Monday, April 24, 2017

Good Things are All Around Us

It's another few days of rain, but there's been lots of shining things lately. Before I get to that, let me remind you that next Wednesday is Insecure Writer's Support Group posting day. The question for that day is:
What is the weirdest/coolest thing you've ever had to research for a story?
Or just share your current insecurity.

Visit today at IWSG and check out why and how you need to get reviews for your books. Also, don't forget to get ready for the Twitter Pitch we have coming on July 27th. A good idea between now and then is to check out other pitching sessions and get ideas on how to write the perfect tweet. Here is a place to start with #pitmad. They have pitches scheduled for the upcoming months. Time to practice.

In the good things category of the past week.
One of our neighbors has sheep and the new lambs are out and cavorting.
My daughter and I saw a Bald Eagle sitting in a tree by the river when we were driving.
Did some babysitting for the granddaughter (7 weeks old now) and she's developing her own pleasant little personality and sleeping all night for her parents.
I stopped the car at an intersection for my daughter to hop out and rescue a small turtle. Why do they like roads?
My children and husband were super supportive this past weekend.
My writing pace is keeping up so far. 2,000 words per day.
Friday will be the second rendition of the WE ARE THE WORLD blog hop. Join for good news.

There's been some not so good news but I'll keep that all to myself. It was a pretty stressful week so I'm looking at the good things.

 "The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't always spoil the good things and make them unimportant." —Doctor Who
What good thing, no matter how small, cheered you up this past week? Are you working on that pitch for Twitter? Do you see Bald Eagles or turtles around where you live? Make me smile today.

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Thriller Release

Things are flying along on the writing challenge I'm doing this month. Only fifteen days into it and I'm already over 30,000 words. My characters coming along better than I hoped. I'm excited to sit down at the keyboard every day. It's so much easier to write when you love your characters.

My friend, Joylene Nowell Butler, has a new psychological thriller being release tomorrow.

To the Breaking Point...

When Brendell Meshango resigns from her university professor position and retreats to her isolated cabin to repair her psyche, she is confronted by a masked intruder. His racial comments lead her to believe she is the solitary victim of a hate crime.

However, is all as it appears? After two bizarre days, the intruder mysteriously disappears but continues to play mind games with her. Taught by her mother to distrust the mainstream-based power structures, and with her stalker possibly linked to a high level of government, Brendell conceals the incident from the police. But will her silence keep her safe?

Then her beloved daughter, Zoë, is threatened and Brendell takes matters into her own hands. To save Zoë, Brendell searches for the stalker and confronts not just a depraved madman but her own fears and prejudices.
Maski: Broken But Not Dead is available at:

Easter at our house was fun. Too much food but lots of companionship and thankfulness that so many of us could be together. Maybe next year the new wee one will be walking and ready for an egg hunt. Hope you enjoyed some family time and time off of work.

Mowing the grass went well last week. So good, I'm going to do it all over again this week.

What are you currently working on in your writing? Did you witness any Easter Egg hunts last week? Are you ready for a new thriller from Joylene Nowell Butler? What are the chances I'll keep that word count of averaging 2K a day going the rest of the month? 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Kudos, Newsletters and Grandchildren

You want to know what I'm doing right now if you're reading this on Monday. MOWING the grass. Already. The warm winter and all the recent rain have turned my lawn into a tropical forest. Taxes were as terrible an experience as we expected, financially. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

I read a lot of blogs and attend writers' meeting and conferences. I'm always looking for ways to promote and market. I haven't found the one I'm looking for. The one where I don't have to do anything. Readers just magically find my books and love them. One thing I hear over and over again, is that I should have an author's newsletter. I subscribe to some newsletters that are about writing and not promoting one author's books. Like the IWSG newsletter which is always informative. Anne R. Allen write a blog post comparing the pros and cons of newsletters versus blogging. She read my mind.

A big kudos to CPRW, the local chapter of RWA. I've been a long time member of this dynamic group and am currently serving as secretary. CPRW recently won RWA's Award of Excellence for a chapter of less than 50 members. It's pretty amazing to all of us, but when we list all the things we do, it's not so surprising. Like the current 50/50 that started a week ago. With the encouragement of group cheerleading and no excuses, I wrote over 14,000 words on my new WIP in only seven days.

I had my first chance to babysit the new granddaughter this past weekend. Those Mom muscles are a bit atrophied. My biceps were actually sore from all the use of carrying around a month-old eight pound baby. Next time you see a mother carrying a child in one arm and a few packages in her other, appreciate her strength a little bit.

Don't forget to stop by the IWSG today for another great post to kick off your week.

Who helps motivate you to write even when you'd rather be out mowing the grass? Do you receive a lot of newsletters in your inbox. Have you ever wondered how mothers manage to lug around those fragile but heavy offspring hour after hour?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

IWSG: April Already

I hope you're joining me for the monthly IWSG blog hop, taking place the first Wednesday of ever month and created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Share your insecurities and also your successes with our ever-growing group. You can sign up on the list found here.

A few of the new things happening at IWSG recently that you should be part of. If you haven't joined our Goodreads group, please hop over there and join.

Don't forget the upcoming IWSG Twitter pitch happening this July. Very, very excited about it. And if you'd like some practice, check out #TKA20, a pitch session happening TODAY for The Knight Agency. Practice your pitch to agents.

Today's question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking and publicity for your writing? What were the results?

I participated every year except the first year and this year. My intentions were all about networking. I never marketed or promoted my own books during the challenge. I think I expanded my network more the first few years I participated than the last two years. The challenge took up too much of my writing time for me to continue to participate.

The new book I started writing on Sunday for the 50/50 challenge is going well. I like my characters and they're really hating on each other at the moment. Makes for good conflict.

Almost nothing I want to watch on TV this week so I'm getting lots of evening writing done and outside work during the day. My bulbs mostly survived the late snow and I have tons of daffodils blooming and the tulips are up. They might bloom right at Easter.

We're doing our taxes this weekend. We never hurry to do them because we always owe because my husband and I are self-employed. The amount varies greatly due to the ups and downs of his business more than mine. My income lingers in the pathetic range most years.

What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.”– Mark Twain

“When it comes to taxes, there are two types of people. There are those that get it done early, also known as psychopaths, and then the rest of us.” – Jimmy Kimmel

Are you ready to try a Twitter pitch today for the Knight Agency? Are you doing A to Z this year? Ready for some fun with at Goodreads group? Did you do your taxes yet? 

Monday, April 3, 2017

What's Going On?

Let me start out by saying best of luck to the A to Z Participants. I'm not in on the madness this year, but I know I'll enjoy reading a lot of great posts. And that bring me to the upcoming IWSG monthly posting which will be Wednesday, April 5th. The question is always optional.

Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking and publicity for your writing? What were the results?

So, you can answer that and still share your current insecurity.

Had a great writers' meeting on Saturday. We honored a few of our members. Andrew Grey was honored with a Centennial Award for having 100 books published. He has an amazing work ethic and still manages to be generous with his time to help other writers.

The founding member of our RWA local group, Karen Rose Smith, received all our best wishes in her latest triumph. One of Karen's book's is in production to be a TV movie. We're all so excited for her. We might have a watch party.

Continuing with wonderful things happening at the meeting, we started our first 50/50 challenge of 2017. The way it works is that we all commit to writing at least 50 words for 50 days straight. And of course, most everyone who sits down to write 50 words ends up writing a lot more than that. We report our numbers to the member keeping track every few days. We're permitted to miss a day or two, but most of us try not to miss any. It's perfect timing for me because I'm starting a new novel. I outlined last week and started it yesterday. Wish me luck.

“You can only write by putting words on a paper one at a time.” 
― Sandra Brown

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King, WD

You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can't edit a blank page. Jodi Picoult

I'm getting some outside work done. Every year I think I'll get a jump on it. All the rain is making it difficult. Not only does it keep me inside, but it really makes the weeds grow.

I watched the series finale of Grimm last Friday. I wasn't expecting the HEA after the last two seasons have been so dark, but overall, I enjoyed the show. It was never a 'can't miss' for me, but I often caught up to it while I was on the treadmill or the exercise bike.

Do you know any writer friends who have written more books than Andrew? Do you know anyone who has had a book made into a movie? Are you doing the A to Z challenge? Are you an every day writer?

Friday, March 31, 2017

We Are the World

Today is the first ever post for the We Are the World Blogfest. A group of bloggers will share links to stories telling the positive tales of human behavior that are so often ignored or overlooked. It's easy to hear lots of bad news and wonder how our species has managed to survive. Today is a feel-good day.

If you're been a frequent visitor to my blog, you know I am a long time supporter of Penn State Thon. This 46 hour dance-a-thon is the largest Student-Run Philanthropy in the world. They not only raise money on Thon weekend every year, but all year long. Dozens of local high school have joined them and have their own Thon fundraisers that run for 12 hours.

What does Thon do with the money they raise? They work in cooperation with Hershey Medical Center's pediatric cancer center. Thon guarantees that parents will incur no expenses while their child is receiving medical treatment at the Hershey Medical Center. They pay for any medicine, hospital stay, and any medical expense until treatment is concluded. We all know someone who has fought cancer. The price of care is staggering. Thon makes sure the one thing parents and their sick child do not have to worry about is the cost of medicine.

The students do everything for Thon. They put so much heart into this event and this fundraiser. Ask a Penn State alumni about Thon, and you will get a taste of how it has touched their lives. And they've been doing this for 40 years.

Lots of people have heard of Penn State's recent infamy because of the child abuse scandal connected to football coaches. But Thon is what people should think of when they think of Penn State. In 2017, they raised $10,045,478.44 to pay for cancer treatments. Go, Nittany Lions.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Picking a Title and Guesting

I hope you'll join me today over at Kathleen Watson's blog where I'm talking about space opera science fiction and why it's so popular. I accidentally linked to it last week but I was seven days too early. Please stop by.

I finished my WIP and am still working on a title. I'm not enthusiastic about the one I came up with. My publisher has helped me in the past when I can't settle on something. There is a lot of advice out there for picking a title for your book. Over at Writer's Digest, Chuck Sambuchino has these five bits of advice.  Anne R. Allen has ten tips for choosing a title. Maybe I can figure out a good one.

My daughter and I had a recent discussion about books, movies and TV shows that have made us cry. We had no trouble agreeing on a book. My daughter convinced me to read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Hein a while ago. Most heartbreaking fiction book EVER. I will never re-read it. On TV, we both agreed that the GoT episode, Hodor, led to loud, ugly sobbing. I'm bracing myself for the last episode of Grimm this Friday. I've been a steady if not always enthusiastic fan of the show from the start and it all ends this week. I'm not expecting happiness.

I went to the cafe at the local BAM a few days ago so I could concentrate on some rewrites since our house was rather noisy with March Madness cheers and groans. To my disappointment, the cafe was loud and very distracting. Now I don't expect a bookstore to be a library, but it's usually pretty calm. To make matters worse, the people being loud and distracting were the workers. Irritation happened but I did get something done.

This Friday is the last of the month and the start of a new monthly blog hop. We Are the World members will blog the last Friday of every month and share positive stories and thoughts with the world. Every little bit helps.

I went with my daughter last week to see Beauty and the Beast. It was very nice and we had a good time. It closely followed the original animated version but I didn't mind. Great special effects for the talking household items and on the Beast.

Are you a fan of space opera? What book, movie or show has made you cry recently? Do you have trouble picking titles for your work? Do you like your bookstores quiet?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring for Real and DR Grady

I hope you'll hop over the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog where I'm talking about attending a conference. Please feel free to add your own advice and experiences in the comments. I'm very excited to be attending the 30th annual Pennwriter's Conference in May.

D.R. Grady is a fellow member of my local RWA chapter and a prolific author. Her latest release, The Trouble with Nerds, is now available on Amazon.

Odd things keep happening to Dr. Sara Newton. She’s a soon-to-be-unemployed pediatrician with an alleged stalker, a hot cop on her heels breathing dire warnings, and way too much student debt.

It doesn’t help that the hot cop is Clay Morrison, her best friend’s older brother. The man has made her heart pound and her palms sweaty since puberty. The trouble is, he only interacts with her when he’s expounding on new security measures. He sees threats everywhere.

Clay Morrison is frustrated. He hates his new job, misses his Army Ranger days, loves his well-meaning, pushy family—and when did sweet Sara Newton grow up? She won't admit she has a stalker, and she won't keep out of his thoughts. He can only protect someone in denial for so long. No matter how attractive she is...

Clay and Sara are circling each other, trying to meet in the middle. Then a brand new threat sends them in a completely different direction.

Find D.R. Grady at her Website, Facebook and Twitter.
You can also find all her books on her Amazon Author page.

Despite the 15 inches of snow we had last week, spring is determined to show up today. The snow is melting really fast and hopefully all my spring flowers have survived beneath it. The thing I like best about spring is that it's that much closer to summer. Bring the heat, Mother Nature.

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” 
― Pablo Neruda

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. -Proverb

Happy Spring, to the Northern Hemisphere. I've been waiting for you.

Are you ready for spring? Do you know DR Grady of Kathleen Watson? Did you get that big snow storm last week?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Goodreads, GoT, and Hoedown Showdown

Lots of news to share today as PA and most of the northeast USA braces for a snowstorm. Lots of us had a 'oh no' moment last week when HBO announced Game of Thrones would not return until July 16th for season 7. Do they know how many times I've already watched season 6? I can't wait that long!

In more excitement of things to come from IWSG, we're forming a book club on Goodreads. Please join us and invite your friends.

Not on Goodreads?
The IWSG book club is a good reason to join.
 Don’t do much on Goodreads?
This is an excellent way to dip your toes in a little more.
 Not enough time in your day?
We read one book every two months.
OUR GOAL: The Insecure Writer's Support Group (Book Club) is for writers to read/learn about the writing craft. In this book club, we will swap back and forth between non-fiction writing books and fiction books that demonstrate how to do certain aspects of storytelling. 

No promo. No review or beta reader requests. Just writers reading books and discussing those books with other writers.
**The first book will be announced on April 1st.**
**The discussion will start on May 17th.**
For more details and to join: Book Club

Don't forget to work on that Twitter pitch sponsored by IWSG coming in July. Being in the right place at the right time is how many authors find their agent or publisher.

I met a woman last week who arranges the books on her shelves by color. ???? What? There are people who don't arrange their books by author and subject matter? Am I the only one who thinks arranging by color is very strange. How do you find what you're looking for? Do you say to yourself, 'I think I'll read a blue book today?'

I have the pleasure of sharing news from a friend of mine. Misty Simon writes romance and mysteries. Her heroine, Ivy Morris, is fun and smart as are the amusing characters who live in her small town.
Hoedown Showdown, Ivy Morris Mysteries by Misty Simon

With the Tasty Tomato Tournament just days away, the small town of Martha’s Point is all abuzz. This is the first year without a sure winner, and the competition is fierce to gain the judges’ approval, even before the tournament starts.

But when Ivy finds one of those judges dead in a shed across the street, things go from bad to worse. All she wanted was seven glorious, kid-free days of messing around with her husband. Instead, she’s going to be tracking down a killer, staying out of the way of a pickle-obsessed farmer, and dodging the new cop who seems out for her blood.

Find Misty on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.

Are you anxious for Game of Thrones to come back on? How do you arrange books on your shelves? Are you a member of Goodreads and ready to join a new group? Are you in the path of the oncoming storm?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Ups and Downs

What a stressful and exciting few days at the Gourley Homestead. New granddaughter has joined the world. She's perfect and beautiful, but she took long, difficult route to get here. A long labor that ended with a C-section made things rough for the new mother as well as a few additional complications. All is well though an extra day or so in the hospital is required. As a parent, there's something really special about seeing your own child become a parent.

It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace. When a man’s mother holds his child in her gladdenarms he is aware of the roundness of life’s cycle; of the mystic harmony of life’s ways. – Christopher Morley
I found time to enjoy a local writers' meeting. We had a great speaker. Geri Krotow is a very successful novelist and a retired naval intelligence officer. Geri spoke about a variety of things, but mostly about finding your own path as a writer. Even as successful as she is now, she shared all the failures and missteps she made to get where she is today. Geri is one of those writers who is always willing to give back and help other writers.

Did you see this article in Publishers Weekly about Barnes and Noble? As much as I love the small independent bookstores and shop at the only one near me, I still really enjoy visiting a big bookstore. I think I cried when Borders closed. And now B&N is barely hanging on. My most successful book signings have been at Barnes and Noble. I've never left that store without buying something.

One of my favorite shows returned last night, Once Upon a Time. I'm thinking it might be the last year for this show, but I really won't mind because the characters have grown. I'd rather it end now instead of dragging on and becoming boring. Lots of shows that go beyond 5 or 6 seasons lose what made them good in the first place.

I'm being optimistic here, but I might finish my WIP this week. Next week at the latest. It's only the first, terribly rough draft, but I love typing the end.

The time changes next weekend, Spring Ahead. I always hated that when I was teaching. I really don't like getting up early though I've had to for most of my life. Now that I can sleep in a bit, I can enjoy the time change that gives us light later into the evening.

Will you miss B&N if they close? Can you think of a TV show that stretched on too long? Do you like Daylight Savings Time?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

IWSG: March 2017 Version

Time to share your triumphs and failures with other writers. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG is stronger than ever and growing every day. If you haven't already, please join our Facebook Group and our Twitter.

And that leads me into an exciting announcement. Coming in July, IWSG will host our first Twitter pitch party. You can find all the rules on our page. You have lots of time to get that perfect 140 character pitch ready.

Also, if you haven't sent for some IWSG swag, check out some of the new items. I already have my pens and I'm thinking about one of those mugs.
IWSG Eraser

The co-hosts for this month's IWSG blog hop are Tamara NarayanPatsy CollinsM.J. FifieldNicohle Christopherson.

The proposed question for this month's hop;
Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?
I haven't really done this but I do have a few I'm meaning to get to. One of them I have hopes for but The Greater Good, went through dozens of rewrites before I found a publisher for it. That was ten years ago and every quarter, I still get sales of that book.
the others not so much. The first book I ever wrote,

As far as insecurities goes this month, I'm worried about my to-do list and how it never seems to get shorter.

“I made a list of things I wanted to do with my life, but it ended up mostly being a list of books I wanted to write” 
― Ellie Rose McKee

Any old manuscripts you might breath new life into? Have you ever tried a Twitter pitch? Get any bites? Are you ready for some IWSG swag?

Monday, February 27, 2017

So Much to Do, So Little Time

Another month has slipped away. I'm not finished with that first draft yet, though I've very close. And it's nearly time for the monthly posting of IWSG. You can still sign up on the list and be part of this dynamic group. There are some exciting announcements coming your way on Wednesday.
This month's question, should you decide to use it:
Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

More sad news from the world of small presses. Samhain Publishing is closing its doors tomorrow. It was a powerhouse for a while but began facing the same difficulties all small publishers and indie authors have been facing over the last few years. I've heard nothing but good things about Samhain and how they've treated their authors and continue to treat them. It's still a sad time for the authors and the owners who have put so much work into their business. I'm quite worried about all small publishers.

As I've mentioned before, many small presses sell books directly from their site. The publisher and the author make more money from those sales without the middle man such as Amazon taking its cut. My latest release, The Outlaw's Savior, last in The Galactic Outlaw series, is now for sale on New Concepts Publishing Website.

The warm weather last week spoiled me a bit, but I put in lots of outside miles while exercising. Winter is back this week, but it's not so cold as some years. The good weather didn't help reduce my TBR pile which is very tall right now.

One of my top two favorite TV shows returns next week, Once Upon a Time. I noticed this week, how little live TV I've been watching. Sometimes, while I reading blogs in the mornings, I'll catch up to something on Demand such as Scorpion, Supernatural or a few other shows I like but don't love. Many times, I'd rather watch reruns on Netflix than check out any recent TV.

Does Samhain closing touch anyone you know? Is the weather strange in your part of the world? Are you ready for March?

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ― Charles DickensGreat Expectations

Monday, February 20, 2017

Triumphant Return

I didn't post last Monday, but with good reason. A young family member had some very serious surgery scheduled for last Monday at a children's hospital out of state. We spent most of Valentine's Day in a hospital waiting area. Everything went well and the child is now home again though a long way from recovered. Prognosis is good. You can imagine how stressful the past month has been while waiting for this dangerous surgery. But all is well. Apologies to those I didn't get around to visiting last week. I'll do better this week.

Some great news to share if you didn't hear. Insecure Writer's Support Group made it onto a 100 Best Writing Websites in 2017. I hope you'll check that out and share it around. I also received my IWSG pens. Really cool.

I know we all need to be concerned about climate change, but my long time readers know how I hate the cold. The weather has been so lovely and mild. It finally stopped raining and the sun even showed its face for a few days. It also made me anxious for spring.

Work on my WIP took a hit last week with everything going on, but I'm back on top of it now. I mucked through the ugly middle and am working on the last quarter of the book.

“It is better to write a bad first draft than to write no first draft at all.” ─ Will Shetterly
“Getting a first draft done is like pushing a peanut with your nose across a very dirty floor.” ─ Joyce Carol Oates
If you didn't get a chance, visit IWSG post from last week and read about cover designs and what you need to consider if you do your own. Very interesting.  And of course, read the new post today.

A TV show I forgot to mention that I've been enjoying is Timeless. It involves time travel to the past where the heroes bumble around and too often change history as they try to prevent the bad guy from doing exactly that. Each week we meet historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, Bonnie and Clyde, Hemingway, and Houdini before he was famous, and witness historic events. And recently it seems the 'big' bad guy might not be the biggie at all, though still pretty ruthless in his own right. And they don't avoid the prejudices and sexism of the past either as they encounter lots of it. It's fun.

Are you enjoying unusually warm weather this winter? Ever try pushing a peanut across the floor with your nose? Did you share the good news about our terrific IWSG? Do you have the day off for President's Day?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Business of Writing

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by writing business that has nothing to do with getting one with my WIP. I've barely typed a word into that document, leaving my protagonists hanging in the middle of an emotional scene. I want to get back to it, but other things have been taking my time.

Being a member of the board in two different writing groups makes this a busy time of year. One had new officers with new ideas coming on board. The other is in the final stages of planning this year's May writing conference with hundreds of little details that need taken care of. A five and a half hour online meeting took up most of Saturday and another few hours are needed to attack the list of chores I need to do. Sigh. Enough whining. I did make the mistake of volunteering.

I also worked three long days on a final read-through of The Outlaw's Savior, Book #3 of The Galactic Outlaws series. I forgot how much I loved those characters.

Wait, last bit of whining. I haven't had time to read this past week! Horrifying.

I wanted to mention another TV show I really like. It's on PBS in my part of the world. I think it's produced by BBC. Poldark is an interesting period piece of an honorable man struggling to fit back into society after fighting in and losing the American Revolution. It's a wonderful glimpse of how the poor and the moneyed saw the world. There's uplifting moments as well as many tragic and sad parts. It's in its second season in the States.

My big hope this week is to get back to my WIP and maybe even settle on a title. I'd planned on having the first draft done by the end of the month. Clock's ticking.

We all live in a digital world, but there are still many times I print things out. Why is ink so expensive? And I bought my husband a new razor last week. Why are razor blades so expensive? Inquiring minds want to know.

Have you seen Poldark? What things are distracting you from your writing recently? Why are ink and razors so expensive?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

IWSG: February and So Much News

Welcome all to February's version of IWSG. There is so much to share. Started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group supports other writers by giving advice, empathy, and sharing victories and rejections. Everyone helps everyone. Wouldn't it be great if the real world worked as well as this group? I think we need Alex to run for President in 2020.

Check this out! IWSG is now offering merchandise sharing the cool graphics with the world and on your desk. You might already have a tee shirt like I do, but there's more. Go to the Merchandise Page and check it out.

The winners of last fall anthology have started a group blog to tell the world about their upcoming book. Visit Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life.

You may notice some new administrators helping to run our wonderful group, but they're probably not strangers. Welcome C. Lee McKenzie and Heather M. Gardner.

If you haven't joined IWSG on Twitter, please do. Each day we share a lot of links to great writing articles covering all genres and the business of writing.

And please welcome some new members of IWSG by visiting them on their first posting day.

And today's question if you chose to answer it: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

It has changed it in many ways. First, those spelling and grammatical errors jump out at me. Mistakes in POV bother the heck out of me. Use of adverbs by 'big time' authors irritates me. How come they're allowed to do that and I'm not? Being a writer makes me very critical of other works. And I'm quicker to give up on a book than I used to be. There are so many good books out there, I don't waste time on mediocre ones.

And one last thing to check out. There's some info coming out on the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge. Still unsure if you're going to participate? See what's up.

Thanks for sticking with me through all these links. Hope you find something interesting to read. Are you reading for IWSG merch? Are you a critical reader? Alex for president?

Monday, January 30, 2017

30 Days? Already?

Can we really be 30 days into 2017 already? My calendar says this is true. My word count says over 50K written in my new WIP in January. Haven't come up with a title for that one yet. Since I write in series, I always decide on all three titles at one time and a name for the series as well as the general plot for all three books. Still happy about the progress though as usual, crappy first draft is happening. Rewrites ahead.

A reminder that Wednesday is February 1st and that means Insecure Writer's Support Group post day. Lots of good stuff to talk about this week. If you want to use the question this week (you don't have to) it's an interesting one.
How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I read a good book this past week. The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Livingston, book one in an epic fantasy series. So many mysteries, twists and hints of a horrific history. Though the POV characters were young, it doesn't like a YA book. Even at the end, I'm not sure whose side everyone is on. I highly recommend it if you enjoy Brandon Sanderson or Michael J. Sullivan styles of storytelling.

I've managed to catch a few hours of TV lately also. I loved Pitch last fall. If you didn't watch it, you Lucifer has been fun this season. What could be better than finding out that God has a plan to redeem his fallen angel? And the 4th season of Sherlock didn't disappoint though it managed to break my heart a little. And this Wednesday, my current favorite show The 100 comes back on for its 4th season. It's such a dark show but so interesting. Last season the protagonists battled the AI that caused the nuclear holocaust while facing their own xenophobia and tribalism. Though the supposed heroes have been victorious each season, there's no happy celebration. To win, they always have to make decisions and do things that challenge their moral codes. There's never a perfect answer and always an emotional toll. This season they're facing a second radiation danger as the nuclear power plants left unattended for almost a hundred years start to meltdown. It will be good. And that's all the TV I currently have time for.
should even if you don't like baseball.

Did January sneak by you like a slippery eel going down a water slide? Have you accomplished what you wanted this month? Find some good books lately? Are you a fan of any of the shows I mentioned?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Taxes and Anthology News

It's that time of year when we start thinking about those taxes. Those of you who are self-employed (writers) know there can be a lot of paperwork involved in trying desperately to hold onto your earnings instead of handing them over to the government. It's easy enough to google what you need to know about taxes as a writer, what forms to use, what deductions you can claim and learn that the wine you drink while writing isn't one of those deductions.

“The taxpayer: that’s someone who works for the federal government, but doesn’t have to take a civil service examination.” – Ronald Reagan

I've been doing it for almost ten years now, so I pretty much know what is what. One thing I learned back at the beginning is to organized all year long. I keep every minor postal receipt, ink receipt, travel mileage, paper purchase, membership dues, conference fees, ... you get the idea. I fill out a ledger every few weeks and mark them in their proper category. When January arrives, all I have to do is add up columns. All the receipts are kept in a folder, all in order by date. It's easy because I keep up with it. My advice for taxes, stay organized and be grateful that you have income so that you have to be concerned about deductions.

If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation.— Farmer’s Almanac

Now for some good news. The next IWSG anthology will be released May 2nd in print and Ebook. I love having those print copies on my bookshelf. Here's a blurb and the lovely cover.

Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!

Fell back a little on my word count this past week but it was for a good cause. I hosted a baby shower for my upcoming granddaughter on Saturday. It meant a lot of prep work and a lot of shopping. Babies are expensive. I'm not glad to be old but I'm also happy not to be juggling all those expenses. Fun was had by all and the expectant parents received some wonderful gifts. One of the best parts was all of Team Gourley showing up to help with setup and cleanup. They even helped transport to and carry in all the gifts to my son's home.

The mild temperatures means more outside exercise than I usually get in January but that's a good thing. I know it probably doesn't mean good things for the planet, but I'm feeling selfish about it in the short term.

Are you ready for tax season? Do you do your own taxes or pay someone? Do you try to sneak in some questionable tax deductions? Is winter acting out of character in your neck of the woods? 

Bonus quote:

People who complain about paying their income tax can be divided into two types: men and women. — anonymous 

Monday, January 16, 2017

What Do You Do?

A great thing about being a full time writer, you can schedule those pesky appointments like the dentist and haircuts any day, any time. It's nice and relaxing, but those wonderful hairdressers and hygienists always want to make small talk.

"Are you off of work today? What are your plans for the rest of the day? Where do you work?

Now maybe I could do some marketing by sharing things about my job as a writer. But I really just want my teeth cleaned and my hair cut. People have so many misconceptions about writers and their jobs.

Yes, I work at home. A lot of people do that for their jobs full time or part time. I can work in my sweatpants or PJs. I can get a cup of coffee or glass of wine anytime I wish. But I'm still working.

Writing isn't a hobby. It's work and I do it almost everyday. Sometimes I think because so many people have to do at least some writing at their jobs, they believe writing is easier or less time consuming than it is. They are wrong.

“As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.” —Neil Gaiman 

Writers don't just write. We can't. There are too many other things we're responsible for if we want to make a living at this. (Or at least make some money.)  Submitting our work takes time both to research and prepare those query letters. Promotion and marketing, the bane of a writer's life, can be the biggest time suck of all. Writers who self published have even more work to do. Many writers have obligations to professional organizations they belong to such as writing groups.

So, I don't want to talk about my job when you have that sand blaster cleaning tool in my mouth, but I'm a full time writer and I work at home. Stop asking me.

“The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon.” ─ Robert Cormier

And the writing is going great. I started a new series on January first and already have written 30K in the first book. It's going great and I'm loving the story and characters. I know I'm going to cut a lot of what I've written out when I get to the second draft, but it's on the page for now.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so later I can build castles.” ─ Shannon Hale

At one time, perhaps 10 years ago, I considered getting my MFA. But I was too busy at the time to attend even a low residency program let alone suck up the cost with two children still in college. So I never did, but I know a number of writers who had great success with the manuscripts they developed while attending Seton Hill's MFA for writing popular fiction. Instead of focusing on literary like so many programs, they're not afraid to go with the genre fiction courses. An entirely online MFA program is offered by University of Texas, El Paso. I've seen good reviews on their program and might have considered it 10 years ago.

Does your dentist talk to you while they're poking around at your teeth? Do they learn that in dental school? Ever consider getting an MFA? Are you having a good January in writing?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Digital Fatigue

Is it real? Is there such a thing as digital fatigue? More and more people spend their work day using some kind of tech device. It might not be a computer. It could be a tablet or a smartphone. Then our recreation time is turning ever more toward using our phones and tablets. We read the news on them. We watch movies and sports on them. We play games on them, communicate with videos and chats. If our leisure time is spent in much the same way as the work day, is it really relaxing?

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.–Oscar Wilde

There is some evidence, that readers are the first to rebel against the digital takeover of their leisure time. Young people lead the pack for abandoning their tech when they want to just read for pleasure. Publishers Weekly uses digital fatigue as one of the links in the anchor chain that has dragged down eBook sales numbers. Though many see the resurgence in print sales numbers, others claim only the coloring book craze brought about that little bump.

My local group had our monthly meeting this past Saturday. As usual at our first on the year meeting, we spend some time talking about the state of the industry. A surprising bit of good news was shared by a member. After being writing a number of books for a 'digital only' imprint of one of the big publishers, she and a few others received contracts to headline a new mass-market imprint. Not too many years ago, publishers were claiming mass market was dead except for 'big name' authors. Most print was trade-size paperback. Nearly all POD books, like most small presses use, are for trade-size. But lots of people don't want to spend the $10 to $18 that bookstores ask for the trade size. Hence, the popularity of the $7 to $10 mass market.

All this makes my head buzz. I'm so glad I work with a publisher rather than trying to make it on my own as in indie author. Trying to keep up with the twists and turns of the publishing industry exhausts me. I'm rather sure no one really knows what the new, shiny thing is going to be.

“He loved books, those undemanding but faithful friends.” 
― Victor HugoLes Misérables

I love reading 'real' books and I love reading on my Kindle. I love the ease of purchasing an eBook and I love browsing in a book store. I love thinking of a book I've written sitting on a bookshelf in a store, but I also love knowing I'm making money from people downloading an eBook.

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?–Henry Ward Beecher

The good news about the digital fatigue is that many have seen a resurgence in bookstores, especially indie bookstores. I've even heard B&N is doing a bit better. They plan to close some of their huge impersonal stores and open smaller 'book's only venues. That sounds good for writers.

Any good news on the writing front from your point of view? Do you take a tech-break at all? Does you job require lots of 'screen' time for you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG 2017 Kickoff

It's the first Wednesday of 2017 and that means the first IWSG post for our group. You can still join this wonderful group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh and enjoy all the support and fellowship that goes along with being a member. Share your woes, ask your questions and celebrate you accomplishments with us. If you have none of those things to share, you can just answer or also answer the monthly suggested question (totally optional question):
What writing rule do you wish you'd never heard?

I would call this advice more than a rule, but when I first started out, I heard numerous times to 'write what you know.' Well, I write fantasy and science fiction. Who knows that stuff? I know lots of science but the future is endless possibilities. Even if you're writing contemporary or historical, you can research anything you don't know about. It's bad advice for fiction writers.

And what members have been waiting for, it's time to announce the latest winners of the IWSG anthology contest. First the official title: Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life.

The book will include short stories by these amazing members:
Jen Stanton Chandler  The Mysteries of Death and Life
Renee Cheung  Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight
Sarah Foster The Last Dragon
Sean McLachlan The Witch Bottle
Yvonne Venstresca The Art of Remaining Bitter
Ericka Beebe The Wheat Witch
Ellen Jacobson The Silvering
Olga Godim Captain Bulat
Elizabeth Seckman Mind. Body, Soul
Roland Yeomans Sometimes They Come Back
L Nahay Breath Between Seconds
Tyrean Martinson Of Words and Swords

Congratulations to them and all who entered. The stories were great this year and a real tribute to the quality of writers who belong to our group. I hope you have a chance to congratulate those who were selected.

Probably all of us are hoping for great writing things in 2017. I found this first in a series article from Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest. He's put together a list of tips from agents to help with your queries this year. Check it out.

Watched Sense8 on Netflix this past weekend. Very confused for the first episode but it really intrigued me after that. Lots of nudity and bad language, perhaps worse than GoT, but the idea is pretty cool. Tried the first episode of The OA but haven't been caught up in it yet.

I've been doing some cleanup after the holidays. I took a bunch of books to the second hand store where hopefully they find someone new to love them. And now I'm getting rid of lots of other stuff to the trash or Goodwill. I'm not a saver of things but when you raise four children, things tend to accumulate. It's a start.

Any writing rules you want to throw out? Find anything of interest in the query tips? Any series on Netflix or Amazon Prime that you recommend? Or some that really stink and I shouldn't bother?