises and finishing writing their next chapter. There are unwashed mums (and dads) who are missing out on a game of Monopoly with their kids to read blog posts and respond to comments.

There are meetings and appointments, science fairs and soccer games. There are art shows, recitals, school functions, and award ceremonies. This is in addition to yardwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry…

Sometimes, the choice isn’t between writing and watching TV, it’s between writing and attending their child’s play.

To me, that is not a choice. And for those who don’t understand that, there’s really nothing I can say. (Though I’ll probably still complain about lack of time.) #sorrynotsorry

Usually, I choose my health and my family over reading, writing, blogging, and social media. But not always. I’m ashamed to admit it, but there it is. And I know I’m going to regret it.

Yes. We do all have the same number of hours in a day but not always the same amount of time. In regards to how we spend that time, yes, we have choices. But some choices are easier than others.


Do you feel like you don’t have enough time to get things done (reading, writing, social media, blogging, commenting…)? Do you find it easy to make choices about how you spend your time? Are you one of those “we all have the same amount of hours in a day” people? Be honest. We’ll still love you.


How Should I Write My Book?


Red Maple - sig


There is so much writing advice out there. Tips and tricks, instruction and direction, ways to plot and ways to pants.

We want to read all that advice. It’s a conundrum. We can’t stop learning (and who would want to?) but we must, eventually, get on with it.

If I’m spending weeks (okay, months years) reading about how to write, I’m not writing. It’s really that simple.

Some will say it’s self-doubt. Some that it’s fear of failure (or success). Eh. It’s certainly possible.

I think part of it is “the writer’s mind”.

We want to educate ourselves on all sorts of things. We want to know what’s what with the age group we’re targeting – what our audience will respond to. Or learn as much as we can about the setting of our story. Or what the hospital procedure would be for our character who’s just been brought in with a knife wound.

Admittedly, there’s a bit of Am I doing this right? but that’s to be expected and, honestly, I’m not sure how much of that can be blamed on self-doubt. I guess it depends. Because “the writer’s mind” is a tricky thing.

Listen to yourself and your tone: How should I write my book?

That is kind of a huge question. It’s also an interesting one. How are you saying it? Why are you asking it?

That can be a self-doubter’s dream. It puts off the actual writing part of writing your book.

Is this a good opening? I like to just write but so-and-so says I should outline. I should really learn to outline. But I recently read that article about how to plot as a pantser. I should read that again. Or maybe I should listen to that podcast about…oh, yeah, that agent is having a Q&A on Twitter today! I should totally do that.

Then again, it’s smart. It gives you much-needed info about the process, category, and genre, among other things.

How many pages does a MG novel have to be? Can I use swears? Is kissing allowed for this age group? Actually…is this MG or YA?

These are valid questions. Definitely do some research. But, then, sit down and start typing. It might be a good idea to set aside a bit of time for even more research as the market changes or unexpected scenes pop up in your book. But don’t get sidetracked. I’ve noticed (from personal experience) writers love to read about writing, write about writing, and talk about writing.

That’s awesome. All of it. But we also need to write.

So, once you’ve read and learned and researched and read some more, the question How Should I Write My Book? is quite easily answered: Sit down and write.


Is this an issue for you? Do you put off your writing to read about writing?


Great Book for Writers…NaNo or Not


I’ve never written a book review on here before.


NaNoBook - sig


And I’m not going to.

I will say that this book is made of awesome.

I’m late to the party. I should have posted about No Plot? No Problem! in October before all you nutty NaNos took on the completely insane challenge of finishing a book in thirty days.

But I’m here now. Because I am having a problem. A writing problem. (I’ll post more about that later.)

So I was searching my bookshelves for some inspiration when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a marvelous book sat unread for two years! And in November, to boot. Before I write another word, let me say I have never participated in NaNoWriMo. And. Yet.

This is a stupendously marvelous writing book. Yup. It’s all that and a bag of chips.

Oh, no! Not (another) book about writing.

Well, technically, it is. Sort of. But not really. In other words, it’s not a “this is how you are supposed to write” book. It’s a cheerleader (with more clothes). A guide. A tiny, written friend with advice and support. Also, just enough writing tips and anecdotes for me to call it a writing book but not enough to drive you crazy or contradict all the other books you’ve read about how to write. It even offers to take your “Inner Editor” so you can write a shitty first draft that would “absolutely horrify it”.

The entire first part of the book contains tidbits of remarkable wisdom like “don’t write within view of a bed”, sections like “Eating Your Way to 50,000 Words” & “The Happy Side Effects of Limited Planning” (which appeals to me very much), along with tips like how to host a writing day:

Ask all attendees to turn off the ringers on their cell phones, and set a timer so everyone knows exactly when each session ends and the glorious break time begins. Should anyone continue to type after the alarm marking the end of the session sounds, chop off their fingers. Don’t be afraid to be a tyrant. (53)

And the excellent “law of exuberant imperfection”:

The first law of exuberant imperfection is essentially this: The quickest, easiest way to produce something beautiful and lasting is to risk making something horribly crappy. 

the older we get, the more scared we are to try new things. . . . what do we do when we have free time? The tried-and-true activities we’ve already perfected. Like talking on the phone. Or walking up and down stairs. Or getting drunk. . . . Exuberant imperfection allows you to circumvent those limiting feelings entirely. (32-33)

And this charming truth:

The universe loves novelists. During the novel-prep and book-writing period, you’ll watch, delighted, as the cosmos parts to reveal a rich vein of pilferable, copyright-free material explicitly for your noveling use. A couple will sit down next to you on the bus and proceed to have an argument. . . (72)

Right? Oh, man, I love when that happens. *sigh*

The second part is dedicated specifically to NaNo participants—broken down by weeks. Very helpful if you’re into that sort of thing. And more power to you. (Really. Love and respect to my fellow writers during this hectic Novembery time.)

Reading through this again made me realize two things. Three, actually. 1. Chris is funny. He is. 2. I’m not trying to crank out 50,000 words in a month and this book is still wonderful. 3. My husband has always supported my writing.


NaNo Book - sig

How cool is this?


You can get a copy here, if you so desire. But it’s different from mine because I have an old copy, as you can see from the inscription here, and Chris has made all sorts of shiny, new words for you.