There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here (Oh, and a #CoverReveal)

 

Been talking a lot about joy. Making changes, both on and offline, and living the most joy-filled life I can. (Trying, at least.)

There’s been some dancing in the rain, eating of chocolate, drinking of wine, deleting of emails…

Also, a social media makeover, hugging trees, letting go of lists, listening to AC/DC, saying “NO” to things, and “YES!” to others.

What I’ve noticed very recently is that I’m starting to slip. I’m swamped, drowning, stressed…

So I’m going to revisit my list of things that are important (my health, my family, self care…) and things that are not, then adjust my life and time accordingly. Which means I may or may not be blogging regularly. I have a lot going on. I will not blog when it overwhelms my already-overwhelming life. But I will blog when it brings me joy.

You know what else brings me joy? Writing. I’m currently (happily) working on my novel (due out 2018) and have finished my second collection of flash fiction due out this fall. Cover completed. Formatting now. 🙂

 

 

Thank you, gentle readers, for your continued encouragement and support. Whether it’s been on social media, behind the scenes, or on this blog where you’ve read, liked, commented, and created the amazing atmosphere I love here at Lemon Shark.

On the Edge of a Raindrop will be available Fall 2017.  🙂

 

Thanks, again, to the lovely Rachael Ritchey for designing my cover.

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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?

 

Raindrops on Roses & Whiskers on Kittens

 

 

I’m on my laptop, concentrating on work, when it starts to rain. I mean pouring rain. Like, build-an-ark rain. And it’s one of those sudden, out-of-nowhere downpours.

I go to the window, lean against the pane, and smile. I actually smile. And you know what I’m thinking? I’d love to go dance in that.

Then I check myself, turn away, and start back to my computer.

That’s when I hear screaming.

I run back to the window, all adrenaline and responsibility, ready to do what I can about whatever is happening. I am not, however, prepared for what I see.

Two children, across the street, are running around in circles, squealing in delight as the rain soaks them.

It is in that moment I realize how far away from myself I have moved. How lost I’ve become.

I know this. I’ve been working on it but, it is in times like these that I become aware of how much work I still have ahead of me.

When did I lose myself so completely? When did I lose the ability to follow my joy outside into the summer rain?

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

 

FYI: I did it. I really did. After a short pause, I said, “F*ck it! I’m going out!” And I went outside and danced in my yard, not caring what my neighbors thought. If they want to gossip about the crazy lady who was spinning around and laughing in the pouring rain last week, let them. Let them!

When is the last time you followed your joy?

 

Drowning in my ‘To Do’ List

 

 

Why do I always feel like I’m treading water?

I write a list which keeps chores, projects, appointments, and phone numbers handy, but…

This ‘To Do’ list never actually, you know, gets done. Which kind of defeats the purpose.

I continue to add to it until that cute, little notepad shaped like an owl or sunflower just won’t cut it and I have to break out the big guns. A huge, yellow legal pad. And still…I’m writing on the second then third page. This is usually for one week’s day’s worth of stuff.

If I complete something, I get that satisfaction of crossing it off. *ah* I love that. Sometimes, if I sweep the house and it wasn’t on the list, I’ll add it just to cross it off. That’s a perk of the dreaded list. (I know. It’s pathetic.)

What’s more pathetic is, when I complete a ‘work’, ‘home’, or ‘writing’ task, something else rushes in to take its place.

A ‘To Do’ list is helpful in certain ways but also serves as a tangible reminder that I WILL NEVER FINISH THAT LIST.

It’s like trying to scoop water out of a pool with a teaspoon while a waterfall splashes more in right next to me.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you use a list to keep track of all the things you need to do? Do you have another (better) way? An app? A different way of approaching the traditional ‘To Do’ list? (Not including ripping it in half and throwing it in the trash – tried that. Doesn’t work.) If so, please share your wisdom in the comments. I need a life vest. Thank you…

 

 

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

 

Why You Need a ‘Contact’ Page

 

 

I’ve recently run across a few blogs where, for one reason or another, I would have liked to contact the writer. I looked for a ‘contact’ page. I looked on their ‘about’ page (if they had one). I looked all around their homepage. Alas, if the information was there, I couldn’t find it. Perhaps I gave up too soon. Regardless, I did give up. That’s the point of this post.

I found something on Sue Vincent’s blog a few months ago talking about the various reasons why it’s probably a good thing for your readers to be able to contact you. It also gives step-by-step instructions on how to create a contact form if you’re a bit wary of sharing your email address on your blog.

Click on ‘my sites’ top left of the screen, scroll down to WP Admin on the blue drop-down menu and click.

Hover over ‘pages’ (or ‘posts’ if you prefer, but it will get lost unless you pin it) and click ‘add new’.

There, at the top of the screen, is a button to ‘add contact form’. Click this and it opens a drop down box.

Click ‘add this’ and it inserts a whole bunch of bracketed code. It will show up with your details in it on the preview, but they are not visible to others.

And there you have a working contact form.

Just so I’m not accused of being a hypocrite, I’ll come right out here and say, if you look at my menu, there is no ‘contact’ page. I’m thinking of adding the form Sue mentions but, in the meantime, there’s my ‘about’ page. I’ve had a way to contact me on there since the beginning of this blog.

That said, perhaps I’ll make it a bit more obvious…

Anyway, do check out Sue’s post:

 

 

 

Do you have a ‘contact’ page? Or a way to contact you on your ‘about’ page or main blog? If not, is it an oversight or something you’ve chosen not to do?

 

5 Ways Twitter Helps You Become a Better Writer

 

I’m so excited to be over at the awesome Sacha Black’s this week. Her intro for my post gave me a good laugh. Much love to her for that and for hosting my words and wisdom. Or my words, anyway.

Check it out and drop a comment completely agreeing with me (or heckling…I’m good either way). Cheers!

 

 

Whether you love Twitter, hate it, or feel a bit iffy, I’ve got news for you.

Tweeting improves your writing.  

Clicking the button on someone’s blog with that little blue bird on it doesn’t count. I’m talking about composing a tweet. Writing something. All the cool kids are doing it. I’ve lost count of how many hashtag games there are on Twitter.

What am I going on about? Here’s what: Twitterature. Get it? Twitter Literature. I know. Sounds made up. It’s not. It’s a real thing. Seriously.

If you’re a writer not taking part in any of the prompts on there, you’re missing out.

Why are you missing out? Here’s why: Microbursts. Get it? Micro fiction bursting with story. This one is not a real thing—it’s something I completely made up for my book but totally should be a thing. (For my fellow nerds, yes, microbursts are real but they are a weather phenomenon so don’t go there. We’re talking about writing. Focus, people!) You’d be surprised how much you can fit in a tweet.

Let’s talk about how this fast-paced platform helps you become a better writer.

 

Way 1 – Learn to Be Concise

You have to be brief when writing a scene, story, or joke in 140 characters or less. Even if you tend toward the dark side of verbosity, you can tweet. If you’re naturally wordy, you won’t be. You can’t be. It’s 140 characters. With a hashtag. You can’t afford to be long-winded. Succinct is the secret. The limit forces you to edit. Every. Word. Counts. Cut the crap, you know? Get rid of it. If it doesn’t fit in that tiny tweet, make it fit. Writers from all genres do this every day on Twitter.

Continue reading…

 

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.

 

Are You Dealing With Stress or Burnout? What’s the Difference?

 

 

I believe everyone has a certain amount of stress in his or her life. It could be a lot or a little. It could be brushed away or completely take us down. But it’s there. For everyone.

I found this amazing two-part series about stress and burnout. What is the difference? Why is it important to know the difference? What can you do about them?

It’s a must-read.

Whether you’re stressed/burned out or not, it’s a fascinating look at these two conditions. It’s eye-opening and informative. Really. Check it out, bookmark it, both, whatever…but do visit these pieces by Ruth Harris on Anne R. Allen’s blog:

 

 

ETA: I just found two posts on Sally Cronin’s blog about stress. I had to add these. They deal with similar issues in a very different way, focusing on health. Symptoms of acute vs chronic stress, how to manage stress with diet (vitamins, minerals, foods), and much more. Please check these out.

 

The link between stress and your heart

Strategies and foods to relieve stress

 

 

photo: Weeping Woman by Pablo Picasso