"There's no point in spending your life in the pursuit of something that's easy." - Alice Kuipers

Friday, May 31, 2013

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Desolate

Welcome to Friday and this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction! This week's prompt is desolate. If you'd liked to learn more about Five Sentence Fiction, or give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

She released the red button, lifting her shaking hand and opening the door to whatever new universe awaited her. The last one had been a disaster, but it was always a roll of the dice when you went dimension hopping. This one, on the other hand, looked promising. It was still, so quiet it pressed in on her ears, making her cough just so she could check that she wasn't deaf. She looked around - no one in sight - yes, this would do nicely.

I hope you've enjoyed this little tale. If you did, please share it with friends. If you really liked it, I hope you'll follow this blog and/or come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. If you're still jonesing for more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below to read past editions. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Charmed
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Accident
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Goggles
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Festival

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The French Continues

I'm posting a little late today, probably because I was up late last night attempting to learn French. As some of you know, for several months now I've been trying to learn some rudimentary French with a few helpful apps on my phone, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Paris. Well, last night I looked at the calendar, counted down the days and then counted down how many lessons I had to go and realized that I was WAY behind. So, I'm upping the intensity. I have a lot to do if I want to even get through the lessons once, and obviously I wanted to repeat them several times.

I want it noted that I really wasn't slacking off. I've been trying to do them every day, and most of the time I'm successful. Sure, there are days when I just don't get to it, but on the whole I've done very well. Although, if you measure success by how much French I'm capable of, then I really don't have a leg to stand on. Okay, that's not true either. I definitely couldn't hold a conversation in French but I am picking up a little bit of the basics, hopefully enough so that I don't humiliate myself completely. I'm giving myself a gold star for effort and let's just leave it at that.

I know I shouldn't be stressing out over it, but I'm starting to get a little nervous about the trip, and the more French I have in my back pocket, the more comfortable I'll be when I get on the flight. Speaking of stress, I think I've found the perfect way to deal with our exceedingly long layover in Montreal on the way there. The airport has a spa. Heh heh, now that's a vacation.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Book Review - The School of Essential Ingredients

It's entirely possibly that I've included this week's book in one of my reading lists before, if I have it'd be fitting, because I forgot I'd already read this one until I started reading it again. It was such fun, like bumping into a dear friend you'd lost touch with and only recognizing them after a moment of shared confusion. Enjoy!



It's true, when I picked up this book to read it I didn't realize it was for the second time. I'd been looking at Erica Bauermeister's new book in the bookstore, THE LOST ART OF MIXING, and decided I better read the first book beforehand as I'd always wanted to read it. Isn't that funny? I had the strange recollection that I hadn't been able to get around to reading it despite my sincere desire to do so. As it turned out, I had. I realized as soon as I was a few pages in but just couldn't remember how it ended and was enjoying it so much I couldn't put it down. It turned out to be a fabulous reread and I recalled the earlier joy I'd had reading those pages, learning the life lessons of its characters, the awakenings they'd had at the school of essential ingredients, a cooking class run by one of it's characters, Lillian, at her restaurant on the first Monday of every month. It's a lovely premise and the perfect Sunday afternoon read. 

I think my favourite part of the book is its characters. Each one is different, experiencing their own unique set of problems, all brought together by a simple cooking class. And in it, they each have this incredible awakening through the food and the act of cooking, coming together to form a comradery that reaches past the cooking class. It also makes you want to cook, makes your mouth water and your stomach rumble. Suddenly you'll be writing up ridiculously long grocery lists formed from ambitious pinterest recipes you suddenly have the bravery to try. The writing is beautiful, each character's story flowing flawlessly into the next, tying the plot together seamlessly. You learn the mystery of each character and watch as the magic of good food and good friends sets them back on the right path. It's a delicious experience. (Excuse the pun)

If you're looking for a well written, engaging book that'll make you toss out the chips and pull out the pots and pans, this is it. And I can assure you, it's a fantastic read, the first time and the second.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Charmed

It's Friday! Thank goodness too, because it's been quite the week. I've been battling a cold all week, missing work, (which is not good when you're trying hard to save money for a trip), I gave a reading of a short story on Wednesday night as part of a celebration of the Writer in Residence program, and my house has sunk even further into the depths of severe messiness thanks to my aforementioned cold. But still, it's Friday and that's a good reason to celebrate, especially with some Five Sentence Fiction. So, let's get on with it already! This week's prompt is charmed. If you'd like to learn more about what it's all about or give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

She didn't usually let people into her house, especially not this late. But there was something about him, with that slightly crinkled and just a little dirty black suit, his bowler hat clutched in his hands as he ever so politely requested an invitation inside. There was something strangely familiar about his smile, that twinkle in his eye. If she had been in her right mind, she would have resisted, would have remembered that she never invited strangers inside her house. But he was just so... charming. 

Voila! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and if you liked this little story, I hope you'll share it with friends. If you really liked it (and would also like to make my day) then please feel free to follow this blog and come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. I look forward to reading your insights and comments below in the comments section. If you're still hungry for more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below to read past week's editions. Thank you for reading, and come back soon!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Accident
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Goggles
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Festival
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Shadows

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Summer of No TV - Week 1

The summer of no TV officially started last week sometime and so far I'm kind of surprised I'm not getting more done. I guess I figured without TV to distract me I'd be getting a lot more done. Somehow, my house is still a horrific mess, my writing is still stumbling along at a clumsy, procrastinating pace and my yard (although better than last year) is still decidedly unpretty. The laundry still sits in large piles on the laundry room floor and I'm just not sure what I've been doing with all those wasted TV hours.

True, I've been reading A LOT and I will not apologize for that. It's important. I think every human being should read every day, even if it's just a few pages. I'll also admit to napping a lot, but I'm pretty sure it's not more than usual. Of course, with the weather finally turning towards summer my husband and I have been taking the dog for increasingly long walks. But I still feel like I've gone through some kind of worm hole. Where's all the progress?

I'm hoping this is just the adjustment period and soon I'll be getting a little more proactive with all the work I should be doing. No matter what happens though, I still think it's a good idea to take some time off from the TV. It certainly can't be a bad decision... right?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Book Review - Tolstoy and the Purple Chair

Welcome to Monday and this week's book recommendation. Enjoy!



This is a memoir by a woman who loses her sister at forty six to a sudden illness and spends three years trying to run from the reality of that loss until she finally decides to stop, sit down and deal with it the only way she knows how: by reading. She decides to read a book a day for a year, and use books to bring herself back to life and teach her how to keep the memory of her sister alive. 

I think I could probably go on and on about how much I loved this book. Where to start? Her retelling of the love she has for her sister, the vivid memories she has of her and her family are all so beautiful and fit perfectly with the lessons she learns from the books she reads. Of course, there's the enormity of the list of books I want to read, thanks to her recounting of the many fabulous authors she enjoyed over her year, not to mention the way she champions the importance of reading and how it heals us, teaches us, encourages us, sympathizes with us and of course, entertains us. I enjoyed how richly she painted the pictures of her memories, never failing to entwine those memories with the books she'd read. It was fantastic. 

If you're not much of a reader, you will be after this book. The author has managed to perfectly portray the magic of a good book (no easy task) as well as recommend some brilliant choices to get you on your way. I personally have never wanted to sit down with a good mystery more than after reading her memories of hot summer days spent enthralled in the twist and turns of a good who-dunnit. More than that though, I think the biggest take away from this book is the love of family, and the need to cherish the important people in our lives, to find the joy in each moment and hold them close to our heart. Well done, Nina, well done.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Accident

Welcome to Friday and this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction! This week's prompt is accident. If you'd like to learn more about what it's all about, or give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

"It was an accident."
Her voice was flat and emotionless, her face blank as she stood on the edge of the roof, looking down at his mangled body below. She looked at me, seemed to stare right through to my thoughts, daring me to disagree with her. I thought about all the things he'd done, everything I'd seen and I'm sure the even more horrific things I hadn't.
I nodded,"of course it was."

I hope you enjoyed this little piece of fiction, and if you did, I hope you'll share it with friends. If you really liked it, then please feel free to follow this blog and come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. If you're still in the mood for Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below to read past editions. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Goggles
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Festival
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Shadows
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Angles

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

National Short Story Month

Did you know that May is National Short Story Month? I didn't until a few days ago when I saw someone mention it on twitter. So, with that in mind I'd like to share a short story with you that I wrote for last month's Your Story competition in Writer's Digest. The prompt was to write a short story in 750 words or fewer, in which you are stranded on desert island with a coconut, a mask and a dictionary, and explain how you escape the island using only those three objects. I didn't win, but I hate to see a good story go to waste therefore I'm sharing it here. I hope you enjoy it and happy National Short Story Month!

One Way

Hopeless: [hohp-lis] adjective, providing no hope; beyond optimism or hope; desperate

I looked up from the wrinkled pages of the dictionary, staring out at the endless water. It was a sheet of glass, disappearing into the horizon. There was not a soul to be seen, nor had there been since I washed up on this desolate little island, so small I could walk its periphery in an hour.
I'd lost track of the days, the hours I'd sat here on the sand staring out at the water, watching for something, anything. I was almost out of food, a single coconut left.
I was going to die here. It was a fact; pure, simple and inescapable. I turned the pages, trailing my finger along the words.

Inescapable: [in-uh-skey-puh-buh l] adjective, incapable of being escaped, ignored or avoided

The only choice I had left was how it would end. Would it be slow and pitiful, stretched out over days, hours, starving slowly until my body shut down, or...
I picked up the mask I'd set in the sand beside me, slowly turned it over in my hands. Aside from the dictionary and the coconut, it was the only possession I had. It was porcelain, with narrow slits for eyes and small painted on lips in bright crimson, like a doll's mouth. It had flaming red and gold designs over the forehead and temples that caught the light as I turned it. It was attached to a long wand decorated with ribbons and feathers, for holding it to your face during a masquerade. It was a glittering feather festooned work of the imagination, bought in Venice in another life to take home and hang on the wall.
The sand was too soft and powdery where I sat, so I picked up the coconut and carried it with the mask down closer to the water where the ground was firmer. I set the mask down, pressed it lightly into the damp sand and raised the coconut above my head. I brought it down hard on the mask, feeling the shattering of it beneath my hands as much as hearing it. I picked through the softly glittering pieces until I found the right one.
I trekked back up the beach and settled myself under a palm tree, pulling the old, weathered dictionary onto my lap. The pages were crinkly and wrinkled from the humidity, slightly yellowed from the touch of too many hands. They slid through my fingers with a soft rustle as I searched for the correct page.
When I found it, I nestled the open dictionary into the sand beside me, placing a stone on each side to hold it open to the right place.
There was only one way off this island. Just one.
With a steady hand I drew the sharp edge of the porcelain down my wrist.

Liberate: [lib-uh-reyt] verb, to set free, as from imprisonment or bondage

Monday, May 13, 2013

Monday Book Review - Sunshine

Maybe this week's choice was inspired by yesterday's abundance of it, or it could be that destiny simply made the book's spine sparkle just so as I walked by, reminding me that I simply must tell the world of it's brilliance, or it could be that the three books I read last week simply weren't up to snuff enough to offer up as a book recommendation, causing me to cast further back into my subconscious for a truly good read. Either way, you're in for a treat.

SUNSHINE by Robin McKinley


 Sunshine is not your typical vampire story. I know, I know. We're all sick to death of vampires. Twilight has ruled them horribly uncool for the foreseeable future. But I promise you, this book is so much more than the typical vomit worthy love story of the pathetic girl who can't seem to fit in meets charming, dark fellow who turns out to be a vampire with a heart of gold. Blech. Been there, done that. No, this story is filled with whimsy, magic, darkness and pure imagination. Gone is the melancholy beautiful man struggling through eternity. And good riddance!

The writing is exquisite (no big surprise, if you've read Robin McKinley's other works), the story completely original. I guarantee you've never read anything like it. I especially love the main character, Sunshine. She's strong, complex and without a single genre cliche. The story is told perfectly, unfolding just right at just the right times. It's the kind of book I love most. The kind you just can't put down.

So, if you're looking for something different, something intoxicating, this is it. A fantastic story told by an incredibly talented author. (I also highly suggest Deerskin, another work of hers that I just love.)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Goggles

It's Friday, which means it's time for some Five Sentence Fiction. (I'm excited, how bout you?) This week's prompt is goggles. If you'd like to learn more about what it's all about, or give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

"Stephanie, honey, could you please take off those damn goggles?"
Stephanie could tell her mother was exasperated but she just shook her head. The goggles were important, they were the only way to tell when someone was telling the truth. She watched her mother on the phone with her dad, through the lenses of the goggles she could see the blue fog pour out of her mouth. She was lying to him about something, she just wasn't sure what. 

I hope you enjoyed this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction. If you're in the mood for more, just follow the links below and read past editions. If you really liked it, then I hope you'll follow this blog and/or come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Festival
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Shadows
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Angles
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Edge

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The End of a Residency

Yesterday was my last meeting with the current Writer in Residence, David Poulsen. It was sad, as it always is. The writer in residence is such a great program and every year they find brilliant writers to fill the position. This past year was especially wonderful. David Poulsen is not only a talented author of many genres, he's also warm, funny and goes well beyond the call of duty to help emerging writers. Under his supervision I've learned a lot. I feel I'm a much stronger writer and editor than I was at the beginning.

Of course, the lessons I've learned won't end with his departure. His residency may be over, but my education is far from it. I have a long stretch of summer waiting to be filled with writing and editing. It's time to put those lessons to good use. And when September comes, bringing with it the arrival of the new Writer in Residence, I'll be waiting to see what they have to teach me as well. Although they have some pretty big shoes to fill.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Book Review - Paris I Love You, But You're Bringing Me Down

Another Monday is upon us, which means it's time for this week's book recommendation. In keeping with preparations for an upcoming trip to Paris, I've been reading every Paris related memoir I can get my hands on. This one was particularly good, so you know I had to tell you all about it.



Not just your average memoir, Rosecrans Baldwin tells the funny, lonely and sometimes embarrassing story of the time he and his wife spent living in Paris. After growing up with a love of Paris since a family vacation at nine years old, Rosecrans always wanted to live in the city of light. When an opportunity presents itself, he and his wife jump on it. But when they arrive, Rosecrans realizes Paris isn't quite the same as how he remembered it.

I love a good memoir, especially one that has all the elements I adore, which this one has in spades. It's funny, unapologetically honest and no one dies. Especially pets. I cannot (and will not) read memoirs that end with a pet dying. I just can't do it. This one stands head and shoulders above the rest for being so well written, laugh out loud funny and with such a unique perspective. I've read a lot of memoirs focusing on Paris, but this one felt a little more honest. The author wasn't afraid to bare his flaws, or the flaws of the city he adores, and it made me respect him a lot more.

In addition to the bizarre scenarios, unforgettable characters and fantastic storytelling,what I liked best was the author's ability to be realistic about his favourite city. Is Paris beautiful? Absolutely! Is it one of a kind? Of course! Does it sometimes make you want to pull your hair out in frustration? You better believe it! And what's more, it makes me appreciate my own unique perspective, going to visit as a tourist. But more than that, it's universal. If you've ever felt like you were on the outside looking in, or experienced a lost in translation moment, you'll love this book. It's a great read, don't miss it!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Festival

Welcome to Friday and this week's edition of Five Sentence Fiction. This week's prompt is festival. If you'd like to learn about what it's all about and maybe give it a try yourself, just visit Lillie McFerrin Writes. Enjoy!

No one likes the festival of renewal. It sounds pretty, but it's not. Luckily, it only happens once every fifty years or so, but God help you if that's the year you enter womanhood. Then, it's up to fate as you stand with the other trembling girls on the altar, waiting to see which one the creature will choose to take as his new bride. It's a necessary unpleasantness, to keep it happy; otherwise things would get far more unpleasant...

I hope you've enjoyed this little piece of fiction, and it sees you off into a fabulous weekend. If you particularly enjoyed it, please feel free to share it with friends. If you'd like to be notified about new blog posts, just follow this blog or come find me on twitter @MelanieKCole. If you're still hankering for more Five Sentence Fiction, just follow the links below to read previous editions. Have a great weekend!

Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Shadows
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Angles
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Edge
Five Sentence Fiction Friday - Words

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Expiry Date

It's been a rough couple of days. Since Monday morning I've been walking around in zombie mode, trying to process the news that the business I currently work for has been sold, with the new owners taking possession yesterday. It was completely unexpected, unplanned and frankly, I'm a little shell shocked. I still feel like at any moment I'm going to wake up and go into work to tell my boss what a crazy dream I had last night. But it's real, as is the realization that my job now has an expiration date.

The previous owners are going to stay on as managers for two years (thank God! I love my boss), and in the mean time everything should run as it had before, except for a certain inescapable duality that comes with this kind of transition. The new owners have just launched a new company wide program for accounting and are currently getting it set up and everything streamlined, as well as working out the necessary bugs. This should take a while, probably at least a year, maybe two but when it's done, I won't be needed anymore. Which brings me to my expiry date.

My job is no longer a certainty. It was the job I'd hoped to work at until my writing career took off and now, that might not happen. The thought of looking for another job makes me nauseated. I've bounced around from job to job so much over the past several years. I was so happy to have found someplace I could call home, a place I loved to get up and go to, with a boss I adored. I don't know if I can go through that search again. After all, it's not the job itself I adore, it's the workplace.

So, that leaves me with an uncertain timeline for a goal I don't know if I can accomplish. Can I build a writing career for myself before my current job disappears? I don't know. But in lieu of other options, I think it's time to go for broke. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I think this is going to be a bumpy ride.