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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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

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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IWSG (Insecure Writer’s Support Group)

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?

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. 

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.     

 

 

 

 

Blue Sky Tag

 

 

1. If you lived in a house made of jello, what flavor would it be? Any particular reason?

 

I would cry. Or scream. Or both. I hate jello. It’s unnatural and wiggly and gelatinous. If I lived in a house made of sweetened slime, I’d wonder about my sanity. (More so than I already do.)

 

2. What is your first reaction when someone knocks on your door?

 

Hide.

 

3. Does a blue sky or blue ocean make you happier? Why?

 

Both. Neither. I love blues skies and blue oceans but also light, puffy clouds and rolling grey ones as well as crystal, clear turquoise water and stormy seas. I love nature in all her moods.

 

4. If you were out enjoying a beautiful day and suddenly it started raining, what would you do?

 

Dance in the rain.

 

5. Whose name makes you smile as soon as you hear it? Care to share why?

 

Spike. I envision lots of funny scenes in Buffy the Vampire Slayer every time I hear his name.

 

6. Dog, cat, fish, or rabbit?

 

Human. I’m actually human. Or do you mean to eat? Because I do like sushi (sorry, Nemo). Oh, a pet? Cat.

 

7. What’s your favorite mode of travel?

 

Transporter. “Beam me up, Scotty.” Teleportation is awesome.

 

8. If you had to stay up all night by yourself in a deserted building, what would you spend the time doing?

 

Sleeping. Oh. Crap. Never mind. Is there wine? It’s my fake all-nighter so I say, yes, there’s wine. I’m going to go ahead and let you all know just how boring I am: I’d stay up reading and writing.

 

9. Running in the rain or running in the gym? (Even if you don’t run! ha!)

 

Hmm. I don’t run. Ever. I’d probably slip and fall either way so it really doesn’t matter. Though, if I’m in the gym, I’d have to be around people so…rain.

 

10. To stand alone on a mountain peak or dance in a crowded club?

 

I think I just covered that. (Psst…I’m a hermit.) Alone on a Mountain Peak might be the name of my next book…

 

11. Who do you write for?

 

Me. (And I have at least two posts about this.)

 

It’s been a bit since I joined in a blog hop. Thanks to Rachael Ritchey for tagging me and making me answer these questions she made up. Yes, she made them up. That’s in the rules. Yes, there are rules. I broke them. And had fun.

There’s a thing about 11 for this tag: 11 rules…no. 11 cups of coffee…hmm. Ah. 11 tags, 11 answers, 11 questions… Something like that.

For me, I’m going with this…

Consider yourself tagged.

Join in, have a bit of bloggy fun, use the awesome Blue Sky Tag banner (that Rachael designed).

 

Okay, if you’re going to play, here are your questions:

 

  1. Do you judge a book by its cover?
  2. What’s your favorite color? (Specific shade would be awesome…just saying.)
  3. Which animal is smarter: chimpanzees or dolphins? (Except if Geoff Le Pard plays because he will say “mice”.)
  4. What’s your least favorite part about writing: editing, revising, or proofreading?
  5. Are there any mythological creatures you believe are real? (Or wish they were?)
  6. Which ridiculously popular book did you not enjoy?

Do You Prefer / Which Would You Rather questions:

  1. Pen or pencil
  2. Wine or beer
  3. Bean bags or straight-back chairs
  4. A pile of proofreading or a stack of math worksheets
  5. Monty Python or Three Stooges

 

Tag. You’re it. Have fun, gentle readers. 🙂 Let me know if you play…I’d love to see your answers to my questions! Yup, I made up these questions just for you. You get to make up your own for the bloggers you tag. 🙂

 

The Breakfast Club #FoodInFilm

 

 

Five high school students, profoundly different, thrown together on a Saturday at school for detention. Hilarity and drama ensue. Obviously. It’s an 80s flick.

The characters are stereotypical and over-the-top representations of a brain (nerd/geek/academic/unpopular), an athlete (jock/varsity guy/popular), a basket case (outcast/odd/loner), a princess (rich/pretty/spoiled/popular), and a criminal (trouble-maker/rebel/misanthrope).

When I saw the Food in Film blogathon, I immediately thought of this. Yes, the title has a meal in it. That’s not why we’re here. I want to talk about the lunch scene. Aside from being comical, the food (and presentation of it) personifies each character. You can learn (almost) everything you need to know them from a 3-minute clip.

 

The criminal has no lunch and takes the opportunity to harass and belittle the other students about what they’re eating.

The princess brings out an elaborate sushi tray, complete with chopsticks, and delicately pours the soy sauce.

The athlete piles a full-size bag of potato chips and cookies next to his three sandwiches, an entire carton of milk, then, almost as an afterthought, looks in his bag and digs out a banana and an apple.

The basket case discards the deli meat in her sandwich, dumping sugar on the remaining (mismatched) pieces of bread and adding sugared cereal before eyeing the rest of the kids and taking a colossal, crunchy bite.

The brain, whose lunch has been grabbed by the criminal, has an embarrassingly juvenile meal of peanut butter and jelly (with the crusts cut off), apple juice (in a juice box with attached straw), and a thermos of soup.

 

It’s just such a brilliant scene. In a few minutes, you know who these kids are and what their home life is like. Even the bags (or lack of) give viewers a glimpse of each character.

You don’t need to have seen The Breakfast Club to understand this, it won’t ruin the movie, and I barely did it justice in the description. So, please, click here to watch the lunch scene. It’s awesome.

 

Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club

 

I simply can not write a Food in Film post without mentioning Rusty from Ocean’s Eleven. Even with a cast of top-notch actors and fab performances, he still stands out. Why? Well, one reason is that he’s eating or drinking in pretty much every scene. I find this kind of hilarious and a fun little fact that many who have seen this movie notice. And talk about. And laugh about. And, apparently, put up on YouTube. Check this out: Rusty’s Food Supercut

When others are fretting, fighting, planning, spying, whatever…Rusty is eating. He is also doing many other things but this becomes a character trait. One that sticks in the minds of viewers.

As writers, this is one thing you can (and really should) do for your characters. Give them a quirk, a habit, something that makes them a bit more three-dimensional and memorable.

 

Hey, writer friends, here’s something to chew on: How does food feature in your story?  What does your main character like to eat? Are there any foods he or she hates? Why? Also, as in the case of Rusty here, what food-related habits does your character have (if any)? 

 

 

 

This post is part of the Food in Film Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings. Thanks to Kristina and Ruth for this fun, foody blogathon. #FoodInFilm2017

 

photo source IMDb

photo source IMDb

Update on #Flash4Storms Hurricane Relief

 

WE DID IT!

 

I gave this two weeks thinking, even with that, I might not reach my goal.

And here we are.

In one week, the amazing blogging community came together to help the victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Your words helped. You helped.

I can not thank you enough for joining in this fundraiser and helping others in need.

I offered to donate $1 for each flash entry that was posted (up to $50). Because of you, a donation has been made and, just as important, the word has been spread that, though the hurricanes have passed, there is still need. That is priceless.

 

To everyone who participated, thank you. To everyone who reblogged and shared this post, thank you. ❤


Note to my lovely fellow bloggers:
Some people commented but didn’t link, others linked but didn’t comment, others landed in my spam folder. Some were entries, some were reblogs. I tried my best to keep up with comments and pingbacks but, alas, I am only human. I am one person trying to sort through everything that landed here at Lemon Shark. If I missed your entry or reblog, I sincerely apologize. (But I think I got everyone!) Either way, we did it! And help is on the way to our fellow humans in need.

A huge shout-out to D. Wallace Peach who offered to match my total donation. So know that each and every one of you who participated raised $2.

Another huge shout-out to Norah Colvin who offered to match my donation for each of her readers’ entries and has also made a generous donation. If you hopped over from Norah’s, you raised $3.

 

The enthusiasm and creativity in the blogging community is fantastic!

I also need to mention my amazing tweeps (my fellow micro writers, Twitter friends, hashtag warriors…). The wonderful Ree created a compilation of flash fiction, hosting writers who don’t have their own blogs but wanted to write for this cause.

I am so grateful to all of you. We got the word out. We raised money. We helped.

THANK YOU! ❤

 

I donated to Direct Relief which has received amazing ratings across the board.

 

#HurricaneMaria

#HurricaneIrma

#HurricaneHarvey

 

If you’d like to help out one of the numerous hurricane relief charities, there are links below. Remember… Every little bit helps.

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Charity Navigator

Click here to find a list of trusted charities from Consumer Reports

 

original image source: NASA