Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Insecure Writer's Support Group and Celebrate the Small Things

Whoa, like September, where have you been? August was an absolute whirlwind of trips, eclipse, back-to-school freak-outs, and query madness. It's finally time to sit down at the writing desk again! Huzzahs to the one-and-only Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and his merry band of co-hosts: Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, andBeverly Stowe McClure!

September's optional IWSG question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

Why, yes! I did. When I first started writing, I composed suspenseful stories with supernatural or spooky elements.  I found myself using my favorite author's voice. (At least, in my mind.) To break free, I started a historical novel. The first draft was written in third person, but after some discussion with my critique group, I rewrote it in first. This resulted in a stronger voice that does not (I hope) imitate Stephen King one bit.

This was the novel that got pitched in the IWSG Twitter extravaganza in late July this summer.  If you've never tried a Twitter pitch event, I highly recommend you give it a whirl. It's so nice to be able to open a query letter with something like, "I'm writing in response to your "like" of the pitch for my novel..." instead of the basic cold-call-type letter.

Besides querying, I hope to start a new novel this fall and dive into the research for a sequel to my historical novel. Plus I've got several short stories that need a publishing home. So I've got plenty of things to keep me chained to my desk during school hours. 


Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly (supposed to be on Friday, but I'm cheating) blog hop hosted by the amazing Lexa Cain and cohosted by L.G. Keltner and Tonja Drecker. It's a great way to let bloggers know about the good things, big or small, going on in your world.

1. It's the most wonderful time of the year...

If you're a parent, you might be familiar with this jingle as used in a Staples commercial where the parents dance down the aisles, filling their carts with school supplies as their sullen children drag themselves behind them like criminals on the way to the gallows. 

Today's the day. No requests for food. No shopping trips. No fighting. No whining. Just seven golden hours of peace and quiet and they're mine. ALLL MINE! WAH-HA-HA!!!

I can write. I can blog. I can clean, or take a bike ride, or read a book. Uninterrupted. I can sit down and eat an entire lunch without getting up every two minutes. What bliss. 

2. I (almost) saw the eclipse.

It's kind of a sad story. I dragged my family down to my parents who live south of Asheville, NC. We debated where to watch the eclipse for months, but when it got closer, the predictions of standstill traffic lasting for hours and hours were just too daunting. We decided that 99.2% of the eclipse would be plenty for us and stayed at my parent's house. 

Eclipse, August 21, 2017

With glasses on, we marveled at the disappearing sun and watched the shadows under the trees turn into series of eclipse-shapes on the walk-ways.

We walked up to the lake by my parents house when totality got near.

View to the left.

View to the right. 

About 60 seconds out, a cloud covered the sun. NOOOO!!!!!

Sedona, left, and my parents during totality.

The big, bad cloud didn't budge until about a minute after totality had passed. But, it did get noticeably darker and cooler and the wind picked up. 

On the news that night were pictures of cars in gridlock. There were reports of people leaving their vehicles in droves to dash into the woods and, um, ... you know. My husband joked that the deer would be safe from speeding vehicles for weeks after catching that particular scent near the highways.

Ironically, after all the talk about this eclipse being a once-in-a-lifetime event, we have since discovered that in seven years, another total eclipse is not only going through the U.S., but will pass pretty close to our home! The only catch is that the date is April 8th, which is still winter here in Rochester, N.Y. The chance of cloud cover is about 70%.


Do you genre-hop as an author or reader? Celebrate or mourn back-to-school? Did you travel to see the eclipse? Would waiting in traffic for hours and using the woods for a bathroom be worth it to see totality?


  1. I didn't travel for the eclipse but we had a little viewing party on the quad here at work and it was fun! I loved the shadows on the sidewalks. Like you I was surprised when I learned there will be another in 7 years! I really thought this would be it for our lifetime.

    Enjoy your time alone and happy writing!!

  2. Stephen King wrote an historical fiction/time travel novel - 11/22/63. Hmm, maybe something for you to try? :)

    Have fun with all of your "free" time and good luck with all of those projects!

    1. I guess that does qualify as historical doesn't it?

  3. I wish I'd had glasses. We were 94% covered here but I really didn't get to see much even with a pinhole camera.

    I love that Staples commercial.

  4. Our eclipse was a near, but not quite kind of experience. We'd planned on heading north, but those plans were cancelled, so we settled for a dark few moments at home. We did see it on the computer in live time, but that was not as rewarding! Happy end of summer!

  5. Hopefully you get a better shot at seeing the next one.
    Good to hear the #IWSGPit was a great experience for you.

  6. It sounds like you have a lot going for you! Wishing you much luck in the querying process!!!

  7. You have so much going on, I'm exhausted reading the list. I wanted to have something ready to pitch, but didn't get ready in time.

    We had cloud cover too. And where we're at, we had about 70% coverage. Fortunately, the clouds lifted right as we got our best coverage and we got to see it.

  8. Historical fiction is a little scary for me. I have such regard for those who write in this. I'm always afraid I'll get the history wrong. :)

  9. Sometimes it takes a while for a writer to find our voice...and in the interim, we imitate. I think many, many authors do that!

    We were in an area with a great view of the eclipse from our back yard. I'm glad we saw it...I doubt we'll travel for the next one. It looks quite a distance away. But mental note: if we DO travel, we need to just plan to stay and enjoy local attractions for the next few days to avoid the traffic!

  10. That's cool about your voice.

    Looks like your family had a good time during the eclipse. I enjoyed it this year even if I watched it on television. lol.

  11. I did travel to the eclipse because my boyfriend decided he really wanted to go at the last minute. The traffic back was unbelievable and we could barely find a place to eat. It was amazing and we had a good time.

    Glad you found your non-Stephen King voice. Good luck with the querying.

  12. Isn't it amazing how much a story can change by changing the perspective?

    Best of luck with querying. :)

  13. Back to school means back to work for me. And that's generally good news :)

    The big deal about the eclipse was that was basically entirely in the US. There is an eclipse somewhere on earth like every 2 years (18 months?).

  14. Glad to hear you had a great time at your parents and got to see the eclipse. We did too! partial exposure only in the east coast but exciting nonetheless. You cracked me up with your most wonderful time of the year :D LOL good luck with your querying and writing of your new novel and sequel !

  15. That sucks a cloud got in the way of the eclipse. Mother Nature, that was not nice. D8<

  16. Now that all my children have graduated and nearly all moved out, I forget about school. Not so easy when you live two blocks from a high school and two elementary schools, lol.

    I love September because it means Fall is just around the corner. Fall is my favorite season.

    I "almost" saw the eclipse also. I was working one of my stores in Barstow CA and had to go to my car several times for supplies. The first couple times it was so bright I felt blinded; then it got stormy dark. I forgot about the eclipse until someone in the store reminded me.

  17. I think genre-hopping can help keep our writing life energized and growing.
    Way to go on your writing!

  18. I think most of us start out imitating (consciously or otherwise) the voice/writing style of our favorite authors. Stephen King is a great one to imitate, IMO. Sounds like your critique group is awesome. So great to have folks who can put eyes on your work and then discuss nuanced elements of the craft like viewpoint choice. With young children of my own, I empathized with your sigh of relief at getting some "you" time thanks to school starting back up. Unfortunately, I'm a school teacher, so when school starts back up, my "me" time pretty much vanishes. At least I still have the chance of a sleepover at grammy and grampy's house giving my some time on the weekends. May all that fresh new "you" time lead to vast quantities of excellent words spilling out on the page. Happy writing, and thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

  19. Thriller to historical is a big jump. Finding our own voice isn't easy, and I've found that it changes from story to story. Happy writing!

  20. As a reader, I genre-hop all over the place! Just whatever takes my fancy at the time. I rather mourn back-to-school now that my son is all grown up, but I know I looked forward to it at the time. We live in the UK and got to see lots of pics of the eclipse on TV, so we didn’t travel, and we didn’t get stuck in traffic (thank goodness) :-)

  21. I loved seeing the total eclipse. Back up North, where I'm from, many people reported the sky being too overcast to see anything. The one astronomical event I've been waiting decades for, and have 44 years left to go for, is the return of Halley's Comet. It was too overcast when I was six years old, so when it returns when I'm in my eighties, I'll do whatever it takes to get a perfect view! I doubt I'll get a third chance to see it, unless lifespans have drastically increased by then.

  22. Congrats on Twitter pitch success! I've never done it, but it does sound like fun.

  23. Lotta questions there! I read and write in several genres, and I like doing flash fiction in genres I'd never try to use for a whole novel.

    Back-to-school has always been a favorite for me. This year is weird. I'll take Second Son to college in a week or two, and then...just me and the spouse. I'll take all the time alone for writing, and hope I am disciplined enough to use it without the schedule to drive me.

    I did travel to see the eclipse, and it was totally worth it. I didn't get stuck in traffic, and peeing in the woods is something I consider normal, since I'm a backpacker :D
    My IWSG Post

  24. you sound good and busy on the writing front - awesome!
    and i love kids going back to school too, but i'm a teacher, so i have to go back too! i get a huge chunk of writing done in the summer...
    and yay for the eclipse, it was nature fun - and loved that most everyone went outside to see it!

    Happy Fall!
    Tara Tyler Talks


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