IWSG’s 5 Year-End Questions

Find this list and more here.

  1. What didn’t you complete this year? Is there a chance you will finish before year end? If you don’t, this task will likely be at the top of the following year’s list.I didn’t finish Changers 2, so yes, it’s at the top of my list of goals for 2018.
  2. What things worked and didn’t work for you this year? If you have one, did you get your newsletter out on time? How did you do on the social media platforms you frequent? Is it time to think about dropping any and focusing your efforts in one or two places?Attempts to build my newsletter didn’t work. Social media was relatively stagnant. I think it’s time to focus mostly on getting more stuff written and published.
  3. What do you hope to achieve in terms of writing and publishing? This is the fun part where you get to document in black and white what you will be writing and decide on deadlines.To finish Changers 2 by May. To finish Faebourne for an October release.
  4. Is there any area or special skill set you’re interested in that you could take the time to learn to enhance your personal development? This could be learning a new programme or researching a genre you may be interested in learning to write.
    I want to learn to use Scrivener more completely. I have it and have tinkered with it a bit, but I know I’m not using it at its full potential.
  5. In all of the figuring you do, don’t forget your personal life. Do leave yourself some wiggle room to try some fun activity that’s new to you or simply time to work on being a better you!I have one great vacation planned and hope to add to that.


So I had an agent for Hamlette. She really only had one place in mind to send the manuscript. That editor/publisher passed on it, and the agent recommended I simply self-publish. There were a couple of reasons for that. 1. She knew I’d self-published with moderate success in the past. 2. She told me she was too busy with other clients to keep submitting my work. (Also, YA was not her typical genre, so I suppose her contacts might have been limited. I had suggested other places to submit, but she didn’t want to do that.)

I won’t pretend this hasn’t been a blow. It feels like quite the knock back, in fact. That same agent had told me she’d get me placed on some conference panels, but that seems unlikely now as well.

As for Hamlette, I have some queries out to agents. And I’m also still considering self-publishing if I don’t receive any nibbles. But I’m feeling bruised right now and very tender, so I don’t think it’s quite the right time to make any big decisions. I’m going to focus on my upcoming birthday, and the holidays, and try to find the joy in those things instead of dwelling on this particular morass. Maybe things will appear clearer and brighter in the new year.

Writing Where the Heart Is

Image courtesy of pexels.com
I recently had a conversation with a publisher who was interested in an older property of mine, something I wrote some seven or eight years ago. However, the book would need considerable revisions and reworking to suit them. That’s fine; I know the book isn’t publishable in its current format. (Long story, but the details aren’t important.) Still, the more I think about it, the more the piece of work in question feels like something I once had a passion for but no longer do. In short, while I could rework it, my heart’s not in it.

Whenever someone tells me I should write more Sherlock Holmes or, well, more anything really, I nod. Yes, I should. Readers might like that. Might. That’s key. And yet, if my heart isn’t in it, if my love for that character or subject has migrated, even temporarily, I won’t like it. And I’m pretty sure that will show in the work. Then readers won’t like it either, and what will I have written it for?

Part of this is my own damned easily distracted mind. I get bored and wander off from things. So while conventional wisdom is that an author should sit and write a series so that readers get hooked and keep buying . . . I struggle with that. I’ve written four Sherlock Holmes stories (if you count the Moriarty one, which I do), and while the first flowed, I had a much harder time with the others. I’m fighting my way through Changers 2. I have a strong idea for another K-Pro novel, though I don’t know if I’ll ever get around to it. Maybe, if I find that enthusiasm for it again. I had it once, but I don’t know where it went.

It’s weird because I used to have an obsessive nature. TV shows, movies, books—I would fall in love and fixate. But it seems I’ve outgrown that, or else haven’t found anything recently that calls to me that way. And while my own characters do sometimes bewitch me—I was in love with Peter Stoller for a very long time—they seem to be easily supplanted. A shiny new somebody knocks on my brain and tally-hoo, I’m off in another direction.

I’m probably not disciplined enough to be a writer.

Actually, though, I seem to have found a happy medium. Something that feels fresh enough to keep me excited while still hangs together in a loose way. 1. Regency romances. Because readers of the genre will happily read more, and yet the characters and situations I write can be all new. Which is why I’m having such fun writing Faebourne. 2. My Shakespeare adaptations. Hamlette was a hoot to write, and I’ve outlined two more in the “series.” Yet, again, the stories are all new each time, so I don’t lose interest with the work.

Still, I do promise to finish Changers 2. And I won’t rule out more Sherlock Holmes some day if and when the mood strikes. Or even more Peter Stoller, though I think it will be Simon and/or Jules that I focus on in the next go-round.

All I’m really saying (in very long form) is that I must write where my heart is. Follow my passion—for whichever character(s) have set fire to my blood.

When I look back at this old piece of writing the publisher and I discussed, I’m very proud of it. In fact, I think it’s some of my best work, and maybe that’s why I don’t feel compelled to rework it. But I think it’s more that I’m a different person now. That story was a part of me back when, is now an artifact of something past. I could drag it into the present. But do I want to? Or would I rather walk forward unencumbered?

I stop and look behind me, and the view is lovely. I can take a photo. But I can’t take it with me, and I have no desire to walk up the hill and rebuild a replica of what I’ve left behind. I learned a lot building those previous structures. Now I will use those skills to create something new.

WIP Wednesday: Motivation

Well, with Hamlette finished it’s now time to turn back to Changers 2 and Faebourne. I’m fortunate in that I have a writing group to help me focus on Changers 2. I have a second writing group to which I may bring some of Faebourne. That’s really one of the only ways to get me writing sometimes: hold me accountable. Weekly writing groups/deadlines definitely help.

Of course, with the holidays upon us, groups may not meet as regularly, and it can be difficult to find time to write when there is so much else going on besides.

Sometimes I get more motivated to write when I already have a cover for my book. That means I’ve invested money, you know, and therefore need to finish the book. Plus, a beautiful cover simply excites me. I want to have the book to go with it so that I have a reason to plaster it everywhere. (Yes, I know, I can do a cover reveal but then what? Once you have a book to market, you have so many more ways and reasons to show off that cover.)

Still, for books I’m hoping to sell to an agent or publisher, paying to have a cover made ahead of time makes no sense. So I do really need people to crack the whip over me to get me going. I can be such a lazy writer, especially this time of year. I need that external pressure. If no one else cares whether I’m writing, why should I?

The work is its own reward, sure. I like to write (most of the time), but I’m easily distracted. Yet I was always a good student, always had my work in on time. I was in journalism, and there was nothing like the high of getting something in at deadline. But I can’t set my own deadlines because I simply don’t take them seriously.

What about you? If you’re a writer, how do you stay motivated? If you’re not a writer, well, how do you stay motivated for anything you do? I’m always curious about what keeps people going. Internal drive? I have some, but it doesn’t always get me all the way to my goal. I usually need a push along the way.

Looking Back at 2017

I know, I know, there’s still more than a month left of the year! I shouldn’t be so eager to close it out, right? But I’m always a lot less productive in the final month of the year. Between the holidays and my birthday and the kids out of school . . . It gets harder to get anything done, at least in terms of writing.

So with the fair certainty that I won’t magically be finishing another book in the next 30+ days, I want to look at what I did accomplish this year. Because it’s quite a lot, and listing it makes me feel better about myself and the coming laziness.

In 2017, I:

  1. Published Brynnde, which went on to strong reviews, good sales, and won a cover design award
  2. Republished my Sherlock Holmes stories as a collection and simultaneously put out an audiobook version
  3. Finished Hamlette
  4. Edited books for paying clients
  5. Wrote a short script for an indie director
  6. Had a short story accepted to a fairy tale anthology; it was released earlier this month
  7. Wrote and published a new Sherlock Holmes story (really a Moriarty story)

That’s a pretty productive year, especially for me, someone who isn’t a very fast writer.

However, I didn’t accomplish everything I originally had on my list for the year. Though I made progress with Changers 2, I still haven’t finished it. So going forward, these are my goals:

  1. Finish The Great Divide (Changers 2)
  2. Finish Faebourne
  3. Write Epiphanies
  4. Write Merry/Annette (title subject to change)

Wow, that’s a lot of work. Deep breaths. I can do it. Might take a while, but it can be done.

How has your 2017 been? Do you think you’ll accomplish anything in the last month? Are you already looking ahead to 2018? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

WIP Wednesday

Yesterday, for no real reason, I started writing about my life. Here is some of what came out:

The decision of whether to go buy candy was always a big one because at any time the sno-cone truck might come by, and if we’d spent all our money on candy we wouldn’t have any for sno-cones. A sno-cone was fifty cents, and you could get extra syrup or a cream syrup topping for another quarter. The thing was, if for some reason the sno-cone truck didn’t come on a given day, you may have waited in vain when you could have gone and bought candy. It was a constant internal wrestling match, and it started fresh every morning.

I’m still torn over the spelling of sno-cone. But that’s how I recall it being spelled when I was a kid. Anyway, I like it better than “snow cone” or “snowcone.” In Southern Louisiana they call them “snowballs.” But I want to be true to my childhood, and where I grew up we said “sno-cone.”

In writing, little things matter. Every word lends a style and feeling to the work.

Nah, No WriMo

So I had originally planned to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. Alas, I was overly ambitious on that point. I’ve only just finished a manuscript and released a short story, and every time I complete a major project (or two), I need a few days of down time. But NaNoWriMo doesn’t allow for any down time at all. Add to this the fact that I’ll be away on vacation in a couple weeks, and it just doesn’t seem fair to myself to attempt NaNoWriMo. I’d only be setting myself up for failure, disappointment, and unnecessary guilt.

Still, I’m cheering on all of you who are devoting yourselves to writing this month! I know for some, NaNo is the one time in the year you really do focus on the craft. If so, good for you! Since I write—or should be writing—all the time, my year is just one writing month after another. And while I see the value in dedicating myself to a project that needs to be finished (*cough*Changers2*cough*), November just isn’t going to work for me. Maybe I should pick another month for that kind of focus, though there’s something to be said for knowing a lot of other writers are in the same boat. An externally imposed deadline works way better for me than one I set for myself.

Anyway, I refuse to feel bad. This has been a very productive year for me, and my best in terms of book sales since 2012. This year I:

  • Released Brynnde
  • Compiled and released my Sherlock Holmes stories as both ebook and audiobook
  • Attended a fabulous workshop in France
  • Finished and found an agent for Hamlette (in large part due to the aforementioned workshop)
  • Had a short story accepted to an anthology
  • Wrote and published yet another short story

That’s a pretty big year in terms of writing and publishing! Or it is for me, at least. I’m not a fast writer, so to have done so much in one year is major for me. That said, there are still a lot of things waiting in the wings, not least of which is Changers 2. Also, Faebourne, which is another Regency romance like Brynnde, and Epiphanies (the follow-up to Hamlette).

At the moment, I’m workshopping what I have of Changers 2 with one of my critique groups. I’ve started Faebourne but am not very far along, and Epiphanies is only an outline. I have my work cut out for me! But I won’t be doing any of it via NaNoWriMo. Not this time. I’m going to take a little breather and then jump back in—when I’m ready.

New Story Out!

I have a new short story out on Amazon today. I’d say it’s a Sherlock Holmes story, except it’s told from the perspective of Moriarty. You can check it out here. Kindle Unlimited members can read it for free!

What if the famously evil Professor Moriarty wasn’t as evil as Holmes made him out to be? Hear his side in this new short story that revisits the Reichenbach Falls.


It’s time again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Posts go up the first Wednesday of each month. Read more posts and/or join in here.

An agent has offered to represent my latest novel, which is a big step in my writing career, but my insecurities are far from over. Now I worry whether any publishers will want my manuscript. And I worry about getting the next one written in a timely fashion. I’m not a fast writer, and I have a stack of projects. Prioritizing will be key.

Question of the Month: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

It’s been a while since I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (though I’m considering trying to finish Changers 2 by NaNoing it). Of the ones currently listed on the NaNo site, I finished and published all of them. But I’ve done NaNo for a lot longer than the current site shows because I think I made a new account at some point. I’m pretty sure some of my earlier years I either didn’t finish or didn’t publish what I wrote. As I recall, one year I just wrote a lot of fan fiction.

BTW, if you want to be my NaNo friend, I’m mpepper.

Oh! AND . . . You can now preorder the anthology I contributed to. Release date is 11/7.

WIPjoy #31 & Final Five Answers

31. Your dream cosplay from your WIP!

My characters live in the modern world and dress fairly normally. Maybe slightly better labels than I do. At best, I could dress up in some haute couture like my characters do for the big memorial service. I like dressing up, so that could be fun.




16. Weird personal writing quirk.

I can’t write with other people around. Like, even with other people in the house, no matter how quiet they’re being. I really have to have separate space. That said, I can sometimes manage it in a hotel room, so long as I can’t hear others. And I make my home office work with a very loud white noise machine. But ideally I’d have a little writing cottage separate from the main house. A bungalow or something.

17. Notebook or computer?

Usually my laptop, but not always. I keep a notebook next to me, and when I need to stop and plan a scene, I switch to that. I use a kind of flowcharting method and then write the scene on the laptop. I seldom write any actual amount of the book in longhand. Only if I don’t have my computer and really want to get something down—then I’ll pull out my notebook (I always carry one) and write in it.

18. Favorite setting to write.

I don’t understand the question. Are you asking where my favorite place to write is, or do you want to know my favorite place to write about? I guess since you already asked my favorite place to write, you must mean fictional setting. Most of my work is set in London, or at least England: my Sherlock Holmes stories, The K-Pro (an English film set), Brynnde, the recently finished Hamlette . . . I guess I should say that’s my favorite setting to write. Mostly I enjoy big houses and gardens and parks. I write about places I want to be.

19. Biggest writing fear.

That it’s all in vain. That I’ve written these books and no one cares, no one will read them. That I’m wasting my time.

20. Biggest writing hope.

The opposite of my fear: that people will read my books and enjoy them, and that my stories will outlast me.