Wednesday, March 3, 2021

March IWSG, 2021


And it's March. Almost a year has passed since school was closed for our kids and the big lockdown occurred. Things haven't changed a whole lot since then. The kids do go to school twice a week, but we still don't eat inside restaurants, we have not gone on a vacation, and we don't plan to until we're vaccinated. My parents got Covid (mild cases) and recovered. I don't obsess over the news as much as I used to, but I'm watching to see if there will be a fourth wave due to the variants. Strange times.

Books are a great escape when the stress gets too much, so I was happy to see this month's IWSG question. But before that, let me thank our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh and his posse of co-hosts: Sarah - The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose.

March 3 question - Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

Stephen King's Firestarter, Amazon

When I was a kid, horror was the best and only genre worth my time and Stephen King was the ultimate. I wanted to be The Firestarter. Yet I can remember loving the first six or so books by V.C. Andrews as well and sincerely hoping to find a doorway to another realm as in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.


Jonathon Kellerman's First Alex Delaware novel, Thriftbooks

As an older teen and in college, I stretched a bit into the horror of the real world and got into detective/crime works with Jonathan Kellerman's series featuring Alex Delaware as a particular fave.

Then I branched out, taking in more popular fiction and literary-leaning fiction. I fell madly in love with the books of Barbara Kingsolver (especially The Poisonwood Bible and The Lacuna), Anne Patchett (State of Wonder), Yann Martel (Life of Pi), Sue Miller (The Senator's Wife), Kathryn Stockett (The Help), and Wally Lamb (The Hour I First Believed).

Before I wrote a historical novel featuring antebellum times, I read a big stack from that genre, both an inspiring and intimidating task.

I stuck a toe in the wide world of nonfiction and discovered treasures like John Krakauer's Into Thin Air, Andre Agassi's Open, Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and Tara Westover's Educated

Books that entertain and inform with characters that feel alive motivate my reading choices. Two of them that I've recently finished include Suzanne Redfearn's In An Instant in which a horrific car crash contrasts the best and worst of humanity. The other is The Window by David Cole (publish by Dancing Lemur Press!) in which a magic portal to the future brings absolute chaos to the main character's life.

Do you use reading to escape and de-stress, gain writerly inspiration, or all of the above?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

February IWSG 2021


Another IWSG day, and another snowfall! Yesterday, I saw plenty of jokes on how every day is like Groundhog Day, and I swear, I thought I had an idea for a post today until I read my December IWSG post and realized I'd be repeating myself. Sigh. 

Anyhoo, let me thank the host of this here par-tay: Alex J. Cavanaugh and his cohort of cohosts: Louise - Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

This month's optional question is about blogging and friendships. There are many wonderful bloggers I've been in contact with over the years, but my brain is locked in other areas, so I will skip it this month.

Today I'm wondering: How long can you be on a writing hiatus and still consider yourself a writer?

When I first started writing, my girls were three and one years old. The three-year-old went to a preschool in the morning and my husband took my one-year-old on two-hour shopping trips twice a week so I could write. What a guy.

I used that time wisely and cranked out a first draft (what a mess) in a matter of months. Later, when the kids were in grade school (and rode the bus!!!), I might have seven hours to write, five days a week. What a windfall. Those were the golden years and I should have appreciated them more. 

Then came middle school and the bus became the ninth circle of hell, apparently. My time started to dwindle as evening time started to shift to more and more homework help.

Skip ahead to today. High School. Pandemic. Hybrid schedule with in-person classes only two days a week. I've come full circle, and yet that is not true. I haven't been using those precious, quiet hours to write. Yesterday, I spent them drafting a study guide for AP Chemistry, Unit Four on Lewis Dot Structures, Lattice Energy, and Bond Enthalpies. Not quite as exciting as writing fiction, let me tell you. 

But I'm a former professor who loves her kids and will do anything I can to help them through this current state of educational chaos.

Am I still a writer? 

Are you?

Snow, Clouds, and Christmas Lights at dusk from my front door.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

December 2020 IWSG


Good Morning, Writers. I woke up this morning to a beautiful surprise: three inches of the white stuff, and no, I'm not talking about the empty space on my screen begging for letters. Having grown up in the southern US, I do love snow and wish we could get more here in Rochester, NY. But for now, I'll just appreciate each and every flake.

A happy holiday shout-out to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his merry band of co-hosts: Pat Garcia, Sylvia Ney, Liesbet @ Roaming About Cathrina Constantine, and Natalie Aguirre!

This month's IWSG optional question: Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

I currently write best in months that contain the letter W. Sad, but true. These days are filled with finding the vertical asymptotes of functions, stoichiometry, rotation and revolution of the earth, and on and on. Funny, I once swore I'd never homeschool my children. Irony!

Otherwise there are cats to amuse, years of clutter to sort, and as much exercise to cram into my schedule. Plus, I'm binge watching The Crown late in the evening.

But when I was more active writing, I'd do best from September to December and then January to early May. Summers have been spent in the yard on various projects.


Here's some more pictures to get you into the Holiday Spirit:

I'd shake off this stupid hat if I wasn't so cozy.  (Dove)

Did someone say "vacuum"?

That's Noche in his fort of overturned tree boughs cut from the bottom of our tree. But check out this shot from my daughters more superior phone and picture-taking skills: 

I is adorable, no?

Have a safe, healthy, and wonderful holiday season...

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

November IWSG 2020


Good evening, insecure writers. I think there are much more insecure folks in the good ole' U.S. of A. tonight than just the writers. What's going to happen next with this election? Talk about a nail biter. Have any of you ever put an election in one of your stories?

Thank you to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and most excellent crew of co-hosts: Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria.

This month's optional question: Why do you write what you write?

Pandora's Box of Dreams - April 2015
Image: Inara Pey

I have loved books for so many years. They seem to cure so many maladies, including boredom and loneliness. They inspire. They educate. Books are magical. 

I wanted to know if I could create a story comparable to the stories that made a big impression on me or the ones that made me think and see something from another point of view. I wanted to know if I could create something magical. Something a reader could get lost in. 

This lead to stories where, hopefully, the characters seemed like real people and the situations were full of tension and surprises. 



I skipped last month's IWSG blog hop because the Tuesday before, I did something all newly-minted, 50-year-olds (or rather, 45-year-olds nowadays) should do: I got my first colonoscopy. 

Man, I was dreading this test for years, not because of the procedure itself, but because of the prep. And not the drinking the bad stuff either (although Suprep tasted like sea water with a squirt of cherry piss and that's being generous).

My greatest fear was the day of fasting. I've never fasted more than 12 hours and I don't skip meals. I was afraid of getting the mother of all headaches and completely falling apart. 

And like all fears, once I'd gotten through it, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Did I get a bad headache? Yes. But that's from working all day with one of my daughters on her schoolwork. Six hours of screen time without food will do that to a person. Did I have a minor freakout when I realized my Tylenol was coated in bright red, the forbidden color you absolutely can't have on the day before a colonoscopy? 

Oh, yeah. 

So, I tried to make due with some years out-of-date white Tylenol that really didn't help much. You want to know the other forbidden color? Purple. I remembered this just as I was swishing the awful taste of Suprep away with my mouthwash and realized mid-swish that IT WAS PURPLE! Oh, calamity!

Well, at least I didn't accidentally scarf down a bunch of chocolate-chip cookies or anything. The only item close to food that you're allowed on fast day is Jello. I mixed up 4 batches of the stuff and learned some important things. First, you really need boiling hot water to dissolve the stuff properly. Otherwise, it turns out grainy. Second, blue raspberry jello isn't that great. Orange is the best flavor, then lime, then lemon. Skip the blue.

Another thing you can eat drink the day before is chicken broth. I read somewhere that you should treat yourself to an expensive brand of broth. Don't. The expensive brand I picked (Pacific) tasted like somebody scraped the burnt parts off a grill and mixed it with water. Hurl. Just go with a brand you know and you will be much happier.

When I finally got home and could eat, I scarfed down all the chocolate-chip cookies in the house and slept for three hours. What a day.


Anything you've been dreading? 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Chrys Fey Frozen Crimes Blog Hop


Whom would you want to be stuck with during a blizzard, and what would you do?

Well, I don't think I can pick just one. So here are my top three:

Red Hot Chili Peppers Logo
Image: Richard Riley

3. The Red Hot Chili Peppers

They seem like a cool bunch to hang with and if I could hear acoustic versions of My Friends, By the Way, and Snow (Hey, Oh)--obviously--so much the better.

Santa Claus Came Last Night
Image: Brett Kiger

2. Santa Claus

Ah, imagine it. Making toys with elves, drinking hot cider with Santa, taking a ride through the snowy night with Rudolph lighting the way. Every kid's dream.

So Hot

Firsilar the cat asleep wearing a tiny top hat

1. Snuggly Party

Fluff, fluff, and more fluff on a comfy sofa with a warm fire while the winds howl and the snow piles up and up. Pure bliss. (And these aren't my actual pets, so I'm not cheating!)

Hop around to the other participants to read their answers: Frozen Crimes Blog Hop


When disasters strike around every corner, is it possible to have a happily-ever-after?

BLURB: Beth and Donovan are expecting their first child. Life couldn’t get any better…until a stalker makes his presence known. This person sends disturbing messages and unsettling items, but it isn’t long before his menacing goes too far.

Hoping for a peaceful Christmas, Donovan takes Beth to Michigan. Days into their trip, a winter storm named Nemesis moves in with the goal of burying the state. Snowdrifts surround their house, and the temperature drops below freezing.

Except, the storm isn’t the only nemesis they must face. Everyone’s lives are at stake—especially that of their unborn child. Will they survive, or will they become a frozen crime?

BUY LINKS: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes



The crunch of the shovel pounding into the snow and ice filled his ears. It was all he could hear. The rest of the street was silent beneath its wintry blanket. Breathing was difficult with the icy air clogging his lungs. His nose burned. His throat was dry and on fire. But he ignored it, focusing on his task.

Crack, crack, crack.

He jabbed the shovel into a hunk of snow. On the third hit, it shattered into several pieces. He scooped them up and flung them to the side. He surveyed what remained. There was one big ball in the middle of the path that needed to be dealt with next. He moved over to it and struck it. That one impact had it severing in two. He was about to hit it again when something crashed into the back of his head.

Explosions of white light danced over his vision. Pain enveloped his skull. 

The shovel slipped from his fingers. Blackness cloaked his mind, coaxing him into its depths.

Beth. Her name was a whisper in his head, as if his thoughts were being sucked into a wormhole.

His legs collapsed under his weight.

Cold. It seeped into him, consuming him. And then his consciousness fled down that same void that ate his thoughts.




Prizes: 4 eBooks (Disaster Crimes 1-4: Hurricane Crimes, Seismic Crimes, Tsunami Crimes, Flaming Crimes) + Girl Boss Magnets (4), Inflatable Cup Holder (1), Adventure Fuel To-Go Cups (2), Anchor Fashion Scarf (1), Mermaid Nail Clippers (2), Citrus and Sea Salt Scented Candle (1), Snowflake Handmade Bookmark (1), Insulated Cooler Bag (1)


Eligibility: International

Number of Winners: One

Giveaway Ends: October 30, 2020 12:00am EST


a Rafflecopter giveaway 



To get the exclusive prequel to the Disaster Crimes series, sign up for Chrys’ newsletter. By signing up, you agree to receive Chrys Fey’s newsletter. After you confirm subscription, you will receive an email (so check your inbox and spam folder) with directions on where to snag your eBook copy of THE CRIME BEFORE THE STORM.

Click here to sign up and get The Crime Before the Storm FREE!




Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:

Website / Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon


Have you ever experienced a blizzard? Which of my three picks above appeals the most to you?

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IWSG September 2020


Hello and good morning (afternoon, evening, dead of night, whatever). How are things in your corner of this brave new world? I woke up with a pit of dread in my gut. My kids are scheduled to enter their school building in two weeks. Yikes.

Image: The Wizard

But before that, they'll start online learning and my youngest has picked the basement as her home school spot and, boy, oh boy, have I got a mess to straighten up down there. You've seen hoarding shows? And my oldest has decided a complete closet makeover including finding the smallest desk possible with drawers, reordering the shelving, and gosh, redoing the lighting would be spiffy and can I please help her get that done by next Thursday. It will be so cool! Uh . . . Sure! No problem. Gulp. 

Step one in these mighty projects? Blog, obviously. 

Thank you, to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this monthy blog hop where writers can spew forth whatever is one their mind, be it fair or foul. And a big shout out to the co-hosts PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

This month's optional question: If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

Picking a dead beta partner would be like querying agents. Getting any sort of feedback would be nothing short of a miracle. Ba-dun-duh. 

Okay, that was a cheap shot. I'd be very tempted to pick Stephen King, just to read his novels waaay before they were ever available to the general public. I'd also be curious to see what his work looks like before his seriously-awesome editor steps in.

King, Stephen - Wolves of the Calla (2004 TPB)
Image: sdobie
What I'm currently rereading.

But that would mean he would see my stuff. Oh, the mediocrity! Well, hopefully not, but it would not be an equal partnership. 

What are the qualities of a great beta partner for you? Do you want someone whose writing skills seem near your level or would you prefer to work with a master-of-the-art?

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG and Keep Writing With Fey Blog Hops

Today you get two blog hops for the price of one. It's time for the monthly IWSG hop hosted by Alex Cavannaugh and cohosted by Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey. The IWSG is great place for writers who would like to share what's on their mind. This month, one of the above co-host, Chrys Fey, is also hosting a blog hop on writer's block, depression, and/or burnout that I will be participating in, because, yes, you can do it all, right? 

Well, no, of course not. That's silly. I'll be skipping the optional monthly question for the IWSG. 

Once upon a time, I was a happy writer, cranking out my first novel with dreams of getting an agent and then a publishing deal and someday, seeing my book in a store, watching with pride as a customer came along, plucked it from the shelf, and put in their cart/recyclable bag. Ah, such innocent times. 

Then I tried to query. What a roller coaster that was. Lots of rejection, lots of not hearing anything, a small smattering of partial requests, an even smaller number of whole requests, and one revision and resubmit that still ended in the dreaded: No. Heck, I even went to NYC for a editorial conference to pitch to editors. 

When I'd had enough, I wrote another novel and followed the sage advice that an efficient writer should start their new novel while quering the finished one. Sure! Except they never said how to keep writing while actively being rejected again and again. 

So the third novel petered out during the second draft, restarted a bit here and there, and stopped dead with the pandemic. I haven't touched it in months. What to do, what to do? 

I could self publish, but the amount of work to do it well, figuring out how to hire editors, copy-editors, cover-artists, self-promotion, and marketing all seemed too much. I wasn't ready to commit the time or the money. Maybe I should clean one of the novels up and put it on WattPad and see if it gains any readers. But that still would take a lot of time and do I want to keep investing time in either of the first two novels? Not sure.

So now what? Quit writing? Maybe. Or maybe, I'll just write not for the purpose of publishing, but for the purpose (and hopefully, joy) of creating. In other words, write for myself. Will anyone ever see it? I don't know. When will this writing ever begin? Possible this fall, depending on how much my daughters need my help with school. How do I feel about it? Sigh. I really don't know. Whatever I'm going through, call it writer's block, depression, or burn-out, it's not over yet. 

But I'm not sitting in a corner crying about it. I'm gardening like a mad man (woman). I'm decluttering the house. I'm hiking, biking, kayaking, and reading Stephen King's Gunslinger series while eating way too many M&Ms.

The rock garden, now with some plants, but not finished.

And here's something else I could be reading: 





Catch the sparks you need to conquer writer’s block, depression, and burnout!


When Chrys Fey shared her story about depression and burnout, it struck a chord with other writers. That put into perspective for her how desperate writers are to hear they aren’t alone. Many creative types experience these challenges, battling to recover. Let Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout guide you through:


·        Writer's block

·        Depression

·        Writer's burnout

·        What a writer doesn’t need to succeed

·        Finding creativity boosts


With these sparks, you can begin your journey of rediscovering your creativity and get back to what you love - writing.





Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo






Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips on how to reverse writer’s burnout.


Has burnout/writer's block been a problem for you?