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.

insecure writers support group, writing

Writing Success #IWSG

Created by Alex Cavanaugh, join us here.

Many thanks to the cream-of-the-crop co-hosts for September: Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

This month’s question:

How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

For me, this image speaks to the essence of writing success:

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay 

It’s the pure joy of your words capturing an idea and connecting with a reader. When your words elicit deep emotion from readers, you’ve made it.

How do you define success?

insecure writers support group

#IWSG Writing Future

Join us HERE and thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for starting the group.

Much appreciation to the co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG: Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

This month’s question: What would make you quit writing?

This question hits deep because I haven’t written fiction for about eight months. And I’m not feeling a current urge to write. But I won’t go so far to say I’ve quit–there’s a finality to that statement that doesn’t fit me right now. If I speculate about reasons for taking a break or even quitting writing, here’s what comes to mind:

  • Lackluster sales. There are so many books out there that it’s hard to capture reader’s attention. Still, I’m disappointed by sales of my last two novels, Rivals and Twin Sacrifice. I’m thankful for lovely reviews by readers devoting time to my books–I just wish there were more of them. Reviews, even critical ones, spark motivation in me.
  • Consuming career. I have high productivity goals and a fast pace in my psychologist position at an academic medical center. Therefore, I want to decompress on weeknights and weekends by swimming, reading, walking, socializing, playing volleyball, and watching TV. (Swimming laps outside in the summer is so relaxing!) The demands of my career have felt even more relentless this past year due to the pandemic worsening mental health for many, especially teenagers.
  • Time for a break. I started writing in 2007 and publishing in 2010, and maybe it’s just time to slow down. I like to write only when I’m inspired, and I don’t want to force it.

How are you feeling about writing? What inspires you to jump back into writing after a hiatus?

Image by AI Leino from Pixabay 
insecure writers support group

#IWSG Letting a Manuscript Percolate

Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh, and join us for the IWSG here.

Thank you to the co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG: J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

June 2 question – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

I’m more impatient than a toddler awaiting ice cream, so my first draft doesn’t stay on the shelf for long. In fact, I can’t even write one chapter without some serious editing as I go. I marvel at authors who shelve their stories for months or delay publication for years. As soon as I’m done with my manuscript, I’m shipping that puppy off to my editor!

Although impatience has stayed constant over the 11 years I’ve been publishing novels, I hope the clarity and tightness of my writing have improved. I’ve observed that at least my critique partner and editor suggest fewer edits with each successive novel.

On another note, how’s your writing motivation these days? Sales for my latest novel have pretty much sucked–not awesome for inspiring my muse. But I am enjoying reading engrossing books like We Are All Made of Stars and watching riveting TV shows like Mare of Easttown.

insecure writers support group, new release

IWSG Favorite Genres

Join our group to share our insecurities and writing progress. Thank you to Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh for creating this wonderful community.

The clever co-hosts for the March 3 posting of the IWSG are Sarah – The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose. Thank you for co-hosting!

March 3 question – Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

While I still have a soft spot for the genres I write (sports romance and romantic suspense), my book club and Goodreads friends have helped me branch out:

Science Fiction like Dark Matter and Ready Player One.

Historical Fiction The Nightingale and The Dutch House.

Magical realism such as The Snow Child. (I’m not a fantasy fan, mostly because I find real life so damn interesting, but a touch of the fantastical can work for me.)

Reading fascinating psychological thrillers like The Silent Patient even encouraged me to write one myself.

I’ll read anything that has compelling characters who make me laugh and cry. How about you? How closely do your favorite genres match your writing and reading preferences?

I’m gearing up for the release of my new sports romance, RIVALS! If you’d like to spread the word before the launch on 3-19-21, you can sign up HERE.

Thank you to IWSG author Ellen Jacobson for reading an ARC, and for author Darcia Helle hosting me on her blog today.

insecure writers support group, new release

IWSG Blogging Buddies and RIVALS

Happy February, writers! Join us for the Insecure Writers Support Group here.

I’m thrilled to co-host this month, along with Louise – Fundy Blue,Mary Aalgaard,Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?  

Blogging has been wonderful for building relationships! The best part of IWSG, for me, is the community of writers I’ve come to know. And blogging offers more freedom and ownership than social media.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

In 2010, authors from my small publisher started a blog hop– the beginning of my friendship with awesome author Nicki Elson. Since then, Nicki and I began a productive and fun critique partnership! She recently helped me select audiobook narrators.

I’ve also befriended quite a few warriors from the IWSG Ninja Army: Alex Cavanaugh, L. Diane Wolf, Natalie Aguirre, Chris Fey, Ellen Jacobson, Anna Simpson, Roland Yeomans, Pat Garcia, Stephen Tremp, and Feather Stone.

(I apologize in advance for my difficulty commenting on Blogger from my MacBook unless there’s a pop-up comment form. Clearing my cache doesn’t seem to work anymore.)

I appreciate all of your support in writing and publishing! If you’d like to spread the word about my new release, sports romance RIVALS launching 3-19-21, please sign up on this form.

In addition to Nicki Elson critiquing my baby, I’m grateful to Diane Wolf for her book design! You can find Rivals on Goodreads and pre-order on Amazon.

I’ll share my adventure creating my first audiobook for Rivals in a future post. It’s been so cool.

insecure writers support group

#IWSG Countdown to Launch and Reading Pet Peeves

Happy 2021, writers! Join us for this supportive monthly gathering to vent our hopes and fears. You can sign up at our founder Alex Cavanaugh’s blog.

Thank you to this month’s collegial co-hosts: Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

How’s your writing? I’m gearing up to publish my next sports romance, RIVALS. We’re working on the cover design, and I’m scheduling a day off work in March for the release. Since I’m self-publishing, I want to avoid the typical Tuesday of traditional publishing launches. What do you think of releasing a book on a Friday? I’m considering 3/19/21.

Question: Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Ooh, I like this question. My first two pet peeves as a reader are the very errors that plagued my early writing:

  1. Adverb abuse. I hope writers won’t waste my precious reading time with She left swiftly when it’s more fun to read She skedaddled.
  2. Cliches. Don’t “beat a dead horse” by using phases like “every cloud has a silver lining” or “it’s raining cats and dogs”. My aunt told me that good writing is poetic–fresh, lyrical, and unique.
  3. But most of all, I’ll abandon a story that lacks an emotional connection to the characters. If I don’t care about the people inhabiting the story, the writing quality doesn’t matter. I love vulnerable characters who grow through facing intense conflict.
insecure writers support group

Insecure Writers Support Group: Why I Write

Happy November, writers! Kvetch with us at Alex Cavanaugh’s blog.

Thank you to the wonderful co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG: Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

Fantastic question! I never expected to become a writer. What I didn’t realize, however, was that I lived the writer experience long before publishing novels. As a psychologist, I write a case note after every psychotherapy session. These are narratives about the past, present, and future; narratives about tragedies and triumphs. I’ve also written a few scientific journal articles and book chapters.

So, maybe it wasn’t so far-fetched that I started writing novels, since they share a common motivation with my case notes: trying to make sense of why we do what we do.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
Image by Foundry Co. from Pixabay
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay 

Over time, I’ve developed other reasons for writing:

  • Demystifying psychotherapy
  • Sharing the healing power of love
  • Exploring how functional and dysfunctional families work
  • Creating happy endings when I can’t find them in real life, and…
  • CONNECTING with the reader. I think we’re all seeking connection.

What about you? What motivates you to write or read?