blog hop

Pandora’s Tacklebox Returns!

Last year, as some of you remember, my theme for the Blogging From A to Z Challenge was Pandora’s Tacklebox: The Worst Romance Novel Ever Written In 26 Days. I showed everyone who showed up for the challenge how NOT to write, through the adventures of manly billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle and his mermaid lover Dropsy Velvet.

Many of you got a laugh out of this, and it’s been brought up over and over during my theme reveal for this year. Some of you suggested I should put Pandora’s Tacklebox in e-book format for distribution, and so guess what I went and did?

PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX IS NOW AN E-BOOK! Ahem, that is, a FREE e-book (I wouldn’t try to charge you good people for this nonsense). You can download it in tons of different formats on Smashwords!

Let me teach you how NOT to write a book…

Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever…

——-

This book was originally a collection of blog posts that made up my theme for the April 2016 Blogging From A to Z Challenge, which lasts 26 days and covers each letter of the alphabet. My hoped-for goal, gentle readers and writers, is to teach you how not to write a book. From awful dialog to awkward foreshadowing, cartoonish villains and even more cartoonish heroes, useless details, too many details, plot that goes nowhere, and metaphor-laced drivel, there will be something to offend even the most seasoned writer/agent/editor/beta reader/long-suffering friend of an author who thinks they’ve seen it all. Take notes, learn, discuss, and most importantly–laugh.

GET IT FREE AT SMASHWORDS!

Spring!

Spring has finally sprung, at least here in the northern hemisphere! Well, spring has ‘officially’ sprung, anyway. In Cleveland it’s still cold and snowy, but it’s all uphill from this point forward, right? (Unless we get one of our spring blizzards.) Soon we’ll have flowers and green and sunny days. Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Actually, all of them are my favorite except winter.

Spring being in the air also means the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge is right around the corner! Did you check out my theme reveal this week?

Here’s to bright skies ahead!

Blogging From A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal

This is my third year doing the challenge, and it’s time to bring the truth.

For the Blogging From A to Z Challenge I’m doing you all a huge favor and filling you in on the 26 Things To Hate About Writing.** I’m hoping by the end of April, I will have convinced all of you not to indulge in the wild insanity of becoming a writer. If I can save even one person from offering themselves up in sacrifice to the mad and fickle word gods, I will have done some good in this world.

Here’s 26 things that are just the worst about writing:

A – Authors
B – Books
C – Creating Characters
D – Dialog
E – Edits
F – Fantasy Worlds
G – Grammar
H – Homophones
I – Inconsistencies
J – Jealousy
K – Killing Your Darlings
L – Language
M – Message
N – Notes
0 – Originality
P – Plot
Q – Quantity
R – Readers
S – Self-Publishing
T – Transitions
U – Unfinished Manuscripts
V – Viewpoint
W – Word Count
X – Xeriscaping
Y – You
Z – Zero Days

Take heed! Hear my warning. Do not let yourself fall prey to this insidious pastime called writing, for down that path is nothing but tears, aggravation, folly, and disappointment. Not to mention: deadlines! Plot holes! Poor character development! Awful dialog! Rejection! Grammar mistakes! Bad reviews! Oooooh, it’s enough to chill the blood. WRITE AT YOUR OWN RISK.


**Disclaimer: If you haven’t figured it out, this theme will be pure satire and simply a humorous way to vent my writing frustrations. No offense is intended to anyone. Please, become or continue being a writer. It’s awesome, I swear. It’s super…duper, awesome…heh heh.

The Thrill Is Gone

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

My insecurity this month revolves around the fact that the second novel in my Kentucky Haints series, White Witch Magic, came out on February 21st. Well, I’m not insecure about that actually, that was pretty awesome, and it’s gotten some nice reviews and generally been well-received.

The thing is, I wrote the first and second book one right after another, a couple years ago. The story arc definitely needs a trilogy to be complete and wrap up the loose ends I left hanging at the end of the second book. I even know how I want to tie those ends up. However, I’ve written about a chapter of the third book so far and I’m feeling kinda bleh about the whole thing, just wanting to move on to something else.

I feel like if I put myself to the task I can probably complete the third book and wrap it up nicely. But I’m also wishing I wrote it when I wrote the other two, before the fire dwindled and my passion for the story dampened. Ugh. Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What did you do? Maybe simply working on the book will bring back my interest in the series. Goodness knows when I put my fingers to the keyboard and write, instead of procrastinating and whining, magical things happen.

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

One thing I’ve learned for myself is to let sleeping dogs lie. I’ve tried to reawaken stories a couple times and discovered that if I had really wanted the story to come to fruition, I would have completed it and made more of it at the time. Not to mention the further back in my writing I go, the worse it is and the more work it needs to be brought up to my current self-standards.

However, I have taken scenes from scrapped stories, reworked them, and put them into new stories. It’s a very patchwork quilt method of writing. That’s why we keep a scrap box!

I Hate Writing (Today)

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG will be Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy and Joylene Butler!

My insecurity this month is the fact that right now I feel like The Little Engine That Can’t. Or more like, The Little Engine That Doesn’t Want To And Every Day I Don’t Do It The Mounting Ennui Increases And Threatens To Smother Me.

It’s one of those baffling things about being a writer: I have ideas, I have plans for stories, I even have the time to write them, and when I get to the keyboard to actually do the work, bleeeehhhhhh. Why do you do this to me, brain? Do you think this is funny?

It’s not that I’m blocked, not really, the ideas are there. I just don’t feel like writing. I know this happens from time to time, and it’s happened to me in the past, and unfortunately I know there’s only one solution. The way to get back to writing is to write. Do it. Then do it some more. And pretty soon the rust falls off and you’re back to being a well-oiled word-churning machine. But ugh, getting there. It’s hard, and it sucks. I stare at the page and I’d rather be doing anything else in the world, like cleaning the toilet or shoveling snow off all the sidewalks in my entire apartment complex.

Why do we sometimes hate writing? I don’t want to break up, I just…need some space.

February 1 Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

It’s made it worse, truth be told. Now when I read, I catch every typo, every instance of weird grammar, every inconsistency, every place where the plot is tied together with thin strings that are threatening to snap. Most of the time I just see the framework instead of the magic. I wonder if architects look at every building and only see how it was put together and what’s wrong with it?

On the other hand, there’s some truly awful examples of writing out there that have been hugely successful, so it gives me hope for my own work. It reminds me nothing has to be perfect to be great.

What are your insecurities today?

It’s Coming!

I realized with a shock this past weekend that January is almost over, and The Blogging From A to Z Challenge will be upon us in three short months! I always try to queue up my posts in February so that when April rolls around, I can sail through the challenge. Last year, of course, my theme was Pandora’s Tacklebox, the worst romance novel ever written in 26 days. I came up with a theme for this year while writing this week’s IWSG post. Now let’s see if I can capture any of the wit and humor of last year.

Nothing is officially scheduled on the site yet, but I hover anxiously, awaiting sign-ups. Are you in this year?

Edit: There will be a big announcement about the challenge February 6th!

You Know Nothing

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG will be Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

This is a funny question because I tend to take the teachings of my editors way too far. Once they show me a new rule or show me how something should be done, I then religiously use what I’ve learned to the point of forsaking style and rhythm. Only when I go back and find things feel clunky or awkward because of whatever rule I’m strictly following, I learn the real truth: sometimes, rules are meant to be broken, or at least bent. Preserving readability is more important than adhering strictly and unwaveringly to technicality. Style is just as important as structure.

That being said, what writing rule do I wish I’d never heard? Well, it’s more like one I wish writers would stop telling each other: write what you know.

This is a silly rule taken at face value. If people only wrote what they know, we’d have far less books about detectives, doctors, murderers, medieval kings, and time travelers. There would be no stories about spaceships and werewolves and superheroes. What we don’t know, we can research, especially in this age of technology. Sure, if you’re writing about something you don’t personally take part in, it’s good if you have a fascination or interest in it at least; however, it’s not hard to learn the details of most places, professions, and eras, or to make up rules for aliens and paranormal creatures.

Write what you know should mean to write about how you know people behave in certain situations, how humanity interacts with each other, and what drives us as people. It’s about knowing what it’s like to be a human being who struggles, wants, suffers, and needs. That’s what you know, that’s what all people know. That should be where ‘write what you know’ ends. It doesn’t apply to knowing what it’s like to be a Roman Emperor or a talking cat.

To hell with writing what you know. Write what you like!

Getting Up The Hill

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the December 7 posting of the IWSG will be Jennifer Hawes, Jen Chandler, Nick Wilford, Juneta Key, JH Moncrieff, Diane Burton, and MJ Fifield!

My insecurity this month revolves around the fact that I’m feeling a little drained right now. Okay, a lot drained. I recently got a promotion at work and the adjustment has taken a lot of my energy and caused a shift of focus. Christmas is also coming and all the buzz surrounding that. As a result, I’m finding it hard to concentrate. I’m not working on writing much, struggling to keep my blog up, and generally just feeling drained and zoned out when I sit down at the computer (so then I screw around online instead of doing work).

I know all writers go through this from time to time, when life climbs on your back and slows you down. I’m hoping as things even out at work and the holidays pass, I’ll get the spark again and be able to concentrate. The funny part is, it’s a vicious cycle: the less I write, the worse I feel, and then the more drained I am. I have to break it!

December 7th Question: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

My ultimate ‘writing plan’ has always been to be a career writer. That is, I want to make a living off writing and not have a day job. Far-fetched? Definitely. Improbable? Maybe. Impossible? Only if I don’t do anything to reach that goal. I know it’s something that will take a lot of hard work and needs a little bit of luck thrown in as well.

In five years I hope to at least be paying some of the bills with writing, even if I’m not making a total living off it. How do I plan to do it? The only way an author can make a living off writing: write, publish, repeat. Unless I happen to land a bestseller, it will take lots of work and lots of available work to make a living. Though even if I do magically hit it big, I’ll keep writing more books because–I love writing!

My plan is to do a job I love, which is writing, and live comfortably on it. But it’s going to be a long, hard, sometimes uncomfortable road getting there. I think that’s true of a lot of professions, though. No one becomes a doctor or lawyer overnight, either.

This plan seems incongruent with my insecurities this month, doesn’t it? I guess that’s a sign for me!

How are you feeling this month? Have you ever been drained and unfocused?

The Creative Type

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the November 2 posting of the IWSG will be Joylene Nowell Butler, Jen Chandler, Mary Aalgaard, Lisa Buie Collard, Tamara Narayan, Tyrean Martinson, and Christine Rains!

November 2nd Question: What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

This is a kind of difficult question to answer. I mean, there’s so many great things about being a writer it’s hard to pick just one thing. From the millions of dollars my books makes me, to the yachts and mansions, the shopping sprees in Paris, always being invited on TV talk shows, the hunky male models feeding me chocolate…

Oh wait, let me come back from dreamland now!

Really, I don’t write for money, and if you start out writing to become rich, boy, are you in for a disappointment. The goal of being a writer, of course, should be the writing itself. That’s where the joy is. You may or may not make money writing. If you do, that’s great! If you don’t, writing is still a pretty awesome thing to do. Most writers will tell you that they don’t really have a choice about writing–it’s something we’re called to, and if we don’t do it, it will eat at us and wake us up in the middle of the night until we pay attention to the urge.

I’ve always been a writer. I’ve always known it was what I wanted to do with my life. It took me a lot of years to get it right, and I’m sure there’s still more I need to learn. But that’s the great part about it, is that I’ll never stop improving my craft and understanding it better. The journey doesn’t end with one book, or a hundred. It goes on and on. Writing is forever!

So–my favorite aspect of being a writer? It’s the writing itself. It’s the knowledge that I was called to this and that it’s my life’s purpose. Nothing feels better than writing and being involved in the act of creation. I wouldn’t trade it for all the chocolate-feeding male models in the world (okay, I might give up a couple books for Luke Pasqualino…). Writing is awesome!

Tucking Your Tentacles

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley!

Today I’m co-hosting the IWSG! Check out the bottom of the post for information on the IWSG anthology contest.

OCTOBER 5th QUESTION: When do you know your story is ready?

This is a tough question to answer. By ‘ready’ I assume that means ready to send off to an agent/editor and cross your fingers. No matter how long you’ve been writing or how far along you are in your career, getting a manuscript to that point takes a lot of rewriting and editing. Have you read and re-read your work, fixed it up, changed it up, made sure all the slots fit in the holes, that things go from point A to point B, and let a few other people look at it? Are your eyes bleeding yet? Are you ready to never have to look at this story again as long as you live? Great, then you should put it away for a few months so you can go back and do it all over again with fresh eyes and a clear brain.

One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, says that trying to get a book ready is like “putting an octopus to bed.” You keep trying to tuck it in but the tentacles keep falling out. I think this is a great analogy. You might fix one issue only to find another issue has popped out from under the covers. You make yourself crazy trying to fit everything under the blanket, and all the while the octopus is just staring at you and squirting ink all over you. Somedays you start to question if you really love the octopus and want to keep it, or throw it down a storm drain.

For me, I know things are done when I can’t find anything else to fix. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can still be fixed, but like a tall, teetering tower of blocks, I’ve finally got things stacked up just right so that it won’t collapse. It’s good enough. It might even be good.

Then, if a publisher picks it up, they’re going to knock your tower over and make you reassemble it so it doesn’t wobble at all, and you get to do this all over again. Welcome to being an author!


Announcing the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter – blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

Word count: 3000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain’s redemption, a hero’s lack of confidence, a hero’s lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

Deadline: November 1st 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

GO HERE TO LEARN MORE