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)

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing Your Book Cover

 

 

I’m not sure how many authors feel that annoying need to update their book covers. I didn’t think I would.

But I do.

However.

I have some questions, concerns, and downright worries about doing this.

Hence, the post.

Thoughts are whirling in my head (as always).

Where do I start? Do I go with what I love or what is marketable? What about the cost? What if I change my mind and/or the cover again? What about all the places I’ve already put the images online? What about readers who have my books and mistakenly think I have a new book and purchase it? (I’ve heard of that happening and, full disclosure, I’ve almost done it.) Gah!

I know I’m forgetting something. Or, possibly, many somethings.

I know some authors who update their covers regularly often occasionally and others who never have. *shrug*

Moneywise, timewise, pain-in-the-ass-wise. I just don’t know if it’s worth it. All this has kept me from just going ahead with it. But I’ve wanted to for a bit now and I’m getting antsy. What say you, gentle readers?

 

ThoughtBubble

My random thoughts in under 200 words.

 

Authors: Have you ever thought about changing your book covers? Have you actually done it? How did it go?

Readers: How do you feel about authors changing covers? Does it throw you off/make it difficult to find the next book in a series? Do you think the author has a new book? 

 

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) 
Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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

 

 

 

 

My One Word for 2021 #OneWord2021


pine-cone-sig

 

I’ve been participating in One Word since 2017. Wow. Five years.

This quote from 2018 says it all:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

I’m feeling a bit like Scrooge. Another year? Another One Word? Bah! Humbug.

And so, of course, I was in for a visit from… 👻 🎊🎉

The Posts of New Year’s Past:

 

One Word for 2020 was: Focus. Focus on one thing at a time to avoid overwhelm? Fab plan, lady. Alas…

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea. I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. A little. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

 

What I’ve learned from these Posts of New Year’s Past is I’m trying to be positive, providing some word to nurture, encourage, help… That’s lovely, but something was pulling me away from that. 2020 was a tough year. For many people. For many reasons. The celebration of that year being over is everywhere.

I’m not celebrating. Not yet.

I decided I’m not going to force positivity on myself. Oh, I know I mean well but, hell, things kind of suck at the moment, new year or not. Why not acknowledge the suckiness? And why force positivity when we all know that never works?

When you shove those negative feelings down, they resurface. Always. In one way or another, they bob up like a rubber duck in a tub.

So I’m going with a negative One Word this year.

Sort of.

I’m acknowledging the negativity that clouds my life and letting myself know it’s okay to not be okay about it.

My focus word for 2021:

ALLOW

With everything going on, I’m giving myself permission to feel however I need to feel. If I feel bad, that’s okay. If I feel sad, that’s okay. If I feel stressed, angry, or hurt, that’s okay.

No guilt. No “should”. None of that nonsense.

I’m allowed to feel however I feel.

If I happen to feel good, or even happy, that’s allowed, too. So, yay.

As always, a definition (*nerd alert*):

allow

[əˈlou]

verb 
  • give (someone) permission to do something.

grant someone the right · give one’s blessing to · approve of · give the go-ahead to · give the thumbs up to · give the OK to · give the green light to

I’ve got the green light here, my friends. The go-ahead. The thumbs-up. I’ve been granted the right and given a blessing. What else could I ask for?

  • give the necessary time or opportunity for.

Time and opportunity to feel. I guess that’s what else I could have asked for. *shrugs* Got it.

  • admit (an event or activity) as legal or acceptable.

My feelings are hereby legal and acceptable. Right on.

I’m allowing myself to feel however the hell I feel without the dreaded “should” and “shouldn’t”. And without guilt. I’m allowing my feelings to break free of that self-imposed New Year’s cocoon of positivity, emerging in whatever shape, size, and color they are. If I feel angry, well, The Hulk and I can hang out for a bit. If I feel sad, so be it. If I happen to feel happy, it’s going to be a genuine bubbling glass of joy.

 

Happy New Year, my friends. ❤ Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 🥂

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2021.

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Graeme Cumming

Every time one of my books gets a review, I’m delightfully surprised and so grateful. Every. Time. When I see a review from someone who either doesn’t like short fiction, doesn’t read it, or prefers epic novels yet loved my collection, well, it’s a remarkable feeling. It is. And I’ve seen more than a few reviews like that.

When someone prefers to sink their teeth into a story with lots of characters, worldbuilding, and/or action, it’s quite the compliment when they enjoy my little book of flash. This review for On the Edge of a Raindrop, by Graeme Cumming, is one of those. It’s brilliant. I’m humbled by the praise from this author:

Her ability to capture the essence of an emotion or a moment in so few words is staggering.

Savour each morsel…

In a single line, she can encapsulate something that I and many other authors would struggle to do in several pages.

Thank you, Graeme! 💖

Please stop by his blog and read the full review here. It really is brilliant.

He’s recently released a book, Carrion, the sequel to Raven’s Gathering, both of which have gathered a number of great reviews. (Pun completely intended.) Do pop over and check out his books.

 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

On the Edge of a Raindrop #BookReview by Harmony Kent

What a wonderful surprise to find a review for On the Edge of a Raindrop. It made me smile all week. I needed that smile. A lovely 5-star review from Harmony Kent (who has a rating system that notes: ‘I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to. I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning…’) Yup. Smiling. 🙂

Brilliantly done.

In just a few words, the author evokes so many different emotions and moods.

Thank you, Harmony! 💖

Please stop by, read the full review, and explore her blog. A prolific author whose writing ranges from non-fiction to romance, poetry to post-apocalyptic. There’s something for everyone so do check out her books.

Harmony also writes for Story Empire: This is the home of seven bestselling authors who share a passion for all things related to writing, publishing, and promoting fiction. 

Reblog Lemon Shark

 

When Beauty Is Not Enough

 

 

Spring

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.

Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
April
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

It’s spring. Though it feels more like a distant cousin. A time of year in which we struggle to find our place during the uncertainty of seasons. When we throw off our jackets and listen to blue jays. Then huddle in our heavy coats and listen to howling winds. When we both turn our face to the sunshine and dance between raindrops.

It is that unpredictability we crave when the earth beneath our feet is frozen solid in winter or lush with summer greens. But the fickle springtime plays in quicksand, leaving us wishing for stability, making us wary.

Sometimes we know what we know, regardless of the beauty around us. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough to quiet us.

It is then we raise our voices. To communicate. To be heard. To say that we will not be lulled into silence with the unfurling bud and promise of a bright and beautiful thing.

 

I found this post from last year and thought how fitting, in a very different way, it was this year. The struggle to find our place during this uncertainty. Our craving for unpredictability then, when it arrives, our wish for stability. The wariness. The need to communicate. The promise of an unfurling bud turning into something beautiful not being quite enough anymore. 

Be well, gentle readers. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. Create your own joy. Dance between raindrops and turn your face to the sun when it shines.

 

My random thoughts in (a bit over) 200 words.

 

 

You can read the entire poem here: Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

My One Word for 2020 #OneWord2020

 

pine-cone-sig

 

I was going to switch this up a bit for 2020 but guess what? I’m not. This is (unfortunately) perfect:

Every year around this time I say, “It’s going to be different.” Well, gentle readers, it’s not. It’s quite the same. Which is to say, I let myself get caught up in a shitstorm of stress and overwhelm by choosing others instead of myself, by over-committing, by working too hard on things that don’t bring fulfillment or happiness, by helping everyone but me.

One Word for 2019 was: Move. Seriously. Like Move Yer Arse, Girl! Or, you know, something nicer, like, Excuse me but would you mind moving? Same, same. Getting unstuck was sort of the idea.

I’m still stuck but heartily sorry for it and flailing for a helping hand out of the pit.

my One Word for 2018 was: Self. It was a good choice. It worked. Some of the time. Not as often as I’d hoped.

my One Word for 2017 was Accept. I did not accept anything. I sort of UN-accepted pretty much everything. I faltered. Failed. Moved on.

Well. Isn’t that something? And here we are again. Another year, another word. Let’s get on with it, shall we?

 

I’ve noticed my blog has its share of posts about overwhelm. Just a few, really, not, like, dozens. Ahem. So I got to thinking about being overwhelmed. Too much. Too many things. So, naturally, I need to make lists. And prioritize. That will work. Except for the times it doesn’t. Which is to say always. Or never. Whatever.

I’ve got to sort out my priorities. This is more important than that. That is more pressing than the other. Things get put on The List, shifted, knocked down a number, back up, and so forth and, soon enough, nothing is done.

So, instead of putting my life on a piece of paper in order of importance, I’m changing my mindset. (FYI, this is always, always, a good idea. You should try it.) I’ve always sucked at multi-tasking but I’m not sure that’s what this is anymore. I’m thinking it’s more that I’m utterly unfocused.

So here is my ironic focus word for 2020:

FOCUS

I was at a cemetery last month and grabbed my phone to take a picture.

When I tapped on the screen to focus on the little pinecone in my face, the gravestones blurred in the background. And vice versa. Right? Because whether it’s a mobile phone or a fancy camera, it cannot focus on more than one thing at a time.

I hadn’t written my One Word post yet but, there, right then, in that cemetery, I wrote it in my head.

I’m not prioritizing the pinecone over the gravestone. But if I try to focus on both of them, they’re both blurry and I don’t get either one. If I tap and zoom in on one, I get an amazing shot. Then, *tap*, another great shot. Done.

Obviously, there will be times when something will demand my focus be drawn to that issue or situation but I will focus on it and move on.

If I’m constantly trying to focus on everything, then everything is out of focus.

Narrow my focus and, boom, I’ve got a clear shot.

As always, a definition (because I’m a nerd):

 

focus

/fōkəs/

noun

  • the center of interest or activity.

center, focal point, center of attention

Get me a spotlight, man. I’m shining it on whatever shit needs attention. Laser focused, my friends. 

  • the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.

clear, clear-cut, well-defined

Producing a well-defined, clear-cut visual? Please hold. Your patience is appreciated. The clear visual will be with you shortly. 

verb

  • (of a person or their eyes) adapt to the prevailing level of light and become able to see clearly.

Seeing clearly? Yes, please. Adapting and becoming able to see clearly are HUGE challenges for me. Two great goals.  

  • pay particular attention to.

give emphasis to, highlight

Dude, this makes me want to whip out one of those big, neon yellow markers and highlight the hell out of the book of my life. On it!

 

I’m going to focus this year. I know I said this last year but 2020 will see another book from me. The manuscripts are sitting here glaring at me. They are more patient than I.

Happy New Year, my friends. ❤ Here’s to your goals, aspirations, resolutions, or whatever floats your boat. Cheers! 🥂

 

Have you ever taken part in the One Word Challenge?

If you haven’t, why not try it? Or think on it a moment and leave one in the comments. What could your focus be this year? I’d love to hear what your One Word is for 2020.

 

When the Year Grows Old

 

 

When the Year Grows Old

And often when the brown leaves
Were brittle on the ground,
And the wind in the chimney
Made a melancholy sound,

She had a look about her
That I wish I could forget–
The look of a scared thing
Sitting in a net…

But the roaring of the fire,
And the warmth of fur,
And the boiling of the kettle
Were beautiful to her…

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

The year has grown old, died, and been reborn. It is ‘new’. There are beginnings. Yet I acutely feel the year growing old.

When the clock struck midnight December 31st, when the calendar ceased to count days for 2019…what happened?

Nothing.

It’s as if I’m waiting for some unknown force to press the ‘reset’ button.

As I work on my One Word for 2020, I realize I’m stuck. Not in my decision of which word to choose but in the way I feel caught at the end of last year. In a time when I listened to the wind whistling a melancholy tune and brittle leaves scraped the window panes, begging to be let inside.

When I had the look of a frightened bird flapping helplessly inside a net.

Yet there is a difference. The trap has weakened, loosened. I can breathe.

I find familiarity in the world around me and there is comfort and beauty in that. In the moments when I take that first sip of coffee, tie my hair up with an elastic band, lace my warm, winter boots. When I lose myself in sunlight creating intricate patterns on my floor or notice wind catching a hydrangea flower hidden since last spring.

Sometimes, when the stress is too much, when the weight is too heavy, when the ropes are too tight, our struggles increase the pain. Sometimes relaxing into the discomfort and fear is all we can do and, sometimes, that shifts our world enough to see the beauty.

 

Health and happiness to you, gentle readers.