Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Not Knowing What the Future Holds For me


Today is Dcember's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Not knowing how much more time I still have left for writing. One consequence of being a slow writer is that ideas for stories come to me faster than I can write them down, which means I always have a backlog of stories  bubbling around in my head . I’ve always been a slow writer, but I figured if I could keep writing until my 80’s, that would be good enough. Unfortunately, back in September, I was diagnosed with late-stage brain cancer and suddenly, I’m going to have to beat some awfully long odds in order to finish this indie author dream I’ve been nurturing for the last 10-15 years. I’ve already begun chemo and radiation treatments, but it may be a while before we know if they’re going to work, or for how long they’ll keep working even if they do. 

As far as my writing is concerned, turns out the tumor is located on the right side of my brain, in the section that communicates with the  sensory and motor neurons on the left side of my body. My left hand can no longer touch type, so I’m forced to use my right hand to do all the typing, mostly by hunt and pecking, and since the anti-seizure medication tends to fog my brain, every time I look up at the computer screen, Word is filled with squiqqly red error lines. As you might expect, these kinds of obstacles will slow down an already slow writer like me, but it is what it is, and I’m determined to publish as many stories as possible in the time I have left. The one thing I do have going in my favor is that my focus on writing has intensified over the last month. No more do I allow myself to walk away from the keyboard when I get stuck on a scene. I can no longer afford to simply sit back and wait for my muse to show up.

But since we’re rapidly approaching the Christmas season, I’d rather spend the rest of this post giving thanks for what I do have. And despite the cancer, I have plenty to be thankful for: 

1). A supportive family that have been helping me through all this.(Heck, my son even volunteered to put up the roof Christmas lights for me this year, although being on the roof kind of freaks him out.) 

2). A supportive writing community that allowed me to grow as a writer over the years,(thanks guys!)

3).Two great critique groups that put up with my writing for several years  until I improved to the point where I was comfortable with my voice.   

4). My chemotherapy is easy, a daily pill I take at home that doesn’t make me sick.  

5). I’m also extremely thankful for being right-handed,  which means I can still do a lot of things on my own, including typing on my laptop.

Have a Great Christmas everyone!


P.S. I didn’t realize how hard hunt and peck typing is on your finger joints. Do any of you out there use dictation software?

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Finally Admitting I'll Always Be A Slow Writer


Today is October's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Coming to grips with the knowledge that I'll always be a slow writer. 

I can deny it no longer. I'm a slow writer. (LOL) It's not that I haven't known this for several years now, or that I haven't mentioned it on this blog at least a hundred times before, but 2022 has shown me that even when I have a more time to write, the words don't necessarily come any faster. Editing and rewriting are where I spend the bulk of my time, and forcing myself to sit down and work on my manuscript doesn't guarantee I'll make any worthwhile progress. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I've learned that I'll eventually figure out how to write a scene that's giving me trouble, but whether that process takes a week or three months is out of my hands.

For example, I've been working for nearly three months on the short story that will eventually become my reader magnet. It's almost ready for prime time now (thank goodness), but three months?  Heck, some authors write entire books in three months. Now some of that delay is attributable to me--when I'm stuck on a scene, it's easy for me to avoid going down to my office to write. But I'm officially acknowledging here and now that I don't ever expect that behavior to change. That's how I roll and it'll be how I always roll. No sense fighting it. Accept it and move on, I say.

Just keep writing.

October question - What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre? 

For me, that genre would be science fiction and fantasy, and the best part of those genres is the sense of wonder evoked when I'm reading those stories. These days, my taste tends more toward urban fantasies, and the aspect of the story that gives me the most goosebumps is when the author creates a magical system that allows the main character to be clever with the magic, usually inventing news ways to use the magic we're already familiar with. That's the main reason I enjoy reading the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka.

Take care!


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Determining Priorities


Today is September's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Dealing with all the non-writing related duties an author has to worry about. 

As a soon-to-be debut author, I have all sorts of tasks that need to be taken care of ASAP. Setting up my author website, preparing my author Facebook page, setting up my email collection system… the list goes on and on. Trouble is, I’ve been so fixated on writing the sequel, I haven’t been able to focus on the more mundane tasks that need to be finished before I publish the first book. Basically, the guilt I feel when I’m not writing prevents me from working on those other tasks.
So last month I made the decision to stop working on the sequel and  focus on writing my reader magnet, the free short story I’ll use to entice readers to join my email list before the first book is published. It’ll be quicker than writing the sequel, and I’ll feel as though I’m accomplishing something.

Of course, being a slow writer means a short story that most of you guys would write in a week will take me a month just to finish the first draft. In fact, I’ve already spent six weeks on it, and I still have a way to go. But at least I’m making progress, and that makes me feel less insecure as a writer.

September question - What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why? 

Romance, without question. I have a hard enough time evoking emotions in my fantasy stories. Writing a book dedicated to evoking emotions would kill me.  Besides, you have to read what you write, and I’m not interested in reading romance.

BTW, just in case you think me an emotionless robot, know that I cry when watching romantic comedies.  But knowing how to cry is far different then knowing how to make my readers cry.

My question of the month. What kind of reader magnets do you use?

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Being on Vacation


Today is July's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Right now, nothing. I'm on vacation up in northern Michigan, so today's post will be short. 

I'm still waiting to hear back from my editor that she's ready for me to send her the changes I made to my manuscript after her first pass. Thanks to some lingering effects from Covid-19, she's still not working at one hundred percent, so I don't know when the final draft will be ready for publication. In the meantime, I've been working on the sequel. I was hoping the writing would proceed more quickly this time around, but I'm realizing that's not necessarily the case. It's easier to spot where the problems lie within a scene now, but figuring out how to fix those problems is still the hard (and slow) part for me. Sigh.

July question - If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose? 

I know this may sound like a trite answer, but I'd want to live at Hogwarts. I don't want to meet any of the characters of that world. I don't want to relive any of the adventures from the books.  I just want to live there. Teaching Potions in a castle that's filled with magic would be my dream job. Oh, and the fact it's in Britain would be an added bonus. Sure, I'd miss the Internet and my smart phone, but it'd be worth it. I just don't know what I'd do with my family in the meantime. :)

P.S. I suppose I could solve that problem by using a portkey to commute to and from Hogwarts every day, but it sounds like all the fun stuff happens late at night over there, so I'd rather sleep at the castle too.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Developing An Email List


Today is June's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Fretting over my email list--or more specifically--the fact that I don't have one yet.

As authors, you've probably all heard that we need to gather an email list. A list of readers who have voluntarily subscribed to receive our newsletters. A list of readers eager to hear about our books. Of course, some of this information can be delivered via social media, but an email list belongs to you, and you only. It can't be taken away from you the same way your social media followers can. Just ask Facebook.

My problem is how to get people to sign up for my list. I've yet to publish a book, so I have no readers who might be interested in subscribing. There are ways of gathering subscribers before your debut book comes out, but those usually depend on having a reader magnet--a freebie that you give readers in order to entice them to join your list. Unfortunately, I don't have one.

I'm currently working on a reader magnet, a short story that details the adventures of one of my characters that occur before the events in the book. Unfortunately, this story only makes sense if read after finishing the book, so while this "magnet" may be a great way to attract new subscribers who've enjoyed my book, it's not a particularly good incentive for those who haven't.

The standard advice would be to write a short story in the same world that doesn't require having read the book, but that won't work in my case. Learning about the world and how the magic system works is such a big part of the actual book. I'd either have to ruin it by explaining everything in the prequel, or let the reader be confused for much of the story. 

I suppose I could write a standalone short story that has nothing to do with my debut book or its world, but I'm not sure what that would be or how well that would be received.

Any suggestions from you guys?

June 1 question - When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? 

I'm a slow writer and really like to think about a story for a long while before beginning to write, so by the time I'm ready to type, I'm already so invested in the story, I'll keep writing until I reach "The End." Period. I may hit some rough patches, but I will doggedly keep plugging away until it's done.

P.S. A few of you expressed disappointment last month when I didn't reveal the cover for my debut urban fantasy, so here it is. If I do manage to put together an email list before the book is published, I may still do a cover reveal for my subscribers, so if I do, pretend you haven't seen this yet. :)

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Working with a Cover Designer


Today is May's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Dealing with my cover designer.

Now I’m not suggesting my cover designer is hard to work with. On the contrary. She took the vague ideas I had in mind for my debut urban fantasy cover and turned them into reality in an amazingly short period of time. I had her tweak a few things, of course, but for the most part, I would have been happy sticking with her first draft. Even my family loved the cover, although I’ll admit they probably don’t know enough about such things (genre conventions, for example) to be  a proper judge.

No, the problem with my cover designer comes from all the decisions I’m required to make. Like the series title, for instance. I thought I’d already decided what it would be, but once it was time to lock it in, I suddenly wasn’t so sure. Even the decision as to whether I should separate the series title from the book number with a colon or bullet left me reeling. And that’s only the book cover.

Me trying to decide how my name should appear on the book

Since I’m a debut author, I need lots of graphics for my website and Facebook pages. The cover design package I purchased includes a wide range of promo materials from which to choose. Banners, cover reveal templates, book teasers, Facebook ad images, etc. I’m only allowed to choose so many, but which ones should I pick? I have no clue as to what I'll want or need in the future. I simply don’t have enough experience to know yet.

Still, all in all, I’m pretty happy with life. I have a cover, which puts me one step closer to publishing my book.  And as long as I keep moving forward, it will eventually happen.

BTW, I'm one of the IWSG co-hosts this month. The other co-hosts are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon. Be sure to stop by their websites and say hello. 

Question for you guys. What was it like for you the first time you worked with a cover designer? Is it true what they say about you never forgetting your first one?

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Preparing for My Foray into the Publishing World


Today is April's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why makes me an insecure writer this month?

Doing all the non-writerly stuff that writers need to do to be successful.

Now that the writing part of my story is finished, I’ve turned my attention to those other niggling details I’ve been putting off for a while now. Setting up my Facebook author page. Setting up my author website. Signing up for an email service. At least I already have my domain name. I bought it over a year ago and it’s just been sitting idle ever since. ☹

I have a Facebook page now, but without any art for the banners, it’s not anywhere I’d send people yet. Hopefully no one stumbles across it in the meantime.

Encouraged by my success with Facebook, I worked up the nerve to purchase hosting for a Wordpress website. I’ve been having fun downloading themes, website builders, and generally mucking about trying to make it look like a real author website. I’m studying other author websites for inspiration, but as I don’t have any books yet, or any reader magnets with which to convince people to join my newsletter, or any cover art for the banner, my website is pretty sparse. Heck, I’m not even telling my mother about it until it’s a lot more polished.

In another surprising burst of productivity, I signed up for a Mailerite account. Don’t expect to get any emails from me for a while though. One of Mailerlite’s requirements is a link to my website so they can see I’m not a spammer, and I’m currently too embarrassed to show them my site until it looks as though it wasn’t built by a second grader.

Not that there's anything wrong with being a second grader.

So progress on all fronts. Now all I have to do is talk to my prospective cover designer and keep the ball rolling.

Question for you guys. How long did it take you to get set up at the beginning?

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Entering the Publishing Phase


Today is March's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an insecure writer this month?

Because I’m just about finished with the edits suggested by my editor.

Now that may seem like a strange reason to be insecure, but with that hurdle almost cleared, I’m nearly done with the writing phase of this journey and about to move into the publishing phase. 


Before I can publish, I need to find a cover designer, a proofreader, and either find an formatter (both ebook and paperback) or learn how to do it myself. 

I have to decide if I want to stick with Amazon exclusively or go wide with all the major retailers. 

I need to write the back matter content, sign up for accounts at all the retailers, and decide if I should go through each store separately, or go through a distributor such as Smashwords.

These little details probably don’t seem a big deal to those of you who have published multiple books, but right now, it seems as if there’s just as much to learn about the actual publishing process as there was for the writing part of it. I’ve been scanning publishing blogs for tips and tricks on the subject, and it seems there are traps and pitfalls everywhere. I'm quickly learning that I don't know what I don't know.

I know I can go back and fix any mistakes later, but I’d rather just do it right the first time, especially for my debut book.

What kinds of problems did you have when you published your first book?

March 2 question - Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not? 

The only conflict I've had in this regard was deciding whether or not my story needed an additional scene to tie up loose ends, and if that scene was strong enough to stand on its own. Nothing worse than an unnecessary, bloated scene bogging down a story.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Being Efficiently Productive


Today is February's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an insecure writer this month?

Because it’s beginning to dawn on me that I may not have what it takes to be a productive writer.

You may wonder what I’m talking about. After all, I’m finishing up the edits on my debut urban fantasy, and I’m already deep into writing the sequel, so I am being productive. But I’m not being efficiently productive.

It took a depressingly high number of years just to get to this point in my writing career, and while that may not be all that unusual for early writers who are still learning the craft, I kind of figured things would begin speeding up at some point. Unfortunately, after spending all of January working on my revisions, my progress has been dismal.
I’m a slow writer, and that doesn’t change when I’m in editing mode. In particular, I find it especially difficult to make significant changes to a scene that I already deemed finished. Not that the problems pointed out by my editor aren’t real, but trying to reimagine the way to write a scene after it’s already been put down on paper (or hard drive) is amazingly hard for me. I stare at the words for hours at a time without a clue. I pound away at the words for days or weeks, trying this and trying that, seeing what sticks to the wall. Usually with little success.

Eventually, I hit that paradigm shift that allows me to see how the scene should be written. It’s my Eureka! moment. My vision clears. The seas part. I breathe a sigh of relief, then get on with the writing. But up until that “a-ha” moment, I’ve done nothing but bang my head against a stone wall.

But that’s my process. It’s who I am, so I can’t do too much about it. What really bothered me this month is the realization that part of the reason my revising has been so slow is because I’ve been avoiding my manuscript. I spent way too much time doing chores around the house or watching TV shows or checking out social media or sleeping. Anything to avoid sitting down in front of that laptop and facing that damn stone wall. If I’d just forced my butt into that chair and concentrated more often, I might have been finished my now.
And that’s on me.

In these heady days where a person who only writes three books a year is considered to be a slow writer, I’m absolutely glacial. If I hope to have any success with this writing thing, I’ll need a lot more determination and grit. Some way of making myself write even when the writing is tough. That’s what real writers do.

Take care everyone, and stay safe! 


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Insecure Writer and Marching Forward Into 2022


Today is January's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Why am I an insecure writer this month?

Because I look back at all the goals I set last January and see how few of them I actually met. Even worse, last January’s IWSG post was all about how I’d failed to meet my 2019 goals. Hmmm… I’m beginning to see a trend here.

But dang it all, I’m putting all that behind me this year. This year I'm going to meet my goals. I’m feverishly working my way through the edits sent to me by my editor, and while some of them will take a bit of work to solve, they’re not insurmountable. I will finish them and my manuscript will be ready to publish this year. 

Except that I need a cover first. And a final proofread. And for the manuscript to be properly formatted for both electronic and print versions. Oh, did I mention that I don’t plan on releasing this story until I have the sequel all ready to publish too? Hmmm…. No wonder I’m feeling insecure.

Then there’s setting up my author website, collecting an email list, starting a newsletter, and all the other little things that need to be done in the meantime. In other words, all the goals I’ve failed at the past couple of years. 

Hopefully, with my manuscript ready for publication, I’ll find the drive to get all that other stuff done too. I can't put them off much longer.

Here’s wishing that all your New Year’s resolutions work out too.

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

My only regret is that I didn’t begin writing earlier in my life, and that I waited so long before truly taking writing seriously. I'm not sure it's possible for me to overcome those actions, because I'll never get the time back that I frittered away. Unless one of you science fiction writers come up with a time machine or something.

This month’s co-hosts are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, and Sarah Foster! Be sure to stop by their blogs and wish them a Happy New Year!

Take care everyone, and stay safe!