Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IWSG - the late edition

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!

September 2 question - If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!  

If I could have the beta partners of my choice, I'd choose Stephen King and Ursula LeGuin. Stephen King, because he can make the most mundane interesting and Ursula LeGuin, because she knows how to choose her words. Her spare descriptions are some of the most beautiful and memorable.

In other news, I've read 31 books this year, the last two some fun Regency Romances.

Oh. You didn't know I read romance. Probably because I don't read them much any more. But...the two writers who made me want to write are JRR Tolkien and Rosemary Rogers.
Yes, I read Shanna,too, and all I can say is that's my kind of pirate...

But back to the two books I read...

I admit, I have a soft spot for the Regency period in England. It was so decadent, and the die for, so these were both easy sells. I saw them reviewed and thought, well, darn, I haven't read a fun romance in a while, so why not?

I was not disappointed. These were both fast-paced, hot (but not too naughty) romances with plucky heroines who pulled themselves up from rejection and scandal and made a life before Mr. Hotness walked in. I definitely recommend both to anyone who likes romance, but I especially liked Who's That Earl. The heroine is masquerading as an assistant to an author (who's never seen, of course) when in fact she's the author. Then along comes the Earl...

In television I highly recommend The Expanse, a scifi show on Amazon Prime. I'm on season 3 and oh, boy is it good. Also loving season 2 of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. If you liked the first season, you're going to love the second. And I say that having not finished watching (I'm on episode 6) so no spoilers!

Now, tell me who you'd like for a beta partner or what books you're reading or shows you're watching or anything that's making you happy.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Chris Fey and How to Keep Writing

Today I'm welcoming Chris Fey to share her new book:

Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!

When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:

·        Writer's block
·        Depression
·        Writer's burnout
·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed
·        Finding creativity boosts

With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.


Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

When I shared my story about depression and writer’s burnout, I received many emails, comments, and Facebook messages from other writers thanking me for my bravery and telling me about their own trials. That really put into perspective for me how many people suffer from depression and/or burnout in silence. I had no idea those individuals were impacted by these things, just as they hadn’t known that I was, because my outward presence to others was always happy and smiley and bright.
After the supportive response and upon realizing how many writers in my online circles were struggling, too, I wanted to do something to help. I was candid with my experiences and blogged about the things that assisted me through the rough times in the hope that it would aid others.
During this time, I recognized the need for writers to receive support, guidance, tips, reminders, and encouragement during their writer’s block, depression, and burnout. That’s how I got the idea for this book. A book not just about depression or only about writer’s block, but both, and much more.
Since you have picked up this book, that means you may need assistance with one or all of these areas, and I sincerely hope you find what you need here…that tiny spark to get you through whatever you are going through.
As always, keep writing.
Keep believing.
Keep dreaming.
Chrys Fey

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.

Thank you Chris, for making it super easy to post this (it took about ten minutes...maybe) and for thinking of other people. I know I've gone through times where I felt burnt out from trying to write when it just wasn't in me and times when everything completely sucked. We like to put on our happy faces here and keep our sadness and worry hidden but that isn't always helpful. Sometimes sharing is the best way to connect with others and connecting with others is what keeps us human. We all need each other to get through this life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG - August Edition

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!

August 5 question - Quote: "Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don't write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be."
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn't planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

The awesome co-hosts for the August 5 posting of the IWSG are Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

In answer to the question of the month, I feel like the idea chooses the form and genre. For example, for the longest time I always wrote from the third person pov, and one of my earliest works is a bloated fantasy that's third person omniscient. But then along came a story that wanted be written in the first person pov. Or the scifi when I almost always write something under the fantasy heading. I never expected to write a scifi novel, much as I love them, but then the idea came and it had to be scifi. There was no question. So for me, the idea chooses and I try to write the story.

In other news, we had some sweltering hot weather at the beginning of the week, and it's been as dry as a bone pretty much the whole month. Rain is on the way but not until next Tuesday... I admit I almost wanted to insert a winter's day it was so hot, and that is very unlike me.

As for books, I just finished reading The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon, which I recommend to anyone who appreciates books, authors, secret libraries, and gorgeous descriptions of Barcelona.

"The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax's novels." 


I also recently ordered this, which I couldn't resist. Who doesn't like an orphanage story?!

I've finally finished Dark, a German series on Netflix I adored (and if you like twisty time travel, I highly recommend the series. I watched it with subtitles because I generally can't stand dubbing), and I just watched the first two episodes of The Umbrella Academy. I'm already sad there's only ten episodes.

What have you been reading, watching, doing? Something fun I hope.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG - This has nothing to do with writing
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!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Remember, the question is optional!

July 1 question - There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox! 

I don't have much this month...hence my tardiness. Ordinarily I schedule my posts to go up at 7am but here it is almost 9:30am and I'm just beginning to put these words down. It's been hard to put words down lately. The world feels like a shit storm and there are way too many Karens around. But. I said this wasn't going to be about writing. Instead it's going to be me bragging that I've read 26 books so far this year. Admittedly, I've had a bit more time on my hands but if there's one good way to fill some of it, it's with books. If you want a good twisty psychological mystery, then I recommend The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. One of the things I loved about this book was how I thought I had it figured out half way in but oh, boy was I wrong. Much to my delight. And if you just want a superfun scifi escape into the future then read Martha Wells' Murderbot series, starting with All Systems Red

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety. On a distant planet , a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their company supplied SecUnit, which has hacked into its own governor module and now refers to itself as "Murderbot" for reasons that will become the second book. But don't worry about that yet. There's plenty to enjoy in this novella, especially Murderbot's love of entertainment feeds. 
Meanwhile, in the real world, after almost a month of no rain, we've had two drenching days that have made everyone happy. My tomatoes are finally flowering, my dahlias are coming back after a late frost at the beginning of June, and I think my zinnias may come back, too.

Finally, I'm glad to be living in Maine, where a slow re-opening has (so far) prevented a resurgence of covid cases. Of course, once tourists start arriving (if they do) we'll see what happens.

Stay well, everyone, and don't be a Karen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

IWSG June edition - Secrets

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!

June 3 question - Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 3 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre!


According to the dictionary a secret is

- done, made or conducted without the knowledge of others: secret negotiations
- kept from the knowledge of others:  a secret password
- faithful or cautious in keeping confidential matters confidential; closemouthed; reticent
- designed or working to escape notice or observation: a secret drawer; the secret police
- something that is kept secret, hidden, or concealed
- a mystery: the secret of Atlantis (myth or real?) 

We all have them, these things we keep to ourselves. Maybe it's something you know about someone else. Maybe it's something you're hiding from everyone else. Or maybe it's something buried so deep you aren't even aware you have it.

I often give my characters secrets. Secrets and mysteries make readers want to find out. Hint at a secret and I can easily be hooked. Like Harry and his scar. Like the one Ring. Like Melinda in Speak or 13 Reasons Why.

Readers want to know secrets and as long as the breadcrumbs keep falling, readers will keep reading to find out what the secret is - assuming the writing and characters rise above the mundane of course.

And that brings me to my secret and my word for the day.


Don't get me wrong. I think I'm ok. But right now I'm feeling inadequate.

We've all likely seen the video of George Floyd and footage of the protests and riots. As a white woman living in a pretty white state in a rural area, none of it affects me directly. Except it does, in my heart when I see another black person die at the hands of the people who are supposed to protect and serve. It hurts somewhere deep inside when I see police officers fire paint canisters at people sitting on their own porch and spray pepper spray at a person who identified as Press and was complying with the orders given. But here in Maine where these things don't happen (that I know about...) what can I do? I can write my senators and congressmen, I can contribute to causes that might help bring justice and equality to all, and because I'm a writer I thought I could use my words so I wrote something that tried to express how I was feeling (on FB if you're interested). Someone shared it and someone else responded "In these cases, not to sound glib, but actions speak louder than words." Which leads me back to my word of the day. Inadequate. Because that's how I feel about what's happening right now. I don't have the words and I feel like I should and I don't know what I can do. So. That's my secret, or one of them anyway, though a secret no more now that I've shared it. 

Do your stories have secrets? Care to share one of your own? 

And let me end on a happier note with a) the fact that I've read 20 books this year and b) some pics courtesy of my son, the birder...

 and my mum's Datura


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

IWSG - Rituals

It's time again for The Insecure Writers Support Group and this month's topic is rituals. A lot of people have rituals for when they write. Maybe they need their favorite pen if they're writing on paper, or need to have certain things around them (coffee???). I am not one of those people. Well, let me clarify. Generally I write on my laptop and as long as I have that I can write anywhere. Coffee is good, a tasty adult beverage is always nice, but I don't need them to write. On the other hand, if I'm writing on paper, I do need my favorite pen: a Pigma Micron 005 point pen. I can write with an 01, but I prefer the 005 for a nice fine line. However, none of this guarantees I'll get in the zone. The zone comes and goes, like a muse. Sometimes she's there spurring me on and other times she's just not. I will say that I almost always get good writing done on Monday nights. That's the night I get together with a few other writers. We check in before, then write for an hour, then check back and chat. For some reason (habit, perhaps?), even if I was totally unproductive the week before, I always produce on Monday night. So maybe the best way to get in the zone is to create the habit of writing.

Remember, the question is optional!

May 6 question - Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!

So, how about you? Do you have any rituals or things you do to get into the zone?

In other news, you may have noticed my new header pic, courtesy of my son the birder. That little guy is a Prothonotary Warbler and he does not come to Maine very often. 

I have also read three more books: The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne, and A Trail Through Time by Jodi Taylor, and The Girl Who Drank Down the Moon by Kelley Barnhill.

If I had to pick a favorite, it would be The Girl Who Drank Down the Moon. What a lovely magical tale.

As for television (of which I've watched far too much), I finished both Star Trek Discovery and Picard and am now sad because there are no more seasons to watch. I loved both shows to pieces and can't wait for the next seasons. If you're a Trekkie, I highly recommend both shows. I would also recommend My Brilliant Friend, which follows two girls growing up in Naples in the 50s and 60s. Sadly, my sister and I only have one more episode of that. We also only have one more episode of Westworld but many seasons to go of The Americans, which we are still enjoying very much.

Have you read any good books lately? Got any shows to recommend? Staying sane?

I feel fortunate that I don't get bored like others I know. There's my current WIP (29K), lots of books, shows, walks, art, and gardening to keep me plenty busy.

Now, tell me how you are.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sunday Pics

In order, Yellow-throated warbler, Cedar waxing, male Ring-necked pheasant strutting his stuff, and a Pileated woodpecker, all courtesy of my son, the birder.

Read two more books: The Girl Beneath the Sea by Andrew Mayne (thriller) and Circe by Madeline Miller. If you like re-tellings of myths, I recommend Circe.

And we got a fun April snowstorm that knocked out our power from Thursday night to Saturday midday. The Weather changed from this
To this
in a matter of ten minutes or so and by the next day we had 6-7 inches of snow on the ground and a cold house.

What’s worse than a pandemic quarantine? A pandemic quarantine with no power!
I was cold and miserable and never so happy to have a shower. Thankfully, that nightmare is over though there’s still snow on the ground and I’m not very impressed with that.

Finally, it’s Easter for many people, and while I don’t celebrate, my sister made me this felt egg in a nest, representing rebirth, which I thought was you know what adorable.

Under different circumstances, my mom would’ve brought me some goodies and an Easter card. When we were kids, it was a whole basket and candy hidden all over the house. Not that any of that has anything to do with the true meaning of Easter and honestly, how a rabbit became part of the holiday I have no clue. Regardless, the point was, I miss my mom, and I’m sorry she can't go to church because for her, Good Friday and Easter are the most important Christian holidays. I’ll be glad when this is over and I can give her a hug again!

I hope everyone is staying well and staying safe.