Wednesday, 6 June 2018

IWSG June 2018

It's the first Wednesday of the month and of course you know that means it's time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Created and hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, it's a chance for writers of all kinds to air their insecurities without fear of being judged. Co-hosting duties this month are provided by Beverly Stowe McClureTyrean MartinsonTonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor.

In terms of insecurities, I'm not doing too badly this month. In fact I'm nearing the end of final edits on book 2 of my trilogy, which should be a fairly jubilant time (notwithstanding the start of the nailbiting countdown to publication). In fact, one of my last tasks is very closely related to this month's IWSG question, which is:

"What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?"

So at that moment I'm christening the last few characters who still remain nameless. They're very well defined apart from that, I have a clear sense of who these people are, I just haven't worked out what to call them yet. This has meant CPs grappling with interplay between the likes of (?), (??) and (???) - luckily they have the patience of saints and have somehow managed to keep track of them!

And of course, the book also needs a title. Out of the two, this is the one I definitely struggle with the most. I have to come up with far many more character names than book titles, so if I found them equally as challenging then I'd be in trouble. Writing speculative stuff, I do enjoy coming up with unique, out-of-the-ordinary names that tell you something about that character - I'm very much inspired by the likes of Tolkien and Pratchett in that regard. Sometimes they seem obvious, other times (or most of the time) they take a long time in coming.

But coming up with a snappy title that sums up an entire book in a couple of words? It's one of the most insidious tasks an author has to face. Having said that, I'm very clear on the title for the final book in the series - I'm sure I came up with a title for this one too, I just have to find where it's written down. But then I might want to change it completely.
How would you answer this question? Did you participate in IWSG today? Find other insecure scribes here.

Also, there's plenty of other exciting stuff going on in the IWSG camp. We have the next anthology contest opening on September 5th, which is also when the theme will be announced. The genre this year is YA Romance.
And it's the return of the ever-growing phenomenon that is the IWSG Twitter Pitch party on July 19th. This event is set to be bigger than ever with hundreds of agents and publishers signed up to check out your pitches. Get polishing them and check out all the rules at the IWSG site.
Finally, next month IWSG will be held a day early - Tuesday July 3rd - instead of the usual Wednesday. It seems some folk might be having a bit of the party the following day.

That's it - excited about what's in store for the IWSG?

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Some Very Messy Medieval Magic launch

Today I'm helping out C. Lee McKenzie, blogging friend, MG author and IWSG admin extraordinaire, with the launch of her latest novel, Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. I absolutely love that title, and this book closes out a trilogy that started with Alligators Overhead and The Great Time Lock Disaster. Check those out too.


 By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

 Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

 There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

 But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Release date – May 15, 2018

Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men

$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460

$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.

Amazon -
Kindle -
Foyles -,c-lee-mckenzie-9781939844460

Congrats, Lee! Have you read any of her books? Will you be picking this one up?

Thursday, 10 May 2018


I don't normally weigh in on controversial topics but the news unfolding on Facebook over the last few days has been disturbing, to say the least.

If you've missed the drama, a certain author (I don't want to give her name or offer her any more publicity than she has already generated) has put a trademark on the word "cocky" so others can't use it in their book titles. She's demanding that anyone who has used it in a title change it immediately - even if it was published before her own book - or face a courtly cost battle. Apparently it's all in the name of "protecting her brand" or some rubbish. I think she's already laid waste to her own brand with the negative backlash that has inevitably arisen.

It's hard to know where to start with this. I think it's the arbitrary nature of it that scares me. It's not like this is a special word she's made up that's unique to her story - in which case I could see where she's coming from. This is a normal, common word that's in the Oxford English Dictionary. Anyone could have been affected by this, it just happened to be this word, this nutjob.

But as one of my friends on Facebook has pointed out, it's the response to it all that's been heartening. People have been rallying round to support each other, share each others' books (check out the hashtag #thisishowyouindie), and generally showing the way an author is actually supposed to behave. Humour has also been used in the face of an entirely baffling situation, with mocked-up book covers appearing using the word "cocky" in bizarre contexts.

I just hope this doesn't set a dangerous precedent. One of the most frightening aspects is that she seems to have Amazon on her side. Is it too much to ask that common sense and decency will prevail? What do you think of Cockygate?

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Tick Tock launch and IWSG May 2018

Yes, it's time once again for our group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, where we can share our fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Hosted (of course) by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the co-hosts this month are E.M.A. TimarJ.Q. RoseC. Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant.

But first, onto that big news I trailed yesterday. Feels like it's been a while coming, but the next IWSG anthology, Tick Tock, is finally here! It was actually released on May 1, but I wanted to give it a push on IWSG day for some more exposure.

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

$14.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 204 pages, Freedom Fox Press
Mystery & Detective (FIC022000) / Crime (FIC050000) / Thrillers (FIC031000)
Print ISBN 9781939844545 eBook ISBN 9781939844552
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

“Each story is fast paced, grabbing the reader from the beginning.”
 - Readers' Favorite, 5 stars

“I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of thought-provoking crime stories.” - Denise Covey, author

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter.

Tick Tock links:

Have you got your copy yet? I can vouch that this is an amazing bunch of stories.

So let us turn our attention to this month's IWSG question, which is: "It's spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?"

Well, I think I've already mentioned this in a comment on another post - spring in Scotland is very variable. We just finished up with the snow the other week, had some glorious weather the last few days, and back to rain today. It's very much a pick'n'mix, a smorgasbord of weather modes, but I do appreciate things like daffodils popping up around the edges of the garden (nothing to do with me, I'm not greenfingered in any way). Definitely a time of new beginnings, but I can find things to inspire me in every season - I love the autumn colours too. I think we need to push ourselves to write no matter what the external circumstances, but then so many outside factors are inspiring in the life of a writer - a fragment of a conversation, an interesting piece of graffiti - so it's inevitable that things like the vivid light you can get in spring might get us feeling creative too. Something quite indefinable but there it is!

What about you? Don't forget to check out the other IWSG blogs here.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Black & White free this week

The first day of a new month and hope everyone's doing well. It's a big week this week, with exciting news coming from the IWSG, but ahead of that I wanted to let you know about a promotion I've got running this week. Black & White, the first part of my YA trilogy, is FREE this week on Amazon until Saturday - grab a copy on US here and UK here. And if you enjoy it, a line or two of a review would of course be much appreciated!

In other news, I'm moving closer towards publication of Part 2 with the completion of a big edit last week. I've managed to iron out some of the more troublesome issues so it looks as if things are coming together. Should be on track for an autumn release.

I'll be back tomorrow with the IWSG and that big news. In the meantime, hope you get to enjoy some nice May weather!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

IWSG April 2018

It's time once again for the group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh! If you don't know, this is the monthly blogging space where we can vent our insecurities and doubts in a mutually supportive environment. Today's co-hosts are Olga GodimChemist KenRenee Scattergood and Tamara Narayan.

This month I'm insecure about the fact I'm still having technical issues, so I won't be able to get round to as many posters as usual - but after missing last month, I really wanted to post. My laptop is still in the shop and I hoped to pick it up yesterday but another pesky issue has raised its head. A handy windfall with which to invest in a new machine would be highly appreciated right now! I will get back to all commenters - it might just take a bit longer.

So let's have a look at the question for this month, which is "When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep writing?"

Well my writing life is certainly cloudy at the moment and filled with rain, sleet, snow, frost - it's been quite a bitter Easter over here in Scotland! But when that type of weather is raging outside, it can inspire my writing in quite a romantic way - hunker down with a cup of tea, turn the heating up and escape to a different world. But if you're talking in a metaphorical sense, that's a bit different I suppose. If your writing life is cloudy, it can be difficult to see from A to B and your characters might end up wandering off the track and into the long grass - where leeches might well be lurking...

So that's the time to remind myself that I'm the only one who can shine a light to help them on their way. Their fate is in my hands and reminding myself of that responsibility can be quite a powerful motivator. I don't know about you, but I grow quite attached to my characters and don't like to leave them floundering at a loose end, although I might put them through some quite punishing situations at times.

How would you answer this question? Don't forget to check out other IWSG posts here.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

IWSG February 2018

Time once again for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, which allows writers of all kinds to share their insecurities without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Today's featured co-hosts are Stephen TrempPat GarciaAngela WooldridgeVictoria Marie Lees and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

There is a great question for this month but before I get into that I'd better cover my insecurity. Of course I'm dealing with recent difficult news - thanks for all the well wishes on that - but a longstanding nemesis has also reared its ugly head again: technical issues. Yes, my beleaguered laptop has decided it doesn't want to go further than the startup screen and so I've resorted to borrowing my stepdaughter's machine again for work purposes. This may mean I don't get around to visiting as many of you as I would like over the next little while, so I must ask you to bear with me. I do plan to keep writing.

On that note, let's get on to this month's question: What do you love about the genre you write in must often?

This is definitely an excellent question because it allows us to wax lyrical about the genres we're passionate about. That said, I never set out to write any particular genre. You start out with an idea and then it tends to fall into the nearest available bracket - or you could just invent one - but I've been trending towards speculative fiction lately. That's kind of a broad umbrella term too, encompassing science fiction, fantasy, steampunk, horror, you name it - so it's nice to have plenty of scope!

But what I love most about this kind of writing is the potential it offers for your imagination. You can create entirely new worlds, filled with fantastic people and races - you're not bound by the restrictions or rules that exist with an Earth-based setting. Research is very important to a real-world setting, and as a former journalist I should probably embrace that, but maybe it's that painstaking attention to detail that gets drilled in that made me run from it. I wouldn't rule out a work that's "closer to home" - I've written plenty of short stories set on Earth (a present day version), that is - but at the moment I'm loving my explorations of distant realities.

Read further IWSG entries here!