Posted in Short Story Sunday, Writing, Writing Prompts

Short Story Sunday 119

            Candice’s mother cut up her grilled steak. She speared a small piece onto her fork and looked up at her daughter with a sweet smile. “So, what did you do today, Candice?”

Candice grabbed her ice water and took a sip to wash down the salty piece of steak she had shoveled into her mouth. She swallowed and smiled remembering her day.

She worked in a school system and school had just ended for summer break last week. Candice was a free woman. She was home all day, every day. She had no responsibilities.

Candice woke up early that morning as her body was still on her school schedule. She woke up around six in the morning, but rolled out of bed anyway. It wasn’t that bad to wake up so early in the morning if you didn’t have anywhere to be. She didn’t even get changed out of her pajamas right away.

Her parents had already left for work by the time she woke up, so she went downstairs to the quite kitchen and made herself a tall glass of iced coffee. It was only the end of June, but the summer heat was coming in with a bang. It was going to hit about 80 degrees by eight in the morning.

She grabbed the latest novel she was reading in one hand and had her coffee in the other. Then she stepped outside onto her back porch. She put her book and drink down on the glass table and opened the umbrella, squinting from the sun already pretty high in the sky.

Just as she was about to sit down to read and enjoy her morning brew, Candice heard a whimper at the back down. She looked over her shoulder and noticed her small Chihuahua, Pip, scratching at the screen.

Of course, how could she forget the dog? Candice opened the screen and her puppy dashed outside. Pip hopped up onto the chair beside Candice. It was in the sun, but Pip enjoyed sunbathing.

And with that, Candice put her feet up, leaned back, and read her book all while taking small sips of her coffee.

She stayed out there for a while, only to go inside to house to make herself food or get on her bathing suit to take a dip in the pool.

“Well, it sounds like you’ve had a very relaxing day. It must be nice not having to go to work anymore.” Her mother chuckled.

Candice nodded her head slowly. “Oh, you have no idea how nice it is to be on break…”

After nine straight months in a classroom with 15 three-year-olds? Summer couldn’t have come quick enough.

Words: 446

Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

Walking Over Eggshells by Lucinda E. Clarke

Walking Over Eggshells by Lucinda Clarke book review Rachel Poli
Via Goodreads
Title: Walking Over Eggshells
Author: Lucinda E. Clarke
Genre: Autobiography
How I got the book: I got a free digital copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary (from Goodreads):

Walking Over Eggshells is an autobiography that tells the story of a mentally abused child, who married a “Walter Mitty” clone who took her to live in many different countries. They moved from England to Kenya, from Libya to Botswana and on again to South Africa. It took all her courage to survive in situations that were at times dangerous, sometimes humorous, but always nerve wracking. She had a variety of jobs, different types of homes, and was both a millionairess and totally broke. At one end of the scale she met royalty, hosted ambassadors, and won numerous awards for her writing and for her television programmes. At the other end, she climbed over garbage dumps, fended off the bailiffs, and coped with being abandoned in the African bush with a seven week old baby, no money and no resources. She admits to being the biggest coward in the world, but her survival instincts kicked in and she lived to tell her story. This book will make you laugh and cry, but also it also explains the damage being brought up by a mother with a personality disorder can inflict on a child. However, it is not all doom and gloom, and hopefully it will inspire others who did not have the best start in life either.

My Review:

Walking Over Eggshells was a beautiful read about a young girl growing up into a woman and living life on her own with some ups and plenty of downs with a very little support system.

The story starts with the author as a young girl and shows her harsh relationship with her mother. She grows up keeping in touch with her mother through phone calls and handwritten letters as she gets married, has children, and moves from one place to the next. Though her mother is never impressed.

The book is very well written and tells a great story with an important message.

I found the story to get a bit boring in the middle which slowed the story down for me, but it was a great story overall.

Walking Over Eggshells by Lucinda E. Clarke gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Time heals, and with repeated self-affirmation, many of us, once we have understood the scernario, can set out on the road to recovery.” –Lucinda E. Clarke, Walking Over Eggshells 

About the Author:

Born in Dublin, dragged up in the Cotswolds and finished off in Liverpool. I’ve lived in 8 different countries, had a variety of jobs and earned my living from writing since 1985. Worked in films and television in South Africa and ran my own video production company, Now retired to Spain and writing books – I have just published the 6th.

Posted in Writing, Writing Prompts

Time To Write: Emergency

Write about an emergency that occurs in your protagonist’s life. Maybe someone close to them is in the hospital or maybe their pet got out of the house. Maybe their grill burst into flames during a cookout.

How does your main character react to emergency situations? Are they the one people can count on, or do they have to count on someone else?

Feel free to post your story in the comments below. I’d love to see what you come up with. If you respond by Thursday, July 28, I’ll post your story and a link to your blog for next week’s Time to Write prompt.

Happy writing!

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Posted in Guest Posts, Writing

Always Back Yourself For The Better

Guest bloggers visit my website twice a month on Tuesday and Thursday. If you would like to be part of this, feel free to check out the Be A Guest Blogger page.

This week’s guest post is brought to you by Al. Thanks, Al!

Ever been stuck in a situation where you feel you have no control and no way out…?

When I first contacted Rachel about doing a guest post on her blog, my plan was to write about my journey into self-publishing. For the A to Z Challenge in April, I wrote a series of survival guides for a post-apocalypse zombie world… in haiku. Such a cliché, I know! As I was writing the posts, I had half a mind on potentially publishing them, depending on the reaction from my blog followers.

The reaction was positive. From some, REALLY positive!

Writing the haiku was the easy bit. I love writing poetry and short stories, mixing up a bit of humour with some darker themes, and throwing in some wider commentary on society and where civilisation is heading. (Following the best traditions of zombie writing, I used them as a cipher for a host of wider themes relating to man’s inhumanity to man, the environment, celebrity culture… anything really!) Looking back on them now, I’m really proud of some. Others may need a little tweaking:-)

Then came a perfect storm of complications. I walked away from a (reasonably well-paid) job at the end of April. I left with immediate effect. No payoff. No income. No clue what to do next.

All thoughts of self-publishing went on the backburner. I had to focus on finding another job and poured my efforts into scouring the internet for potential work, completing applications, and following up leads.

It was exhausting, mentally. The way I had left my job meant that I was unsure how I would be received by future employers. I worried (incessantly) about the poor reference I’d be given, about finding another job before our limited savings were gone.

It also proved exhausting physically, as I became a full-time parent. Fortunately, my wife was able to extend her work hours to bring in some extra income, but it left me ferrying two young monkeys around on foot, to and from school and nursery, every day and entertaining them between times. I loved it, and loved the extra time with them, but without a car, it did involve a lot of walking around. (On days when I had to sign on at the Jobcentre, and pick both of them up, I would be out walking for the best part of a three hour stretch. On the bright side, I lost weight!)

When I did try and spend some time on self-publishing, I got completely lost in the question of how to format my manuscript. I had a clear idea of how I wanted it laid out, and wanted something high quality that I would be proud of, but my knowledge and skills were not up to the task.

It drifted. It’s still drifting.

I will get back to it at some point. I’ve installed Scrivener on my laptop and have saved a bunch of links to help me orientate with that software when the time’s right.

The job search paid off. I started back at work this last week. This job will be challenging, emotionally and personally, but the work is much more “me” than what I was doing previously. I have a chance to make a real difference to people’s lives. That’s what motivates me. This comes through in some of my poetry too, I think.

So, for those who have taken the time to indulge me here, what are the key takeaways from this? I’d suggest two things.

  • For your first self-publishing project, choose something you like, but don’t love. Use it as practice, so you don’t get bogged down trying to perfect something you don’t yet have the skills for. Learn, learn, learn!
  • Always back yourself for better. When I walked out of that last job, I had very real fears of losing everything… income, career, house… but I couldn’t mentally and emotionally handle what was going on, even if I had been able to survive the various plottings. Sometimes you need to have faith in your own abilities and do the best thing for your own emotional health. I got through it. You can too. You owe it to yourself. Always back yourself for better.

I’d love it if you stopped by to check out my work. You can find me blogging poems and short stories most days at https://altheauthor.wordpress.com/ . I plan on writing longer articles on blogging / writing on my website, along with my Dirty Dozen interview feature: http://www.alistairlanewrites.com/

I’m also on twitter @AlistairLane and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AlistairLaneWrites :-)

Posted in NaNoWriMo, Writing

Final Update: Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016

I’ll be going away on vacation in a couple of days so my main goal for Camp this month was to write 50,000 words by the 22nd.

Since I finished my novel pretty early, I decided to finish off those words by writing short stories.

So, let’s see how I did.

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2016 Stats Rachel Poli

In order to make 50,000 words by the 22 of July, I had to write 2,500 words a day. As you can see from my stats, I started off so well.

Once I finished the first draft of my novel, Hunter, writing became harder. It’s easier to bang out nearly 3,000 words for one continuous story, but not so much when you’re writing short stories.

I decided to write some Short Story Sundays in advance to finish off my word count. I wrote and wrote and wrote and thought it would be easy.

It’s not.

I wrote one story and was proud when I tallied up the word count. I had only written 637 words. I thought I had at least 1,000 by the time the story was done.

It’s hard to figure out what to write next, too. I often sat there for a while trying to find a prompt for the next short story.

You would think writing short stories would be easier than adding words to a novel, but for some strange reason, it’s just not.

Not to mention that I only have about four short stories left to write for the rest of 2016. That’s not going to bring my count up to 50,000. So what am I going to do then?

Oh, I’m sure you’ve also noticed that I’ve gotten behind in my word count and then caught up and then got behind again and so on. That never happens to me, so we’re just not even going to talk about it.

I do plan on bringing a notebook or two on vacation with me. I think whatever I write up there, whether they’re short stories or beginning a new novel (yes, I thought of another new novel idea), I’m going to tally that up.

So this month, for Camp, I added words to a novel, I wrote a bunch of short stories, and I’ll be handwriting something completely different.

This month has been all over the place.

And it’s been a challenge indeed.

How has Camp NaNoWriMo been treating you this month?

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Posted in Reading/Book Reviews

Tools for the Exceptional Parent of a Chronically-Ill Child by Shirley Riga

Tools for the Exceptional Parent of a Chronically-Ill Child by Shirley Riga book review by Rachel Poli
Via Amazon
Title: Tools for the Exceptional Parent of a Chronically-Ill Child
Author: Shirley Riga
Genre: Parenting, Mental Health
How I got the book: I borrowed it from my sister

Summary (from Amazon):

Parenting a chronically-ill child, holding a family together, and taking care of oneself in the process is often an insurmountable task. As caregivers, you give and give, making life changing decisions for your children. Often, it’s only your will and determination that makes the endless problems survivable. But you need care too. When her daughter was born with two liver diseases, Shirley’s life was upended into a whirlwind of doctors and hospitals. In this book, she shares how she learned and applied tools for emotional survival. It takes courage to find peace. Shirley gives hope and understanding for other parents and caregivers of special children.

My Review:

What can I say about this book? It was a bittersweet tale of a family trying to overcome the many medical obstacles their daughter had to face since she was just an infant.

This story is told through journal entries as well as laid out as information and advice.

Despite the title, this book isn’t just a list of tools to help you overcome such a situation. It offers help and advice, but told as a story as the author learned these tools herself. She explains what she did and how it helped her get through.

The beginning and the ending of the book is written in the author’s journal entries as her daughter, Lisa, is diagnosed, undergoes so many tests and medical examinations, and as she grows up with her illness.

Overall, this story is about a family who understands what other parents in this situation are going through. This author wants them to know that they are not alone, they are strong, and they will get through it.

The writing was beautiful, the story and the message were strong and important. Every parent should read this whether they have a healthy child or not. It puts life in perspective and you’re grateful for what you have.

Tools for the Exceptional Parent of a Chronically-Ill Child by Shirley Riga gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Journaling gives you and outlet for all your thoughts. A journal can become your friend, your confidante that no one else needs to read. It will give you insight and room to feel your feelings.” –Shirley Riga, Tools for the Exceptional Parent of a Chronically-Ill Child

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