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 see the roughness of the world around us, regardless of its softness and beauty. Sometimes in spite of it. And, sometimes, it just ceases to be enough.

In these moments, I take a deep breath and return to my OneWord for this year: “embrace”. I embrace the uncertainty, the rough edges of life, and only then am I able to embrace its beauty.

My random thoughts in 200 words or less.

(This has become an annual celebration of April coming in like an idiot, babbling, and strewing flowers. 3rd year I’ve seen this old post and thought “how fitting…” The uncertainty of spring mirrors life yet again.) 

Here’s to embracing the year as it unfolds. Happy Spring, gentle readers. 💚🌿

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

Conflicted, Hesitant, and Falling Behind #IWSG

I’m typing this out right now (that would be the morning of March 2nd) because it’s the first Wednesday of the month (I can’t believe it’s March) and it’s IWSG day.

So here is the post about my recent writing insecurities. There are many.

Let’s start with the fact that I’m typing a blog post at the 11th hour. (Or the 12th or 13th hour or whatever.) I haven’t been able to keep up online. I’ve let comments pile up and need to get to those. I’ve been spotty on social media. Also, aside from all this, I’m not actually, you know, writing so there’s that. Also…LIFE. There are ALL OF THE THINGS happening and I’m struggling to get the basics done. I’m somehow managing to get through with a “the-show-must-go-on” mindset. So there you have it.

As for the question of the month, that’s an easy yes.

Have I ever been conflicted about writing something? Actually, as I’m typing that, I’m going to emphasize that affirmative to a “hell yes!” So many times for so many reasons, yes, I’ve been conflicted, hesitant, and downright scared to write something. The times I did it anyway, I have some regrets. The times I didn’t do it, I have some regrets. That, I believe, is The Way of the Writer, is it not? I think that’s a common experience we writers share.

What about you, fellow writers? Have you ever been conflicted or hesitant to write something? To put it out there? How did that work for you? Any regrets?

IWSG Question of the Month

March Prompt – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

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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. 

My One Word for 2022 #OneWord2022


One Word pinecone

 

Over the holidays, I got a visit from… 

The Posts of New Year’s Past: 👻 🥳 🎊 🎉

 

One Word for 2021 was: Allow. This one was awesome. It worked SO well. I allowed ALL OF THE THINGS. I didn’t struggle, fight, flail, or falter. (My sarcasm didn’t translate well here. So, the only thing I allowed was badly-written sarcasm.) 

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.

Like Scrooge, I have learned from these visits and mean to change my ways. I struggled with a word for this year but, once it popped into my head, I knew it was the one. I thought about it a few more days but, still, it stayed with me. It felt right. 

There are going to be a lot of changes and uncomfortable things happening this year. And here’s what I’m doing: I’m leaning into the discomfort in a big way. Embracing it. 

 

My focus word for 2022:

EMBRACE

It’s a bit like the “accept” and “allow” but giving myself more of an active role. 

Instead of just breathing (breathing is good, don’t get me wrong) and going with the flow (flowing is also good), I’m creating a situation where I must act in order to allow and accept.

 

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

embrace
 

[əmˈbrās]

 
verb 
 
  • hold…closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection
hug · take in one’s arms · hold · enfold · encircle · enclose
 
Challenges? Hardships? Change? I’ve got a hug for you here!
 
  • accept or support willingly and enthusiastically
welcome · accept · receive enthusiastically/wholeheartedly · take to one’s heart · welcome/receive with open arms · support 
 
Upset? Uncertainty? Welcome! Have a cup of cocoa.
 
 
noun
 
  • an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically.
welcome · welcoming · favorable reception · embracing · approval · adoption · integration
 
Hey there, change. What’s up, uncertainty? Welcome to my humble life. Let’s have a glass of wine. 🍷
 

When these things I cannot control come along, I won’t fight them. It’s exhausting and doesn’t make them go away. I’m not doing a great job passively accepting or allowing them. So, I will take them in my metaphorical arms and embrace them.

It’s tough to welcome uncomfortable feelings and difficult situations but I’m hoping a more active role will help me with the whole accepting and allowing thing. I am choosing to DO something. You hear it a lot: “Embrace uncertainty.” “Embrace chaos.” “Embrace change.” And it sounds good in theory…let’s see if I can put that into practice. 

Here’s my quote of 2022: “If you can’t control it, invite it in for a cuppa.” 

 

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 2022.

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. 

One Link to Rule Them All

 

one link to rule them all

 

Most of you know of the “universal” or “global” link for books. A lot of authors use it. The link allows you to customize your book url so it redirects interested readers to the correct country. (Amazon .com becomes Amazon .ca or Amazon .co.uk—you get the idea.)

So, yes, I do want this. And, sure, I’m willing to learn about different options. Which is why I’m here today.

The companies that change your link range from free to one-time fee to monthly subscription. So you can assume they range in services. (They do.) We’re going from cut-and-paste-your-link to tracking sales, customizing domains, and tons of other techie stuff I don’t understand.

Some give you a link that automatically redirects your Amazon customers. So your country’s Amazon store will become their country’s Amazon store. This allows readers to quickly and easily buy your book from the site where they have an account. This is Amazon only.

Others completely transform your link. They go global and create a link that works in every country, on every operating system (iOS, Android, Windows…), in every store (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks…), on every device (laptop, tablet, phone…) so you’re not only international, you’re, like, intergalactic.

Here are a few that I’ve seen. If you use any of these, please let me know in the comments. If you know of any I’ve missed, drop those in the comments, too. Inquiring minds want to know.

 

SmartURL

BookLinker

RelinksMe

Books2Read

Genius Link

 

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

ThoughtBubbleDo you use a universal link? Do you like it? Which company would you suggest and why (price, ease-of-use, accessibility for buyers)?

 

I was recently searching for the best universal/global link when I remembered this post. Forgot it was from 2017 (!) but, as it’s still relevant and quite timely for me, thought I’d repost it.

Since that post, I’ve been using BookLinker, and it’s worked fine, but I’d like to change it. I don’t need (or want) bells and whistles but do want to branch out (and away from an Amazon-only link). 

A Fresh, New Look

 

cover re-reveal

 

So… Remember all the hubbub about whether or not I should change my book covers? Well, folks, the deed it done. Just a super short post to show you the new beauties.

Meet the new Hinting at Shadows and On the Edge of a Raindrop.  

 

 

To celebrate the new look, Hinting at Shadows will be on sale for a limited time. Just 99c/99p! 

 

I’m guest posting over at Marcia Meara’s today (thanks, you fantabulous gal, you) so go check that out! 

 

Huge thank you to the talented Loni Townsend for the gorgeous cover art.

And thanks to Allie Potts for getting these covers into print-ready form so I could have my precious paperbacks (and for creating the beautiful 3D images). 

 

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.