#IWSG – Surprising Myself

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

I’m tackling my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day in two parts, not because I have two answers but because I have two different thoughts churning through my scrambled head. On then to this month’s optional question and Part I:

September 6th Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?

(For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

If I look at my teens and early tweens, SF was the genre I escaped into in my creative life while all things ‘country/rural’ were my journalistic fare. An equestrian mystery when I retired seemed a natural progression, although a few decades late. So, no surprise there then, nor when a small press published it after my writing group was positive about the drafts of Spiral of Hooves.

However, I was surprised when the horse world ignored the novel despite my career as an equestrian journalist and event organiser. Better luck the second time around?

On the genre side, I surprised myself by attempting children’s stories – that came to nothing, so far. Plus, I just found some old poems and those surprised me. I’m still reverting to mysteries for now.

*

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!

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! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

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.

The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure.

 

joker_quote_written_in_blood_by_meho41-d5zeey2

Joker quote written in blood by meho41 on DeviantArt meho41.deviantart.com

 

Part II – Written in Blood

Having multiple sclerosis creates challenges every day and I have been pushed to create new daily regimes, adapting to my initial surprise when diagnosed in 2000. I was learning to live with my MS symptoms, and although they can be excruciating plus debilitating, I knew other suffer worse illnesses. MS is not a death sentence. Life expectancy is normal or close to normal for most people with MS, although it is a chronic illness.

Then, on 23rd August, my doctor told me that I had some sort of blood cancer. I’m remaining positive – except when my computer glitches – as the series of blood tests since the Spring indicate its slow-growing and the oncologist will tell me more on September 18th.

However, I decided it was time for a bucket list – as long as nobody suggests skydiving; the wheelchair can do that solo. Among the list of things I must do, like going to Canada, exploring all of Idaho, arranging a Steve Hackett concert in Boise, and maxing three MMORPG avatars, is the crucial Writing Legacy.

In short, I need to get my 9+ WIPs in order, of course aiming to publish them all = another 13 years, if not 117 by the rate releasing Spiral of Hooves.

Advertisements

#IWSG – Confessions about quitting

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Time for the monthly post as it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day – well tomorrow is. I’m writing this a day early as I have the energy and my eyes aren’t as bad they have been – more of that below.

The starting point is what is this month’s optional question?

June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

That’s a tough one. The simple answer is that when I had a non-writing job then it was simply workload that made me quit and the urge to write down an idea that brought me back. So, in some cases that was months later and in too many cases it was years before I listened to my muse.

Then came multiple sclerosis and by then I was an equestrian journalist. Eventually, the disease forced me to quit. But there was a novel that needed writing and even though I retired as a journalist, I struggled on with the novel. Thirteen years after I was diagnosed with MS, “Spiral of Hooves” was published in December 2013. Sadly, the book is out of print but plans are afoot to re-publish and there is even a cover design by the brilliant Jonathan Temples, as the old one was designed for the original publishers.

What do you think? Does it make you want to read the novel? (Apologies that it’s a PDF link at the moment)

Rolandbook1_5x8BW290V4

The re-release of “Spiral of Hooves” was to be the re-launch of my writing career, but the damn disease disagreed. Followers on Facebook might know that I get tired and my eyes are troubling me so I’m cutting back on what I do. I’ve struggled to expand my A to Z posts into “A Brief History of Kanata” and that is ready for some beta volunteers. Anyone want an alternative history lesson?

Apologies if I hardly visit or comment anymore because that has become one solution. But am I about to quit for good or will the muse that has inspired other draft novels to help me stumble on? I must remember how to touch type as my voice is too glitched to use voice recognition software. Or is there another way not to quit?

*

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! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

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.

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.

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.

The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Insecure and Invalid  

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

Apologies that I missed my monthly post for Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day, although only by about twenty-four hours. I even have a valid excuse and a doctor’s note – well pages of notes and homework.

Wind back to Monday – basically, I had woken early Monday morning with terrible MS spasms throughout my body. They were so bad that my wife Juanita thought she was losing me, but she helped me through the nightmare. Then throughout the day, there was a growing stream of MS symptoms starting with an inability to type coherently. That was very clear in my final post on Facebook:

“After a terrible night when Juanita Clarke was luckily tere for me, psting is very hard as mystyping everything. So apologies for siaslence.”

From then on, my wife had to keep everyone on Facebook informed of what happened. The shaking became uncontrollable and I slid out of my wheelchair at which point, Juanita rang her granddaughter Jessica, who dashed around to help. Her middle son Jason also arrived. I then vomited up my supper all over the office carpet. Jason phoned 911 and the paramedics arrived in a fire truck and an ambulance.

StLukesbuilding-mer-hospital-lm jpg

I was taken to the ER at St Luke’s Hospital, Meridian where they diagnosed pneumonia which had triggered those MS symptoms. In short, I ended up spending three nights in hospital being pumped with drugs and fluids, sucked of blood, and cared for by a great team at St Luke’s – too many to mention by name but you know who you are, especially if I grilled you about your ancestry or talked incessantly about my writing.

StLukesdsc03910

Throughout this all I missed my wife, Juanita, although she did visit me – at the hospital where she spent two night after her heart attack in late December. Our dogs were always on my thoughts as they couldn’t visit, but I had to confront everything I would lose if I gave up. So now I am back home and posting this explanation for my tardiness and failure to post yesterday.

Yes, I know I posted ‘D is for Donibane’ but some of my A to Z Challenge posts were written and scheduled in advance. However, the last one written and scheduled is ‘I is for Ice’. Hopefully, I can stay ahead, but I won’t be taking Sundays off unless the doctor orders me to rest…. which she has.

10542693_919553014725833_6267297834542028336_o1p1010773-2

Graylin Brown – a review

 

I’m feeling a bit stressed at the moment, trying to get my debut novel republished, my latest book revised, falling behind in the revision workshop I’m meant to be doing, aware that April is the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and that I need to announce my A to Z theme in three days.

On top of all that, I realise that there are nine books that I read over the winter but never did proper reviews for; not because I didn’t enjoy them but because I let life get in the way – or should that be declining health and fending off the MonSter. So, that brings me to the stand-out book in the list and the one that meant a great deal.

GraylinBrown33560665

Graylin Brown

by Rodney Saulsberry

If you love the Motown sound you will love, Graylin Brown! The fictional story of a soulful R&B singer, William Bell, who made his way from Detroit to Hollywood with all the joy and pain in between.

 

Review *****

I must confess that I can’t remember why I picked this book up, but I must admit that I was so grateful from the moment I started reading it. It was probably another review or an Amazon sample but I’m totally glad whatever the reason was. This was a beautiful and emotional read.

From the opening scene, the reader knows that something is wrong with William Bell as he lies in a hospital bed – I had been there and knew. But then the book flashes back to when William was healthy and caught up in the early days of Motown as a talented musician for whom stardom beckoned. Those were wonderful moments and I was swept along, although in the pit of my stomach I knew what was coming. Something strikes him down and the doctors can’t diagnose him – not surprising as this was the 60s and even now this disease is missed or overlooked; and even in 2000, I slipped through the system in a way.

But this is William’s story, not mine. And from here there are a few hinted spoilers, so if you don’t want to know more, stop here and believe me that this book may be shortish but a novel that I recommend.

William recovers, but his recording boss sees him as a liability, waiting for this unknown disease to strike. His career staggers along as his colleagues that he had a hit record with flourish. The cruelty of those judgmental people like his boss is so real and Rodney Saulsberry captures every nuance.

Some years later, William collapses again and from there – well read the book. William’s struggle mimicked mine in many ways, although I have never had a hit record, just struggled with multiple sclerosis. But I understood what he was going through. I asked the author how he had captured the progress so perfectly and he told me that he had family members that had lived with MS.

This is a very realistic depiction of life with multiple sclerosis, with great characters. The feel of the music industry back in the Motown days feels realistic, especially as I have close musician friends though from later decades. I urge you to read this, and I might even be brave enough to do that again. At moments, it had me in tears, not least because the main character’s MS echoed mine, but also because his blood family were there for him at every moment.

The ending is beautiful and so much more. Writing this brings those emotions back. When you finish this moving read, you might understand why.

cdd86cfe83966ea55f47199e5c68402b

 

Where am I going in 2017?

cdd86cfe83966ea55f47199e5c68402b

Any realistic writing plans for 2017 are dependent on my health.

My multiple sclerosis has entered a vicious, downward spiral with side issues like pulled tendons and swollen legs aggravating the MS. The consequences are that first, I have to cope with constant pain, sometimes bearable but other times excruciating to the point that all I can do is scream. Second, a combination of medication and lack of sleep at night, from the pain, means that I doze for much of the day, or I struggle to stay awake when I need to do anything crucial.

Excuses over, here are my writing targets for 2017 in achievable order:

I fell asleep here at 17.45, I think [Day 1]

[Day 2] Finally, I’ve got a bit more energy to write.

19345344

TARGET 1 – RE-PUBLISH SPIRAL OF HOOVES

My debut novel, Spiral of Hooves was published on December 9th, 2013 and was available for eighteen months. My publisher, Spectacle Publishing Media Group was changing hands, so I chose to terminate our agreement, receiving all my rights back.

As I don’t feel that the novel was promoted effectively, which is clear by the friends who ask if I ever finished writing the book, then a second release is needed. Furthermore, there has never been a paperback version, so that will be part of the publishing plan.

The first step, though, is to check the reviews, that I copied off Amazon and Goodreads, for anything that needs revising and reading the novel again myself. The resulting revision will also allow me to check the foreshadowing for the sequel Tortuous Terrain.

Next, I need to identify the publishing route. I had presumed that it would be impossible to find a publisher that handled previously published books. However, I discovered Fahrenheit Press that publishes ‘Crime Fiction’ and are “not too bothered if the books have been published before”. I need to check them out more, so if anyone knows about them, please let me know.

The other option is the self-publishing route, and the choice seems to be between Create Space and Book Baby, although there may be better options that I’m overlooking. All recommendations are gratefully accepted. This route means formatting the novel for both eBook and paperback, a major task and daunting – but worth getting right. There are also financial implications at a time when health care has to be the priority.

And then I need to promote Spiral of Hooves effectively and widely – having prepared a strategy in advance.

 

16:00 – can I rest now, please?

20:28 – rested and showered so sort of energized.

 

800px-Cloud_in_the_sunlight

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

TARGET 2 – PUBLISH STORMS COMPASS

Storms Compass is the first book in the post-apocalyptic series Gossamer Flames. Books 2 and 3 are partly written already, as I constructed all three around short stories.

One of my critique partners has done an extensive page by page assessment that will be the basis for my final draft. Even though one of my two line-editor friends edited an earlier draft of Storms Compass, I will have made enough substantial changes to run it past the other editor. There are cost implications at this stage as well.

When I have the polished novel, I will attempt to find a publisher – having ensured that I have an excellent synopsis and blurb, that my author profile reflects the ones on social media, and ensured all recommendations for submissions are checked off.

That process could take me into 2018, so I need to be making other plans.

2e73bfe5c0a7d9c35ba7e2ac72c2202c

 

A lot is dependent on (a) the response that I get to the re-release of Spiral of Hooves; (b) my financial situation. If sales are minimal and health care eats away at our savings, I can attempt to finish the re-draft of Fates Maelstrom and doing research for Eagle Crossing.

On the other hand, if both Spiral of Hooves and Storms Compass are well received, I will need to work on their sequels. Is that hopeful thinking?

Have you any advice on this crazy plan, please? Does my strategy make sense?

 

 

Erratic Schedule

cdd86cfe83966ea55f47199e5c68402b

 

This post is an apology for my failings in the weeks and months ahead.

You’ve been warned.

I’ve even got some sneaky excuses that might even be genuine.

First, I have to warn you that my posts will appear erratically. I will attempt some kind of weekly post, but no wild promises lile, “I will post something every Tuesday”. Attempt can mean that nothing will appear.

There will be a few guest posts, like this Friday’s post from Kristina Stanley, whose novel “Blaze” I reviewed recently. Her latest book, “Avalanche”, is released on Saturday.

And there will be the intermittent book reviews, like the one that I should write for my current read, the “Dying for a Living” Box set, by Kory M. Shrum. It feels like a slower read than normal as the set has three books, and I know that there are two more out there. Will I get that far?

Finally, I will try to write my monthly IWSG posts, although that may be a fail come October. That’s because of September 20th.

QM2For those that don’t know, that is the date when we embark on the QM2 and head for the USA, and the next stage in our life-adventure. Yes, we are selling our home in Harlech, North Wales, and by the end of September should be in our new home in Boise, Idaho. There we will have my wife’s family to support us. Bliss.

Although the IWSG post for October is on Wednesday 5th, our computers will still be in a container between Wales and Idaho. In fact, our possessions may not arrive until sometime in November. Okay, we have a small HP Stream notebook for travel, but I’m still adapting to it.

The HP Stream will get its second outing next week, when we head to London for my interview with US Immigration on Wednesday June 29th. Checking emails is probably the most that I will achieve, but don’t expect any comments on your blogs or here.

In fact, with all the preparations prior to the move, I’m already commenting less, visiting fewer blogs, even writing less. That is likely to become the norm as time sails on. Cruising on the QM2 will be a kind of luxury, but connecting with the cyber-world will be off the menu. Just seven days pampering ourselves perhaps. As for the dogs, they travel first class, with their own cabin/kennel, steward, bedtime biscuits, poop deck, designer jackets, and more.

queenmaryNot looking forward to the road trip though. Getting from New York to Boise will be a challenge for all of us. At least, Juanita’s son Jason will be driving across to collect us.

Anyway, by October – maybe November – there will be a large backlog to catch up. Or should that be a Backblog?

I’ve deliberately evaded any reference to aggravating health issues, but they seem to be growing. The niggling bladder, the stabbing spasms, rebellious limbs, the depression, the exhaustion, and the frustration never go away. Sometimes I can escape into another world, either one of my own creation, or a book I’m reading, or a game that takes me to a ‘a galaxy far, far away’. But never for long. Too soon I get interrupted by the MaelStrom or MonSter.

I’m praying that a change of climate, from the dampness of Wales to the dry warmth of Idaho, will be the healing touch; along with the loving support of family.

Hopefully, by December and the holiday season normal service will be resumed.