Category Archives: Writers

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! I’m going to preface this post by re-stating one of the key reasons the blog-father, Alex J Cavanaugh, founded this support group:  “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.”

So no teasing! Cos I’m about to tell you one of my real, genuine fears.

Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.

Thumbs down

Bad, bad, bad.

Now, I know that bad reviews are par for the course. I know that every book is bound to get a few negative reviews in its time. But what if they come first? What if the very first reviews that appear on my Amazon page all say my work is rubbish? Then no one else will give it a chance – including the people who just might love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have confidence in my writing. I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have decided to put it out there. But that confidence doesn’t negate the fear. And I think indie publishing perhaps makes that fear a little stronger. If I had the tick of approval from a publisher, I don’t think I’d be as concerned about reviews. But for indies, reviews really are the make or break. Hence, the fear.

I know a lot of you reading this have published your own work – either traditionally or independently. Did you fear bad reviews too? Have you had any? I don’t mean luke warm, I mean reviews where the reviewer seems to believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. Any advice on how to quell those nerves?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: perfecshunism

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this months Insecure Writers’ Support Group post!

I have a bit of a problem, and I have a feeling I’m not alone. I have a feeling this problem is shared by many writers. So here it is… I want everything I write to be perfect. No errors. See, the onley reason I feel comfortable with this going live is becuase I figure you’ll cotton on to what Im doing.

But what about you? DOes this post make your eyes bleed? How would you feel if you discovered that a post you’d published had multiple errors in it? would you be horrifyed? would you be worried what the people who’d read it thought of you? I would. Because writing is what I (try to) do best. Writing is my profesion – both paid and unpaid.

But maybe my fears are a little OTT. I mean, I’ve read posts with errors in them before. I noticed them, sure, but I didn’t assume the author was a terible writer. I just assumed they were in a bit of rush that day and hadn’t been as thorough as they could have been.

What do you think when you see errors in a post? Do you write off the author (pardon the pun)? Or just assume they were in a hurry?

SHould I be as paranoid as I am about making mistakes? Are you? Any tips on how to get over the fear (other than write a post riddeled with them)? 😉

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: meh

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post, and I must admit, it took me a while to decide what to post about. Not because I couldn’t think of topics, but because I was struggling to summon the motivation to write a post. Just like I’ve been struggling to go through my beta readers’ comments and decide what comments to take on board. I’m totally excited about finishing the edits, I’m just not that pumped about actually doing them. Hence, my headline: meh.

I know I’ll come out of this slump and get back into my writing groove, but I also know it will take some hard work to get there. Because, in my experience, the only way out is through. Meaning, the only way I’ll get motivated again is by continuing to chip away until my mojo returns. Because, as someone famous once said, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

In saying that, I’m keen to know if you have any hints or tips for other ways to get out of a motivation slump, both with blogging and with writing. Who knows, maybe I’ll summon the motivation to try one of them! 😉

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

P.P.S. If you haven’t read my Creepy Hollow launch post yet, make sure you do – it’s spruiking Rachel Morgan‘s truly awesome novelette!

P.P.S. In totally un-related news, I’ve got a guest post on my friends Koren and Alana’s blog, Food Without a Face. If you like the sound of Asian dumpling, veg and noodle soup, go check out my very own (adapted) recipe!

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Filed under Insecure Writers Support Group, motivation, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: procrastination

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! First one for 2012 – whoop whoop! 🙂

I have a confession to make. Lean in so I can whisper it in your ear. That way, not everyone will hear. Okay, here goes…

I’m a procrastinator.

Phew, feels so good to just put that out there.

Now let me explain. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I am a hard worker, both at work and with my writing. But I don’t necessarily always expend my energy in the right places. If something seems particularly hard, I’ll put it off and keep myself busy with other tasks. For example, when writing, I might edit an existing scene rather than plough ahead and write the tricky scene that I’m not quite sure how to handle. And at work, I might file my emails or do my time sheets rather than start brainstorming how to write a difficult report.

And while I’m putting off that difficult task, I’m usually worrying about it in the back of my mind, building it up to be even harder than it is in reality. Quite often, once I get my act together and start the tricky task, it turns out to be not nearly as hard as I’d imagined. Which makes me wonder why I ever put it off in the first place!

So I’m making a New Year’s resolution: no more procrastinating. Whenever I realise that I’m putting something off, I will call myself on it and tackle the task. Bring it on, I will say! So that’s the plan. Feel free to ask me in a few months how I’m going with it, because I may need a friendly reminder every now and again! 🙂

How about you? Are you a procrastinator? How do you stop yourself from putting things off? Have you set yourself any writing-related New Year’s resolutions? (or non-writing-related ones, I’m interested in those too!)

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Procrastination, Writers, Writing

Nancy Adams in the HOT SEAT

Nancy Adams loves fairy tales, mysteries and fantasy, but as she approaches the HOT SEAT she soon realises there’s nothing fantastic about it. Nay, it’s an absolute mystery why she volunteered to sit in the flaming seat!
(Yes, I’m being very lame tonight! :-D)

pompei girl

Gday Nancy's online persona!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Nancy?

I mostly write mystery, though lately I’ve begun experimenting with fantasy elements as well. My first serious efforts were historical mysteries and my current WIP is an urban fantasy/suspense set in Paris.  “Saint Nick and the Fir Tree” is primarily a little fantasy/fairy tale, but there is also a little hint of a murder mystery twist at the end.

[CJ: Ooh, I like the sound of the urban fantasy set in Paris!]

Tell us about your latest short story, Saint Nick and the Fir Tree,  in 25 words or less.

Saint Nick and his new Tree friend go out on the town, but a freak snowstorm brings their festivities to an unexpected conclusion.

Saint Nick is a short story for the holidays that I’ve just published. It’s available in both ebook and paperback formats. The paperback includes a couple of cute color illustrations by two very talented artist friends.

[CJ: Sounds like fun. Tell us more.]

It’s the day after Christmas, and Saint Nick’s on vacation. His first stop is the little town of Greenwood, where he sees what looks like a fir tree. The fir tree is really a yew that’s pruned in the shape of a Christmas tree, and it’s based on a real yew bush in our own backyard. In the story, the Christmas-tree shaped yew prefers to think of itself as a fir tree. Yews mean sadness, death, and funeral wreaths; fir trees mean Christmas. No contest!

Saint Nick invites the Tree on a little adventure that takes them from the local movie house (showing Miracle on 34th Street—what else?) to a diner, a tavern, and finally a long walk where they get lost in the snow-covered woods and Saint Nick literally stumbles on a big surprise.

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I work full time, and when I’m not writing I love to read to relax. I do some occasional gardening, but not as much as I would like.

[CJ: My husband is the gardener in our family. I like to sit back and admire his handiwork. :-)]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I began writing seriously about twelve years ago, and attended a mystery convention where I had an interview with an agent. I was very excited by her interest in the story and sent her the full manuscript, only to be told some months later that it very much needed an editor. That was the start of a long apprenticeship that got a great boost when I joined Sisters in Crime, an organization for mystery writers, and became part of their “Guppy” (i.e., “Great UnPublished”) chapter. Guppy friends, critique partners, and information was enormously helpful for my formation as a writer.

[CJ: I love the sound of Guppy. Sounds like an awesome group.]

They are!

The process has changed some over the years, but I always start a new manuscript as what’s called a “pantser,” as in “by-the-seat-of-your-pants.” In practice that means that I start with a scene or idea, but have no idea where it’s going to go. I discover the story’s path by sitting down to write the beginning. Typically that takes me only so far and then I have to stop and do some more organized kinds of brainstorming. 

[CJ: My last four HOT SEAT victims interviewees have all been pantsers. Who knew there were so many out there! :)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Oddly enough none of my major inspirations are mystery writers, though that is the genre I read the most. The Canadian author Robertson Davies is probably my biggest inspiration. His works aren’t fantasy in the strict sense of the word, but nonetheless they are magical. The novels are quick, compelling reads, but they also harbor depths. He was interested in Jungian psychology and also in religion, but there is nothing “heavy” about his stories. They are light as air, yet full of substance. Comedies in the sense that Shakespeare’s The Tempest is a comedy. If you don’t know him, start with either “The Rebel Angels” or “Fifth Business,” both wonderful, absolutely magical works. I bet you’ll become a fan!

[CJ: I haven’t read any of Robertson Davies, so thanks for the recommendations!]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Working full-time, without a doubt. It’s hard for me to switch in and out of writing mode. I try to write new scenes on weekends—I’m only fresh and able to do this first thing in the morning, as a rule—and then revise during the weekend. It’s frustrating to lose that momentum every Monday.

[CJ: Trying to write around full time work is definitely tough. Does your work involve writing at all or does it use a completely different skill set?]

I’m a catalog librarian, which means I’m responsible for the book records library patrons see in the catalog. It’s helped me develop a sharp eye for proofreading.

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you could no longer write, would you channel your creativity into a different artform? If so, what?  

<shudders> A truly horrible prospect! I love to sing. Of course that’s not the same as creating something, but I definitely couldn’t compose music. And singing gives you a wonderful feeling of vitality. But please, let’s not dwell on such a ghastly thought!

Finish this sentence from your character’s perspective: Something most people don’t know about me is…

By “most people,” I assume you’re referring to humans? Some of my best friends are human, but most of them don’t realize how much trees and other plants think and feel. Take me, for instance. I can quote all kinds of stories and poetry. I’m thankful that Aunt Nancy and my previous caretaker, Jack, always appreciated me and took the time to read me stories and poems they know I’ll like.

[CJ: Awww. How lovely!]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective. I used to be a radio DJ. Back in college I majored in music and at the time our little campus radio station was the only place on the dial where you could listen to classical music and jazz. It was fun deciding which LPs I would take for a spin on any given day.

[CJ: Oh the power. That’s so much cooler than the jobs I had when I was at uni! :)]

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Hooray! Very fitting to have a Christmas-focused HOT SEAT as my last one for the year! If you’d like to hear more from Nancy, check out her website or follow her on Twitter

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT in 2012, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing

Insecure Writers Support Group: rejection

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post!

Something that feeds many writers’ insecurities is rejection. Whether that rejection comes from an agent, a publisher, or even a beta reader (in the form of highly negative comments), it always hurts and can make us question whether we’re cut out for this writing caper.

As much as rejection sucks, it’s pretty much inevitable that every writer will experience it at some point in their journey. In fact, most published authors were rejected by publishers before they were accepted. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel a little better when I hear that best selling books by authors like J K Rowling and John Grisham were rejected multiple times – not because I’m sadistic, but because it reminds me of the subjectivity of the reading experience. Just because one person (agent, publisher, reader) doesn’t connect with my work doesn’t mean others won’t. And it also doesn’t mean my work is rubbish (although it may mean that it needs more work).

If you’d like to read more about big name authors’ battle scars, check out this awesome post Ann Riley wrote for Aimee Salter’s The Write Life. It definitely helped me to put things in perspective, and I plan to revisit it whenever I feel glum about my own rejections!

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Rae Hachton in the HOT SEAT

Rae Hachton is trembling uncontrollably. She often has trouble sleeping, but it’s been much worse these past few days. Why? Because she’s terrified. And who wouldn’t be, if it was their turn to sit on… the HOT SEAT.

Gday, Rae!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Rae?

I write for a slightly more mature YA audience, as, like many other YA novels, my books deal with edgier content such as drugs, sex, abuse, death, and suicide. However, the writing may be a little more raw than what one is typically used to. My characters are usually aged 17-22. 

I adore contemporary stories about troubled, but strong minded MCs and I absolutely love Gothic/Horror Fiction, and almost always a well narrated Love Story, and these are the kind of books I aim to write.

[CJ: Ooh sounds intense. But cool. Very cool.]

Tell us about your latest book, Black Satin: The World Unfolds,  in 25 words or less.

Black Satin; second book in the Pretty in Black Series: Ellie’s world is about to turn darker. 

[CJ: Okay, you’ve got me. Tell me more.]

I am really excited about writing this one because while it is dark and creepy, it is beginning to shape into an almost magical realm and extraordinary events I never even created in my own mind from the beginning of this, are developing and demanding my attention. I’m getting very little to no sleep during this process, but I’m not going to complain in the slightest, I believe the book is worth it, and I usually sleep little anyway. Sometimes I’ll be in the middle of a nap, or driving in the car, and an idea for a new scene will strike, and I’ll have to record notes on my phone, because each scene is better and better. I know, at this point, I’m going to have a crazy time trying to collect all my notes into one collection, so I can make sense of where this is headed.

Pretty in Black, when I began writing it, wasn’t going to be a series. I did not find out about that little tid-bit until I wrote “The End” and realized that this was definitely not the end. Right now, I still cannot speculate whether this series will be three books or four. I’m excited to find out myself. I believe Marcus and Ellie know, but won’t tell me. How courteous of them to realize I’m already challenging myself to keep up, as it is quite difficult with those two.

Something I can say about Black Satin is that a new character arrives, and complicates Ellie’s life even further. Those following me on one of my sites, may find out more about this new character and how he is pertinent to Ellie’s story and development.

[CJ: How fascinating that you didn’t know Pretty in Black was going to be a series. It’s always interesting to hear about how books come into being!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Usually, when I am not writing, I am reading and/or exploring my surroundings. A season in which I dare not write, is summer. I do not believe I can draw from memory any time in which I wrote anything during summer season. Summer for me, is a time of relaxation, and adventure. I love the beach. So, for 3 and a half months of the year, I do not write, and the rest of the time I do.

[CJ: Sounds like a great way to split up your year between your different past times- writing and relaxation. 🙂 ]

I also enjoy photography, graphic design and cinematography projects. Sometimes, I make short films. When I began college, my major at art school was filmmaking/cinematography. I wanted to be a director and this is still, very much, something I want to pursue later on in life.

[CJ: Film fascinates me too. If only we had time to pursue all of our interests!]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I do not outline, I am a pantster. I just jump right in, once I’m inspired, but if the characters begin talking to me, I jot down notes or record snippets of conversation from them.

My titles almost always arrive before the story does.

[CJ: So far, your process is the opposite of mine!]

A simple lyric from a song has been known to inspire an entire book, or in the case of Pretty in Black, an entire series.

When I edit, I have to add words, not remove them.

I count syllables in every sentence when I do a read-through of my work, to make sure there are no stumbling blocks, and that ideas flow together nicely.

Contemporary stories are written in order, Gothic/Horror stories are written out of order.

Shortest book completion time:  4 days

Longest book completion time: 2 and a half months.

[CJ: For real? It’s taken me longer than 2 and a half months to read some books, let alone write them!]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

The Danish Duo band, The Raveonettes. I can more than likely trace every work I’ve written, back to one of their songs. I will do almost anything to get my hands on a new song of theirs, or a song I have not heard before. They’re releasing a B-side and Rarities album December 15, I believe, but they’re only making 1000 copies: 500 in CD and 500 in Vinyl. I will be ecstatic trying to get my hands on a copy.

[CJ: I’ve never heard of them. What song/s would be a good introduction to the band?]

Any of the songs that debut on the Pretty in Black book soundtrack:
  • “My Time’s Up” from the album Raven in the Grave. This song is the song that inspired the entire series! Raveonettes are Ellie’s favorite band too, and this song plays for the first time at her school dance and she dances with Marcus Marble. This ends up being their song, kind of like how “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” is Edward’s and Bella’s Song. It reoccurs throughout. 
  • “Forget that You’re Young” also from album Raven in the Grave. Ellie and Marcus dance to this song at Ellie’s Halloween Dance. 
  • “Everyday” which is a badass cover song of Buddy Holly’s song, and The Raveonettes version sounds creepy, which adds to the mood of this book.
  • And another one of their songs which will be found on the Black Satin [Pretty in Black #2] Soundtrack is actually a beautiful Christmas song called Christmas Ghosts
[CJ: Cool. I’ll check them out!]

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Word Count: I’m probably too concise. Never enough words. It’s a challenge for me to land a MS between 35-40 k!

[CJ: It’s official – our styles and challenges are the exact opposite. My current MS is 140K, edited down from 171K!)

Censorship: My stories are left raw, I do not censor my characters. They are how they are. If they misuse drugs, they misuse drugs. If they swear a lot, or have a sexual addiction, I transcribe it onto the page in the direct way they tell me to, I leave nothing out, I want it to ring with authenticity, and I try to stay true to the character and the story. Doing this is not a challenge. What proposes a challenge is when someone reads something, and goes, isn’t that a bit graphic, don’t you think you can tone that down a bit? And I’m like, No I cannot. I’m not at liberty. I did not create this story, these characters are telling me about their actual lives!

In fact, and I’m positive many of you have not heard of this before, and would probably stress a degree of strong opinion about this option, but I’m having to put a Parental Advisory label, much like the one you might find on a musical CD from a rock band, on the back of one of my more recent projects, due to the content. A lot of people believe that parents are not involved in their childrens reading choices and if this idea were implemented, it would be useless, however, I live in an age of the sue-happy, so even if a parent allowed a child to purchase my book, and later realized the content was not exactly suitable for their fourteen year old child, I can only imagine what might happen.

My books are categorized as YA and many people view that as ages 14-18. I believe there should be a slight separation from Teen Literature and YA literature. Teen books are a little more naive and juvenile, while Young Adult books span from ages 17-22 and deal with events that take place during that last year of high school or while in college. I was a teen once, and I am still surrounded by many teens everyday. Not every young person can deal with mature subjects, and some can. It varies. Some teens are trying to be older than they are, and some young people ages 21 have not yet grown to a certain level of experience. There needs to be books for both. But if my story is about drugs, it will be about drugs, and not a high school musical about drugs.

[CJ: I agree that teens have different maturity levels and some are better at handling topics than others. I don’t see why books shouldn’t be rated in the same way as movies and cds – if I was buying a present for a young cousin, I would want to know the ‘teen’ book was matched with their maturity level.]

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If you had to give up either reading or writing for the rest of your life, which would you choose?  

Reading. But really I would hate to have to give up either, but I guess reading, because if I’m still writing, then I’m still reading, so that would be the best choice. I could just write my own books and read them too!  

[CJ: Smart move!]

Finish this sentence from your character Walter’s perspective.

Life would be a lot easier if…  Ellie loved me, and not Marcus.

Oh no, slight Spoiler Alert! That sentence is relevant to the Black Satin plot line as new developments emerge. Another guy tries to vie for the attention and love of Ellie Piper.

[CJ: Nothing like a good love triangle to keep you burning through those pages! :)]

Now finish the same sentence from your perspective.

Life would be a lot easier if…  fictional boys were REAL.

Girls, don’t we all wish that the world was all full of  Edward Cullens, and Varen Nethers and Patch Ciprianos we could choose from?! Life would be spectacular if these boys could just jump right off that page! This is the reason girls read more! Duh!!

[CJ: The only problem I see with the world being full of Edward Cullens? That would mean vampires are real! EEK! Don’t know if I could cope with that!]

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Thanks so much for taking a seat, Rae!

If you’d like to hear more from Rae, check out her blog, follow her on Twitter or visit the Pretty in Black website.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Michele Drier in the HOT SEAT

It’s Michele Drier’s birthday today. I got her a wonderful present. It involves flames, intimidation and possible third degree burns. Yes, that’s right. I got her a spot in the HOT SEAT! 😀

Michele Drier

Gday, Michele!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Michele?

Well, that would have been easy a year ago…mysteries!  But  I began writing a vampire romance, just to see if I could do it, and I did!  So now I write traditional mysteries AND paranormal romance.

[CJ: Nice combination. I love both those genres.]

Snap CoverTell us about your latest book, SNAP: The World Unfolds,  in 25 words or less.

SNAP is the holy grail for Maxie. She’s looking for fame, fortune and Jimmy Choos, but when she meets vampire Jean Louis, she’s a goner.

[CJ: 25 words exactly. Nice work! And the plot sounds like fun too.]

Thanks. SNAP: The World Unfolds was completed and published in July.  I’ve begun the next in the Kandesky vampire series, SNAP: New Talent.

[CJ: Awesome!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Marketing!  I always thought that the hard part of writing a book was writing a book! Not! Now that I have two books published in two different genres (my traditional mystery, Edited for Death, came out Oct. 1), I spend hours every day with social media.  I also write grant applications on a contract basis, do some consulting work and spend time taking care of two granddaughters.

[CJ: Sounds like a busy, satisfying life. :-)]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

I’m more of a pantser writer.  I have stories in my head and I sit down and start with Chapter One.   Every day, I read the previous five or ten pages to immerse myself in the story and then continue.  My characters will sometimes take the story line and bolt off into the blue. This usually adds interest and fleshes them out, but I sometimes have to rein them in.  It makes for occasional rewriting. 

[CJ: Rewriting can be painful but usually the story becomes much better for it. Thank goodness! Wouldn’t be much point to it if it didn’t, right?]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

Primarily, women writers.  I’ve always been amazed that women overrode the barriers they faced and just wrote, because they had to.  Not only the 18th and 19th century women like Jane Austen or the Brontes, but early 20th century like Kate Chopin or Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  And I’m astounded at the English like Doris Lessing and Iris Murdoch.  Their use of language makes me realize that we speak different languages…well VERY different dialects.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Hoo, sales?  Kidding!  The biggest challenge I’ve faced in fiction writing is trying to cram way too much information in.  My first couple of drafts of Edited for Death were liberally sprinkled with information dumps and my daughter finally said, “Just write one story.  You’ve got two of them here.”  When I realized she was right, I slashed and burned and a  better book and story emerged from the forest of words I’d created.

[CJ: I love the image you’ve created there. Makes me think I’d probably love your novels too!]

Right. Enough of the niceties. Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

A well-reputed publisher offers you a major contract but requires you change something about your plot that completely goes against what you want for the book. What do you do?  

Oh…moan and groan. [CJ: :D] I’d want to make sure I understood why they wanted to make these changes, probably try to negotiate to keep my ideas intact and then, when all else fails, go away.  It’s much more cavalier and easier to say this in these days of self-publishing!

[CJ: Brave lady!]

What fictional character are you most like and why?

Murphy Brown

Murphy Brown

Some people used to call me Murphy Brown!  I guess I’m more outspoken than I think I am.  But in literary fiction, hummmmm.  Probably Lisa Scottoline’s Bennie Rosato.  A little brash, in control (read: control freak), outwardly sure of myself.  I sure wish I could afford Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos.  My daughter and I left our finger- and nose-prints on the window of a Ferregamo store in Paris once, but that’s probably as close as I’ll ever come!

If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what genre would you choose?

That’s like being put in solitary! All in all, I think I’d have to say mysteries.

[CJ: Makes sense! And yes I agree. It’s a tricky question. Glad I’m the one asking and not answering! :-D]

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Well, that was fun. For me at least! If you’d like to hear more from Michele, check out her website.

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Insecure Writers Support Group: war against fear

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

"Let's rock the neurotic writing world!" Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s that time of the month again! Oh, hang on – I just realised how wrong that sounds. Let me clarify. It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group. If you’d like to learn more about the group, you’d be best to visit Alex J Cavanaugh’s blog. After all, the group is his brain child.

For this month’s Insecure Writers Support Group, I decided to be lazy clever and re-post something I wrote about six months ago that I think will resonate with fellow insecure writers. So, without ado, I bring to you…

Writers go to war: against fear

The_Scream

Fear personified...

Fear has many weapons in its arsenal. It makes your heart pound, your palms sweat, your skin prickle. It makes you shiver, feel nauseous, become light headed.  It shortens your breath, curdles your stomach, disrupts your sleep, scatters your thoughts…

But the most dangerous weapon at fear’s disposal? Its ability to make you doubt yourself and tempt you to give up…

The good news: writers are fighting back against fear.  How? By exposing fear’s nasty tricks and demonstrating how they, personally, have defeated it.

Veronica Roth has outed her fear demons on her blog, revealing she suffers with anxiety about whether her writing will please some key people whose opinion she cares about. But she has also declared that she doesn’t want to be a writer ruled by fear. She is determined not to consult her fear when she makes decisions, in life and in writing.

To me, that’s courageous. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.’

Veronica is not the only one persisting in the face of fear. Ali from Aliventures admits she gets scared whenever she tackles something new. For a long time, Ali thought that meant she was a coward. But over the years, she’s realised it’s incredibly normal to be afraid.

Ali believes that when tackling fear, you shouldn’t try to convince yourself you’re not afraid. Instead, accept that you’re scared. Don’t dwell on it, just acknowledge it. And then do it (whatever it is that scares you) anyway.

Ali’s strategy mirrors Nicole McDonald’s (from Damsel in the Dirty Dress) philosophy in life: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ This damsel has been struggling with writer’s block but has slowly but surely been defeating it.

I’m fighting fear too, all the time. And right now, I’m winning. I’m [updated] over two thirds of the way through a major edit of my novel-in-progress The Big Smoke, receiving feedback from beta readers on the first two thirds, and enjoying the whole experience (most of the time!).

How about you? – are you a writer fighting fear? How are you going with it? What strategies do you use? Let’s share our tools and win the war between writers and fear for good.

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Writers, Writing

Dora Hiers in the HOT SEAT

Dora Hiers edges her way forward towards the flames. She may be nervous, but she’s determined she will survive no matter how badly she gets burnt. Very brave is Dora. Very brave. But will bravery help her handle the HOT SEAT?

Gday, Dora!

Let’s get started. What genre(s) do you write, Dora?

Inspirational romance. What I like to call heart racing, God-gracing romance.

Tell us about your latest book in 25 words or less.

I just typed “The End” on Journey’s Embrace. Hmmm…how about this?

When a flight medic’s life hangs by her fingertips, can a wounded U.S. Deputy Marshal overcome his fears to save her and embrace love?

[CJ: Oooh, I hope the answer is yes!]

Most of us write part time. How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

Reading. What else do writers do to relax? In the summer, my hubby enjoys cranking up the smoker for family gatherings, guaranteeing a crowd around the table. I swear my youngest son catches a whiff of the finger-licking ribs two hours away.

Dora's Grandkids

When the temperature cools, you’ll catch me flicking the fireplace switch on and kicking back under a blanket to cheer for the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just about any time of the year, we’re game for a quick jaunt to the mountains. And nothing beats spending time with our grandkids! See those cuties!

[CJ: Awww, very cute. And I agree, reading is an awesome way to relax.]

Tell us a little about your writing process.

As organized as I am in everything else, it pains me to confess that I’m a pantser. But, honestly, I’ve tried outlining. Can you picture me staring at a blank screen until my eyeballs pop? So, I try not to let it bother me and just accept that I’m a pantser. My goal is to give birth to great characters and hook a reader into an opening scene, and let the story flow organically from there. 

[CJ: Gasp! You’re a pantser?! If I’d known that before I agreed to interview you, things would’ve been different… ;-)]

Who or what are your biggest writing inspirations?

God, first. Next, my husband. He’s my best friend, my encourager, and my biggest promoter!

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a writer?

Hmm…Self-discipline. Forcing my rump to sit in the chair and write and not be distracted by overflowing laundry baskets, the grass that’s about six inches too high, personal phone calls, you name it. When you work from home, it’s tough to overlook household tasks and particularly difficult to say “no” to personal requests. But, one thing I can’t say no to: watching a sick grandchild.

[CJ: And nor should do. No matter how important writing is, family comes first.]

OK, Cally. It’s been really nice chatting with you. I’ve seen your HOT SEAT questions before, and I don’t think I’m quite ready for…

[CJ: Nice try, but you’re not getting out of it that easily!]

Time for the HOT SEAT questions!

Hot Seat

*Insert scary music here*

If someone important in your life told you that you had to stop writing or never see them again, what would you do?  

Ah. That’s not so bad. <Swiping a hand across my glistening forehead>

I’d give it up.

Whoa! I can hear your collective gasp all the way to North Carolina.

[CJ: I didn’t realise I was that loud. But I’m keen for you to elaborate! :)]

I wasn’t born with a pen in my hand like some writers. My urge to write came later in life, when my youngest son started middle school and didn’t want me hanging out at school with him anymore. LOL. I knew I needed something more to fill my days. An avid inspirational romance reader, God planted a story idea that pinged around in my head for a few months until I finally confessed my desire to write to my husband. With his enthusiastic support, I started pounding out the story.

My hubby’s the one, besides me, most vested in my writing. If he asked me to give up writing, he would have a good reason for doing so. And I’d honor that request. Because I love him, and writing takes a back seat to the needs of my family.

But I’d miss it, something fierce. No doubt about that.  

[CJ: Okay, now I understand. Well said.]

Finish this sentence from your character Chelsea’s perspective.

Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is…  my husband’s murder.

[CJ: Oh dear. Yes, that would be hard to get over.]

I’m an ordinary woman with dreams budding in my heart and grief choking me from my past. But it’s time to move on, and that’s what I hoped to do by opening Journey’s End, a shelter for troubled teens, in honor of my late husband.

Did you catch that? Hoped? Because I didn’t expect my first arrival, Jake, to be the son of my husband’s murderer, scared and running for his life. Or to call in the marshals office because Jake wants to testify against his father. And who shows up? Trey Colten. The guy in charge of the undercover operation that killed my husband. Trey claims his job is to protect me. Ha! God definitely has a sense of humor!

If Trey thinks I’m going to sit around and twiddle my thumbs waiting for Jake’s father to show up, he’s mistaken. I don’t need his protection. And although I may be ready for another relationship, especially with a guy who helps with the dishes and feeds my animals, it won’t be with another law enforcement officer.

[CJ: What an awesome premise. You’ve definitely caught my attention – and through a HOT SEAT question too. I’m impressed.]

Now finish the same sentence from your own perspective.

Something from my past that I’ve had trouble getting over is Ouch. Who likes digging painful things up?

[CJ: Me. That’s the purpose of the HOT SEAT. :D]

OK. OK.

Four years ago, we moved from Florida to North Carolina. My youngest son was in the International Baccalaureate Program in high school at the time. He’d debated for some time about getting out, so we weren’t too concerned that our new city didn’t offer the IB program.

Maybe we should have been more concerned. Our youngest son opted to finish high school in Florida. Moving across states is tough enough, but add leaving a son behind. Oy! I was miserable. Angry. Resentful. Like my heart literally ripped in half.

[CJ: :(]

After a few counselling sessions and much time in prayer, God helped me break free from those dark emotions and into the glorious sunshine. Since then, both our sons moved to North Carolina. Our youngest attends a college two hours away from us. And you know what? He loves North Carolina! How cool is that?

[CJ: Hooray for happy endings!]

Thanks so much for inviting me to the Hot Seat, Cally. I enjoyed visiting with you!

[CJ: You’re very welcome. :-)]

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If you’d like to hear more from Dora, check out her blog or website. Dora has been kind enough to offer a copy of Journey’s End to one lucky reader. First one to say they’d like a copy gets it, so shout out!

If you’d like a turn in the HOT SEAT, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule you in for a buttocks burning. 😀

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Filed under Hot Seat, Writer interview, Writers, Writing