Both books are romances, which brings me to this month’s question: What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?
It surprised me how many writers answered a previous month’s question by stating that they could never write romance. The romance genre, especially sports romance and romantic suspense, is about all I know as a writer.
How do I love thee, romance? Let me count the ways:
Unresolved sexual tension. You know that feeling when two characters lust for each other, yet neither ponies up to share their feelings due to fear of being rejected? When they clearly belong together? It’s palpable! The Bridgerton series on Netflix captures UST perfectly, and I’m enjoying the book series as well.
Shared vulnerabilities. Sharing your heart with a potential boo leaves you so exposed, but your partner will likely respond by opening up their inner insecurities, too. Writing romance is an effective way to reveal characters.
Opportunity for creativity. Authors have covered first dates and marriage proposals countless ways, but how can a writer come up with a fresh take? It’s a fun challenge.
Happy endings. Life can be painful, and I relish happy (yet still somewhat realistic) endings.
I was honored to serve as a judge, and I swooned over the sweet and sexy meet cutes in each story.
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…
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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.)
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!
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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
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