Monday, February 26, 2018

Whew, what a week! And a book review :)

Hello! I hope you're all doing well and I hope last week was good to you. It was quite the challenge for me but I was able to find some information that - fingers crossed and prayers sent upward - may just help heal a lot of what I've been dealing with. Long story short, I found an eating plan that's geared toward healing and repairing the gut, getting rid of inflammation, and helping autoimmune disease flare-ups. I've been on it for six days now and I already have more energy and less pain that I've had in YEARS! It ain't easy: meat, veggies and fruit are fine. For one month I'm avoiding ALL grains, including rice, dairy, nuts, beans, and sugar. Yikes! Talk about learning how to meal plan all over again!  But, it's working, and I'm hoping it's something I can use periodically to help get me back to feeling like a "normal" human being - and eating the things I love in moderation.

Despite feeling crumby, I was able to finish reading a very encouraging book called, "A Year of Writing Dangerously" by Barbara Abercrombie. It's set up so that you go through it daily throughout the course of a year. I, however, checked it out from the library and didn't have a year. So I read through it in three weeks and took notes. WOW! This is one that I will be adding to my personal library.

I took so many notes, wrote down so many quotes, it just makes sense to eventually purchase it. Plus it would be a wonderful year-long companion to a writing project. Every single entry is inspired and filled with cheer-leading from a successful author and teacher. Abercrombie couples her meditations and stories with quotes from well known authors, both past and present. Each quote perfectly ties up the main entry.

The back of the book contains 52 writing prompts, designed to keep you writing throughout the year, giving you ideas to keep your pen moving and your mind thinking.

There were so many long passages that I ended up taking pictures of some pages AND I definitely snapped photos of the 52 weeks of writing prompts.

Here's just a few of the gems I gathered from this book:

No matter how fast the world zips along, no matter how much fun there is to be had, the fact remains that writing takes time. To write takes dreaming and remembering and thinking and imagining - and very often it feels like wasting time. It takes silence and solitude.

Before you can write your story, you have to own it. Know where the spotlight is and stand in that light and give up the fear of people getting mad at you. Write your story as you feel it so your book can do its work in the world.

I stood, alone, and the world swayed. I am a fugitive and a vagabond, a sojourner seeking signs.
- Annie Dillard

I won't retype the entire book here. Find yourself a copy. If your library doesn't have it, ask them to order it. It's wonderful! And, if you're like me and find yourself taking pictures of more and more pages because you've got cramps from trying to copy down all the gems, go ahead and order yourself a copy.

Your writing soul will thank you.

Dream on,

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Lack of posts this week...


Just a quick message to say I'm sorry I've dropped the ball this week in posting.

I have felt terrible since last Wednesday; not the flu or anything, just the loveliness that is a Fibro/M.E. flare.

Been doing a lot of research and may have found a new path to take in calming all this inflammation and getting out of this flare-up roller coaster.

I've felt pretty good today (Thursday), so good in fact that I bought some potting soil and cleaned up the courtyard.

Now I'm exhausted and aching because I accomplished something. That's far better than aching and being exhausted because you woke up. Or you ate something that didn't agree with you. Or you walked across the house. Blerg...

Here's to a fantastic weekend! I hope you all enjoy yourselves. And if the weather where you are is as amazing as the weather is here in Savannah, GET OUTSIDE and soak it up! It's only February. I have to remind myself. Winter usually sneaks in one last hurrah when we least expect it. Quite frankly, I hope this year, Winter forgets and Spring keeps chugging on in!

See ya'll next week!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Dear Fahrenheit 451 - Book Thoughts

Happy Feast of Lupercalia! Or Valentine's Day, as we now call it ;) While I wouldn't recommend sacrificing a goat and a dog and then flogging the women in your life with their skins, however you celebrate this day (or even if you don't celebrate at all) I hope it's been wonderful so far.

I wanted to share a bit of book love: Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence.

It's a book, about books, written in letter form by a very sarky, witty and wise librarian. Bonus points for putting my second favorite book EVER* in the title :D

Spence and I were separated at birth and I don't mean siblings. I think part of our souls are merged. The books she loves (that I've read), I love. The books she hates, well, I hate (and no, I haven't read them all). She touches on classics as well as popular fiction, waxes poetical about her dream book shelves, is laugh out loud funny when she regales us with adventures at a cocktail party she wasn't invited to, and made me want to go out and buy a copy of  The Virgin Suicides. The only thing we didn't mesh on was her grin inducing admittance to not understanding Virginia Woolf. But that's OK because I don't think Ms Woolf cared if she was understood by everyone or anyone at all!

As if her warmth and wit wasn't enough - and her penchant to swear and insert modern slang at the most perfect of times - the second part of the book is nothing but lists of MORE books one suddenly feels compelled to read! I mean, come ON: a book about books that lists MORE books? It's nerd heaven!

If you are between books and/or have found it hard to make a commitment to any books so far this year (me and me again), pick this one up. I grabbed this copy from the library, which I thought was fitting, and the thought of returning it makes me cry a little. But that's ok. I know it'll be there, and besides, I have a whole new bunch of books to seek out in the stacks!

Now excuse me while I go track down some Eugenides. I have a feeling I'm going to be a weepy ball of snot after I do. Send chocolate. And tea. Oh and a bunny. Preferably a black one with beady little eyes and overlarge front teeth.


*For the record, in this reader's humble opinion, the five greatest books ever written are as follows: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and Moonwise by Greer Gilman.

PS: Under no circumstances - not even pain of death - should you EVER see a film version of ANY of these, except for maybe Mockingbird because Gregory Peck <3. Or Fahrenheit 451 because it was the 60's in Britain so it gets a pass :D

Monday, February 12, 2018

Monday Musings: Give us Warm Weather and We Head out to Sea

Happy Monday!

I know, I know, Happy WHAT? Believe me, I've been there. But Monday is a fresh start, right? A new week, time to refresh those schedules and projects. Time to take a good, hard look at those goals and plans and to reconfigure them to our current reality.

Now, that may sound like a willy-nilly way of handing our plans. They should be set in stone, right? Well, no, not really. I mean, we should have a solid idea of where we want to go. Have our end result set in front of us so that we have that guiding light to keep us on path. The trick, I believe, is to constantly re-evaluate that final goal and the direction that we need to take in order to get there. That's not saying we should flounder back and forth. No, we do need to make commitments to ourselves, prove to ourselves that we're serious about these goals. But the way we able to achieve those goals may change.

Life happens and we need to be flexible enough to realize we may need to tweak a few things as we go along. Sometimes our paths need weeding, potholes need to be filled, thorns need to be removed. Sometimes, we may need to pause at a fork in the road and consider which way we really need to go in order to achieve our preferred end result. It's not easy. It's not quick. And it will get on your nerves, trust me. When you find that balance, however, between fixing your heart to a certain star and learning to sail smoothly when the wind shifts, you'll become a better person for it and you'll achieve your goal in the best way possible. The best way for you.

That's becoming my new mantra: my journey is not like anyone else's.

Take a look at that -

My journey is not like anyone else's.

Yours isn't either. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop looking at people on social media and saying, "Wow. Must be nice to have everything fall into place. Must be nice to have it all given to you. Must be nice...must be nice...must be nice..."

Yeah, I'm sure it is, but I guarantee you that most of those folks didn't have everything handed to them. They probably had to fight for their dreams as well. And even if they didn't, even if they were handed everything, that's not your concern. YOUR journey is YOUR journey. Not theirs. Not mine. There will be people who come along with similar things and get results before you do. You've fought harder, longer, and you're still waiting. Believe me, I know. But if you keep fighting, if you keep working, if you keep moving forward, shifting sails to catch that breeze, YOU WILL GET THERE.

You will.

*  *  *  *  *

In other news, this weekend was in the 70's and we took advantage of it! It's been drizzly and grey (which I LOVE) but with the warmth, we were able to head out to the beach for the first time in a few weeks. We still needed jackets and I wouldn't go swimming yet, but it was waaaaay warmer than it was two weeks ago! The water was freezing, but it was so nice to be out in the sea air. The wind blew and the waves picked up, rolling over our feet, turning our toes red with cold. The birds flew against the wind, diving into the grey sea, and fog hung at the horizon making the world feel smaller, cozier, even with the infinite ocean in front of us.

I don't know about you, but, man, I'm ready for summer!

Happy Monday, Dear Reader.
Adjust those sails and GO!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February 2018 Edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group

Good morning! I hope February has treated you well so far. Thank you for stopping by! Today is the monthly gathering of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. If you're unfamiliar with the group, you can find out more about us HERE and sign up HERE. The IWSG is the brain child of Alex Cavanaugh and has been providing a safe, encouraging haven for insecure writers for seven years.

Our fabulous co-hosts this month are: Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte. Make sure you stop by their sites and thank them for a job well done :)

                                 * * *

What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

When I write, I dive into some strange waters, a muddy mix of Southern Gothic, horror, classic ghost story and old folklore. I like to stir things up and see what climbs out. The easiest label for what I write is horror but I prefer the term Speculative Fiction. Speculative = "What if?" It's a wonderful genre, one that holds close all the imaginative literature of fantasy, science fiction, and horror and all the sub genres those encapsulate. I first discovered the term years ago while doing research on horror writing and it summed up what I thought of when I thought of horror: not blood, guts and gore but a deep exploration of the dark side of things that ultimately brings out the heroic in the ordinary.

I love writing horror because I love that exploration. I enjoy the thrills and chills of things that go bump in the night. I've always loved the rush of adrenaline you get when you're deep into a story and something happens - the author makes you JUMP, YELL, Throw the book across the room - and then you giggle, nervously, as you turn the page and try to maintain a sense of calm while you finish the chapter.

Horror is engaging. It forces the senses into overload. Fear is very palpable and our bodies going on hyper-alert. Our sense of smell is more sensitive, as are our eyes, ears, and skin. We start to pick up on things, subtle clues, and our primal instincts take over. That Sixth Sense some people joke about kicks in and we really are able to "feel" that something isn't "quite right".

I love the way a scary story haunts you, makes you think, makes you reconsider everyday things like cars, dogs, China dolls, and squirrels. These things are symbols, stand-ins for deeper truths that we, as humans, try to hide and forget. THAT'S what horror is really about: it's about bringing to light the frightening realities of real life in the guise of fiction, of something totally improbably, so that our human-ness can shine. So that we can realize that we aren't really the "other" but that our neighbors, our friends, our family members, even that customer who chewed you out because of something you didn't do are all a part of a bigger family, a bigger picture. The ghosts, the goblins, the creatures from our nightmares pull us together and make us realize our petty differences aren't worth the stress. Horror encourages us to band together against true evil, those forces out there that seek to separate and destroy, to control and annihilate.

Plus, it's just a lot of fun! Seriously. I love a good, scary book and I love closing it and having to turn on all the lights in the house just to go to the bathroom. I've finished books before and not been able to go past the refrigerator, the rocking chair, for fear of what might be hiding there. One story had me jumping as far out of the bed as I could at night because, hey, that hideous monster really could be under the bed. It could!

So tell me, what do YOU love about the genre you write most in? Why do you find yourself drawn to the same themes? It doesn't have to be anything deep or profound. Heck, you could just like it! At the end of the day, I love reading ghost stories, folklore and mythology, "true tales" of monsters and hauntings and murder mysteries. So if I enjoy reading them, why not write them?

Happy hauntings,

Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday Musings_Website Woes, Stamp Carving & Delightful Reading

Good afternoon!

First Monday of the month, clean slate. So much potential! I've always looked at the beginning of a new month as a new chance for all those plans and goals you had last month but just didn't seem to get around to.

Hey, we all understand, right? Life happens and it should! Not that we should let those goals and plans get tossed aside easily. But we shouldn't be so hard on ourselves to keep to a rigid schedule when the Muse comes along and wants to play. We write, we create, we run dry. Schedules keep us on track, let our Muse know where we'll be and when. They are under no obligation to show up but at least, if we're consistent, they'll know where to find us when they flap their fickle wings and wander by.

And when they arrive, we've got to be ready. Sure, sometimes they'll say, "Grab that pen! Pick up those sewing needles!" Many times, however, they'll grab you by the wrist and drag you someplace you don't want to go. You didn't plan to go anywhere today. You planned on WORKING. It's OK. Go with it. Run away with your Muse every now and then. That's where all the good stories are found!

So far today I've wrestled with some website work that looks as if it's going to have to wait until tomorrow. Design errors and I'm by no means a designer. I'm just taking over the updates. Kind of hard to update a website when it acts like your computer screen is too small and, "Sorry! You can't scroll to get to that one icon that you really need in order to make that update!" Ugh.

My art has taken a fun turn. That stack of fabric you see there was the one that had all the knots in it from last week. It's now nicely pressed and slowly getting cut into squares to, hopefully, become a quilt.

I've always been fascinated with textiles and their design. I've had Lotta Prints by Lotta Jansdotter for YEARS and I've taken it out, skimmed it, put it back on the shelf. Last night I grabbed a little piece of lino cut rubber and started carving a little stamp. I forgot how much fun it is! The plan is to use that little stamp on some scrap fabric and get a feel for printing my own. Stay tuned for how that turns out :)

As for the writing, well...that's still hanging out in some other forest and I've yet to find the path. I'm OK with that, really. I'm just hovering about the porch of the cottage, waiting for the sunlight to tilt just so and show me the little trail I need to follow. Or perhaps it's the moon I need to watch for, a wavering silver serpent winding it's way through nettles and Solomon's Seal. Hmmm...Perhaps I'll wander a bit this evening, down the lane, turn to the left, see what lies in store.

Yesterday was deliciously grey and rainy, the perfect Sunday for reading. I finished off The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson and started The Boggart by Susan Cooper.

Platform 13 is a charming fairy tale, a very straight-forward fantasy in that impossibly dry wit that all Brits possess. It moves very fast and packs a lot of action and information in not a lot of pages. It's a Middle Grade fantasy so expect some obvious predictability, especially in regards to things you'll see long before our characters do. But that's part of the fun! That's what I enjoyed about it. I figured it out a few chapters in and the growing frustration made me hurry to the end. The characters are charming if a bit old fashioned but I'm a fan of old-fashioned tales. Very clever and lots of fun from start to finish. I particularly liked Ibbotson's handling of the fantasy creatures, especially the ones I'd never heard of! I now want to go on a Google-quest to see if she's unearthed some ancient beings long bereft of folkloric chronicles or if she's into creature creation of her own.

As for The Boggart, I'm only four chapters in and have just arrived in Scotland (via the train the characters took) and I'm eating lunch with them while they wait for their father to fetch their rental car from the train car. I had no idea you could load a car onto a train! That makes my UK traveling dreams far more accessible! Now I just need to learn how to drive a stick...on the OTHER side of the road!

I hope you have a fantastic Monday! How is your February shaping up so far? Got any plans rolling over from January or are you one of those folks who checks 'em off and starts all fresh and shiny-new come the new month? Read any good books lately? Does your Muse have to hunt for you or are you usually an easy target?

Stay where the Muse can find you,