Thanksgiving reflections…

Hello Friends,

It’s that time of year again. The weather has turned cool. The air is crisp. Fallen leaves crunch (or squish if it’s rained) under foot. The scent of chimney smoke warms the heart. Autumn has always been my favorite season, and Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays.

I try to live my life with an attitude of gratitude every day. Sometimes, I succeed. Other times, I fail. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to renew my efforts and take stock of a the things in my life for which I’m grateful. Here are ten things that come to mind at this moment:

  1.  I met and married my soulmate this year. ❤
  2. He’s not allergic to cats, so Mitzi gets to stay.
  3. My brother’s cancer is not currently growing. (When he was diagnosed, he said he most likely wouldn’t see 50. He celebrated his 50th birthday in August! 🙂
  4. I have awesome friends and family.
  5. I have a day job that allows me to have a roof over my head and food on my table.
  6. I think I’ve finally gotten rid of the mildew smell from the carpet in my office. Thank you, vinegar and baking soda!!
  7. I live in a state that rains — a lot!
  8. I have God’s love always!
  9. I finally found a church that I enjoy attending.
  10. I have a tentative release date for my debut novel, Fool’s Gold. (I’ll share the date as soon as it’s more definite, but think early next year.)

Life is an adventure, and no one promised it would be easy. There is good. There is bad. There are ups. And there are downs. In the middle of it all, let gratitude triumph over bitterness. I’m not sure who said this, but I saw the following quote on a Facebook meme:

“It doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full. Be grateful that you have a glass, and there is something in it.”

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

 

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For the Love of All Things Sinister

As I listen to reruns of The Walking Dead, waiting for the premier of the new season to start, I’m reminded of a friend who recently asked me how I can watch shows like that. And we’re not talking just The Walking Dead. I love all sorts of stories (TV, movies, and books) where really horrible stuff happens; horror, suspense, crime fiction, thrillers. The darker the better. “But with so many terrifying things going on in the world,” my friend asked, “why would you invite more death, depravity, and ugliness into your life?” She isn’t the first one to question my love of all things sinister, and I’m sure she won’t be the last. I usually stick with “I don’t know” as my response, but today I’m offering a real explanation.

Obviously, I’m not the only person entertained by these kinds of stories. The Walking Dead, Criminal Minds, Bones, CSI, Dexter . . . this list could go on . . . would not be have found the popularity they have if I were the only fan. Stephen King certainly wouldn’t be a household name. People would not watch Halloween or Nightmare on Elm Street over and over if those movies didn’t hold some appeal. So why do we enjoy them? Why are we entertained by blood, guts, ghastly crimes, and horrifying situations?

I don’t think there is a simple one-sized-fits-all answer. I think it’s as varied as the story being told and the individual who is listening/watching/reading, but here are some of the reasons I love them:

When the story has a clearly defined good vs. evil plot, you’re allowed to face evil with the safety of knowing the good side will win. It’s kind of like riding a roller coaster. You get the adrenaline rush of facing your fears, all while knowing your train is going to eventually bring you safely back to the loading platform. You can face the psychotic serial killer along with the main character, knowing the killer will be caught and justice served. In a world where so many things don’t make sense and awful things happen to good people for seemingly no rhyme or reason, it’s nice to sink into a story where you know the mysteries will be solved and the bad guy will not get away. And with these types of stories, the more vicious the evil, the harder the fight, the sweeter the victory.

Then you have the stories that aren’t so well delineated, where black and white blend into shades of gray. What I love most about these kinds of plots is exploration of our own fallible humanity. They show the good guys struggling to make the right decisions, but are just as likely to show the villain struggling and failing to make the right decisions. At times these stories can be difficult to watch because they force us to consider difficult circumstances and even more difficult self-truths. Yet, by questioning ourselves about how we would handle whatever challenges the characters are facing, we come to know ourselves better. In a way, it’s like a roadmap to understanding our own nature, to our own strengths and weaknesses.

Occasionally, a well-written suspense/thriller will trigger something within my own psyche . . . some hidden mental wound that I’ve spent too long avoiding. I don’t intentionally seek this out, and I certainly wouldn’t consider this entertaining, but sometimes the resulting catharsis is much more necessary than the escape I thought I needed.

Which brings me to the biggest (and simplest) reason of why I love these dreadful tales: Escape. A respite from the real world is, I believe, one of the main reasons most people read genre fiction and watch TV and movies. For me, a story that is light and too “feel good” doesn’t get me into that sweet zone of suspending my disbelief. No one’s life is that charmed. But give me characters I can truly believe in, throw them into horrific circumstances, amp up the stakes so I really care, and suddenly I’m hooked on their journey, their struggles, their triumphs. Doesn’t get any better than that, so bring on the dark and sinister!

Checking in . . .

I’ve been in Washington now for over a year and a half . . . in my new place for 9 months. I think it’s safe to say I’m settled in. I still haven’t seen Big Foot, but I love the rain and I know my way around enough to not get lost (usually, anyway). More importantly, I feel like my writing is finally back on track. I have some rough ideas and characters sketched out for book# 3 (working title: House of Tin). I’ve hit “the middle” of Tarnished Copper and really enjoying Kate’s journey. I also finally figured out what’s been bugging me about Fool’s Gold, so revisions are well underway. Life is good!

Letter to the world…

Dear Everyone,
You know, some days, it’s very disheartening to peruse any site on the internet. It has become not just tolerated or accepted but more the cultural norm to be really ugly to one another. I don’t understand it. So, I just want to take a moment to say whether you’re conservative or liberal; Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Wiccan, or atheist; straight, gay, or transgender; white, black, brown, yellow, green, purple, or tie-dyed; rich or poor…. I love you. We may disagree, but we’re still all in this together. We should be building each other up…not tearing each other down.
Love, Cari

Cari’s blog is coming soon. Once it’s here, I can guarantee it won’t be a regular thing. Most of my writing time is focused on novel writing. But I promise to check in once in a while.