#IWSG – Regrets

Time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post and my latest news on the writing front.

First Fevered Fuse, which came back from my London-based editor friend early December with some invaluable suggestions on improvements. Hopefully, her input is not wasted as I struggle to absorb her thoughts and finish my first Snowdon Shadowspolice procedural. My declining health is eating into my productive time.

Will I notch up a major regret by not reaching the submission stage?

Which brings me in pained doggedness onto the monthly question, so please prepare for more weirdness (Also, be warned – some of this post is copy & paste so apologies.

But first I must thank the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh for all he does – and thanks for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group without whom my writing would be non-existent…and every post might be ‘farewell’.

And thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards. Apologies for failing to reply to every comment. I try at least to press ‘like’ when I’ve read them. I do attempt an all-inclusive answer sometimes.

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site, and to read better answers to this month’s intriguing question.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Although the question is optional, I’m again tempted to answer.


January 5 question – What’s the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, “It might have been.”

 Kurt Vonnegut

A: Not persisting with an invaluable copy/developmental/substantive edit of my second draft novel.

Okay, I’ll explain – in a rambling way as that was the cryptic answer – as usual.

Back in 2012/2013, I completed the third draft of Wyrm Bait, the first novel in the Gossamer Flames cyber-mystery series set against the world of online gaming. Some friends helped me get the manuscript edited substantively by a well-respected editing firm in the UK. Their feedback was extensive and should have led to a much improved fourth draft, albeit with a recommended new POV for part of the novel.

However, I baulked at what felt like a massive task, and put the project in cold storage. But  I did draft a sequel and various saga style shorts linked to the gaming world, as well as visiting the ‘world building’ for my 2014 Blogging from A to Z posts. Yet so far I haven’t made proper use of that substantive edit.

A major regret.

Now there’s Snowdon Shadows my police procedural series, and my fear that the edit of Fevered Fuse will lead to a second major regret – if I can’t rise above my current depression and pain,

Yet I keep wanting a second novel acceptance. Am I letting my readers down if I fail to commit to more hard graft?

 Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up.

 —

Gordon Ramsay

**

The awesome co-hosts for the January 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Well, they are – 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.

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 December Challenge – Narcissus

I feared my entry for this month’s WEP/IWSG Challenge would be too late, but then as I wrote this short piece, I realised I had to post today. The reason might become relevant on reading the last scene. As for the theme, I found a Welsh element to tie elements together for Sparkle and Kama.

This 2021 Year of the Art theme has provoked some interesting thoughts – and trips down rabbit holes.

Although this year’s posts are not another ongoing case for Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai of the North Wales Police, I’ve attempted something else involving them. So, once more I’m going down the stand-alone path with my dynamic Welsh duo.

But this time, I’ve tried a change of genre – well, perhaps. Also, this is a response to my editor pointing out an oversight in my Fevered Fuse novel – the lack of personal growth.

As always, 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

BLURB:

Uplifted by daffodils, two women affirm their love and pledge to fight for human rights.

MIRRORED PRIDE

2016

Saturday, 10th December

I stare at the unfamiliar reflection and wince. Pain comes with the job,but I can’t go out like this – not to celebrate.

Stupid. Some guys never give up easily – even cuffed.

Does it matter how I look? I purse my lips. Perhaps. I’m not vain, but tonight is special.

I reach for the makeup bag. Should I use some yellow concealer to hide my black eye? The icepack helped, but it’s still obvious. People might jump to the wrong conclusion. Abusive partner.

My fingers touch the slash on my cheek. Is a scar a turn off or a mark of courage?

Will Kama care? My whisper echoes round our bedroom.

“Of course not, cariad.” Kama replies in the doorway. I swivel and smile as she walks over, then kisses me softly. “You’re beautiful whatever happens.”

Then she sits down beside me at the vanity table.She traces the cut, then my nose. “At least, he didn’t break your mischievous feature.” She continues caressing my face.

The perfect excuse for my own daring exploration for hidden pleasure.

“Leave something for later. We need to get dressed up not down. After dinner antics are best.”

“Haven’t we always eaten first.” I slow my teasing hands, then add, “We never break the rules.”

“Except speeding on our bikes. That’s an unbroken addiction.”

Motorbikes brought us together nearly five years earlier – as did crime and our first case together.

I let our lips meet, and I enjoy the taste of minty cardamom. Long and lingering, and then I ask, “Do you ever regret the life we lead?”

“Never. I’m proud to be your partner. Both as a wife and a cop. You have doubts?”

“No longer, chellam. I admit my heart has wavered – doubt can be a mischievous trickster – was once. But we’ve proved ourselves as women, as lovers, and as crime busters.”

Kama clasps my hands. “Now we can be open with our pride, despite the risks.”

“Risk is our adrenaline and will be forever. And there are tests ahead, but we have each other. Still, I’m covering up these blemishes before we go out.”

“The table is booked for eight so I can pamper myself too. And then I’ve a present for us downstairs. Seasonal light for the cottage.”

***

A floral feast fills our front room. Dozens of displays of daffodils, not yellow but white blooms.

Kama beams with the flowers. “It may be eleven weeks until St David’s Day on March 1st, but why wait until our Welsh National Holiday?”

“Paperwhites – I love these daffodils. Perfect Christmas light bringers.”

“And I bought some bulbs to plant for the Spring as well. Plus, I added some which might flower on New Year’s Day. Those bring good fortune according to Chinese legend.”

“A bonus – even if having each other is our valuable destiny already.”

“I’ll echo that sentiment, cariad.”

***

We arrive on time at the Italian trattoria to celebrate and ‘Stand up for someone’s rights’ on a day when we are lucky to be in Wales.

When our cocktails arrive, I toast all those who fight for justice. “Not just on Human Rights Day but at every moment, chellam.”

“And together, we can take a stand for more humanity.”

On the wall behind, the face of Caravaggio’s Narcissus looks down through his pool of water at us and the vase of paperwhites on our table.

571 words FCA

Crime never sleeps.

Nor does the fight for justice and human rights.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/HRDay2016/Pages/StandUp4HumanRights.aspx

#IWSG – Blurb Blitz

Time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post and my latest news on the writing front.

First Fevered Fuse, which is now with the London-based editor friend who nursed Spiral of Hoovesto publication. Hopefully, her copy/developmental/substantive edit will give me the final inspiration to finish my first Snowdon Shadowspolice procedural. Then I will submit the manuscript – or synopsis etc – to a publisher, possibly a small UK press, Crooked Cat / Darkstroke Books.

If anyone else has submission suggestions, let me know, please.

As for other ongoing writing, I’ve passed on doing a NaNoWriMo this year, but did do another WEP/IWSG Challenge – https://rolandclarke.com/2021/10/21/wep-iwsg-october-challenge-the-scream/  – and will be working on the final one for 2021. December’s Challenge theme is ‘Narcissus ‘and my mind is already pursuing that one down a burrow. Clue:  a daffodil – the Welsh national flower – is a narcissus, so tune in next month for another Sparkle Anwyl tale.

A detective confronts a deadly foe in the mist to save her wife from Death

Not Fevered Fuse, but a frightening aftermath – or a trigger. Time for the Blurb Blitz, my attempt at answering the monthly question, so please prepare for more weirdness.

First, I must thank the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh for all he does – and thanks for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group without whom my writing would be non-existent…and every post might be ‘farewell’.

Second, my thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards. Apologies for failing to reply to every comment. I try at least to press ‘like’ when I’ve read them. I do attempt an all-inclusive answer sometimes.

Finally, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site, and to read better answers to this month’s intriguing question.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Although the question is optional, I’m again tempted to answer.

November 3 question – What’s harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb?

A: Blurbs are energy sinks whereas titles are lightbulb moments.

All Nine often used to come to me, I mean the Muses:

But I ignored them…

Okay, I’ll explain – in a rambling way as that was the cryptic answer – as usual.

So far, my book titles have emerged organically, either in the early stages of inspiration or as I wrote the first draft. For instance, Spiral of Hooves was called that from early drafts – at least ‘hooves’ was always there… and the ‘spiral’ followed along with the breeding – DNA – plotline. The proposed equestrian thriller sequels, Tortuous Terrain and Suicide Seat, were straightforward – endurance riding = terrain, and ‘suicide seat’ is a carriage driving expression.

As for the Snowdon Shadows police procedural series, that follows a pattern too. The initial entry – now Book 2 – was Fates Maelstrom, whose title arose from the original protagonist’s troubled/turbulent situation. Sparkle Anwyl was not the main POV in the first draft, but the title still fits as she moves centre-stage, investigating the crime.

Her story begins with Fevered Fuse, originally a set of shorts entitled Fevered Few – ‘Fevered’ as in her amnesia. ‘Few’ to ‘Fuse’ was an easy switch when the shorts/incidents/cases became triggers for Sparkle in solving the central crime.

Books 2 and 3 – drafted – arose in the same organic/rabbit hole way. Ruined Retreat (Book 3) was inspired by a neighbour in our Welsh residential park suggesting a crime spree killing residents. We had all retired/retreated to Snowdonia, where there are numerous ruins/castles, so…

Seeking a Knife (Book 2) arose from an A-to-Z Challenge in which I chose to write on the War of 1812. Anyway, the rabbit warren led to a title which fits the historical/contemporary plot.  Don’t ask why, yet, but it does. All I can say is:

All Nine often used to come to me, I mean the Muses:

But I ignored them: my girl was in my arms.

Now I’ve left my sweetheart: and they’ve left me,

And I roll my eyes, seeking a knife or rope.

But Heaven is full of gods: You came to aid me:

Greetings, Boredom, mother of the Muse.

Epigram 27 * Venetian Epigrams (1790)
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832)

Other titles are similar in creation. But blurbs…well, that’s where I prevaricate, rewrite, reject, revise, and rip my hair out. Like first lines, openings, and synopses, I can never be satisfied with my attempts.

Well, not until I must set them in whatever material an agent/publisher/reader wants – as in my IWSG Anthology short Feathered Fire.

**

The awesome co-hosts for this November 3 posting of the IWSG are Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Well, they are – 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.

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 – The Scream

Crime never sleeps.

Well, despite destroying the original version of my October/Halloween WEP/IWSG challenge – accidentally – I managed to recall enough for another version. Only my wife read/heard the original, so might sense where this differs. We didn’t tempt fate by re-reading this version. Please note, she wasn’t the one who destroyed the earlier draft – unlike Fanny Stevenson’s response to her husband’s creation:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/oct/25/books.booksnews

I’m not saying my short is comparable to the famous novel, but reading this article, I see a few echoes – or maybe not.

Anyway, this 2021 Year of the Art theme continues to provoke some interesting thoughts – and tempts me down rabbit holes. One of those arose from an interesting link on the WEP site – more on that at the end.

Although this year’s posts are not another ongoing case for Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai of the North Wales Police, I’ve attempted something else involving them. So, once more I’m going down the stand-alone path with my dynamic Welsh duo.

But this time, I’ve tried a change of genre – well, perhaps.

As always, 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

BLURB:

A detective confronts a deadly foe in the mist to save her wife from Death.

(Or for those familiar with the dynamic duo: ‘Sparkle confronts a deadly foe in the mist to save Kama from Death.)

VULPINE MIST

2016

Monday, 31st October

I jerk awake. A shriek pierces the darkness.

Relax. Just a fox howl. A vixen calling for a mate.

Wrong season as cubs now hunt alone.

The wail is almost human. A cry for help?

I turn to Kama, but she’s gone again. Only the curled indent beside me and her scent of vanilla and bergamot remain.

She must be wandering in our family home, Tyn-y-llyn, nestled in the Snowdonia mountains.

I creep downstairs, searching for Kama. I whisper her name. Only an echo from the gloom. No answer.

Call louder but I mustn’t wake the family.

But nobody stirs. My thorny rose tattoo prickles. I search every room –  no Gwawr, nor mam, nor my grandparents Gwyneth and Hywel Pugh. Nobody.

I’m alone.

A sigh from outside. “Fy ngwraig! Fy ngwraig!”.

Who’s calling ‘My wife! My wife!’ in the night? The voice sounds female. But not Kama’s sultry tones. Where is she?

Fog slithers under the front door, yet I’m drawn outside to the farm.

Tattoos jangle as the mist welcome me with cold embrace, clutching for my heart.

“Kama – where are you?” My shout recoils off the billowing barrier.

A chill as folk memories uncurl. A cyhyraeth is stalking the darkness, its disembodied wail sounding before a person’s death. Invisible but unyielding.

Who is it after?

Kama. My wife mustn’t die. I can save her.

I grope my way towards our llyn, where we swim and relax. But the pastures are overgrown with brambles. I must reach the safety of our lake.

More moaning. Closer.

“Fy ngwraig! Fy ngwraig!”

I shudder as thorns rip my skin. ‘My wife! My wife!’ is the summons of Gwrach-y-Rhibyn. The monstrous Hag of the Mist claims Kama. Never. She’s mine and I am hers – forever and eternity.

Fighting my way through the thicket, I follow the groans, now interspersed with cackles. At the stream feeding our deep waters, I confront my deathly foe.

The Hag washes her hands, polluting our pure brook. Her unkempt hair hangs around her wizened body. Withered arms widen and skeletal hands beckon. As a harpy, she hovers on leathery wings, and bares long black teeth dripping with gore. My heart pounds as I face this grim corpse of doom.

No sign of Kama. She’s safe – somewhere.

Gwrach-y-Rhibyn shimmers in the swirling mist. And morphs into a flame haired woman, beautiful with luxuriant locks falling over her revealing red dress.

A gust of wind shifts my vision. Kama is in this sensuous siren’s embrace, her head nestled between the seductress’s naked breasts. My wife moans, aroused. I’ve lost my skilful lover to this sultry temptress.

Tears well as rosy lips kiss Kama’s neck. Fangs glisten in the moonlight, dripping with blood – the life-force of my soulmate.

The vulpine shape-shifter laughs – howling as she licks her bloody mouth.

“Love and Pain”

The mist turns to dense blackness. Kama becomes a man – in the arms of a scarlet haired woman. Then everything freezes.

No sounds. No movement. I stare at the Vampire painting.

The canvas creeps towards me. Creaks and cracks – closing.

Behind, I hear a sibilant sigh, rising to a shriek.

I turn and face another painting – The Scream.

Munch’s master creations curl in on me. Trapping me. Sucking in the air, stifling me.

I scream – silently.

And wake entwined in Kama’s arms. Her lips are on my neck.

Our jackdaw trickster, Negesydd taps at the window banishing the Nos Galan Gaeaf spirits. Halloween is buried – for another year.

Sunbeams dance as we caress each other.

From our beach, the sough of the surf carries on the sea breeze, the salt scent tempting us outside to swim.

623 words FCA

I mentioned a rabbit hole, and from The Scream prompt, I was led to Edvard Munch’s Vampire painting: https://www.edvardmunch.org/vampire.jsp. Reading this gave me my climactic scene – including that last piece of suggestive dialogue, “Love and Pain”.

As for December’s Challenge – Narcissus – my mind is already pursuing that one down a burrow. Google, isn’t a daffodil – the Welsh national flower – a narcissus? Tune in next time for the answer.

Finally, for those wondering about my first Sparkle & Kama novel – Fevered Fuse – I managed to collate the feedback from my stalwart beta readers. The manuscript is now with my editor, who helped get Spiral of Hooves published.

#IWSG – Walk the Line

Time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post and finally better news on the writing front.

Although my search for a co-author ran into problems – primarily financial – I reassessed how best to edit Fevered Fuse, and stay sane.  Last year, I’d been using Fictionary to edit the manuscript, as it helped me deal with even the fine detail – down to the weather and the scene opening/closing types. The programme/software is exceptional, and I recommend Fictionary, especially as sorting out my convoluted/twisted plotline was simplified using it. However, due to my health, I felt I was trudging through mud with no end in sight. So, I collapsed.

I realised the best approach was working through the invaluable beta readers’ comments – thanks Dawn Ostlund, Rebecca Douglas, and Toi Thomas for fantastic feedback.  I’d already used their guidance to improve the plotline, and I’m now focusing on other elements – a few scenes/issues each day. Slow and steady, I’m walking the line towards completion.

The next step is the professional editing, which I’m getting quotes for – a) substantive/developmental; b). Copy edit. First, from the London-based editor friend who nursed Spiral of Hooves to publication, and second, from a Welsh-born editor-author friend working with a small UK press, Crooked Cat / Darkstroke Books. If anyone else wants to throw their editing cap/quote in the ring, let me know.

Anyway, on to the monthly question, which I’ll attempt answering, so please prepare for more weird thoughts.

Okay, here goes.

Well, first I must thank the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh for all he does – and thanks for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group without whom my writing would be non-existent…and March’s post might have been ‘farewell’.

Second, my thanks to all those whose encouraging comments ensure I scribble onwards. Apologies for failing to reply to every comment recently. I try at least to press ‘like’ when I’ve read them. Maybe I’ll attempt an all-inclusive answer sometime.

Anyway, don’t forget to visit more active writers via the IWSG site, and to read better answers to this month’s challenging question.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Although the question is optional, I’m again tempted to answer.

October 6 question – In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?

A: When I feel my readers will stop turning the page.

For you, I know I’d even try to turn the tide

Because you’re mine, I walk the line

Okay, that was the cryptic answer.

First, I avoid ‘horror’ although that’s because it’s not my genre -although I’ve written one or two ghostly tales.

However, within my own genres, I try to avoid writing too bloody or graphic crime scenes, although the suggestions might be there – as in cruelty to animals:

https://rolandclarke.com/2021/06/16/wep-iwsg-june-challenge-great-wave/#:~:text=Plastic%20water%20bottles%20float.%20I%20shiver.%20Bottles%20with%20captive%20birds.

Same goes for erotic scenes – I write suggestive encounters, but not as overt as in some romance novels I’ve recently listened to. Although there are readers who still balk at my ‘sex scenes’. One critic, a Mormon, took exception to the restrained encounters in Spiral of Hooves…and to my foul language.

Seems even though I heard the F-curse often used by horsey people, it is unacceptable. Guess someone hadn’t heard Royalty swear like a trooper.

So, that’s why DC Sparkle Anwyl chooses to say:

Ffyc

**

The awesome co-hosts for the October 6 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, J Lenni Dorner, Cathrina Constantine, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, and Mary Aalgaard!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? Well, they are – 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.

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