#IWSG – Cover Art

Before I tackle this month’s question and Insecure Writer’s Support Group post , I must give you my usual writing-health report.

Writing one-handed through pain and med-induced drowsiness, is now exacerbated by using the second arm/hand to massage or lift myself.

Hence snail progress… or, apologies, none. Thus, this post is delayed… and nearly missed the deadline.

Ukraine is still my priority – see yesterday’s post: https://rolandclarke.com/2023/01/31/wep-iwsg-challenge-resolve/

Plus. February’s WEP-IWSG’s Challenge entry will happen.

Slava Ukrayini

**

Every month, IWSG 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!

February 1 question – If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

I’ve only has one publication requiring a cover, as shorts have a collection cover.

Spiral of Hooves was released as an e-book on Monday, December 9th, 2013, by Spectacle Publishing. The cover was designed in-house. Although, I made some initial suggestions, the final product was not as expected. I had envisaged bloody hoofprints in snow, not hoofprints at night in sand or snow. Some say it works.

Cover credit: Danielle Sands

When I got the rights back, I corrected the text in a few places. I found Jonathan Temples, a cover designer in Northern Ireland, who did designs for one of my favourite thriller writers. He worked closely with me and a photographer friend. Jonathan produced a front & back cover I’m extremely pleased with… as well as matching bookmarks. So, I published this second edition with CreateSpace on Monday, August 7th, 2017, in paperback and on Kindle.

Cover design by Jonathan Temples. Cover photo by Nick Perry

Whenever, if ever. Fevered Fuse, my police procedural set in Snowdonia, gets published I want to work with Jonathan Temples again. Of course, that depends on the publisher. At least, I can recommend him, and submit the initial drawing he did for the graphic novel concept.

Graphics by Jonathan Temples – 
http://jonathantemples.co.uk/

**
The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray,Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site:

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

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

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!

#IWSG – Thrive

Before I tackle this month’s question and Insecure Writer’s Support Group post , I must give you some news that was uplifting going forward.

I was chosen as Runner-Up in the WEP-IWSG’s December Challenge The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face with my story Swords to Ploughshares.

Writing fiction set against a horrific war has been difficult to research and write. Other than a small donation to Médecins Sans Frontières, one of the main charities helping in Ukraine, this has been one of the few ways this invalid can help keep people aware of the ongoing injustices.

I will continue to follow events and reflect them in my Challenge posts in 2023.

Unfortunately, that last piece proved inaccurate. I portrayed a peaceful moment during the festive season, yet Russian missiles continued to rain down on Ukraine throughout what should have been the Holy time of Peace.

I will attempt to rectify the inaccuracy in my compilation Freedom Flights, which is an ongoing project. I’ve been working on some Ukraine stories to fill the gap between my 1944 short story and my 2022 flash entries. So, this Runner-Up award is encouraging and uplifting, as I continue following the current war for the 2023 Challenges.

I’m also grateful as my health is so uncertain, I need goals to keep going.

Next week may prove complicated as my term ends with my current hospice team, so we need to find a new provider.

My New Year resolution was to re-start my revision of ‘Fevered Fuse’, my Snowdonia police procedural afresh. However, I can’t find my editor’s comments and in-depth edit – her email is missing and my desktop is still not installed after seven months. I’ve emailed her, hoping she efficiently keeps clients’ files.

Anyway, have great 2023 filled with fruitful writing gems.

Plus, Plot ahead for the Year of the Water Rabbit commencing January 22nd.

**

Every month, IWSG 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!

January 4 question – Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finished my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year is Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? Why?

THRIVE

Thrive as in my health intentions, despite current hospice issues.

Thrive as in one of the protein drinks I use to stay alive.

Thrive as in my Snowdon police detectives striving to get published.

Thrive as in my Ukrainian pilots surviving and finding genuine peace.

Thrive as in my hopes and prayers for the determined people of Ukraine.

Slava Ukrayini

**
The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Debs Carey, Kim Lajevardi, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and T. Powell Coltrin!

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site:

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

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

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!

#IWSG – Holiday Writing

This month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post might be a mite rushed, but not because of the holidays… well not directly.

Rather, I’m still working on my December WEP-IWSG Challenge, which, although part of my ongoing Ukraine story, this month has a holiday element and is set during the festive season.

However, I have posted Acts 2 & 3, and I’m now writing Act 3 – Swords to Ploughshares – to give a more upbeat closure to my story, which closes on Christmas Eve.

I will probably write more as the end to this disastrous war remains uncertain.

As for me, I am still attempting to concentrate on the key tasks… my second chance.

To focus on family and writing… on leaving that loving legacy.

My Snowdonia police procedural will be finished, although I fear getting my desktop installed looks unlikely this year. After six months, it’s no longer a priority for others amidst their real-life emergencies.

So, my New Year resolution is to re-start my revision of ‘Fevered Fuse’ afresh.

**

Every month, IWSG 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!

December 7 question – It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

If the question is general, I would guess for many writers the holidays cut into their writing time. Celebrations and family time come first.

For me, this has been the norm for many years, even when I was retired.

However, ill-health has given me an excuse to leave gatherings early… so, slip away and write… or sleep for hours.

Now I’m bed-bound, gatherings are different. The family hold them in our trailer park’s clubhouse. In theory, if a few people were able to transfer me from bed to powered wheelchair, then I could drive to the gathering.

But so far, for a step-granddaughter’s first birthday and Thanksgiving, I haven’t braved the cold nor the noise. Instead, most of the family have dropped round afterwards. Thus, good to see them, and more writing/sleeping time… plus, less noise… and warmer.  

On Monday, I was intending to celebrate St Nicholas Eve, but arrangements went awry.

An icon of St. Nicholas painted in 1294 for a Russian Orthodox church on Lipno Island in northwestern Russia. Public Domain

First though, I’m not Catholic, but my maternal grandmother was, and my mother was High Church Anglican, we observed a few more feast days. I have a memory of celebrating St Nicholas Eve as a child, especially when we had two Austrian servants (Anna & Anton).Of course, Santa Claus is real as the spirit of St Nicholas lives on… or should.

 Our original plans this year were derailed by a mix of menu indecision, other priorities, and then family sickness. Thus, we plan with a few select family and friends to celebrate the Feast of St Nicholas on December 19th, the day Christians who follow the Julian calendar, as some Eastern Orthodox do.

Krampus is alerted and available.  

**
The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Natalie Aguirre, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site:

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

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

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!

#IWSG – Miracles

Apologies if this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post seems ‘off-theme’, but I will get to the point… eventually. First, I must unburden myself.

I was unaware of the fateful significance when I wrote the following words within my October WEP/IWSG Challenger post:

“How much longer have we? We’ve so much to share. Evading death takes a miracle.”

On Sunday October 23rd, I was rushed to hospital with severe abdominal pains, which had me screaming in agony. The emergency medics were unable to identify the problem beyond suspecting some sort of blockage, from their initial tests – and my constipation for five days.

A nasogastric tube was inserted through my nose, down through my throat, and into my stomach, to remove whatever might be obstructing my intestines.

More pain. More medication.

I was taken to a room on the medical/surgical floor, pending further tests and prior to any surgery. Overnight, gunk was sucked out via the NG tube, and the worst of the pain subsided. A CT scan revealed a section of my upper intestine twisted around itself, but at this stage my doctor (surgeon) and I felt cautious about operating given various factors, not least my age, existing medical conditions – MS and leukemia – and my minimal but positive progress since admission.

By Wednesday, I had finally shit and my abdominal pain was minimal. But worried about a possible surgery still being needed, I had asked my Hospice chaplain to visit. His visit was more a chance to discuss what I still had to finish, than confess to decades of sin.

Publishing at least one more book must be one task to complete.

His prayer encompassed both paths, Heaven and more Time. And hence the miracle unfolded.

A second CT scan showed the twisted gut had cleared. The doctor said my progress had made surgery less necessary, although why the gut had twisted remained unclear. If the blockage reoccurred, then he would have to operate. My choice therefore was to have investigative surgery that day or later, if the blockage returned.

My wife wanted me home, and I agreed.

So, after another night monitoring my recovery, I came home—

–to concentrate on the key tasks… my second chance.

To focus on family and writing… on leaving a loving legacy.

My Snowdonia police procedural will be finished, and my December WEP-IWSG Challenge, titled ‘Swords to Ploughshares’ is being outlined.

Anyway IWSG. Remember, the question is optional!

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

2019 was my ninth year of doing NaNoWriMo, and my last… so far. My reasoning for stopping and a rundown of my attempts is in this December post: https://rolandclarke.com/2019/12/09/nano-notches/

In 2020, I sketched out an idea for ‘Lost Sheep’, a Snowdonia Shadows novella from a different POV – Sparkle’s maternal grandfather. The retired sheep farmer is a devout Presbyterian, who disapproves of her sexuality. However, I struggled to get beyond the opening scenes due to a mix of NaNoWriMo pressures and the first signs of writing debilitating health issues.

So, I’ve since stuck to the slow-plod writing.

However, I was tempted – for a few hours – to use November to work on ‘Freedom Flight’, the collation/collection of all my Ukraine stories. But that would have been the worst kind of cheating… the kind discussed in that 2019 post.

Strange though, I announced the IWSG Anthology Contest 2019 winners in the same post. And one was ‘Feathered Fire’, my short which began my Ukraine journey.

Slava Ukrayini

**
The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight,Douglas Thomas Greening,Nick Wilford, and Diane Burton!

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site:

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

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

#IWSG – Twists

I’m writing this monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post as the new month starts… and as my bed-ridden position is bearable this morning.

And my long-suffering wife brought me Apple Orchard tea, despite her bad knees and other ailments. I wish our family did more… but they try given their own problems.

The usual single key tapping continues, but my new pain-med regimen helps ease the intermittent pain, improving my concentration.

My Snowdonia police procedural still depends on my desktop appearing… within another three months, perhaps.

My October WEP-IWSG Challenge – ‘Thriller’ theme – is written but needs honing. I’ve even started creating ‘Freedom Flights’, which will be a collation/collection of all my Ukraine stories.

Part 1 will be ‘Feathered Fire’, my historical fantasy which appeared in the IWSG Anthology ‘The Third Ghost’ and introduced the Cheyka family from Ukraine. However, there may be complications using a published piece.

Part II will be my Challenge pieces on the current conflict in Ukraine.

Anyway IWSG. Remember, the question is optional!

October 5 question – What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

I hesitate over ‘favorite genre’ as my current writing for the WEP-IWSG Challenge could be classed as ‘contemporary’ or will become ‘historical’ in a few decades.

My current audio read, ‘The Last Restaurant in Paris’ by Lily Graham, is classed as Historical, as it’s set in WW2… and present day.

OK… so best characteristics of Historical: seamless blend of fact and fiction.

Does that make ‘Freedom Flight’ historical? Eastern Front WW2 and present-day Russian invasion?

Let’s switch to my equally favorite genre… Crime.

Graphics by Jonathan Temples – 
http://jonathantemples.co.uk/

As in ‘Fevered Fuse’ my police procedural novel, undergoing revision, well, awaiting that desktop appearance. Plus, all my other Sparkle stories set in Snowdonia are police procedurals.

And my wife and I are avidly watching ‘The Brokenwood Mysteries” on Acorn TV, a New Zealand series with a great mix of quirky characters.

That’s not quite the Crime genre’s best characteristics… almost.

Twists

Whether red herrings, misleading information, false trails, or any crafty plot coils, a devious writer uses.

Used craftily, these keep our little grey cells firing and our minds entertained.

**
The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker,Victoria Marie Lees,Mary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox!

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site:

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

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

#IWSG – Sick Joke

I’m struggling to write this monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post as my bed-ridden position is getting beyond a sick joke.

Single key tapping is hard amidst intermittent pain… and morphine doesn’t aid concentration.

The book still depends on my desktop appearing… and an upturn in my health.

I have sketched out my October WEP-IWSG Challenge – Thriller theme – but there are massive holes.

Anyway IWSG. Remember, the question is optional!

September 7 question – What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

I’ve tackled/attempted quite a few genres and judging by a few failures…

Well, my written humour doesn’t stand up… to anything. Flat jokes are not red herrings. I laugh at comedy, whether Monty Python or Robin Williams or Terry Pratchett, but I never slap a key in jest.

Do I need to spell it out?

C-O-M-E-D-Y

H-U-M-O-U-R


The awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise – Fundy Blue!