IWSG Question of the Month


This month’s IWSG question is: November is National Novel Writing Month. Have you ever participated? If not, why not?

As a matter of fact, I have participated in NaNoWriMo. Several times, in fact, with varying degrees of success. I’ve written the challenged 50K words twice that I specifically recall, and gave up three or four times. Basically, I’d started on stories that kind of fizzled out a few chapters in.

I love NaNoWriMo. I believe strongly in challenging yourself as a writer. My personal challenges are usually to focus on writing something that I know that I struggle with, but word count goals are also fun.

I hadn’t thought about participating this year, mostly because other parts of my life tend to get busy around this time of year, but… you know, now that I am thinking about it, I think I will give it a shot again.

Wish me luck, and good luck to all of you who decide to try as well! 50K in 30 days!


Writing and Where I am at

A guest post by Elizabeth Mueller

My writing journey has taken me up and down and all around twisty pathways brambled with obstacles and blocks. It hasn’t been an easy one but I do it for the love of escapism that it provides.

Photo by user12019@pixabay

I started out writing simple poetry in grade school and, when I noticed my love for horses, wrote my first chapter story after a wild horse named Thunder. Each chapter was front-and-back of a lined paper! I went back to poetry in high school as an outlet for dealing with at-home frustrations as well as bullies…then my love for writing deepened with my creative writing class.

I started my first full-length epic fantasy novel at the age of 16, which I finished writing 8 years later! I wrote it all on wide-ruled paper where I shoved them all into a 3-inch binder with individual plastic sleeves. I went as far as illustrate first chapter drawings. I consider this book a processing-my-life book. Does it deserve to be published? Maybe with many rounds of edits!

Once I realized how freeing writing was, I kept the trend up and wrote faster and faster—it does help to have a computer than a pencil and paper, let me tell you!

I purchased many self-help books and studied the craft as well as join a local writing group at the library. I also entered writing contests, participated in NaNoWriMo, and attended writing conferences where I met published writers. I oohed and ahhed with starry eyes, yearning to join the ranks of authors.

I kept writing, never giving up as I made publishing my goal. And I have.

After several books under my belt, I published my first one. It’s all about networking. We learn from others—what to do, what not to do, who to seek, and who to avoid. The person who wanted to know about my books was a fellow writer I’d recently made friends with at a writing conference who’d just signed a contract. She said that her publisher enjoyed my art and was wondering if I had any books she could look at. This was my big break!

From there, I’ve published a handful of anthologies with various small publishers, debated whether to remain in traditional publishing or explore self-publishing. I remained indecisive for a few years until I self-published a short story. I designed the book cover and formatted it. I’d asked multiple friends to beta read it for me. It’s available in both ebook and paper back formats. This solo journey was made possible because of willing friends whom I’d actively helped with their writing projects along the way.

It wasn’t easy making that final decision—I’d seen too many writers whose books became orphaned by traditional publishers, many of writers struggled with communication because the publishers were too

busy, even authors in one of the Big 5 struggled! The road to publish isn’t easy, it isn’t one-size-fits all—it’s a rather personal journey.

Something that we don’t think about as we start out is the business end of things. Despite going with a traditional publisher, we still need to push our books. I’ve learned that no one will love the book as much as the one who wrote it. It is completely up to us to get our books out and there’s only so much a publisher will and can do, but the rest is up to you!

A book I’ve written 5 years ago isn’t as polished as a book I’ve written 1 year ago. It helps to know the techniques beforehand. Yes, it is possible to write a reasonably polished first draft, but that comes with dedication over a period of time and will always need good beta readers.

I’ve learned we’d struggle without other writers. We’re all in this together. I’ve seen some authors acting defensively protective about their journey or about sharing what worked and what didn’t work for them to the point that they’d made others feel hopeless and lost. I encourage you to remember your beginnings and whose shoulders you stood upon and to remember to lend a hand up to those behind.

My story is still ongoing. It’s a journey…

Thank you, Leod, for having me over today.

Award-winning author Elizabeth Mueller lives deep in the heart Texas surrounded by everyone she loves—including the characters who don’t stop talking in her head. While she enjoys homeschooling her kidlets, she thrives as a full-time writer of any genre that captures her heart.

Her website is http://www.elizabethmueller.com/

Insecure Writers’ Support Group Prompt

So, it’s the first Wednesday of the month, and time for the IWSG prompt post. And today’s question is:

What do you consider the best characteristics of your favorite genre?

Oh, I like this question!

Let’s start with my favorite genre, or genres, in this case. There are differences between science fiction and fantasy, and in some conversations it’s important to distinguish between the two, but for the purposes of this conversation, they’re essentially the same thing.

For me, the best characteristics of Scifi and fantasy is the distance they give us from the subject matter. There are a lot of important things in the world today that should be discussed, that should be debated, that should be considered and re-examined from different viewpoints. But it’s hard to have those conversations because every time you try to start one, you’re basically coming in to the middle of the conversation. The person you’re talking to has talked about this before. They’ve argued about it before, they’ve heard the arguments from the other side, and they have plenty to say about it. So much to say about it that they aren’t likely to listen to see if you have new points or a new perspective.

And, in fairness to them, you tend to do the same thing. Everybody does. Especially when we’ve had this same conversation twenty times with twenty people, all of whom refused to listen to us and just repeated the same stuff we’ve already heard over and over again.

The more important a topic is, the harder it is to find a way to actually discuss it.

But science fiction and fantasy can give us distance from the issue. Talking about the good and the harm that religion can do is very difficult when you’re talking about religions that actually exist. The people in them don’t want to hear the bad, and the people out of them have plenty of counterarguments against the good. But if it’s a brand new religion on a planet a thousand years and a hundred lightyears from here, people can look at those same issues with new eyes.

That isn’t to say that every single fantasy book is, or needs to be, an examination of complicated social issues. But they can be. And they can make people consider viewpoints they wouldn’t otherwise examine.

Now, on to other business: Next week I will have a guest blogger. A member of my writing group, Elizabeth Mueller, author of Darkspell and Awaken: A love story will be visiting, and I hope you look forward to hearing from her as much as I do!

‘You ain’t supposed to’

So, there’s this movie that I rather enjoy called ‘Hollywood Homicide.’ Interestingly, I didn’t like it the first time I saw it, but every time I’ve seen it since, I’ve enjoyed it more. Some movies are just like that, I guess.

Anyhow, there’s one line in it that struck me as profound the first time I saw it. A detective played by Harrison Ford is talking with a kid who writes Hip Hop music. He says something along the lines of ‘I just don’t get {that genre of music]’ and the kid’s mother responds with, ‘You ain’t supposed to.’

It was the first time that it clicked in my head that not every piece of art is meant for everyone who might stumble upon it. Whether you’re talking about paintings, sculptures, dance routines, books, music, or whatever, art is made for an audience, but it isn’t made for all audiences. The fact that a particular piece, or a particular genre, or a particular art form, does not speak to me isn’t necessarily a reflection of the value, quality, or validity of that piece, genre, or art form. It might simply mean that it isn’t for me.

It seems like such an obvious thing, now, but at the time it was a revelation for me. I had a habit of looking down on things that other people enjoyed because I couldn’t understand why they enjoyed them. I’d never taken the time to separate the idea of the quality of the creation from my appreciation of it. The two things had seemed inextricably linked.

It’s an important thing to keep in mind when examining art, but it’s also an important thing to keep in mind as a creator of art. Sometimes people don’t like what I make. I get one star reviews on my writing every now and then, and it’s difficult not to take it personally. But it’s a little bit easier when I remember that my writing isn’t for everybody. That doesn’t mean that I can ignore all critiques or dismiss every negative comment, but it’s worth remembering that some people will simply never enjoy my writing, no matter its quality.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Monthly Question


This month’s question: What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle, and why?

Oh, that’s an easy one!

The worst genre for me to tackle would be Romance. Why? Because I don’t believe in love.

Well… no, that’s not true, I do believe in love. I don’t believe in romantic love.

I believe that it’s possible for two people to love each other, as in to care as much or more for the other person’s wellbeing and happiness as you do for your own. But I don’t believe that there is a special kind of love that exists between two lovers. I think that most people get lust and love confused, and that a few, very fortunate people, who both lust and love the same person, get those emotions twisted together in their head and think that they’re one big emotion as opposed to two normal ones.

For the most part, I don’t think that my feeling this way is a problem, but it would be hard for me to write a classically styled romance novel simply because the classic romance novels generally have two people meet and start feeling something new and special that they’ve never felt before.

Bah, humbug!

Writing insecurities

So, last night I finished my first pass through my new manuscript. I’m not actually very close to completion, this thing is raw and will need to go through several more major edits before I’m anywhere near ready to put it out, but this was an important milestone.

But I find myself a bit insecure about what I’ve done. Specifically, I’m concerned that the second half of my story doesn’t live up to the potential of the first half. This is not the first time I’ve found myself feeling this way about something I’ve written, and, thinking it all over, it occurred to me that, when I was beginning as a writer, I started writing literally hundreds of stories that I never finished. I think that’s pretty common. I would write for a while, then find myself bogged down in the middle and unable to move forward, so I’d just abandon the project. This has led me to wonder if I simply lack the necessary practice of writing the second half of a novel.

Maybe I need to write hundred and hundreds of second halves to books before I get to the point that I’ll have the same confidence in the ending of my books that I do in the beginning.

Just some of the idle thoughts that flit through my brain to keep me awake at night.

I don’t get twitter

So, I’m trying to build up my online presence. I know that I need to put more effort into promoting myself and my work, that’s just part of being an author these days. But it’s a part that I’ve always struggled with. Right now, I’m focusing on two things: having a regular blog (ie, this) and trying to be on twitter. This part, at least, I kind of get. It’s a journal that share with other people. I’m not going to be able to post every day, but I can come up with something every once in a while to ramble on about. I’m also going to try to do the insecure writer’s group thing, and post once a month about their prompt.

What I don’t understand, however, is twitter. I suppose if you use it for memes it makes a certain amount of sense, but as a way to say something meaningful, it just seems like it’s too limiting for most things, and too easy to get lost in the shuffle for the rest.

I think, maybe, I’m just too old for twitter. Maybe I should take a class taught by a teenager, learn how to make memes.

A long summer

So, I’m living in Texas at the moment. I’m working on the family farm while I try to get my writing career moving. It’s been a bitch of a summer. For starters, the heat this summer has been insane. The temperature has hit a hundred more days than not for the last two months, and August doesn’t look like it’s going to get any cooler.

But it’s more than just that. I’m also going through some stuff. I had a major depressive episode recently, and while I’ve mostly recovered, I can’t shake a feeling of general hopelessness. I’m trying to push through, to keep writing and to get back that touch of optimism that I need, but it’s been rough.

There’s also a lot going on with the farm. We’ve had problems with some calves, and while I haven’t had to bear the brunt of that, I’ve played a supporting role and that’s proved to be a heavier load than I would have liked.

My goal for a while now has been to get to the point that I could put out two books a year, ideally one under my own name and one under my pen name, but the year is more than halfway over and I’m nowhere near ready to put out the project I’ve been working on.

It’s been a long, miserable summer. I’m pretty sure I’m going to survive it, but it’s hit me harder than I’d like to admit.

Still, nothing to do but press on. Hopefully, one day this will just be a minor speedbump on my way to where I want to be. Fingers crossed.

Insecure writer’s support group post

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Well, this is my first time trying to participate in the IWSG blog hop. Here’s hoping I don’t make an idiot of myself.

The subject for August 3rd is: When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original or do you try to give readers what they want?

Interesting question, especially since I don’t have a big enough following at the moment that I know what people want. But in purely theoretical terms, I think that it depends on what I’m writing. I currently have a series that I’m working on, and when you are working on something like that, you definitely owe the reader a certain amount of predictableness. Not to say that the stories all need to be the same and need to be entirely predictable, but you need to have some consistency. You’ve established the kind of writing they can expect in the first couple of books, and they’ve come back to get another fix of what they’re used to.

But when you start a new project, it’s a different story. You want to take your reader on a new journey, establish new rules. I think one of the best things for that is to give yourself a challenge. I like to look for something that I don’t naturally do very well, and try to set up the story so that I have to focus on that. For example, I found that I was in the habit of giving all of my characters the same voice, so for one writing project I moved back and forth between two characters pov. Two characters who were very different from one another. Each chapter switched from one character to the other, and each time I started a new chapter I had to focus on getting back into the voice of that particular character.

Another time, I had someone tell me that my writing lacked description, particularly I didn’t write to engage all of the senses. So I decided to write a story from the perspective of a creature for whom scent was his primary sense.

Whether those projects were truly original, I don’t know, but they were new and different for me, and I think that they are all the better for it.

Time to get back online

It’s been a while. Of all of the things someone needs to do to be a successful writer, the one that has always been hardest for me is promotion. Whether it’s coming up with ads, or simply having a blog that regularly and reliably features new material, I never seem to be able to keep up with it for very long.

But it’s time to try again, so here I go. Fingers crossed, wish me luck!

Tall Tale Teller Taking Time To Talk Trash