Monday, December 04, 2017

December Reading Challenge: Christmas Binge Reading

Being four days into December, I'm a little late to the Christmas themed reading party - nearly all the books I wanted to check out from the library had me on a waiting list! But, I pulled a couple off the shelves and as I read them, I'll update my post. Let's see how many holiday books I can read this month.

A Christmas Pile

I'm not one for writing book reviews...but I love making lists! So here goes...

PICTURE BOOKS
So far...my favorite picture book, one that really surprised me with great writing and lovely illustrations, was 1.) The Money We'll Save by Brock Cole, where frugal peeps enjoy the true meaning of Christmas.



Other picture books I've read this month were:
2.) The Steadfast Tin Soldier by Hans Christian Andersen - a strange story with an abrupt ending
3.) The Little Red Elf - the hapless retelling of Little Red Hen
4.) The Kitchen God by Kim Xiong - a Chinese Lunar New Year legend
5.) Christmastime by Alison Jay - Fabulous illustrations with a search and find theme
6.) The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson - A lonely looking man waiting for his big day
7.) A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker - Presents are the most important thing
8.) Where Teddy Bears Come From by Mark Burgess - A tale hopping wolf with a simple question
9.) The Snowman by Raymond Briggs - No words so I read it as a horror story
10.) Flicka, Ricka, Dicka and Their New Skates by Maj Lindman - Less classic and more relic
11.) The Longest Christmas List Ever by Gregg and Evan Spiridellis - Cute and original
12.) Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert by Marla Frazee - Heavy on the jollies
13.) The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry - A true classic!
14.) Jolly Old Santa Claus by Mary Jane Tonn - A wordy number with note-worthy illustrations
15.) Snowbear's Christmas Countdown by Theresa Smythe - A family favorite for the younger set
16.) The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Natasha Wing - Funny and clever!
17.) Stranger in the Woods by Carl Sams and Jean Stoick - Original stuff
18.) The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola - A big lead up without a big ending
19.) Jingle Bells by Iza Trapani - Had potential but was constrained by verse


MIDDLE GRADE

I'm currently reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson


YOUNG ADULT
So far...my favorite young adult book was The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols, a love-hate romcom where a snowboarding star takes on a bet with her competitor, her ex-boyfriend. It was funny, sweet, and had a great snowy setting...made me wish I was there. Not Christmas themed but hits the winter fun right on the head.



The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka - Main character called herself a devious psycho. Agreed.


ROMANCE
I think it'll be difficult to surpass my favorite holiday romance by Rachel Gibson called Truly, Madly Yours. It's a good winter frolic, but I'm willing to make some room for others. Any suggestions out there?

Unwrapped by Katie Lane - Unstable heroine stranded with a creeper.


Friday, November 24, 2017

New Stuff in the Shop!

I've posted new stuff on Etsy! I'm busy, busy in my little workshop these days, making notecards--now 25% off on Etsy until December 1st--and BIG heart-shaped corner bookmarks. They'll make great accessories for the book lovers in your life or really cute gift tags.

"I Love Coffee"

Inside and Out

Set of Six

Even though I made this blackout poem a month or so ago, it's new on Etsy and ready for a new home. It has a "good vibe" message sure to inspire!


Under his feet,
The trail grew plentiful
With vision.
_________________________________


"It's not happy people who are thankful. 
It's thankful people who are happy!" ~ Alex DaPiata

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Fabulous Five: Things to Do Instead of Writing

It's week one of Nanowrimo! How're we all doing out there? Writing too much and need a distraction? Prefer to procrastinate? I hear that! It's why I've decided to mention a few things you could be doing instead:

1.) Get out of the writing cave and replace the office chair with your couch. Invite your family and friends over, and get ready to play an awesome co-op video game called OvercookedStressed out and flipping burgers in an ill-designed kitchen equals immediate fun!


Overcooked

"You don't truly know a person until they've screamed bloody murder at you for failing to add a slice of tomato to a virtual burger bun." ~ Mark Walton with Ars Technica

2.) Instead of putting words onto paper, try covering them with a sharpie marker. Creating a blackout poem can be calming and therapeutic, especially when you should be writing.

They help themselves to the open pocket.
Then hide behind the bounty.

3.) Create a November book reading challenge for yourself. How about pulling books off your shelf that have numbers in the title? 

November "Count Down" Reading Challenge
1. Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker - New Adult
2. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan - Middle Grade
3. Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage - Middle Grade
4. Boy 21 by Matthew Quick - Young Adult
5. Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson - Middle Grade
4.) Speaking of reading, maybe you should spend some quality time crafting a decent bookmark. I highly recommend one for the corner, because it marks the actual page you're reading and when you pick up your book too fast, it flies out like a ninja throwing star. Cool, right? You can even make them shaped like hearts.

No, I Mean Ninja Throwing Star.

5.) Cook something tasty and treat yourself, but do it in a super adorable and time consuming way that will drive everyone around you crazy...sort of like Tiny Kitchen.

Tiny Donuts by Tiny Kitchen

When you get all that out of your system, you might be ready to visit Joanna Penn's blog post called Productivity for Writers: Five Ways to Become More Productive. Then, of course, go back to your office chair and write, write, write.

____________________________________

"Don't get it right, get it written." ~ Ally Carter, Author

Monday, November 06, 2017

Comfortable Enough to Write

How awesome is this article: Everything You Need to Create Your Perfect NaNoWriMo Writing Nook? Especially since I contributed a little something to it. That's right...one thing I always have near me is a dog bed or two for my writing companions, Tilly and Tango. It needs to be thick and cozy and well off the cold basement floor.

Writing Nook: Down the Chute and Hang a Right

We're Fine! Keep Writing...

The article had some other great suggestions, like the sound of silence! I would love to give these portable acoustic panels a try. My other favorite was the Ikea cat cube, a great place to tuck a lazy chihuahua. The article was written by fellow NaNoWriMo participant, Miranda Benson, so go check out her other great ideas and maybe leave a comment with some of your own.

______________________________

Q: Like, Where's My Coffee?
A: It's one step outside your comfort zone, plus another fifty! Down the hall, up the stairs, and in the farthest corner of the kitchen.
SaveSaveSaveSave

Monday, October 30, 2017

Currently: Nanowrimo-ing

It's that time of year again where everyone around the world has the opportunity to share in an experience of writing full throttle for a month straight. November is National Novel Writing Month and if you're a writer like me--one who's motivated by challenges--it's time to put your butt in a comfortable chair and pump out 50,000 words. Not an easy task.

Last year I was behind schedule almost the entire time and right up until midnight on the last day, I couldn't type fast enough to get 'er done. This year, I will win, win, WIN! I've been working on this same story for a year now and have muddled my way to chapter eleven. With Nanowrimo 2017 on deck, I plan to write the last ten chapters, finishing off that bad boy, and then starting on a new story for a solid victory. Yes!

To help me get in the mood, not only did I create my book cover for the Nanowrimo site...

Hello, Again.

...but I created my own Facebook banner as well. Last year's theme was space, this year is...pens?

Official Nanowrimo 2017 Banner

Cute, love the color, but this time around, I found my inspiration in my grandmother's Underwood Portable typewriter that she purchased in 1934. She gave it to me as a kid in the eighties so I could learn to type, and I remember having to hammer on those keys to get the ink imprinted on the paper. I can't even imagine trying to write a book on this thing. But it's a beauty to look at and reminds me of how good I've got it...thanks, Mac!

The Underwood Portable, 1934

The EspialDesign Participation Banner, 2017

Planning to participate and want some company? Feel free to add me to your writing buddy list (handle: EspialDesign) on the Nanowrimo site and follow me on Facebook, too. I could definitely use the accountability, because I want to get my current book done, start a new one, and win, win, WIN!

Good luck to everyone around the world...whoever and wherever you are!

Contaminated, 2017

Careful. Something was in the air.
Something pitter-pattering like a heart.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Blackout Poems on the Fly

Thanks to Etsy, the interesting duo below are getting prepped and ready to make their journey to Australia where their new owner awaits. Both blackout poems were made in Bulgaria this last summer, so they're getting quite a bit of travel in.

CARRIED AWAY

I like to sleep and
imagine a world carried away.


DEEP ROOT

A strong connection was a deep root
all tangled inside.

Half the proceeds will be going to the American Heart Association. You can see the tally here.

__________________________________

Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” ~ Anita Desai

Thursday, October 19, 2017

CURRENTLY: Writing Buddies


It's no secret to anyone that I love critters. As a kid growing up in rural Montana, we always had pets in the house, in the barn, all around. They were snuggly, scaly, creepy, crawly, but always cute. We had dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, chameleons, fish, turtles, guinea pigs, frogs, rabbits, ducks, ponies, and cows. Some at the same time, some not.

Romeo and His Bubble Nest

Currently, I have two rescue mutts and a new fascination with betta fish and snails. I went from zero last year to having four after a neighbor brought over her betta buddy in a cup. She asked me to fish sit and said I didn't have to return him, and if I wanted to name him...that worked, too. (Day 23) I'm such a sucker! So began my entry into the aquarium world.

Tilly Bean, Lazy Queen

So, that is four bettas (Trixie, Joel, Romeo and Molly), three snails (Shelby, Rocky, and Lollipop), and two dogs (Tilly and Tango) that keep me company while I write. I love that we're a big, happy and healthy family, who enjoy seeing each other during writing breaks, whether it's for a cup of coffee and a stretch, a quick belly rub or a scratch behind the ear, or even a crunchy blood worm here and there. We're all good :)

Trixie the Veil Tail

Tango Fett

Marvin the Mystery Snail
R.I.P.

__________________________

"I ask my pets, What should I do? and they reply, It's up to you."
~ Stacia Leigh on asking writing buddies about writer's block


Friday, September 29, 2017

October Reading Challenge: Thin Mints

Once again, October is rolling around, and I'm behind on my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge. So I thought I'd bring back the "Skinny Books Reading Challenge". I pulled together a nice stash of books that will help put a dent in my "completed" pile. Some were from the library, some I bought, some were sitting dusty on my shelf, and some were recommended by my children. I'll take *almost* anything; variety is the spice of life.



Last October I read 4.75", so this year I decided to bump it up to a solid 5". My reading pile consists of childrens books, classics, humor, writing wisdom, middle grade, and inspirational.

The Thinner The Better

Here's the breakdown:
3.) Tex by S.E. Hinton - Young Adult Classic
5.) Yiddish Wisdom Compiled by Chronicle Books - Humor and Inspiration
9.) Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt - Middle Grade Classic

_______________________________________________________


"Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be." ~ Unknown

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

From Bulgaria with Love: Etsy Shop Open!

A Bulgarian Summer

I spent a wonderful summer abroad with immediate and extended family. We were in Aachen for a week, Paris for a week, and Bulgaria for six. We stayed in Sofia, Bansko, Plovdiv, Sinemorits, Tryavna, and Lovech. There was plenty of inspiration but no quiet time for writing. Instead, I did a little reading and a lot of blackout-poeming.

Home Again - Lake Washington!

42 New Illustrated Blackout Poems!

I came home with forty new blackout poems, leaving two behind in Sofia, Bulgaria. One I gave to our new friend, Stefan, and another I left with my mother-in-law, who likes cats.

Mountain Roads
Listen to my name on those mountain roads.
If I need to go somewhere, I drive.

Respect
Before you enlighten me about respect,
Flick the TV back on.

I uploaded several to my Etsy shop, ESPIALdesign, which is now open for business. 50% of the proceeds will go to a charity near and dear to me, the American Heart Association. Buy a blackout poem and support a good cause!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Greetings from Bulgaria!

I've been traveling for over six weeks now in Europe and forgot my password to my blog, so I've been MIA for quite awhile. Luckily my personal IT guy helped me out (thanks, honey!) and I'm here--briefly--to say "Hello!" and "See you soon!"

Otherwise, I'll see you on Instagram (StaciaLeighAuthor) where I've been posting my blackout poems.

Hope everyone is having a great summer! Pictures to follow...sometime soon.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

ETSY Shop Open for Another Week!

New blackout poems have been added to my ESPIALdesign Etsy shop for your shopping pleasure. If you're interested in purchasing, the shop will be open for one more week only, closing on June 26th. That's when I hang out my "Gone Fishin'" sign for the summer. Fear not, though, it will open again in early September. Until then, enjoy!

Challenge for Week 7: Name That Tune
Let Music Inspire You!

SNOW MISER
Remember Mr. Cool, Mr. Ten Below?
He clutched his palm and turned white.

I'm pleased to announce that I've sold quite a few! 50% of the proceeds go to a good cause, to the American Heart Association. If you're curious about what's selling, I'm currently keeping a running tally here.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Weekly Blackout Poetry Challenges

Check out @blackoutpoetrychallenges on Instagram for weekly blackout poetry inspiration! Anyone can participate, and if you do, don't forget to tag #bpchallenges so your work can be found by the group.

Challenge for Week 1: "Home"
No rules. What does home mean to you?

Her house was tugged through the grass to the clay.
She pulled herself, trying not to slip back on the worthless flower pot.


Challenge for Week 2: "Walk the Line"
All the words must touch in a vertical line.

He frowned at her,
Buckled his seat belt,
Patted the steering wheel. 
She loved his truck. Babe...so did he,
So he bit back the comment that soon,
He'd show her what his truck could really do.
Take the corners like a boss and sling mud.
"Ready?" he asked the truck.

Challenge for Week 3: "The Great Cover Up"
Blackout words using something other than pen, pencil, paint, or ink.

Buzzed on the coffee,
Watching, busy, grinning.
Stop thinking!


Challenge for Week 4: "Rhyme Time"

The perfect shower
Was a long song.


Challenge for Week 5: "Tribe Tribute"
Pick your favorite blackout poet (bees__buzz)
and emulate their style

TRUST
It's about trust.
You need to step through the fire.


Challenge for Week 6: "Love Is..."
Use the phrase as your inspiration.

She kissed his lips,
And his world crumbled gently,
In the tender moment.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fabulous Five: Blackout Poems

COVERED IN GOOSEBUMPS
The world wanted to see you.
Even the dirt was covered in goosebumps.


WORRIES
When all was dark,
Worries could get back in
And last 4ever.


THE RIGHT WORDS
The right words were barriers.
"I like Bozeman, so I'll be doing the driving,
not him," she said quietly.


THE RAIN
The rain rolled down her cheek
And fell into a dream.


ON ALERT
The princess searched the court for teeth and red eyes.
She couldn't risk her neck again. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Currently, More Love in the Library

Right beside Dealing with Blue on a King County Library shelf, is its sister book, Riding with the Hides of Hell. It's a young adult, adventure-love story packed with biker goodness--or badness--and is a great choice for a pool-side read. It's quirky, fun, and has a strong heroine who kicks butt, literally.


A choice read!

RIDING WITH THE HIDES OF HELL 
Desperately seeking acceptance from her father--a motorcycle club president--the adventurous Miki Holtz eagerly agrees to his request: drive his friend's injured son to Burnout Rally. Best call to duty she's ever had, since the son, the surly Will Sullivan, is her soul crush. But every time she's tried to make a love connection with him, there's been trouble. And as tough luck would have it, this bike ride is no different; dangerous rivals are lurking in the shadows ready to wreak havoc. Can Miki survive long enough to make Will see that she's his one and only while on a road trip from hell?


LOVE IS EVERYWHERE
The balloon couple 
Were starting to look romantic.