#IWSG September

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

September 2 question – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?
The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando,J Lenni Dorner,Deniz Bevan,Kim Lajevardi,Natalie Aguirre, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

The schedule feels new for the month of September. In the Northern Hemisphere it is time for school. Labor Day marks the beginning of time that feels different. Summer days fade and all the color seems different. Nature begins to shift.

The day for me always begins with writing and coffee. Sometimes it is 15 minutes of writing and gulping down hot liquid because now I am bound by the clock more than my natural rhythms. Today it is more than two hours because I am up early. Lots of words and coffee both.

My initial instinct for this question are my go to favorite authors. Neil Gaiman and Kelly Link start the list. I am not sure I could sit with them and talk writing and not be intimidated. I am sure they are lovely people. I have seen them both speak. One of the best times I have seen Neil speak is with a video call with V.E. Schwab. The mutual admiration was adorable.

I have tried to locate all the talks Kelly has given online. I hope one day to travel to her bookstore in the East.

Another author I would like to sit down with is Amber Sparks. In these pandemic times I have been able to hear her speak on several panels about writing. I admire her writing and her style. Sitting across a table talking about how stories get onto the page would be thrilling.

In all honesty, sitting down with any writer who writes and talking about technique and how words get on the page is thrilling to me. I love that conversation almost as much as the writing itself.

For my writing class I have to prepare a short story show and tell. This title is perfect for September, isn’t it? I take a favorite story and examine the craft. How it is put together from my perspective. I am looking forward to this exercise. Taking time to look at a story line by line is like having a conversation with the piece itself. There is no way to know what the exact intent is of the author but I can have this experience with the story. It is a different type of experience I can sink into.

As an educator, one of the reasons I like to hear authors speak is to get the nugget about writing the story no one knows. It is why I love podcasts. I heard David Shannon, the children’s author speak many years ago and learned he always puts his little white Scottie dog somewhere in the illustrations of his books. When I told my students this information there was a “Where’s Waldo?” hunt for the little dog. It is fun and makes you feel like you are in an inner circle of writers.

The inner circle is a great place to be.

Happy Writing!

I would love to hear what your favorite short story is….

IWSG August

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

August 5 question – Quote: “Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. Don’t write short stories, novels or poems. Just write your truth and your stories will mold into the shapes they need to be.”
Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

I have always been a writer but through my narrow writer experience I thought I had to write a novel. I had tried many times before finally figuring out flash and short stories were my favorite medium. I finally listened to the right podcast and found my tribe!

This summer the phrase, “Truth is always the best story.” keeps coming up. It has surfaced so many times I know to pay attention. As a fiction writer many of the stories I write are based in truth with the reality skewed a little. The characters feel my feelings similar to spaces I have been in. The settings are places I have been with the details changed to bend to my will. Why is it always the places we have been (and not currently in) are so much easier to write?

One of the reasons I love short stories is because I am able to play with the form. I have written stories in the form of job postings, mad libs, and recipes. I have written Twitter length stories and ones comprised of random sentences over time. No writing is wasted I have learned and many lines I have come back to that have marinated over time.

I never get bored writing or reading short stories.

There is magic in an author taking a story and weaving magic in a few 100 words. I have many models of great writing and I study them. I do not read in the same way anymore. There is pleasure but always intention to learn something new now.

One of my favorite things about writing is that it surprises me. I swear by freewriting for everything. If I do not know what I am thinking about a situation in my life I freewrite. It opens my eyes and helps me get out of my own way. I have learned to write and let it flow without censoring. Often a line or a word will appear on the page without conscious thought and it is a delight! When a description comes out in a unique way or a memory is triggered it is a delightful writing sessions. There are also those moments where I write a short piece and know I have another one that will go with it perfectly in the drive.

Short stories have a sense of mystery and uncertainty. Kelly Link is the master of short stories that do not answer all your questions. You are left wondering. A great short story is the one that stays with me and I keep wrangling with it to figure it out in a satisfying way.

As a writer this is part of my service to my readers – to make them think and feel something different than before they read my piece. I am always striving to do it better.

IWSG July

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

July 1 question – There have been many industry changes in the last decade, so what are some changes you would like to see happen in the next decade? 

The awesome co-hosts for the July 1 posting of the IWSG are Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox!

What comes to mind when I read the question above for this month’s IWSG post is the changes associated with the mindset about indie publishing and traditional. I had a writing conversation about what is next for me yesterday. I am participating in a 4 month writing program starting at the end of August. My outcome is to be a much better writer by the time December gets here. One of my goals for 2020 is to finally get my e-book onto Amazon. I had mentioned yesterday to put it off until after the workshop is over. Learning how to do it now would still be valuable however.

Several years ago the idea of publishing my own book of short stories would have not been possible – at least not as easily as it is now. I publish on Medium and here on this blog, but it isn’t the same.

There is still magic and status in my mind that comes along with traditional publishing. If a publisher came to me about any of my writing I wouldn’t tell them no. There is still validation in someone saying they see you and want to spread the joy of your writing.

There is no telling what reading and writing will look like in the next 10 years. I am sure the technology will make it even easier. With so many people at home now due to the new sheltering protocols I bet it will move even faster.

What changes do you anticipate?

IWSG May

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

May 6 question –

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? 

As a writer, I like rhythm and routine. I start the day with my coffee and my writing. It is always the first thing I do in the morning. Some days are better than others, but the writing always gets done. The words have to get on the page.

I most often start with a prompt but free-writing allows whatever is on my mind to get into the notebook. Sometimes it is reflection, but many times it is fiction. Yesterday when I woke I wrote a story based on the dream I had just came from. I often am in the middle of a challenge. This month I am participating in Storyaday where I write a complete story every day. It does not have to be good or long, just finished. There is power in the act of finishing and learning from that process.

During the day I listen to podcasts and read. I have to make sure there is input. I have had to change some of the venues because of the sheltering in place. I have found I miss the overheard conversations from life before COVID. I take advantage of the writing communities I belong to and have conversations with other writers.

If I am having trouble with ideas and flow, I will switch from handwriting to typing or vise versa. If I am thinking out a story then handwriting often works best. It is slower and my thoughts can trickle out with the pen drawing the letters. If the idea is hot then typing is faster and the ideas do not get tripped up before I can get the scene out.

Walking or running is also another solution to being stuck.

Since I have a list of actions that work for me, I choose the one that seems to solve the problem at hand.

What works for you?

#IWSG April

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

April 1 question — The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the COVID-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Over the last several years I have structured my life to center around more of what is essential to me. As I have come to know myself this means to be around less people. I recently changed jobs where I was split between two schools as a coach working with elementary teachers. There was a lot of travel and juggling of people and materials. I had three offices — four if you count the car. There were a lot of advantages to this work but one large downfall was the compensation.

My husband and I have a long term goal to be in a cabin in a lake. I am a step closer to that with a move north. There is a running path just outside my door. My new space is airy and bright.

Being told to stay at home is fairly close to my ideal life. I have been using this time as a gift to read, write, study and evaluate. The dreams are starting to get darker though and my past is trying to visit. I am running again which is great and I feel more myself than I have in a long while. I am lucky I can still get outside. I have friends where this time is limited to them.

I am safe and people I love are safe…for now.

I have several support systems in place with my writing communities so I do not feel alone. I am more connected to them through Zoom, Slack, and email than normal. There are important people I would rather see in person now but that cannot happen so I must wait.

The air of uncertainty is in the back of my mind. It is always looming, but I have been in a liminal space for quite a while with other issues in my life. I feel the obstacles of my past are helping me not panic in the state we are in now. So I will deal with what is right in front of me when I need to and otherwise enjoy the time.

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#IWSG March

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the March 4 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence!

March 4 optional question — Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I think my own life sneaks its way into my stories. I enjoy using snippets of my life and then spinning them. Some of my closest friends recognize some events.

I find “ordinary” things that happen interesting. Even as a young girl I was fascinated with asking my pen pals the way their family did things. Birthdays, weddings, etc.

I’m in Charge of Celebrations is a book by Byrd Baylor I read in college. We had to write about a normal activity we did that we could make a celebration as a writing extension for the read-aloud. I wrote about letter writing. I have been an avid letter writer during my childhood and it was always joyous when envelopes came in the mail.

Christmas Eve was a magical time hosted by my maternal grandmother. She made every day things special. Lunches, hot chocolate, cookouts outside — everything. Those elements often end up in stories. Dinner at my grandmother’s was a regular Sunday occurrence. The dinners in my stories are based on those memories. The places I have gone with my grandparents also become starters for descriptions of setting.

But it is part of who I am and therefore it comes through in my stories.

#IWSG FEB!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!


The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin,Victoria Marie Lees,Stephen Tremp,Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

February 5 question – Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

I have used pieces of art or photos several times over the past several years as a springboard for my writing.

In Storyaday May and September Julie Duffy has used pieces of fine art as the inspirational prompts.

The most recent piece I used was Van Gogh’s Starry Night in a Skillshare Class from Kathy Fish. I like the piece from Kathy’s class. It has more movement in it than some of the other pieces. During the exercise I was also focusing on unexpected descriptions so it was fun to write.

Maybe someday soon you will see that piece published somewhere.

#IWSG June

The next IWSG Day will be June 5th 
Sign up here.
OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

It is the first Wednesday of the month and time for the IWSG. My favorite genre to write in is magical realism.

On Wikipedia it is defined as: Magical realismmagic realism, or marvelous realism is a style of fiction that paints a realistic view of the modern world while also adding magical elements. It is sometimes called fabulism, in reference to the conventions of fablesmyths, and allegory. “Magical realism”, perhaps the most common term, often refers to fiction and literature in particular,[1]:1–5 with magic or the supernatural presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.

I believe I like this type of fiction because many of my stories begin with a kernel of truth and then the details are exaggerated. I enjoy stories with magical elements and have always been attracted to stories with such components. When a story takes a turn into the unbelievable it is exciting to me.

Magical realism is the type of fiction I enjoy reading and writing. I am always looking for authors who do this type of writing well!

#IWSG – 1st May Wednesday!

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here. Welcome to May 2019!

Today is an exciting day for writing! Storyaday May begins today and I am ready to write 31 stories for the month with writing friends.

May 1 question – What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

Words have had power ever since I can remember.

I remember the letter people in kindergarten and the power of owning books. I ordered from the Scholastic book club and it was a joy I still get when I buy a book. This title was The Night Before Christmas with a record. That feeling never gets old.

I knew I felt better and could think clearer when I wrote as a young girl too. There is one story that is metaphor with trees and a forest I wish I could find!

Happy Wednesday Writing! Happy short story month!

#IWSG – It’s Wednesday!

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here. Welcome to April 2019!

April 3 question: If you could use a wish to help you write just ONE scene/chapter of your book, which one would it be? (examples: fight scene / first kiss scene / death scene / chase scene / first chapter / middle chapter / end chapter, etc.)

My wish today would be to help me write a scene with my character Brooklyn in a fantasy/sci fi story titled Dreams and Hourglasses. I need to have readers connect more emotionally to her in the beginning. I am trying to build the story and not overexplain right away but I am leaving my readers wanting.

I asked my writing group for recs for stories that have strong emotional reactions and was reminded of All Summer in A Day by Bradbury. I will study it again later today. I will also break out the Emotional Craft of Fiction and do some work from that text.

Happy Wednesday Writing!