Wednesday 1 May 2024

IWSG May 2024

Time for our monthly meeting 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. This month's co-hosts are Victoria Marie LeesKim LajevardiNancy Gideon and Cathrina Constantine.

Let's have a look at this month's IWSG question: 

May 1 question - How do you deal with distractions when you are writing? Do they derail you?

Hmm, I don't really get a lot of distractions because I've very deliberately engineered a writing time of between around 5 and 7 a.m. for the very purpose of avoiding distractions. I'm the kind of writer who needs a big block of time, I don't really do well with squeezing in five minutes here and there through the day. The only distraction I do get is my six lovely dogs who invariably start yelling for breakfast at some point (they hear me get up, so they now think it's time for them to get up too). Once they're fed and watered, I've got my furry friends around to keep me company while I finish what I was doing. We make it work!

To the writing itself, I should give a general update while we're here. My AI WIP (that's writing about AI, not with AI, natch) has hit 67,000 words, which is quite lengthy for me, but it feels like about the last 10,000 has been trying to nail the ending. The AI in my story really did take over and run amok, which I kind of thought would happen, and now I'm trying to work out how to put the rabbit back in the hat. Editing is going to be a serious hack job, but I also think it'll be fun, because this is one of the wildest things I've written.

As to my querying journey, I'm still waiting on that elusive request, but I have had some very helpful personalised rejections saying the concept is super intriguing, but something is not quite there with the pacing or where the story starts. I also signed up to qtCritique where I'm hearing a lot of the same thing, so I think I know what I need to work on, and I'm feeling inspired to refresh my query and get back out there. 

So I do have some insecurities and stumbling blocks this month, but at the same time I feel like things are heading in the right direction. What about you? Do you have distractions from writing? Tried qtCritique yet? Don't forget to check out more amazing IWSG authors as ever at the list here. Till next month!

Wednesday 3 April 2024

IWSG April 2024

Time for our monthly meeting 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. This month's co-hosts are Janet AlcornT. Powell ColtrinNatalie Aguirre and Pat Garcia.

Let's turn to this month's IWSG question, which is leading us down memory lane: How long have you been blogging? (Or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?) What do you like about it and how has it changed?

I've been blogging since October 2011, so I guess that makes me some kind of veteran, I suppose? In those days, the received wisdom was that if you were a writer, you had to blog. I still think that's true, and I'd always recommend it as a good way to flex your writing muscles and establish a writing habit. Now, the overwhelming message is that a writer has to be on TikTok, Instagram, or any one of several newer contenders that seem to spring up all the time. (I've been trying BlueSky but have yet to really find a groove on there.) All of these have their merits as well as their drawbacks. But I have always been more comfortable with longer form text rather than snippets and videos. Blogging gave us endless opportunities to take part in blog hops, writing challenges, contests and get invaluable feedback from peers. It seemed like you could do a different challenge every month if you wanted. Now most of these have fallen by the wayside, leaving just the old warhorses such as our esteemed IWSG and the excellent A-Z Challenge to stand as sentinels. (Who is doing A-Z this year? I keep meaning to get back involved - maybe next time.) I'm glad these are still going because I still don't think there's another community that offers connections like blogging can. In terms of how it's changed, I think many newer authors still probably write posts as a section on their website but I'm not sure how involved they are with the community at large. It doesn't have the same importance attached. The other platforms are perhaps more reader-facing, but for the camaraderie and support of other writers (which we all need), blogging can't be beaten. I'm really glad IWSG is still here because it keeps my blog alive!

I really enjoyed last week's IWSGPit. Although I missed out on getting industry likes, I did get some brilliant responses and feedback on my pitches and made new connections, which is certainly a boost. Today I'm trying my hand at #QuestPit, which is new to me, but seems like a lot of fun. If you'd like to find out more and get involved, there are details to be found here.

How do you feel about the state of blogging today? Read more answers as always at the list here. Are you taking part in #QuestPit?

Wednesday 6 March 2024

IWSG March 2024

Time for our monthly meeting 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. This month's co-hosts are Kristina KellyMiffie SeidemanJean Davis and Liza @ Middle Passages.

This month's optional IWSG question is: Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

These are great questions. I feel like we covered AI quite recently - though my grip of what is "recent" is quite hazy, so it could have been anywhere up to a year ago. I'm happy to dive back in though. I'll restate the answer I will have given for that other question - I would never let AI near any piece of writing that I put my name to. No shortcuts here! No matter how dreaded the synopsis might be (and I do have quite a lot of dread), I'd fear the program would misrepresent what my work is all about and I'd have to do it all again anyway. Even if it produced a word-perfect summary, I'd probably feel there was something missing because it can't capture those emotional nuances that the human writer can - one of the hardest parts of the synopsis is producing a pocket-sized recap of your narrative while also transmitting something about the characters' emotions, and I definitely wouldn't leave that to a machine.

Talking of synopses, that ties quite nicely to my current insecurity, which has been for the last few months - you guessed it, querying. My journey is ongoing and I'm still hopeful, but I'm reaching that point where it might be due a rethink to change things up (leaving AI out of it though!). Over five months, I've sent 50 queries to agents, receiving 20 rejections, and a further 12 were closed with no response. I think only a couple of these rejections were semi-personalised. Everyone's journey is different, of course, but if you've been in the trenches, how many queries/rejections would/did you go before refreshing things? I'm still hanging in there, and in a lot of ways I feel like I've just started. Interested to hear any advice.

I'm also gearing up for #IWSGPit which is due to take place on March 27. Let me know if you're taking part, it would be great to see you there! Meanwhile, don't forget to check out other answers to this month's IWSG question here. See you next month!

Wednesday 7 February 2024

IWSG February 2024

Time for our monthly meeting 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. This month's co-hosts are Janet AlcornSE WhiteVictoria Marie Lees and Cathrina Constantine.

This month's optional question is: What turns you off when visiting an author's website/blog? Lack of information? A drone of negativity? Little mention of author's books? Constant mention of books?

I hadn't really given much thought to this before - I usually just think how everyone's site looks so much better than mine! But on reflection, if I do find anything offputting it's when the front page is too busy, with links to multiple blog posts (often in apparently random order), mixed with book images, ads, newsletter pop-ups etc. Too much going on and hard to know where to start. I like to read about the author, and links to other pages like the bio may be too small or faint, hard to find etc. So, I guess I would prefer my sites to be kept pretty clean and neat. Funnily, that's the opposite of how I usually am in my physical space!

In other news, I'm inching towards 60000 words on my WIP set in a virtual reality AI universe that goes severely wrong. I feel like I'm still to iron out a really defined resolution and a brainstorm might be in order, but the end is certainly in sight. 

As I continue to query my first book following my traditionally published debut, I was pleased to see #IWSGPit will return next month and will be busily polishing my pitches to throw my hat in the ring. If you haven't taken part in this excellent event before, you simply (?) have to craft a tweet-length pitch for your work, including genre and age hashtags, which you can post once per hour over a ten-hour timespan in the hope that browsing agents and publishers will take a nibble. If they like your pitch, you check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. It's taking place on March 27, 2024 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. More details here!

I think that's it. See you next month, and as ever, more IWSG entries can be found here.

Wednesday 3 January 2024

IWSG January 2024

Time for our monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group and the first one of 2024! 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 ButlerOlga GodimDeidre Knight and Natalie Aguirre.

It's a brand new year, so there should be a lot to talk about. Chief among these is that I'm not going to miss any more IWSG postings if possible after skipping the last two. Life intervenes and all that, but I'm lucky not to get kicked off the list! 

First, let's look at this month's IWSG question. I was a bit caught unawares by this one:

Do you follow back your readers on BookBub or do you only follow back other authors?

BookBub is one of the many things that I'm on, but I need to do more with. I hadn't even thought about it for some time, which I know is bad. Upon realising I did actually have an account, I found I had a grand total of ten followers and was only following one back. I quickly put that right and followed everyone else. Now, I just need to see what BookBub can do for me. I have always inferred that it's hard to get listed in promotions and such, but I need to have a poke around. But yes, I would always follow back readers as well as authors, as I would on any platform. Authors are great sources of support and will often read your book and shout about it too, but I want my book to reach as many people as possible and not just readers.

So, turning to thoughts of the new year... apart from cracking BookBub, what do I have in store? Well, I decided that this is the year I finally put myself out there in the form of real, live author events.  Something that I've always shied away from or found an excuse not to do. But I do believe that a one-on-one connection between an author and audience is increasingly important in a world that's being digitised to death. I have recorded several podcasts and Facebook live events, so have dabbled in public speaking to an extent, but it's a different ball game when the people are right there in front of you. I'm going to have to do a lot of practice so I don't fall on my face, but I'm up for the challenge. I'll be starting off with a reading at Cymera SFF festival in Edinburgh in the summer, and then there's an indie book festival in the autumn that I hope to confirm this week. 

Apart from that daunting prospect, I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, but more consistently... writing, marketing, newsletter, whatever else. I don't believe in making grand resolutions out of leftfield that will probably only last a couple of weeks. Instead, it's better to refine and improve what you already do. That said, I do want to get fitter this year. I'm also continuing with querying and of course will give updates on any positive news on that front if it comes.

I hope 2024 is a wonderful success for you whatever you have planned! To read other IWSG entries, as ever, check out the list here.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

J.L. Campbell - Flames of Wrath blog tour

Today, I'm welcoming the excellent author J.L. Campbell to help kick off the blog tour for her new release, Flames of Wrath!

The need to right a wrong against an innocent victim triggers a hailstorm of revenge. 

Flames of Wrath

by J.L. Campbell

Genre: Crime Thriller 

A mother’s quest for justice turns into a race against time to stop insidious murders that mysteriously begin populating throughout the city. Fans of Lisa Jewell and Ruth Ware will be enthralled by this emotionally chilling thriller!

The need to right a wrong against an innocent victim triggers a hailstorm of revenge!
In less than twenty-four hours—before Alexia Leighton is scheduled to return to Miami from spring break in Jamaica—a group of friends betray her in a grisly assault that stops a heartbeat away from murder. The seventeen-year-old prays for the mercy of death. She survives. While on the road to recovery, Alexia's attackers become victims of mysterious acts of violence, leaving authorities confounded and racing against time to prevent another deadly attack. Concern looms, as the perpetrator has proven to be two steps ahead of them at every turn.
When the attention swings to Alexia's mother, a cyber-security expert, the family closes ranks. Geneva Leighton must quickly eliminate herself as a suspect, but not without handing down more punishment. The offenders fear for their own safety and the secrets that plague them. Can they trust the police to find the killer before someone else dies, or has their fate been sealed—leaving them with no place to run, and no place to hide . . .

Amazon * Apple * B&N * Kobo * Bookbub * Goodreads

An Accidental Adventure

Flames of Wrath is a new genre for me and an adventure that started when I pitched a romantic suspense story to Black Odyssey Media. They were more interested in a thriller, and since I’m not one to back down from a challenge, I brainstormed the idea with my son and expanded on the concept I’d come up with in a synopsis.

The main character is a cybersecurity expert, so that meant a fair amount of research to make the story credible. Writers tend to fall down a rabbit hole when researching, so I had to balance information on technology without getting lost in subject matter that I wouldn’t use in the story.

The writing was the easiest part of pulling Flames of Wrath together. I tend to take a linear approach but this book had me writing chapters out of sequence. Some at the back end of the story were written early and only had to be tweaked a bit when I arrived at that part of the book.

The best thing about writing this novel is the fact that it’s a new adventure for me. I’ve been blessed in that I’ve never written in a genre that didn’t like me. There were times when I asked what I had gotten myself into with this story, but my experience with romantic suspense gave me the edge I needed to bring all the critical elements together in a cohesive way.

Would I do it again? That’s a definite yes. The characterization, accidents-on-purpose, and plot twists made Flames of Wrath exciting to write. I hope readers will find it as interesting to read.

National Bestselling Author, J.L. Campbell lives in Jamaica and writes across several genres. She is a certified editor, and book coach, who has produced over forty books. When she’s not writing, Campbell adds to her extensive collection of photos featuring Jamaica’s natural beauty.

Website * Facebook * X * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$10 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 2 November 2023

IWSG Apology and Good Luck for NaNoWriMo!

I'm just realising I spaced on IWSG this month so I'm just checking in to apologise, I had a slow start to the week writing wise and so I was more focused on getting words on a Word doc rather than the blog composer. I see the question related to NaNoWriMo, being November, so I'll give a shout out to anyone buckled in for that crazy ride this year. I've taken part three times (I think? It's a bit hazy), winning once, but of course it's more about getting ideas down and getting re-inspired if you need it than getting to 50k words per se. Good luck and I'll be here next month. Hard to believe 2023 is nearly at an end!