#TheIWSG Ultimate Writing Goals

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Is it really July already? Where did June go? Is it time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post? In fact, this post is a day early due to the US Fourth of July Holiday. Does that mean we all get to celebrate? Oh wait, I’m a Brit living in the US, so I must acknowledge this celebration of when the US got rid of the British Empire. Or did we Brits get rid of the damn tea-dumping, pesky colonists?

On to the IWSG brain-teaser:

July 3 question – What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

Those ‘ultimate writing goals’ are still moveable feasts.

First off, my goals are not what they were when I was in my teens, churning out scrappy shorts and dreaming of publishing multiple novels. When I was a working journalist, I had scaled back to one equestrian mystery with possibly two sequels.

Now I’m coping with health issues that make my goals move each day/month/year. OK – July 2018…goals = continue blogging for IWSG once-per-month, my Thursday Review every week – plus the odd blog hop/article/interview. And as for the fiction writing, attempt to write the three short stories linked to my Snowdon Shadows series. Perhaps I can dream of publishing one more novel – even if the first was a damp squid.

Is it wise to retire after one published opus?

Despite the brain fogs and jumbled thoughts, I still have urges to write – just not with any real hope of publishing anything else.

As I asked last month, is it time to just read and dream? (And become a ‘reviewer’.)

**

The awesome co-hosts for this July 3 posting of the IWSG are Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

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 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

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe  – a review

Thursday_horizons

Today’s review post is of a book I re-read for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (Book Club). As a child, I had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and it became a book that I’ve re-read a few times. I admit that it’s not my favourite Narnia book – that honour goes to The Magician’s Nephew, which I was intending to read next, but the set I have is too bulky to lug around in a wheelchair.

Anyway, on with the latest review.

Lion Witch Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 

(The Chronicles of Narnia (Publication Order) #1)

by

C.S. Lewis,

Pauline Baynes (Illustrations)

A full-color paperback edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, book two in the classic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. This edition is complete with full-color cover and interior art by the original illustrator, Pauline Baynes.

Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie— step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone read, but if you would like to explore more of the Narnian realm, pick up The Horse and His Boy, the third book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Review 4.4 stars

This was still as enjoyable as when I read the book as a child some decades ago. and then, I read it again, a few times or more. The magic never goes when I return to Narnia and I will always encourage other kids to escape there, and to relish the magical use of words and phrases.

This book never gets old. It’s the first Narnia book that I encountered – and the first written then published, although chronologically the second.

I always felt that talking animals would be amazing and C. S Lewis makes them believable and unique characters. For me, the children were always of less interest than the creatures of Narnia – starting with Tumnus the Faun. Although in her defence, Lucy is always the most endearing child. Everyone has things that make them contrast with the others, creating a memorable cast including Aslan.

However, while giving human characteristics to a faun seems credible, it’s harder to accept animals described in similar terms. For Narnia, that works, but as an adult, I can sense it’s not being true to their real nature. But don’t let that spoil the weaving of the spell.

This is a classic fantasy for children, and disbelief is wonderfully suspended from the moment that Lucy Pevensie finds her way through the wardrobe and begins an enchanting adventure. In Narnia, we have a world where the unexpected is possible and magic is at the heart of the creation. For the older reader, this world poses a few questions. Perhaps that is why C.S Lewis felt compelled, after five books, to eventually write about the world’s origins in The Magician’s Nephew – my favourite Narnia book and chronologically Book 1.

Yes, there are aspects that are dated like attitudes to girls/women fighting, and there are the Christian undertones, but I can forget these as the whole creation transports me.                                                                                                                                                                   There is clever use of language, of humorous phrases, of adjectives to evoke emotions – both in the dialogue, and in the descriptive passages that abound, bringing Narnia alive in the imagination.

“…And you are riding not on a road nor in a park nor even on the downs, but right across Narnia, in spring, down solemn avenues of beech and across sunny glades of oak, through wild orchards of snow-white cherry trees, past roaring waterfalls and mossy rocks and echoing caverns, up windy slopes alight with gorse bushes, and across the shoulders of heathery mountains and along giddy ridges and down, down, down again into wild valleys and out into acres of blue flowers.”

I’m sure that Pauline Baynes’ illustrations were in the first copy that I read, and they helped create the vibrant images in my head of Narnia, but the words on the page were what transported me there. The most abiding image seems to be that lamp post and whenever I see a real or replica Victorian one in real-life, I drift back to that fir-fringed clearing in Narnia.

Time to introduce my great grandkids to this spellbinding world and this can be another book to encourage their imagination.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – five stars

Authenticity – three stars

Characters – four stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – five stars

Editing – five stars

#TheIWSG Titles or Names?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

The months seem to be flashing by in leaping bounces. Is that the result of spring in the air, or the pull of summer? Whatever the reason, it’s time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post and my latest attempt to write to the IWSG voluntary prompt:

June 6 question – What’s harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

The answer is that I’ve never pondered this too much. So far, the titles of my novels/WIPs seem to have come in a flash during plotting. Whether they are any good remains open to debate. Finding titles for my short stories has been harder, but nothing too taxing as the right title emerges before THE END draft one.

Character names require more extensive work as I like to research the meaning of names. Most of my characters have names that have an appropriate meaning, so there have been cases when I found something better. As with the detective protagonist in Fates Maelstrom, who went from Sparkle Morgan to Sparkle Anwyl. Sometimes the name change is to avoid confusion with another character, or because their nature changes.

So, character names must be harder.

That should be the post, except I’m having a meltdown. Why?

I’ve been focused on writing reviews, and these are making me insecure – well, reading great books might be invaluable, but… I’m committing a cardinal sin and judging my own ability by them. They give me ideas – like the bookend structure of The Last Wish – but I can’t hope to write as well as these masters of the craft. (Watch out for tomorrow’s review when I assess another five-star book.)

Is it time to just read and dream?

I’ve already lost my ability to take photos as my hands shake like a tree in the wind. Writing gets harder as my brain fogs and my thoughts jumble.

Or am I only achieving if I keep scribbling creatively?

 

2x6_bookmark

**

 The awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, Tonja Drecker, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

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 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

Lord of the Flies – a review

Thursday_horizons

Today’s review post is of a book read for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (Book Club). I read William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies in February, and this is my belated addition to the group’s discussion. This novel was chosen by club members for how the author used symbolism throughout the story.

LordofFlies18964701

Lord of the Flies

by

William Golding

At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued. Labelled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies is perhaps our most memorable tale about “the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart.”

Review 4.5 stars

It’s hard to review a classic that has been around in many ways all my life from novel to screen. My first reaction was that it’s a gritty and a difficult read that may be literary in style, but the messages are there. The beast lives so why should kids be immune to its power? Yes, it could be written in other ways, – and it has been. But I understand the author’s intent (as does Stephen King).

In Lord of the Flies, symbolism is everywhere, from the moment a group of schoolboys are stranded on an uncharted island along an inevitable path to the heart-wrenching climax. As we meet the boys, each one is unique and typical of certain English schoolboys – like myself. Yet each one is an archetype that plays a specific role – none more so than Ralph, Piggy, Jack and Simon. Their distinct appearances add to their character and their roles as symbols.

The early scenes realistically show the boys forming groups, their personalities coming out in how they make friends – and in how they can quickly hurt the vulnerable people like Piggy. Tragic to see that bullying still exists today, although it is more often exposed – perhaps. (I was bullied but never like Piggy is.) However, at an early stage, it seemed that Piggy should be in charge, as the most grounded – the rational symbol of common sense…even if Ralph took that role in survivor’s eyes.

There were vivid images to establish the differences – from the choirboys like black-feathered creatures to the innocent, distracted young’uns. Sometimes, the imagery and description might feel heavily applied, but that can work if the reader lets the complexity carry their imagination to another level.

Golding paints images that show the multi-facets of symbols – like fire being the tool that nurtures society but also destroys. There is a cruel irony in the role that the signal fire plays and how the novel deals with the possibility of rescue.

Simon was crafted as both the hermit and the seer, just as the reader gets the sense that the beast is always real.

It’s hard writing this without spoilers just as it was hard to ignore the memories of Peter Brook’s film as I read, knowing what came next – and I know that the actors’ experiences mirrored the novel. Yet that inevitability as the story unfolds added to the fear that the writing engendered. There’s always that sense of the Lord of the Flies, aka the beast being unrelenting and still alive today. This might have been written in 1954 and a product of an era, and yet we live with the same underlying terrors.

Maybe our self-awareness, as portrayed most notably in Jack, has kept us from stumbling over a precipice and fuels progression as well as dangerous fascination. There is some dialogue at the end that hinted at adults not having the answer. Perhaps there is something in innocence after all.

So, a hard book to enjoy in the entertainment sense, but Golding as a master craftsman does incite a multitude of thoughts. That alone is worth four or more stars.

Story – four stars

Setting/World-building – four stars

Authenticity – five stars

Characters – five stars

Structure – five stars

Readability – four stars

Editing – four stars

 

#IWSG – Spring Inspiration

IWSGBadge

Another month and another IWSG post. Well, not just any month but the Blogging from A to Z Challenge month, so I managed to write 26 posts and got them scheduled on the correct days. But enough of that – I’ll post my reflections on the Challenge next week – this is an IWSG monthly past.

May 2 question – It’s spring!

Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Of course, Spring inspires me – to get outside and soak up the sunshine. And yes, Spring is here, and the little grey cells are sparking – despite the MS. Okay, I have my struggles with the misfiring nervous system, and my brain loses direction and thoughts. I forget what I am doing, my fingers hit too many wrong keys, and my body must sleep sporadically or suffer the painful body-wrenching attacks.

Officially, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Spring arrived on March 20, 2018. That means that the Spring Equinox must have set all those A-to-Z posts in motion.

I’ve even used the last few days to devise a cunning plan. Did Baldrick help with that?

Baldrick_thumbnail

The cunning plan: to write a review once a week of one of the books I’ve read and failed to review here. Those reviews will be scheduled for every Thursday.

However, I reserve the right to write other posts – if motivated.

What about the deviously cunning Fates Maelstrom plans? Not abandoned or shelved but extended.

I wrote draft one of Book 3 in the Snowdon Shadows series for NaNoWriMo last November. Then I started editing Fates Maelstrom in December, developing all the ideas needed for the final draft prior to beta-reading.

That has led to Goth Patrol, a short story about the main protagonist, policewoman Sparkle Anwyl and how she lost her first love and joined the CID. I’m starting on another short, Face Trash, her first case as a detective, fresh from police college. Call these stories ‘character research’.

Or should I publish those stories first?

That’s what Spring does for my devious brain – seeds seeking fertile soil.

[One problem: I need a friend to sit with and chat, face-to-face over a pint or a meal. I lost that when I moved four years ago.]

**

The awesome co-hosts for the May 2 posting of the IWSG are E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose, C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!

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 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

 

 

#IWSG Rain Play

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Another month slips by and along comes another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly blog post. Behave brain and focus on the IWSG voluntary guidance question:

April 4 question – When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

I’ll try and be brief.

If I’m desperate to get words out, then I switch into journo-mode and slog on to meet the deadline – and end up with a blah story, or a draft.

If I’ve got time to spare, and the weather is overcast or drizzling, then I go for the scribbles-surfing-research approach – or fall asleep with my dog on my lap.

If there’s thunder & lightning, and if the gods of frustration are weighing me down, then I escape into a gaming world.

And that’s why my 2018 Blogging from A to Z Challenge, aka A2ZMMORPG is on Gaming. As you will discover, H brings me back to my WIP and into the sunshine.

800px-Cloud_in_the_sunlight

Photo of a cloud illuminated by sunlight. ~ by Ibrahim Iujaz from Rep. Of Maldives

***

The awesome co-hosts for the April 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

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 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