Wednesday, 4 January 2023

IWSG January 2023

A brand new year and it's time for our first meeting of 2023 for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Hope everyone's excited and has great plans for the year ahead. Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. This month's co-hosts are Jemima PettDebs CareyKim LajevardiSarah FosterNatalie Aguirre and T. Powell Coltrin.

January 4 question - Do you have a word of the year? Is there one word that sums up what you need to work on or change in the coming year? For instance, in 2021 my word of the year was Finish. I was determined to finished my first draft by the end of the year. In 2022, my word of the year is Ease. I want to get my process, systems, finances, and routines where life flows with ease and less chaos. What is your word for 2023? Why?

I had a think about this - I initially dismissed the question because I've never had a "word of the year" but on reflection it might be quite a nice idea. And a good word for my 2023 might be "present." No, it's not a hangover for Christmas, I'm not fixated on receiving gifts. No, I mean it would be a good idea to be present in the moment and receptive to opportunities, especially in the year when my first traditionally published book is released. It's about not second guessing things in terms of what could go wrong or right because it's easy to get into a tailspin that way. I'm not saying that nerves or anxiety about my work coming out on a particular platform are going to go away. I think those are ever present for all of us to a degree no matter where we are in our career. But it's about managing that and not letting it stop us enjoying special moments when they happen. Obviously, being present is a good motto in any situation - with family, for example. 

So, yeah, that's the word I'm going to take going forward for this year. What about you? See how others answered at the IWSG list here.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

IWSG December 2022

Time for the last IWSG meeting of December 2022! Greetings from a freezing cold Scotland, and I hope you're managing to get into some kind of spirit. Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. This month's co-hosts are Joylene Nowell ButlerChemist KenNatalie AguirreNancy Gideon and Cathrina Constantine.

As we near the end of the year, I have to say it's been one of the best years of my writing life, as I signed my first contract for a traditionally published book. There is still some way to go, with the release date not until August next year, but I have to say I'm thankful for the fantastic relationship I've built with my publisher. They favour a slow-burn approach, laying the groundwork over many months by making meaningful connections with reviewers and influencers and focusing on a handful of excellent titles rather than rushing to get many books out to market and not giving them the attention they deserve. I'm loving being on this journey. Don't forget, if you haven't added The Becalmer to your TBR yet, you can do so here!

In terms of writing progress, I spent the year writing a draft of my next project, which is out with CPs, and I'm kicking around ideas for something else that I'll hopefully get a jump on before the end of the year. This brings us in to our IWSG question for this month:

It's holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall behind on writer goals?

I don't really think about goals at this time of year, in terms of catching up on any I might have set. It's more about looking forward to next year. If I was seriously behind on something I wanted to do, I don't think the holidays are the best time to fix that! And it's not a good idea to set hard and fast goals for the year and then kick yourself for not completing them. Instead, it's a time to look back on what you did accomplish and to ponder what you might want to do next year. The actual writing tends to slow up a bit over the holidays but I'm still hoping to get a bit done.

Check out other festive posts at the group here.

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

IWSG November 2022

Time for another posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today I'm honoured to co-host alongside Deidre KnightDouglas Thomas Greening, and Diane Burton

Today's optional question is: November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

I knew I'd done NaNo at least once and I thought I'd won but the exact details and dates escaped me. So, I pulled up my NaNo dashboard and it turns out I took part three years in a row from 2012 to 2014. The first year saw the beginning of my Black & White trilogy with the first draft of book 1. I finished at 34,020 words. Apparently, my progress was sporadic and I didn't write every day, but I was surprised at some of the daily wordcounts I did turn in. 4000 words in a day feels out of my grasp these days! Moving on to 2013. Well, this was a difficult year as we lost Andrew on November 9th and I stopped any writing for several months after that. Between November 1st and 8th I racked up 13,374 words of a story that I remember practically nothing about. I don't think I have it saved any more anywhere, and I doubt I would ever revisit it even if I did, but the dashboard tells me the working title was Truth Hurts. That's not triggering anything for me. To 2014. I think that year really represented my push back towards a daily writing habit. My project was part 2 of my trilogy and I remember being quite determined. Indeed, I won that year with 50,075 words done. Since then, I haven't really felt an urge to take part again, maybe because I already "completed" it and I'm quite happy working at my own pace. I wouldn't rule it out though. I think NaNo can be good if you want to motivate yourself but it's probably best to keep up a steady routine year round rather than a burst of frenetic activity in a particular month. And the fact the first two parts of my series were started in 2012 and 2014 but published in 2017 and 2019 indicates they still needed quite a long gestation process because NaNo is notorious for producing very raw material. It's good for instilling a daily writing habit but the trick is to keep that up the rest of the time. I'm also quite staggered that, having just published the last part of the trilogy, it ended up being a ten-year process from beginning to end!

What about you? Done NaNoWriMo before? Are you taking part this year? Check out others' experiences and thoughts at the IWSG list here.

Thursday, 20 October 2022

The Becalmer Playlist

Hope you're doing well and making the most of the spooky season if ghouls and ghosties are your thing. Music is also a thing for many of us, it's certainly important to my work and I recently had a lot of fun putting together my first ever book playlist. It's for my upcoming the release The Becalmer and all the songs relate to the story in some way or remind me of the characters.

You can find it on Spotify here, and here's a breakdown of the songs:

Mansun - Wide Open Space - My personal favourite band, I had to include this song because it seems to sum up the other plane of reality my main character, Harica, finds herself in where she learns more about her gift. It seems like an empty space, but there are people there to learn from. I love the otherworldliness of this song.

Idlewild - You Held the World in Your Arms - A very anthemic song that really reminds me of Harica's journey. The verses speak to the insecurity she feels about her gift - not wanting to be singled out - while the chorus is like an affirmation that she does need to own it because she ends up with a massive responsibility, literally using her power to save a planet from a terrible fate.

The Only Ones - Another Girl Another Planet - An all-time classic and pretty self-explanatory from a sci-fi theme, with Harica making the journey down to a pretty terrifying planet (which she's never been to before) to take on her great task.

Wet Leg - Chaise Longue - This is just fun. When Harica and her best friend Miriam get to the royal palace where Harica is to perform her intervention to stop a war, they get put up in fancy rooms that are basically a gilded cage with all sorts of fine art and furniture, including these chaises longue where they have a lot of discussions about what's happening. I kept hearing this song while editing those scenes and it stuck with me.

Radiohead - Climbing Up the Walls - Taking a darker turn here, this song has a claustrophobic feel to it that reminds me of the intense mental battle Harica engages in with her nemesis, Princess Jasmila. It's spinetinglingly great. "Either way you turn - I'll be there. Open up your skull - I'll be there."

Royal Blood - Typhoons - A very upbeat song, the lyrics seem to be about mental turmoil, which again fits in well with my book.

The Orielles - Bobbi's Second World - I think this is a great band. The songs are a lot of fun. This one really speaks to Harica's situation, the other world that she can get to through her gift - where she can unleash her power.

Mansun - Can't Afford to Die - I had to put in another song by my favourite band. When Harica first encounters Jasmila, she ends up in a coma through the mental effort she exerts, but it actually lets her go somewhere else in her mind, the other dimension I referred to earlier where she meets people who help her. So, Jasmila's defence backfires.

Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence - Those who share Harica's gift of being able to get into people's minds to resolve conflicts inevitably hear a lot of mental chatter all around them as they're highly tuned into people's inner turmoil. The other dimension, the "white space", offers a respite from that.

Garbage - Stupid Girl - A song for the villain of my piece, Jasmila, who's a very vain and manipulative creature.

Peter Gabriel - Games Without Frontiers - This is going back to the mental warfare Harica wages. There's no hiding there. Games without frontiers, indeed.

Foals - The Runner - This song reminds me of the relationship between Harica and Miriam. When Harica's struggling or unsure, she can count on Miriam to pick her up and get her going again. It also goes well with an exciting escape scene in my book.

Ella Henderson - Ghost - A great pop song. Without giving away too many spoilers, death is not an impediment for those who share Harica's gift.

Foo Fighters - The Pretender - Another song that speaks to the epic battle between Harica and Jasmila, and Harica's not giving up. "What if I say I will never surrender?"

John Lennon - Mind Games - Self-explanatory with the title again, but the song is also about peace and unity, which ultimately is what Harica is trying to achieve.

Longpigs - She Said - I was listening to this album again recently. I forgot how good it is. This song just seems to speak to Jasmila's emptiness and superficiality.

The Farm - All Together Now - An uplifting finish. The no-man's land could be the white space that's removed from everyday reality, but it's also the place where everyone comes together and stops fighting, like they did at Christmas in WWI, which the song is about. It works for the war in my book, too.

If you download my playlist, I hope it gets you excited to read my book and learn more about the characters. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

IWSG October 2022

Time for another posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Hosted as ever by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the aim of the group is to offer a safe space where writers can share doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged. Today's co-hosts are Tonja DreckerVictoria Marie LeesMary Aalgaard, and Sandra Cox

The question for the October post is: What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

This is a great question! If by "favourite genre", the question means my preferred genre to write, every writer should have an excellent answer because there will be certain elements that draw them to that genre and keep them coming back for more. In my case, I'm attracted to speculative fiction because it gives me the scope to think about things that are unseen and give full rein to my imagination. In my case I like to think about what may be ahead of us so there's a strong sci-fi element. Sometimes these concepts can be alarming but it's all viewed through the eyes of sympathetic, relatable characters. So, perhaps it's a warning, but it's a friendly one. And the good thing about spec fic is you can take a big, bold concept and really get your teeth into it.

Can't wait to read others' answers to this question. To find them, head here!

In other news, I recently wrapped up a first draft of my next book, which I'm excited about. This deals with another big concept as mentioned above. I'm really looking forward to sharing more details about this one.

Thanks to all those who participated in the blog tour for Reckoning and commented on and shared the posts. I had a lot of fun!

Finally, as things continue to ramp up for the release of my trad pub debut, The Becalmer, in August of next year, I'm still looking for three or four people to make up a street team. All you have to do is be willing to receive a few emails from my publisher and to help spread the word about my book in various channels. It'll be a great time! Team members also have access to exclusive treats and goodies. Here's a working blurb:

Gifted with the ability to defuse conflicts with her mind, Harica is headhunted to resolve a war via an arranged marriage, unaware that the reluctant would-be bride—the entitled Princess Jasmila—has similar powers. But the princess doesn't use them for good, and she fights back, sending Harica into a coma through which she finds a mysterious liminal space populated by others who share her gift, both living and dead. She learns to do things she never thought possible, but when things get out of control, she almost swears off her gift forever—until events dictate that she must come to terms with the dark side of her gift and take ownership of it.

If you're interested, comment below or shoot me an email at mcwilfo (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks much!

Saturday, 1 October 2022

Reckoning Blog Tour Finale

Today I'm wrapping up the blog tour for my new release, Reckoning, at Jennifer Lane's place. It's been a lot of fun and hopefully you've enjoyed following along. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Reckoning Blog Tour Day 7

I'm rolling on to the next stop of the tour for my new release, Reckoning, and today I'm being interviewed by Teresa Coltrin at Journaling Woman. It was a lot of fun, so I hope you'll join me!