Plodding Towards Publication

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Today is the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group post and I am flip-flopping between positivity and insecurity.

I should feel positive having completed the 100k in 100 days challenge that began on January 1st, and then plunged straight into the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, completing that as well. I may be exhausted but I’m still writing, although not as frenetically.

However, my A to Z Challenge failed as my posts were too long – details on my last blog post here. And I still shuffle my way forward over getting something published. It should be ‘best step forward’ as I am productive, but there is too much unfinished and unresolved.

And how do I get the work published? I see better writers than me self-publishing, but I lack the means to do that – starting with the health to cope. I’ve been looking around at small presses but I fear that my writing is not suitable, and my promotion skills are lacking.

Snowdon by Juanita Clarke on Duskweald

Snowdon by Juanita Clarke on Duskweald

Or does “Storms Compass” fit into the new interest around novellas? I need to add an overarching plot that will weave the stories together, but the length might remain within the shorter length – and the tales have been professionally edited.

And if novellas are the future, what do I do with my plans for the Snowdon Shadows series? They will be full-length novels as they stand. Or do I trim them to the skeleton? Where do I go?

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Purpose of the IWSG day: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post our thoughts on our own blog. Talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. Discuss our struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with our fellow writers – aiming for a dozen new people each time

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!

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Wisholute or Chaos?

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This is my first post of 2015 and my first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post of the year. Before I tackle the resolution chestnut, I have to introduce myself. Guess I need to update my About Me page… at some point.

Until the MonSter called multiple sclerosis swiped me down, I was a freelance equestrian journalist, and photographer. I was diagnosed with MS in January 2000 and by 2005 I retired, unable to meet any deadlines. My second wife, Juanita is now my understanding and put-upon carer, and we live in Harlech, North Wales, with a brilliant view of Snowdon.

When the MS is behaving, and my pain is calm, I write fiction. My first novel, ‘Spiral of Hooves’ was published in December 2013, and I have various projects on the go.

First Snow on Snowdon ~ Juanita Clarke

First Snow on Snowdon ~ Juanita Clarke

So why ‘wisholute’?

My writer friend Ailsa Abraham coined this clever word as an alternative to ‘resolution’. Don’t we all manage to fulfil just a fraction of our resolutions? In many cases, they are closer to ‘wishes’ driven by intent of some sort. Great for Insecure writers like me. So I don’t make them – well not often.

My simple ‘wisholute’ was “Find a Brit publisher and finish one tale…” by which I meant, my US publisher is great for my equestrian series, but being in the UK I would like to find a similar Brit publisher. And my insecurity kicks in when it comes to my next publishing step.

Do I chance that my ‘Gossamer Flames’ saga is worthy of beta readers? Are there any out there that will want to read it?

Should I focus instead on revising ‘Fates Maelstrom’ and re-locating it in North Wales?

Do I suppress the urge to write yet another first draft to put in the bottom oven to simmer?

Well, I’m taking part in the 100k in 100 days Challenge and have a loose strategy of edit-create-revise: on the days when I need to Blog/vent/rant etc I do; on the days when I get inspired to review one of the books I managed to read in 2014, I do; when I get the urge to bring new characters alive in ‘Seeking A Knife’, I do; and I intend to make those short stories ready for the brave beta readers out there, wherever.

And for my reading I am multi-tasking too – I have three books on the go, and just acquired one set locally, to get my head ready for that revision I mentioned.

Trouble is, that insecurity might be feeding the multi-tasking. Should that be chaos? Not if we are creating words and worlds for valued readers. As IWSG says, “Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!”

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

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The awesome co-hosts for the January 7 posting of the IWSG will be Elizabeth Seckman, Lisa Buie-Collard, Chrys Fey, and Michelle Wallace!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Please visit others in the group and connect with the awesome writers out there. Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

 

Getting Back on Track

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December lies ahead full of promises and good intentions. Behind me lies NaNoWriMo, but not a fourth successive win. Congratulations are due to all those who achieved the magic 50k words, or more, I know what you did to achieve that target.

This confession is my contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, in the hope that there is a useful moral, and maybe some encouragement for others that tripped on the track.

My own November was more like NaughtyNoWritingMonth – from day one. A few months ago, I had great plans for NaNoWriMo, in the form of the outline for “Seeking A Knife”, an attempt to turn an old WW2 TV drama proposal into a mystery with its origin in the War of 1812.

But I abandoned that plan in about August, wondering if I could re-write one of my old draft’s instead. “Fates Maelstrom” is crying out for a relocation to Snowdonia – it will happen, one day. I had “Fates Maelstrom” down as my NaNo novel but felt I would be cheating to upload more than a short blurb.

 

Snowdon at sunset

Snowdon at Sunset by Juanita Clarke

 

Anyway, in October I finished writing “Storm’s Compass”, my first set of short stories, and they needed editing, prior to the critical eye of beta-readers. Another great plan. But then I got asked to ‘ghost write’ some children’s stories. I sketched out some ideas over November – scribbles that might qualify as writing. I even found a way to tie in my character, Harriet The Flying Hare. But I ground to a halt, stymied by a lack of feedback and the reluctance to be a ‘ghost writer’.

Dejected, deflected, and disillusioned, I turned to the ‘dark side’ – in fact I spent more and more time gaming. Star Wars: The Old Republic to be honest. Well they did have 12x experience until December 1st, so who wouldn’t be tempted from the path of writing.

Now I have to kick my addiction and re-focus on the important things in life… like my partner and our puppies… and accounts… and Christmas. Have I missed something?

Moral: when you need a sanity break from the word-grind, don’t let the break become a slide into the morass of reckless pleasure.

"Winter Landscape" by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

“Winter Landscape” by Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We are meant to talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. Our struggles and triumphs. We try to offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visiting others in the group and connect with our fellow writers is always fun, and a chance to discover that we are not alone. 

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the December 3 posting of the IWSG are Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!

Is there life or death in the Apocalypse?

Different World ~ Image courtesy of manostphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Different World ~ Image courtesy of manostphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you prepared for the apocalypse? Or have you been scared off?

On the one hand some people, especially agents, have had enough – or so they say. Yet, there are still books and movies in the apocalypse genre being released – e.g: The Colony. Is the genre going through an operatic death as the back-log dries up? Lead times in production are long, so in a year or two the apocalypse could have gone the way of vampires. What can we believe?

Unless it becomes reality – no longer the stuff of speculation.

I say this because I realise that I’ve been committing the mortal sin of writing in a supposedly dying genre. So what do I do? Admit that I’ve erred big time? Put the manuscript on a back burner for a few years? Turn it into a romantic comedy?

I keep wondering whether I can simply redefine it by changing the frame of reference. It’s not really post-apocalypse. Yes, there is a global disaster and society is breaking down. But there is hope. There are relationships. It goes beyond survival. But I’m not a hardened science fiction writer, who has ready every book in the genre. I’m an eclectic reader, hopping from mysteries, to fantasies, to historicals.

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Of course, apocalypse has got a bad press – blame Hollywood. It’s often seen as the end of the world, a cosmic cataclysm as described in the Book of Revelation – or rather that’s the simplistic interpretation. According to the online Oxford English Dictionary the word originates from “…Greek apokalupsis, from apokaluptein ‘uncover, reveal’, from apo- ‘un-‘ + kaluptein ‘to cover’.”

So it’s all about a revelation – as the Book says. In a useful examination of the genre Fantasy Faction said, “The term apocalypse originally did not mean mass extinction, destruction and death, but rather related to enlightenment in a biblical sense. And before that, the term translated as “a great change.” 

Might be worth looking forward to – once we’ve got beyond War, Pestilence, Famine, and Death – plus zombies, aliens, Justin Bieber, and Kim Jong II.

Maybe my take is different enough from all those that have trod the path of apocalypse before me – not that I have read all the books in the genre… too many given my reading speed. For a pretty comprehensive list, see Michael White’s Chronological list.

I can claim to have read some of the definitive novels, such as John Wyndham’s The Day of the Triffids, Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End, John Christopher’s No Blade of Grass, and Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley.

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apocalypse ~ Image courtesy of dan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My attempt is called ‘Storm’s Compass’ and the collection of short stories will be Book 1 of The Gossamer Flames Saga. Provisional blurb is:

“What lies ahead when the world is devastated by a solar storm? Who will choose to build the future?

Eight tales of unfolding disaster have repercussions that will affect posterity. From the arid deserts of India and the United States, to the wild beauty of Norway, the future could be sown.

Storm’s Compass is post-apocalyptic fiction, with folklore in the shadows and greenpunk in the workings.”

What do you feel is the future of the apocalypse/post-apocalypse genre? Does ‘Storm’s Compass’ sound enthralling? Do you want to be among the beta readers?

Please tell me what you think in the comments.

Staying on Track

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Dewy Cobweb ~ by Norman Hyett

Two weeks into September and I am on track with the Multiple Sclerosis September Challenge. Thus far, I have met my target to write a short story a week.

The aim was to focus this month on writing (and editing) four tales in my “Gossamer Flames” saga, so I have been working through them chronologically. The first two were written before the month started, along with Nos. 4 and 8. Another four will complete the first Book of the Saga – Dust & Death.

Two down and two to go. Halfway and the challenge looks feasible. Donations are very much welcome – all in a very good cause.

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I am trying to vary my style a little, especially in terms of POV.  I have been attempting to write ‘deep/tight POV’ and it has been a real test. I am also having to edit as I go, or at least by working through each day’s writing before continuing, then doing some final edits before each week is out. Fighting the trials of the MS has added to the challenge, but I am winning.

However, I am aware that these edits may not be enough. I need volunteers as beta readers – to see if the tales work and make sense, whether the POV rings true, if my grammar sucks, etcetera. Volunteers please contact me. The beta readers for my opening tale found enough to warrant a revision, or two.

If you sign up for my newsletter, you will receive the final version before anyone else sees the ‘Book’. Beyond that day, I will release “Dust & Death – Book I of Gossamer Flames” as a collection.

Looking ahead to October, I know that I have to put some time aside to do my tax return – not that I make a fortune. Then I need to devote some time to the re-location of “Fates Maelstrom” from Dartmoor to Snowdonia.

For now it’s back to killing some vermin in Scotland – just don’t ask me what they are voting… it won’t matter when the Solar Apocalypse comes.

 

Is the Challenge over?

When I woke this morning – Tuesday September 2nd – my body refused to co-operate. I was ready to give up all my writing challenges and escape. Does that make any sense?

Maybe it doesn’t if you read my last post on here… my last Insecure Writer’s Support Group post, when I wrote about the inspiration that keeps me going. However, it’s the first Wednesday of the month again and I have the doubts and the fears that we are meant to have conquered. Seems I am back to the struggle stage.

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Writing over the last month had been more about escaping into research… and into other worlds = MMORPGs – gaming. I had great plans for September: write at least one complete story in the Gossamer Flames series every week of the month. Not a lot in comparison with the 100k in 100 days Challenge that I’m failing at miserably and as usual. But this should be so much easier as it’s over a shorter period – just a month. It’s also less intensive than the A to Z Challenge, although that inspired many of the shorts in Gossamer Flames.

Creating a story a week is one bit of pressure that I have set for myself as part of the MS Challenge that runs in September – my Support Page is at https://www.justgiving.com/ChallengeMS2761/ . And two days in I was thinking of giving up, even if it is a central part of my Life Challenge… fighting the MonSter that wants my Life but mustn’t win.

If I have written four complete tales, and edited them, by the end of the month then I will have reached one goal – although some sponsorship would be a bonus.

And thanks to a comment, I’m re-inspired. The words made me visit a fascinating blogsite, where I read a wonderful article on Spirals http://jazzfeathersjewellery.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/spirals/. Following the trail to its creative conclusion, I bought my long-suffering wife a well-deserved present.

Steampunk Heart from JazzFeathers

Steampunk Heart from JazzFeathers

In case you hadn’t realised, this is my monthly post in IWSG and the awesome co-hosts for the September 3 posting of the IWSG will be Laura at My Baffling Brain, mark Koopmans, Shah Wharton, and Sheena-Kay Graham. And it’s IWSG’s three year anniversary of posting!

Oh you were expecting something else. Were you thinking I meant the Ice Bucket Challenge when I said Challenge in the title?

Yes that has dominated the media and is a worthy cause for ALS alias motor neurone disease, another neurological nightmare. Ice Water is also meant to be good for MS, except something cold like water sends me into spasms. If challenged I would sign the cheque and be inspired by Patrick Stewart’s Ice Bucket Challenge, jst as the Huffington Post were http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/22/patrick-stewart-ice-bucket-challenge-video_n_5701036.html.

There is also a link on the Huffington Post report to Benedict Cumberbatch who showed another way to NOT evade the Ice Bucket Challenge. How to douse a dragon?