#IWSG – Quit or Fade Away?

I was about to pass on this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post due to fallout from my health issues – the MonSter, known medically as multiple sclerosis. However, the monthly question made me hesitate, so please bear with my 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.

Anyway, don’t forget to visit real writers via the IWSG site, and 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.

July 7 question – What would make you quit writing?

Quit writing? Why?

Despite my health, my brain keeps delving and devising. I have enough unfinished projects and first drafts to keep my writing-self distracted for years. Like my alternative history surrounding the Viking Age, I’m watching TV shows – ‘The Last Kingdom’ and ‘Vikings’ – which keep me thinking ‘what if’.

And I’m listening to an excellent series of audiobooks – the Fiona Griffiths Welsh detective series by Harry Bingham – which ensures my Welsh detectives, Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai keep getting attention.

However, my hands don’t always co-operate, nor does my voice – I’m fading slowly.

So, the answer may be ‘I’ll quit when I fail to get my jumbled thoughts out on paper/screen/whatever’. Or die with my notebook open.

Until then, I’ll keep scribbling.

Additional Thoughts

When devising the title of this post, I had the phrase ‘It’s better to burn out than to fade away’ in mind, and a scene from Highlander. While searching for a clip, I found the true origin as well, which was buried in my memory.

So, first here’s Neil Young with the original version – My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)

And here’s Neil Young & Crazy Horse with the other track with that phrase. The two tracks bookended the same album. Anyway, here’s –  Hey Hey, My My ( Into the Black ) live performance in 1991.

Plus, here’s the scene from Highlander, with the quote coming at the end.

The awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

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

Sparkle Anwyl: Comic Book Heroine?

I’m busy revising my WIP, Fevered Fuse – Book 1 in my Snowdon Shadow series – following some invaluable feedback from my three beta readers, which is allowing me to hone the novel some more.

Among the comments was an intriguing one from my diligent queer diversity reader:

Sparkle’s character is so strong and is so appealing, esp. to the younger generation who also love anime and comics, I wondered if you have considered getting an illustrator to have a look at your book and possibly create a comic book character out of her as well? I have a background in merchandising and I just kept thinking how unique and sexy Sparkle is – she could be perfect for merchandising, if you were interested in going that direction.

So, I pursued the idea – well, the first step on an intriguing road. I approached Jonathan Temples http://jonathantemples.co.uk/ – the illustrator who did the cover for my debut novel, Spiral of Hooves and much more for other clients, and I asked him for a concept image.

What do you think of his image below? What does it say to you? What mood does it evoke? Which character is which? Where are we? Do you want to open the pages and read on? Or is this not how you envisage my characters?

Graphics by Jonathan Temples –
http://jonathantemples.co.uk/

Okay, I’m trying to let you react before I say more.

This echoes a scene in the novel – with a little bit of artistic licence. For me – and my wife – it captures the right mood, the Welsh setting, and the two main characters. Jonathan made some suggested changes, but his initial drawing provided the right starting point.

But where do WE go from here?

Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai need your input, please

#WEP/IWSG April Challenge – Antique Vase

Crime never sleeps.

As the Year of the Jackdaw unfolds, it’s time for more Sparkle Anwyl mind games as we continue the six-part story called ‘Custody Chain’.

Enjoy this chapter, and if you wish, please comment or suggest what happens next. Many thanks for reading.

Plus, ensure you visit all the other writers in this challenge via: 

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com

CHAPTER TWO – MASTERPIECE

2014

Monday, March 17th

Masterpiece. Same colours. Same brush-strokes. Smells original.

The stolen replica of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night? I study the painting on the easel – and Tesni Szarka’s face. Expressive as her gestures.

The artist smiles and signs, “Once each masterpiece. Stay priceless.” Then she motions to seats by a picture window with a view through the trees towards the rippling stream. “Coffee?”

Kama nods. When we’re alone, and as I scrawl notes, she asks, “Did you pick up more?”

“Yes. Hidden meanings I need to interpret. Patience.”

I grew up learning the connotations beneath sign language. An advantage Kama needs.

My tattoos tingle. R for Rationale and Robbery. U for Unique and Urgent.

Kama is scanning the room.

My focus is on Tesni’s work desk positioned in the natural light. Her current project isn’t a painting.

A blue cracked ceramic pot. No clay. But a sanding tool. Smoky epoxy stings my nose.

R for Repair and Restoration – not Replica. C for Cracked Ceramic.

My analysis is interrupted by Tesni’s return with a cafetière, mugs, jug of milk and sugar bowl on a tray. But she’s noted my observation of her workspace.

“I broke. Repair. Return later.”

E for Epoxy and Excuse. S for Sander and Smoky – and Sapphire.

She pours the coffee and passes us mugs of welcome black warmth.

Kama points to the painting and signs. “And that?”

Tesni sips her coffee, brow furrowed.

“Painted for Urien. Someone try steal. Safer here. We protect. Together-please.”

A mnemonic forms – SECURE. Or RESCUE?  Both. She rescued the painting, so secure – if we help.

We need more and Kama delves.

“You in Uriel house? When?”

“To stop thief. I broke urn on head.”

U for Urn.

Hand Painted Plum Blossom Ceramic Cremation Urn – One World Memorialshttps://www.oneworldmemorials.com/products/ceramic-cremation-urn-blossom?utm_source=Pinterest&utm_medium=Social

More notes, then I scroll through my smart-phone to the active CSI report. Chips of pottery…ash.

Tesni tackled the thief – she was at the scene. I show Kama the evidence. “We’ll need her DNA.”

As Kama explains to Tesni about the sample, I examine the ‘weapon’. On closer inspection, the urn looks old – or aged with the same techniques Tesni uses.

“You made this? Another replica?”

She shakes her head and gestures distance. Then signs ‘Abroad’.

Another artist. From the plum blossom, I guess a replica of an antique Oriental vase.

“Whose ashes?”

“Urien’s wife.” Tesni drops her head in her hands and sobs.

L for Loss and Lonely. A for Ashes.

She calls the collector by his first name. Did she know his wife? Is that why she was at his house? Is he a loner too?

W for Wife. F for Familiarity.

Kama reaches out a hand and squeezes Tesni’s knee. The artist looks up and wipes her tears. She stands, then fetches an A4 pad and a calligraphy pen.

On the paper she writes in flowing italics, ‘You need more. My written statement?

We nod and let her write.

FLAW.

In our approach? Her story? The CSI report?

We leave with her detailed statement, which needs corroboration. Plus, the painting and the urn – vital evidence. Tesni hesitates over us taking them, but we reassure her they’ll be protected in police custody.

W for Witness or S for Suspect? A for Attack.

SAW

For now, we have to class her as a vulnerable witness. Disabled, even if she did fend off the intruder.

Have we increased her danger? Even if my uniform colleagues now watch her house?

*

Tuesday, March 18th

A return trip to Llandudno to talk to Desmond Deckard arises as Tesni’s statement claims he imported the urn.

“Bespoke so unique. Ordered specially for Mr Cadwallader – after his wife passed. It’s a replica of an antique Chinese vase. However, as it was crafted abroad, you must talk to my sister and co-owner. Carys handles our imports.” He escorts us to her office.

Carys Deckard is younger than Desmond – and fitter. Early forties. 5 feet 11. Tall and slim.

She smiles as we enter.

“I missed meeting you appealing ladies, when you called before. What can I do? Any excuse to assist you.”

Kama ignores the beguiling undertones.

“Is the artist who made the urn a regular supplier? And where are they based?”

Carys hesitates, then looks at her computer monitor.

“In Hungary. The artist calls herself Aranka.” She scrolls her mouse and clicks. “I wish I had more. Is this important?”

R for Relevant. I write down the name. A for Aranka. But I let Kama pursue.

“Yes, more details could help resolve this. Anything.”

“Aranka is not one of our craftspeople. I only expedited the import of the urn for Mr Cadwallader.” She stares at the view, hand on her lips. “His contact…and the urn was a gift – no charge, except import costs.”

G for Gift. 

Kama’s phone rings – DCI Baines.

We move out of earshot and listen, heads together.

“Forensics fast-tracked their analysis. Same ashes in the urn as at the scene. Plus, Tesni Szarka’s DNA is all over the house.”

T for Tesni Traces.

“Her statement implied she visited often” says Kama.

“There’s more – she shares DNA with the dead wife and Urien Cadwallader. She might be their daughter – if she knows.”

F for Family. GRAFT. By who? Why?

“Urien Cadwallader is conscious. Interview him – gently. He may not know either.”

***

Word Count 988: FCA

Comments are welcome as usual, and the following applies:

WINNERS UPDATE – 30th April 2020: Many congratulations to the winners of the April 2020 Challenge. This month there were more talented writers on view. Details of all the entries and winners have been announced here:

https://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2020/04/winners-post-april-challenge-antique.html

And many thanks to those at WEP who awarded me this, again. And especially Olga for designing another great badge.

I for Impressment

My 2020 Blogging from A to Z Challenge revisits my best posts from the 2014 to 2019 Challenges.

I for Impressment (2015).  

One of the many causes of the War of 1812, Impressment by the Royal Navy was resolved by the end. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1814, Britain ended the practice, although conscription continued to cover all British armed forces. Gregory Wendell, the author of the diary in ‘Seeking A Knife’in my Snowdon Shadows series, is an RN officer so sees impressment first hand.

How much do you know about the War of 1812? When I studied British history in the UK, it was a footnote to the Napoleonic Wars. But now I’m learning, initiated by spending a few years in Canada.

Links to my other A to Z posts can be found here: https://rolandclarke.com/blogging-from-a-to-z/blogging-from-a-to-z-challenge-2020/

To visit other participants see The OFFICIAL MASTER LIST: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1YphbP47JyH_FuGPIIrFuJfAQiBBzacEkM7iBnq6DGDA/

Year of the Jackdaw

Snowdon Strategies

Welcome to 2020, the Year of the Jackdaw – in my world of North Wales crime.

That’s the plan and I’m serious – if I can stick to one, health willing.

Anyway, the Jackdaw is Negesydd, the trickster-messenger who adopts Sparkle Anwyl and her lover Kama in my Snowdon Shadows series. He first appears in Book 1, ‘Fevered Fuel’. Yes, my aim/dream is to get at least that novel ready to be published this year.

However, there are numerous hurdles ahead and I’m hesitating over what order I must tackle them.

What comes first? Beta readers, diversity readers, or assessment? It must be some willing soul.

Then do I turn to a development editor or a line editor? Without checking, I think development comes first.

When I think about all the steps, I stress – not helped by having barking dogs and screaming step-great-grandkids invading my head. At least, the kids have gone for the weekend leaving the dogs to bark at cars, squirrels, cats, other dogs, and probably ghosts.

Okay back to the scheduled strategy and some helpful links:

For suggestions on editing and self-publishing, I’m following an invaluable series on Bookbaby:

https://blog.bookbaby.com/2019/07/book-editing-part-3-self-publishing-experience/?utm_campaign=BB1933&utm_source=BBeNews&utm_medium=Email#li=MA1-bf7b27fd64a1abc79ed61c4bc4aacae0&cs=MA1-c15c4b0e8c6baca9cb05251f40ac5d45

I’ve also approached a couple of the editors who have done work for me in the past. One suggested it might be worth approaching the Literary Consultancy people. This proved helpful and added to my knowledge:

https://literaryconsultancy.co.uk/editorial/manuscript-assessment/

But maybe, I need to revise the manuscript again – not the MS as that means my health MonSter, Multiple Sclerosis. That alone derails my progress much of the time. So, when anyone says MS, I react confused.

Anyhow, one stage in my editing/revision process has been using Fictionary – an invaluable tool which might save an editor from unnecessary work. Here’s a glimpse of what Fictionary can do to help:

https://fictionary.co/what-is-a-story-coach/?fbclid=IwAR2dXIDQbWTGpjk4RkoGzApIaAN0diYsZ0BuHN4gVQbuwqRmN7C5ngF4z9A

So, where does that leave me? How can my supporters help? Where first?

I’d love to hear from anyone feeling brave enough to be a beta reader. Bear in mind ‘Fevered Fuel’ is a police procedural set in North Wales, and features a MC facing prejudice issues – some of you have even read shorts about her on this blog. Hopefully, it’s clear why I need diversity readers to correct potential errors. Do you fit The Bill?

As for my next step, one editor has asked to see the opening scenes and a synopsis, so she knows how much work is entailed if I want her to edit the document. I’m budgeting on any editor clearing out my writing budget. First, then that synopsis.

But at least, after a professional editor tackles the novel, I’ll be a step nearer the finish line of another marathon – once I’ve absorbed the suggestions.

Sparkle or Skaði

My mind is already churning around the themes for the 2020 WEP/IWSG Challenges. There are 3 options:

  1. Standalone Stories inspired by the individual themes. Six separate spontaneous seasonal stories.
  2. Sparkle Anwyl case. Six episodes of a new Snowdon Shadows case for my Welsh detective and her partner-lover, Kama. The threads for this are scribbles with substance.
  3. Skaði, Goddess, giantess, huntress and snow-stealth specialist. More Norse mythology with a twist – and a few more kennings. Not sure why Skaði is at a cafe with my favourite artist or his sunflowers.
Skadi by Michael Jorvik
Eve Myles as Sparkle Anwyl

I could try doing a poll but comments seem better – if I get any. Tell me what you would like to read, please.