Wednesday, January 4, 2023

IWSG: January 2023


Can we believe it's 2023? Not quite but welcome to the first blog hop post for IWSG for this year. Thanks to the IWSG admins for keeping us going and to our founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh, for bringing us together in the first place. Find the entire list of participants on this page.

I'm skipping this month's question and putting to page some thoughts going into a new year. As many of you know, my publisher closed their doors at the end of 2022. That's more than 20 published books that are now homeless. Enough to crush my motivation. But...

I have found some things to inspire me.

1. Seeing colleagues having new books coming out. Some are writers I've known for years and have spent time at writers conferences networking together. I love seeing them succeed and it makes me work harder.

2. Reading the various newsletters that come my way from a variety of sources. Some are writing groups like this one and some are from individual authors. I learn so much and also witness the writing successes of the other members.

3. Finding a new author, or new-to-me, that I fall in love with. There have been a few recently, but one fantasy writer I'll point out is Kel Kade. Kel's first serious was self-published and her second series was picked up by TOR.

4. Helping set up registration for the Pennwriters Conference coming to Pittsburgh, PA in May of this year. I love spending the weekend with other writers.

5. Receiving an invite from a successful local author to join her FB group. If you attended last year's Pennwriters Conference, you know Misty Simon. A gifted writer of mysteries who brings a lot of laughter and joy to those she interacts with.

Those are a few things to keep me going on this writing path with all its hills and valley. Things to remind me to work harder. What keeps you going?

"There are no traffic jams along the extra mile." Roger Staubach

"Hope is a waking dream." Aristotle

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

IWSG: December 2022


Welcome to the first Wednesday IWSG blog hop, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and constantly growing and expanding thanks to all the admins. Find the entire list of participants here.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

And this month's optional question:

It's holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

I used to do a lot of catch up over the holidays when I was teaching full time. After I retired from teaching, I would usually take some break between Christmas and the New Year. Then I started watching my granddaughter full time, and now I'm back to working on the career I love during that time. I love being a writer despite all the set backs.

And since we're here to share, let me tell you about my latest set back. I've had 23 romance novels published by a small press in the last 15 years. After being in business for so long, my beloved publisher is closing. I won't share all the reasons, but I'm grateful for all this pub did for me. Now what shall I do with all those books that are no longer out in the world?

I've already been looking for a publisher who will take on my second fantasy series. The previous publisher who contracted this series also closed its doors. They published the first book and had completed edits on the second. The third and final book has only been edited by one person besides me so it has a way to go. Any suggestions on a publisher who might take on a series where the first book had been published before? 

I know many of you have gone the self-publishing route. But I'd rather not unless I must. Despite the disappointment of losing my publisher, I'm figuring out where to go next. I did take one day to feel sorry for myself, but now I'm over it.

"Every strike brings me closer to the next homerun." Babe Ruth

In the past, my daughter and I always enjoyed watching those corny Christmas love stories that nearly every streaming service has. We laugh at the absurdly expensive apartments and houses some of the main characters have. The women are always super sweet, love Christmas and are usually employed, often self-employed, as bakers, writers, or tea shop owners. The men are always outrageously rich. Don't know why feel so entertained. Maybe we just love 'happily every after' during this joyous season.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. Ours was really good. Still am shocked at the price of turkey. I hope you all could afford a feast.

Do you send out Christmas cards. I do but only because so many send cards to us. I try to cut the list every year. And of course, there's the growing cost of postage. Almost done Christmas shopping. Have a few things coming from Amazon.

Any publisher recommendations? Are you working hard at writing over the holidays? Are getting with family and friends over the holidays?

I wish the joy and happiness of the season.

"I cannot change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination." Jimmy Dean

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

IWSG: November 2022

 Whew, it's here already. The first Wednesday of the month and time for writers to share their woes and victories with others in the IWSG blog hop. Thanks to our founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the admins at IWSG, we can share and encourage each other. Find the entire list here.

This month's question: Have I ever participated in NaNo? If not, why not? 

I have not and can't imagine I ever will. It's not my style. I have gone through spurts where I write more than 2K words per day, but I haven't for a while. I wish the best to all who attempt to do so.

I have been writing a little. My publisher has been very supportive during the past two years when my production of new material ground to a halt. I trying to prove her faith in me.

I know some of you love Halloween, but it's far from my favorite. Glad it's over and now I can look forward to fall and then Thanksgiving.

Heads up for this Friday. Enola Holmes 2 is coming to Netflix. The author of the Enola Holmes books is a friend of mine and was one of my greatest inspirations to become a writer. She's a lot of fun on Twitter. Find her here.

My daughter convinced me to watch Dark on Netflix and now I can't stop. Don't tell me what happens. I'm only at the end of season 1. It's so wonderful to have children who share my tastes in shows and books.

"Be happy. It is one way of being wise." Colette

I had my blog birthday since last I posted. Fourteen years and counting. I keep vowing to be more attentive to it, but I keep failing.

I hope those of you in the USA will vote next week. Let your voice be heard.

"Being willing is not enough; we must do." Leonardo da Vinci

Are you participating in NANO? Have you in the past? How long have you been blogging? Are you an Enola Holmes fan?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

IWSG: October 2022


Fall is upon us and so is the October edition of IWSG. Much thanks to our founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the admin of the Insecure Writers Support Group. Please visit as many of the group as you have time for as we share woes and victories. Find the entire list here.

What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

High fantasy is my favorite genre and what I like best about it is that the good guys or girls win in the end. The journey to that victory is what makes it fun to read.

What I don't enjoy is 'dark' fantasy where there are no heroes and sometimes the bad guy wins. My daughter recently convinced me to read The Poppy War by RF Kuang. It is great writing, but the characters are all awful. Millions of people died and the series ended with very little hope going forward. Despite fine writing and historical roots of the story ideas, I regret the hours I spent reading the books.

Along the same lines, I'm not sure I can watch another episode of Blood of the Dragon. I find it to be a soap opera of the lives of an awful group of people. I don't care about any of the characters. Sure, the dragons are cool but they are such a small part of the whole mess.

"Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart." Ancient Indian Proverb

The Rings of Power has many likeable characters and lots of mysteries to try and figure out. I'm really enjoying it.

I bought a new laptop finally. I'm still adjusting to the keyboard. I keep missing the shift and delete buttons. I'm just glad I finally have a good battery again. I see some coffee shops in my writing future. I'm trying to get back to writing every day.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily." Zig Ziglar

Do you have a favorite genre? What is motivating your writing? Ever read The Poppy War?

Monday, September 26, 2022

Druid's Moon by Deniz Bevan

It is my pleasure to welcome author, Deniz Bevan to my blog. Enjoy this short interview and get a peek at her methods and what she is doing to be a successful author.

How many drafts do you write for each novel and which do you find the most enjoyable and the most difficult?

Short answer: Too many!

Lately I’ve been doing National Novel Writing Month each year, so by the end of November I have the Stupid First Draft, the one that’s full of meanderings and wonky plotlines and character discoveries.

If I’m organized, I spend the next few months going through it scene by scene and tightening it up.

If I’m really organized, the next step is to print it and read it on paper.

Then, I need to finish up all the required research and do another edit for word choice and style.

Then it’s time to send it to beta readers!

Which social media platform do you most enjoy using for promotion?

I enjoy writing up my blog the most! Twitter can be fun sometimes, and it’s always interesting to see photos from family and friends on Instagram.

Can you give one piece of advice for beginning authors?

Don’t be afraid to spill your ideas on paper! It’s true what other authors have said: You can’t edit a blank page!

Do you have a book that you can read over and over again and especially when you need the inspiration to write?

Ah, well, I think these are two separate questions. I reread The Lord of the Rings every year; sometimes it leads me to want to write and other times it doesn’t. Some authors, such as Dostoyevsky and Bukowski, make me feel like writing. Other times, it’s beautiful writing like that of Rachel Carson and Nan Shepherd that makes me feel like trying my hand at poetry once more!

Druid’s Moon
By Deniz Bevan

Beauty to his Beast…

Lyne Vanlith, an archaeologist who seeks a logical explanation to any mystery, discovers an ancient Druidic curse on her first dig. When the signs foretold by the curse descend on her, Lyne can’t find a reasonable interpretation.

And that’s even before a Beast rescues her from a monstrous sea-creature. She drops a grateful kiss on the snout of the Beast, who transforms into a man, Frederick Cunnick, Baron of Lansladron. Lyne is meant to be Beauty to his Beast—and break the curse forever.

Now both spellkeeper and monster are targeting Lyne. She must take up her legendary role, to defeat the curse and save Frederick—and herself. Instead of logic, for the first time, Lyne must trust her heart.

Release date – September 20, 2022
$14.95, 6x9 trade paperback, 226 pages
Fantasy – Romance (FIC009090) / Paranormal (FIC009050) / Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology (FIC010000)
Print ISBN 9781939844866 / EBook ISBN 9781939844873
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Thank you, Deniz. I love that writing advice. I've heard it before but I need to hear it again as I currently stare at a blank page. Do you have a favorite social media platform? Are you ready for some beauty and the beast?

Monday, September 19, 2022

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts

I am so excited to add the latest IWSG anthology to my keeper shelf alongside all the others published by this amazing group. I've asked the writers of these magnificent stories a few questions. Not only will you get to know about them as writers and about their process, but you may also learn something that speaks to you as a writer and a reader. Enjoy!

How many drafts do you write for each novel and which do you find the most enjoyable and the most difficult?

I write a single draft, but it goes through several polishing passes. My favorite stage is the final pass, when I get to sit back and enjoy the finished product.


Can you give one piece of advice for beginning authors?

Find good critique partners and listen to them. Don’t be in a hurry to publish your debut.


 - Melissa Maygrove




How many drafts do you write for each novel and which do you find the most enjoyable and the most difficult?


ANSWER: As many as it takes, some novels may need more than others, ESPECIALLY, if you are a panster. The first draft is my favorite, creating the characters, plots, and settings; and the most difficult is the final, trying to make it as perfect as possible.


Can you give one piece of advice for beginning authors?


ANSWER: Don’t give up no matter how long it takes…it will happen in time. For me, it took over a decade to finally have a story published traditionally.


Michael Di Gesu




Can you give one piece of advice for beginning authors?

Never stop thinking of yourself as a beginning author. Even with tons of experience, you’ll learn much from reading the work of better writers!


Do you have a book that you can read over and over again and especially when you need the inspiration to write?

The YA titles of my youth like The Hunger Games or Twilight remind me of a time when being an author was a distant dream. Those books inspire me to push toward my goals so my younger self would be proud.


- Kim Elliott




Can you give one piece of advice for beginning authors?

My advice is to just write. It's so easy to get overwhelmed by fears you're doing it wrong or don't know enough but I'm pretty sure every writer, bestseller or newbie, suffers from imposter syndrome, and the only way to finish a book is to put words on the page. 


Do you have a book that you can read over and over again and especially when you need the inspiration to write?

One book I read over and over is The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak. It's a great example of giving the readers what they want, and it always reminds me to have fun and write what I want to read. 


-Sammi Spizziri




Which social media platform do you most enjoy using for promotion?

I love Twitter for promotion simply because of its concise nature. It’s also been a great place for me to connect and interact with other writers (and encourage aspiring ones).


Do you have a book that you can read over and over again and especially when you need the inspiration to write?

Not a book, but an author. Whenever I’m in a slump (of any kind), Alice Hoffman is the first writer I go to. Her novels are magic.


- Katie Klein




How many drafts do you write for each novel and which do you find the most enjoyable and the most difficult? 

I once read that Harper Lee rewrote Chapter One of To Kill a Mockingbird 60 times and I think I can give her a run for her money, especially on my current  WIP. I'm struggling with the beginning even though most of the book has been written.  I don't love the first draft at all, but I do love the editing process.


Do you have a book that you can read over and over again and especially when you need the inspiration to write?

I never lack inspiration to write, as I draw heavily on my travels which I've documented in diaries. But the novel I re-read every year or so always inspires - Beach Music by Pat Conroy. It has everything I love - descriptive, lively settings (Rome and Maine); current events (terrorism); family feuds (fantastic characterization with underpinning mystery); environmental issues (saving the turtles) ... and more.


- Denise Covey


How many drafts do you write for each novel and which do you find the most enjoyable and the most difficult? I never preplan. I always start out with an idea, scene, or emotion and write until I can’t go anymore. When I run out of steam, I take a break and then write out an outline or sets of goals for the story and its characters. I always complete a minimum of four drafts and the last is the hardest - knowing for sure if you have everything needed for an enjoyable tale without overdoing it.


Can you give one piece of advice for beginning authors? Read and write every day. Read a variety of genres, read books on the craft, read blogs of other authors. There is a multitude of information and contradictory advice out there. Weed through and find what works for you. Our minds don’t work the same and we all have different interests and strengths. Be willing to learn and find your own process for success.


- Slyvia Ney 

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts

An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

The sweetness of first love…

Could a fiercely independent cop’s heart be stolen by the guy who makes her favorite doughnuts? Will a maid who used deceit to snare a mail-order husband get a dose of her own medicine? Can her handsome neighbor rescue a modern-day “princess” from a tenacious ex-boyfriend? Can two strangers in a rideshare be honest enough to fall in love for real? Can you remember your first love? How about your second? Third? Fourth?

Featuring the talents of Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Michael Di Gesu, Sylvia Ney, Katie Klein, Kim Elliott, Templeton Moss, S.E. White, Denise Covey, and Sammi Spizziri. Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will touch your heart and rekindle lost feelings. Prepare to return to that first love…

Release date: September 6, 2022
Print ISBN – 9781939844880, $14.95
eBook ISBN – 9781939844897, $4.99
Romance - Clean & Wholesome (FIC027270) / Contemporary (FIC027020) / Historical (FIC027050)
186 pages, Freedom Fox Press, an imprint of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh and a Writer’s Digest Top Sites for Writers, 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.

Barnes & Noble
Scribed -

Any of those answers strike a note for you? Do you have a go-to book that you read over and over again? Why that book?

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

IWSG: September 2022

 September already though the weather is still like summer. It's time for the monthly bloghop with all the awesome members of the IWSG. Thanks to our founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, and all the amazing admins who make this group so dynamic and helpful. Find the entire list here.

What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why? 

I believe historical fiction would be the worse for me. Too many chances to make a mistake. I admire historical fiction writers. They do so much research. I would be so afraid of getting something incorrect, that I wouldn't be able to tell the story. I've witnessed authors being attacked for a mistake in something like language or food, or any number of things. I do love to read it, so I'm glad other writers tackle it with skill and creativity.

I always dreaded the fall when I was teaching. It was no fun to return to school after a few months off. Since I retired from teaching, I've liked fall so much more. The last few years, I've been busy watching my granddaughter. But this year, she started kindergarten. For the first week, she cried every day as she got on the bus, but she loved being at school. Just that bus in the morning was terrifying for her. She's over it this week, but it wasn't so fun last week.

The Rings of Power have grabbed my attention so I hope it stays that way. Blood of the Dragon has bored me to sleep. None of the characters seem interesting. I don't understand why of all the options for a prequel, they chose to make it about a family of incestuous, unstable, megalomaniacs. I guess so they could have dragons.

Fortunately, I have lots of good books to read. I hope you'll find the time to read the newest IWSG anthology, First Love: The Art of Making Donuts. All the stories are excellent. I have a short interview with the writers right here in about two weeks. Please come back and read it.

I'm writing some but it's slow going. Hope to pick up the pace with the coming darkness of fall and then winter. Doing some shopping for a new computer. Even though I need one, I had setting up a new one. I wish it was as easy as getting a new iPhone.

Next month, I'm attending a one day mini-con in Erie, PA. It is sponsored by a Pennwriters Group. It is always excellent. I was a workshop leader last year, but this year I'm looking forward to sitting in workshops and just enjoying the atmosphere and soaking up expertise. The date is October 8th if you live nearby. Here is the information.

Any genres you would never try to write in? Enjoying any new fare on streaming or TV? Would you like to attend a conference?