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!

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Plan for 2018

I'm a bit late with this kind of post on the 1st of February, I know, but I was away at the start of the year and then, as some of you may have seen on the IWSG blog, had some difficult news. I'm trying to keep busy at this time, though. I hadn't actually got far with my edits for part 2 of my trilogy for the past couple of months, having hit a snag with a part that I knew needed a big change (a majority of CP readers agreed on this). I jotted down some notes on it over the festive period, but continued to put it off, unsure whether I could make it work. If I didn't do anything, though, obviously I wasn't going to make any progress.

So yesterday and today I sat down with that problem chapter and hashed out a workaround to the issue. As well as being a patch, I'm hoping it's also something that's going to make the story stronger. I've got a lot of work ahead of me as this will have a knock-on effect on everything going forward - a trickledown effect that will probably turn into a waterfall. I just need to take the plunge.

So in terms of goals for this year, obviously the big one is to get this book out - I was hoping this may be in the spring but may be more like the summer or even autumn. Let's watch this space though. Hopefully I'm over the big stumbling block.

So for writing - go forward with editing a chapter every couple of days. I have also submitted some existing stories to publication markets this year, and I want to continue with that as well as hopefully writing some new stories - perhaps I can dedicate one day a week to this.

Marketing - continue exploring Twitter and Facebook, as well as building up my email newsletter list. I've been seeing some engagement on the social media, so it's something I need to do more consistently. I also want to get my books on some more promotion sites to see if that brings results.

Well, that's about it. I'll have monthly progress updates going ahead. How is 2018 treating you so far?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Tick Tock cover reveal

It's here - the official cover reveal for the next IWSG anthology, Tick Tock - A Stitch in Crime!

It looks fantastic, I'm sure you'll agree, and the book contains 11 truly excellent tales. Here's a synopsis...

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...

Release date - May 1, 2018
Mystery & Detective (FIC022000) / Crime (FIC050000) / Thrillers (FIC031000)
Print ISBN 9781939844545 eBook ISBN 9781939844552

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

IWSG January 2018 - Happy New Year!

It's a brand new year, and being the first Wednesday of it, that also means it's time for the first meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I hope everyone had a great festive period - not too hectic - and you had a chance to refresh to meet 2018 head on. If you don't know what the ISWG is, it's a safe place where writers can discuss their fears and insecurities without worrying about being judged. With Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh at the helm, this month's co-hosts are Tyrean MartinsonEllen @ The Cynical SailorMegan MorganJennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria.

Before we get to this month's question, I have two very exciting news items for you!

First, the winners have been announced for the next IWSG anthology, which is shaping up to be a superb read:

A Stich in Crime – Gwen Gardner  
Three O’Clock Execution - S. R. Betler
Cypress, Like the Tree - Yolanda Renée
The Tide Waits – Rebecca M. Douglas
Until Release  - Jemi Fraiser
Gussy Saint and the Case of the Missing Coed - C.D. Gallant-King
The Little Girl in the Bayou - J. R. Ferguson
One More Minute – Mary Aalgaard
Center Lane - Christine Clemetson
Special Mention:
Heartless – C. Lee McKenzie

There is a superb variety of stories and talent on offer, and you're not going to want to miss this one.

Next, you only have a couple of weeks to hone your pitches for the next #IWSGPit Twitter Pitch event on Thursday, January 18!

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 18, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. 
Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.

After about 2300 Tweets being sent in the last event, and trending on Twitter, this year's is set to be even bigger. Don't miss out! Full rules can be found here.

Finally, let's turn to this month's IWSG question, which is quite appropriate for the New Year, when we often look to go back to the drawing board to come up with a plan for the next 12 months:

What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing? 

This is an excellent question and one we should definitely all think about, as schedules can help us achieve a lot through a series of small steps over the long term. As for the writing, my schedule has been the same for a little while, making use of those early morning hours for either new words or editing (I now start my day job at a defined time of 6am, so writing takes place between 4 and 6). Publishing is a different kettle of fish, because along with that must come marketing, which I see as an ongoing process of experimentation. I've set rough release dates for the next books in my series, and I want to try different marketing endeavours with each one as well as repeating anything that may have had favourable results (I will always do a blog tour, for example). I keep a Word document for each book that I can add to, annotate, and check things off of. Hopefully I can have something going on at any given time, and this helps me keep on top of everything. For now, book 2 is my focus, so I will definitely start drawing up a marketing plan soon as I work to finalise edits.

What does scheduling look like for you? To see how others have answered, check out the list of other IWSG participants here

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

IWSG December 2017

It's the final installment of IWSG for 2017, and I just can't understand where the year's gone! It's been a good one, though, and I'll talk more about that when answering this month's question. Hosted as ever by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe haven where writers of all kinds can share their doubts and insecurities with their fellow scribes. If you haven't already joined, doing so would be a great new year's resolution! This month's co-hosts are Julie FlandersShannon LawrenceFundy Blue and Heather Gardner.

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

Hmm. Well, this question kind of has a philosophical bent for me. I'm a believer that everything basically happens the way it's supposed to, whether that's for good or ill. We could get into all sorts of time travel, alternate universe scenarios by going back. All that said, I'm pretty happy with how 2017 went. I became an admin of a certain amazing group (clue - it's in the title of this post!), got the first part of my trilogy out (a big thing for me, as this had been a long time coming), and also got asked to be part of an anthology that's raising funds for military veterans. All great stuff. Yeah of course, I could have done some things differently. I haven't actually got a final ending for my trilogy yet - it would be good if I had that down - but I'm ploughing through edits and polishes for book 2 and hoping that'll help strike some synapses together to trigger it. I guess I'm pantsing this series the same as I do any other story! I could always wish I'd done more marketing, but that's an ongoing process and I am doing things I haven't done before - excerpt tweets, a Facebook author page and a newsletter being three big ones.

So yes, I would have to say I'm pleased with 2017 overall, and I'm already looking forward to 2018 being even better. How about you?

Check out the other great IWSG posts here.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Update and Goals

I wasn't around much last week, so I thought I'd leave a quick update to let you know what I've been doing and what I've got planned next. I do have a good reason for not being around though - I've been reading through the entries for the next IWSG anthology, ranking them in order so our collective favourites can go to the judges. The bar is extremely high on the entries, and the talent of the group really shines through - so it was hard to whittle them down. You can expect another stellar collection!

In other news, I've submitted a short story to a separate writing contest - they required a hard copy as well as an email submission. I've never actually sent a story via snail mail before, so that was a novelty at least!

It's a goal to submit to more competitions, including sending previously rejected stories. I've got a bunch that have only had one outing each, so I really want to give them another chance. The aim is to submit to at least one contest or journal per month - I'll keep you updated on progress here.

Of course, editing continues on part 2 of my trilogy - the aim is to have a polished version by the end of the year - and I will keep exploring ways of marketing the first book, including on Twitter.

Do you have any news or goals to share?