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#IWSG No NaNo

Developed by Alex Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a wonderful community that shares the struggle and excitement of writing. Join us!

Many thanks to the creative co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG: Diedre Knight, Douglas Thomas Greening, Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

November 2’s optional question – November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

While NaNoWriMo intrigues me, I have yet to participate. A big reason why is that it’s a busy time of year in my day job. It’s also true that writing every day hasn’t been my style.

I think that writing 50K words in one month is a cool concept, and I would like to try it one year.

For those who have participated in NaNo, what were the best and worst aspects for you?

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IWSG: Faves of the Romance Genre

Created by Alex Cavanaugh, join this supportive group here.

Thank you to today’s amazing co-hosts: Tonja Drecker, Victoria Marie Lees, Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

Hey, writers! How’s it going? I’ve been swimming more to train for a swim vacation in Mexico soon. We’ll swim 2-4 miles a day in the ocean while glamping on the beach.

I still haven’t been writing, but I’ve listened to quite a few audiobooks, including Book Lovers and The Cheat Sheet.

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.

Image by Maria Godfrida from Pixabay 

How do I love thee, romance? Let me count the ways:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Happy endings. Life can be painful, and I relish happy (yet still somewhat realistic) endings.
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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?

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#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.

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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

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#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?

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#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.

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#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 
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#IWSG Taking Risks in Writing

Happy spring, northern hemisphere writers! Join us for a monthly venting of our hopes and fears at the IWSG, Alex Cavanaugh’s brainchild.

Thanks to our helpfulco-hosts this month: PK Hrezo, Pat Garcia, SE White, Lisa Buie Collard, and Diane Burton.

April 7th’s question: Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

Sometimes anxiety prevents me from being brave in my personal life, but I have taken some risks in writing. My March release, sports romance Rivals, was the first time I wrote a novel in present tense. I like it! It’s fun! And another risk with Rivals (especially financially, eek) was the creation of my first audiobook. I’ll share more about the wonderful world of audiobooks in May.

As a psychologist, I need to broach uncomfortable topics to be effective, and another way I take risks is to incorporate squirmy themes into my stories. Twin Sacrifice dives into recovering from childhood sexual abuse, and the Blocked trilogy explores falling in love across the political aisle.

One big motivator to take risks: the support of fellow writers! Thank you to Nicki Elson, Ellen Jacobson, Shannon Lawrence, Pat Garcia, Valerie Ullmer, Sheri Hollister, Natalie Aguirre, Alex Cavanaugh, and Diane Wolf (I hope I’m not missing anyone) for your great support.

What risks have YOU taken?

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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.