March 5, 2014

IWSG - when you don't have time for a new post, re-post

or in this case, do a post with links to other IWSG posts. these are some of my favorites...

let's encourage each other (encouragement from other writers)

facing the critics

just like Christmas

how Dick and Jane can help an insecure writer

writing and composting

if you want to see my other IWSG posts, use the IWSG tab at the top of the page.

if you want advice from other insecure writers, go to the IWSG page (link in the sidebar).

now go write something, even if it's drivel or compost.

(an update on character development - i have documents for most of the main characters and some of the side characters. i'm getting closer to working on the actual novel again :)

and because the ladies seemed to like it so much last time, and a picture of, i mean Adrian Paul would make anyone's day better, here he is again... (i'm so bad.)

January 8, 2014

IWSG - sometimes the thing you don't want to do...

will actually help. case in point - i realized that i didn't like my characters because i didn't know them. i went to my writing friends for advice that included "write something else for a while," "sit down over tea and talk to them," and "interview them." character interviews range from the basic to the insanely detailed. i finally found some stuff at Writers Helping Other Writers that i think will work. for now, i'm working with the Character Questionnaire.

i thought it would be drudgery. i wasn't looking forward to it. more background work. more putting off my story. but i was wrong. my son and i sat down and started doing work on the villain (because that's his character in this book). we've had a blast coming up with answers. it's given us more plot twists. i'm actually excited about my story again.

and stranger than strange, it's helping me get to know my hero. i never would have imagined. we've discovered that they're the dark and light side of the same coin, so to speak.

so here's to doing the thing you think you won't enjoy, because it just might help.

and for some eye candy, here's my villain, Dar'Vosh - Benedict Cumberbatch from Star Trek: Into Darkness

and my hero, Arathor - Adrian Paul from Highlander.

and my hero's son, the hero from the last book, Kieran - Steven Waddington from Last of the Mohicans, Richard the Lionheart, and Titanic.

if you want more encouragement, you can find links here to other IWSG posts. 

December 4, 2013

IWSG - no way! it can't be the first Wed. of December already

but it is, and i should have something to say, because i have something to say every 1st Wednesday, even if i have nothing to say for the rest of the month. now that it's here, i find the only things i have to say are random and disjointed, and not very encouraging. so i'm going to stay silent today and read encouraging posts from other people in this amazing bloghop. then maybe i can get back on track with writing my sequel. until then, i'm going back to the unexpected story i started for nanowrimo.

November 6, 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group - keep your dreams alive

I am privileged, on this IWSG Wednesday, to share a blog post by my sweet friend February Grace (and to help her promote her newest book, Of Stardust). When she asked what she could blog about, I suggested the subject of dreams. Her response was inspiring for me. I hope it is for you too.

(For more inspiring IWSG posts, visit the new IWSG website.)

“Dreams are sacred.”

That is the tagline, and the heart, of my new novel OF STARDUST.

It was inspired by a very deeply held belief that I have in the importance of dreams. 

Dreams are the thing that keep us going—looking ahead, thinking to a possible, better future—when things are really tough.

Whether we're suffering through illness or hard times or any other trial, the capacity to dream can give us strength and the ability to keep on fighting. I don’t want to think where I would be now without dreams that I’ve had in the past which have luckily come true (including the publication of this novel!) and I don’t want to think what shape I’d be in tomorrow if I gave up on as yet unrealized dreams I still hold dear to my heart.

Even if you have to fight for your dreams— and if you’re writer that often means struggling to find time to write between family obligations and day jobs and all of that— I encourage you wholeheartedly to hang on to that dream. Keep it alive even if you only write a few words a day.

If your dream is to one day walk in a charity marathon, get your doctor’s okay and then walk around the block. Then walk two blocks. Keep adding on.

If you’ve always wanted to learn to cook a gourmet meal, find a good cookbook, gather the ingredients, and give it a try.

Always appreciate those who support your dreams, for it is having friends and family there when a dream comes true that makes it really worth celebrating!

Finally, if your dream is just to live a calm, simple and happy life, then I urge you most of all to keep fighting for that goal. Happiness is the ultimate dream come true, and it means something different to every single being on the planet. Dream of what will make you happy, take any steps small or large you can every day in the direction of that happiness, and hold on to those dreams no matter how it seems they might never come true.

Dreams embody hope itself, and hope is the key to continuing on in the journey to create your happiest life.

Thank you to my dear friend, Michelle, for hosting me today. I leave you now with an excerpt from OF STARDUST…and the hope that you will keep your dreams alive!


~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Till stood alone in the middle of the library. It hadn’t taken long for her to thank those who had assembled around her for their support. She told them as well that she needed a little time on her own to try to make sense of everything.

So they left her in peace, with the promise that all she had to do was to wish one of them present, no matter the hour, and they would appear to give her a helping hand.

She made herself some tea — the old-fashioned way — and ate the last of the now-stale cookies her mother had sent with her days before... days that seemed a lifetime away from the life she knew now.

A Fairy Godmother.

She still tried to fathom that this could possibly be true, despite the evidence she’d seen the past several days that defied any other explanation.

She sat on the floor, crossed her legs, and held the special book she’d been given. Now, in the daylight, she could truly scrutinize the cover. It was black leather, with symbols of the moon and stars emblazoned upon it. She used her ring to unlock it again. To her surprise, where the first page had been blank before, it now contained script of some kind that she could not decipher. It had a symbol drawn around it and reminded her of an ancient coat of arms. I wonder what this means...

“Says Dreams Are Sacred,” Gus’s gentle voice answered, as his head poked in the doorway. “It’s our motto, ye might say. The Fairy Godparents’ creed.”

“Ah.” Till wondered how he’d appeared out of nowhere. She didn’t recall wishing for him to do so.

“I thought ye might be hungry, so I brought some breakfast.”

“Conjured up out of nothing?” she asked.

“No. This time I used the drive-thru.”


February Grace is a writer, artist, poet, and dreamer from Southeastern Michigan. She loves music and is also obsessed with clocks, colors, and meteor showers. OF STARDUST is her second novel.

And Twitter @FebruaryGrace

And elsewhere online at

November 1, 2013

Of Stardust by February Grace - launching today

my friend February Grace is launching her second book today. her second book. she always amazes me with what she accomplishes. on Wednesday of next week, i'll be sharing a blog post she wrote as part of Insecure Writers Support Group. but for today, i wanted to link to her blog so you can read her announcement.

Dreams Are Sacred

October 2, 2013

IWSG - more lessons from my cat

sorry, i don't have an updated picture of Pepper, but he's 11 weeks old. and yes, i said he. 3 weeks into owning a cat we thought was a girl and we found out from the vet he's a boy. in our defense, he's a long hair and we got him at 6 weeks, so it was a little hard to tell. you can imagine the mind-adjusting we went through when we found out. it took almost a week. *for the weird story of his name-adjusting, read the bottom of this post.

so that's one thing i learned from my cat - life is full of surprises. something i already knew, but this was a purrfect reminder. it was also good for my novel because i have to reveal a truth to my characters that they won't expect--in fact, that will shake up their world. so now i can go back to the cat surprise for the emotions they'll experience.

-- persistence - Pepper doesn't give up on anything, especially when you wish he would. like trying to get to my morning glass of milk while i use the internet. or jumping onto the table when he knows he's not supposed to.

-- enjoying life - Pepper loves everything - exploring, climbing, chasing, playing, ambushing us from around a corner, or wrestling with his moose pillow. he puts everything he is into whatever he's doing.

-- resting - he doesn't nap as often as he used to, but this cat has no problem with sleep. i envy his ability to just nod off whenever he wants. (and quite often those naps take place on the moose pillow.)

how this relates to my writing?

-- i'm letting my story go in unexpected directions.

-- i'm trying to be persistent, but not in a way that's frantic.

-- i'm letting myself enjoy the process of writing, trying to let go of outcomes and just write. (at the advice of a good friend, my son and i decided to just write a sentence, and we ended up with half a scene. and we had a great time in the process because we weren't pushing so hard.)

-- when a scene won't come, or i'm just tired of the story, or just tired in general, i'm trying to rest instead of worrying.

as a follow-up to last months IWSG, i let myself stop for a while, figured out a story problem, and now i'm back to writing. it's hard to let go of outcomes and deadlines, but my mind is happier now, and it's easier to write.

to read what other insecure writers are saying today, go to Alex's new website.

*the kids didn't think Pepper was a good boy name. i disagreed. Pepper is gender neutral. a debate ensued. one suggestion was Jack Sparrow. (he does share some of Cap'n Sparrow's finer qualities) i made an executive parental decision. his name is now officially Cap'n Pepper Jack Sparrow. i call him Pepper. they call him Jack.

September 4, 2013

IWSG - i wish i were my cat

let me introduce to you my new kitten. we named her Pepper, not just because she's black, but because she's, well, peppery. as in sometimes sweet, sometimes feisty. as in confident and bold.

from the moment we brought her home, at the age of 6 weeks, she hasn't been afraid of anything. or to be more accurate, if she is afraid of something, it's only for a day at the most, and a few minutes at the least. if she suddenly runs away because something startles her, she comes right back.

i think that's because she's secure.

the woman who gave her to us had already taught her how to be around people and dogs. she'd handled Pepper from the time she was born. she brought Pepper's litter outside when they were strong enough and let them explore. when we went to pick kittens, none of them were shy or afraid.

if only i were as confident and secure as my kitten, even if just in my writing.

since confession is good for the soul, and maybe you can relate to one or two of these, i'll share some of my on-going writing insecurities, as related to the novel that just keeps going and going without ending.

-- 4 years. that's how long Black Heart has been in progress. of course there were a few moves in there, a lost dog, some health issues. but really, how long are the readers of the first one going to wait before they start protesting? even i'm starting to wonder if i'll ever finish.

-- after four years, and several drafts, and a few things i've written in between, my writing has changed. a lot. i mean, significantly. i don't sound like the same person anymore. that's good from a writing point of view, but how will my readers react? they liked the first one the way it was, over-used metaphors and all. what will they think when they read this one?

-- i just read a novel by one of my favorite authors. she puts in just enough description, is sparse with the metaphors, writes compelling characters, and makes me not want to put the book down. or ever write again. come to think of it, every time i read a book by a favorite author, i feel the same way. who am i to think i could ever write like that? (and then i tell myself - i'm not supposed to write like this author. i write like me. sometimes saying that out loud actually helps.)

-- how can i keep writing when i'm tired of my characters? when they feel flat? when i'm not inspired? when these fears invade my head?

of course, i might persuade Pepper to finish for me. when she walks across the keyboard, she could make up some great fantasy names: hdsfa    flhlhkf    tshdkl   mvcnm   vasbd    ukoupio

or i could ignore my insecurities and just write.

to read about other writers' insecurities, visit the Insecure Writers' Support Group list. 

and then go write. i'm going to go play with my kitten.

August 7, 2013

Insecure Writers' Support Group - let's encourage each other

once again, it’s time for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, hosted by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh. this month, i’ve asked other writers to encourage you.

the response was much larger than i’d expected and i want to say a huge thank you to everyone who contributed. i had hoped to include a little blurb about each contributor, but due to the length of this post, i’ve only linked to their blog or website. even then, this is still pretty long.

Heather M. Gardner:

Best writing advice I’ve ever received, from numerous sources, WRITE.

Donna Hole:

This is not the typical quote, but it is what I try to do in my women’s fiction and contemporary writing. Well, works for fantasy too in creating believable characters: Don’t let the daily grind go to waste. Find the germs for stories in the mundane, but mix in something extra, that what-if factor....You’re limited only by your personal creativity and your ability to connect disparate events and characters to create grist for a story. (Writing For The Soul, Jerry B. Jenkins, page 81)

Annalisa Crawford:

The most important thing I’ve learnt is not to give up, that what one editor/agent dislikes, another will love, and that it’s not personal!

Angela Ackerman:

I think the most encouraging thing I’ve learned from writing is this: we are not alone. The writing path is filled with many wonderful people who have the same goals, and we can support, encourage, teach and cheer one another on during the journey. Writers embody the word “giving” and this is a wonderful community to belong too. Help is everywhere, in all forms, and all we have to do is reach out to get it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh:

A lot of this business is about timing, so don’t get discouraged if your time hasn’t come yet.

Toi Thomas:

After being creativity (sic), and professional, and diligent as a writer, the next step for me is to be a little selfless. I’ve learned to reach out and help other authors in anyway I can. I promote books and authors because I think authors should be just as important to the world of entertainment as music groups or movie stars.

Yolanda Renee:

My one suggestion for a struggling writer would be to follow Al Diaz, the Father Dragon. His posts are full of inspiration and advice for the soul.

Robin Lee Hatcher:

One of the most encouraging things I’ve learned over the years is that I cannot trust my “feelings” when it comes to my writing. Whether I feel it is great or horrible, my feelings are untrustworthy. Much of writing, at least for me, happens in the subconscious, both story and craft. Even when I am feeling like a wretched writer, what shows up on the page is not necessarily wretched. So I press on and don’t allow “feelings” to derail me.

Susan Roebuck:

1. Think of your logline: Who is your character? What are they feeling? What do they learn? 2. Attract the reader: Show the world an intriguing setting. Foreshadow and event. Get the reader in the right mood by setting the tone.

Margo Berendsen:

My only “real” writing encouragement came from my high school English teachers, who loved my essays and creative writing. That was a long, long, long time ago and encouragement (from the outside) has been slim pickings since then. Critique partners are great at pointing out sentences they like, maybe a character they “identify with” or a piece that “has potential”, but encouragement comes mostly in the form of “we know what you're going through, we're going through it too.”

I have found my greatest encouragement has come from the words themselves, especially the ones that pour out of me at times with a will of their own, and from the characters that keep stirring in my head, begging for their story to be told. I imagine them up there, hoping for life, wincing when I “don't quite get them yet”, touching down on the page but only half-formed, still a little shy, sending me hints about their passions and fears but only opening up gradually as we get to know each other better.

Each little insight is an encouragement, and even the setbacks (when a critique partners says “your character is too whiny!”) have been encouragements on the way, because they usually point me closer to the heart of the character. They challenge me to think deeper, to search harder, so that I'm able to find and release more of the real character and less of my own self transposed on them.

Karen Witemeyer:

My favorite encouraging verse that keeps me going when the writing gets hard - Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Mary Connealy:

I wrote for ten years before I got my first book published. On that fateful day when I received my first contract, I had 20 finished books on my computer. Now, if you do that, if you write all those years and finally sell a book, they say, “She never gave up on herself! She’s living the Great American Dream! She worked hard and persevered and finally she triumphed over the odds.”

If you do that, write for all those years, and NEVER get a book published, they say you have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and they try to get you on some medication and maybe in a ‘special facility’ under 24 hour observation (and they might take away your belt and shoe laces!). So I got a book published (and since then 26 other books!) and here I am, walking around free. Stick with it (and watch out for white coated men with a net).

Lisa J. Yarde:

Some of my favorite quotes can be found here: Timothy McSweeney's. 1) “Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts…”

2) “It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce ‘espresso’ like ‘expresso.’”

Mark Koopmans:

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” - Ernest Hemingway

Kaki Warner:

If you believe in your story, and you love your characters—warts and all—and their story seems worth telling, then do it. It might take you 25 years to get it down right, but if you give up, you and they are left forever in the shadows of your imagination. I thought Brady and Jessica (from Pieces of Sky) deserved their time in the sun. And after a quarter of a century, they got it. Don't give up. Ever.

Michelle here...

wow! thank you again to everyone who sent me something.

reading these has reminded me that no matter how long we’ve been writing, or where we are in our writing journey, or how many books we’ve published or not published, or how well-known or obscure we are, we all have this insane thing called writing in common. we all live with characters in our heads. we all have the insatiable, sometimes overwhelming, need to get those characters and their stories onto paper or computer screens so they don’t drive us to the brink of insanity.

and even when we want to give up writing because it’s become this wild beast we can’t tame, we still go back to it. no matter how much we try to deny it or run from it, we are still writers.