#IWSG – Stresses & Strains

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

First Fevered Fuse, which should be back from my London-based editor friend by the end of the week. Hopefully, her copy/developmental/substantive edit will give me the final inspiration to finish my first Snowdon Shadowspolice procedural. Then I will have to impose a deadline to ready its submission to a publisher, possibly a small UK press, Crooked Cat / Darkstroke Books initially.

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

As for other ongoing writing, I’m mentally preparing for the final WEP/IWSG Challenge of 2021 – https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2021/12/wep-2021-continues-artistic-inspiration.html – especially as I see the deadline is now December 15th, which I had down as the initial posting, not today’s impossible stress-inducing date. Guess the theme of ‘Narcissus’ means dashing from my burrow screaming ‘I’m late, I’m late for an important writing date’.

Which brings me in a panic onto the monthly question, so please prepare for more weirdness.

But 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.


December 1 question – In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

A: Deadlines.

“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”

Lewis Carroll –  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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

Back in the last century, well before MS meant multiple sclerosis – diagnosed in 2000 – I was writing to non-stop deadlines as an equestrian journalist. Weekly reports for various sports pages, some weeks as many as 20. And often, a detailed report for a national magazine, Eventing which ceased publication in June 2015, one of the sad closures to my life – https://rolandclarke.com/2015/09/01/end-of-an-era-closing-a-chapter-in-my-life/.

Anyway, those deadlines were stressful, although I devised a coping/cheating mechanism – I wrote the Eventing article first, then copy & pasted sections for the local papers. Note that the Eventing report was on the main winners at an event, usually over the weekend, and the locals wanted pieces on riders competing at the same event from their area.

However, not every magazine article slotted into this convenient pattern – some were feature pieces with their own deadlines, stresses, plus strains on my inefficient time management.

I wonder if this deadline-stress added to the stress-induced MS? Yes, stress is something that can trigger MS attacks. But I’ve blamed my stress on organising an end of season Awards Ball in November 1999 and a failing first marriage – both leading to my initial collapse.

Anyway, once diagnosed with MS in January 2000, I began to juggle the stress/deadlines better, gradually phasing out my career as a journalist over the next five years.

Not the fiction writing though, as Spiral of Hooves was now emerging with its own deadlines. And with this Blog site, some more appeared, like all those relating to the Snowdon Shadows police procedural series, plus writing events like NaNoWriMo, the A-to-Z Challenge, the WEP /IWSG Challenges, the annual IWSG Anthology, and this monthly post. Deadlines, and yes, stress,

But delight at the feedback and acceptance. The positive and uplifting comments are like gold fairy dust, so many thanks to you all. That counters the stress and strains.

One of the greatest delights was having my short story, Feathered Fire appear in the IWSG Anthology  Voyagers: The Third Ghost: The Third Ghost, released May 5th 2020.

That kind of acceptance makes the stress worthwhile. But I keep wanting a novel acceptance. Am I greedy?

Gazing at daffodils, two women weave their tale of love and loss

Not Fevered Fuse, but an aftermath – or a postscript. Time for another Blurb Blitz Challenge.

**

The awesome co-hosts for the December 1 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

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

#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

#IWSG – Writer Success?

Passing on the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post is a decision I face and resist each time, even if it’s tempting to succumb to failure. But not this month.

As for July’s family medical crisis, that was resolved, although I suspect there may be others out there.

So, the monthly question made me answer again, so please bear with more confused 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 next time.

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

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

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

September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

Writing success – a dream for six decades.

When I was a teenager, I spoke as a teenager, I understood as a teenager, I thought as a teenager, and expected writing success. But when I became a retiree, I put away teenage dreams.

Okay, that’s a simplified statement – and a crib from 1 Corinthians 13 – so, I’ll elaborate.

As a child, I never expected real success, but as a teenager scribbling shorts and novel ideas, I hoped I’d get at least a short story or two accepted by magazines. My first rejection dashed that dream, stopped me submitting, and led to me self-publishing a sci-fi fanzine. Yes, it contained stories by other people and me – but understandably short-lived at 2 issues.

I put away any ambition as a fiction writer for five decades, although I was published as a journalist – purely factual articles. In my early 20s, I had a brief stint as a sub-editor on The Field magazine, then went freelance for a few years, before becoming a photographer – briefly again.

Fast forward to 1994 – via organic produce, green politics, videos and films – and I was back writing as a journalist, focusing on equestrian sports, mainly eventing. My first novel, my first fiction acceptance was taking shape, but it wasn’t finished until I retired. So, Spiral of Hooves was released as an e-book on Monday, December 9th, 2013, by Spectacle Publishing. For a few months, I felt successful as a writer, but I was insecure and dissatisfied. Dissatisfied with the slow sales, mediocre reviews……and the lack of a physical book to caress. However, that was released on Monday, August 7th, 2017, the second edition – re-edited, updated, and self-published as Spectacle had been bought out.

Thanks to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group , I got the chance to write and submit shorts to the annual anthology. Eventually, one story – Feathered Fire – was accepted and published in Voyagers: The Third Ghost in 2020. However, to date that is my only published short.

So, is that writing success? My wife says getting my novel published means ‘yes’.

For me, I see others submitting regularly and getting their writing out there. That’s ‘success as a writer, especially if the response is good and there’s more to come. However, there are one hit successes as well-but they’re rare, although amazing.

My writing is dissolving into dreams and screams…marinading forever. My co-writer never emerged so Fevered Fuse will remain unfinished, while Sparkle and Kama may make brief appearances in WEP/IWSG Challenge posts – as long as I can type sense.

Maybe one day things may change.

Apologies, that’s all until my next post – October’s IWSG post and then the WEP/IWSG Challenge a couple of weeks later.

The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

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 August Challenge – Freedom of Speech

Crime never sleeps.

My apologies for the late appearance of Post IV in this year’s WEP/IWSG challenge – the Year of the Art. My first Covid-19 vaccine knocked me sideways and I’m still recovering – and dreading the second one.

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.

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

DISRUPTED DIRECTIVE

2014

Friday, 9th May

This shadow is ideal. Perfect for surveillance without drawing attention to ourselves.

Jeans, sweatshirts, and suede jackets ensure Kama and I merge into the crowd gathered in the hall.

The debate has been civil, although the candidates have all made it clear where they stand on Europe.

In versus out. Vocal arguments with tinges of indecision.

But no sign of the anticipated public order threats – yet.

A smartly dressed man in a pale suit smiles at the gathering, pleads with weaving gestures. “We’re British, we’re not European. One language ensures we remain the United Kingdom. Do you want to be ruled by other nations? Forced to speak other languages? We must reject their unjust directives.”

The Green candidate appeals for calm as several people shout from the audience, pointing at the outspoken man.

I turn to Kama. “He’s deliberately provoking us – the Welsh.”

“He’s the intended target – supposedly. Watch for trouble. He’s setting himself up for attacks.”

Two young women leap up, dressed in our norm of black leathers, and shout – in Welsh. “You’re the invader forcing us to accept your rule – talk your language.”

“Speak English, please, not your foreign gibberish. Nobody can understand you. We don’t have translators here like the European Parliament.”

Another candidate, the woman from Plaid Cymru stands and asks first in Welsh. “Stand if you understood these sisters.” Then as almost everyone stands, she adds in English. “Our Brexit colleague has the right of free speech…” She pauses, then continues, “But not the right to claim his language should dominate us. Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon.”

“My apologies. However, isn’t the law upheld in English. What do my seated friends say?”

Before Kama or I can correct his legal presumption as officers who caution bi-lingually, some seated guys leap to their feet.

They mask their faces as they throw projectiles at the dais and into the crowd.

Flour bombs explode.

“Not just flour.” I choke as Kama shoves a scarf on my mouth.

“Tear gas. We need to protect the bigot.”

“Unless he planned this evening.” Blinded by flour and tears,we stumble towards the platform.

No sign of the candidate. Abducted or scarpered?

We keep searching amidst the confusion. No sign of him or the masked bombers.

Image: Bert Kaufmann/Adam Walker

Monday, 12th May

A bolt hole for a scared politician? Or for a devious one?

But the campaign office echoes others I’ve seen. Diligent drones. Harassed helpers. Flyers and posters everywhere. Clicking keyboards.

“Morning officer. Have you arrested those protesters? The ones trying to challenge my freedom of speech?” The instigator ignores my initial attempt to reply and ploughs on. “Flour bombs and tear gas are offensive weapons—”

“We have a couple of protestors in custody.”

He smiles, continuing to ignore the plain clothes officer beside me – Kama. Did he see us at the meeting – together? And standing with the other Welsh speakers? Obviously not.

“Is this one of them? Come to apologise?”

Kama produces her warrant card. “I was hoping you could answer a few questions as I’m leading the investigation. Provoking unlawful violence is a serious offence under the 1986 Public Order Act. A person guilty of such an offence could face imprisonment for six months or a hefty fine. Shall we talk here or have you a separate office, please?”

His demeanour and voice waver. “Well, um… You’d better follow me…officers. Anything to help…resolve any misunderstanding.”

His office is spacious and uncluttered, except for the electoral material promoting his attempt at election in ten days.

He sits behind his desk, waving us to the seats on the other side.

The desk is meant to be formidable and intimidating. But Kama has dented his defences already.

“Those hooligans misunderstood. I have the right to say what I believe – as do they. But throwing an offensive missile must be a crime—”

“As is orchestrating this event. The statements from your supporters make it clear what you intended—”

“My supporters? You must be mistaken. Those were Welsh Nationalists – they deliberately attacked me. My human rights were violated, as they have been throughout this campaign. Abuse, slander, and lies.”

Kama smiles, then turns to me. “Did the flour bombers speak any Welsh, PC Anwyl?”

“Only a few badly constructed and pronounced curses. But they declared their allegiance to a British nationalist cause – like yours, sir.” Then, I give him the statutory caution and warning against further incitement to violence and electoral fraud, adding, “Or we will be obliged to report you to the relevant European authorities.”

He leans forward, but his threatening gesture is empty. “I don’t recognise that authority, but I will prove the people are on my side at the polls. Trust me. Thank you, ladies.”

Dismissed, we stand, satisfied the press coverage of the incident will undermine his chances.

As we leave his bolt hole, I notice a framed print on his wall. Norman Rockwell’s famous “Freedom of Speech” painting. I point at the print, then turn back towards our English fanatic.

“Free Speech – a right none of us should abuse. And to close the debate, I’ll add, Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon – meaning, ‘A nation without language is a nation without heart’. Remember that.”

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), “Freedom of Speech,” 1943. Oil on canvas, 45 3/4″ x 35 1/2″. Story illustration for “The Saturday Evening Post,” February 20, 1943. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©SEPS: Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN.

878 words FCA

The ‘Freedom of Speech’ prompt triggered thoughts about political hustings in England and Wales as I was involved on the fringes of politics for decades.

As I said in my last WEP/IWSG Challenge post, conservation and environmental threats have concerned me for decades – peace issues included. I was a member of the Green Party for years, involved in various elections – once as a candidate – and worked with Green politicians in other countries, including some elected members of parliaments (Mps and MEPs).

So, I welcomed a chance to involve Sparkle and Kama in an election incident, one that slotted into their storyline – preferably an election I voted in. After some rabbit-hole research into Welsh elections, I chose the 2014 European Elections: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_European_Parliament_election_in_the_United_Kingdom.

In this fictional scenario, I envisaged the provocative right-wing candidate losing – and in reality, the most extreme candidates did lose. But sadly, in my opinion, Britain later left the European Union. Although green in my beliefs, I voted in 2014 for the Plaid candidate, Jill Evans as she was an effective MEP and an active  member of the Green / European Free Alliance (EFA) Group.