Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December #IWSG: It's beginning to look a lot like a novel

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


I'm co-hosting today (a first for me!) Check out these other amazing December co-hosts:


Co-Hosts:
Jen Chandler
Nick Wilford
Juneta Key
JH Moncrieff
Diane Burton
MJ Fifield




I'm so excited to report that I finished NaNo strong. Not 50k strong, but almost 35k strong. A new, shiny plot is under way for another MG story, and it's starting to look like a book!


DECEMBER'S QUESTION: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?





My lofty five-year plan includes, well, doing what I'm currently doing: writing middle-grade fiction. Sure, it would be nice to be on a few lofty lists, like the NY Times Best Seller List. Hey, a girl can dream. 

How will I achieve my goals? I probably won't saddle up Dusty, aka Lil' Sebastian, anytime soon. However, I plan to use a rope, a grappling hook, an energy drink and a really fast car. Sounds like the MC in my new book trying to achieve his goals. He will do anything to cure himself of something that's ruining his life and will stop at nothing to change the course of seventh-grade history. 

Hitting the target, aka the goal, is never a straight shot down easy street. Most of us usually lose the keys first, get pulled over, hit a speed bump (or two), careen off the path and plunge headfirst into an icy river. Sounds like every Bourne movie ever. But how many of us actually have it made when it comes to writing and publishing? Not many.  


I hope the new year (and what's left of this one) brings you closer to your goals! My goal will always be to enjoy writing through ever stage. Merry Christmas and happy editing, fellow NaNo-ers!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November #IWSG: The best part of being a writer...

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

This month's question: "What's your favorite aspect of being a writer?"

Besides hoarding ideas, spying on people, and eavesdropping, I would have to say my favorite aspect of being a writer is writing. Duh. And with the second day of NaNo underway, it's the perfect time to get going.
My daily inspiration

Each year I begin crafting new stories in October. (Yes, I cheat and start early.) The season sets the tone and offers inspiration for cranking out a ton of words on these colorful, cool days. Scratch that. It's been in the 80s every single day for the past month. Boo! But even hot weather in the middle of fall can't stop me. Nothing can stop me--except for my screen dying on my laptop last week. My fingers were on fire. (Almost 20k on my new WIP.) So, I've been writing "old school" or long-hand for the past week and loving it. Besides writing, I also enjoy editing and the fabulous writing community.




Which is your favorite writing season? Do you have a favorite writing spot that inspires you?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

October IWSG: To the Editing Cave!

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


This month's question: When do you know your story is ready?

Definitely not December 1st--the day after NaNo. Let the rough draft breathe and then dive into editing, oh, say for the next six months or so. When do I think my story is ready? I'm glad you asked. When I type THE END and start talking to myself with phrases like the following: this is it, I can relax now, time for a break, then I'm certain it's not ready. Pull back. Retreat! Get those editing goggles back on. Grab those CPs and beta readers for another walk through.

Whenever you are positive your story is ready, trust me, it's not. Those tiny plot holes will haunt you in your sleep, keeping you awake until you fix them. Just like with construction projects, always add another month or two or three before declaring your story complete. Then you might be ready. Unfortunately, I've learned this the hard way.

To the editing cave! But remember to fill this cup first.


P.S. Feeling pretty good this month after my ghostly middle-grade mystery placed third in the AUTHORS.me diversity writing contest. My MC is a boy in a back brace, but I can't tell you how he got that way or what happens because it's an integral part of the story. Cue the happy dance!

Do you disappear into a hideout, aka the Batcave, when writing? Any good news this past month? Working on a new story? Gearing up for NaNo?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

September #IWSG: Are You Ready for Some Football--er, Writing?

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


The big question for the group this month is "How do you find the time to write in your busy day?"

After driving the mom taxi and embarrassing my kids at their football and soccer games (I can cheer pretty loudly), I hit the hay pretty early. My writing time happens first thing in the morning. Then after breakfast and after my boys drive off into the sunrise, I write (as much as possible)  until around noon. But if I don't take the time to read, I will never find the inspiration to write. I am always reading. If you fail to read, you will never know what works and what flunks or what makes a story great or lame. This is key for getting unstuck and curing writer's block. READ. WRITE. READ some more.


The important thing to remember is to write everyday. Don't forget your family, but, hey, they probably won't let you, so no worries. How do you find the time to write in a busy world?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

August #IWSG: "Let's Do This."

First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

The Big Question on the IWSG post for this month is (drum roll, please) Was your first piece of writing ever published?

Yes and no. My middle school scribblings bent on mystery and mayhem were sadly rejected by no one and never published. My first serious attempt at writing did land a publishing contract. But I've developed as a writer since that time nearly two years ago and am anxious to publish more. That sums up the answer to today's question!

Are you stuck in a writer's block rut gathering inspiration for your next novel? During the summer months I let my ideas simmer. Writing a new manuscript for me always starts in the fall. When the kids are back in school. The most wonderful time of the year. So where in the world do I get my kick in the seat of my pants to keep writing? Glad you asked. You know the creepy cornfield I pass everyday and the quirky neighbor two doors down and the really annoying teenager who lives in my house, eating all of my food? Well, I won't name any names, but it's often the eerily close and unexpected things hidden in plain sight that inspire me. 



This group is all about sharing our insecurities and our ups and downs. My confidence soared last month. After making it into Query Kombat in June, I decided to enter "pg70pit" contest hosted by Lara Willard last month. My MG mystery was one of the fourteen MG winners!

While I'm still waiting on agents, I'm still getting inspired for other stories and still pulling my hair out on this journey. The big orange bucket I spotted at a mini golf course this summer would have made a nice addition to my writing desk. 

Don't lose heart wherever you are in your writing career. We all have things to learn and we are in this together! Let's do this.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

July #IWSG: Moving On




Happy July 4th week, everyone! And so another crazy summer begins. The relaxing days of summer do not exist in my world. Try writing even a grocery list in a house full of teenagers. An idea for another middle-grade novel popped into my head. But I am undecided as to the genre. It could go full blown contemporary mystery or a sci-fi. Weird. I know. I'm only in the brainstorming stage, but one thing I’m pretty certain of is the setting: Chicago. I can’t stop thinking about my favorite city. Here are some more pics from my visit last month:







I’m feeling hopeful and jittery this month. My MG mystery that was picked for the Query Kombat contest last month got knocked out in round one. I thought I made my query clear that it was told from a dual POV, but the judges were confused. At least, Michelle Hauke believed in me and gave me a chance by picking me for her team! I received great feedback and encouraging words from everyone. Moving on. I decided to enter my MG mystery into another contest, “page 70 pitch” hosted by Lara Willard. Why not, right? We’ll see how that one goes. 




I've always wanted to take a photo of Calder's Flamingo. As my hubs was flying fast in the Mini Cooper, we passed the Federal building in Chicago. I stuck my hand out of the sunroof and snapped a few pics. They may not be perfect, but I succeeded!




How about you? Enter any writing contests this summer? Putting the parking brake on your writing for now? Losing your mind with a house full of kids or pets or imaginary characters in your head?
I'm on vacation this week and will try to respond to comments and visit blogs as soon as possible!


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

June #IWSG: Summer, Snark, and Survival Tips.


First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


When life moves pretty fast, hang on for the ride and enjoy it. This guy looks like he's hanging on for dear life.This is exactly how I felt this last month, but I survived. Sort of. Don't mind that twitch. I'll be fine.
Navy Pier Chicago
This past month I watched my oldest son graduate from high school, experienced a monumental anniversary with my hubs and spent Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago. Twenty thousand steps on Friday alone, and I still can say I loved every minute of it. I always find something new in the Windy City. And, yes, it was windy and stormed while we were there. But we survived.

The new blue Ferris wheel


My new MG paranormal mystery made it into the coveted Query Kombat contest hosted by Michelle Hauck! Our queries and first 250 words will appear today on various blogs and will be matched up with similar entries. Over the next few weeks there will be several more rounds. The last standing entry in each age group will win. Well, if you make it past round one, you make it to the agent round, so that's a win. You can check mine out under the nickname, "The Sticky Note Ghost."

The Bean aka Cloud Gate


Sometimes a writer just needs to be reminded they can do it. This business is tough and depressing at times and can leave you full of sarcasm and snark and cynicism. I mean, sometimes a little snark can go a long way. Getting back to my monologue...sincere encouragement can do wonders in the writing world. My writer friend not only encouraged me to enter Query Kombat, but she insisted. She wouldn't take no for an answer. Genuine praise for our work can be what it takes to push us into action and gives us the confidence needed.

I'm pretty sure I have been my son's biggest cheerleader, rooting for him his entire life. Mom's intuition sensed this smart and talented kid would go far. He struggled in his beginning years in school, but has more than made up for it. This kid graduated with honors, is headed into the medical field, and is a top-ranked athlete in the state of MO. So when he spouts out medical information on muscle hypertrophy or sarcopenia or tells me I might need a stress test, I just smile and nod my head.

Don't forget to encourage people whether they are just starting out in this business, seasoned veterans, or your own kids who are smarter than you. It could be just what they need and can make a huge difference in their lives.

After someone encouraged me, I paid it forward and encouraged another writer, giving them a query/first chapter critique. Now, we are good friends! How are you encouraging others this month? Are you ready for summer? Any fun vacation plans?

Chicago River


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

April #IWSG: Wait for It...




First Wed of Every Month
Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


While everyone posts for the AtoZ challenge, I am saddened that I am not participating this year. My oldest son graduates from high school in a little over a month. Cue the crazy train and the tears and the medication. Just kidding on the last one. I'm all for supporting my kids, so when he handed me something to sign the other day, I didn't hesitate. Then I read the thing. His class is taking a "Cadaver Field Trip" to a hospital in St. Louis. Not lying. I don't make this stuff up. I couldn't stop laughing. What could go wrong? I told him I wanted DETAILS. He just shook his head at me. I asked if I could tag along. I'm pretty sure he rolled his eyes. In case you were wondering, he's taking chemistry, anatomy & physiology, medical terminology. You know, your average high school courses.

On a different note, I don't usually post my progress when it comes to my search for an agent. It's like my personal writer's fight club mantra. But because I have real writer friends (as opposed to imaginary ones) who struggle with rejection and waiting and wanting to quit, I want to encourage you to keep waiting and to not give up. My MG contemporary fantasy is still with several agents. And I wait. While I've been waiting, I wrote. It paid off. I just finished edits on my MG paranormal mystery. I stretched myself, going outside of my comfort zone, and wrote it from a dual POV. Best decision I have ever made. As I wait to hear back from agents for my MG fantasy, I am getting ready to send out queries for my MG mystery.

And while I wait, I take advantage of every opportunity to snap a few pictures. Last year for the AtoZ Challenge, I featured a photographic journey through Mark Twain's boyhood hometown, Hannibal, MO. My oldest son (who will soon be visiting the morgue with his class) shares my passion for photography. He took this photo on the top of Lover's Leap of the sunset over the Mississippi River. He photo-shopped the sky with a darker blue. He has such an eye for detail.

Lover's Leap - Hannibal, MO

My nephew sent me a couple of photos from inside the final four during Monday night's big game in Houston where he was selling Chick-fil-a, and....


Wait for it.....

Guess who was there?? He's in the light blue shirt and white kicks. Hint: I'm from this state where he played in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls.

Michael Jordan chillin' at the game
Talk about someone who never quit. He even got cut from his high school basketball team.
Get back out there. Don't quit. You've got this.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March #IWSG: March Madness


Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html


Do you find yourself doing too much of this? That's my kid by the way. I would tell him to get off his phone, but I'm probably texting him to take out the trash.

 And not enough of this?



Do you feel like your life is moving slower than these guys?

Or maybe you feel like this little guy--stuck playing the same song over and over?



Maybe the storms are rolling in faster than you can dive for cover.


March is full of madness and we've only just begun! Yesterday morning we experienced ten seconds of sleet followed by the tornado sirens blaring all over town. I'm in the editing cave right now working on my WIP: a paranormal MG mystery. Make the most of this month. Get off your phone unless you're reminding your kids to do the dishes. And get your storm shelter stocked with plenty of coffee, spare pens and paper.

What are you working on this month? Keeping up with your writing goals for this year?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February #IWSG: Fun with Photography and Phone Booths and Ferris Bueller Quotes

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html










As the Midwest frolics in fifty degrees (be jealous), I've been hard pressed to find quantity writing time what with trips to the park and wearing flip-flops and all. This unfrozen winter feels oddly calming. So I dove write in (get it?) to take the February #AuthorLifeMonth challenge on Instagram (when I should be writing.) Snap a pic of the topic for that day and post it with the hashtag. Even if you're not a published author you can still participate.

This writer's journey can be a long and hard road to publication. Some in this group have already been published, but we wait on other things like finding  the perfect agent, publishers and contracts. The journey takes time and patience for all of us. Ferris Bueller has some words for those who spend every waking minute obsessed with writing, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile. You could miss it."

So in the meantime, get your camera (so retro) most likely your phone and snap some snazzy pics of you and your writing dreams and pass the time (when you should be writing). Get yourself out there. Remember you are selling not only your book (or future book) but yourself as an author.





My daughter and I played in a phone booth in an antique store over the weekend. Can someone call that number and tell me to GET BACK TO WRITING?! Thanks. 

Are you up for the photo challenge? Getting any writing done this year? Freaked out that we're already in February? You're still here? Go live life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

January #IWSG: Clear and Present Danger


Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the writing process and post the first Wednesday of every month! http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, James Bond all have one thing in common besides the first letter in their names: a clear and present danger. The stakes are always laid out before them and are never lost in wordy prose or the muddy middle. It's pretty clear they will die if they don't act. The sense of an immediate threat always lurks in the foreground.

Getting back to the basics of writing this holiday season, I was inspired as I picked up James Scott Bell's Write Your Novel From the Middle. Your writing must have clear stakes whether you write sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary. Knowing the stakes will make your story a page-turner. Great book for both plotters and pantsers!

Over Christmas break Missouri experienced some wild weather. We enjoyed sixty degree days, flash flooding and tornado watches. Last week I had to make a pizza run smack dab in the middle of a storm. Well, I didn't think about the clear and present danger until I had jumped in my car with my youngest teenage son and looked out the window. He said, "Drive, Mom. We can make it." I have two teenage boys. Of course, it was an emergency...to get pizza...in the middle of a tornado watch.




I binge-watched the Bourne movies recently and realized the incredible resourcefulness of Jason Bourne. He drives a stolen car at breakneck speed while pouring alcohol over his non-lethal gunshot wound, tending to his injuries and dodging an assassin and a dozen police cars. He gets away, silently slipping into the night without any recognition that he's awesome or a pat on the back for beating the bad guys at their own game. One thing I love about Bourne is that he never gives up; he never quits. He just keeps pressing toward his goals.

What clear and present goals do you have for this year? Write them down. Stay positive in 2016 as you balance writing with life and kids and laundry and interruptions and pizza runs in the middle of life-threatening weather. Remember, we're in this together!

September #IWSG: Change Is in the Air

Come join Alex J. Cavanaugh and the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We discuss our fears, insecurities, ups and downs of the wri...