Friday, May 24, 2019

#Fi50: Sweet Home, Alabama

Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month and I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in!
fiction in 50   image Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words).

The rules for participation are simple:

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration.
That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy. 
And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at acrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….
and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon.
At this time, I haven't been able to find a source for a free linky-list, so it's just comments. I recommend posting your basic blog link below, with the day you post your Fi50 story. You can also add a link in the comments on my story, posted the next-to-last Sunday of the month. Feel free to Tweet using the #Fi50, though I'll not lie: the Ninja Librarian is a lousy tweeter.


The May prompt is: Sweet Home, Alabama

My story: 
 

Is I-10  in Alabama long enough to tell a story?

From the back seats of the black Lexus and the green Hornet, their eyes met. While their parents drove, unaware, they fell in love.
The Hornet had Alabama plates. After the exit, she cried all the way to Texas.

***
 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Writer's Wednesday

I have a little time, so thought I'd let you all know what the status of my writing is. Since we have now been on the road for about 6 weeks, spending no more than 3 nights in any one place (and those with friends, making visiting, not writing, my priority), you will be unsurprised to learn that not much has happened.

I did receive a rejection on my one story submission last month, but with a suggestion to submit to another place, which unfortunately is currently closed to submissions. I have managed to write my Fiction in 50 piece, which will go up on Friday in lieu of any longer fiction (or more photos) for my Friday post. I even spent a morning updating the blog and indexing the posts on the relevant Pages (see top bar) (though they still need to be better organized in there. Chronological order seemed good enough when I had only a few dozen posts...). And Dani has been hard at work on my cover, reminding me that I need to get my blurb written. I'm including the current draft here and hope any and all of my readers will comment on what works and what doesn't!


The library can save your life… can it kill you, too?
JJ has a new job at the library, and life is settling down a bit. Not that JJ’s getting bored. Between work, the PTA, and her 16-year-old son, there’s never enough time to spend with her sweetheart, police chief Ron Karlson. That’s especially true with Thanksgiving on the horizon and her mother coming to visit, not to mention the PTA’s Holiday Bazaar looming ahead.

One thing seems to be running just fine without JJ’s help. The school is finally going to get a badly needed pool! Only now someone has shown up to claim that the land is rightfully hers, and everyone’s looking at JJ to figure out if she’s right.

When things in the library stacks turn deadly, JJ has to figure out who might have killed the local gadfly. She’s determined to get to the bottom of the land wars and the murder, and not all the answers are at the library. JJ and Kitty may have to face the ultimate peril: a visit to Mrs. Halsey, the oldest—and crankiest—person on the island.

Meanwhile, in real life...
I am immensely proud to say that what I did over the weekend was watch my oldest son graduate from Colorado College! Hard to believe these 4 years went by so fast, not to mention the 17 before that. His immediate plans include... writing a book. I may have been a bad influence :)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

#Fi50 Reminder!

Just a reminder that it's Fiction In 50 time again! And what is that? Read on!

Fiction in 50 is a regular feature in the last week of every month and I invite any interested composers of mini-narrative to join in!
fiction in 50   image Fiction in 50 NEW BUTTON

What is #Fi50? In the words of founder Bruce Gargoyle, "Fiction in 50: think of it as the anti-NaNoWriMo experience!" Pack a beginning, middle and end of story into 50 words or less (bonus points for hitting exactly 50 words).

The rules for participation are simple:

1. Create a piece of fictional writing in 50 words or less, ideally using the prompt as title or theme or inspiration.
That’s it!  But for those who wish to challenge themselves further, here’s an additional rule:

2. Post your piece of flash fiction on your blog or (for those poor blog-less souls) add it as a comment on the Ninja Librarian’s post for everyone to enjoy. 
And for those thrill-seekers who really like to go the extra mile (ie: perfectionists):

3. Add the nifty little picture above to your post (credit for which goes entirely to ideflex over at acrossthebored.com) or create your own Fi50 meme pic….
and 4. Link back here so others can jump on the mini-fic bandwagon.
At this time, I haven't been able to find a source for a free linky-list, so it's just comments. I recommend posting your basic blog link below, with the day you post your Fi50 story. You can also add a link in the comments on my story, posted the next-to-last Sunday of the month. Feel free to Tweet using the #Fi50, though I'll not lie: the Ninja Librarian is a lousy tweeter.


The May prompt is: Sweet Home, Alabama

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Photo Friday: In and Around Christchurch

Since all hope of a regular blogging schedule is lost, I'm going to work on this post and share it when I'm done, whenever that may be [as it happened, I finished on Thursday evening, so it really is a Friday post]. On the up side, I am back with a real computer, so no more of those horrid issues with the iPad. On the down side, transferring my photos from the iPad is an annoying process and has resulted in some chaos, though not, I'm happy to report, the loss of my edits.

These photos are a somewhat random collection from our two months in Christchurch, including both views around town and from hikes and trips in the Port Hills and farther out on Banks Peninsula.

One of the first things we did when we settled into our Christchurch digs was purchase a couple of second-hand bikes. Christchurch is a great biking town. Not only is it flat, but in the post-earthquake recovery they have made a point of expanding the biking infrastructure to make it easy, comfortable, and safe to ride.

These were my wheels for the duration, and allowed me to run errands and explore the town without driving, and while getting exercise.

Out beyond the reach of the bikes, we enjoyed a number of hikes in the Port Hills (between Christchurch and the port in Littleton). The hills reminded us in many ways of the Marin Headlands near San Francisco, complete with summer-brown grasses and old WWII-era military installations.
On Godley Head, looking out to the harbor mouth.
New Zealand is, of course, famous for sheep. There are far fewer of the wool-producing critters than in decades past, but they are still a common sight just about anywhere.
I'm guessing that one is wondering if I'm good to eat.

Many of the hikes involved great views of the city on one side, and the (undeniably more scenic) harbor on the other. The best city views from the hills were after dark, but my pictures weren't much good.
Looking over Littleton, and across to Diamond Harbor, a short ferry ride or long drive away.
We didn't do justice to the extensive Bank Peninsula, falling victim to the "we have tons of time to do that" attitude. We did make one drive out to the end of the road at Akaroa, on a cloudy, at times rainy day. The whole peninsula is an ancient volcano, and Akaroa Bay is an arm of the sea reaching right into the center of the caldera.

Sadly, a defining element for Christchurch post 2011 is the impact of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Much is being or has been rebuilt, redefined, or moved on from. Some buildings are still just fenced off, as owners have simply walked away. Others, like this one where many people lost their lives, may simply be too painful to deal with yet.
The ruins have become a kind of memorial in themselves. The standing water isn't just rainwater--it's a reminder that the very high water table of a city built on a swamp was a direct contributor to the extent of the damage.
Christchurch Cathedral has been an icon of the city since it was built in the second have of the 1800s. Since the quakes, it has become a symbol of the depth of the city's suffering. In 2017, under a great deal of pressure from many directions, the Anglican Diocese finally agreed to rebuild, though little progress had been made as of our visit.
On the left side of the photo you can just see the new library, which is as much an example of a brilliant recovery as the cathedral is of, well, indecision.
Poking around the city on foot or by bike led us to many interesting and unexpected things. One of the best, in my opinion, was the library. Beautiful, modern and classic at the same time, and with an abundance of computers as well as quiet places to read and work, so that on none of my visits did I feel it was crowded, though I suspect hundreds of people were present each time.
Looking down the library's elegant central staircase from the third of 5 floors.
Many many works of art--murals and sculptures alike--have blossomed in the city.
The trees, built from recovered wood, are native rimu trees, but echo the shape of the palms beyond.
My bike allowed me to  reach some of the parks on the fringes of the city. In one I stumbled on a small lake, and a new sport.
The sign said canoe polo, but those were clearly kayaks. Water polo in kayaks. The action got intense at times, and it looked like a blast.
Another serendipitous encounter was the city's Festival of Lanterns. Some were a bit gaudy for my taste, but the sunset lent the whole exhibit an extra element of beauty.
The birds may have been my favorites.
The arches are permanent in the park. The lanterns, less so. The sunset, ephemeral.
Sadly, we also witnessed (not directly, though we were only a couple of miles away) the new defining event for Christchurch: the mosque shootings. We were horrified by the event, but we were amazed and inspired by the local and national response to it. It felt like an honor to be able to attend the National Remembrance Service in Hagley Park, a short distance from one of  the mosques.
By the time we arrived, there were already thousands of people present, a quiet, respectful crowd of all ages and religions.
The service was beautifully done, with both speeches and performances that all struck a single note: that hatred has no place in New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern gave a speech that served both as a rejection of the hatred and violence and a reminder that it was up to each of us to fight against them. She has gone on to make good on her words.

It was our privilege and pleasure to be able to make Christchurch our home for two months. The memories we carry away with us may fade with time and age, but as with all travel, it has changed us, if only in small ways.
I lied. I did get a few acceptable shots of the city at dusk.

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2019
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Middle Grade Monday: A Stitch in Time

35795944

Title: A Stitch in Time
Author: Daphne Kalmar
Publication Info: Feiwel and Friends, 2018. 256 pages (hardback)
Source: Library digital resources

Publisher’s Blurb:
Donut is an eleven-year old geography buff who keeps her taxidermied mice hidden in her late mother’s hope chest. Her pops passed away, leaving her an orphan. Aunt Agnes has moved in, bringing along her lumpy oatmeal, knitting, and a plan to drag Donut off to Boston forever.

Donut stands to lose everything: her friends, her village, her home, the woods, and walks where the memories of her pops are stored up.

While Donut dodges the ache of missing her pops, she and her best friend Tiny plan how to keep her where she belongs. Holed up in a cabin on Dog Pond, Donut clings to the hope that Aunt Agnes will throw in the towel and leave Vermont without her.

A Stitch in Time is shot through with gorgeous, evocative language, and gets right to Donut’s heart.
 

My Review:
Maybe I never grew up, because I think my reaction to this book is that of a kid: without giving anything away, I was rooting for Donut's own solution to work. The ending was the realistic one, and maybe even better for her, but it wasn't the kid's ending. That kvetch aside, this really was a great, quick read. Donut is a very relatable character, and I liked the way her views of the adults, especially her aunt, shifted into a more three-dimensional understanding. Even the minor kid characters proved more fully human than is often the case.

The writing is tight, and so's the action. Donut has a clear objective and her own ways of getting there. The handling of her grief over the loss of her father is delicate, at times maybe too removed as she goes about being herself, but I think that's also realistic for how a kid might handle such a huge loss--as much as she can, she just doesn't think about it, then is periodically overwhelmed.

I wouldn't mind seeing a sequel to this one, to see how the next phase of her life goes.

My Recommendation:
It was a good read, and well suited to kids from 8 or so up. I do wonder if they will share my disappointment in the ending. The more I think about it, the more I feel like it went the wrong way. Are the adults always right? I felt like the author was telling us they are, but I was never quite convinced. 


Full Disclosure: I borrowed an electronic copy of A Stitch in Time from my library, and received nothing from the author or the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

IWSG: Writing? What writing?

 http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/2019/05/masquerade-release-day-and-announcing.html

The IWSG took me by surprise—the first Wednesday shouldn’t be allowed to be on the first of the month! But it’s sort of fitting, because we have been on the road and I’ve had no time for writing-and that includes blogging! So at the moment I'm a very insecure--and frustrated--writer, but I'm absorbing experiences like crazy, so that's good.

My only writer news, aside from a quick-and-dirty draft of some flash fiction that I haven't edited yet, is that feedback is starting to trickle in on Death By Library, which is also well on the way to having a cover (early sketches have been bandied about and approved). If anyone would like to add their beta-reader feedback to Book 4 of the Pismawallops PTA mystery series, I'd love to hear from you! Here's the quick-and-dirty blurb: 

JJ has a new job at the library, and everything is looking peachy. But when things in the stacks turn deadly, she has to figure out who might have killed the local gadfly. It’s not like she has a lot of spare time. Her personal life just keeps getting more chaotic, and there’s never enough time to spend with her sweetheart, police chief Ron Karlson. That’s especially true with Thanksgiving on the horizon and her mother coming to visit!
 
 ***
So much for my writing--let's turn and give a shout-out to the new IWSG anthology! Can I just say that I love that cover? I'm looking forward to reading this, and will review as soon as do!
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-hH5sJCP0R8c/XLpJe2twn4I/AAAAAAAAShw/N6h9iKI7IgASEAP74RNcaPuVM6bds2ocwCLcBGAs/s1600/9781939844644%2BMasquerade%2BOddly%2BSuited.jpg
Masquerade: Oddly Suited - An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844651 $4.99

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual companion or a date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

Find Masquerade: Oddly Suited here - Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Goodreads

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join them on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have.
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: HERE