Posted in author, H. S. Contino, motivation, updates

Introducing “Penny-less January”

 Good morning!

As the new year approaches, I’ve decided to challenge myself to what I’m calling “Penny-less January.” I’m writing about it on my blog and sharing my plans on the internet in order to keep myself accountable. 😉

The “rules” are pretty simple: I want to see if I can make through an entire month without spending a penny on anything other than my regular household bills (housing, utilities, and phone/internet). I’m also going to avoid spend money on groceries or take out. In preparation, I’ve stocked up on frozen, canned, and shelf stable foods (as well as pet food and treats– of course!).

I have several reasons for pursuing this challenge, but one of the main ones is that I’m tired of starting each new year poor and in debt. For years, I felt societal pressure to spend a lot of money on gifts for my family and friends every holiday season. Since I’ve never had a large salary, more often than not I ended up falling back on my credit cards– which mean that come January I had to start paying them back with interest.

I want to break that cycle.

This year, I sent holiday greeting cards to my family and friends, but I only gave gifts to my closest family members. And, instead of racking up debt, I purchased a few small, inexpensive gifts. Instead of traditional gifts, I made individualized Memory Books for family members using photographs of past family adventures and special moments. As I told my nieces and nephew, I was giving them each the gift of memory— and the Memory Books were meant to symbolize this intangible gift.

I chose the name “Penny-less January” because my goal is the exact opposite. I’m trying to break the cycle of beginning every new year penniless, and I’m so tired of modern society’s focus on consumerism. Instead, I’m going back to the basics. I want to start the year while focusing on my basic expenses, which will free up money in my budget that I can put towards my debt.

So, wish me luck!

What about everyone else? What are your goals for the new year? Any new year’s resolutions? Please, feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for reading. I hope that your holidays were merry, and I’d like to wish everyone a wonderful (and happy) new year!

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in Artists, author, Book Reviews, Bookaholic, Books, H. S. Contino, Inspirational, motivation, pets, promotion, Reading, Writing

Fan Mail Friday!

Good morning!

Can you believe that we’re approaching the end of 2021? Time sure does fly by!

For this month’s Fan Mail Friday, I’m sharing another older review. This one is for a collection of pet and animal stories that I published back in 2013. I self-published the book so I could easily donate a portion of the sales to a local animal shelter. I initially chose Pacific Cove Humane Society because they were fund raising to build a new local shelter. Eventually, the organization re-reviewed their priorities after realizing that there was no longer a need to build a second shelter. Since then, I’ve been making donations to the Coos County Animal Shelter.

“Paw Prints” was a lot of fun to write! It’s a bit of a memoir since it includes numerous stories about myself, my childhood, and the pets that I’ve had over the years. I also invited a few friends to contribute stories to the collection– including my mother and sister-in-law.

The best part? The photo on the cover is Loki, my black Labrador Retriever. She’s a puppy in the photograph, but she’ll be 10 in February 2022. Like I said earlier, time flies by!

I hope you all have a great weekend! 

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in Artists, author, crafting, H. S. Contino, motivation

It’s Fan Mail Friday!

 TGIF, everyone!

I just wanted to share the following:

I love that they posed the lizard so she’s holding a pencil! Thanks so much for your positive feedback! 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone!

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in Artists, author, Book Reviews, Bookaholic, Books, community activities, crafting, H. S. Contino, motivation, Outdoor Activities, pets, promotion, Reading, social networking, updates, Writing

Let’s Connect!

 Good afternoon!

I hope that everyone is enjoying their last few weeks of summer. The weather here on the Oregon coast has been gorgeous! Loki and I have been enjoying lots of long walks! We’re so blessed to live in an area with an abundance of natural beauty to enjoy!

Walking with Loki in Mingus Park

Just a quick post today. Someone recently mentioned that they had trouble finding one of my social media accounts. So, I thought I’d make it easy for everyone and list them all here. I use most of the popular social media platforms, but I spend the most time on Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to visit my social media pages, follow me, or send me a message. I love hearing from readers and befriending fellow authors/artists/creative types!


Author, H. S. Contino

Reprieve’s Corner




User name: Reprieve’s Corner

  • Note: Pinterest is fun because you can see that I really am a hodgepodge when it comes to my interests. I have boards on a variety of topics Including books, animals, stargazing, science-fiction (books, movies, and TV shows), & more!


H. S. Contino, Writer & Small Business Owner at Reprieve’s Corner


User name:  hscontino


User name: hscontino





User name: HS Contino (Reprieve26)

Amazon Author Central:

User name: H. S. Contino

GoodReads Author Profile:

As you can see, I’ve signed up with numerous platforms over the years. I know that everyone has different preferences and favorites when it comes to social media, so my approach has been to create accounts where people can find me (and by extension, my work).

Have a great week everyone!

~ H. S. Contino

Posted in Artists, author, Bookaholic, Books, Camp NaNoWriMo, H. S. Contino, motivation, NaNoWriMo, Reading, Writing, Writing Advice

“A Rose by Any Other Name…”

 Good morning,

As Shakespeare famously said “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” For today’s post, I would like to get our little community involved in my current writing project. In particular, I could use some help coming up with a better title for the novel.

The working title for this project is “This Forgotten Life.” I wrote the initial draft immediately after I completed the rough draft of what eventually became “Alternatives.” but the novels are very different. There are a few common themes including families and overcoming past hurts, but the novels are very different. “Alternatives” is a soft science-fiction story with a strong romantic story line.”This Forgotten Life” is a little harder to classify. It’s more mainstream fiction with a strong dramatic flare. It could also be described as “Women’s Lit” since a big part of the story is about the main character trying to find herself after a traumatic event.

“This Forgotten Life” is an accurate title for the novel, and I have been experimenting with some cover options using this title. The following are a few of my favorites so far:

The current title could work for the book, but… it’s kind-of a boring name. I’d like something with more oomph! For example, I’d love to work the word “shattered” into the title. The word accurately describes what happens to main the character in the 1st scene in the book. A single event destroys everything, and she’s left to pick up the pieces. And the image of a broken mirror or shattered glass on the cover would be powerful and carries a lot of emotional weight.

 I also love the concept of Kintsugi, which, according to Wikipedia, “is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum…” It also involves accepting (and embracing) imperfections.

Kintsugi provides the perfect metaphor for what the main character experiences throughout the course of the book. In the beginning, she’s shattered and broken, but with work she slowly puts the pieces back together again. She becomes a better person through her journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, there is no English translation/equivalent. And I’m worried that if i tried to use the Japanese term then I’ll be constantly having to explain it to people. It’s a great concept, but as the title of a novel it may be too abstract.

The problem is that every time I come up with a more exciting title, I discover that it’s already in use by another author (through a title search on Amazon or GoodReads). While technically, I could still use those titles, I would prefer to come up with something unique.

That’s where all of you come in. Suggestions, please! Feel free to leave a comment on this blog post or send me an email.

I’m still working on the back cover text for the book, the following should give you a general idea about what the book is about:

In an instant, her life changed forever…

Thirty-seven year old, Ellie-Mae Rossi was happily married with three children and another on the way when, in an instant, her life was changed forever. Waking up in the hospital, the doctors realize that she’s lost twenty years of memories.

Reverting to her 17-year-old self, Ellie-Mae is forced to confront the hopes for her future that never realized and past betrayals that had long been forgotten.

With her sense of self shattered, Ellie Mae struggles to put the pieces of her life back together.

Possible titles:

This Forgotten Life (working title)

Finding Ellie-Mae

Finding Kintsugi (to abstract?)

Shattered Sense of Self (too much alliteration??)

Your suggestion here!

Themes: journey of self discovery, picking up the pieces, overcoming challenging, betrayal, broken dreams, disillusionment, past hurts, overcoming amnesia/memory loss, rebuilding relationships, forgiveness

So, what do you think? All feedback welcome!

Okay, I better get back to work. I’m currently working on the 3rd draft of the novel. It’s been slow going, but I’m slowly making progress. More updates soon!

Happy reading (and writing) everyone!

~ H. S. Contino 📚