Wednesday, 1 December 2021

IWSG December 2021

For the last time in what has been another very strange year, it's the first Wednesday of the month and time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are PJ ColandoDiane BurtonLouise - Fundy BlueNatalie Aguirre and Jacqui Murray.


The optional question this month is: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

I'm going to interpret this question as relating just to the writing itself, rather than associated activities like marketing, querying, formatting etc., which can obviously be major stressors. I'm querying at the moment and I think we can all agree that's a big source of stress. Others may read the question differently, but I just don't feel like going there with those sort of aspects!

So what stresses me the most about writing? I think it's all the nitty gritty elements, like making sure the timeline adds up and that there aren't any major plot holes. Okay, maybe that's more than nitty gritty. But it's basically all the things that need straightened out and set in line before you arrive at a finished book. Or as close to finished as is possible.

What delights me? I'd say when it does work out and all those disparate elements come together to make something beautiful. So, in order to get to the delightful part, I have to get through the stressful part. Which must mean that all the stress is worth it - or that's what I'll tell myself anyway.

Something that is hopefully delightful and not too stress-inducing is the annual #IWSGPit Twitter pitch party, which is coming around the corner soon on January 26, 2022. It's a chance to get your manuscript seen and hopefully liked by agents and publishers via a tweet-length pitch. Find more details here.

And for further entries in this month's IWSG meeting, check out the sign-up list here.

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Patricia Lynne Birthday Scavenger Hunt

We've got a bit of fun today as I'm helping the amazing author Patricia Lynne celebrate both her birthday and 10-year writing anniversary. To celebrate, Patricia is holding a scavenger hunt where you need to collect a series of words nestled within various blogs. My word is highlighted in red in the post below. Make a note of it, then head to Patricia's blog for a list of other participants. Once you've collected at least five words, go back and comment with them on Patricia's birthday and anniversary post to enter a giveaway.


No human can resist Keane, so why can Quinn?

Keane is an incubus coasting through life without a care. It’s actually pretty boring. Then he meets Quinn, a human who can resist the allure of an incubus. That shouldn’t be possible. He’s going to have to use all of his wiles if he’s going to seduce her.

Quinn is less than impressed by Keane. He’s too cocky and has sex on the brain. A typical male, and her complete opposite. Despite their differences, they can’t deny the attraction between them. Can a human and an incubus make a relationship work?

But something sinister is lurking in Keane’s world. Incubi are vanishing, and when Quinn is kidnapped, Keane realizes someone is after him. He races to uncover who is behind the abductions and find Quinn. Will he get to her before it’s too late? Or is their tempting romance doomed?

Tempting Friendship is a friends to lovers urban fantasy.
Steam rating: Warm (Moderately explicit sensuality.)

AVAILABLE FOR $3.99 AT AMAZON OR READ FOR FREE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED!
Add to Goodreads

Patricia Josephine aka Patricia Lynne
Author of paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi novels you can escape into.
◾ Website: patriciajosephine.com
◾Twitter: @pjlauthor
◾Facebook: @pjlauthor
◾Instagram: @pjlauthor
◾Patreon: @pjlauthor

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

IWSG November 2021

It's time for the first Wednesday of the month and time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are Kim LajevardiVictoria Marie LeesJoylene Nowell ButlerErika Beebe and Lee Lowery.


Let's have a look at this month's optional IWSG question. I think it's a good one: What's harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

This is pretty pertinent for me as I embark on querying small publishers for the very first time. I always thought the title was the hardest thing to do but weirdly for my last couple of books, the title was basically there from the beginning. For the project I'm querying, the title is a one-word description of the main character's special ability so it was always pretty obvious. I'm sure next time I'll go back to struggling for a pithy title. 

The blurb is really hard to do well, I think. Summing up tens of thousands of words of story in a couple of paragraphs that must grab the reader's attention in a couple of seconds? Mm... Before, I've gone for the approach of starting with a question - what would you do in xxx situation - which hopefully pulls the reader in right from the start, but it's hard to gauge if the approach is successful. I'm trying to transfer this blurb-writing style to the hook in a query letter. I figure they must be similar because they both have to rise above a sea of other stuff to hook the reader. A daunting task, but I suppose the key is to pack in as much stakes and conflict as possible. How easy that is probably depends on how strong those aspects are in the book itself. So, that must mean the key to writing a good blurb is to write a good book in the first place.

I'm sure more profound answers can be found with the rest of the IWSG list, which you can find here!

Monday, 20 September 2021

How to Recycle Your Words - guest post from Annalisa Crawford

Welcome to Monday and to a guest I'm delighted to host on the blog, my good friend and critique partner, Annalisa Crawford. She recently launched her new book, Small Forgotten Moments. Perhaps you've read it or added it on to your TBR list, but what you might not know is it was revived from a much older draft. Annalisa's here to talk a bit about that process and how to make it work. Let's hand it over to her.

I have a skirt in my wardrobe which I’ve had since I was seventeen, and I’m lucky enough that it still fits. I still have my first teddy bear, and the posy of silk flowers I carried at my sister’s wedding are proudly displayed in a vase in my bedroom.

I’m not a hoarder – there are just some things I don’t  want to get rid of. Like words. As with most writers, I’ve kept old notebooks containing scribbled descriptions which were too perfect not to jot down and those random idea which hit you in the queue for the post office; I’ve kept abandoned short stories and completed novels which when I considered submitting were suddenly the worst things I’ve ever written.

But I can’t let them go. Some of those plots or characters clawed themselves back into my head until I had no choice but to resuscitate them. This happened with both my current novel, Small Forgotten Moments, and with Grace & Serenity before that. Both were at least ten years old when I dusted them off and began to figure out what exactly was wrong with them.

Obviously, this process has worked out quite well for me, so here are some tips for resurrecting your old stories.

1.      Figure out why the story didn’t work before, and be completely honest with yourself. Was it the characters, plot, theme, premise, genre, or something else entirely?

2.      Decide what was good about it. Why exactly are you thinking about working on it again?

3.      Be ruthless. Take a black marker pen to a printed out copy or delete words on the screen if they don’t conform to your new vision – subplots, characters, tangents. If they stop you in your tracks, get rid of them (or save them for another project!)

4.      But don’t forget to highlight the really fantastic bits. Those paragraphs or sentences will be the foundations to carry the project forward.

5.      Re-write from scratch. Don’t be tempted to simply edit or add a couple of scenes – your writing style might have changed in the months or years since you last picked it up, technology might have made some plot points obsolete unless you choose to retain the previous time setting, world events may add an additional dimension. Treat your current manuscript as an elaborate plan.

6.      Good luck!

If this has inspired you to take another look at an abandoned project, I’d love to know.

You can read more about Small Forgotten Moments at www.annalisacrawford.com or go direct to my publisher’s website for all purchase options https://bit.ly/small_forgotten_moments

About Annalisa Crawford

Annalisa Crawford lives in Cornwall, UK, with a good supply of moorland and beaches to keep her inspired. She lives with her husband, two sons, and canine writing partner, Artoo. She is the author of four short story collections, and two novels.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

The Cure by Patricia Josephine release

I'm helping celebrate the launch of Patricia Josephine's latest outing, The Cure, which looks like another excellent addition to a great collection of work by this author. You should check it out or some of her other books if you haven't already. 


Blurb

Every human in the world becomes a zombie when they die. But Erin refuses to accept the world as it is now. She’s heard about a cure locked away in a lab in Upper Michigan, and she plans on retrieving it. To do so, she needs a zombie. Not just any zombie, though. 

Zee is Erin’s link to the lab. His connection to the living world is her bargaining chip. But only if she can teach him to control his mindless impulses.

Can a zombie be trained? Or will Erin be Zee’s next meal and become a zombie herself? The fate of humanity rests in her hands.

Universal Buy Link 

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

I rose with the sun. A yawn shook me as I wiped the sleep from my eyes. Before the world ended, I wasn’t a morning person. Most days I woke closer to noon. My job as a freelance writer allowed it. Like an idiot, I took it for granted. Now, if I wanted to get anything done, I had to do it while the sun was up and visibility was good.

Damn, I missed sleeping in.

I dragged my feet as I headed to the deck. Sunlight cast golden rays across the river. Waves lapped gently at the yacht’s side. The air was crisp, and my breath fogged.

I cracked open a bottle of water and took a sip. What I wouldn’t give for a cup of coffee. I used to have a canister of instant coffee, but I ran out three months ago. I was still chastising myself for not rationing it better. Later, I would go to the Soo Locks Park and stock up on supplies. I could barter for more there.

Acquiring coffee had to wait, though. My new friend needed to be checked on.

I scarfed down a breakfast bar before grabbing my shotgun and a backpack and clambered into the raft.

A moan pierced the air as I reached land. I secured the raft and darted to the base. I entered a small reception area. A waist high desk was near the door with a computer sitting on it. A few chairs were set in the center of the room. Notifications hung on a cork bulletin board. Silence hung in the air as if the room was a bubble that somehow escaped the apocalypse. I almost expected to see Coast Guard personnel walk through the door and demand to know what I was doing.

I shook the feeling off and strode to the red cooler under a window. Flies swarmed around it. When I opened it, a sour stench assaulted my nose. I gagged, barely holding down my breakfast, grabbed a dead rat, and slammed the lid shut.

I walked to the tarp, removed a cinder block, and lifted the edge. Snarls greeted me. The zombie clawed at the sides of the earth. Hunger lit its eyes like fireworks. I lifted my shotgun and pointed it at its head. It stilled.

“That’s a good boy.” I lowered onto my knees. “You’ve been dead long enough to develop your basic instincts. How to walk and run. I’ve heard stories of zombies who forgot how to do that.”

The zombie watched me with narrowed eyelids. The color of its eyes had dulled to a muddy brown, and the whites were tinged yellow. Was it trying to figure out how to get out and eat me?

I smirked. “You should know how to hunt by now. Zombies sometimes hunt in packs. You aren’t as mindless as movies made you out to be.” I dangled the dead rat above it.

The zombie snarled, and spit flew from its mouth.

“I bet,” I continued, “it’s the hunger. It’s consumes you, like a vampire’s bloodlust. Well, if those were real.” Thank goodness they weren’t. One supernatural creature had been more than enough to destroy the world.

A surge of bitterness rose up my throat. The skin on my knuckles turned white from how tightly I clutched the rat by the tail.

This could’ve been stopped. Lives and the world could’ve been saved. She might still be here.

About the Author

Patricia never set out to become a writer, and in fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was more of an art and band geek. Some stories are meant to be told, though, and now she can't stop writing.

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:

Website 

Newsletter

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Facebook page

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

IWSG September 2021

It's time for the first Wednesday of the month and time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are Rebecca DouglassT. Powell ColtrinNatalie AguirreKaren Lynn and C. Lee McKenzie.

This month's optional question is: How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

That's a pretty wide-ranging question. I suppose there are a few ways I could answer. I think anyone who completes a story that tells a tale from beginning to end is a successful writer. It's a lot harder than it might sometimes appear. Another marker might be if it makes an impression on someone else or somehow resonates with them, or they feel an emotional connection with the characters. If you can achieve that with just one reader, I think it's a sign you've done something right.

Any insecurities this month? Well, I'm hoping to make a connection with talent spotters by taking part in my first #PitMad this month. I've done the IWSG Twitter Pitch Party before, so I know it's a highly competitive field, but it's also good fun and an interesting experience. I think I've got my WIP down to a publishable form - just need to perfect that pitch. Anyone else taking part? How's your pitch coming along?

Don't forget to check out other IWSG entries here.

Friday, 27 August 2021

One Year on Broadway blog tour

Happy Friday! Today I'm delighted to welcome a guest post from one of my oldest blogging friends, Kathryn McKendry, who is celebrating the release of what sounds like a fascinating memoir. Here's Kathy to explain more.


First of all, thank you Nick for letting me take over your blog.


Today I’m talking about my new release One Year on Broadway: Finding Ourselves Between the Sand and the Sea


This is the true story of how my husband, Jesse, and I became co-producers of the Tony Award winning Broadway Revival of our favorite musical, Once on This Island, and the incredible year-long journey that ensued.


You might be thinking, “Oh they must have spent years in the theater business, in order to do that.”


Well not in our case. Neither Jesse nor I have any theater background other than the fact that we are fans of Broadway musicals and super-fans of Once on This Island.


Of course you’ll have to read the book to find out the whole story but here’s a sneak peek at how it all started: 

Over twenty-five years ago, when Jesse and I were both in college, he stumbled upon the U.S. tour of the original Broadway production of Once on This Island. He bought tickets and it was our first fancy date together. 

Set on an island in the French Antilles, we were enchanted by the heart-felt Caribbean tale and its colorful music. But even more than that, we saw a bit of ourselves in the two young main characters who had fallen in love despite their parents’ and society’s disapproval. Their story mirrored ours and touched both of us to the core. It also gave me the strength to choose my own path, to choose Jesse, not allowing my parents to decide for me. We could only hope that our tale would end differently. 


It’s amazing how deeply a story-whether, a book, a movie, or a musical can touch someone’s life and forever change them.


Fast forward to 2017 where by a strange twist of fate, we were led back to the Island. Jesse happened to be on a business trip in New York City where he heard about someone producing a Broadway revival of the show. One crazy decision led to another, and suddenly we were co-producers of the show that had changed our lives.


We had no idea how much more the show was going to give us.


One Year On Broadway is my love letter to Once On This Island.


I would love to hear what stories have impacted your lives the most. Did you see a musical or a movie that influenced you so much that you would never be the same? Or was there a book that changed your life forever?


Thanks again Nick for having me!

I hope you all have a wonderful week!


Kathryn McKendry

*****

Back cover blurb:

A true story of forbidden love, adventure, and letting go


How do you know when it’s time to close one chapter of your life and begin a new one? To let go of the past, open your heart, and trust in a new beginning? At first we said, “no.” We knew it was ridiculous.


And yet something in our hearts led us back to the Island. Having no idea where it would lead us, my husband and I took a leap of faith and became co-producers of the Broadway Revival of Once On This Island, the musical that had given us so much. Even if it failed, we would have a great story to tell. We ended up with so much more.

GoodReads Description:

A true story of forbidden love, adventure, and letting go. Weaving together a fan girl's tribute to her all-time favorite musical and a memoir, One Year on Broadway is a closeup view into the production of a Broadway musical and a testament to the power of the stories that become a part of us forever.


Pre-order link for e-book on Amazon


Goodreads link

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

IWSG August 2021

It's time for the first Wednesday of the month and time of course for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are PK HrezoCathrina ConstantinePJ ColandoKim Lajevardi and Sandra Cox.


This month's optional question is: What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

I know this is an answer that will probably come up A LOT today, but I'd have to say Stephen King's On Writing. I like the fact that it's partly an autobiography, which makes it more engaging than some other books that are focused only on theory. For an author starting out, it's very inspiring because they can see that even the great and the good had trials and setbacks starting out. And overall it has a very laidback and conversational style. I haven't picked up the actual book for a while, but you don't really need to when quotes come up from it so often on memes and social media. I'd definitely recommend to any new writer. 

What about insecurities for this month? Well, I've been venturing into uncharted territory by drafting a synopsis and query letter for my current WIP. These are notoriously hard to get right, and although I did struggle to reduce everything down to a couple of pithy paragraphs, I did quite enjoy the process too. I'm not supposed to enjoy it, am I? That probably means I'm not doing it right, and it will likely take a bit more polishing to get it right, or even just good.

More entries to this month's IWSG can be found here. I'm looking forward to picking up some craft book tips!

Also, don't forget there's only a few more weeks to enter for this year's IWSG anthology contest, with a theme of "Sweet Romance." Closing date is September 1. Full details can be found here.

Wednesday, 7 July 2021

IWSG July 2021

 It's the first Wednesday of the month and of course that means it's time for another round of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as ever by the erstwhile Alex J. Cavanaugh, and co-hosted this month by Pat GarciaVictoria Marie LeesChemist Ken and Louise - Fundy Blue, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can air fears and insecurities without fear of being judged.


Let's have a look at this month's optional IWSG question, quite a dramatic one: 

What would make you quit writing?

I could only think of three circumstances under which this eventuality would come about: 1) if I died, 2) if I suffered from an extremely debilitating condition such as dementia, or 3) if I found myself in the position of providing 24/7 care to a loved one with such a condition. Otherwise, I can't think of a good reason to stop. It's the only thing in life I can really control and is something I can always rely on to sustain me, no matter how insane the world gets - and that's been thrown into sharp relief over the last 18 months or so. So no, not planning to stop unless I run into one of the dire outcomes mentioned above. I accept the first one will have to happen at some point, but hopefully the other two don't.

While I'm here, I probably should provide an update on what I've been up to. I'm at a completion phase on two WIPs, tying up loose ends - which is great, and exciting in lots of ways, but of course always comes with looming insecurity with the idea of how they might be received as I start to nudge them out into the daylight. The first of these is a standalone YA story that has already been out with CPs. At that point it came in at a slim 50k, but based on their suggestions, I have greatly expanded the denouement and added much-needed worldbuilding details to bring it up to a much more healthy 70k. It'll be going back out to them soon. The other book is the final part of my trilogy, which has taken a bit longer than I planned - the second part came out back in 2019 - but here again the ending took quite a bit of work to get it right. This is also still at first-draft stage, so I don't see it coming out before early 2022. A bit of work still to do there, but it'll be nice to get this series done and dusted.

All told, I can't ever see myself without a project or two on the go. I'm interested to see how others answer this question. Check out other IWSG entries here.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Blood Red Sand release day

Today I'm helping celebrate the release of what looks like a really exciting book by Damien Larkin. Check it out...


Blood Red Sand

By Damien Larkin

 

Mars will run red with Nazi blood…

 

After World War Two, Sergeant McCabe knew the British army could send him anywhere. He never imagined facing down another Nazi threat on Mars.

 

In New Berlin colony, rivalry between Generalfeldmarschall Seidel’s Wehrmacht and Reichsf├╝hrer Wagner’s SS threatens bloodshed. The Reichsf├╝hrer will sacrifice everything to initiate the secretive Hollow Programme and realise his nightmarish future for humanity.

 

McCabe, Private Jenkins, and the Mars Expeditionary Force must overcome bullet, bomb, and bayonet to destroy the Third Reich. While Jenkins fights to stay alive, McCabe forms an uneasy alliance with MAJESTIC-12 operatives known as the Black Visors. Will this be the final battle of World War Two or the first confrontation in an interstellar war?

 

Release date – July 6, 2021

$17.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 252 pages

Science Fiction - Military/Alternative History/War & Military

Print ISBN 9781939844781 / EBook ISBN 9781939844798

$4.99 EBook available in all formats

 

“Brilliant follow up to Big Red.” – Tripp Ainsworth, author

 

“I’m awed by Damien Larkin’s imagination… So truly Heinlein.” – Phil Parker, author

 

“Blood Red Sand is top class military sci-fi with plenty of heart pounding action sequences, excellent characterisation and a growing sense of mystery that readers will crave to uncover.” – Book Nest

 

Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was longlisted for the BSFA award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland. www.damienlarkinbooks.com

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

IWSG June 2021

 As we enter what looks like a great summer here in the Northern Hemisphere (with hopefully a little more freedom), one thing we can all rely on is that the first Wednesday of the month will be our meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Led as ever by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the purpose of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. This month's excellent co-hosts are J. Lenni DornerSarah FosterNatalie AguirreLee Lowery and Rachna Chhabria.


Let's have a look at this month's IWSG question: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

This is quite interesting. Although I haven't kept records of how long this has been for every book, for my current WIP, I was keen to get it out to CPs to gain feedback on certain matters. I think I left it a few days before giving it a quick reread to tie up some inconsistencies. The response was that the story was good but perhaps slightly undercooked. There might be a lesson to be learned there.

The second part of the question has me thinking. Perhaps there might be a danger after having written a number of books/stories that you do not need to give it so much time to "marinate," especially if you want to keep up to a release schedule. Instead it might be better to think of each book as your first, worthy of just as much care and attention as your early outings. After all, every book is different and will have different demands. It's not a production line. I'm interested to read others' answers to this!


This year's IWSG anthology contest is open!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Sweet Romance

Theme: First Love

Submissions accepted: 
May 7 - September 1, 2021

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group. You must belong to at least one aspect of the IWSG to enter.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

See more details here. And, don't forget to check out more entries for this month's meeting here.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Dark Matter author CD Gallant-King on writing for submission

Today I'm thrilled to host a tour stop for the latest IWSG anthology Dark Matter: Artificial, where I'm welcoming three-time anthology publishee CD Gallant-King with some tips on writing for submission.

Writing for Submission

 

I have published several short stories with small presses and magazines, but all of my novels have been self-published. I view short stories and novels as two very distinct beasts that require different approaches and VERY different skills.

 

With novels, I like the freedom that self-publishing provides. I can write about whatever I want, however I want to write it, and I don't need to worry about whether someone else's approval or permission. My audience is (hopefully) other people who enjoy the same sort of stories that I do, so I write the sort of thing that I have fun reading.

 

With short stories I’m almost the complete opposite. I LOVE requests for submission that give you a specific genre/prompt. I see it more as a challenge to meet their requirements, and it provides a clear outline and focus for your work. Short-story writing is much harder, in my opinion, because every word and beat counts so much more than in a longer work, where you have the freedom to go off on tangents develop side characters and so on. Because a short story needs to be so focused and precise, anything that provides direction is appreciated. A good, evocative prompt is a perfect kickstart to get your creative juices going in the right direction.

 

I've had my stories included in the IWSG's anthologies three times. I have actually submitted four times, but the first time my story didn't make the cut. I don't think the story was necessarily bad, but it did not play to my strengths (it was way too serious, for one thing). It also didn't really fit with the theme of the collection, which was "Heroes Lost" or something to that effect. Sure, my story had a hero, and he died in the end, but it felt more like I was just pasting the prompt overtop of the story, and it only sorta/kinda fit.

 

The next time I submitted, the genre was mystery and the prompt was time. I had a half-finished pseudo-hardboiled detective story with a character that I loved, so I re-worked it to fit into the theme. This worked brilliantly, as the story previously didn't have the through-line to pull it together (it was basically just an interesting main character and a bunch of funny scenes), but the IWSG prompt was the focus that I needed.

 

For the third submission, I started from scratch and went out of my way to subvert the theme while playing into the genre at the same time. With a prompt like "YA Romance" and "Masquerade," my brain immediately went to vampires, and anyone who knows me knows there is no way in a million years that I'm going to write a straight YA Romance story about vampires. So "The Dark Charade" was born.

 

Which brings us to Dark Matter: Artificial and my story, "Space Folds and Broomsticks." The original germ of an idea for this one came from a completely different anthology call I saw last year, which was looking for Sci-Fi retellings of classic fairy tales. I LOVED this idea and my mind raced with a dozen possibilities, but I missed the deadline. These ideas were still bouncing around in my skull when the IWSG call came up, coincidentally also for sci-fi. I was excited that I was able to use one of my previously-hatched plots, and the "dark matter" prompt was the exact trigger I needed for all the pieces to fall into place. When you read "Space Folds" you may notice that it doesn't deal with dark matter in the way you're probably expecting, but the phrase itself set up the conflict of the story perfectly.

 

I'm a big fan of space opera/military sci-fi, especially stories about fighter pilots jetting around the galaxy (see: Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Wing Commander, Battlestar Galactica, or our own Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaStar), so I knew that was the setting I wanted to use. I also always want to grow up to be Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, so of course the whole thing had to be written tongue-in-cheek. That's not to say the story doesn't have some edge to it - my work usually tries to blend comedy and tragedy, the horrific and the absurd. "Space Folds and Broomsticks" isn't as dark as most of what I write, but I do try to ramp up the tension and suspense, and there are dramatic moments.

 

I don't tend to over-think it too much once I get the flow going and the words come down on the digital paper. Some people write and re-write over and over, but I don't do that so much, especially with short stories. If it works it works. If it doesn't, it will end up in the drawer and I'll write another one. That's another benefit of short stories over novels - because I haven't spent months or even years on it, I'm not so attached to it. I'm not so protective and I don't mind sending it out to rejection time and time again (my record for rejection is 25 times before finally finding a home for one particular story).

 

I must have hit the right notes for the judges and the folks at Dancing Lemur, because they've selected my story for the third time - the first time this has happened, as far as I know. After your story is chosen, there’s a whole net set of tasks and challenges (like writing this blog post, for example!). But that’s a tale for another time.

 

Stay safe everyone!

 

Hugs & kisses,

 

-CDGK

 

C.D. Gallant-King is a Canadian writer currently residing in Ottawa, Ontario. Check him out on Twitter (https://twitter.com/CDGallantKing), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cdgallantking) or his blog (http://www.cdgallantking.ca/)


Dark Matter: Artificial
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Discover dark matter’s secrets…

What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?

Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of 
Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Goldim, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales 
will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!



Release date: May 4, 2021
Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99
Science Fiction: Collections & Anthologies / Space Exploration / Genetic Engineering

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; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter. A Writer’s Digest 101 Best Website for Writers and The Write Life’s Best 100 Website for Writers
https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

Links:
Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08S7LP369
Kobo - https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-matter-artificial
Barnes & Noble - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-matter-insecure-writers-support-group/1138581452?ean=2940164777661
Goodreads - 
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56632113-dark-matter

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

IWSG May 2021

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which of course means it's time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as ever by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share fears and insecurities without being judged. Join us if you haven't already! Today's co-hosts are Erika BeebePJ ColandoTonja DreckerSadira Stone and Cathrina Constantine.

This month's optimal IWSG question is: Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn't expect? If so, did it surprise you?

I was going to bypass this month's question because I couldn't immediately think of any particularly off-the-wall responses, but then I thought of a way to tie it in to a monthly update that is also kind of an insecurity. A good insecurity, if that makes sense. I've had my latest WIP out with a couple of CPs and a common thread in their responses is that the story seems unfinished, with a few questions left to resolve. I didn't necessarily expect that, but when I thought about it it kind of made sense. My protagonist had gone on a big emotional rollercoaster towards the end, and I suppose I was rushing a bit so she could reach some resolution and calm, but it's likely more of a rest stop than a full resolution, with the threat in the book still potentially out there in some form. So, there's an insecurity in that I'll probably need to extend what I thought was finished, but it's a good insecurity because it's a chance to properly resolve the story, and because at least my readers were engaged enough to want to know more!

How would you answer this question? You can check out many more posts and responses at the IWSG sign-up page here.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

IWSG April 2021

As we soldier on through the year and into a time when hopefully we will be free of all lockdowns, it's time to take our monthly stopoff and check in with each other for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers of all kinds can share fears and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are PK HrezoPat GarciaSE WhiteLisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton.


I'm still trying to rewrite the ending to my trilogy after a technical issue meant I lost those few thousand words. My main insecurity is that it's not as exciting or well executed as the last time, but hopefully it will be ironed out in edits. Let's have a look at this month's IWSG question:

Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

This is an excellent question. I do believe that as an artist it's important to take risks and keep moving forward in your work. Of course there are successful authors who stick with a tried and trusted formula and have a solid fanbase who keep coming back because they know what they're getting, but it's not exciting to me as a reader. I'd like to do something different with each book I write. My current WIP (separate to my series, but it might turn into another series) is told from first person (which I've tried before but not often) and from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl (which is completely new to me). It's an interesting journey, certainly - I've been hit and miss in terms of getting it right, and my female CPs have offered invaluable feedback. As for controversial topics, they have come up on a few occasions, but I don't plan these things in advance - it's whatever is needed to move the story forward. Like with taking risks, I think it will come across as inauthentic if these things are too contrived or put in there for the sake of it. Everything has to start from the story, and if it takes me into some bumpy territory, I won't hold back from it. I think doing what serves the story is a good rule of thumb for pretty much all aspects of writing.

Do you enjoy taking risks in writing? Dealing with controversial topics? See how many other writers have answered the question at the IWSG sign-up list here.

Wednesday, 3 March 2021

IWSG March 2021

It's time once again for our monthly posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share fears and insecurities without being judged. This month's excellent co-hosts are Sarah - The Faux Fountain PenJacqui MurrayChemist KenVictoria Marie LeesNatalie Aguirre and JQ Rose.


This month I'm feeling in an optimistic frame of mind, with spring in the air and the vaccine doing the rounds (my daughter had her first shot last week and my wife will get hers on Friday). Hopefully a bit more normality is ahead for all of us. I do have the usual nervy insecurity that comes with having a book out with CPs. Never sure how it will go down!

Let's turn to this month's IWSG question which is as follows: 

Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

This is a great question. I definitely think it's important to read as widely as possible. I'm currently leaning towards speculative fiction for writing, but I started out writing crime novels. I do think I was reading more of those at the time and now I know a lot of bloggers who write spec fic. But I read other things too. As a reader it should be the story that comes first, then worry about whatever genre it fits into. I'm all for groundbreaking ideas and concepts, but I won't get far with the story they're in if I don't connect with the characters. As a writer I also think there are things to be learned from all kinds of genres. They bleed into one another all the time. We tend to think of romances as being set in either contemporary times or the past, but if there's a story set in the future in which genetically engineered cyborgs fall in love, we'll call it sci-fi, but isn't there a case for calling it romance if that's the most important element? Publishing would be in a pretty insular state if all writers stuck rigidly to reading the genre in which they work.

What would be your answer to this question? Don't forget to check out many more IWSG posts here.