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)
Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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)
Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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)

 

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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) 
Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

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

 

 

 

 

My Blog is Special

 

pink flower in spring

 

Want to know my secret?

Do you want to know what makes my blog so special? Why I stand out like a fuchsia flower in a mess of dirt and weeds?

It’s the clean lines. The crisp space. The typo-free paragraphs, easy-to-read word choice, frequent fragments, awesome alliteration…

There is nothing special.

 

There is no special here. This blog is just a blog. I am just a girl. Standing in front of my readers, asking them to love me.

I like my bloggy friends. They talk to me. And listen. Which is not easy as I can go on a bit. I ramble. I freewrite and hit “publish”.

That’s bad. But, also, good.

I feel like we’re hanging out in a coffee shop, sipping a mocha latte, you know?

Better still, sitting at a bar with a bottle of wine in front of us. *pours another glass* Cheers!

If you read this, you’ve pretty much met me.

This post? This whole blog? It’s just me. Unfiltered me.

The completely awesome thing about you is that you talk to me even when the popular kids walk by.

There are far more fashionable, trendy, nichey, blogs out there yet, week after week, month after month, readers still visit and chat with me.

And that’s pretty special.

 

My Sunday (on Tuesday) thoughts in 200 words or less.

ThoughtBubble

Do you have a nicheless blog? Do you feel like you’re “just another blog” in the big blogosphere? Do you care?

 

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

 

Wonderful Bloggers of OZ_2 - sig

 

We aren’t people anymore.

Have you noticed?

We’re the Wonderful Bloggers of OZ.

When you read an article or post or tweet, look at the language. “Bloggers”. Like some group of lost writers who crashed a hot air balloon, landing in a bizarre world: The Blogosphere.

We perform tricks to dazzle—with words and photos that aren’t quite as real as we’d make them out to be.

Because, sometimes, your dog’s foot is in the background of that perfect tulip shot and needs to be cropped out. Sometimes that amazing idea gets caught in a tornado and thoughts whirl around and around until you plop down near a Technicolor yellow brick road.

You land on a witch and get her sparkly shoes (which are wicked cool). So there’s that. But there are flying monkeys to watch out for. So there’s that, too.

The Blogosphere can be a scary place.

It’s filled with dangers and strangers but also with wonderful people who rally around you and tell you how awesome you are for arriving here with your blog.

There are always a few who are on the same journey and are more than happy to skip along that brick road with you even though there are lions, and tigers, and bears. Oh my.

When we get to The Emerald City Blog, and see the “Blogger of Oz” is just a man behind a curtain, we will show compassion.

Why?

Because none of us are wizards. We are human—vulnerable and lost and busy and stressed and trying to make the Blogosphere think we have our shit together. That we are the Great and Powerful Oz.

So, as I tag this post with “bloggers”, I know that you are, indeed, fellow travelers on this blogging journey. Or writing journey. Or both. But I do know, and do keep in the forefront of my mind, that you are people.

Here’s the thing I think we sometimes forget:

We ARE people. We HAVE blogs.

We are not our blogs.

We are human beings. (Weird, introverted, writer-types, some of us, but still.)

Just remember, gentle readers, there is a person behind the screen.

 

If you need a break, just close your eyes, click your mouse 3 times, and walk away. We’ll be here when you get back–we’ve got water balloons for the Witch of the West and flaming potatoes to fight the flying monkeys. 

 

3 Quick Tips to Keep Your Blog Reader-Friendly

 

I’ve only published a few how-to posts before so bear with me. It’s short. And has three easy tips to increase your readership.

Okay, I can only promise it will increase readership by one.

That would be me.

Hopefully that one flower (that would be me, again) will become a garden of readers.

There are some of you (I won’t name names) who have the most sweetest blogs and the most loveliest things to say. And yet…

There are a few things I’d like to discuss with you. Three, actually. I’ll be quick. Promise.

I’d like to ask a favor, my bloggy friends. Could you do something for me? That is, if you don’t mind and I ask nicely? (I usually offer cookies or something as my “nice” may not be as nice as I think it is. So, cookies will be involved. Or cake. Your choice.)

When I read your post and there’s a link, it’s wonderful if that link is a word or two (or even five), not an enormously long URL.

And then, when you have your cute, little word that is now a link, it’s quite charming if it doesn’t kick me off your blog. I’m reading your blog because I like it. And I don’t want to leave. And you don’t want me to leave. There might be other posts I’d like to read on there.

Finally, when someone leaves a link in your comments, it often flies off the side of the page and makes your blog literally swim before my eyes. And not in a cute, “Aw, look, it’s a dolphin” sort of way. No. It moves and is difficult to read and (apologies) I often click off the post. I sometimes manage to finish reading if it’s short but I certainly don’t enjoy it as much as I would if it were, say, staying in place.

So, if you’re interested (and use WordPress), these are super-quick fixes:

 

Turning a long link into a short word or phrase:

  • Select and cut link from your post
  • Highlight word(s) you would like turned into a link
  • Click on link button in the toolbar (if you hover, it says ‘insert/edit link’)
  • Paste link into the space provided

 

Having a link open in a new tab:

After you have turned your long link into a short word or phrase, have it open into a new tab so I can stay on your blog. (Unless you want me to leave. I can take a hint.)

  • Keep box open where you just pasted your link
  • Click on gear icon (it will say ‘link options’ if you hover) Skip this step if using the Reader
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there

 

Adding/editing links in comment sections:

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Edit’
  • Click the ‘Link’ button
  • Cut and paste link into URL space
  • Find the tiny box that says ‘Open link in a new tab’
  • Put a check there
  • Click ‘Update’

OR

  • Go to Dashboard and into Comments
  • Click ‘Quick Edit’
  • Cut and paste the following into the comment box:
  • <a href=”www.hello.com”>Hi</a>
  • Change “www.hello.com” to link in the comment
  • Change “Hi” to whatever text you want to display
  • NOTE: This will not open the comment link in a new tab

 

So long and thanks for all the links! 🐠

 

If you don’t do these things, is it by choice? If so, why? Does it bother you to have a link open in a new tab? Do you think it’s more likely people will click on longer (obvious) links?

 

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

 

Flash Fiction Prompt for Hurricane Relief #Flash4Storms

 

WE DID IT!

 

Harvey, Irma, Maria… These hurricanes have hit hard, leaving massive damage in their wakes. Here’s how you can help:

 

1. Write a piece of flash fiction in 50 words or less with the theme: Help 

(This can be any sort of assistance, support, encouragement, or a story of someone or something that needs help. You do not need to use the prompt word. Be creative! It can be 50 words, 15 words…even a six-word story. Anything goes provided it is prose up to 50 words. It doesn’t have to be sunshine and rainbows but keep it PG and friendly.)

2. Add a new post on your blog with your flash fiction and the hashtag #Flash4Storms in the title

3. Link to this post

4. Leave a comment here with a link to your post so I know you’ve participated

5. Help spread the word on social media with the hashtags:

#Flash4Storms

#LemonSharkCharity

 

 

I will donate $1 to hurricane relief for every flash that is posted (up to $50).

 

The challenge is open until October 15th, 2017.

 

While participating in this fun flash prompt, consider helping out one of the numerous hurricane relief charities. 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

 

There are still many people in dire need and there is still a lot of recovery to be done. ❤ Thank you, my friends.

 


Please note that, for this post, I won’t be replying to comments – I’m using the comment section as a log of entries. One entry per person, please, as I’m trying to reach more people and spread the word that help is still needed. I reserve the right to dismiss any flash that I feel inappropriate (explicit, violent, advocating hate or intolerance of any kind). You do not need to be following this blog to participate.

Play nice. Write. Help. ❤

 

#HurricaneMaria

#HurricaneIrma

#HurricaneHarvey

 

ETA:

Norah Colvin has offered to match my donation for each of her readers’ entries. If you’ve hopped over from Norah’s, please mention her name in the comments to double the donation! ❤

D. Wallace Peach has offered to match my total donation when this challenge is through (and is working to max it out). Let’s do this! ❤

I am so grateful to these two amazing, wonderful women for their generosity. To them and to all who have participated in this challenge and/or reblogged and shared…THANK YOU! ❤

 

original image source: NASA