Where are my quills?

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If I was a real Elizabethan writer, and not an Elizabethan wannabe, then I’d be content to discard my dull goose feather and sharpen a new quill, then pull out a new sheet of parchment.

But Elizabeth II is on the throne and computers are more than just a quaint novelty. In fact, I’ve become addicted, whether for emails and accounts, or for writing. I can’t even throw the polyhedral dice to slay raiders without a computer.

 

However, I’m forced to scrawl the first draft of this post without the security of my desktop, relying on my pen not crashing. Yes, my hard drive crashed for the third time in two months. So I’m feeling very insecure – more than I did when the old year ended.

Back in December, the insecurity was just about my writing. Was it worth reading? Was it worth spending time on? Or was it best to spare the readers from what might well be dire? I know too many excellent writer friends to muddy the publishing water with my attempts.

I was thinking of having a New Year sale… of my unresolved ideas. But second-hand goods are hard to flog – I learnt that trying to re-publish my first novel; but then few people bothered with it when it first came out in 2013. Anyway, as I’m struggling with the new plots, they have little value.

Fortunately, or not, my desktop resolved the issue by dying upside down, falling to the dreaded blue screen of death. I couldn’t face asking my technically-proficient wife to install yet another hard drive, so I bought a new machine. Now, for the third time in two months, I’m re-installing all my favourite pieces of software, from Office to Star Wars: The Old Republic.

However, I still need to decide if I’m cut out to be a real writer, rather than a dabbler in ideas. Only then can I install something like Scrivener. Is that going to be my 2016 resolution?

Is there an answer in the following? (And who said it first?)

“Our doubts are traitors,
and make us lose the good we oft might win,
by fearing to attempt.”

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with other writers – aim for a dozen new people each time.

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!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are L.G. Keltner, Denise Covey, Sheri Larsen, J.Q. Rose, Chemist Ken, and Michelle Wallace!

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Brysur Fel Morgrig ~ How Industrious Are You?

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Today is the first Wednesday of March so I’m blogging as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Whether it proves to be an industrious day, remains to be seen. But last month was.

First, a clue to the Welsh I learnt in April – I now know at least four phrases in a language that we hear all around us, if we go outside our compound.

It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?                                   Henry David Thoreau

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Looking back, I’ve been busy all my life, but often that rushing around has been evasion. I had things to do, but often found other distractions. With my writing that can be detrimental, whether it is playing Facebook games, watching Soaps, or researching without direction.

However, in February I found some balance and managed to write a satisfying amount, mostly some of the chapters of “Seeking A Knife” featuring my Goth detective, DS Sparkle Lodge. I was even editing/rereading scenes when I started each day. The secret, for me, was not to set myself an impossible daily goal, and to treat the zero days as part of the flow.

That’s what we have to do, stand back from impossible targets and find the balance in our lives between work and play. That balancing act will vary from day to day, but over a greater period of time pan out and hopefully yield amazing results.

Maybe that isn’t the way the ants achieve great things, but there will be days when we are as “brysur fel morgrig” – “busy as ants”.

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of SweetCrisis at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. This is my attempt to talk about my doubts and the fears that I am trying to conquer. I want to be encouraging, and by posting perhaps this is a way of saying keep striving. Visit IWSG and some other great bloggers, not all as insecure but great fun.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence!

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!

Launch Day Mnemonics

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Having struggled through a frantic first book launch, I need to avoid a repeat performance. So this handy name mnemonic – memory device – helps recall some of the key elements. Using the first letter of each element spells TROUP, as in Bobby Troup, composer of ‘Get Your Kicks on Route 66’ – play any recording to remember.

Time: make sure that time is on your side. Schedule enough time for the key elements. Good timing ensures that you’re not going crazy on launch day because something hasn’t been done.

Reviews: finding reviewers and giving them Time to read your book is essential. Avoid having all your reviews appear after the launch.

Originality: Look for a unique angle for your book launch – be original. Go beyond interviewing your characters, invite their alter-egos to the launch in costume. Organisation is also needed to ensure success, but that comes with Time. As for the Orchestra, you only book that for a stadium launch.

Unforeseen: Prepare for the unforeseen, things that creep up at the last minute. Goodies held up in the post. Guest speaker from Idaho arrested for giving his wife too small a box of chocolates.

Profile: By Profile I don’t mean Platform – that should be paved well-before the journey. Check that all your profiles on social media, your website, Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, etcetera are all up-to-date with the same text and photographs. As for the Launch Day Party, who is going to forget that?

That’s enough from me folks.

 


This is my monthly contribution to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The October 1st post celebrates the forthcoming IWSG anthology, Guide to Publishing and Beyond. The awesome co-hosts for this special anniversary posting of the IWSG are Kristin Smith, Elsie, Suzanne Furness, and Fundy Blue!

 

Would You Trade Your Writer’s Block?

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I promise that it was there… until I woke up. Didn’t you see it when you arrived? Maybe it departed on wings of… well take your pick, on Gossamer, feather, metal, wood or leather.

Time to be honest. I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Maybe I have an antigen in my makeup, or my muse works overtime.  Whichever it is, I have too many ideas, therefore too many first drafts that need editing.  I just need to find the one idea that fits the moment.

However, I admit with Multiple Sclerosis that I am always losing thoughts as I write. This post is a typical example as I lost my train of thought many times. Whether the thought ever came back, I don’t remember. Yes, it’s that bad.

As for my block it’s over editing, but more of that later.

Let’s continue with my primary antigens to Writer’s Block. Not all of them work all of the time, but at least one might yield something that I can use. Maybe even something that helps you.

  1. DREAMS: We all dream, although we often forget most of them. I don’t always have inspiring dreams, but there are a few that offer something of worth. When I wake up, I either write the dream down or work through the idea that it inspires, for later use as either a scene, a short story, or a novel.

 

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

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

  1. PHOTOS: Although I used to take photographs as an equestrian journalist, it tends to be other people’s photos that yield the best inspiration. On Pinterest I have gradually collated images to inspire new ideas. See my Pinterest file here.

 

  1. OUTDOORS: When I was more mobile, I found that getting out into natural surroundings would inspire me. That included observing people in the street or park. I once got the idea for a Haiku about a kite from a summer wander – or was it a Senyru? Nowadays I have to rely more on my immediate surroundings for inspiration – like “Black with Secrets, Adorned with Silver”, my Blog Post on Monday, which was inspired by dawn sounds that woke me up. One advantage is gazing at Snowdon every day.

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  1. GAMING: Okay playing online games – MMORPGs – is one of my ways to chill… a reward like chocolate, but gaming is a source of inspiration. I have two draft novels set against a gaming world, in fact a fictional gaming world based on my short story saga “Gossamer Flames”. I’m not sure what the inspiration for the first novella that became “Gossamer Flames” was, but gaming has built more of the world. Ironically, the novella –Weave of the Sister Skein – appeared while I was recovering from my first MS attack in 1999.

I’m sure that you can suggest other sources of inspiration, and you are welcome to add them in your comments.

So to My Block and Insecurity – Editing. I am churning out first drafts faster than I can edit them. My mind can no longer deal with focusing on finding the faults. Yes I can trudge through the manuscript – not MS, please, as I live with a MonSter already. Trawling word by word, I aim for perfection. I search for plot holes and character flaws. But I need months, even years. Time is not on my side.

Perhaps I need an editor partner. Maybe someone that can take my words then polish the idea into something worth reading. All offers considered.

Maybe that’s another Writing Unblock antigen. Anyone want to trade?

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, when we talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs, perhaps offering a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

This is my monthly IWSG post and there are many more words of wisdom out in cyber-space. I’m only a single blip among 290 other amazing bloggers rocking the neurotic writing world. If you click here there are links to all of them and you can visit as many as you want.

All thanks to Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh and his awesome co-hosts Sarah Foster, Joylene Nowell Butler, Lily Eva, and Rhonda Albom!

News Worth Sharing

InsecureWritersSupportGroup2   For the first three of my monthly posts in the Insecure Writers Support Group I expressed my insecurities, concerns and general fears about my writing. Today I want to be positive as our monthly posts are also supposed to be offering encouragement. There are usually some excellent words of wisdom out there. I’m only number 207 among 320 other great bloggers. If you click here there are links to all of them and you can visit as many as you want. After months of prevarication, I have drafted my first newsletter and taken the first step on the MailChimp route – and I don’t regret it. This won’t be a MailChimp Guide since there are excellent ones available, like Jeri Walker-Bickett’s post “How to use MailChimp – From Sign-up To Send”. All I’m attempting to do today is to explain why I decided to go down the newsletter path and what I hope to find. Letter writing was not something that came easily to me, whether writing Thank You letters as a child, or staying in touch with friends as I grew older. However, during my career as an equestrian journalist I produced a 12-24 page quarterly newsletter for a carriage driving club. An interesting challenge as I had to master design software and PDF production. So no excuse when it comes to a simple one page newsletter in MailChimp.

Dick Lane and his team of Lipizzaners at Brighton Driving Trials

Dick Lane and his team of Lipizzaners at Brighton Driving Trials

The design options are more basic than Publisher but I can see the potential to offer readers the following – in no particular order:

  1. Links to recent Blog posts
  2. Updates on published novels, like “Spiral of Hooves”
  3. Research thoughts and Links relating to my Worlds & Work In Progress
  4. Books read, reading and recommended
  5. Interviews with authors I follow
  6. News about my current writing projects
  7. Other people’s Tweets, Blogs and thoughts that have inspired me

Most of these don’t make interesting blog posts and yet they can be very useful to followers, when phrased right. The Gossamer Wings Newsletter will allow me to keep in touch better with you… better than sporadic posts that give a snapshot of my life. I want to make this work and I believe that having a newsletter is part of the way forward, not just for me but also for other authors. What would you expect to see in my newsletter? Would you be interested in receiving a copy? How often would you want to be sent one?

It might take a week or two perfecting a newsletter that is worthy of being sent but, if you are interested, please sign up below. [I tried adding a Widget to the site but it seems that MailChimp and WordPress haven’t sorted out a compatible code.]

But I have now found the solution and you can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/V3mq5