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.


Cool_school_supplies
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.

 

 

BOOK LINKS:

 

Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo

 

Goodreads




 


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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. https://www.chrysfey.com/


_____________


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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG July 2020



Happy (almost) 4th of July! Do you have any plans? I don't know if our local fireworks are happening or not. I'm guessing not. Our biggest plan: to watch Hamilton on Disney+. 

Thank you to Alex Cavanaugh for hosting this here shindig along with his rockin' band of cohosts: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

This month's optional question: There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade?

A good question, but I got nothing.


So, I will substitute my own question: Is there anything more fun than a pallet of flat rock?


Let me explain. Like the past two summers, I've dropped writing like a hot potato in order to exhaust myself physically on outdoor projects. This spring my husband dismantled the kids' old swing set in the backyard.







Much of the wood and plastic pieces were chewed to bits by squirrels. That and its advanced age made me realize it was not something anyone else would want in their yard, even if they were inclined to transfer the thing and not concerned about catching Covid from used items. Time to recycle, reuse, and re-imagine.


My husband got his tools shined up and built some stunning flower boxes.











My project is something else: transforming the now-empty space of weeds and decaying mulch into something awesome.

Step One: Dig up the old garden cloth underneath. Do not use this junk. Ever. It keeps weeds down for a year or two and then they'll grow right through it in an impenetrable weave any shovel or trowel will simply bounce off of. It's from the devil. 


Step Two: Make a big dirt pile. Any self-respecting ornamental landscape garden should not be flat. (My apologies to Kansas. (However, trivia fun-fact: Florida is the flattest of all the US states.))


Step Three: Wrestle, hog-tie, dig deep ditches, and get a hernia bringing in some weathered limestone boulders--all 1262 pounds of the five of them. 


Step Four: Arrange a pallet of flat stone to suggest waterfalls, natural bridges, and what-not. Keep rearranging them until your fingernails turn black and you can't feel your forearms. Realize your super-cool stream bed is tilted at least 15 degrees in the wrong direction. Undo two days work trying to fix. Bring in level to avoid this mistake again. Consider taking up arm-wrestling with all your new-found strength. 


Pictures? Well, not yet. It's still a Gehenna of dry dirt, rock, and three new wilting rhododendron plants that are getting way, way too much sun. But here are my dual inspirations: 





Un lugar que invita a volar. — at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Image: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park by Carlos Adampol Galindo



Watkins Glen

Image: Watkins Glen Gorge by h_wang_02


In a real sense, creating this landscape, even in miniature, is a lot like writing a novel. It's a lot harder than it looks, takes forever, is exhausting, needs a crap-ton of editing, and will probably not live up to my expectations. But there is a silver lining: no marketing needed.

______________

Any projects for you this summer? 



Wednesday, June 3, 2020

IWSG June 2020


Happy June! I don't know what happened to May. It crossed my mind to write my blog four days before it was due (so I procrastinated) and it crossed my mind to write it four days after it was due (so I gave up.) Oh well. That's what happens when every day seems the same.

A big thanks to our host, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his wonderful co-hosts: Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre!

Today's IWSG optional question: Writers have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?



Come to the Nerd Side ... We have Pi #PiDay #Pi #314 #nerd #geek #dork #math #mathjoke #starwars #HappyPiDay #Teachers #PiDay2015



I'm a math nerd. In 2001, I graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Ph.D. in mathematics. I taught super fun stuff like calculus and linear algebra at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA followed by two years at RIT in Rochester, NY. 

I've never written a story in which math plays a major role. However, this background is a bonus when stuck at home homeschooling teens.


African Penguins at "The Boulders"



Before that, I had a way cooler job: penguin keeper at Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC. There I did the public penguin feedings twice a day and raised six baby penguins from their eggs. I learned to fillet fish like a boss to make penguin soup for the little 'uns. Cod, milk, and vitamins in a high speed blender. It was grey. Sound tempting?

I should write a story about working at the zoo someday. Every day was an adventure.

What a fun question! Can't wait to blog around and learn everyone else's secrets. Hope everyone is doing okay in spite of Covid/Riots/Madness&Mayhem2020.

Peace.


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

IWSG April 2020







Well, that was a month, wasn't it? Strangest month ever. Can you keep writing fiction when your life turns into a dystopian novel? Not me. And I'm okay about that. The focus now is on keeping the household as healthy and as happy as possible while we stay at home, day after day after day after ...
Queensway Hwy - Groundhog

Image: Robbie



You get the picture. We even watched the movie Groundhog Day so our 13-year-old could better appreciate her lament that every day seems the same now.


Let's get on with the show!

April's Optional Question: How are things in your world? 

Well, it's not boring. I guess that's a plus, right? On the morning of Saturday, March 14, the call came in. School was closed for the foreseeable future. 

There was much rejoicing. 

By the following Wednesday, teachers were sending assignments and setting up Google meets for  classes.

By this time, RIT, where my husband is a math professor, had also closed and he was developing online lectures and assignments for his students. I'm extremely grateful his job is one that can be done online.

Bummers:

1. Husband: cancellation of trip to Boca Raton for math conference and to spend time with his parents.



Ariel the little mermaid Ride

Image: Lee


2. 13-year-old daughter: her school play, The Little Mermaid, was postponed from late March to late May. (I'm not holding my breath on that.) This was particularly painful as it is her last year. Her Stringfest concert was cancelled. Her E.L.A. statewide standardized test was cancelled. (Yay!)

3. 15-year-old daughter: Solofest for clarinet was cancelled and she's been taking lessons for almost a year in preparation for it. Private clarinet lessons cancelled. Solofest for voice cancelled.

4. We were supposed to travel to Kiawah Island, S.C., in mid-May for our annual vacation with my parents. This year would have been especially meaningful to my 15-year-old as she was planning to celebrate her sweet sixteen there: her favorite place in all the world. I will be stunned if we are able to make this trip.


Not bummers:

1. Sleeping late every day.


Walk in the woods, Autumn 2018
Image: Claudio



2. Taking long walks, playing yard games or board games with my daughters.

3. Reframing take-out meals and Amazon purchases as our contributions to the economy.

4. Spoiling our two cats rotten with extra playtime, brushings, and belly rubs.

The news is scary and sometimes overwhelming, but there are cool things happening out there. Some of my faves include the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago letting their penguins explore things from the customers' side, and the Georgia Aquarium sending adoptable puppies racing through their exhibits. So you've got to wonder, which aquarium will up the ante? My vote's for emus. Have you seen them run?

________________

What animal would you like to see visit an aquarium? Is your state staying-at-home yet? Any cancellations bumming you out? What "good news" has made you smile recently?

  

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

IWSG, March 2020



Is this the year March Madness refers to something other than college basketball? How obsessed are you with corona virus updates? You don't have to be a writer to have insecurities these days, but regardless of where your anxieties lay, let's give thanks to our intrepid IWSG host, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his awesome group of co-hosts: Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

March's Optional Question: Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?



Vampire Cat
Image: Dan Dvorscak

Say cheese, y'all!



Yes. For some of my stories, I like to stick myself in the background for fun (under a different name, of course). My current manuscript takes place at a college. I used to be a mathematics professor, and at the start of each semester, I would ask my students to take out a clean sheet of paper and write their name on it in big bold letters. Then I'd take the students' pictures holding their "name sign" and use those to learn everyones' name. My main character, a student, gets to participate in this tradition in an early chapter of the novel.

Now that I have a smart phone, I should bring back this tradition when I meet anyone new. (That wouldn't be weird, right?) I'm terrible at remembering names.



GiantMicrobes

Most bizarre stuffed toys ever? Is one for the corona virus in the works?




So, how are you adapting to the pandemic, if we can call it that yet? Here are some of my questions:

1. Did the authorities wait too long to give this bug its name? Is anyone using "Covid-19" conversationally?  (I'm not.)




US states I've been to
Image: Miles Gehm

Red States: virus-affected or projected political wins?



2. Am I the only one getting political maps for the upcoming election and corona virus spread maps confused? (Probably.)

3. Have you given in to any panic buying? (Yes. Peanut Butter and Chocolate Zone Bars. My whole family is addicted to these things.)

4. How does the idea of isolation/quarantine for two weeks or more hit you? (Advantage: no getting up early for school. Disadvantage: No break from kids if they're home from school.)

Hope everyone stays healthy.



Wednesday, February 5, 2020

February IWSG 2020


It's February, which means a Super Bowl, Valentine's, our odd week off from school (which I desperately need to catch up on my sleep) and another IWSG bloghop. Time must be moving faster these days because I somehow managed to miss the January IWSG entirely. Too much going on. So hats off to those who can keep up with their blogging schedules on top of everything else, including our leader, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his merry band of co-hosts: Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

This month's optional question: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

Hmmm. I don't think so. Although I've toyed with the idea of a story with a setting inspired from one of my favorite poems, Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Here's a sample to give you an idea of what that might look like, and of course, I couldn't pick just one. 


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:


coleridgesque (mandalay hill)
Image: pwbaker



Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man



Xanadu

Image: John Fowler


Down to a sunless sea.



Waterfall Cavern, Smoo Cave

Image: Nick Bramhall


And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.



Mossy Grill

Image: Timo Newton-Syms


Alas, such a project will have to wait. I'm meandering through the second draft of my current story and it's slow going. In my earlier works, cutting and cutting to get under 100K left only dialogue and action. This time around, I've left myself space to explore the character's thoughts, feelings, motivation, and memories, which is great, but challenging.

_____________

What setting are you currently working with or would like to work with in the future?