#IWSG – Book Interrupt

My minimal presence in the writing community continues, but IWSG keeps me in touch. So, this is an attempt at my monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post – with the usual raft of flimsy excuses.

As I keep saying, the encouragement of the Ninja Captain avoids me missing a month as he’s such a stalwart follower. Without IWSG, my writing would be post-it notes. Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where you can find better answers to this month’s challenging question.

I need to remind myself the question is optional, but why not attempt an answer. 

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

However, my health problems have seen me struggle to read as I once did. A physical book or a Kindle has become hard to access in my normal haunts – yes, including a guy’s retreat.

I keep trying audio, although the dogs barking makes that hard – even with the headphones my wife bought me. But I’m rereading a classic SF novel at the moment, and the dogs are quieter. Why? Maybe as it’s an amazing read – profound and engrossing.

Anyway, the question.

The most recent book I struggled with – and stopped before reading Book 2 of the trilogy -was due to repetition. Although the plot was good as was the writing, the author kept using battle scenes with structure and phrases from earlier scenes. Too copy and paste.

Poor or weird grammar will lead to me abandoning a book. Bad editing tends to be noticeable in samples meant to encourage me to buy, so I don’t – and this kind of abandonment is rare. However, if a story hooks me and I then start finding errors, these mount up and make me struggle – usually through to the end. Sometimes, an author attempts to write with inventive grammar or language, which can work but sometimes fails. Maybe I missed the point.

More often the fault is mine as I read something and want to know more. My mind creates a rabbit-hole, which can become a warren if I get tempted online to explore. A place, a person, a quote – anything can trigger me to stop reading and wonder to know more. That’s my probing mind, and not the author’s failure to provide footnotes, appendices, or obscure bits of backstory. Of course, I loved Tolkien’s Middle Earth sagas for just that.

The real question is: where are the roadblocks in my writing?

Repetition – Ragbag – Rabbit-holes – Roadblocks

**

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue! 

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? 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. They are truly the best.

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 – Productivity

Apologies for my minimal presence in the writing community recently. This is an attempt at my monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post – with the usual raft of flimsy excuses.

The encouragement of the Ninja Captain avoids me missing a month as he’s such a stalwart follower. Without IWSG, my writing would be post-it notes. Thanks Alex J. Cavanaugh for creating the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where you can find better answers to this month’s challenging question.

I need to remind myself the question is optional, but why not attempt an answer. 

December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

In a normal year, November has led my output as NaNoWriMo has motivated me. Otherwise, the WEP/IWSG bi-monthly Challenges have kept me writing throughout the year. And I should thank all the fans of my Welsh police detectives, Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai, for keeping me ploughing on with my Snowdon Shadows tales. Book 1, Fevered Fuse, will appear one day.

However, this year has seen me struggle to be the writer I was.

NaNoWriMo: although I outlined a rough plot, I was unable to write more than a thousand words of my 2020 NaNoWriMo entry called ‘Lost Sheep’ – even with a premise linked to Sparkle Anwyl. But the plot is there as a Scrivener project, so perhaps that will be my 2021 NaNoWriMo entry.

WEP/IWSG: I started a novella with the February challenge, and ‘Custody Chain’ nears the conclusion after five chapters. Although this month’s challenge is now no longer a formal challenge, I’ve started writing the conclusion – despite my state of mind/health etc….

Distractions – Dungeons and Dogs and Depression.

How can I write when everything is falling apart? From the world to this country to my body.

In fact, I failed to read the other WEP/IWSG posts last month or finish answering comments. Well, I did hit ‘Like’ – and wrote one reply/apology for each recent post.

Okay, excuses over as I’m climbing out of the slough of despond, and writing again – well, a bit. However, January 31st looms and I must do my dreaded UK tax return – not writing in that month…except ‘writing it off’ as I do every year.

Somewhere, I must fit in getting ‘Fevered Fuse’ ready for professional editing….and I owe a beta read that’s overdue.

**

The awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia,Sylvia Ney,Liesbet @ Roaming About Cathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre!

How can I be repetitive asking you to agree these guys are the best? 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. They are truly the best.

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 – Covid-19 Reality

As the first Wednesday of April approaches, I’m attempting to write my IWSG monthly blog post. But I’m more than Insecure.

First off though, I’m grateful the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh created the Insecure Writer’s Support Group as they do such amazing things for writers, from the annual Anthology to friendly advice for all us vacillating writers. Many thanks, Captain Alex, for keeping me inspired to keep scribbling. Even at this difficult time.

I’m attempting to focus on my short ‘Feathered Fire’ in the imminent IWSG anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost due out on May 5, 2020.

Expect great stories – the weekly interviews have demonstrated the wealth collected. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy, and if you are tempted, these are the purchase links:

Amazon:        

Print https://www.amazon.com/dp/193984472X/  

Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-Third-Ghost-Yvonne-Ventresca-ebook/dp/B083C4WPR5/  

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voyagers-yvonne-ventresca/1135912991?ean=2940163430857  

ITunes: https://books.apple.com/ca/book/voyagers-the-third-ghost/id1493413956  

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/voyagers-the-third-ghost  

https://twitter.com/DancingLemurPre/status/1230480335625969666

Anyway, on to the monthly question which I wanted to evade this time. Too much backlog? Yes, so as usual apologies in advance for the slow visits on my part – I’m still wading through earlier IWSG-day posts, including last year’s. And now there’s the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge posts and fear…

April 1 question – The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

‘Stay safe, sensible and positive’ are my words of encouragement – to others. But some days they sound false when I absorb too much news.

Safe

My wife and I are safe in the sense of being in self-isolation. However, we’ve hardly been out since we arrived here in Boise, Idaho, USA on October 1st, 2016. Primarily, we went for medical visits – when we could afford those. We’ve only had one weekend away – last September to a cabin. The biggest drawback is getting me and my wheelchair out. So, it’s easier to escape into other realities – reading, writing, and gaming.

Some family members did visit, which helped. Great until the kids sneeze around us, forgetting that grandma and grandpa are vulnerable with chronic illnesses. We’ve both got seasonal colds, contracted six weeks ago from sick kids who recovered in a few days. Now, we are keeping them away, although it’s taken far too long.

Sensible

We’re trying to be ‘sensible’ in everything we do. When the family held a birthday party for my wife and a grand-daughter on March 7th, I was already concerned about the spread of Covid-19. Except almost everyone thought I was paranoid. Forget even flu-precautions like hand washing or hand sanitiser.

And as Covid-19 spread, the lax approach continued.

Then one of my wife’s son was diagnosed as having Covid-19 symptoms. He went into isolation. But not all the family were concerned or willing to take precautions, even when Idaho’s governor announced a lock-down. Sense finally prevailed a few days ago, and measures adopted by laxer family members.

In time? Too late?

Positive

There are glimmers of light everywhere amidst the tragedy unfolding. Places where the virus is being checked by what is called ‘social distancing’ but should be called’ physical distancing’. You are being social reading this rant and when you comment.

There are amazing people – doctors, nurses, scientists, first-responders, volunteers etc – essential fighters in this struggle. They are keeping the ‘positive’ alive.  They are the front-line fighters, we need to focus on.

I was worried about my family back in England and further afield, searching for a positive there. I was relieved when I discovered they were safe, when I got to speak to one precious niece – uplifting news.

And yesterday, we heard my wife’s son was clear – his test results a false positive.

That’s positive news though.

Every day, I’m reluctant to check the news. Will the chaos overwhelm the positive?

Outlook

How we respond is crucial.

Sometimes, I read an article that makes me realise the ‘sensible and safe’ approach is the only way forward – as in this Smithsonian piece: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-we-know-so-far-about-how-covid-19-pandemic-could-end-180974533/?fbclid=IwAR0c13624gYmJni9WWh5uS6Z9ZkZX4FPzqeKMtr79lpFZWXfZIBgw0y-3PQ#.XoJ28Ru72Rs.facebook

The closing statement was powerful and close to home:

“…But letting up too soon would only worsen the consequences, Lilian Alessa, director for the Center for Resilient Communities at the University of Idaho, tells Nicoletta Lanese at Live Science.

“We literally have to have absolute compliance,” Alessa says. “Without that, this is our new normal.”

So, I must be ‘positive’, even as a person more at risk due to my chronic condition, Multiple Sclerosis – and Leukemia. One MS blogger I follow, Dave Bexfield posted an inspiring article – The World Needs Our Help.

“So, I am calling on all of my friends with multiple sclerosis and other disabling conditions to unfurl your capes. More than ever, the world needs more superheroes. The world needs us–the world needs you.”

His words remind me that I’m an MS Warrior who has learnt about adversity and illness – and survival.

My fight pre-dates my MS too.

As a campaigning green for decades, I learnt to never give up. In many ways, this crisis is probably Gaia/Mother Earth defending herself.  Take heed humanity. My politics don’t grant immunity, but they give me hope that people might learn from this.

Stay sensible, safe and inspired, please

*

The awesome co-hosts for the April 1 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

(As always, you must agree these guys are the best. Especially as they all have concerns, fear and insecurities. But they fight 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 to say.

In The Spotlight: L.T Ward

Apologies, I didn’t post yesterday as I needed a day escaping from reality.

Anyway, another of my fellow Anthology authors is In the Spotlight as of yesterday. Meet L.T. Ward and learn about how the weather and an ancient site inspired her at the IWSG Anthology blog – and helped a budding actor move forward.

https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2020/03/in-spotlight-lt-ward-author-of-return.html

#IWSG – Tradition or Superstition

Take your pick. Or it’s habit which brings me back every first Wednesday to spin my way through the IWSG monthly blog post.

For that, I’m grateful the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh who created the Insecure Writer’s Support Group as they do such amazing things for writers, from the annual Anthology to friendly advice for all us vacillating writers. Many thanks, Captain Alex, for keeping me inspired to keep writing.

Not least for ensuring I wrote a crucial short, Feathered Fire.

Today brings us ever closer to the release of the new IWSG anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost on May 5, 2020. I can’t wait to see what other contributors have penned – the weekly interviews add to the anticipation.

I’ve already pre-ordered my copy – from the UK – and if you are tempted, these are the purchase links:

Amazon:        

Print https://www.amazon.com/dp/193984472X/

Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-Third-Ghost-Yvonne-Ventresca-ebook/dp/B083C4WPR5/

Barnes & Noble:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voyagers-yvonne-ventresca/1135912991?ean=2940163430857

ITunes:  https://books.apple.com/ca/book/voyagers-the-third-ghost/id1493413956

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/voyagers-the-third-ghost

https://twitter.com/DancingLemurPre/status/1230480335625969666

Okay, before I lose the plot, IWSG day is here again – and so am I, attempting to ensure I clear the pre-publication Anthology hurdle.

Anyway, on to the monthly question which always creates such fascinating posts. Apologies in advance for the slow visits on my part – I’m still wading through the last IWSG-day backlog. Or are they last year’s posts?

March 4 question – Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

All I could focus on at first were places where I grew up – like the farm which became a key setting for my debut novel. Forget that red herring.

Is going to church on Sunday a custom?


St Margaret’s Church, West Hoathly, district of Mid Sussex, West Sussex, England. An Anglican church founded in the 11th century. Listed at Grade I by English Heritage (IoE Code 302844). This view looks from the upper level of the terraced churchyard [towards my childhood home] https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:The_Voice_of_Hassocks.

^*^

As children we went most Sundays, plus Easter and Christmas. We either walked with our governess to the local St Margaret’s Church, or drove with a parent to our family church, All Saints – both were Church of England (Anglican) and part of the united benefice of West Hoathly and Highbrook.

All Saints in Highbrook was founded in 1884, funded by two wealthy sisters, Frances Kirby and Caroline Weguelin, on land owned by the Clarke family and with stone from our quarry. Many of my ancestors are buried there including my mother, but not my father who is buried in a wood on the family estate. My parents were married at All Saints and so was I to my current wife as I was baptised there.

All Saints Church, Hammingden Lane, Highbrook, near West Hoathly, district of Mid Sussex, West Sussex, England. An Anglican church built in 1884 in a rural part of the district. Listed at Grade II by English Heritage (IoE Code 302817) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:The_Voice_of_Hassocks

^*^

Relevant?

Well, the MC in my North Wales police procedural series, Sparkle Anwyl is from a chapel-attending family. Her maternal grandparents are god-fearing, and she tries going to chapel every Sunday. But as her tad, Sergeant Marc Anwyl says, ‘crime never sleeps on the Sabbath’, so her attendance as an adult is erratic. However, there are scenes at two family graveyards in two different novels, and my mind did reflect on the times I attended family funerals at All Saints – and when I sat in the family pew inside.

Does that count? Two different countries but the same religion.

**

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard,Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

(As always, you must agree these guys are the best. They all have commitments too – but they volunteer. Ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts too. Does coffee count?)

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 to say.

#IWSG – Inspiring Artwork

Today brings us closer to the release of the new IWSG anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost on May 5, 2020. I can’t wait to see what other contributors have penned.

Review copies have been ordered and the eBooks uploaded. These are the purchase links:

Amazon – Print https://www.amazon.com/dp/193984472X/ Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Voyagers-Third-Ghost-Yvonne-Ventresca-ebook/dp/B083C4WPR5/

Barnes & Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/voyagers-yvonne-ventresca/1135912991?ean=2940163430857

ITuneshttps://books.apple.com/ca/book/voyagers-the-third-ghost/id1493413956

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/voyagers-the-third-ghost

Today also sees ‘Flying Fur’, my post about the emergence of my tale. Read the post on the IWSG Anthology blog at https://iwsganthologies.blogspot.com/2020/02/in-spotlight-roland-clarke-author-of.html?showComment=1580912370761#c7777400888558189756

Posts from the other authors will appear in forthcomings weeks and months – as will other news on Voyagers: The Third Ghost.

I’m grateful the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh who created the Insecure Writer’s Support Group as they do such amazing things for writers, from the annual Anthology to the IWSG monthly blog post. Many thanks, Captain Alex.

And that IWSG day is here again – and so am I, less insecure after jumping that first Anthology hurdle.

Anyway, on to the monthly question which creates so many fascinating posts – apologies in advance for the slow visits on my part – I’m wading through January’s email backlog still.

February 5 question – Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

Although, inspiration comes from various directions including dreams, I’ll have to admit that photos and works of art do trigger my mind to create.

First off, I was a photographer so trained my eye to frame a picture and learnt to appreciate other photographers’ work.

Borde Hill Horse Trials publicity shot – Photo: Roland Clarke

While editing my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves, I thought about the sequel, provisionally called ‘Tortuous Terrain’, and again about crime in the horse world. But not the sport of eventing where I worked as a journalist and photographer.

I had considered Endurance but never photographed it, although there is a short scene in ‘Spiral of Hooves‘ foreshadowing the sequel’s sport. But it was this photo from the 100-mile Tevis Cup that inspired the main plot-line. However, another equestrian sport, Barrel Racing is also featured – and I have taken some photos of my step nieces competing in that.

My wife’s photo of Snowdon on this website’s header and above my desk is one of the inspirations behind my series Snowdon Shadows, police procedural stories featuring Sparkle Anwyl.

Which brings us to art and a decades-long appreciation for Dutch masterpieces. Although my initial appreciation was for 17th century works as my family owned a few, it was Van Gogh that capped the passion. So, Café Terrace at Night (1888) is special and will be the inspiration for the WEP/IWSG Challenge flash creation in two weeks. But I need to work on the new case for Sparkle and Kama, ‘Custody Chain’, even if Skadi wanted to meet Vincent at a Stadacona café in 1892.

**

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

(Once again, you must agree these guys are the best. They all have commitments too – but they volunteer. Ticker-tape applause for all of them – plus toasts too.)

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 to say.