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.)

 

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What I Did Way Back BW (Before Writing) #BlogHop

 


 

I’m going to take this super awesome, fun, interesting blog hop and make it incredibly boring. It’s a talent. You can be jealous. I’m good with that.

Just taking a stroll down my cobblestone memory lane.

What did I do before I started writing?

I didn’t.

Wait. What? Let’s rephrase. I didn’t not start writing. I didn’t do stuff before I started writing. Except learn to hold a pencil.

There’s not a year in my life that isn’t connected to writing in some way. The years have all been accounted for. ALL OF THE YEARS!

 

 

What did I do way back before writing?

Short answer: Nothing. I’ve always been writing.

Slightly longer (and more technical) answer: Learning to crawl and walk, graduating from formula and baby food… At least I’m assuming that since I’ve no recollection but I’m eating solid foods and walking on my own (most days, anyway). I’ve had odd jobs over the years (like bartending) to pay the bills but have always been writing (teaching writing, studying writing, writing writing…). You get the idea.

 

 

Marcia Meara started (perhaps unwittingly) this popular blog hop (perhaps just me) about what people did before they stared writing. In Marcia’s posts, she talks about painting. Which is what she did before turning to writing. (There are pictures… Go. Look. They are awesome.) Then she asks her readers: “What did YOU do before you started writing? I’d love to know!”

So, now, it is your turn, as these things go. What did you do before you started writing? Write a blog post about it, leave a comment, send an owl…whatever. 🙂 Happy writing!

 

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. 

 

3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Blog Reader-Friendly

 

I’ve only published a few how-to posts before so bear with me. It’s short. And has three easy tips to increase your readership.

Okay, I can only promise it will increase readership by one.

That would be me.

Hopefully that one flower (that would be me, again) will become a garden of readers.

There are some of you (I won’t name names) who have the most sweetest blogs and the most loveliest things to say. And yet…

There are a few things I’d like to discuss with you. Three, actually. I’ll be quick. Promise.

I’d like to ask a favor, my bloggy friends. Could you do something for me? That is, if you don’t mind and I ask nicely? (I usually offer cookies or something as my “nice” may not be as nice as I think it is. So, cookies will be involved. Or cake. Your choice.)

When I read your post and there’s a link, it’s wonderful if that link is a word or two (or even five), not an enormously long URL.

And then, when you have your cute, little word that is now a link, it’s quite charming if it doesn’t kick me off your blog. I’m reading your blog because I like it. And I don’t want to leave. And you don’t want me to leave. There might be other posts I’d like to read on there.

Finally, when someone leaves a link in your comments, it often flies off the side of the page and makes your blog literally swim before my eyes. And not in a cute, “Aw, look, it’s a dolphin” sort of way. No. It moves and is difficult to read and (apologies) I often click off the post. I sometimes manage to finish reading if it’s short but I certainly don’t enjoy it as much as I would if it were, say, staying in place.

So, if you’re interested (and use WordPress), these are super-quick fixes:

 

Turning a long link into a short word or phrase:

  • Select and cut link from your post
  • Highlight word(s) you would like turned into a link
  • Click on link button in the toolbar (if you hover, it says ‘insert/edit link’)
  • Paste link into the space provided

 

Having a link open in a new tab:

After you have turned your long link into a short word or phrase, have it open into a new tab so I can stay on your blog. (Unless you want me to leave. I can take a hint.)

  • Keep box open where you just pasted your link
  • Click on gear icon (it will say ‘link options’ if you hover) Skip this step if using the Reader
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there

 

Adding/editing links in comment sections:

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Edit’
  • Click the ‘Link’ button
  • Cut and paste link into URL space
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there
  • Click ‘Update’

OR

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Quick Edit’
  • Cut and paste the following into the comment box:
  • <a href=”www.hello.com”>Hi</a>
  • Change “www.hello.com” to link in the comment
  • Change “Hi” to whatever text you want to display
  • NOTE: This will not open the comment link in a new tab

 

So long and thanks for all the links! 🐠

 

If you don’t do these things, is it by choice? If so, why? Does it bother you to have a link open in a new tab? Do you think it’s more likely people will click on longer (obvious) links?

 

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.

 

At the Zoo (Times Two)

 

The 2nd Annual Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo announced the winners from contest #1.

From lead judge, Geoff Le Pard:

“We describe through setting, body language, and context. But strip that away and what do you have? Dialogue. … That’s what I want. Just dialogue. No descriptions.”

Yup. That was the challenge. Write a dialogue-only story in 99 words. To add a bit of fun, Geoff included a pretty tricky prompt picture from the London Zoo which you can see in the contest post.

 

So I got this:

And…er…this:

What?! I know. But as Geoff says, “So there you have it. The benefits of completely blind judging means our winner and our second placed entrant is one and the same…”

I was surprised to see my name at all, to be honest, so to see it twice was, well… I think I used the word ‘flabbergasted’. And I messed up the entry form—didn’t include the titles. *facepalm* Anyway, I won so…yay! 🎉

Many thanks to the judges: Geoff, Esther, and Chelsea. This must have been a tough job considering all the wonderful entries. (You can read the winning flash and other entries here.) Thanks to Charli for setting up the awesome Rodeo at Carrot Ranch. And congratulations to the winners and to all those who took on this challenge.

Happy flashing, my friends!