Wednesday, August 1, 2018

IWSG: Pitfalls

Hello All;

I love the Insecure Writers Support Group question for this month: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid in their publication journey?

Now, I don't love this question because I have lots of advice to give to newbie writers. Quite the opposite; I love this question because it gives me the opportunity to request YOUR advice and experience in the comments on this post.

Ask yourself this question before submitting to a publication, or agency: what are they doing for me  (you) as an author? What do I (you) put in, as opposed to what I (you) get in return?

Basically, my advice on pitfalls is to have the self confidence to know your skills and marketability, and follow your instincts.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, especially if a small fee is to garner exponential profits.

Thanks for reading my post today. And I'm serious about wanting to know what pitfalls you have to share in the comments. I will visit a lot of blogs on the IWSG linky over the next few days, but I can't visit all the 195 links (194 minus mine) and I'm curious to know what publication pitfalls other authors have encountered. So if you stop by my blog, leave your insights. I do return a visit to every blog that comments here.

And please, add a reply comment to todays IWSG post, as well as visit our IWSG creator Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts Erika Beebe; Sandra Hoover; Susan Gourley; Lee Lowrey.

I have also been a consistent participant of the Write Edit Publish (WEP) prompt writing web site. The WEP post on July 26 announces that WEP and IWSG are now partners, with spec-fic author and IWSG admin Nick Wilford as prominent WEP judge for the WEP prompt writing contests. Visit the WEP prompt writing challenges site for full details on the prompts, posting dates, prizes, and judging criteria. Winner of the WEP prompt  receives a $10 Amzon gift certificate, a guest post on the WEP blog site, and a special badge proclaiming the author a winner of the prompt.

Sign ups for the next 1000 word WEP/IWSG challenge is August 1, with a posting date of  August 15.

Who hasn’t had one? This one’s easy, right?

A commitment made when a prospect looked attractive, a decision on a course of action, and then regrets and reluctance to follow through.  It could be an engagement, a date, a diet plan, a chore someone said they’d do and didn’t follow through.  A strip poker-game. Or maybe a gamble with super-high, panic inducing stakes.  A break for independence that once made, gives pause for second thoughts.  A bolt for the grass-always-greener pasture and then wanting to vault-n-turn right back. Something offered, then withdrawn.  Myriad ways to go

See you there/then. And don't forget to vist IWSG creator Alex J Cavenaugh and the Aug 1 IWSG POST that announces the next IWSG Anthology details.

Oh: in adding the links to this post, I read a resonating post by Cloud Nine Girl (aka Erika Beebe) and discovered this line in her post that really resonated with me as an author:

"In a post by the, the author states POV is “who’s eyes we see the action through, who’s head we’re inside of, and who’s feelings we experience as that character feels them.”

The author goes on to say, “This is why it’s so important to choose the right POV character for your story. It will “determine what you tell, how you tell it and, often, even what the action means.”

I hope you find this quote as inspirational as I did.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

WEP: Unraveled Yarn

A "yarn" (in writer speak) is a long and rambling, often implausible, story. Hard to do as a short story, let alone a 1000 word flash. So the hosts at Write..Edit..Publish have tweaked the prompt to THE UNRAVELED YARN for the June challenge.

I'm going to try to write a long story in a flash. Can you unravel the truth of this Yarn?

word count: 999

The rumble of a John Deere rivals the thunder as it parallel parks out front of my store. Had to be Mike Shirley; the only idiot farmer with a tractor large enough to brave the flood waters and come in from the fields during a winter rainstorm. Three reasons for his being here, and only two would set easy with me. His wife needs milk and meat because there's no way out to shopping on the county roads; he just wants a beer and bullshit. Or another city slicker idiot ignored the warning signs and drove his Mini Cooper up 7 mile road.

Well, I hoped it was AFTER a rescue. It’s been several hours since I last heard chatter on the scanner from my county volunteer fire fighters. The code-speak told a tale of a car with three passengers floating in a fifteen foot dip. Mike's John Deere has the towing capacity of a tank, and Mike is a certified scuba diver. I know, you're wondering what use a County volunteer fire department in the middle of rice farm country has for a scuba diver with a John Deere tractor.

Mike and his family moved here about ten years ago. Why a Navy Seal with no family ties to the community would ever want to settle in this land-locked county of farmers nobody ever bothered to ask. We’re not rude here in the sticks, and his wife hired on to Social Services before they moved here. Mike and his wife bought fifty acres, planted wheat, rice and barley, hired on local immigrants; fit right in with the community. The two boys made friends quick and easy, joined the FFA; they raise high quality pigs that bring in top dollars, and donate the entire profit to the school.

Mike didn't join the fire department right away, but he seemed to be around every time a crisis was happening, and just tagged along. Always knew what equipment would be needed, what trucks to take. Whether or not to have an Ambulance or helicopter on standby. Just too much weird; but in a good way. Didn’t take long for him to make Chief.

The Mennonites think he is a demon who causes calamities so he can be a hero and won’t let him on their properties. They pray for the souls of those he rescues; the living and the dead. The Baptists think he’s an Angel with a direct line to God. The lives lost are not his fault; people don’t always listen when God talks through his emissaries.

“Hey Mike,” I say as he practically falls through the door. The wind has been picking up over the last hour.

“Yo Del. Got any coffee?” He slams the door, shakes water off his slicker and tugs at the zipper.

If he's taking off his raincoat and galoshes there isn't an emergency.

“A pot.”

“Good.” He kicks his galoshes to the side and walks in his socks to the coat tree beside the deli counter.

I keep a few camp chairs in front of the fifteen cup coffee pot. There’s a rug on the concrete floor, an old pot belly stove, a basket of near expired muffins and cookies, and paper coffee cups. And the scanner. Nobody ever sits there in the spring and summers – locals have too much work to do and the travelers mostly seem to know the area isn’t for strangers. Late fall and winter though, its usually filled with old farmers and well known duck hunters with gossip on their minds. I don’t charge them for the coffee and treats. Can’t put a price on good company.

“How’s that family you rescued?”

“A close thing, but all are safe. Even the one I had to dive for,” he says, pouring the last dregs of the pot into a cup.  He immediately dumps the filter, pulls out a fresh one, adds coffee, then turns with the empty pot and starts around the deli case where a mini kitchen and toilet is hidden. “Ah, mind if I make more?”

This makes me a bit worried. He could want to hang out – its Wednesday and he’s known for hauling his wife to their parked car at the edge of the flood zone. Or he needs a pot for the road. I shrug and return to my cigarette count.

“We’ve no coffee at the Fire House,” he announces, interrupting my count. The Fire House is next door to my store. “And, all the thermos’ are missing. Again.”

Damn. I put down my pencil and paper. “The crew turned in a few last week. And I got a stash upstairs in my apartment. Should I, make another pot upstairs?”

“Nah,” he says, pouring the water into the compartment. He pushes the button, then retrieves his cup and sits down. “But if you could bring me those thermos’ I’d be grateful. Damn, but its cold in the House.”

“Uh huh,” I say, and head to the kitchen and the stairs to my apartment.

I dally a while, praying that Mike is just bored and wants to get the House stocked for the next call. Or maybe the crew is having a meeting tonight. This last call was tough on everyone; a babe trapped in the car seat, Mike going down before the gear was fully attached, parents screaming in their cell phones on top the sinking car as it floated downriver.

When I go down the stairs I hear Mike on his cell phone.

“Yeah Babe, I got this. Won’t hit the call center, I promise. Already got the coffee going. I’ll stop them with my badge and tractor, and nobody turns down free coffee on a day like this. Bet Del will let me take all the stale muffins too. That casino bus will turn around.”

I send better than stale muffins when Mike leaves half an hour later with the Deere, three thermoses of coffee, and the last of my paper cups.

There's my submission for the Unraveled Yarn. Of course if you prefer the more recognizable yarn story involving a ball of woolen string, perhaps you should visit the WEP linky and read what other participants have written. I'm sure there is something cozy or kittenish submitted.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: Titles vs Characters


Oh, wait; that's WRiTECLUB, which is in its final bouts this week. Sadly, this is my first year that I have neither participated  as a writer or voted since DL Hammons first conceived and launched the event. And what an awesome event it has become over the last (about) 6 years. Even picked up by the DFW writers conference. I can't say "AWESOME" with enough force for all the work and effort DL and all the initial judges put into this yearly event. And the readers that offer constructive critiques and sometimes difficult votes. As I said, I only read and voted on a few of the bouts this year (I've been a very lax blogger) but the entries I read were all stellar, well edited, and it pretty much came down to which genre I liked. Tough choices. Good luck to the finalists; perhaps we should ALL try to take a few moments to read the finalist entries and offer encouragement . . . . .

Encouragement: now there is a word we all need as writers. Lately, my "encouragement" has been in the form of - you can't make money if you don't write. And the ever favorite "I like it cuz you wrote it so I don't have to read it." Yes, I know I'm largely responsible for this lack of encouragement for my writing: I've not been writing much, not submitted anything this year, and have mostly dropped out of the writing community. Meaning, no writers group to force me into 'submission.' Yeah yeah, I have commitment issues. On the one hand, I don't like someone looking over my shoulder while I write; I don't want a 'group' to write my stories. On the other hand, no accountability is . . . no accountability.

I am getting some writing done; a slow pace, nothing worthy of showing off to a group, or the public at large (publication). But I am writing things in several word documents. Including a document for the WEP June challenge, Unraveled Yarn. Writing a "yarn" (a long and rambling, often improbable, story) seems to fit my writing perspective at this point. With a thousand word count limit, the YARN can't get too long, which in itself is an intriguing allure for the concept. I have my interpretation started, pretty much finished, except I need to tweak the "rambling" concept into a viable structure. Hey look; I'm plotting, an accomplishment itself!

Ah, I was about to segue into the IWSG, but have one more writing resource related comment. I don't know if anyone ever clicks on my writing related links; but I did get an email from someone stating they visited my blog, saw my resources, and added a link for freelance writers. I clicked on the link for jobhero, aka The Ultimate Freelance Writing Guide, and I did add it to my resources. It doesn't seem to be a scam or purely advertising site. If you are a freelance writer, or want to get into freelance, and you check out the link, please let me know if you discover it a scam site. It seemed useful to me in my brief browse, although I'm not interested in freelance. Well, I'm interested, just not that dedicated. Freelance writers put some SERIOUS work into their writing - and submissions.

OK, on to IWSG. Although if you read much of the above "yarn," I'm sure you'll read plenty of insecurities in the subtext. Am I still a writer if I'm not bashing out novel after novel, or producing short stories several times a week. (Punctuation Nazi's may note no ? at the end of that sentence. I'm not sure it was a question.)

When I first started writing a novel, then a trilogy, then some short stories, then discovered a writers group, and blogs and and and and and . . I zealously threw myself into it. Now, I still love writing, finding a story concept, developing the world and characters - especially developing the world and characters. And yes, I love getting published, though short stories is all I've had success with. Back then, I wasn't constrained by the knowledge of all the rules: genre specifics, querying (like job interviewing), reader trends, publicity gimmicks. I did not "study" to become an author, I just sort of fell into it. Now I feel like I need to go to college to learn business management, public speaking, marketing analysis, copy write litigation.

So I'm writing slow, with too much of the business end of writing on my mind instead of the creative process. The sheer joy of creating characters to fill a world. Building a world that my characters fit into. My completed trilogy (Uck, yes I lost two books and am in the process of recreating them) is a women's fiction I thought was totally unique. A few years ago, after much research and reading, I started to accept there is an entire genre (yep my intro to women's fiction) with my concept. I'm still hoping for some uniqueness. My ideal ambition for this novel (trilogy) is that it will get published, and Lifetime movie channel will will notice it. Hey! A girl can dream . . .

This month's IWSG question is: What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names? Easy peasy answer: I suck at book/story titles. LOL, I really have a lot of novel and short story starts. Complete with excessive research into names, name meanings, character descriptions to go with those names, prevalence of names in my location/settings and time era's.

A title (usually) is the absolute last thing I settle on to finish a story. Mostly because you cannot submit without a title. A title is always a "working title" until the story has been accepted by a publication. It rarely even tentatively happens until at least midway through a first draft, and is still subject to change at any point prior to submission, depending on the theme of the publication. For me, a title must reflect the book content, which is introduced (preferably) in the first sentence, or paragraph, discovered somewhere in the middle of the book/story, and reinforced in the last chapter. Meh; just how I write.

I have only had one Title that I created characters and a world around. The title "LAUGHING AT BUTTERFLIES" came to me, then it took about three years for my characters, a plot concept, and a world to develop around the title. Perseverance was an understatement for this one; a lot of research went into the character names, setting, folklore. If you have ever completed a massive research project, and successfully integrated the research without it sounding like research, you'll understand what an undertaking this "title first" project was to accomplish. But it was published (with only one other rejection) at Bewildering Stories issue 744, if you have time or inclination to read it.

Please be sure to thank (via visit) our Ninja host/creator Alex J Cavanaugh, and the June co-hosts Beverly Stowe-McClure, Tyrean Martinson, Tonya Drecker, and Ellen at The Cynical Sailor.

Be seeing y'all around the blogs :)

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

IWSG: Spring Inspiration

Hello Peoples:

I've been out all the month of April. I did not visit anyone cuz I really needed the break. I don't participate in A to Z as most of my online friends do; and I just find it easier to not post or visit at all during April. Congrats to all the A-Z winners.

I suppose that is my answer to this month's IWSG question: It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

If we are talking "write more" when it it comes to blogging, then I guess my answer is NO. I am not inspired to write  a lot of posts so I can comment on a lot of posts. Hmm, not that I'm opposed to commenting; I really do visit about 100 or so posts every month for the IWSG. Except April. I take a break.

But I think the IWSG administrators want to know if I write more in general during Spring (this year March 20 to June 21). And that answer is also, NO.

I'm a white white girl. The sun and I are not friends. I don't pink up and tan; I burn as soon as I'm exposed more than 15 minutes and my skin never acclimates to the sun with a beautiful shade of brown. Which doesn't take spring or summer to burn me. Despite my sensitive skin, every moment I can be out walking, destroying my yard, or just sitting under an umbrella in my yard, I'm there. If you've ever taken your computer, cell phone, kindle, iPad outside, you know the screen and the sun just isn't compatible.

And when I go inside? Well, over the last couple of years I've gotten out of the habit of writing in the evenings. Most of the programs I especially like during the fall and winter are taking season breaks, and I've made a blog goal to write more during 2018. The need to rewrite two complete novels should get that goal accomplished, lol.

I went to a writers workshop this last weekend, and did learn a few things. Got some insights, and inspiration. I'm hoping completing "writerly things" also counts as writing. I've been researching a couple characters for new stories, making a plotline (I know, weird for a pantster!)

I'm getting there - slowly.

Thanks for stopping by today. I'll be hopping around the Insecure Writers Support Group linky and visiting as many participants as I can. Be sure to visit/thank your host Alex J Cavanaugh, and co hosts: EMA Timar, J Q Rose, C Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant.

And: hot off the Dancing Lemure Press, the third IWSG Anthology: TICK TOCK, A STICH IN CRIME is now available in print and e-book. Check out the IWSG books page for details.

Monday, April 2, 2018


Spring has definitely sprung here in Northern California. Time to make my big purchases of Benadryl so I can enjoy the beautiful outdoors! Heater in the morning, cooler in the afternoons. Beautiful!!

I will not be posting during April. Gonna take a break and not feel guilty at all, lol.

Good luck to all the A-Zers. See y'all for May IWSG.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018



Welcome to the March edition of Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG). I'm on the road and will be slow in visiting blogs until this weekend, so I apologize in advance for being super late.

If you are here, you likely already know the IWSG posting details. Its been long and longer since I visited anyone new on the linky list. Sorry.

My insecurity this month? I've lost two books in my trilogy. Yeah, this sucks. I hope I find them on a missing flash drive. I don't see myself rewriting two entire books. Losing the trilogy - even though I'm not sure the books will ever sell - has me questioning if I want to continue writing. I know I have other books, stories, in me to write. But, that trilogy was my beginning, Ya know?

This months optional IWSG question: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?
  Wine. Happy Dance. Lots of positive self talk and pats on the back. I don't currently have any crit partners, but in the past it was send off to the critique group, integrating suggested revisions, then submitting off to the publication the story was written for.
  I have several short story publications, most published by the anthologies they were submitted to; but the women's fiction trilogy still sits in the computer. I have re-written the first chapter of Book 1, and fulfilled a New Year's resolution/goal (and in the process noted that I've lost the other two books); and completed some of my Finish Line rituals; but now I need to revise some to integrate the changes into the continuing work. And then, query/submit. Its been a good five years since my last round of submissions for this novel; probably two years since I last opened the documents.
  I consider submitting the ultimate Finish Line ritual. I love writing, but I also love acceptance and publication. I will share with you that I intend to submit to Morrigan Books (if I locate the other two books in the series), and I hope YOU might have something also to submit also. Morrigan books is looking to expand into e-books:

Areas that Morrigan Books are very keen to see submissions from would be Horror, Dark Fantasy, Crime, Science Fiction, Contemporary, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy and Young Adult.
Areas not likely to generate interest are: Paranormal Romance (although Paranormal itself will be considered), Dark Comedy and Erotica.
If you think you have a book that is well-suited to our catalogue (please visit our homepage for further details) please send a mail to our query department
query[at]morriganbooks[dot]com with a full plot synopsis, first three chapters and cover letter, explaining who you are and your writing to date.
We are interested in submissions from both unpublished and published authors.
 That's my March IWSG post. Be sure to visit our host/creator, Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, and this month's co-hosts: Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


This writing might stretch the concept of Write..Edit..Publish.. flash fiction prompt, IN TOO DEEP. Whew! I got the concept from reading DEADLY MESSENGERS, by Susan May. I wrote this as sort of a prologue for a short story - one of three horror/thriller stories on my resolutions/goal list for 2018. Although February is the month of romance, and by common assumption the story should involve Venus, Eros, Cupid, Aphrodite, Min, Bastet, Nuwa, Kamadeva, Freya; it does not.

Full critique acceptable as I am hoping to expand this into a thriller type short story. Click here to visit the Write..Edit..Publish web site and check out the other participants for this month's theme IN TOO DEEP, and to hank the WEP administrators Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee for inspiring my story start and structure. Regardless of whether it fits the WEP concept, I hope it captivates you as a reader.

Ok, here we go .. . . .  . .

Word Count: 960

“LUNATIC WALKS INTO A BAR” the headline read, and James tapped onto the link to bring up the video report.

He pushed the up- volume button on the back of his LG then set it on the bar to listen as he sipped an early afternoon beer.

“It was a usual Tuesday night,” the bartender told the microphone. The teletype identified the brown haired, Caucasian, lack-luster man as Ian Kirkland, owner/manager of Kirk’s Quirks, a bar and grille on South 100th Street West.

The camera panned back to show a corner street establishment, parking in the rear sign the most distinguished logo looming above a reddish neon that was nearly washed out in the blue backdrop of a stormy sky. James grunted his opinion of the air time the bar shooting would garner in the public eye given its seedy locale.

“How so,” the pretty, Barbie Doll type asked Kirkland as she flashed a smile towards the viewing audience.

James did not recognize her, so assumed she was a hungry intern the station had promoted when the other reporters refused to venture into this part of town.

Kirkland rolled his eyes skyward as the camera zoomed in, then looked directly into the camera. The average, busy viewer might have mistaken the gleam in Kirkland’s eyes as tears, but James knew it as the excitement of notoriety; even if only for this 15 minutes of fame. He'd witnessed it often.

“He was a regular,” Kirkland admitted. “Shy guy, not so good looking the Gals flocked to him. But, everyone who met him – including me – liked him. Paid cash for his beers, occasionally bought a round for the house, kept the Juke rockin’. Never went out with a Lady, but bought their drinks, treated them with respect. Sherman – ah that’s the shooter’s name,” and here the gleam dimmed and Kirkland looked nearly embarrassed to know the perp’s name. “Uhm, Sherman Hahn, yep, a regular. Well, he ordered his usual Bud Light, knocks his name on the pool line up, though its just a formality, ya know, there’s never a waiting line on a Tuesday – we only have tournaments on Thursdays and its three weeks to the first match of the season . . .”

Kirkland was silent a moment, as if pondering when the first match would happen, who the teams were. Barbie smiled her rehearsed smile, then prodded Kirkland with: “A typical Tuesday, nothing unusual  . . .”

“Right,” Kirkland quipped, back on the media trac. “Around ten this Yuppie type comes in –“

“Yuppie?” The Barbie asks.

Kirkland looks a bit confused. Then he seems to recall the age he is currently living in as he strokes his politically correct chin hair. “Ya know, investor/lawyer type. All arrogance and flashing cash. Musta got lost, GPS in the Prius out of whack.” He laughs nervously.

Yuppie wasn’t a modern word, and few people outside a select 80’s culture would even recognize the term. Techies and Geeks described today's young, ambitious, techno-hybrid entrepreneurs; but James knew that whatever they called themselves now, his brother’s associates – and possibly murderers- were highly sophisticated, well informed, cautious to the point of paranoid, intelligent, influential, and financially secure. Not to mention bold, unconscionable, and connected.

“Hmm,” the Barbie prompted.

“Well,” Kirkland said as the camera zoomed in on his neon lighted face. “Dude did not belong, though we all tried to ignore the fact. Cash is King, blah blah blah. But, there was just something off about the guy, and not just his clothing or speech. And he seemed to target Sherman with every . . . comment. I don’t know how to explain it. There just seemed to be a connection between the two, though they did not seem to be in the same worlds. Hard ta explain, ‘less you was there to witness.”

James exited the feed and took a shallow drink of his beer. He would have lit a cigarette, if it was still legal to smoke in the bar, and if he had not quit years ago. He knew the rest of the story: four dead, including the Yuppie, and the shooter disappeared. Same MO as his brother's shooting.

Robin Walton, several years younger and seemingly more than a generation's difference in world philosophy, had consistently impressed James with his exhaustive connections. James loved Robin, and never missed an opportunity for a casual meeting. Days before Robin's death, he texted and invited James to a luncheon at a downtown Bistro. James eagerly accepted- the two rarely met outside of family gatherings – but they barely had opportunity to catch up as several well dressed patrons stopped by their table to say “hello” and “thanks.”

When James asked who his co-horts were, Robin shrugged and said “people I’ve upgraded security systems.”

Then Robin was killed in an upscale bar by a regular patron. The investigators labeled the shooting random; Robin a victim of stranger psychosis. James’ investigation turned up two previous such shootings in a six month period. This made four. No one would listen to him: the Yuppie/Techie was the key to all these murders. Lunatic walks into a bar, and for no discernible reason kills a random number of usual patrons, and one unknown stranger that happens to be a Silicon Valley Yuppie.

Robin’s cell phone bleeped with a text. “Dude; thought you was dead.”

James stared at the message, unsure how to respond. He never really understood his brother, couldn't pretend to speak the same language. How was he to fit in Robin's world? But who else would solve Robin's murder? Not the police obviously. KCVN was turning deaf ear, had even fired James for asking too many questions. The text on his brother's phone had to lead somewhere.

He just needed a way in. One final step off the deep end.

Captivating? Engaging? Boring? Meet the IN TOO DEEP criteria? Toss it or write on?
Your feedback matters in the comments. Oh and Yes, I did accidentally publish a version of this two weeks ago.
Thank you.