Wednesday, 6 January 2021

IWSG January 2021

Happy New Year! So we made it out of the other end of 2020, and as we hit another national lockdown here in the UK and we wait our turn for vaccination, one thing we can rely on is that we will all come together on the first Wednesday of the month for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Headed up as ever by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share their fears and insecurities without being judged. Today's excellent co-hosts are Ronel Janse van VuurenJ Lenni DornerGwen GardnerSandra Cox and Louise - Fundy Blue.

I thought I'd start with a quick recap of where 2020 took me writing-wise and what's on the cards for 2021. I didn't publish anything last year - I think there's a general suspicion that people are too worried about other things to think about buying new books, but as the uncertainty continues perhaps the best thing is to carry on with things that are normal as much as possible. For writers, that should mean writing and getting our work out there - shouldn't it? 

I'm going to take wrapping up my trilogy as a priority. Having completed the first draft of book 3 just over a year ago, I spent last year working on a different project, but I'll definitely be heading into revisions on that final instalment and getting it out there this year. I've got no shortage of things to work on so I've decided to just get on with it. Creativity and inspiration are as important as ever if not more so - which means I should read more as well as writing. That takes me onto this month's IWSG question, which looks like an interesting one:

Being a writer, when you're reading someone else's work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books?

Well, this could open up a whole can of worms, and this is probably different in every case. I used to doggedly finish every book I started but I've since decided that life is too short to keep going with a story that I'm not connecting to for whatever reason. It could be cliched characters or unbelievable or unrealistic events (of course, these are the backbone of many of the greatest books, but they can only work if the context and world of the story have set us up to accept and believe what takes place), or just a narrative that drags and takes too long for anything significant to happen. While it's unfortunate to not finish a book I always think there's something to learn, just as we would from books we enjoy - even if it's what not to do! What would stop you from finishing a book?

Before I go, here's a reminder that the next #IWSGPit Twitter pitch event is coming up on January 20. Get your tweet-length pitches polished up and in front of publishers and agents! All the details are at the #IWSGPit page.

And don't forget to check out lots more IWSG entries here.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

IWSG December 2020

We've made it (almost) to the end of this strangest and most challenging of years and while we all look forward to what will hopefully be a brighter 2021, let's get together one more time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Founded and led by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share fears and insecurities in an atmosphere that's free of judgement. Why don't you go and drop in on this month's hardworking co-hosts: Pat GarciaSylvia NeyLiesbet @ Roaming AboutCathrina Constantine and Natalie Aguirre!

As we draw near to the end of the year I've still got an ambition to finish my first draft of the book I started at the beginning of it. I suppose I could think I'd like to have achieved more - I've got the small matter of editing and polishing the last part of a trilogy too - but all things will come in due course. One of the lessons I could take from this difficult year is that it's a blessing to have the ability, time and mental bandwidth to write and enjoy it without worrying too much about timetables. I haven't always felt like I wanted to do it and that's fine too. I wonder how this plays into our monthly question - let's have a look at it: 

Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

I'm not sure there's any particular season where I'm more productive. Because I write early in the morning, it's always dark or semi-dark at that time so it's just about how motivated I feel on any given day - but I do find the colours of spring and autumn inspiring.

The new year also brings the return of the IWSG Twitter Pitch! Get your pitches primed and you could end up bagging an agent or publisher. See all the details here: Insecure Writer's Support Group: #IWSGPit Twitter Pitch

And check out many more great posts at the IWSG sign-up list.

Monday, 16 November 2020

"Happy Ghoulidays" launch

 Today I'm helping out author and blogger Shannon Lawrence with the launch of her new collection, which promises to bring us a few festive chills this winter. Over to Shannon...

The holidays can be a stressful time, as we all know, but I'm hoping to lighten up this winter season with a little holiday horror.

Maybe "lighten up" isn't the right term.

The first story begins the winter holidays with Thanksgiving, with stories representing Christmas, Hanukah, Hogmanay (the New Year), Yule, Groundhog Day, and, finally, Valentine's Day. From serious horror to tongue-in-cheek. Read them all at once or save them for their holidays. Or both! 

Release day is November 20, which also happens to be my birthday! Just in time for Thanksgiving week. You can pre-order the Kindle version, with other versions, including paperback, available on release day.

Family time can lead to murder and mayhem, especially during the holidays. A turkey with a tale to tell, elves under attack, sorority sisters putting on a killer party, a woman's desperation to save her family, and a stranger ringing in the New Year. These and other tales of woe await you beneath the mistletoe.

Be careful who you offer a kiss. It may be your last.

Amazon pre-order link:

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes in her dungeon when her minions allow, often accompanied by her familiars. She writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in several anthologies and magazines, and her collections, Blue Sludge Blues & Other Abominations and Bruised Souls & Other Torments, are available in stores. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast “Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem.” When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings. Though she often misses the Oregon coast, the majestic and rugged Rockies are a sight she could never part with. Besides, in Colorado there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. What more could she ask for? 

Find her:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Instagram

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

IWSG November 2020

It's the penultimate month of what I think for many of us is the strangest and scariest year in recent memory, and while we ride out 2020 in the hope that better things are around the corner, and wait with bated breath for the result of a certain little election, one thing we can rely on is that we can all come together on the first Wednesday of each month to share in the group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can air their fears and insecurities without fear of judgement. Today's awesome cohosts are Jemi FraserKim LajevardiL.G. KeltnerTyrean Martinson and Rachna Chhabria.

Let's have a look at this month's IWSG question:

November 4 question - Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Great question! I think most writers ask themselves this question frequently - it's a healthy thing to keep questioning our own motives, even if the answer is not always easy to define. For me, I would say it's because a certain character presents themselves whose story demands to be told - everything else basically unfolds from that, but that's the starting point of it all. I don't know where it ends, I just hope that if I'm totally invested in resolving the conflict for this character, that excitement and interest will be transmitted to the reader. Writing might be a solitary activity, but you're also on a journey alongside your characters and - hopefully - some readers too!

At least, that's my answer for today. Another day, I might have given a different reason. Let's just say there are a lot more reasons to write than there are not to write, which I think is a cause for celebration!

I'm sure you'll find loads more interesting answers by checking out the IWSG sign-up list here. Have a great day.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

IWSG October 2020

So we've reached October of this most memorable of years and, seeing that it's the first Wednesday of the month, it's time again for our meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as always by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offload whatever fears or insecurities are plaguing us, which is surely becoming more needed than ever. Our cohosts this month are Jemima PettBeth CampBeverley Stowe McClure and Gwen Gardner.

What with one thing and another, I missed last month, but I figured I couldn't miss today's posting being as it coincides with a significant date for me of the "four zero" variety. Does that mean my life is beginning? I could use a fresh start...

Given that I've been able to work throughout the pandemic, I feel bad being insecure about anything. Progress continues on my newest WIP, although it's been on and off throughout the year, and I'm still trying to get back to that sweet spot of 1k a day. I am making progress, though, and I'm not going to whinge about anything. I sincerely hope you are all doing OK and haven't been impacted to too great a degree. 

Let's have a look at this month's IWSG question: 

When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

This is a great question and I think it comes down to how much you "own" being a writer. To me, a working writer is a writer who writes - simple as that. It would be very nice to earn a comfortable living from it, but that's the preserve of the very few, and no one gets there without putting in the same level of work - or more - than someone who has already become a household name. I'm not really sure what an "aspiring" writer is, but if you aspire to do something it basically means it's something you'd love to do one day, or at least that's my interpretation. If you start writing, you're a writer. "Hobbyist" sounds too trivial and brings to mind something like crocheting, although having said that, I'm sure there are crocheters (crochetists?) who are fiercely devoted to their work and would be outraged at being called a hobbyist. I hope I've answered the question there!

Don't forget to check in other IWSG writers by visiting the list here.

Saturday, 22 August 2020

Influenced Book Blast

Happy Saturday! Today, I'm helping Patricia Josephine celebrate her latest release, which is a very fun read with a great premise. Check out the details below.


There is no Light without Dark.

Influencers are the voices that whisper in our ears. Tiny Angels and Devil sitting on our shoulders and guiding our choices. They are sworn to thwart the other. It is their duty.

Or so they thought…

Nothing is as it seems and questions are piling up. Do Kale and Ariel have the strength to face the truth? Will Antonia and Landon be forced to choose a side? Can Soleil break through to Kemuel? Three tales, three choices: Light. Dark. Or the shades of gray between.

Which one will win?

My review:

This is a really fun, quick read by Patricia Josephine that features an interesting premise and a pretty pertinent message at the heart of it.

Most of us know the concept of having a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, swaying us to do either good or evil. We've seen it in cartoons. Well, Josephine takes that idea and fleshes it out by giving these characters feelings and emotions. They're known as "Influencers", basically pawns in a larger war that's about capturing souls for either the Light or the Dark. But having individual personalities means carrying out their duties isn't always as simple as you'd think.

Influenced is a collection of three short stories, and what's neat about it is that each works perfectly well as a standalone, but they also make a cohesive whole with an arc running through. Each features a romantic element between the Light and Dark influencers assigned to a particular "mortal". That might sound like it'd get repetitive, but the dynamic is different in each case, and there's the idea of an influencer being torn between doing their "duty" and following their heart - almost as if they had their own little influencers on each of their own shoulders. Fascinating!

I won't say any more for fear of spoilers, but I will say that Influenced is a diverting, thought-provoking read, perfect for a lazy afternoon. Recommended. 

Buy Links

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

About the Author

Patricia Josephine is a writer of Urban Fantasy and Sci-Fi Romance books. She actually never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she was more interested in art and band in high school and college. Her dreams were of becoming an artist like Picasso. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head for fun. That was the start of her writing journey, and she hasn't regretted a moment. When she's not writing, she's watching Doctor Who or reading about serial killers. She's an avid knitter. One can never have too much yarn. She writes Young Adult Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Fantasy under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, and has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow.

Social Media Links:







Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

IWSG August 2020

It's the first Wednesday of the month again in this strangest of years, and of course that means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as always by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer space for writers to air doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. Why not join us if you haven't already? This month's excellent co-hosts are Susan Boury RouchardNancy GideonJennifer LaneJennifer HawesChemist Ken and Chrys Fey!

Every month there's an optional question for us to answer. This time it's: 

Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Well, I have written a short story collection and most of the stories in it were definitely always meant to be in that shorter form. However, the first story, A Change of Mind, ended up in a much longer form, more like a novella, which wasn't how I'd anticipated it. Initially a story of only a couple of hundred words, it was set in a fictional future where a woman is threatening to sue a surgeon after a procedure to alter her personality has gone wrong. (She wanted to be more confident but ends up becoming unbearably arrogant.) I thought there was a lot more to the idea, so I changed the protagonist to a man, and relocated the action to the present day where personality surgery is an illicit trade taking place in rooms above garages and spoken of in hushed voices in seedy pubs. Again though, the desired change was to become more confident for the mild-mannered main character, but this ultimately manifests itself in his becoming a sociopath.

I can't really think of another time this has happened, as usually I set out to write a novel or short story and do that, but I always stay open to possibilities. It's nice to go down a route you hadn't expected sometimes!

What's your answer to this question? I'm sure there'll be loads of interesting ones on the IWSG sign-up list - you can find it here.