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.

IWSG — Book Awards, Milestones, and Changes — Oh My! And November 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 didn’t intend to drop off the face of the blogosphere a couple of weeks ago. Life happened, with a lot of things going on at once, so blogging had to take a backseat.

First, for anyone who didn’t see the announcement on my Facebook page, my first book, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, did win the award in the Independent Publishers of New England Book Award contest in the Fantasy/SciFi category. Whoo, hoo! I had a great time at the IPNE fall conference in New Hampshire on October 21st and 22nd where I went to accept the award.

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Second, I reached another milestone with my blog. This will be my 300th post!

And third, life happened in the form of my getting a new job. It happened in a whirlwind and rather unexpectedly. It’s definitely a good thing, but the difficult part is that this job requires an intensive ten-week training course, which will consume pretty much all of my waking hours from November 14th until late January. I know the job itself will be interesting and rewarding, but the training will be a challenge.

Which brings me to my insecurity for this month (and for the next few): My writing time will be nonexistent for the next ten weeks and probably beyond until I get settled into the new position. It’s going to be hard to live without it. I had hoped to publish one book a year to build up a backlist, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish the book I’m working on and get it out by the end of 2017 or not. It’s still a possibility. It’ll just have to be a fall/winter book instead of a spring one like my first two.

Blogging time will also be nonexistent. I will keep the author promo commitments I’ve already made. I’m in the process of scheduling those posts now, but other than that, after November 14th, I won’t be around much, if at all.

Here’s to a successful training session, and Happy Holidays to everyone!

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And now for the November IWSG question:

 What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

My favorite aspect is writing the first draft. When I sit down at the keyboard and the story is playing like a movie in my mind and the words are tumbling out of my head like a waterfall and I can barely get them down fast enough. I live for those moments.

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

Celebrate the Small Things — Weekend Edition!

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly celebration created by VikLit and now hosted by Lexa Cain to celebrate the happenings of the week, however small or large. You can learn all about it and sign up for it here. CelebrateSmallThings_Badge

Sorry I’m late to the party! This week’s celebrations:

  1. I have a short story for the IWSG Anthology Contest, which is an accomplishment for me, because rarely does anything I write end up short. Ironically, though, the story is actually too short for the 3,000 to 6,000 word limit, so I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it.
  2. We went to my daughter’s National Honor Society induction ceremony. I’m so proud of her!
  3. On Saturday, we made our traditional trek through the corn maze! It’s always fun, and the best part is eating bakery treats afterward. Yum!

What other celebrations are going on out there?

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Book Awards! And October 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. insecure-writers-support-group-badge

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I know there are quite a few book award contests out there, and I’ve often wondered if it’s worth the upfront cost to enter them. Sometimes it feels like throwing money down the drain. If you don’t win or place, you have nothing to show for the investment.

And are all those contests really legit? Or are some of them created by unsavory characters preying on authors desperate for any recognition that will lift their books up out of the ever-widening sea of published novels? And if the contests aren’t big name like, for example, the Hugo Awards, will readers be influenced to buy your book if you do win?

I don’t know the answers to the first two questions, but I’m about to find out the answer to the third one. I received notice a few days ago that my first book, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble, won a Finalist award in the Independent Publishers of New England Book Award contest I entered a while back. Whoo, hoo! I’ll be going to the IPNE fall conference in New Hampshire on October 21st and 22nd to accept the award and hopefully do a book signing, and just enjoy the conference. It will be interesting to see if the award and the publicity surrounding it have any effect on sales.

What experiences have other authors had with book contests? What ones did you enter? If you won or placed, what happened then? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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And now for the October IWSG question:

When do you know your story is ready?

My basic rule is that if I can read through my story without tinkering or making any edits, it’s ready. Of course, this is after it has gone through the necessary revisions and professional editing. But if I can read through it and not find anything that feels just a little off, and if everything reads smoothly without any wording that trips me up, it’s done.

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And Don’t Forget the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Last year’s contest was science fiction — parallel world/alternate history — and the result was Parallels: Felix Was Here. This year, there’s a new theme and all members are invited to submit.

 Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter — blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

 Word count: 3000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain’s redemption, a hero’s lack of confidence, a hero’s lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

 Deadline: November 1st, 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

 Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

IWSG — Resource List of Experts and Links?, the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest Theme!, and the September 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. Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

The awesome co-hosts for this month: C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattinson, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Elsie Amata, and Me!

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Resource List of Experts and Links?

Sometimes when I write a scene involving something I’m not really familiar with, I worry that it won’t sound realistic enough, particularly to someone who has been in a similar situation. I try to think of someone I could talk to who might have experience with it, but finding someone like that isn’t always possible. I do research the topic, which helps, but it’s not as good as talking to someone who’s been there.

A few weeks ago I read a blog post on IWSG member Anna Simpson’s (aka Emaginette’s) page where she asked if readers would be willing to share their knowledge with her in whatever field or subject they had a lot of experience or expertise. Her idea was to collect a list of names of people who would answer her questions and serve as a resource so that when she needed real life info about a situation her characters were in, she could contact them for help to make the scene more authentic.

For example, if she had a character who was going to go skydiving, but she had never done the deed herself, she could go to the resource list, find a person who had skydived, and ask them questions about the experience.

Anna’s first commenter was IWSG member Juneta Key, who gave an impressive list of experiences she was willing to help out with, one of which was something I needed some info on. I contacted Juneta, and she steered me in the right direction with a scene I had involving a police scanner. (Thanks again, Juneta!!)

The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a great idea Anna had. Then I wondered — what if the IWSG website had a page like that? I was thinking how incredibly useful it would be to have a resource page on the site with a list of people who were willing to share their knowledge. Or if they didn’t have firsthand knowledge but had researched topics, they could contribute the names of the sites where they found the best information. The page could be arranged by subject — sort of a one-stop-shop for research.

Would it work? What do you think?

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Announcing the 2016 IWSG Anthology Contest!

Last year’s contest was science fiction — parallel world/alternate history, and the result was Parallels: Felix Was Here. This year, we have a new theme and invite all members to submit.

 Eligibility: Any member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group is encouraged to enter — blogging or Facebook member. The story must be previously unpublished. Entry is free.

 Word count: 5000-6000

Genre: Fantasy

Theme: Hero Lost. It could be about a hero turned villain, a villain’s redemption, a hero’s lack of confidence, a hero’s lack of smarts, etc. It can be about any kind of hero including superheroes, mythological heroes, unexpected or unlikely heroes, or a whole new kind of hero. This theme has plenty of scope and we’re open to pretty much anything along these lines. No erotica, R-rated language, or graphic violence.

 Deadline: November 1st, 2016

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted, previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup.com before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details and if you are part of the Blogging or Facebook IWSG group.

 Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges.

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.

We’re excited to see the creativity and enthusiasm that’s such a part of this group put into action. So don your creative caps and start writing. And spread the word!

Our amazing judges this year:

Elizabeth S. Craig

Richard Harland

Laura Maisano

Russell C. Connor

Dawn Frederick

Michelle L. Johnson

Ion Newcombe

Lynn Tincher

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And now for the September IWSG question:

How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

Well, half the time I don’t, which is tremendously frustrating. But I do my best to carve out small blocks of time here and there. The hardest part for me is to ignore all the other things clamoring to be done and not feel guilty that I’m not doing them. I’m perpetually behind on household chores and yardwork, but you know, in the grand scheme of things, dust bunnies and overgrown yards are not all that important. I have stories to tell, and I need to get them out. The other things can wait their turn. I’m writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

IWSG — 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. Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

I really don’t have a lot of writing insecurities this month other than the usual trying to balance writing and marketing, so I’m going to go right to the Question of the Month.

The August 3rd IWSG question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I’m happy to say that my first piece of writing has been published! After many years of hobby-writing and revising and then a year of serious revising and editing, my first piece — my novel, Lady, Thy Name Is Trouble — was published on February 27, 2015.

For anyone slogging in the trenches of whatever stage of writing you’re at, be it drafting, revising, editing, querying, or looking into the self-pubbing process, I’m here to say, Don’t give up! Keep going, you’ll get there.

During all those years working on my story, I had many doubts that I’d ever see my book in print. It was a dream I chased without much hope of success, but with hard work, persistence, and determination, I brought that dream within reach. It is possible to make dreams come true. I have the book in my hand to prove it.

Keep chasing those dreams, and never, ever let them go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.

IWSG — How Much Is Enough?

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. Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

Last year when I published my first book and saw it on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, I thought that was the best thing ever and I’d never be able to top it.

Today while out running errands, I stopped at one of the Phoenix Bookstores, a local indie, and took a couple of photos. Book 2 is on the shelves now, and I have to say having two books out there is even better.

 

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So what’s my insecurity this month? Marketing. How much is enough? Since publishing Book 2 in mid-May, I’ve run a wonderfully epic blog tour and participated as a vendor in two farmer’s market/craft shows and the Renaissance Festival. I’ve got more market/craft shows lined up, along with VT Comic Con, and I just set a date with Barnes & Noble for a book signing, coming up in about two weeks (Yes!).

All this is great for sales and getting the word out, but it’s also time-consuming, and I’m not getting much writing done. At some point I have to say enough is enough and get back to writing, because if I don’t, there won’t be any new books to sell.

Does anyone know if there’s any kind of rule of thumb for how long to market a new book when it comes out? How much effort do other authors out there put into it? I’d love to know!

 

The July 6 IWSG question: What’s the best thing someone has ever said about your writing?

I love it when people tell me how much they care about my characters. They can’t wait to read the next book to find out what happens to them. That means I’ve written my characters well and made them as real to others as they are to me. And to me, that’s the best compliment.

 

 

 

 

© Lori L. MacLaughlin and Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams, 2016. All rights reserved.