Wednesday, September 1, 2021

IWSG: September 2022

 


Welcome to the last quarter of 2021 and the first Wednesday of the month's bloghop, IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and the entire IWSG staff for this amazing group of supportive writers. I feel so grateful and fortunate to be part of IWSG. Find the entire group of participants here.

This month's optional question:

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?

What a question. I've been so busy lately, I've had little time to reflect on where I am in my own career. I always get a little thrill holding one of my books in my hands. I've had some financial success, but it's an up and down thing. I certainly couldn't live on what I make writing. I feel successful when I actually feel like a writer. When I'm submitting work even if it results in a rejection. When I working on changes from an editor. Those writer-ly things. This blog hop makes me feel like part of a community of serious writers. Am I successful? I would say moderately so, but I'm not sure where I should set the mark. When one of my books becomes a Netflix show? I count Nancy Springer as a successful writer friend. She writes the Enola Holmes series, has her Netflix show, but I know she keeps plugging away at the next book. We all keep on going and that's how we become successful.

"He conquers who endures." Italian Proverb

On to more business, my daughter is back from Jordan, thanks for all your wishes and prayers, but she's still in Boston. I'll be seeing her over Labor Day.

My husband is excited for the start of football season on all levels. Watching our son coach high school, cheering on Penn State, and watching Pro teams to cheer for his fantasy players. If not for Football, I would see no reason to have TV beyond streaming services at all.  I think all I watch on the screen are shows I've watched before. Background noise, mostly.

I pray the world stays open as the fall moves in with winter on its tail. I don't mind wearing a mask if it means the kids get to go to school and we can shop in stores.

I'm still indulging in not having to mow grass and no leaves to rake later this month. My granddaughter is keeping me busy and challenged. She keeps my mind young, but I'm not sure about the body keeping up with all that energy. We've been spending hours swimming, but it will be too cold for that soon.

Wish you all good books to read and flowing words to put on the page.

"The glow of one warm thought is to me worth more than money." Thomas Jefferson

Are you feeling successful in your career be it writing or other business? Are you watching something good or reading something great? Please share. 






Wednesday, August 4, 2021

IWSG: August 2021


 It can't really be August already, can it? It is the first Wednesday of the month and that means IWSG time. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the administrators of the IWSG group. This group has grown so far beyond the initial blog hop group. And it's still the best, most supportive, online writing group there is. Find the entire blog list here.

This month's optional question:

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 think this has changed as I've learned and hopefully grown as a writer. I think the first craft book I really loved was The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus. Recently, I've kept Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes on the shelf I can reach without rolling my desk chair. The next book I have on my to-buy list is


Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. 

There are so many resources out there for writers. As I type this post, I'm listening to a free two-hour workshop presented by Pennwriters for members on the Pros and Cons of Independent Publishing versus Traditional Publishing. Not all those available are free, but I have fewer physical writing books than I used to when I started.

I'm happy to report that I've moved and settled in my new home. I miss the country setting with deer in the backyard every day, but I don't miss mowing those acres. I enjoy walking where I'm not taking my life in my hands on a narrow country road.

We also cut the cable cord when we moved. It took my husband a while to learn how to navigate through the streaming services we have, but since we still have his favorite sports packages, he's happy. The savings are really great.

Best wishes to all the writers who submitted to the IWSG writing contest. Can't wait to add the next anthology to my keeper shelf.

A few writers groups I know are once again venturing out to meet in person. Please keep your fingers crossed for the mini-con being held in Erie, PA in October that we'll be able to share some in-person time even if we do have to mask. However it turns out, we will figure out a way to be together in the same room be it virtual or face-to-face.

"Do what you can, where you are, with what you have." Theodore Roosevelt

Have you been able to meet with some friends in person recently? Are you going to check out some of the craft books you'll read about today? Have any of you 'cut' the cable and are you happy with your decision?






Wednesday, July 7, 2021

IWSG: July 2021


 Oops. I'm really late and very apologetic. As some of you know, I'm in the middle of moving and have no internet at the moment. 

Happy IWSG day to everyone. I hope you're in the cool somewhere and have visited a lot of blogs today. Polish up those stories for the anthology. Can't wait to read them.



The Seventh Annual IWSG Anthology Contest!


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.

* A short reminder on the characteristics of a sweet romance. 

Overall, your story should be clean of offensive material, including profanity, vulgarity, excessive violence, or sexually explicit or suggestive scenes. 

Elements in your story should focus on romance, not on sex, which should be kept “behind closed doors.”

The overall plot should lead to a positive and uplifting outcome, also known as "happily ever after."

Absolutely no erotica or pornography.

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

I'm thrilled to be a judge. I need some entertainment right now.

This month's question on what would make me stop writing?  Well, I've written almost nothing over the last 15 months, but that has nothing to do with desire. Too many other things have taken up my time. I do know grief makes it impossible for me to write, but I've always come back to it. So, I'm  not sure I will stop until I'm physically unable.

Are you thinking romantic plots for the contest? Are you managing the heat where you are? My daughter is in Jordan and a number of days in the last two weeks, we've been hotter than her. And the desert cools down at night whereas we haven't been.  Have you experienced the hectic chaos of moving to a new home recently?


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

IWSG: June 2021

 


Time for the monthly IWSG blog hop. Find the entire list of participating blogs here. As always, many thanks to our founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the administrators of this awesomely supportive group.

This month's optional 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?

A minimum of two weeks, but maybe longer. I usually use the time between when I finish and when I look at it again, to do a rough outline of the next novel and catch up on reading. When I wrote my first novel, I rewrote and edited as I went. Mistake. It took me forever to finish and then I still had to rewrite a bunch of times.

The Pennwriters Virtual Conference went off without any major hitches. We had well over a hundred people in attendance and amazing workshops. It was a great time, but I can do without that stress again.

On a personal note, during all the conference planning and execution, we put our house up for sale and sold it within three days. Next month, you can read my complaints about packing up.

On another personal note, Boston University approved my daughter's fieldwork in Jordan for two months starting in July. There is no end to my stress.

My current insecurity, after so much work on the computer and every waking moment thinking about the conference, I'm having a lot of difficulty sitting down to write. 

I apologize ahead of time for not visiting enough blogs. I will try harder.

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity." Amelia Earhart

Do you set your writing aside for a bit between drafts? How is the writing going for you? And don't forget the next anthology contest opportunity sponsored by the IWSG admin.


The Seventh Annual IWSG Anthology Contest!


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.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

IWSG: May 2021

 


Welcome to the May version of IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and his team of administrators, we can share our victories, woes, and experiences the first Wednesday of every month. Find the entire list of participants here

The May 5th question, if you'd like to answer it, 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?

This has happened a few times. One reviewer admired a deep theme that hadn't really been the theme as I wrote it, but it was a legitimate interpretation. I really enjoyed that.

Yesterday, IWSG's latest anthology was released. Dark Matter: Artificial appears to be another winner. I purchase all the anthologies in print and have them on my keeper-shelf. Congrats to all the authors.


Many of you know that I'm the current president of Pennwriters, a state-wide multi-genre writers organization. Our yearly conference was once again stepped on by the pandemic. This year, we took the chance and went virtual. Just seven days from now, we'll be running the biggest online event I've been involved with. It's been a lot of work for many people. The list of workshops is incredible. We have three agents and four small presses taking pitches. There is still time to sign up here if you want something inspirational to do from May 14th to 16th.

And because I have nothing else to do, we're putting our large 6 bedroom home on the market. We weren't quite ready, but the down-sized home we wanted came on the market. I'm not a collector but there is still a lot of things to sort, pack, or pitch. And when you have 6 children and a big house, they leave a lot of things behind. If you live in PA and want a really big, country house, put a bid in.😊

My 4-year-old granddaughter keeps me busy and wears me out most days. A few months ago, she started singing along with the radio in the car. I realized that somewhere over the past few years, I stopped singing in the car. My mind is always busy with other stuff. That beautiful little girl brought that small joy back to me. Sometimes we're loud and sometimes soft, but we're always having fun.

I enjoyed The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Shadow and Bone was okay. Debris on TV has been interesting. Mostly, I'm too busy to even care what's on the screen.

I am looking forward to having some time to write when the conference is over and we manage to move into a smaller home. 

"You fail only if you stop writing." Ray Bradbury

Have you attended online writing events? Ever had your work misinterpreted, good or bad? Do you sing in the car? 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

IWSG: April 2021


 Welcome to April's IWSG. This blog hop was started by our energetic leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Join us in supporting each other in all our writing endeavors. Find the entirety of the list of blog participants here.

This month's optional 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?

No. I avoid controversial topics though I've been told by another writer that some of my work does involve controversial science. I don't agree. Science is science to me. I have a minor degree in science and I use it in my writing all the time. I don't believe there is anything controversial about scientific facts, but then again, there are people who don't trust science. I guess I should say I don't write anything controversial on purpose. 

"Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent." Arthur Conan Doyle


Most of my writing time has been dedicated to planning and promoting the Pennwriters 34th Annual Writers Conference. Since the event is being held virtually this year, May 14th to May 16th, anyone can attend without great expense. The highlights are 36 workshops covering everything about a writing career, 2 amazing Keynote speakers, a free pitch session with an agent or editor, a Read and Critique opportunity, and 2 pre-conference intensive workshops on Thursday, May 13th. Read all about it here.

I'm so happy about the warmer weather. Hopefully, spring isn't as wet as last year. There have been a few TV programs that have caught my interest though not with great enthusiasm. Debris is very mysterious so far. Magnum and FBI are okay. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been excellent. 

My husband and I received our first Covid vaccine and will get our second next week. That will leave only three members of my immediate family waiting for their turn. I'll feel better when we're all vaccinated. I'm not sure what the summer and fall will look like. What is normal anymore? I do want to see my daughter soon. We had plans that have been waiting for more than a year now. 

"In three words, I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." Robert Frost

One of our plans is a 3 or 4-day writing retreat for the two of us plus one of her friends. We're starting to look around. Right now, it all depends on whether her summer work in Jordan is approved by her university. I want her to get to do what she wants, but I don't want her to go. Typical mother's conflicts.

Hope you're having an enjoyable spring with sunshine and health.

Are you purposefully controversial in your writing? Do you like to read controversial writing? What is keeping you busy? 






Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Dead on the Delta by Sherry Knowlton

Please welcome my friend, Sherry Knowlton to my blog. I love how her books are located in a part of the control well known to me. And who hasn't heard of Three Mile Island and Carlisle, PA? Thanks for being here, Sherry.

Going Beyond the Seasons

As I began to write my latest book, Dead on the Delta, I was confronted with a dilemma of my own making: how to approach and title Book Five in the Alexa Williams series. The first four books could be grouped together as the Seasons of Suspense with their titles: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer, Dead of Spring, and Dead of Winter. But now I’d reached the end of the seasons. What to do?

 The first four books are set primarily in the Carlisle area of South-Central Pennsylvania and feature thirtyish attorney Alexa Williams. Alexa has a tendency to stumble across dead bodies and dangerous situations, exacerbated by her boundless curiosity and passion for social causes. Each of the books deals with current hot news topics, like sex trafficking or terrorism, but contains a parallel historical story that intersects with the present-day mystery. The historical fiction plots range from a child murder during the Great Depression to the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster.

 Although I’d run the course of seasons, I wasn’t ready to stop writing about Alexa. I’m still exploring her story and those of her close friends and family. Thinking about Book Five, I had two decisions to make, which ended up growing to three.

 What’s the focus and where does it take place? My husband and I have gone on safari to Africa multiple times, and I’m passionate about preserving the dwindling populations of many wild animal species on the African continent. In the books, Alexa’s boyfriend Reese works for a wildlife advocacy organization, so I decided to break away from the previous books and base the new novel in Botswana.

 What’s the historical story? This is where the surprise third decision came into play. Although there is some important history that plays a prominent role in this new book, a full historical plot just didn’t seem to work with the contemporary story I wanted to tell in Botswana. So, I dropped my parallel story format altogether.

 Where to go with the title? For continuity, I wanted to keep the DEAD part of the title, even though I’d exhausted the seasons. I toyed with times of day (Dead at Dawn), African seasons (Dead in the Dry Season), and even weather (Dead Wind) among many other concepts. In the end, I thought, why not reflect the book’s wonderful, exotic setting, Botswana’s Okavango Delta? Thus, the new book is Dead on the Delta.

 I’m anxious to find out whether my readers think I made the right decisions with book number five in the Alexa Williams suspense series, Dead on the Delta. I’m looking forward to the feedback.


Dead on the Delta

When Alexa Williams agrees to spend four months doing lion research with boyfriend Reese, she looks forward to witnessing the elemental life and death struggle of the African wild. But she never imagines she’ll become one of the hunted on the famed Okavango Delta. In the latest Alexa Williams suspense novel, the kick-ass lawyer tangles with elephant poachers and conservation politics on the African continent.

Sherry Knowlton is the author of the Alexa Williams series of suspense novels including Dead of Spring and Dead of WinterPassionate about books at an early age, she was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works with her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania.

 Praise for Sherry Knowlton’s Dead on the Delta

 “Every page of Dead on the Delta radiates Knowlton’s love and knowledge of this unique part of our planet and highlights its potential for disaster. Knowlton’s suspenseful book sets the beauty of the Okavango against the dangers that lurk there.” – Michael Stanley, author of the Detective Kubu series, also set in Botswana

Dead on the Delta is a gripping new adventure for Alexa Williams. Set against the backdrop of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Alexa faces brutal poachers and a frightening conspiracy that reaches all the way to the top of Botswana’s elite. The situation comes to a head in a terrifying confrontation that requires all of Alexa’s strength as she fights for her own survival. A satisfying read set in a gorgeous landscape. – Michael Niemann, award winning author of the Valentin Vermeulen thrillers

 A well-balanced and intelligent thriller…Suspense and thriller fiction fans have plenty to look forward to with Dead on the Delta.- Independent Book Review

 ★★★★ – “full of action, adventure, politics, and, of course, animals” – Manhattan Book Review

 ★★★★★- “great cast of characters and a fantastic female lead. Now I want to read the other books in the Alexa Williams series.” – San Francisco Book Review