Linus

While literary fiction takes up only a small corner of the Wattpad universe, it’s there, and a lot of it is very, very good. That is where I came across Linus by Bria Olive Green – so dust off that old Wattpad account and give this book a read.

Mollie Da Silva is a young artist at the beginning of her career. She’s in a toxic relationship while trying to keep her alcoholism at a functional level with varying degrees of success. When Trix stands her up at the altar of her wedding day, Mollie gets the hell out of dodge with a bank account full of Trix’s money.

Mollie finds a small apartment and decides to get sober all on her own. However, she is not alone. She soon finds Linus living in her apartment, and he has solid opinions about how she should live her life. 

Is Mollie losing her mind? Is she hallucinating as she detoxes? 

Linus is a talking apple. 

It sounds crazy, but Bria Olive Green pulls it off.

There is no shortage of topics to discuss, so if you need a shorter read for book club (it’s more of a novella than a novel), I strongly recommend it. The author also includes a list of book club questions at the end.

Todd Lake

There is so much to do in Central Oregon that it took us two years to visit Todd Lake. This is notable because we frequently drive past it – it is the first lake on the Cascade Lakes Highway past Mt. Bachelor. In our defense, this part of the highway is only open from approximately June to October due to snowfall (it’s at 6150 feet) and is incredibly busy during the summer months. We did try visiting it this July, but the parking lot was full to overflowing, causing us to try another location as avoiding crowds this summer was essential.

We returned on a grey day in late September. The weather left something to be desired, but it also kept the crowds away. The best part – from September 15th to July 15, dogs can be off-leash – perfect for our dog whose favorite activity is running in the cold.

Todd Lake is located in a cirque glacier – a concave depression on or near a mountain caused by glacial ice and erosion.

Besides fishing, Todd Lake is known for its spectacular views of Mt. Bachelor and Broken Top. A fact I can neither confirm nor deny as the fog rolled in the day we were there.

What mountains???

There is a 2.5k trail around the lake and a trail towards Broken Top if you are up for a longer hike. We walked the shorter trail first. It’s an easy hike, and the trail winds its way around the lake at the water’s edge leading you through an alpine meadow and a fir forest.

We began the trail leading to Broken Top but turned around due to driving rain. The dog thought we should keep going, but he was out voted by all those not in a fur coat.

I liked it there so much that I took the dog running there a few more times before the road closed.

Will I return? Absolutely, but not until the fall. I imagine the spring will be buggy due to the meadow’s swampy nature, and even though the flowers will be in bloom, I prefer the badlands during that time of year. As for the summer, if it’s anything like this year, it will be too crowded.

2021 Writing Goals – The Key to Success

Lots of writers set writing goals. I am not one of them. At least not until now. In trying to take something positive away from 2020, I found that I can achieve goals if I set my mind to it. 

This spring, I decided to train to run 5k. Motivated by my dog’s need for exercise, I set specific weekly goals, had an end date in mind,  and tracked my progress on my Garmin. Seeing the weekly improvement was both satisfying and motivating. So much so that I was running 5k before my target date. 

Coming off that success, I decided to set 2021 writing goals. But how can I make sure I have the same level of success? I realized that I did more than set a goal – I set objectives to meet that goal. Something I had done in previous jobs to reach organizational goals, but something I never applied to my writing.

Goals are a statement about something you want to achieve. 

Objectives are the steps you take to meet your goals.

Determining goals

Typically goals are a general proclamation. For example, a charity might set the goal for increasing community engagement. As a writer, your goal might be to write a novel. 

Now that you have these goals, how do you achieve them? That’s where the objectives come in.

Setting objectives

Objectives are the specific steps you take to meet your goals. They have to be: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Have a completion date

Like my goal of running 5k, I set weekly targets, tracked my progress, and had a target date.

The same can be applied to writing a novel. 

Let’s take writing a novel. You need to break it down into steps. There are many steps involved here, but let’s look at the first draft because Nanowrimo is the perfect example of turning this goal into an objective. 

  • The first draft of a novel (specific)
  • 50 000 words (measurable)
  • By the end of November (completion date)

Nano also lets you track your daily word count on their site and gives you badges for passing certain milestones. It’s silly but oddly satisfying. There is also an online community of support. Will you have a publishable novel? No, but you will have an incredible start and the basis of a first draft. 

Setting goals is easy – accomplishing them is hard.  By using objectives, you create steps to reach those goals.

Now I just have to take my own advice.

What are your goals?

Good Dog! Trail for your good dog.

If you like dogs, then Bend, Oregon, is the place for you.

Bend has numerous dog parks, pet-friendly restaurants, and lots of off-leash hiking trails. One of these trails is located close to town along the Cascade Lakes Highway toward Mt. Bachelor. Rimrock Trailhead, or Good Dog! as locals call it, is a series of trails on the Deschutes River where you and your dog can hike, bike, or jog off-leash all year round.

(watch this video by DogPAC)

Good Dog! is a favorite spot for locals and as such, the parking lot can get pretty busy. However, there is so much space and so many trail options that you can walk without seeing many people at all (which makes it great for social distancing in 2020).

There are wider forest roads or narrow trails. You can hike to the water or take a gentle stroll. Take a quick walk or explore for several hours. There is something for dogs of all sizes and abilities.

One of the more popular spots is a small open beachy area on the river. Accessible from several trails, this spot usually has at least one dog enjoying the water, regardless of the weather or season.

It is open all year but be careful of the intense summer heat. Go either early or later in the day when it is cooler.

Come winter, it doesn’t get a lot of snow (but can on occasion), but it does get icy. I recommend taking a pair of ice cleats even if you don’t end up using them. It took me several falls to learn my lesson. Don’t make the same mistake.

As if this area wasn’t enough, connected to the Rimrock Trail is a series of day-use parks along the Deschutes linked by the Deschutes River Trail. This trail allows dogs off-leash from September 15 to May 15 and goes from the Meadow Day Use Area up to Benham Falls (about ten miles).

As always, make sure your dog is under your control and clean up the poop. Garbage cans are located in several spots, and poop bags are found at the parking lot (thanks to DogPAC). There is also a bathroom for us humans.

Have fun! Your dog certainly will.

If you are looking for winter activities, click here.

Why Write Micro Fiction – Tips for New Writers

Micro Fiction is exactly what it sounds like – a very, very short story. How short? While there is no hard and fast rule, most people consider micro fiction to have a word count of 100 words or less. Personally, I love the challenge of fifty words.

When I began writing, I just wanted to sit down and write a novel. But a novel takes a long time, months, even years. Smaller projects, like short stories, flash fiction, and micro fiction, often provide a much needed sense of accomplishment.

But I don’t want to take time away from writing my novel.

It’s not time wasted. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Think of it as skill enhancement. A comparison can be drawn from sports. Not only do athletes spend hours practicing their particular sport, but young athletes are also encouraged to play a diverse array of sports. Why? Because learning different skills enhances overall athletic ability, agility, focus, and reflexes, which helps them play their selected sport better. For example, hockey players might also play lacrosse and soccer and do gymnastics.

Yes, I did just draw a comparison between hockey and writing – I’m Canadian

With all that in mind, here are my top four reasons for writing micro fiction:

  1. Nothing motivates like success.
    Getting your first journal acceptance letter is incredibly rewarding. Not only do you have something to list on your web site, it provides a feeling of validation. I can write. Someone likes my story enough to publish it. This helps get through the longs days/weeks /months of being alone and writing your manuscript.
  2. From idea to publication
    An idea is developed, planned, written, edited, critiqued, revised. Journals are researched, then queried. You receive rejection letters, and hopefully, eventually, you get it published. It’s the entire process in a tiny package.
  3. Poetic skills are developed
    I don’t write literary fiction, but writing short allows me to play with lyrical prose. I write metaphorically, focusing on a theme and layer the story with meaning. This enhances the imagery woven into my novel.
  4. Have fun
    Micro fiction is the perfect bite-size outlet for creativity. Experiment with form, words, structure, themes. Enjoy releasing your passions, dreams, desires, anxieties, even darkness.

Good luck! Please share any of your own micro stories.

The Husband’s Secret

(I know this is not a new release but I just read it 🙂 )

The Husband’s Secret
Liane Moriarty
Hardcover
Published by Berkley
Jul 30, 2013 | 416 Pages

We all have secrets.

Liane Moriarty is known for her thought-provoking women’s fiction. This book is no different as the reader is left wondering just how well they know their spouse.

There is more than one husband with a secret and these secrets all have the ability to destroy their families. Cecelia finds a letter her husband wrote in the case of his death and was not meant to open while he was alive. Tess’s husband reveals a secret that has Tess taking her son and moving in with her mother. The reader enters each woman’s life as she tries to deal with the fallout of these revelations to the best of their abilities.

Two distinct secrets in two separate cities are cleverly woven together by Moriarty demonstrating the far-reaching impact one impulsive action can have. Moriarty shows just how profound the ripple effect can be and how it can leave those affected with secrets of their own.

Reader’s Guide

Reviews

Goodreads

Kirkus Review

Single Mother Ahoy

Steens Mountain Loop Road: An Unforgettable Trip

Escaping the smoke of the Oregon forest fires in the fall of 2020, we drive east from Bend.

Three hours later we reach Steens Mountain.

Steens Mountain is a fault-block mountain – a large rock caused by tectonic stresses – unlike the Cascade Mountains, which are volcanos. From the base town of Frenchglen, the mountain is deceptively unassuming. It’s not until you begin your climb on the Steens Mountain Loop Road that you realize its raw beauty.

A natural wonder in the high desert of South Eastern Oregon (about 1 hour SE of Burns)

Steens Mountain is a vast, rugged wilderness, with deep glacial-carved gorges and expansive untouched terrain.  The loop road is approximately fifty miles and winds you up and down the peak of 9700′ through unspoiled land and breathtaking outlooks. At times, you could nearly touch the clouds.

We chose to do the route counterclockwise and arrived there at midday. The air was breathable but cast a yellow hue across the terrain. It’s stunning on its own, but then we came across the South Steen heard of wild horses. I will be honest; we knew there were wild horses, but our expectations were low, having spent time looking for the wild horses that roam the Outer Banks in North Carolina to no avail.

But there they were.

Living in Oregon, horses are not a rare sight, but there is something mystical about seeing them roam free, living as untamed as the wilderness that surrounds them. Believed to be the descendants of Spanish mustangs brought to the new world by conquistadors in the sixteenth century, they apparently lived undetected for centuries. Only in the 1970s were they spotted by BLM surveyors.

You might think it would be hard to top seeing wild horses, but the lookouts further up the Loop do not disappoint.  There are several lookouts (Wildhorse Lake, East Rim, Kiger Gorge, Little Blitzen, and Big Indian), and I recommend stopping at each one. Make sure your phone is fully charged, because you do not want to miss anything.

We were only there for the day and our time was too short. The loop is amazing but really only the beginning. There is so much to explore that we will definitely return.