December IWSG and the post-NaNoWriMo haze

Hello and welcome to the December edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG), place where writers of every persuasion can meet, build community, and encourage each other. Click here to see a full list of the other writers participating in IWSG or maybe join up yourself.

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How was your November? I participated in and won NaNoWriMo on day 30, completing the zero and first draft of my planned novella. Wahoo!

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I’ve written two new stories this month off the cuff, which is my favourite side effect of “quieting the inner editor” for NaNoWriMo – I move out of my own way and just get to the business writing without the doubts. Every year this ability lasts a little longer than the year before, but never quite into spring. Yet.

As for my finished project, it’s resting. I’ll give it some distance before I hit the big edits. The post-NaNoWriMo haze is still upon me, an odd combination of exhaustion and creativity I’d call drunk if I’d had anything to drink. I have another novella I plotted out in early October before my pitch for the one I did write got accepted, so I’ve been reviewing my notes and getting excited about it again. Two short stories which have been simmering on my imagination’s back burner are getting shouty and if I don’t write them soon they’ll never let me rest.

Full speed into December before the holiday slump hits! Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? How’d it go? Do you manage to get much writing done in December?

 

IWSG: November, NaNoWriMo, and being a rebel

Hello and welcome to the November issue of the Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG), a monthly meeting of writers to spill and share their tales of woe and ink. Click here to see a full list of participating blogs and find yourself an insecure, writing soul mate.

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It’s November, which is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and writers everywhere have holed up in their favourite writing nooks with mugs of coffee and probably some chocolate. My bulletin board is crowded with plot points and sticky notes with reminders of tone, terrible sketches of the alien species featured in my story. I’m still in the early days of struggling, but I’ve been here before, so I know I’ve got to push through until I reach the elation of being fully immersed in my novel. Well, novella, as I’m something of a NaNoRebel this year (again). I write my zero drafts by hand, and then type them up, during which I completely rewrite because those zero drafts are awkward monsters just figuring themselves out. My goal this year is to complete the zero draft of my novella (25-35K) AND get that first draft rewrite complete.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? I’d love to hear about it.

This month, IWSG gave us the optional question “What is the strangest thing you’ve ever researched for a story?” When I was writing Toby’s Alicorn Adventure (Cricket, September 2018) I had to research if rhinoceroses had lips (they do). Never mind that my rhinoceros had wings, I felt the need to be biologically correct before I could make the beastie whistle. #facepalm BUT because some rhinos have differently shaped lips than others, the whole whistling thing turned into a ridiculous rabbit-hole of research that resulted in me cutting the whistle out in its entirety hours later which effected the story… not in the least. Ouch.

In writing news, my short story The Feline, the Witch, and the Universe has found a home in the upcoming issue of Space and Time Magazine.

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Wishing every writer the grit to make it through NaNoWriMo, any other goals you have for the month, and beyond. Happy writing!

 

IWSG and Inktober for writers

Hello and welcome to the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, where writers are insecure the confident ones… eavesdrop. If you’d like to visit the other members participating in the meeting (and please do!), click here to see the full list of lovely, lovely, writerlings.

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A few of my writer friends have signed up for Inktober: Writer Edition and I have decided to join then and see how frazzled and creative I can get. I once wrote a microfiction per day for a year, resulting in some terrible stories, a handful of excellent ones, and a wild level of creativity, so I’m excited to see what comes from this.

If this is the first you’ve heard of Inktober: Writers Edition, here is what’s been circling and everything I know:

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I plan to compile my entries into a weekly post for this website, and post them daily on social media. Here’s my entry for Day 1: Ring

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Are you participating in Inktober, as either writer or artist? If so, feel welcome to drop your @’s in the comments so I can follow along with your Inktober adventures. Happy IWSG day everyone!

somewhere to write, an IWSG post

Hello and welcome to the September edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) a writer’s group where all are welcome and invited to share. If you’d like to peruse the other blogs participating, please click here.

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This month’s optional theme is “if you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be, and why?” I’ve got two projects on the go right now, a super hero novella and a “proper” fairy tale (as opposed to a fairy tale set in space). The fairy tale is giving me the most trouble, so I choose to write it in the ruins of a castle in Wales. I don’t know which castle, but a castle, and I choose Wales because I picked out a Welsh name for my protagonist and have recently gotten very interested in learning Welsh. I have ancestors from Wales, or so genealogical records tell me, and I’d like to explore those roots. Until the financing comes through for a trip across the pond, I’ll settle for exploring via my fairy tale I imagine myself writing from the ruins.

Yes, that will do just fine.

But…

I mean, this is a rare opportunity. Perhaps I shouldn’t squander it. Instead, I should probably pick out a science fiction story and get the IWSG group to send me to some far-flung nebula to explore its possibilities. IWSG can do that, right? Right? I could conceivably save up and go to Wales one day, but space travel, that’s got to be pricey. I’d probably have to work my way over on a mining ship or worse, and that does not seem like the kind of place to raise my girls. Or be female.

All right, IWSGers, I’m ready. I choose the nebula. I’ve got my space suit, trusty helmet, pencil, notebook, and a babysitter at the ready. You can send me into space to work on my story now.

 

 

 

Um, writers?

 

 

 

 

 

Hello? Did you forget about me? Is this just a ruse to make sure I stay insecure? Hello?

 

 

 

Hello?

 

 

 

 

Could someone call Ninja Captain Alex? I think I’m stuck.

 

 

 

 

IWSG: breakfasting with fear

Hello and welcome to the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month we get together to write about writing and support each other. Not a member? Stick around, read some posts, see what you might have in common with a network of fellow writers – you can find them all by clicking here.

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This month I wanted to repost a blog from 2017 that’s been resonating with me again. This time of year writing gets challenging for me and my confidence nosedives hard. Maybe I’m not alone, so without further ado, here’s Breakfast With Fear:

“Hello, Fear.”

“Hello, Paige.”

Paige strode across the sunny terrace to a bistro table set for two. Wisps of gauzy fabric whispered about her bare feet. She threw herself into a shaded chair with the petulance of a teenager whose been called a child. “What’s on the menu today? A cup of discouragement? A plate a self-loathing?”

Fear smiled, revealing his fangs. “Both, actually.” He served these dishes to her cold. “Enjoy your breakfast.”

She sipped at her cup in cheeky rebellion. It was all she had left and she refused to fight with him. “I must say, I couldn’t help but admire your work in the United States this week.”

Fear sat down in the chair opposite hers, crossing his legs and taking a nibble from her plate. “It’s almost too easy. The threat of nuclear war makes everything so deliciously tense.”

“Hmmm.”

Fear leaned forward, licking his lips. “What about you? How’s the writing going? Received any rejections of late?”

Paige shook her finger at him. “Naughty Fear. I haven’t even finished my breakfast yet.”

“Ah, then allow me to offer another dish: a bowl of ‘my accomplishments are all worthless’ stew. Full of all the things that eat you up on sleepless full moon nights.”

“How generous of you, darling Fear!” She watched him cringe at her ‘darling’.

“Now, Paige, be careful. You wouldn’t want to piss me off.” He snarled, his eyes flashing.

She leaned across the table, sweeping her cup of discouragement, her plate of self-loathing, and the stew to the hard-tiled terrace ground. They shattered with a satisfying smash. “Do your worst. You were always going to anyway.”

Drool began to ooze from his fangs. He always loved his victims best after they moved past the simpering, tearful stage. Paige held his gaze. She was growing stronger. He would make a writer of her yet.

IWSG: June, spec fic, and flights

Hello and welcome to the June installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support (IWSG). As the name suggests, we’re a bunch of over-confident writers who get together to discuss our top-secret plans to fix the Earth’s climate and resurrect dinosaurs with necromancy and a good souffle. Or, and this is more likely, this post is part of a support network for confidence-challenged writers everywhere. If you’d like to join up or read along, click here to see the other writers taking part.

This month’s optional IWSG question asks what genre do we read and write in. I write speculative fiction short stories, science fiction and fantasy more so than horror, and I read the same. Short story collections, magazines, and anthologies make my heart beat faster. Short fiction is where my writing is focused at this point, so that’s what I need to be reading. My favorite short story writers working in spec fic right now are Merc Fenn Wolfmoor, Brooke Bolander, and France Wilde.

In writing news, it has been announced that I’m going to be one of the authors in Engen’s upcoming Flights From the Rock anthology. ‘The Rock’ refers to Engen’s home province, Newfoundland. The anthology celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first Trans-Atlantic flight. I’ve got a few friends in this one which is a good feeling AND it marks my first reprint sale. Engen has since revealed the anthology’s cover as well, so here it is in all it’s whimsy:

IWSG and the power of words

Hello and welcome to the May Day edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). On the first Wednesday of every month the IWSG meets to share their goals, insecurities, and writing challenges. If you’d like to join or lurk around to see what’s happening, you can link to the other members here.

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This month’s optional question is “What was an early experience where you learned that writing had power?” For me it was reading Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl in grade school. I read this book four or five times between grade five and twelve. Here was a girl my age(s), who faced a tragic end in a concentration camp when the words ran out, mentioned only in the forward and the echo of the empty pages before I reached the back cover. When I read her words, I felt her essence flutter in the pages. This handful of stories written by an adolescent girl taught me more about empathy then I could have experienced in my privileged childhood. I spent hours staring at the ceiling, contemplating how many other Anne Franks died in those camps. She wasn’t just a character or a distant historical figure, she was my friend. That is a formidable power for a small book to have.

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beaked hazel says “hooray for spring!”

April’s been good to me. The Frye (literary) Festival is in full swing in my hometown of Moncton, NB, I became a fox-winning poet, had a short story accepted for Kaleidotrope in 2021, and I received my contributor copies of Unlocking the Magic. Check out this gorgeous cover:

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My favorite short story writer, A. Merc Rustad (now writing as Merc Fenn Wolfmoor), wrote the story directly before mine in the book, and that makes my imposter syndrome get up and start yelling louder than I’d like. But also… WHAT A THRILL OMG.

In a twist, my favorite novelist retweeted me a few days ago, which was… unexpected.

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that explains all those notifications

See, Neil Gaiman answered a tweet I had tagged him in a few months back, which had a turtling effect on me as an introvert. I put the masterclass away for a few weeks until it felt safe to go back. In writing this new tweet, I didn’t tag him, and so felt comfortable tweeting about how the class was inspiring me. Not shown in the above screenshot is the entire thread, where I finish up by calling Neil a modern-day muse which I meant but probably would never have written had I known he would read it (blush, blush). My inner introvert felt safe with no tags and no hashtags, guessing this tweet would get my usual two or three likes. It was up to 551 this morning. Happily, this time around it didn’t have the same turtling effect on me, though I do think if Mr. Gaiman’s going to keep using my tweets to sell his masterclass he should come over and have spaghetti with my family or something *wink*

I hope April was good to you as well, and I have my fingers crossed that May is going to be gangbusters for all of us insecure writers.

Cheers, and happy writing!

 

 

IWSG: wishes and chapters

Hello and welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, otherwise known as the official meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The IWSG is a super secret, crazy exclusive group of writers who band together to support each other. If you’d like to get to know the other members, read about their writing adventures, and perhaps sign up yourself, click here to discover everything you need to make that happen.

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The optional theme for this month’s IWSG post is If you could use a wish to help you write just one scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? When I first read the question, I shook my head. I wouldn’t wish for anything. It’s hard work and dedication that puts the words down. But then I thought of it. My wish.

I would wish for… a babysitter. First thing in the morning is my best time to write, but then I had kids and sabotaged myself. If I get up an hour earlier, so do they. There is no sneaking away to a quiet darkness to spin stories. There is breakfasts, fighting, and where-are-my-socks.

In my wish, this babysitter will arrive five seconds before my alarm goes off. They will look the other way at my messy hair and crumpled night clothes. They will not speak to me (this is paramount). I shall fill my french press with darkest coffee and steal away to a magical, locking room that I don’t actually have in my house with my pen and my wirebound notebook. This room I don’t have is soundproof, and it quickly fills with the scent of my brewing coffee and the ink spilling onto the page as I write without interruption or worries of school buses and misplaced backpacks and the baby who only had yogurt for breakfast. No. There’s just me and the notes I scribbled the night before to get my chapter going.

I will be agog at my own concentration in the absence of the usual distractions. It’s quite possible I will also become addicted to this sense of mental independence, this ability to focus. I’ll want it more and more. I’ll need it. Better send a book deal my way, quick, I don’t think 6 AM ‘sitters come cheap.

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Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

IWSG: magic revealed

Hello and welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, otherwise known as the official meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The IWSG is a super secret, crazy exclusive group of writers who band together to support each other. If you’d like to get to know the other members, read about their writing adventures, and perhaps sign up yourself, click here to discover everything you need to make that happen.

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Last week editor Vivian Caethe revealed the cover for the upcoming Unlocking the Magic anthology, designed by Owl Quest Creative. My short story,  The Night Janitor,  is included. Have a look:

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cover designed by Owl Quest Creative

It’s a beauty and a thrill. I’m excited to be a part of this project for many reasons. One, because the way mental illness is portrayed in fantasy is problematic and this anthology has set out to upend those tropes. Poor mental health doesn’t make someone magical, it makes them suffer. My protagonist suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks. He doesn’t get over these afflictions in the story, but he does discover magic still exists in his world and finds new ways to cope and manage his anxiety.

Secondly, there are some amazing writers here and… me. How did that happen? Thirdly, and related to two, is because A. Merc Rustad (now writing as Merc Fenn Wolfmoor) is one of my favorite living writers and we have stories in the same book! I hope I never get over that thrill.

I never expected to turn my experiences with anxiety into a story, especially my most successful story to date. It wasn’t easy to see it there on the page, or to climb inside my anxiety to write about it, but it felt magical to tug and pull the words down around my protagonist, surrounding him with wonder.

 

 

 

*the Kickstarter for the Unlocking the Magic anthology is complete and pre-orders are now closed. I hope to have a link to the usual bookshops in the future for anyone interested.

 

IWSG: taking Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass

Hello and welcome to the first Wednesday of the month, otherwise known as the official meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG). The IWSG is a super secret, crazy exclusive group of writers who band together to support each other. If you’d like to get to know the other members, read about their writing adventures, and perhaps sign up yourself, click here to discover everything you need to make that happen.

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This week my mind is full of Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass. I plan to review the class here when I’ve completed it, but I’m taking my time to glean as much of Neil’s story sorcery as I can. I’m on Lesson 4 of 19, a week from beginning and I am buzzing with quiet inspiration and small thrills of discovery. This is a sensation I often get from taking writing classes, which I get to do every few years and not often enough. The alchemy of immersing myself in writing craft with a guide I admire is a delight.

There are such nuggets of Neil gold in there too. I’ve probably worn my readers’ ears off raving about Neil Gaiman. Fun fact: while he is my favorite writer, I do not love, or always like, everything he writes which somehow makes him stand out all the more.

Two quotes from the class have made it into my notebook, to be tattooed across my writing desk’s wooden flesh in some distant future. The first, has elicited a few gasps in conversation, and let me tell you, packs a wallop in the lecture, is about showing vs telling:

“I’m not going to tell you to feel sad. I’m going to kill a unicorn and break your heart.” – Neil Gaiman.

That line got to me. Wow.

From another lesson, this quote helped me pick myself up on a day with multiple rejection letters, which always gets to me. I can handle one per day. Two hurts.

“You learn more from finishing a failure than you do from writing a success.” – Neil Gaiman.

I have written multiple failures, and I’ll write many more. It’s good to be reminded that those stories do have a purpose.

(FYI that line does ring a bit familiar from an essay in The View from the Cheap Seats, but there is little regurgitated material thus far in the class).

In terms of output, I’ve outlined a new short story from the assignments in Lesson 3, and I will have to complete another before moving onto Lesson 5. This second one I’m expected to write in a single setting but as a toddler’s mother… I expect it will have to be flash fiction for me to pull it off. Unless you’re willing to babysit, hmm?

This is the most writing heavy course I’ve taken before, which is perfect for a hibernation-friendly month like February in Canada. It’s going to be an inspiring month.