Stress #WritersLife #IWSG

Stress? What would a writer know about that? Pfft.

I have so many posts about stress, this could simply be a string of links to those. I won’t do that to you.

Among other things, I’ve written about the pressure of “success”, too-many ideas syndrome, and trying to fit writing into my schedule while juggling the numerous responsibilities of life. Dealing with the technical side of stuff (formatting, universal links, formatting, working in Canva, formatting). Trying to keep up with blogging and social media. And putting myself out there with marketing, promotion, etc.

Trying to choose which of those stresses me the most is like trying to choose which wine I like best. It depends.

I’d probably bundle some themed stress-baskets, as a lot of these go together quite nicely.

Writer’s Stress Basket One: Time (lack of, trying to find some), Success (what that even means to each individual writer vs what the world expects it to mean), Blogging (see “Time”), Social Media (see “Time” and, also, just ugh…), Life (see “Time” and, also sapping of energy/creativity). Add a bow and we’re done.

Writer’s Stress Basket Two: Formatting, Uploading, Downloading, Graphics, Promos/Ads, Word, Anything at all to do with computers, Anything at all to do with platforms, Anything at all to do with file types. This one needs some ribbons hanging off the handle.

Writer’s Stress Basket Three: Marketing and Promotion. Add some metallic tinsel crinkle paper and we’re ready to go.

At any given time, my writer’s life delivers me one of these lovely little baskets so that’s where I’m at on that.

What delights me about writing? Well, I feel I should give an equal amount of time to discussing that. It would only be fair. But I’m not going to. Writing, itself, delights me. It really does. I love it. It’s a lifelong pal. Also, putting something of quality out into the world that I created, that I worked hard on, that I am proud of…well, that’s delightful.

HAPPY DECEMBER!
🎄🕎🎅🏻❄⛄

The writer’s life is challenging. It’s full of stressors. Which ones are your biggest bugbears? What brings you delight in your writing life?

IWSG Question of the Month

December Prompt – In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Blurbs Drive Me Batty #IWSG

Blurbs, am I right? They’re the scourge of the writing world. A plague. They must be destroyed.

Blurbs are the bane of every author’s existence. (At least mine. And it’s my blog so I say OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!)

Also, I’ll add, intros. Ugh. Though not quite as bad as blurbs, intros are pretty awful. I have a whole post on rejected book intros that’s totally worth reading. It’s sad and kind of hilarious and 100% true.

Here’s a snippet from that post (which could definitely work for blurbs):

During this time of lunacy when I was alienating friends and forcing family to disown me, I came up with some real doozies.

The following introductions are real. They were not written for your amusement. But I thought I would share them with you in case you are amused. It’s okay, you can totally be embarrassed for me.

  • I like writing. I don’t like spiders. I made a book. Read it.
  • I think I’d rather become dinner for the Swamp Thing than continue working on this foreword. Which is ridiculous because the Swamp Thing protects people (and is probably a vegetarian).
  • Short fiction is like dark chocolate. It’s pure cocoa with no fillers. A small piece is rich and satisfying.
  • I don’t like writing bios, forewords, or introductions. Actually, I don’t care for anything that requires me to tell readers about myself or my work.
  • This pumpkin spice stuff is seriously getting out of control. Here’s a book with NO pumpkin spice in it.
  • I’ve missed meals, skipped family outings, remained unshowered for two five days, typed until my eyes were sand paper and my fingers bled, developed headaches that laughed at Tylenol, and alienated many friends with my writer moods. I do hope you appreciate all that went into this book and that you will take pity on me and read it.
  • I triple dog dare you not to read this book!
  • This is a collection of mini stories… But, wait! There’s more! No, there isn’t. But mini stories are fun and delicious. Like those little cupcakes with sprinkles that you can eat a bunch of without having to explain yourself to anybody because they expect you to eat more than one.
  • Will this torment never cease?!!!
  • I’m seriously considering finding a vampire and asking it (“him”? or “her”?) to turn me so I have an excuse to not finish this intro. No, seriously. Now I’m wondering. What is the correct pronoun for creatures of the night? Are they “it” or do you refer to them by the gender they were before they were bitten? And, technically, they are still that gender. Regardless, if I were a turned into a vampire it would require some adjustment on my part. Would that be an acceptable reason for not including an introduction to this collection?
  • There is nothing (not one thing) in this book that mentions the United States political system, the election, or the candidates.
  • Short fiction is known by many names. Flash, sudden, postcard, micro, hint… Hint fiction. Get it? Hinting at Shadows does hint at darkness but it’s also hint fiction. Cool, huh? *nudge* *nudge* *wink* *wink* Know what I mean?
  • I’d rather be watching Harry Potter.
  • If I write any more introductions, there’s a real possibility I will spontaneously combust.

Titles? Now that’s a different ball of wax. I love titles. Titles for books, blog posts, short stories, flash… Titles are wonderful. Delightful. Magically delicious. (And easy. And fun. Have I mentioned I love them?)

What say you, gentle readers? Can you write blurbs easily? (If so, I don’t like you anymore. Kidding. But do comment because I may hire you.) What about titles? How easy or difficult are those for you?

IWSG Question of the Month

November Prompt – Which is more difficult–coming up with a title for your book or writing the blurb?

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

I’m an Online Bartender (Revisited) #IWSG

This month’s IWSG question is about where we draw the line in our writing. This is a post from 2014. I can’t believe it was 7 years ago but there you go. Here’s my IWSG post (a day late and a dollar short).

When I bartended many moons ago, I stuck to the (possibly antiquated) rule of not talking about politics or religion. I kept the conversation light. Superficial.

It worked for me. After my shift, I left with a purse full of tips and my sanity intact. I didn’t take my work home with me. (Which, as a bartender, you really shouldn’t. Unless a rep comes in with free samples of a new raspberry-chocolate liquor. Those you bring home.)

Drunken conversations, disagreements, arguments, anger? Why would you want those in your head while you’re trying to get to sleep at 4 AM?

I’ve seen a few bar brawls in my time caused by “discussions”. It’s really not a good idea to drink and talk about volatile issues. In fact, one can drink a few margaritas, make a cutting comment about another person’s shoes, and that can lead to a fist fight so what might talking about religion lead to? Go ahead and give that a moment’s thought.

I have coined a new term: “Online Bartender”. I’m not going to mix you a martini. (Get your own drink and meet me back here.) I’m also not going to discuss politics or religion or current events. Bet you saw that one coming.

If a person (like me, for example) does not write about the latest news, it does not necessarily mean that said person doesn’t know or care about the issues.

I choose not to write about my opinions on religion and politics (war, abusive sports players, school shootings, terrorism, anti-this or pro-that…) here at Lemon Shark. It doesn’t mean I don’t know about these things, it means I don’t use my blog to talk about them. That’s just me.

Although…

I happen to know that some other bloggers also feel this way so please, while on your blog-reading travels, try to remember that some people are Online Bartenders.

Cheers! 🍷🍺😊

On your blog, are there topics you shy away from (or that are completely off-limits) or do you let it all out? Are you an Online Bartender?

IWSG Question of the Month

October Prompt – In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language??

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Success Is a Four-Letter Word #IWSG

I have a few many tons of posts about success. Fear of success. Lack of success. What is success. Blah, blah. But, the common theme running through these narratives is that I do not believe in a generic, blanket definition of success. I think the word (along with “should” and “balance”) needs to be banned. Alas, it is here to stay. And I will whine about it once more. You’re welcome.

Success is so freakin’ personal. It means something different to everyone.

So when someone says they’re happy to have a never-in-a-million-years-will-this-be-a-best-seller book…maybe, instead of saying, “You can’t think that!” Or “Everyone wants to have a best-selling book!” Or “You’re just saying that because you know it won’t sell.” Maybe just…I don’t know…be nice and believe them.

Some writers want ALL OF THE THINGS. A traditionally published book, a NYT best-selling book, a movie based on their series. Cool. Some want enough to pay the bills and quit their day job. Excellent goal, especially if you hate your day job and your boss is a jackass. Some just want to write. And that’s great, too.

Success is getting into Oxford University, making your first million, being cast as the NEXT BIG THING in some future Marvel movie. It’s also learning to tie your shoe, figuring out your cell phone, losing 5 lbs, catching a baseball. Success is dropping your kid off on his first day of school without crying.

For me, it’s complicated. I have dreams and goals and whatnot but I also have realistic expectations and the knowledge that, whether people believe me or not, I write for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Because it’s true.

I suppose, in the simplest terms, I define success (as a writer) by the quality of my books. Success is writing, editing, and publishing something I can be proud of.

How do you define success as a writer?  Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

IWSG Question of the Month

September Prompt – How do you define success as a writer?

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Why Quitting Writing Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done (Revisited) #IWSG

Wow. This month’s question is a doozy. One I’ve dealt with. Quitting writing.

Check out this post: Why Quitting Writing Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

I quit writing five years ago knowing this:

“I have nothing waiting for me to fill the emptiness where my dream used to be.”

It wasn’t a break, it was a promise. I was done.

Less than a year later, I realized I couldn’t keep that promise.

“I thought my life demanded I let go of my dream. I thought I had to kill a piece of myself, to make room for a new piece—one that could deal with all of the drama, chaos, and responsibilities. But it broke my spirit when I quit.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved putting pencil to paper and creating stories. I’ve always known writing is part of me. It’s not that I discovered this last year, it’s that I got a reality slap. A reminder that I need writing. Not just that I love it—I need it.”

This was a painful lesson and one I’m glad I went through.

Have you ever quit writing? Have you ever considered it? I’m pretty sure every writer, at some point, has thrown up his or her hands in frustration and yelled, “I quit!” Or something like that, anyway. But would you ever really quit?

IWSG Question of the Month

July Prompt – What would make you quit writing?

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Laser Focused? #IWSG

 

It’s June already? What? How?

This summer is going to be interesting. Watch for some announcements and fun, my friends. Working on a thing at the moment and am pretty damn excited. 

Speaking of which, the question this month is about shelving drafts. I’m not having any of that right now. And I usually don’t. Except when I do. My collections don’t get shelved. I work and work (and work) until they’re as-near-to-perfect-as-I-can-manage then I’m done. Longer pieces are usually shelved (anywhere from a few days to ten years) but not because I feel the need to get space from them. More because I lose confidence in my abilities or something shiny comes along.

Speaking of which, my too-many-ideas syndrome I mentioned in last month’s IWSG post is still plaguing me. I’ve had some suggest that I shouldn’t write them down but, if I don’t, I’ll forget. Or, worse (way worse), the ideas will sit in my head, refusing to leave, and knock against my skull to be let out. Tylenol does not help with this.

That said, my focus has been off-the-charts amazing. I am working on one project. ONE. Can you believe? Admittedly, it’s a ginormous one so I’ve kind of been forced to focus. And it’s got a lot of parts so it feels like more than one project. And, actually, it’s almost to the point of an obsession. Huh. Okay. But, hey, focused, people. Huzzah!

Speaking of which… Yeah, I got nothing. Just wanted to type that again. 

 

Do you take time away from your projects? If so, why? To get some clarity/perspective? To clear your head? To wait for beta readers to get back to you? Because something shiny comes along?

IWSG Question of the Month

June Prompt – How long do you shelve your first draft before reading it and redrafting? 

IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)
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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Showers & Flowers #IWSG

 

What am I insecure about this month? Hmm.

First of all, WordPress is not being very nice and it’s not going to get any dessert. It’s possible it might get grounded if it doesn’t SHAPE UP! Stupid WordPress. Stupid formatting. ARGH! 

 

Anyhoo… I have a lot going on. Writing stuff and life stuff.

Life stuff, well, just happens and you deal. You get through it. Because. Life.

Writing stuff is…tough. I mean, writers NEED to write. That’s how we feel but, technically, it’s not true. It’s not one of the basic human needs. (But it sure does feel like it.) It’s like you must fit in your writing regardless of what else is going on. Which can be overwhelming.

Presently, I’m juggling a fair amount in the life category but, also, the writing category.

Trying to write in the spaces between life responsibilities. Editing a few books that have been patiently waiting to see the light of day. Getting those new covers together. Working on a (long-overdue) book. And, always, the technical crap. Ugh with that already. Please.

Also… My too-many-ideas syndrome is flaring up. And my ooh-a-shiny-new-project is back. I’m taking Tums but, alas, I’m still in distress.

So, yeah, a bit overwhelmed with ALL OF THE THINGS raining down on me. But April showers bring May flowers, right? Hopefully, this month will be calm. Pretty. Unsoggy. Blossoming with creative possibility and productivity.

Here’s to a bloomin’ brilliant May, my bloggy friends. 🌸

 

 

Do you try to fit your writing in or put it aside when life rains on you? Also, I’m super curious how many other writers have too-many-ideas and ooh-a-shiny-new-project syndromes. Do you? 

 

 

IWSG Question of the Month

May Prompt – Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

Taking Writing Risks #IWSG

 

I never thought of myself as a risk-taker. A writing rebel. But, thinking on it, I guess I am.

I’ve mentioned numerous times (as recently as last month’s IWSG post) that I write what I want regardless of whether it’s popular, fits into any known genre, or is marketable. That, in itself, is risky. Also, the form, subject matter, tone, and style make my writing a pretty tailored taste.

I’m currently finishing my MS that’s not-novel, not-short-story, not-novella. And I break the rules of how it’s supposed to be written.

Also, I just posted about the possible downfalls of changing the covers of my books, wondering whether or not I should do it. Yup, I am. And they’re going to be what I like, not what they “should” be.

Oh, and, as you all know, I’m a pantser. ‘Nuff said.

So, um, yeah, I’m a risk-taking writer.

 

Wow. After writing this post, I realized I take risks in just about every area of the writing process. Yikes. 

Do you take risks in your writing?   

 

 

IWSG Question of the Month April Prompt – Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work? IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

 

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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading & Writing in Specific Genres #IWSG

 

Genre. 

This topic vexes me. 

A few lines from my 2016 post, Footloose and Fantasy-Free

I wish my writing fit neatly into a specific genre.

[it’s easier to market your book and gain readers] if you can categorize what you’ve written.

The thing is, I write what I want and it’s not always tidy. 

Five years later, I’m still in the same unanchored boat. Bother. 

I do enjoy the freedom of writing without borders, without expectations… But, honestly, for simplicity, marketing, and pitching, it would be nice to have a specific genre.

Horror.

Boom. Quick and easy. Sometimes I’d love to say, “I’m a romance writer”, or “I write sci-fi”, or “I’m working on the seventh book in my cozy mystery series”. Alas, my genre doesn’t really exist. 

 

As far as my reading preferences, they can’t fit into the genre I write (because of the not existing thing).

I know what I don’t enjoy reading, but, other than that, I just go for what pops off the shelf, grabs me by the collar, and screams YOU MUST READ ME. (Always obey the books, my friends. They are powerful and all-knowing.)

Fun fact: Next to all sorts of of grown-up books, my shelves are chock-full of children’s, middle grade, and YA books. (Before you judge, there are quite a few truly remarkable, beautifully written books out there in these categories.) 

Whether it’s poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction, I enjoy quality writing. (There are exceptions. Sometimes I just crave a bit of escapism, you know?) All that to answer the question: What motivates my reading choices? Great writing. 

 

What do you like to read? What motivates your choices?

If you’re an author, do you tend to read in the genre you write in? (Do you even have a specific genre? Please tell me there’s someone else out there who’s genre-free.)

 

 

 

IWSG Question of the Month March Prompt – Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice? IWSG

 

 

(Insecure Writer’s Support Group) Insecure Writers Support Group Badge This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

 

 

 

 

The Friends I’ve Made Along the Way #IWSG

 

Much has been said about whether people we meet online are “real” friends, the differences between online friends and friends IRL (in real life), and what type of relationship we can have with people we’ve never met. 

So I won’t get into a whole thing.

I will say blogging’s been a long and rocky road. In my travels, I’ve met quite a few people. Some great ones. Some grumpy ones. *shrugs* That’s life, online or otherwise.

Mostly, though, I’ve met truly amazing individuals and developed relationships. I have some acquaintances, some pals, and some fellow cheese-and-chocolate-loving friends. Dear friends. The fact we connected through blogging takes nothing from that feeling. You know the feeling. The one where things just click. That says, quite clearly, this is one of your tribe, lady. Break out the wine. Those friendships have moved out of the blogosphere. (They live in the suburbs.) 

Before I found blog hops, writing prompts, photo prompts, tags, and the rest of the wonderful ways you connect with other bloggers, I just wrote and connected with my lovely bloggy friends fortuitously. Or because Mars was in retrograde. Who knows?

You’re supposed to have an “online presence”. More importantly, you’re supposed to have loads of followers. I don’t. And I’m good with that. Because I’m here. On Lemon Shark. Where I post about life, the universe, and everything. And Lemon Shark Reef, where my writer-of-flash-fiction side splashes around with words. So, yeah, I’m good. 

I could list dozens of reasons I love blogging but the main reason is the friends I’ve made along the way. 

 

Hate to type and run but this blog post is due today so off I go… Cheerio and good day, gentle readers. 

 

 

 

 

I’ve known about The Insecure Writers Support Group for years. I joked I was too insecure to sign up. Also, the old Groucho Marx quip: I wouldn’t want to belong to any group that would have me as a member. Alas, here I am, writing a post for IWSG. (I simply couldn’t resist the question for this month about blogging and friendships.) 

IWSG Question of the Month

February Prompt – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere? 

 

 

IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group) 
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This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh.