IWSG: Pileup on the Writing Turnpike

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.

I have a lot to be insecure about these days. 1. I need to finish Faebourne because it has a set pub date of August 7. (Also a gorgeous cover!) 2. After seeking advice, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to shelve Hamlette and write an entirely different Shakespeare book (if I want to continue doing the Shakespeare thing, which I think I do, though I feel less sure than before). That’s really a tough one—I put all that time and energy into Hamlette and now it feels like a waste. 3. Changers 2? Maybe?

Question of the Month: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep on writing?

Um, sometimes I don’t. That’s probably the wrong answer, but it’s the truth. I’ve never had anything good come out of trying to force it, though. Instead of fiction, I’ll write in my journal or something. Get the emotions out. I find that clarifying as an exercise. If I can figure out what’s really bothering me, I can then make a plan of action to start to feel better.

IWSG: Celebrating

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.

Right now I’m caught between the desire to land an agent or [reputable] publisher and the option to self-publish. This is mostly due to my own impatience, but it also comes in part from feedback I received from an agent at the San Francisco Writers Conference. My current manuscript is a YA contemporary update of Hamlet, and the agent said that’s already overdone. That I should go choose a lesser known Shakespeare play to rework instead. She said I could then sit on my current manuscript so I’d have it if whatever fresher thing I wrote took off, or that I could self-publish it. The gist was: it’s good to have another manuscript banked. At the same time, there are no guarantees. And it wouldn’t necessarily work against me to publish it myself since they wouldn’t technically be a series.

Well. I’ve got a couple agencies still reading the manuscript, so maybe not all hope is lost. But if everyone passes . . . I don’t know what I’ll do. At least I’ve outlined a couple more Shakespeare books to write as well.

Question of the Month: How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/finish a story?

Depends on the achievement. If I land a contract (or agent, or option, though those things have then fallen through), we usually go out to eat. If I just finish a draft or something, I don’t do much of anything special. Maybe eat a cookie or something.

IWSG: Genre Love

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.

I’m insecure about no one wanting my words. I’m tired of being invisible. People keep telling me to “take a break,” but I haven’t written in over a month. Never mind a break, I think I’m flat-out broken.

Question of the Month: What do you love about the genre you write most often?

I’m not sure I have a genre I write most often. I write a lot of different things, and none of them any more than the rest. Well, let’s say it’s an even split between mystery and fantasy (but there’s more historical romance coming!). But really, no matter what I’m writing, I love two things: (a) the characters, and (b) the world building.

I’m a character writer, no question. I really do fall a little bit in love with each of mine. As for world building, I just love the craft. There’s something so satisfying about creating a whole world—even if it’s not a fantasy world. Even if it’s just another time period or a made-up town, I enjoy the work immensely.

IWSG: Schedules

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.

This month—year—I’m mostly insecure about whether I’ll be able to finish all my projects! Which is why the question about scheduling is so apropos.

Question of the Month: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?

Answer: not enough!

I work from home, ostensibly as a full-time author. But with three kids in school, I really find my time split amongst errands, appointments, school functions, chores . . . It’s very easy to let the writing time slip away. That’s why this year I hope to rededicate myself to my work. Ideally, appointments and errands will be kept to just a couple days per week and the other three weekdays will be writing days. That’s not always possible, but it’s what I try to do.

I write on weekends, too. Usually one weekend day is a family day and the other is a writing day. Again, not always possible, but that’s the goal.

This year I’d like to pre-schedule anything I self-publish. Alas, I don’t know what will be finished or when! If Hamlette doesn’t find a home by April, I’ll publish it in May or June. I hope to have Faebourne done in time for a fall release. Somewhere in there, I’d like to get Changers 2 to my publisher as well. Ack! I’m feeling overwhelmed already!

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.

IWSG: Regrets?

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.

Question of the Month: As you look back on 2017, with all its successes and failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

I recently posted a retrospective of 2017 in terms of my writing, and overall it’s been a really good year. However, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do some things a little differently! For one, instead of releasing one book in February and another in May, I’d have spread them out more. I had strong sales over the summer, but due to a lack of anything new (except my Moriarty story), things began slumping come October. Well, I attribute at least some of that slump to having no other big release. I know part of it is probably holidays, too. I really should write something seasonal . . .

IWSG: NaNoWriMo

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.

IWSG + WIPjoy #4

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.

What am I insecure about at the moment? How my beta readers will react to my manuscript! That always makes me nervous.

Question of the Month: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

That’s for me to know and you to figure out!

Seriously, though . . . Probably? I do remember when writing a short story (“Immanent” in The World Ends at Five), I had the girl in the bookstore wearing one of my favorite outfits. It was the outfit I was wearing while walking to work the day I came up with the story, in fact. That’s the only immediate example that springs to mind, but there are probably more instances in my writing that I’m not thinking of.

And now:

4. A line that expresses your theme.

Probably the opening line: “I didn’t even make it home for Dad’s funeral, which sucked enough without everything that came after.”

IWSG: Surprise!

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.

What am I insecure about this month? Well, I’m working to finish my WIP for an interested agent. And while I know this agent won’t discard me if I’m a little behind, besides wanting to make a good impression I really just want to be done with this book. I think it has real potential, and I’m eager to get it out there. I’ve enjoyed writing it, but I’ve got a whole line of other projects waiting for my attention. That said, I know better than to rush my work. Lucky for me, the story has been flowing pretty well. It’s almost like I can’t type fast enough to keep up with my brain! And then just carving out the time to write has been tricky lately, too. I’ve got physical therapy twice a week, and the kids have various school things . . . I think I need a writing retreat so I can put my head down and just work without distraction!

Question of the Month: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

Hmm. Mostly I’m surprised when I haven’t planned a plot twist and yet it’s clear the groundwork had been laid in previous chapters. Like my subconscious has done a ton of work I wasn’t aware of. I love when that happens!

Speaking of, be sure to check out The Adventures of Sel & Am on Wattpad. Two fallen angels attempt to navigate the world . . .

IWSG: Pet Peeves

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.

Question of the Month: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Well, I used to work in publishing as an editor (and sometimes still do freelance work), so I have a healthy list of peeves. I think the thing to keep in mind is: there’s a difference between things that are correct and incorrect versus preferences. Certainly, anything incorrect is annoying, and when an author seems unschooled in basic grammar, that’s a problem for the reader. “Bad writing” can therefore be listed as a peeve. But many writers can at least put a sentence together. Some just have “tics”—little writing quirks. You see it in even the most established authors.

I know one writer who is what I call “comma happy.” I mean, I use commas pretty freely myself, and this guy outstrips me by a lot. Most of the commas are unnecessary, though not “wrong” per se, though I find reading his work halting because of all the pauses the commas create.

Tense problems are something that bother me, and they’re a common problem. Even I make those mistakes. Every peeve I have is one I’ve committed, probably more than once, at that’s what bothers me most.

As for peeves when I’m reading or writing or editing: noise and interruptions, of course!