IWSG — When the Going Gets Tough…

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here

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June 1 question – When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end?

When the going gets tough, the tough switch things up. If I get bogged down in a scene, I have a few go-to strategies to get things moving again. Sometimes, a short break is all that’s needed to give a fresh perspective — taking a long walk or a hike or watching a movie. Doing something different allows the brain to reset. Other times, I brainstorm, playing the ‘what if’ game to see what comes to mind. I get some of my best ideas that way. Another way I get my brain back in gear is to go to a spot earlier in the story and start reading from there. By the time I get to where I was stuck, the story just flows on through as the characters take over once more.

When all else fails, I jot down actions and dialogue that I know belong in the scene and work through it in phrases and incomplete sentences until I figure out exactly what’s going on with the characters. If things aren’t working, it usually means I’m trying to force the story to go in the wrong direction. Eventually, if I keep at it, the right direction presents itself and the story goes on its way again. The key is to not give up or get discouraged. Perseverance pays off.

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Has anyone else ever dreamed about seeing their story up on the big screen? I’m sure the answer is Yes! I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a screenplay for my first book, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble. I bought Final Draft 12, the industry standard software and have been dabbling with it. I found it really easy to use and was able to bang out a scene in a short time. I also read two screenwriting books, Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder and Story by Robert McKee, which have been incredibly helpful. Then I discovered the Internet Movie Script Database. It has the actual scripts from so many movies, including Lord of the Rings. What a resource! I’ve been skimming though scripts to get a better feel for how they should be put together. It’s all quite fascinating.

Has anyone else out there tried writing their own screenplays? What software and resources did you use? Did you find it easier or harder than writing a novel? Big screen, here we come!

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© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2022. All rights reserved.

IWSG — The Best and Worst of Times

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

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The best of times? That moment when a reader comes up to me and says they LOVED my books and can’t wait for the next one. Makes me want to do a happy dance right then and there. Then there are those moments when I’m writing and I’m on a roll — the story is running through my head like a movie and it’s all I can do to write the words down fast enough. Just seeing my books in print and holding them in my hands is right up there, too. Those moments are golden.

The worst of times would have to be the opposite — when someone doesn’t like my stories (which is perfectly okay, to each, his own) or when, for whatever reason, the words just aren’t there and no matter how long you sit and stare at the computer or notebook, nothing’s happening in bookland. That can be incredibly frustrating. And so can not having time to write in the first place. Life in general has become way too busy and exhausting. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I don’t know how many times I’ve wished I had Hermione’s time turner. I could get so much more done that way.

But until that happens, I’ll keep plugging along when I can. I’ve added another several hundred words to my WIP over the past couple of weeks, so Yay!! That’s progress!

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What are your most memorable moments?

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© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2022. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Positive Feedback and Question of the Month

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here

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I’m actually feeling pretty good about my work-in-progress right now, other than the fact that it’s taking way too long to finish it. I ran the first twelve chapters past my writers’ group and got lots of positive feedback. They said they were sucked right into the story, so whoo hoo! At least I’m going in the right direction. Now, if I could just get it done….

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April 6 question – Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?

I have not had any of my books made into audio books yet. I’ve had people ask for them and it’s on my list of things to look into, but I’ve heard that it’s expensive. I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with producing audiobooks. What’s the best way to go about it and how much of an investment did you have to make? Were you happy with the results?

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Please check out my last two posts to learn about new book releases from Alex J. Cavanaugh and Joylene Nowell Butler!

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© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2022. All rights reserved.

Spotlight on Alex J. Cavanaugh’s New Book Release: CassaDark

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Coming April 5th — Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh’s new release!

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His world is unraveling…

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by doubt. Could things get any worse?

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each truth reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?

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CassaDark

By Alex J. Cavanaugh

Print – 9781939844842

EBook – 9781939844859

Science Fiction – Adventure/Space Opera/Space Exploration

Links:

iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1574189874

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/cassadark

Scribed – https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844859&language=0

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58461762-cassadark

IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: F is for Flying!

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

I don’t really have any new insecurities right now, so I will go to the IWSG question for this month: 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?

Well, I’ve tried to write short stories, but they always seem to turn into novels. I write in the fantasy genre because that’s what I love most to read, and fantasy novels tend to be long and sprawling, so maybe that’s why I’ve never been good at short stories. My characters refuse to be bridled.

 

Now on to the A to Z Challenge!

I’m taking the long way around with A to Z this year. My plan is to post every couple of weeks, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.

 

F is for – Flying!

One thing I had always wanted to do was learn to fly. I wanted to soar on the wind currents like the hawks circling over the meadows and forests where I grew up. I remember watching them when I was a kid and thinking how peaceful it must be up there, high above all the chaos and commotion below.

There were two small airports within a couple of hours from where I lived that gave glider rides. Gliders have no engines and are towed up into the sky and then released to ride the thermals and updrafts, with the only sound being the whoosh of the air over the wings.

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Taking off with the tow plane

I’ve been on rides at both places and they were fantastic! The best part was when the pilot let me take the stick and fly the glider myself. Pure joy.

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This link has some basic info about gliders and a couple of really short videos showing take-off and landing for anyone interested in learning more.

https://www.boldmethod.com/blog/article/2015/02/your-guide-to-glider-flying/

Gliders are the best, but I also wanted to try my hand at a single-engine plane. Another airport closer to me gave flying lessons in a Cessna 152. The lessons incorporated both ground school and in-the-air learning. Over the course of several months, I delved into flight guides, aeronautical charts, navigation, weather prediction, radiospeak, and the rules of the air.

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Cessna 152

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Controls for both the student pilot and the instructor

As a part-timer, fitting the lessons in around my job, it took me about a year to finish the course. On my first solo flight I was so nervous, but everything went fine. I took off, flew around the practice area near the airport, then landed without a hitch. After that, I got to do solo cross-country flights to regional towns and cities. Those were a lot of fun.

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The scariest part of learning to fly is spin practice, otherwise known as learning how to get out of a spin if you accidentally put yourself in one. You have to intentionally put the plane into a spin — pull the stick back to lift the nose of the plane until it stalls, then floor the rudder, and over the plane goes, straight down in a corkscrew, rushing toward the ground. The first thing you do is NOT PANIC!

Image by Ciarán Ó Muirgheasa from Pixabay

Image by Ciarán Ó Muirgheasa from Pixabay

I did manage to successfully pull the plane out the dive, but I did NOT enjoy it. However, I was glad to know how to not crash the plane.

I earned my private pilot’s license in 1984. I flew locally for a while after that and gave rides to family and friends who dared to get in the plane with me. But it’s an expensive hobby. Plane rental and fuel are not cheap, so eventually I moved on to other things. I’m so glad, though, that I went for it and realized my dream of flying. Now when I see those hawks soaring on high, I smile because I’ve been up there with them. I know the peace and freedom of the open sky. I’ll never forget it.

 

And now for the Writing Update:

June and July were a wash as far as my WIP, Trouble Times Three, goes. Just too many things going on. But they were important things that needed to be done. Life and family take priority. Always. We’ll see what next month brings.

 

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with F?

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2020. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: E is for England, Edinburgh, and Easter Island

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

My insecurities this month revolve around the use of social media. There are so many social channels out there, how do you know which is the best to use to connect with potential readers? And what is the best way to find those readers?

I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and I recently started an Instagram account. I’m also on Goodreads and, of course, WordPress. And my book trailers are on YouTube. I find Twitter overwhelming, so my blog posts are linked to it, but I haven’t done much else with it. Finding the time to keep up with social media is also a challenge.

I’d love to know what social media channels other writers use most effectively and how they organize their social media time.

The IWSG question for this month: Do you have any secrets that readers would never know from your work?

I couldn’t think of anything to reply to this, so I’ll be interested to read how everyone else answers this question.

 

Now on to the A to Z Challenge!

I’m taking the long way around with A to Z this year. My plan is to post every couple of weeks, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.

 

E is for – England, Edinburgh, and Easter Island

England!

On that same 1995 trip to Scotland I wrote about for A to Z A, we also visited England. My Dad’s side of the family hails from Northhamptonshire. We flew into London, stayed there for a couple of days, then rented a car and drove around the countryside. I had made a list of places I wanted to visit, and we hit as many as we could. We saw the usual tourist sites in London: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, the Tower Bridge, and Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London (both from the outside).

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Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, London

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Buckingham Palace, London

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White Tower of London, where royalty was imprisoned before execution. (Rumored to have many ghosts.)

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Tower Bridge, London

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We had to ride the double-decker bus.

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Me, 25 years ago, doing the tourist thing.

I have to admit, though, that as lovely as those places were, I was more interested in the castles and ruins outside of the London area. The cathedrals were pretty spectacular, too.

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Penshurst Place and gardens, near Tonbridge, Kent

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Hever Castle, Kent (postcard – I couldn’t get the whole thing in one photo)

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Bodiam Castle ruins, East Sussex

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Arundel Castle, West Sussex

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Arundel Castle Library (postcard – my favorite room in the castle)

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Pevensey Castle ruins, East Sussex

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Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury (Restoration in progress.)

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Tintagel Castle ruins, Cornwall. Steeped in the legend of King Arthur.

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Warwick Castle, Warwickshire

One of my Dad’s ancestors came from Sulgrave, a small town in Northamptonshire. Interestingly, Sulgrave Manor, built in 1539, (PHOTO) is the ancestral home of George Washington, First President of the United States. Unfortunately, we drove through the area on a Sunday, and the manor house was closed to the public.

Edinburgh!

We visited Edinburgh, capital city of Scotland, in 1995, as well. We spent quite a bit of time at Edinburgh castle, taking in (figuratively) the Honours of Scotland and touring the Scottish National War Memorial, United Services Museum, St. Margaret’s Chapel, the Royal Scots Museum and the Prisons of War. So much history in one of the oldest fortifications in Europe.

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Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland. One of those misty, moody days.

Interesting fact: The Honours of Scotland are the oldest crown jewels in Britain. During WWII, the Crown of Scotland was hidden for safekeeping by burying it in a medieval latrine closet.

For information on the storied history of the castle and more interesting facts, click HERE.

Easter Island!

Ancient monoliths have always intrigued me. Who built them? What was their purpose? Easter Island, one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, is home to one of the world’s great mysteries: the massive stone heads called Moai.

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Moai on Easter Island Photo credit: http://www.goodfreephotos.com

The Moai were carved from volcanic rock by the Polynesians who settled on Easter Island sometime between 800 AD and 1200 AD. The island, also known by its Polynesian name of Rapa Nui, lies over 2,000 miles west of Chile in the South Pacific Ocean. It’s mainly made up of three extinct volcanoes, and along with surrounding small islets, it forms the summit of a 6,600-foot-tall underwater mountain, part of the Sala y Gomez Ridge, a Pacific undersea mountain range.

Rapa Nui was given the name Easter Island by Dutch explorers who first landed there on Easter Sunday in 1722.

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Moai, Easter Island Photo credit: antoinese @ http://www.goodfreephotos.com

One theory is that the stone statues were built to honor the settlers’ ancestors. There are nearly 900 monoliths, and almost all of them stand with their backs to the sea, looking inward toward the villages as if watching over the people. Only a very few face the ocean; those that do also overlook a village. One possible suggestion is that the statues facing the sea were placed there to help others find the island.

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Moai, Easter Island Photo credit: Jaboczw @ http://www.goodfreephotos.com

The statues averaged 13 feet tall and weighed 14 tons, with the tallest being closer to 40 feet and over 80 tons.

Between the late 1700s and mid-1800s, all of the statues on the island were toppled, either by civil war between the islanders, conflicts with European explorers, or earthquakes, according to various theories. Many have since been restored.

Maybe someday I’ll see the statues for myself and contemplate their existence like those ancient explorers did.

 

And now for the Writing Update:

Between vehicle problems and life in general, I only added maybe another 100 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, since my last A to Z post. Still, that’s a little progress, miniscule as it is.

 

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with E?

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2020. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IWSG and A to Z Challenge: My Bucket List! – Past, Present, and Future: C is for Caribbean Cruise

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

I don’t really have any new insecurities at the moment, just the usual ones, so I’m going to move on to the IWSG question for this month: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE?

The things that help me to be the most productive are a good night’s sleep and a quiet house. It’s impossible for me to concentrate and think creatively if I have a tired brain or too many distractions that disrupt my focus. Sometimes going outside and either taking a walk or just getting some fresh air helps clear my head if the words aren’t coming as easily as I’d like. Another thing I find helpful is to go back and re-read the last several pages I’ve written or even the previous chapter. Many times, when I get back to where I left off, the way forward becomes clear, and I’m back on track and ready to dive into my characters’ next adventure.

And speaking of adventures, it’s now on to the A to Z Challenge!

I’m taking the long way around with A to Z this year. My plan is to post every couple of weeks, so I will have time to visit other blogs in between and still have time to write.

C is for – Caribbean Cruise

I went on my first and only cruise way back in September of 1988. I always thought it would be a fun thing to do — to sail on the ocean and visit tropical locales like you see in the movies. The first things that struck me when I landed in Miami (besides the heat) were the palm trees. I had never seen real palm trees before, only pictures. That may sound kind of silly, but I found them really interesting.

Things didn’t go quite as planned in the beginning of this adventure. Someone was supposed to meet me at the airport and give me a ride to the ship, the Caribe, where I would then meet up with the tour group I would be traveling with. No one was there, however, so I ended up hopping a bus that took me to the port where the cruise ship was docked. Of course, there were several ships docked there, and, not being able to see the names, I had no idea which was the Caribe, but after stopping and asking a few people for directions, I did find the right ship.

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After I made it onboard and got settled in my cabin, I discovered a not-so-fun thing about cruises: ships rocking in the ocean make me seasick. And we hadn’t even left the dock. That prompted a visit to the ship’s doctor who gave me a shot and some motion sickness pills that solved that problem.

Things went much more smoothly after that. Our first stop was in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. It was my first time visiting a developing country. I remember bartering with one of the natives for an amber necklace and bracelet. The differences in the way of life between the people there and where I live were both eye-opening and sobering and made me think about how many things in my world I took for granted. We visited a market place, took a scenic drive past sugar cane fields, and spent some time on a lovely beach.

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Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

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Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

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Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Our second stop was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We took a tour through the city and saw the capitol building and some other places. Some of the city’s streets have the unique feature of being paved with blue cobblestones. Apparently, when the Spanish sailed across the Atlantic to the West Indies looking for gold in the 1700s, they brought the blue cobblestones with them as ballast in their ships. They left the cobblestones behind when they took the gold back to Spain, and the people of San Juan used the cobblestones to pave their streets. A few of the original cobblestones still exist. There’s a legend that says if you stop to listen, you can hear the footsteps of the Spanish soldiers who once walked the streets.

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

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San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Capitol Building, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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If you look really closely, you can see the blue cobblestones through the bus window on the right.

We also visited Castillo San Felipe Del Morro, a citadel built by the Spanish between the 16th and 18th centuries to protect the entrance to San Juan Bay against seafaring enemies. The citadel was used as a military base by the US during World War I and II.

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San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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View from San Felipe Del Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

From there, it was on to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands, the land of amazing beaches. We took another scenic tour, shopped in the shopping district, and enjoyed the white sands and gorgeous turquoise water.

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Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. My ship, the Caribe, is the little ship behind the huge Sovereign of the Seas in the bay on the left. The Norway is the ship farther out to sea.

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Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

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Bolongo Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

The flight home was uneventful, thankfully. The Caribbean cruise was quite an experience, but I have to say that once was enough for me. I have no desire for any more ocean excursions.

 
And now for the Writing Update:

I added another 1,000 words to my WIP, Trouble Times Three, since my last A to Z post. Feels like a turtle pace, but at least it’s moving forward.

Anyone else have any bucket list items beginning with C?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2020. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IWSG — The Fleetingness of Summer

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it hereinsecure-writers-support-group-badge

I had writing plans for this summer. Not big ones, but small ones I thought would be doable. I’d market my new book and get started on my next one. I’d get back into blogging. As I’m turning the page from July to August, I’m realizing the summer is nearly over and I’ve hardly accomplished any of the things I’d wanted to. This will be my second blog post since last year, so there’s a tiny bit of progress. I just need to build on it.

The idea was to continue to get up early over the summer and use that time to write before having to go to work. That doesn’t work well, though, unless I go to bed early enough to still get 7-8 hours’ sleep. A foggy brain does not a good writer make. It was a great plan, in theory. But I can’t believe how hard it is to make myself go to bed early. Between after-dinner family time and doing what needs to be done, it’s 10:30 – 11:00 PM before I know it.

So my insecurity for this month is that I won’t be able to turn my schedule around, salvage the summer, and at least get my next book started. Can I do it? We’ll see. Wish me luck!

The ISWG question for this month is: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

I think the biggest pitfall for an independent/self-published writer would be to not go the extra mile to put out a quality product. Professional editing, proofreading, and a professionally designed book cover are essential if a writer wants to be taken seriously. It’s the only way self-publishing will lose its stigma of being inferior to traditional publishing. Self-pubbing has come a long way, and we need to keep it moving forward.

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2018. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Time Flies, Whether You’re Having Fun Or Not

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here

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How did it get to be July already??? I had hoped to get more blogging done in June, but that didn’t happen. And I didn’t get much done in the way of visiting during last month’s IWSG, either, but I’ll try again this month and hopefully do better.

I am making progress on my WIP, though. Whoo hoo! I’m right at the edge of the climax and can’t wait to see what surprises are in store before I hit The End. I just need to find a way to carve out a little more writing time. It’s so hard to do when there are so many demands on my time. My insecurity is that I won’t be able to find that time and writing and blogging will fall by the wayside again. Does anyone ever feel like they have enough time to do all the things that need to be done?

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2017. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Working My Way Back

Today’s the day for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where, on the first Wednesday of every month, writers get together to share their insecurities and offer encouragement. The IWSG was created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can learn all about it and sign up for it here.

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Wow, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve had a chance to get back into the blogosphere. When life steps in, it can throw everything for a loop. But I’m happy to say I survived the intensive ten-week training course, passed the required 4-hour certification exam, and have settled into my new job, which is going really well.

The best part is that I’m finally starting to get back into writing. I can’t tell you how good that feels. So what is my insecurity this month? I’m wondering if writing is like riding a bicycle. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything new that I sometimes feel like I’ve forgotten how. I’ve been reading through my current WIP so it will be fresh in my mind. It’s called The Road Once Taken, and it’s about ¾ done, so I don’t have too much left to write. My goal is to publish it this fall. Fingers crossed that I can find the time to make it happen.

My free time is still extremely limited so it may take me a while to return visits and see what everyone has been up to in the last six months, but today’s post is a start, and I’ll be working my way back to blogging more often.

One thing I did accomplish was to get the book cover done. I wanted to have some “coming soon” book cards printed to hand out at the book events I have coming up this summer. Carrie Butler of Forward Authority Design did a fantastic job with it. And I always get the images for the cover and for the book trailer at the same time, so I’ve been playing around with that, too. Click below to see the latest version.

Happy IWSG Day!!

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2017. All rights reserved.