insecure writers support group, writing

IWSG Who Do You Write For?

Insecure Writers Support Group started by Alex Cavanaugh, please join us here.

Many thanks to this month’s hosts: Tara Tyler, Lisa Buie Collard, Loni Townsend, and Lee Lowery.

How’s it going, insecure writers? My writing life is meh as I’m more focused on my day job these days, but I do feel inspired by those of you bravely writing all the words.

The stellar performance of USA at Track and Field World Championships also stimulated me (when my cat, Tuxedo, allowed me to watch the events!)

August 3 question – When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

I don’t have a clue for how to write a story that readers want. All I know is how to write words that reflect my passions and interests. Only when an idea sparks my curiosity, a “What if…?” question, do I dive in to a novel. I need to write what excites me. If I worry about trends or try to mind-read what others might want, I’ll never start the damn thing.

Though I’ve taken a writing hiatus, an idea for my next novel has percolated for months. You probably haven’t heard of cognitive processing therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, but it is the BOM-DIGGITY of psychological treatments. I’ve been so impressed by CPT’s effectiveness that I can’t wait to bring the protocol to life in a fictional story. Do readers want to read about a character’s therapy journey in healing from a tragedy? Hell, no! But I’m stoked to write it.

Who do you write for?

insecure writers support group, writing

#IWSG Just Keep Swimming

Join us here! Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for leading us.

Many thanks to the co-hosts for the July 6 posting of the IWSG: J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

Whoops, I almost forgot about IWSG again! Too many summer days at the swimming pool. Ahhhhh.

Instead of answering this month’s question, I have a question for you. Have you ever asked for your rights back from your publisher in order to self-publish past novels? I’m considering doing so (now that the contracts have elapsed), taking time to update, and I’m looking for tips and pros/cons.

Imge by jacqueline macou from Pixabay

See you at the pool!

insecure writers support group, writing

IWSG Perseverance

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for creating this awesome group. Join us here!

I appreciate this month’s co-hosts: SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguire, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray.

June 1 question – When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

Have you ever taken a strengths assessment? A free one I like is the VIA Survey of Signature Strengths at http://authentichappiness.org

I mention this because one of my top character strengths on the survey, perseverance, relates to my answer. I may not be the fastest or most focused writer, but I will definitely finish what I start! I have a dysfunctional need for achievement that keeps me going, I guess. 😉

Yet, I haven’t started writing a new novel in two years. My hiatus stems from both disappointing sales and high demand in my day job as a psychologist (the pandemic has bludgeoned mental health, especially among young people.) I do want to return, and I’m hoping the addition of a colleague in September will lighten the load and inspire me to get back to writing novels.

What keeps YOU going?

Streaming recommendation: An inspiring story of perseverance is Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty on HBO. I’m not a big NBA fan, but I loved this insider view of the 1979-80 season, as well as the Netflix documentary about The Chicago Bulls (The Last Dance).

insecure writers support group, writing

#IWSG Audiobooks!

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for starting this group! Check out his new release, CassaDark.

Thank you to our wonderful co-hosts this month: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise – Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi!

April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

I wrote an earlier IWSG post on this very topic: Ten Steps to Create an Audiobook.

I LOVE audiobooks! It’s the only way I read these days. I just finished reviewing the audiobook for Alice Feeney’s Rock, Paper, Scissors.

The biggest challenge in creating my own audiobook for my 2021 release, sports romance Rivals, was the expense. I paid two narrators and an editor to pull both parts together. But the fun experience made it all worth it.

If I write another novel one day, I hope to create an audiobook version.

insecure writers support group, writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: Battling Fatigue

Created by Alex Cavanaugh, join us here.

Thanks to this month’s co-hosts Janet Alcorn, Pat Garcia, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

Is the COVID-19 crisis over yet? I’m feeling drained from pandemic fatigue and long work hours. I haven’t written in some time, but I still plan on resuming when the mood strikes.

I hope your writing mojo and energy levels are feeling strong these days!

If not, how do you energize when you’re feeling low?

insecure writers support group, writing

#IWSG Thanks to My Aunt

Happy February, writers! Join us for the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by science fiction author Alex Cavanaugh.

Thank you to the wonderful co-hosts Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery!

February’s Question: Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn’t around anymore? Anyone you miss?

I’m fortunate my 88-year-old aunt Nancy is still very much part of my family. I do miss her, though, because she lives in Los Angeles, and it’s been too long since I flew out from Ohio to visit her. (Too many states between us.)

Image from Pixabay

Nancy is a a trendsetter and her own woman, wearing birkenstocks long before they were en vogue! She’s also a big reader, and she gave me some helpful feedback about my writing before the publication of my first novel, including:

  • Improve the realism of characterization. My first draft gushed about the beauty of my two romantic leads, and with Nancy’s help, I made them more lifelike by giving my hero a crooked nose and my heroine a flat chest. They still thought each other was hot. 😉
  • Cut out the cliches. As a newbie writer, I didn’t realize how cringe-worthy it was to write phrases like, “She shot out of there like a bat out of hell” or “Better safe than sorry”. Now I try to use metaphors that relate to the content of my story. In Rivals, a sports romance between coaches from rival universities, the Michigan coach thinks, “While the wolverine’s away, the rabbits will play,” and “She probably thinks I’m angry at her for spilling the Buckeye beans.”

The happy ending to my story is that my sister and I plan to visit Nancy soon!

insecure writers support group, writing

#IWSG Writing in the New Year

Happy 2022, insecure writers!! I love our founder Alex Cavanaugh’s inspiring message about the new year:

“We all know it’s been creatively challenging the past two years. Some managed to write like maniacs, but a good portion of us were sidelined by events wrought with turmoil and uncertainty.

But 2022 can be different. We can take control of our own creative future. We need to maintain hope. Without it, we won’t make it. We need to feed that spark of hope. That creative spark! That’s our wheelhouse.

So, we need to believe in ourselves. Believe in the words we write. And believe 2022 is our year!”

Join us here.

Thank you to our competent co-hosts: Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

January 5 question – What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

I regret not knowing more about the craft of writing before my first novel was published. Though I still feel a fondness for the characters of my first novel, adverb abuse, head-hopping, and bloated prose hurt the writing quality.

I have tried to overcome this regret by learning more about the craft through reading, studying writing, and working with my critique partner and editor. It felt great to edit my debut novel to reduce my cringe reactions.

Cheers to a healthy, happy 2022!

insecure writers support group, writing

IWSG Stresses and Delights

Hello, you COVID-weary writers. Join us for the Insecure Writers Support Group, created by Alex Cavanaugh. It’s a beacon of encouragement for writers everywhere.

Thank you to this month’s wonderful co-hosts: PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

This month’s question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

What stresses me the most is the extended path toward finishing a novel. I’m rather impatient, and I wish writing didn’t take so long. I’ve never been one to whip through a crappy first draft without editing as I write. I guess the hundreds of hours that go into a novel make it all the more satisfying when it’s done.

Image by  Jan Vašek from Pixabay

What delights me? Readers identifying aspects of the story I hadn’t planned or considered. The first story I wrote, Bad Blood, was about one man betraying another. At the end, the hero fought for his life after being poisoned in his prison cell. It wasn’t till a reader commented about his poisoned blood representing the title that I saw the unintentional connection.

Image by Harmony Lawrence from Pixabay

What stresses or delights you as a writer?

~*~

I need to make an appetizer for our upcoming holiday book club. Do you have a favorite Christmas recipe? Here’s a delightful one from my friend, Chelsi:

Brussel Sprout Salad

1 pound Brussel sprouts (thinly sliced – “shredded” – I find them at Trader Joe’s)

Dried cranberries – a few handfuls

Chopped pecans (pan toasted) – a few handfuls

Diced, cooked bacon – about 5 slices

Shaved parmesan – almost a whole tub. Mix most in and then sprinkle the bigger, prettier shavings on top

Dressing –

1/3 cup olive oil

Thinly sliced shallots – 2 small

Fry the shallots in the oil until they’re crisped, then stir in the rest of the ingredients (2 TBSP apple butter or fig preserves, 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper) and let marinate for a bit

Toss everything in a bowl

insecure writers support group, writing

#IWSG Blurbs, Titles, and Covers Oh My!

Happy November to all insecure writers everywhere. Join us here, and thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for creating and sustaining this writer community.

Kudos to the co-hosts for November: Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

This month’s question:
What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

Eek, I’m getting the shakes from this question. I thought Halloween was over? Both tasks can bring a writer to her knees, but I have to choose creating titles as more difficult.

Blurbs kick my butt at first, but after scuffling with the sentences, my critique partner and editor always help turn the blurbs into something coherent and catchy. (Whether or not the blurbs are appealing enough to make readers want to buy my books is another matter.)

Titles, though? I’ve ridden the struggle bus drumming up titles for at least four of my nine novels.

The toughest title was for my swimming military murder mystery romance published in 2012. (Maybe covering 11 genres in one novel was the start of the problem?) The initial title was Swimming Against the Tide, then Against the Tide. However, when it came time to publish, both titles seemed cheesy.

My hero faced countless obstacles, including an abusive father, and he had a talent for exploding off the walls on his flip turns. I suggested the swimming term, Streamline, to signify a tight body position allowing him to slice through even the roughest waters.

My publisher thought “streamline” evoked a corporate takeover more than a new adult sports romance. She was probably right. But, I couldn’t think of another damn title! So we went with it.

In addition to blurbs and titles, I want to add another TOUGH task of publishing: creating a book cover. I’ve had countless back-and-forth convos with book designers over the years. My publisher grappled with the cover concept for Streamline, but I love the design they landed on, representing an underwater kiss scene from the book. Still, I wanted the image of the characters to be bigger.

Streamline by Jennifer Lane

How about you? Which writing task gives you the willies the most?

insecure writers support group, writing

#IWSG Drawing the Line

Join us HERE, the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh.

Thank you to this month’s co-hosts: Jemima Pitt, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

Hope your October is off to a great start, writers! Warm weather has continued in Ohio, allowing me to sneak in some outdoor swims late in the season. Friends and I swam in a local quarry last week, and the 72-degree water temperature was brisk but invigorating.

Sadly, I had to cancel a swim vacation in Baja, Mexico. We planned to glamp and swim 2-4 miles a day in the Pacific, but international travel didn’t seem wise in the throes of the never-ending pandemic. But maybe I’ll fulfill my dream of swimming in Spain next year instead.

This month’s question: In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

I rely on my reading preferences to draw the line in my writing. I enjoy reading creative curse words and healing from horrific traumas. Therefore, my characters sometimes swear like sailors, and I embrace the challenge of delving into the aftermath of sexual trauma or criminal violence in my sport romance and romantic suspense novels.

Though romance is my favorite genre, I don’t enjoy reading plentiful, graphic sex scenes. It’s no surprise that I avoid writing erotica.

I also value free speech. While I don’t want to offend readers, I hope to stay true to myself without worrying about political correctness.