#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!

TALE TELLING #IWSG

Time for the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post and an update on my situation.

My health issues are no better, perhaps worse in that I’m struggling to stay comfortable in my powered wheelchair… no longer relaxed enough to sleep without spasms. And I can’t sit at my desk long enough to get much writing done.

However, a new wheelchair is in transit from Malaysia, which will support me far better, allow me to be upright and work at a standing desk, and to lie flat, all while strapped in safely.

Life is also becoming more chaotic and stressful as we are down-sizing in a planned move to a busy trailer park… sadly, not the dream rural retreat. Frustratingly, the new trailer has yet to arrive, but we’ve sold our house. Completion on July 1st, so time is getting tight.

Although the June IWSG post looks feasible, July’s might be scrubbed.

But I should manage to do the June WEP/IWSG Challenge.

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/p/challenges-2022.html

That should be the next episode of my Ukrainian saga, a follow-up to Rainbow Firebreak.

So again, I won’t be telling the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh ‘ffarwel’.

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

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

As the question is optional, I’m tempted to answer… albeit briefly.


May 4 question – It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was 
the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

(A Tale of Two Cities, Para.1, Line, 1)

Best of times: when I retired as a journalist and was able to concentrate on my fiction writing, having Spiral of Hooves published, and producing a ‘legacy’ of new draft novels, short stories, and flash pieces. The era of wisdom, belief, Light, and hope…although, there were low points like poor reviews and sales.

Worst of times: as my health deteriorates and my productivity declines, but not my thoughts and ideas. The spiral into foolishness – false dreams; incredulity – empty promises; Darkness, and despair… but there’s Light as in comments from followers, and listening to good audio books.

The awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG are Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon!

I must be repetitive and ask you to agree these guys are the best. Why not? 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

Afraid of What? Not #IWSG?

I’m afraid. Afraid of what?

Afraid of the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post?

Afraid of worsening health issues? Afraid of what that means?

As I write the fifth draft on April 5th, I’m afraid of what my blood test for CLL (leukemia) on April 13th shows.

Am I afraid it’s worse?

Afraid of being more of a burden? Afraid my wife is suffering as well?

Afraid of being moved to a nursing home? Afraid of the alternative in a crowded trailer park?

Afraid of losing my dog? Afraid she’s not qualified to be a companion dog?

Afraid of the suffering as I live?

Afraid of death?

Maybe this recent post from Writers Helping Writers is a comfort… or a red herring:

Afraid of a legacy lost?

Afraid of minimal writing? Afraid of failing the April WEP/IWSG Challenge?

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/p/challenges-2022.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Hard_Rain%27s_a-Gonna_Fall

Afraid for Ukraine? Yes, and I feel unable to help… beyond donating to…

Medecins Sans Frontieres: https://www.msf.org/

 Burned buildings marked with bullets holes and shrapnel fragments show the evidence of a brutal battle that occurred in Borodyanka. Photograph: Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock

What would my fictional Ukrainians do – Kalyna  and Vasy Chayka, the heroines of Feathered Fire?

https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/p/voyagers-author-page.html

They fought the Nazis and fled from Stalin’s persecution.

So, their Canadian-Ukrainian granddaughters will fight Putin’s terror.

Rainbow Firebreak is in the pipeline.

I was afraid to tell the Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh ‘ffarwel’. But not yet.

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

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

As the question is optional, I’m not tempted to answer… beyond saying, “none so I listen to others”.


April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

The awesome co-hosts for the April 6 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise – Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi!

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 – 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