Adventures at Home: Off-screen (Mostly)

People have been sending me cool ideas of things to do at home, and I’ve been collecting them to share. Maybe you’ll enjoy some of them, too!

There are so many, I plan to divide them into multiple posts. First up: things to do off-screen.

Here’s one of my favorites: reading.

Have any books you have around the house you’ve been meaning to read? This may be the perfect time. Pull some off the shelf, and start with any that calls to you.

Need a new book? This is the perfect time to buy anything from my publisher, Running Wild Press. They have put all their published catalog on sale for pennies above cost for paperback and 99 cents for eBooks* through May 1, 2020. You can find contemporary and historical fiction, memoir and other nonfiction, and eclectic collections of all kinds of short fiction. Here’s their list and details.

 

If you want a book — ANY book — paperbound, try your local bookstore — a lot of them can ship from online orders! You can search for an independent bookstore on Indiebound. Or try Barnes & Noble, especially for e-books*. Support real bookstores! (Amazon will probably weather this storm all right; bookstores are struggling.) And support booksellers, authors and publishers – they all need it.

If you don’t want to buy a new book, check out your nearest library’s website. Many libraries have e-books, audio books, and even magazines available online. And yes, checking out e-books from libraries does support authors and publishers! And it supports the libraries, too, by showing the Powers That Be how vital they are to our communities, especially in a time like this.

For the young and young at heart, Audible is offering free audiobooks for now.

If you have some spare time, review books you like on Goodreads or Amazon. Help out authors to get through these hard times!

My Copy, Reviewed on Goodreads

Here’s something that uses a totally different part of the brain: jigsaw puzzles!

Again, you can try your local bookstore to see if they deliver. We stumbled upon a favorite of ours in Wellington Square Bookshop, a wonderful bookstore I look forward to making the journey to when bookstores can open their doors again. Scroll down a bit to see results when you do a search on Wellington’s website.

Or try Barnes & Noble for puzzles — they seem to have a good number right now.

Another hands-on pursuit: coloring, for kids and adults as well. Coloring is another cool pursuit that uses other parts of our brains, and I find it fun and calming, both.

A library reached out to Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., who very kindly shared their Kids’ Resource Hub – coloring, puzzles, and more.

The Winchester Mystery house is offering their kids’ coloring book and crosswords puzzle.

An astounding array of museums are offering coloring pages from their collections – plenty to appeal to adults and older kids.

I plan on another post soon about more adventures at home on computer – including touring some amazing places, and seeing world-class performances. Check back!

*OK, yes, e-books are on screens. But I find reading a book a different experience than browsing the web, streaming a show, etc. And sometimes e-books are the best choice.

Interview with Monique Gagnon German

Cover of Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 3
Our New Anthology

I’m welcoming 2020 with interviews of some of my Running Wild Anthology of Stories colleagues. I’m delighted to begin with Monique Gagnon German, whose story Creach gripped me with its understated tension.

Welcome, Monique!

photo of author Monique Gagnon German
Monique Gagnon German, poet and author

Gemma: Give us a taste of what your story is about.
Monique: Creach is a story about a family living a simple life off-grid, until the unexpected arrives. Creach asks the question, “When something entirely new shows up in your life, do you embrace it or fear it?”

Gemma: Do you remember what the seed for this story was?
Monique: A parenthood moment spurred this story. With two kids, there is an almost constant barrage of requests for various toys, pets, games, & tech. For me, there’s always this decision-making duality: I want to protect them but I want to give them whatever they need to grow and thrive. Knowing with certainty the “best” yes’s and no’s is impossible.

Gemma: Your story crystallizes and magnifies this paradox so well!
Monique: That is a great compliment. Thank you!
Gemma: You’re very welcome! How did you find out about this anthology?
Monique: I saw a call for submissions. I investigated the background of Running Wild Press and was very impressed with who they are and what they published. When I sampled some of their published pieces, I really wanted to be in that company. I was absolutely thrilled when they wanted Creach.

Gemma: Do you remember when and why you started writing?
Monique: I grew up immersed in books. Quite the book nerd, actually. Some of my heroes include: Alice Walker, Steven King, Stephen Dunn, Nathanial Hawthorne, Lucy Grealy, Flannery O’Connor, Emily Dickinson, and Billy Collins. I wanted their jobs; I wanted to create worlds in stanzas and paragraphs.
Gemma: That is a cool way of putting it! And you wanted to be a poet from the beginning, it sounds like. What’s the first piece you wrote that you’re still proud of/happy with?
Monique: One poem I’m still proud of is, “God’s Voice,” (it was picked up by The Wayfarer).

Cover of Wayfarer magazine

 

Monique: One short story I’m still proud of is, “The Gambit Game” (it was published by The MacGuffin).

Cover of The MacGuffin magazine

 

Gemma: Tell a little about your writing history.
Monique: I started with poetry, but stories were also always coming to mind. I’ve written both pretty much all along, but only in the past few years have I submitted stories for consideration to be published.

Gemma: How has your writing changed over time?
Monique: Hopefully, it has gotten better. By better, I mean better at transporting the reader into the content, so they feel they are “in” it for the journey of the story or poem.
Gemma: In Creach and your more recent story The Now I really felt immersed in the atmospheric worlds you created, so well done! What’s the biggest challenge for you to write?
Monique: My first thought is always, hey, there’s no challenge too big! And then, the second thought races in, every story/poem I write is the current biggest challenge.

Gemma: What do you like best to write?
Monique: Anything that feels new.

Gemma: When you get an idea for a story, what comes to mind first, the plot or the character(s)? Or does it vary from story to story?
Monique: Story ideas are a combination of plot, characters, setting, and mood for me; even at inception they form a sort of blurred painting in my mind. But, usually, the spur that gets me excited to write the story is the engine: the plot concept.
Gemma: I love the “blurred painting” analogy! Plot is often what comes to me first, and spurs me to write, too. Do you tend to know the ending when you start writing?
Monique: Never. Sometimes I think I have an inkling, but I am always wrong. [laughter]

Gemma: Is there a place that you’ve lived (or visited) that most influences your writing?
Monique: I think living in so many places has influenced my writing more than any one place in particular.
Gemma: What are some of the places you’ve lived?
Monique: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, California, Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, and Arizona – But before you gasp at so many moves, let me explain, I married a Marine some 14 years ago. He’s retired now but we moved every three years for awhile there based on his assignments.

Gemma: What are you working on now?
Monique: A few things are in progress… a few new flash fiction stories… a few new poems. I have a process where I get multiple things started, then edit, change, edit, change, edit until they feel done.
Gemma: I admire your ability to work on more than one thing at a time! Readers can find one of your recent works, The Now, on Typishly. I really liked how swiftly I was immersed in that new world, and the tense journey you took readers on.
Monique: Thank you. I had a weird sense of fun writing The Now, I felt immersed in that world and like I was seeing it rather than “inventing” it. That story really came alive almost movie-like in my mind when I was writing it and it was such a cool journey for me.
Gemma: That is cool! And I think it shows in the story. How can readers connect with you and find out more about your work?
Monique: The best way is through my website or email.

Gemma: Thank you so much for joining me on my blog, Monique! I hope readers will check out your stories in our Anthology, TypishlyThe Wayfarer, and The MacGuffin. And if you haven’t gotten a copy of Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 3 to read her story and all its fine company, do so!

Check back in coming weeks for more interviews with my Anthology colleagues.

 

Our Anthology Up for Pre-Order

I got this exciting news in my inbox: our anthology is now available for pre-order!

Find it at  Mysterious Galaxy and Barnes and Noble.

Cover of Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 3
Coming mid-September!

That young woman’s expression is pretty much my face when I get my hands on a much-wanted book!

Here’s the news from our publisher:

“For a third year in a row, Running Wild Press brings you eclectic and exciting stories that will make your imagination run wild!

Featuring these magical tales:

“Clara Came to St. Mary’s” by Hailey Piper

“Los Sueños” by Dawn DeAnna Wilson

“Hada” by Magaly Garcia

“Where Dead Men Are Buried” by Susan Breall

“Under the Eye of the Crow” by VT Dorchester

“From Trina to T” by Susan Breall

“Madam Ursa’s Performing Bears” by Robert Allen Lupton

“Old Tony’s Smashing Chair” by Paul Attmore

“Visit to the Cralnaw Estate” by Anthony Peters

“Free Money” by Andrew Adams

“Creach” by Monique Gagnon German

“Inglorious Carnage” by Jason Zeitler

“The One that Got Away” by Gemma L. Brook

“Monkey in the Middle” by Audra Supplee

“Le Bouquiniste” by Lorna Walsh

“Toby” by Debby Huvaere

“Running Man” by Desiree Kannel

“The Lucky Ones” by Molly Byrne

“A Friend’s Text” by Jenn Powers

“Desert Rats” by Gary Kidney

“One Between” by Sarah Kaminski

“MAIA’S CALL” by Ed Burke

“Faith Healing for Pessimists” by Anastasia Jill

“Final Exit” by Abdullah Aljumah

“On the Hassawi Sparrow” by Abdullah Aljumah

“Exposed” by Abdullah Aljumah

Get your imagination running today!”

I’m excited to be in the midst of so many intriguing stories and right beside my friend Aud! And I can’t wait to get my hands on that physical book!

My Publication News

I have exciting news – my next publication is coming out soon! My fiction is included in Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 3, due on or around Sept. 15th, 2019. My contribution is a bit of flash fiction, “The One that Got Away,” which won an award at a recent Pennwriters Conference. It’s about a bunch of fisherman swapping stories and the tale that tops them all.

My story joins Aud Supplee’s “Monkey in the Middle.” I’ve read a lot of Aud’s fine fiction, but not this one and I’m excited to read it.

This collection is a follow-up to Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vol. 2 , which features two of my pieces. That collection is packed with excellent stories; you can read interviews with several of the authors (and others) on my site.

cover of Running Wild Anthology of Stories Vot. 2
Volume Two

I can’t wait to see what Volume 3 holds! Check back for updates and the cover reveal.

Meanwhile, I’ll be hard at work on my fantasy novel.

Desk of Gemma Brook

Our Anthology in Gift Bags for George Lopez’s Celebrity Golf Classic

I’m pleased to announce that my stories and all the rest of my colleagues’ in Running Wild Press’s Anthology of Stories Vol. 2 will be part of the gift bags given out at George Lopez’s Golf Classic.

 

I don’t usually follow golf, but the George Lopez Foundation raises awareness about kidney disease and organ donation, and works to help underprivileged children, adults and military families.

That’s a mission I can really get behind. I’m honored that my writing can play a small part in supporting this. Thank you to Lisa Kastner, our executive editor at Running Wild Press, for making this happen.

Here’s what Lisa has to say:

When a friend reached out to see if we’d be interested in supporting George Lopez’s Celebrity Golf Classic by being included in the gift bags, my answer was a resounding yes. As a child who grew up in the inner city of Camden New Jersey, I had been privy to situations in which children couldn’t have survived childhood trauma without the assistance of donors. Mr. Lopez’s Foundation creates a robust environment in which to save lives.

…The Mission of George Lopez’s Foundation is one that all of us at Running Wild Press believe in:

“… to create positive, permanent change for underprivileged children, adults and military families confronting challenges in education and health, as well as increasing community awareness about kidney disease and organ donation.” https://georgelopezfoundation.org/our-mission

Books to be included in the celebrity gift bags:

 “Frontal Matter: Glue Gone Wild” by Suzanne Samples – A fun, funny, and heartbreakingly real memoir of a woman’s fight against terminal brain cancer. The writing is honest, charming, and full of cuss words.

“Magic Forgotten” by Jack Hillman – For a man shut up in his house after being in a near fatal car accident, Dan is thrust into another world and must recruit helpers in his quest. 

“The Kidnapped” by Dwight L. Wilson – Dwight Wilson researched for more than a dozen years to ensure this brilliant historic fiction collection portrayed the very nuanced history of African Americans in the United States. 

“The Resistors” by Dwight L. Wilson (Available for retail sale July 4th) The follow up collection to “The Kidnapped” 

“Dark Corners” by Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett – “It’s pleasing to see such a diverse array characters be so presented in such a normal way. Each individual is not presented as a token, but rather just another human being…” — Wagatwe Wanjuki, feminist writer and activist 

“Writers Resist: The Anthology 2018” – Celebrating the online journal’s first year, includes the works of 73 contributors. 

“Running Wild Novella Anthology, Volume 1”  Stories that will make your imagination run wild.

“Running Wild Novella Anthology, Volume 2, Part 1” and Part 2 – Eclectic and dynamic collections of novellas. Trigger worthy.

“Jersey Diner” by Lisa Diane Kastner – One man’s fan is another man’s stalker

“Build Your Music Career from Scratch” Second Edition by Andrae Alexander – A practical guide for those trying to make it in the music industry.

“Running Wild Anthology of Short Stories, Volume 1”  

“Running Wild Anthology of Short Stories, Volume 2”

 

That’s a lot of fine books to fill up gift bags! If you’d like to know a bit more about some of these authors, check out my blogpost on Golden Globes gift baskets – many of the same writers were featured there as well.

Thank you, Lisa, for making us all a part of this!

You can learn more about Running Wild Press at
Twitter: @runwildbooks, @lisadkastner
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/runningwildpress/

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