Wednesday, December 6, 2017

IWSG: #NoRegrets

Well this year flew by! It's hard to believe that this is the last meeting of the year for the Insecure Writers Support Group. Luckily, you can sign up whenever you want, because this is a year-round event that happens on the first Wednesday of every month. If you are a writer and need support or just want to mingle with like-minded writers, go HERE to sign up. 

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and his co-hosts for hosting this event every month. Today's co-hosts are: Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

Here is this month's optional question: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and/or failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

My answer is: No regrets and no backtracking, only moving forward. I've taken it pretty slowly the last two years, and I haven't accomplished as much as I could have. It's because I took a step back in order to regroup and move forward again. I've been studying the craft. Again. Or still. Whatever. Although I know the rules intellectually, it seems like it takes a while to really sink in. That's why writers just have to keep writing. And I found that putting too much emphasis on word count and volume and pushing ahead to publish as quickly as possible simply does not work when you're still a newbie (after 8 years, I still feel like a newbie) learning the craft. I took a good long look at my published works and decided they were lacking--and unpublished my two novels and a 3-novella series on January 1st of this year. 

My writing has improved, because I slowed down, took my time, and paid closer attention to the whole atmosphere of my work. And while I wish that time wasn't passing so quickly, this past year was totally worth it. 

How was your year?
Any regrets?
What would you change if you could?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IWSG: Do You NaNo?

It's The Insecure Writer's Support Group Day! On the first Wednesday of every month,  writers share the ups and downs of the writing life and offer support to our comrades-in-arms. To sign up, go HERE

Thanks to our Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh and this month's support team: Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

And speaking of the IWSG...I submitted a story to the IWSG short story anthology contest. When I read that this year's genre was mystery/crime/thriller with a time-based theme, I wrote a short story called, A Stitch in Crime. My insecurity? I write sweet and cozy mysteries. It's like decaf coffee in a caffeinated world, you know? But I do love the story and am happy with it. And of course, I can't wait to read the anthology when it comes out because I know it's going to be awesome!

This month's optional question is: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

I haven't done NaNoWriMo--yet. But I participated in BuNoWriMo. Same thing, different month. I won, but it was touch and go. The result was like a puzzle I had to put together: the border was nice and neat, but the body of the puzzle didn't have a color scheme to go by for easy fitting. LOL. Eventually I published A Guilty Ghost Surprised. Next time I'll know to do a better job on the outline.

What about you?

Did you enter the IWSG short story anthology contest?

Have you done NaNoWriMo? How'd it go?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Let's Get Personal

Got a question about writing, publishing or editing? The Insecure Writer's Support Group is the best support group around for writers. You don't even have to be insecure--but it's okay if you are! Sign up at this LINK, then post anything writing related on the first Wednesday of every month. Not sure what to post? There is a prompt question you can answer if you don't want to post your own insecurity. 

Many thanks to our host Alex Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

This month's question is: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Answer: Yes. Not on purpose though. I only realized later...

My teen character Indigo Eady was orphaned at sixteen years old. She went to live with her uncle in England, bringing with her only a trunk of her belongings, nothing more. On an intellectual level, she knew her father was dead, she didn't deny it. She just didn't talk about it. And if she didn't unpack her trunk, then his death wasn't quite permanent or as painful. So she refused to unpack the trunk. She took things out as she needed them and then put them back. Her bedroom, unlike most teenager's, was bare (or empty). Sort of a metaphor for the situation she found herself in. (Before this gets maudlin, I offset the situation with humor when the ghost of Franny, a former Victorian madam of some repute, had formed an attachment to Indigo, so she'd unpack the trunk at every turn and forced Indigo to face her reality). 

And how does this relate to me? I'm not an orphan. But I noticed that there is a correlation between my character's physical trunk and my metaphorical trunk where I keep some of my personal "things". Sometimes I pull these things out to examine them, but then tuck them back into the trunk and gently close the lid. At one time I would have said "shove" these things to the bottom of the trunk, cover that stuff up, and "slam" the lid hard. But with time comes perspective, and perspective brings healing.  

Everyone has a "trunk". It's impossible to go through life without one. Some people have more in their trunks than others. Items in the trunk change or become less significant than they once were and you don't need to slam down the lid anymore. You might even leave the lid open because you no longer care who sees what's inside.  

These behaviors are all part of the human condition. As writers we tap into it all the time. It's what connects us as human beings. When we can relate to our readers, it's why they buy our books. Because we've touched on something they can understand and relate to. 

What about you?

Do you slip personal aspects of yourself into your characters? 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

IWSG: Pet Peeves and Procrastination

It's hard to believe we're more than halfway through this year's Insecure Writer's Support Group posts. If you want to join, go HERE. Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts, Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

This month's optional question is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I really don't have writing/editing pet peeves--unless it's frustration with the stupid mistakes I make. I guess that's to be expected though. It comes with the territory and is part of the process and I'm still figuring it all out. Because apparently just because I've written a few books doesn't mean I'm past all that.

But when I'm reading a book for pleasure (i.e., not editing or proofreading for someone else), I do get irritated with typos and misspellings. In fact, I will stop reading a book if I come across more than one or two in the first couple of chapters. To me, it means the book isn't ready to be read yet.

This month's insecurity is:

I'm nearly done (only about 4 chapters to go!) with the first draft of my current WiP and I've sort of lost my way. After letting it sit for three months (or should I call it procrastinating?), I'm having difficulty finding my way back. I do enjoy looking at the word meter up in the right hand corner of the blog to see how far I've come with it, though.

I know it needs some major editing and rewriting, and I guess right now the task seems daunting. Could that be what's holding me back from finishing the last few chapters?

What is your reading/writing/editing pet peeve?

Any other insecurities this month?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

IWSG: Implementing Technique

Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Day! The first Wednesday of every month is when insecure writers (or just people who want to keep in contact with writer buddies!) gather for a blog hop to talk about our insecurities as writers and other writerly awesomeness. If you want to join, click on the link.

Many thanks to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh and his co-hosts this month:  JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

This month's question is:

Did you ever say “I quit”?
If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I have never said "I quit". I spent years wanting to write and putting it off because I didn't have time. Once I made the serious effort necessary to move forward, I couldn't stop. Although the effort was serious, the result wasn't great. It was "okay" writing, just lacking experience. I wrote and self published two YA novels and a 3-novella YA series. I received some good reviews, mostly from friends, but the books didn't sell. When I go back and read them now, the newbie writing mistakes glare out at me. 

I didn't quit, but I started over.

Yep, I unpublished my books. It was tough stepping back (okay, more like several huge leaps back) after all my effort. But I started over. I'm working on a new novel armed with more experience and knowledge of how it's done. Even though I know the rules and tricks of the trade intellectually, technique isn't always easy to implement and perfect in the seamless way necessary to hold a reader's attention. 

But I have high hopes my new book will be better!

What about you? Did you ever quit writing?
Do you find it difficult to implement technique?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: Research and the Indigo Connection

Today is Insecure Writer's Support Group Day, as is the first Wednesday of every month. If you'd like to join this really cool group, click on the link.

Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh and his co-hosts (this month we have Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!) whose dedication keeps this monthly event going.

May 3 Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

When I first had the idea for a ghost-whispering teenage amateur sleuth, I researched psychic children and came up with the terms Indigo children and Crystal children. The idea is a new age concept in which it's thought that children born in recent years are a new breed of children, different in how they view the world. They are warriors sent to change the world, to make it a better place. Honest and truthful to a fault. Many have special abilities such as ESP. Controversy surrounds the concept, only partly because psychic abilities can't be proven and has always drawn skeptics. You can read about the rest of the controversy at the link above if you're interested.

But for my purposes and that of my sleuth (whom I named Indigo because I think it's a really cool and different kind of name), the ability to speak with ghosts and receive visionary information through touch makes an interesting cozy paranormal mystery.

What's the coolest thing you ever researched?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG: (Re)Working It

This first Wednesday of the month is The Insecure Writer's Support Group day, the day when writer's post about their insecurities--we all have them--and offer support, advice and share experiences of this writing life we have taken on.

Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh and his co-hosts this month,  Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson, for all their hard work in bringing this endeavor together.

This month's question is: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

The short answer is: No.

What I am in the process of doing, however, is taking a Young Adult series that never made it for various reasons, mostly inexperience, to Adult. So in a way, it's a bit of reworking in the sense that it's the same characters, different stories.

I've branched out and tried my hand at writing different things over the last couple of years. I was going to write more grown up stuff, and not be so "vanilla", if that's the right term. But either I'm not ready or it's just not me. I enjoy writing cozy mysteries and I don't want bad things to happen to my characters and I want there to always be a happy ending. It's quite the quandary, and quite the balance, to introduce conflict and maintain tension.

But--I enjoyed writing my YA series and now I'm enjoying writing these characters as Adults. I hope I've grown enough as a writer to pull it off. In any case, I'm working it--to the extent that I've had a new header made based on the series.

So...check out my new blog header! It's based on the world I created. My series takes place in Sabrina Shores, England, a modern day medieval village that's incredibly haunted. The ghostly residents seem to want to stay, so of course it creates lots of havoc for Indigo Eady (pictured in the forefront), ghost whisperer, and my main character.

Here's a shout out to Corona Zschusschen, my illustrator, on creating it for me! It's such a visual motivator, bringing to life the village and characters that I pour my heart into through my writing.

What about you?

Have you ever taken your characters from one age group to another? Did it work out?

Do you use visual motivators?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG: The Most Hated Writing Rule

It's the first Insecure Writer's Support Group post of 2017. Thanks to Alex and his co-hosts for putting this event together every month. 

This month's question is: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

Per the great Stephen King, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." In other words, don't use adverbs. 

I happen to love adverbs. I think they're lovely. I like how they sound and how they slip delightfully from the tongue. They display beautifully on the page and contribute meaningfully to the story being told.  

I hate cutting them from my writing, but upon editing, I troll through the pages and spitefully kill the little darlings. (kill your darlings is from Stephen King's On Writing, which I highly recommend). 

And that is the writing rule I wish I'd never heard of. 

What's the writing rule you hate the most? Why?