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31 Days ofShort Stories (1)

Once upon a time, there was a young writer who started a book. It was National Novel Writing Month, and she wondered if she could do it. Write 50,000 words in one month (she could, but that’s another story). She didn’t make it to 50,000 words that month, but she did create a cast of characters who refused to leave her brain. They grew in her imagination, and every once in a while she would write down things they said and did. Pretty soon (in the grand scheme of the universe), she had a book.

Now she’s a young-for-her-age (jury is still out on whether that was meant as a compliment or not, but I’m going to count it as one) writer with a finished rough draft of a manuscript. Because it’s only a rough draft, though, and she is a perfectionist, completing this step didn’t give her quite the satisfaction she had hoped it would. Also, she forgot to celebrate properly. Others celebrated her, but all she could think of was how much more there was to do and how the darlings she had nurtured would fare during the process.

One of the characters is a storyteller. He makes up stories on the spot to entertain and delight (and sometimes sadden or provoke – storytellers are a tricksy bunch). So the writer decided that an appropriate way to celebrate this stage of writing is to do the same.

And they all lived (well, sort of…most of them) happily (eh…in a way) ever after.

All my 31 Days series in the past have been practical, how-to series. This one is a celebration and a glimpse into what I really love to write. I’m going to be telling short stories. I have some prompts, and I suspect I’ll have a few to-be-continueds to pick up on a subsequent date. I’m open to others. So if you think of something you’d like me to write, comment, email, DM, carrier-pigeon it to me, and I’ll try to give it a go.

I’m going to aim for 300-1000 words a day, but I don’t promise to stay within that range. Sometimes dialogue gets away from me. You may also see recurring characters or titles (written in a different style or with different characters). And each Friday is going to be a different story written from a Tumblr prompt that went around for a while.

In other words, I’m gonna have some fun with this.

I’ll keep the master list of posts here for reference:

Day 1 – Overview
Day 2 – The Case of the Missing Pen
Day 3 – Autobiography of a Real A-Hole (A Microfiction)
Day 4 – Lola Panter, Private Eye
Day 5 – Soulmates (Part 1)
Day 6 – Roger
Day 7 – If You Were a Hat

I’m also linking up with the Write 31 Days community. If this sounds like something you’d like to do, jump over and join us (to include your link to the blog or social media account you’re using to participate, see the dropdown under “linking up”). Or just linger and read. We like that, too.

 

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Fall TBR

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I am participating in Book Riot’s Fall into Fall Readathon, and every day we have a bookish prompt. Monday, I chose one of my summer TBRs (to be read) and put the rest in the DNF (did not finish) pile. I only had three left anyway, and two of them had already gone back to the library, so that was easy. The one I chose to move over to my fall list is Anna Karenina. I started it last night, and I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship. I also think the time it will take me to read it is going to last longer than some of my past relationships.

Yesterday’s task was to make my Fall TBR list, including at least one classic on audiobook. I usually make a monthly list, but I like the idea of making a list by season. My list for this season is somewhat practical (because book clubs) but mostly eclectic. I tend to read several books at a time (I am currently on 5 different books), and I have 44 more books to go meet my reading goal for the year. That’s finishing one almost every other day, which is doable but a little daunting, but that’s why there are so many on the list.

I’m also counting “fall” as to the end of December, even though technically we’re in winter by then. That gives me a few holidays and a couple of free weekends to get some reading done.

Without further ado, here, in no particular order, is my Fall TBR (which I reserve the right to amend as books I’ve forgotten to include are published or finally become available at the library):

  1. Anna Karenina by Lev (Leo) Tolstoy
  2. Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg
  3. The Summer Without Men  by Siri Hustvedt
  4. Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
  5. Bet Me by Jennifer Cruisie
  6. Kindred by Octavia Butler (audiobook)
  7. The Elephant Company by Vicki Croke
  8. Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin
  9. Faithful by Alice Hoffman
  10. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White
  11. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  12. 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman
  13. Black Dove by Ana Castillo
  14. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  15. Evening by Susan Minot
  16. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  17. Fat Girl Walking by Brittany Gibbons
  18. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  19. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  20. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
  21. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
  22. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  23. The Folded Earth by Arundhati Roy
  24. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  25. Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin
  26. All the Colors We Will See by Patrice Gopo
  27. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
  28. The Little French Bistro by Nina George
  29. Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
  30. The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce
  31. La Vida Imaginaria by Mara Torres
  32. A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
  33. The Shaking Woman, or, A History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt
  34. Slam! by Pamela Ribon
  35. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  36. Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
  37. Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer
  38. Version Control by Dexter Clarence Palmer
  39. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud
  40. No One Tells You This by Glynnis MacNicol
  41. Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
  42. A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
  43. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
  44. Womanist Midrash by Wilda Gafney

And maybe I’ll start Don Quixote again before the year’s out. Maybe.

 

What are you reading this fall? See anything in the list you want to read and discuss?

 

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inspired

“They say art should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. I think the same is true for Scripture.” – Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans grew up in a conservative Christian church where her passion for God was encouraged. Her questions, however, often were not. But that didn’t mean the questions went away. In Inspired, she engages the Bible, not as the facts-and-figures literal account she was always taught it was nor as the everything-is-relative figurative interpretations popular with many progressives, but as stories, told in a specific context and powerful enough to unlock truth and hope.

“We may wish for answers, but God rarely gives us answers. Instead, God gathers us up into soft, familiar arms and says, ‘Let me tell you a story.'”

This book would be most useful for Christians who want to love God with their whole hearts, souls, and minds, which probably means not having to switch any of them off when reading scripture. The Bible is full of stories of heroism and kindness and love. The Bible is also full of stories of cowardice and greed and hate. And if you’re reading literally, God doesn’t always end up on what one might consider the right side of the stories.

Take the book of Job, for example. When I was young, Job was my least favorite book. The God in Job is a real jerk, especially if you take a strictly literal reading. God allows this man’s life to be destroyed and completely ignores the pain of Job’s wife who lost everything and everyone he did, just so he can prove he’s better than Satan.

But when read not as an actual retelling of what God did but rather through the lens of instruction – and yes, even hope – it can read more like this:

“…it’s not the learned theologians who get the peek at glory, but the man who said, with candor and courage, ‘I desire to argue with God.'”

I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did. I expected it to sit heavier on me, but the effect was just the opposite. I enjoyed the descriptions of the different types of stories (my favorites being the resistance stories and the wisdom stories), and the organization into these categories made it easy to follow. I also enjoyed snippets like this:

“…from Proverbs 27:14: ‘If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.’ As we say in the Episcopal Church, this is the Word of the Lord.

Although it took me a while to get started and to finish, the slow reading is more indicative of the challenges of wrestling with Scripture rather than with Inspired itself. I recommend for anyone who would like to refresh their approach to the Bible.

 

I received a copy of Inspired from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

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What I’m always into is the book stack on my bedside table.

This month is the last month Leigh Kramer will be hosting her What I’m Into link-up. I missed the deadline for linking up, but I wanted to take a moment to mention how much I have enjoyed this community of bloggers. Even on the months I didn’t post, I would read through the posts linked there. I love reading about what other people love. This group has multiplied my to-read list, improved my skin care regimen (whoever recommended Acure’s Brilliantly Brightening Day Cream? I am forever indebted.), added to my recipe repertoire, improved my taste in wine, and given me more movie and television recommendations than I could ever finish in three lifetimes. I’m going to miss it, but I’ll still post monthly(ish) updates on what I’m into and, since I follow a lot of the people who were a part of it, perhaps I will link to their posts so you can reap the same benefits I have (albeit on a smaller scale). I’m so grateful to Leigh for hosting for so long!

Right now, I’m getting back into the swing of things as the regular schedule picks back up. Church is busier because all my groups (choir, writer’s group, book club, etc.) are meeting again and also because this year is our 50th anniversary, so we’re planning shenanigans for that. Our service project got rained out last Saturday, but maybe we’ll reschedule on a weekend I’m free.

Speaking of book clubs, I’ve joined yet another one, this time at work. Tomorrow is our first meeting, and we’re discussing Evicted by Matthew Desmond and Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. I have read Housekeeping before but Evicted is newer. I recommend both, and I’m excited to talk about them tomorrow.

August at work is super busy, but it’s slowing down now. We got the residents moved in and are shuffling them around as we find spaces that aren’t booked and are able to accommodate requests and fill in some off our waitlist. We should be pretty full by the end of September.

I hosted my annual Hemingway party (where the food is good yet simple, like his prose, and the party is alcohol-laden, like the author himself) late this year, so the crowd was smaller. We still had a good time. It’s always fun to catch up with people.

This month, I’m looking forward to the Denton Blues Festival (this weekend!) and having a little time off from work.

 

What are you into these days?

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Friday Five2

A quick *wave* and hello as I zoom through the afternoon. The full-time job is busy; SEO writing is busy (because payment issues from the full-time job…grr…glad to have a fallback plan but it really sucks for those who don’t). So there are these things:

  • Jeanette LeBlanc wrote a love letter to writers and my response is *makes flirty eyes*
  • I love libraries for all these reasons (and more) and agree that articles (all articles, really) should be written by someone who knows what they’re talking about and also maybe a more thorough job by an editor would have caught that as well but I digress. Yay, libraries!
  • I love Hännah Ettinger’s writing, and this piece took my breath away.
  • I have never in my life been this excited about a graphic novel – Pamela Ribon’s SLAM!
  • I love this NYT article about the joy of missing out (or for those who like acronyms, JOMO – “FOMO’s benevolent younger cousin.”).

 

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Current view: My trusty Serenity mug and Scaachi Koul’s amazing collection of stories that made me snort-laugh approximately 43 times in the first three pages.

The 24in48 readathon is officially halfway over, and I’m almost halfway through the 24 hours of reading (11:10, to be exact-ish). I have actually stuck to books in my TBR pile this time (so far). I have finished two and will easily finish the third before I go to sleep.

  1. Delancey by Molly Wizenberg – I love her writing and most of her recipes. This book is about the experience she and her husband had opening/running their restaurant. Friends, when I serve you lightly salted sauteed dates, you have Molly Wizenberg to thank. I’m also half-convinced that her husband and I are the same person. Or at least we approach tasks/projects/problems in very similar ways and seem to have been raised as if we were heroines in a novel where it was important for young ladies to be accomplished. “Choreography and cooking pushed the same buttons in him. They were both about making things, about taking a series of separate elements and assembling them in a particular sequence to make something appealing and new.”
  2. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton – I made a mistake. I know better than to start a series that I’m likely to love when the next book in the series isn’t out yet. But I did it anyway. So now I am at a cliffhanger in this imaginative and descriptive story that explores societal beauty standards, and I have to wait until freaking March 2019 to get some damn resolution. I feel vulnerable and delirious, and I absolutely recommend that you become vulnerable and delirious, too, by reading this book.
  3. One Day We’ll All Be Dead And None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul – I have laughed loudly enough to alarm the neighbors (I think I actually heard one of them yelp after an outburst. Could have been unrelated. Maybe) while reading these stories. When my book club chose it, I enthusiastically agreed, even though I had just said, “No more memoirs for a while,” because it’s been on my TBR list for so long. It’s definitely memoir-esque. But hilarious, and filled with rampant social commentary, so it gets a pass.

Now back to the reading!

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Coffee? Check. Delicious rye for sandwiches? Check.

Large stack of books that I absolutely will not get through and – let’s be real – will probably forsake for audiobooks while I knit or jog (indoors, because Texas is stupid hot in summer) or one of the four ebooks I am about halfway through? Check.

This is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. Reading. Sleeping. Eating. More reading.

It’s not too late to join. You can sign up at the 24in48 website.

Or you can just read with reckless abandon, and not just this weekend. That’s an anytime thing. You don’t have to sign up to do that.

Now on to the books! I think I’ll start with Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey.

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