#IWSG – Book Interrupt

My minimal presence in the writing community continues, but IWSG keeps me in touch. So, this is an attempt at my monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post – with the usual raft of flimsy excuses.

As I keep saying, the encouragement of the Ninja Captain avoids me missing a month as he’s such a stalwart follower. Without IWSG, my writing would be post-it notes. Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where you can find better answers to this month’s challenging question.

I need to remind myself the question is optional, but why not attempt an answer. 

January 6 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?

However, my health problems have seen me struggle to read as I once did. A physical book or a Kindle has become hard to access in my normal haunts – yes, including a guy’s retreat.

I keep trying audio, although the dogs barking makes that hard – even with the headphones my wife bought me. But I’m rereading a classic SF novel at the moment, and the dogs are quieter. Why? Maybe as it’s an amazing read – profound and engrossing.

Anyway, the question.

The most recent book I struggled with – and stopped before reading Book 2 of the trilogy -was due to repetition. Although the plot was good as was the writing, the author kept using battle scenes with structure and phrases from earlier scenes. Too copy and paste.

Poor or weird grammar will lead to me abandoning a book. Bad editing tends to be noticeable in samples meant to encourage me to buy, so I don’t – and this kind of abandonment is rare. However, if a story hooks me and I then start finding errors, these mount up and make me struggle – usually through to the end. Sometimes, an author attempts to write with inventive grammar or language, which can work but sometimes fails. Maybe I missed the point.

More often the fault is mine as I read something and want to know more. My mind creates a rabbit-hole, which can become a warren if I get tempted online to explore. A place, a person, a quote – anything can trigger me to stop reading and wonder to know more. That’s my probing mind, and not the author’s failure to provide footnotes, appendices, or obscure bits of backstory. Of course, I loved Tolkien’s Middle Earth sagas for just that.

The real question is: where are the roadblocks in my writing?

Repetition – Ragbag – Rabbit-holes – Roadblocks

**

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue! 

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Especially as they all have concerns, fears, and insecurities. But they struggle on, so ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts with the best brew available. They are truly the best.

Purpose of IWSG: 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!

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.

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 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!

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.

For more on the IWSG monthly post and links to other participants visit:

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

#IWSG – Productivity

Apologies for my minimal presence in the writing community recently. This is an attempt at my monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post – with the usual raft of flimsy excuses.

The encouragement of the Ninja Captain avoids me missing a month as he’s such a stalwart follower. Without IWSG, my writing would be post-it notes. Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where you can find better answers to this month’s challenging question.

I need to remind myself the question is optional, but why not attempt an answer. 

December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

In a normal year, November has led my output as NaNoWriMo has motivated me. Otherwise, the WEP/IWSG bi-monthly Challenges have kept me writing throughout the year. And I should thank all the fans of my Welsh police detectives, Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai, for keeping me ploughing on with my Snowdon Shadows tales. Book 1, Fevered Fuse, will appear one day.

However, this year has seen me struggle to be the writer I was.

NaNoWriMo: although I outlined a rough plot, I was unable to write more than a thousand words of my 2020 NaNoWriMo entry called ‘Lost Sheep’ – even with a premise linked to Sparkle Anwyl. But the plot is there as a Scrivener project, so perhaps that will be my 2021 NaNoWriMo entry.

WEP/IWSG: I started a novella with the February challenge, and ‘Custody Chain’ nears the conclusion after five chapters. Although this month’s challenge is now no longer a formal challenge, I’ve started writing the conclusion – despite my state of mind/health etc….

Distractions – Dungeons and Dogs and Depression.

How can I write when everything is falling apart? From the world to this country to my body.

In fact, I failed to read the other WEP/IWSG posts last month or finish answering comments. Well, I did hit ‘Like’ – and wrote one reply/apology for each recent post.

Okay, excuses over as I’m climbing out of the slough of despond, and writing again – well, a bit. However, January 31st looms and I must do my dreaded UK tax return – not writing in that month…except ‘writing it off’ as I do every year.

Somewhere, I must fit in getting ‘Fevered Fuse’ ready for professional editing….and I owe a beta read that’s overdue.

**

The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia,Sylvia Ney,Liesbet @ Roaming About Cathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Especially as they all have concerns, fears, and insecurities. But they struggle on, so ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts with the best brew available. They are truly the best.

Purpose of IWSG: 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!

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.

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 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!

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.

For more on the IWSG monthly post and links to other participants visit:

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

#WEP/IWSG October Challenge – Grave Mistake

Crime never sleeps.

Fall fills the air here in Idaho, and Halloween creeps closer. I’m dreaming of autumn leaves back in the UK – well, Wales.

That should mean more Sparkle Anwyl mind games and the next chapter in the six-part story called Custody Chain’. Yes, that is below but a few confessions:

  1. My mind is not yet working at full deviousness. Well, I’ve been distracted by time-wasting games. Not health issues this time.
  2. I wrote this chapter soon after the last one appeared, and the comments inspired me to work on the story. I have edited it in the last day or so, but the changes were minor.
  3. However, Snowdon Shadows have not been absent from my thoughts as I’m devising a novella for NaNoWriMo 2020. The entry called ‘Lost Sheep’ has a premise linked to Sparkle: A retired Welsh farmer faces challenges to his faith when his legacy is threatened. [Clue: Grandfather.]
  4. Unfortunately, the revision of my first Sparkle Anwyl novel, ‘Fevered Fuse’  is more like an ongoing stoppage. Perhaps working on related tales might rekindle the fire – or sparkle in the gloom.
Graphics by Jonathan Temples – 
http://jonathantemples.co.uk/

Without further excuses, let’s move on.

If you missed the first four parts of the story, or would like to refresh your memory, here are the links:

Chapter One – Café Terrace:

https://rolandclarke.com/2020/02/19/wep-iwsg-february-challenge-cafe-terrace/

Chapter Two – Masterpiece:

https://rolandclarke.com/2020/04/15/wep-iwsg-april-challenge-antique-vase/

Chapter Three – Cryptograph:

https://rolandclarke.com/2020/06/17/wep-iwsg-june-challenge-urban-nightmare/

Chapter Four – Umbrage:

https://rolandclarke.com/2020/08/22/wep-iwsg-august-challenge-long-shadow/

Please note there may be minor oversights/errors/omissions which editing of the final story into a novella will address. Writing new chapters throws up new clues to fathom.

Anyway, enjoy this new chapter, and if you wish, please comment, or suggest what happens next. Many thanks for reading.

Apologies if I’m slow to respond or slow to visit your posts.

Plus, ensure you visit all the other writers in this challenge via: 

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com

CHAPTER FIVE – CYPRESSES

2014

Thursday, March 20th

Dappled sunlight plays among the trees as we return to the barn in Llanystumdwy. The tranquillity deceives and suggests Tesni and Urien’s haven is safe.

But it won’t be until the threat of Barangó Fekete is removed.

Urien had admitted that the extortionate debt arose as the gang leader had secured the papers for Csilla to leave Hungary – at a price.

The price is now Tesni’s artistic talent.

“Will Fekete use his contacts to kidnap Urien’s daughter?” I have my evolving idea but trust Kama’s opinion – always.

“Unlikely. He’ll know the barn is under police protection. And with his sister Tűzvirág in custody here – until his lawyers get her extradited back to Hungary – he’ll find another way.”

“Like threatening someone else Urien cares about. Aranka – Csilla’s sister – even if he’s married to her.”

“His record from Interpol shows his methods are ruthless, and Urien described the marriage as violent – Aranka being the victim. At least, he appears to care for their children.”

We approach the barn as PCSO Lleilu Dace opens the door.

“Mr Cadwallader is anxious about his daughter, as am I. She’s become obsessed with drawing the same images repeatedly. It’s been hard to persuade her to eat or sleep since you left on Tuesday with the suspect.”

My tattoos tingle and I tap out the first letter of a mnemonic. C for Compulsion.

“There must be a reason. Art is her life. Kama and I will see if we can help.”

Tesni is in the studio section of her open-plan home. Light from the picture windows floods the area, flickering across numerous sketches in charcoal and paint.  From sepia shades to vibrant colours, the swirling strokes are distinctively Vincent Van Gogh – and his wonderful cypress trees.

“Some of these I recognise,” says Kama, “but why those trees?”

I shudder. “Across much of Southern Europe, cypresses are most often associated with churches and graveyards.”

Tesni watches my lips, then nods and signs. “Vincent – final creations in Provence feature cypresses.”

Urien steps into the sunlight and gestures to an evolving painting. “Those swirls are rising to form halos around the crescent moon and solitary star. That has to be Road with Cypress and Star – painted just two months before Van Gogh’s death.” He grabs his daughter’s hands. “What does this mean? A final painting?”

“No. To save Aunt Aranka.”

My tattoos sting and I wince. But I tap out letter clues on my bracer. C for Cypress and Compulsion. A for Aranka and Artist. G for Grave and Grief – but also Gift and Grifter. A mnemonic forms: CAGE – E for Entrapment. 

“This buys her freedom? Or Barangó wants more.”

“He thinks that. But this is trap. We set together.”

I stare at the emerging painting and search for clues. No crow sigil in the corner? But as a forgery worth millions, it would be traceable with one.

Urien grins and embraces his daughter. “Clever and subtle. Hidden provenance.” He gestures at the cottage emerging on the upper right. A distant crow hovers between two cypresses. “Only an expert in bespoke forgeries would spot that.”

“Like Desmond Deckard.” Kama turns to me. “Do we trust him to negotiate the deal? Or would that be a grave error?”

Monday, March 24th

The owners of Orme Replica Masterpieces Emporium in Llandudno gaze at the painting in disbelief. Only screeching seagulls and early tourist traffic on the seafront break the silence.

Desmond and Carys Deckard glance at each other, nodding. The sister speaks first.

“If we didn’t know the original of Road with Cypress and Star was safe in the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands, we’d say this was genuine—”

“Instead of another exquisite Van Gogh replica by Turbulent Sky. Except—” Desmond peers more closely in the lower corners of the oil painting. “Her sigil is missing. Why?”

“So it can be sold as genuine – to the right collector.” I wink at Kama. “We even have a desperate buyer – in Hungary.”

“Or rather a dealer who doesn’t have your scruples or morals. Can we trust you to make the exchange – knowing what we’ve told you?”

The siblings smile. “We have terms.”

Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890), Road with Cypress and Star (1890), oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo. WikiArt.

Sunday, March 30th

Grave Mistakes as Priceless Van Gogh “Road with Cypress and Star” Painting Stolen

The Associated Press reported Friday that a priceless Van Gogh painting was stolen from a museum in the Netherlands, the home country of the post-impressionist painter, one of the most important figures in western art. Van Gogh died in 1890, when he was in his late 30s, committing suicide after a life of poverty, marred by mental illness and substance abuse.

The artwork – “Road with Cypress and Star” – was taken in a raid in the early hours of the morning. Dutch police have unmasked the culprits, according to AP.

Ironically, March 30 is Van Gogh’s birthday…he would have been 161 today.

**

Word Count 999: FCA

Comments are welcome as usual, and the following applies:

While exploring rabbit holes for this chapter, I found several fascinating and invaluable articles. When reality and fiction meet, sparks ignite the little grey cells.

https://safehaven.com/news/Breaking-News/Priceless-Van-Gogh-Spring-Garden-Painting-Stolen.html

Voyagers Author Yvonne Ventresca’s “Pandemic” – A Great Read for This Trying Time

Currently the IWSG Anthologies blog is featuring posts from the winning authors in this year’s IWSG anthology VOYAGERS:  The Third Ghost.

This week’s post features Yvonne Ventresca, the author whose short story “The Third Ghost” won the top honour in the Voyagers anthology, giving the book its title and cover.  Yvonne is sharing the backstory to her award-winning young adult novel Pandemic., which was written before the current Covid-19 pandemic, but her research into the Spanish Flu crisis proved invaluable – and chilling.

https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2020/10/yvonne-ventrescas-compelling-young.html

#IWSG – Distracted Writer?

September has been another of those catch-up month – sporadic fail – after I was ill in August. In short, backlog has multiplied.

Therefore, this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post crept up before I’d found the time/energy/motivation/space/whatever to visit last month’s visitors. Apologies to you all – or is that excuse getting stale?

Anyway, I can’t disappoint the Ninja Captain himself by missing a month – especially as he’s such a stalwart follower. Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where you can find better answers to this month’s challenging question.

October 7 question – When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

My image of a successful working writer is possibly Ernest Hemingway, at the end of his life an Idaho resident – like me, but I avoid the drink and guns, or the suicide ending.

7th October 1939: American writer Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) works at his typewriter while sitting outdoors, Idaho.
(Photo by Lloyd Arnold/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

When I started down my writing path, I took the journalist calling – like Hemingway sin estimulantes. In fact, I was interested in warcos, such as Hemingway’s 3rd wife Martha Gellhorn. But I wandered along sylvan paths following country pursuits, and my image of a writer scribbling in notepads evolved into a writer at a typewriter with a wastebin of discarded pages.

Even now I have the image of a serious working writer in their dedicated space transforming the notepad scribbles into a manuscript – albeit on a laptop. Whatever the means, that still means dedicated time -a space of regular time set aside each day to go to that space and work. Yet, J K Rowling was forced to use coffee shops and why do I see Mary Wesley writing in her garden?

There’s as many different types of writers as genre variations multiplied by sheets in a ream.

Time to answer the hardest question: what sort of writer am I?

First, a retired equestrian journalist with a notepad/recorder and a desktop PC.

Second, a writer who aspires to release another book into the world, probably set in Snowdonia.

Third, a distracted writer who too easily finds other things to do whether that’s wading through and deleting endless emails, sleeping, or attempting to beat a game.

Are role-playing games my version of Hemingway’s addictions?

Or fourth, at this time of year, I transform into a NaNoWriMo writer. Come November and I usually manage 50,000 words plus in the month. Most of my draft novels were written or revised in November – although one was written at the same breakneck speed one April.

Does that make me a hobbyist? Or a spasmodic writer? That fits the spasms in my limbs/nerves as well as the tingling tattoos of my MC, Sparkle Anwyl.

For the record, I’m prepping my 2020 NaNoWriMo entry called ‘Lost Sheep’ with a premise linked to Sparkle:

A retired Welsh farmer faces challenges to his faith when his legacy is threatened.

Clue: Grandfather.

My thanks to Debs Carey for triggering my NaNo brain with this insightful post:

https://fictioncanbefun.wordpress.com/2020/09/27/secondthoughts-older-people-in-books/

 Also thanks to Fundy Blue who encouraged me to contribute a post the IWSG Anthologies blog today:

https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/

And a footnote: Hemingway disapproved of the 1939 Idaho photograph, saying, “I don’t work like this.”

Hemingway on Writing

*

The awesome co-hosts for the October 7 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Beth Camp,Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner! 

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Especially as they all have concerns, fears, and insecurities. But they struggle on, so ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts with the best brew available. They are truly the best.

Purpose of IWSG: 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!

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.

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 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!

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 someth

Voyagers Author Rebecca M. Douglass and Her Middle-Grade Books

Currently the IWSG Anthologies blog is featuring posts from the winning authors in this year’s IWSG anthology VOYAGERS:  The Third Ghost.

This week Rebecca M. Douglas, our Ninja Librarian, and one of my stalwart beta readers, shares her published books and her inspiration at the IWSG Anthology Blog:

https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2020/09/voyagers-author-rebecca-m-douglass-and.html

On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, the next IWSG Day, I’m giving the scoop on my novel Spiral of Hooves, the relevance of my career as an equestrian journalist & photographer, plus a few words on my WIPs – the Snowdon Shadow series.