Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IWSG - Progress

 It's the first Wednesday of September, which means we're creeping up on my favorite season of the year: Autumn.

It also means it's time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves to support insecure writers. All are welcome to join. Simply add your blog to the linky list, post, and visit your fellow insecure writers. 

This month's co-hosts are: PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Natalie Aguirre, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

Last month I posted about having quit my day job and establishing a new writing schedule. I figured I'd update on how it's going. The short version is that it's going great. The longer version is that there are still little quirks I need to work out, but having weekends off, plus a weekly deep cleaning day, means I'm allowing myself to relax more than I have in a while. 

Before, it was a rush to get everything in. I've got teens, and all that involves. I had a day job and a volunteer job. Various groups I belong to require a certain amount of work. Then there was writing, editing, submitting, formatting, and various other writing duties. And I was somehow supposed to keep the house clean, do laundry, take care of the cats, yadda, yadda. Because there was so much, I never actually took any time for myself that wasn't consumed by thinking about what I SHOULD be doing during that time. It was, "I should be working," "I should be doing payroll," "I should be checking my emails," "I should be working on a schedule for workshops." Sometimes it was so much that it shut me down.

While I still, like everyone I'm sure, have too much to do, I now have something closer to order. It's freed up my creative mind on the designated writing days, which is what I'd hoped for. It's also made it so that I'm not cleaning instead of writing or instead of relaxing or instead of doing whatever else I need to do, because there are designated times to do each thing in.

I haven't reached my word count every single day. Some of this is due to school having started, us closing on a cabin on property and everything that came along with that process, trying to write on the porch and finding I don't want to work if I'm outside, starting late, etc. I have a problem with not being outside when it's nice. I worked through most of the summer in a way that made me never get any outside time, and now that it's calming down, with weather more in the upper 70s and lower 80s, I want to be out there! Once I acknowledged that desire and started giving myself more time outside before getting to my writing, I started getting my word count done. I now know I need some time outside, and that I don't like writing outside, because all I want to do out there is relax.

I did a reading last week, and it's available on YouTube if anyone's interested. I'm the second reader after the musical performance.

I've also joined a book club with our local Sisters in Crime chapter, so I'm looking forward to that experience. It will be nice to talk to others about books and not be the one running the show in some way. 

Speaking of running the show, I have less than a month remaining on my volunteer job! Once that's done, it will free up that much more mental and creative space. Plus time. I'm making a lot of changes this year, but I'm looking forward to it.

Okay, time for my submission stats. I like to share these each month to keep myself accountable. My stats for August:

4 submissions

1 acceptance (my fastest yet--20 minutes from submission to acceptance)

2 rejections

13 stories currently on submission

I'd like to get that number up to a minimum of 20 on submission at any given time. However, I've been working on a set of collaboration pieces, plus a solo collection. Pieces completed for the solo collection are not being counted in my stats. The collaboration pieces are included in the stories currently on submission since their placement is not guaranteed.

Moving on to recent media. 


You Beneath Your Skin, by Damyanti Biswas

A touching crime novel that addresses crime in New Delhi. The big city is full of crime. In this book, crimes against women and children are addressed, with a police officer and his cohorts working on a set of crimes that come together in a deeply personal way for many of those involved. From the struggles of a single mother with an autistic child to a woman's struggle opening up to others due to a physical issue to an affair that hurts emotions and jobs to an officer who has to face a deeply personal villain. 

An excellent read for those who enjoy crime novels.

Cemetery Closing (Everything Must Go), by Jeff Strand

This is the fifth in the Andrew Mayhem series, but the first I've read. It's not the first Strand novel I've read, though, and so far I've enjoyed them all. This book is witty and full of humor, even when it involves cannibals and treachery. Mayhem is the father of a bunch of children, including a set of infant triplets. When adventure calls, he turns it down...until the stakes are raised. With the permission of his exhausted wife, he sets off into the jungle of South America to find an amazing buried treasure that's supposed to kill off his bad luck. The trouble is, Mayhem is a magnet for everything crazy that can go wrong.

A quick read that made me laugh out loud quite a few times. 


Bill & Ted Face the Music

We bought this on the release date for less than it would have cost for the four of us to go to the theater. Happily, we've got a projector in the basement, so we got to watch it in style. We picked up sodas and theater-style candy, plus pizza, for our home viewing.

Having said that, it didn't feel like the original movies. I wanted to like it. I didn't hate it. The girl playing Ted's daughter did such a great job of adopting some of Keanu Reeves' body movements from the earlier films that she was probably my favorite part. I love Samara Weaving, but other than talking a bit like they did in the original movie, there wasn't a lot of call back to Bill's character. The guy who played the original Reaper was still a funny character. 

Basically, it was a fun movie to watch and relive a bit of my youth. It missed the mark a bit for me, but I'm not unhappy we bought the film. It felt good to be watching a new movie for the first time since Birds of Prey and The Hunt came out to buy online.

La Llorona

This is NOT the movie that came out in America last year. This is a Guatemalan film (with subtitles) about a dictator who committed crimes against his people, who now want him convicted of those crimes. This is a very different take on the legend of La Llorona, and a good one. It's a slower burn than some might like, but the scene is set well. Is La Llorona the bad guy or is it the dictator? A powerful film.


This Dutch horror film is a horror comedy about a killer lion let loose in the city of Amsterdam. Part of it is in English, but the rest is subtitled. I like a killer animal film, and the humor in this one hit the spot. Cheesy, of course, but that's one of the best parts of it. Rather than the usual badass male hero, this one features a female hero with her expert ex, who also happens to be in a wheelchair. It doesn't slow him down, though. 


My Name is Earl

A funny show from the early 2000s, I've been watching it with my son. He likes it enough that he's gone on ahead of me a few times, yet still rewatches the episodes with me. A criminal realizes that his bad karma is taking away all the good in his life, so he makes a list of everything he's done to wrong other people and set out to make it all right. After the first season, the guest actors on the show are a who's who of actors that are a kick to see. And of course Jason Lee and Jaime Pressly play their roles so well, as do the other three main characters. Randy is the dopey younger brother, Catalina an illegal alien working in the motel where they live, and Crab Man as the guy Earl's ex cheated on him with, but you can't think ill of him because he's such a great guy.

If you're in a comedy show hole, this one's a lot of fun.

Link time! Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Split Lip Magazine is seeking memoir, poetry, flash fiction, short stories, photography and art, interviews and reviews for their online issues and print annual. They want experimental and literary. Up to 3000 words, depending upon type of submission. Some months cost money, but every month is free for the rest of the year for black writers. Pay varies depending upon type of submission. September is a free month for all submissions.

Other Worlds Ink is seeking stories that depict a near future earth that's better than this one. 5000 to 15000 words. Pays $75 to $125, depending upon length. Deadline September 30.

18th Wall Productions is seeking stories for Shadows Over Avalon. They want Cthulhu mythos stories set in the Arthurian world. It doesn't have to be horror. 4000 to 20000 words. Pays royalties based off profits. Deadline October 1.

Underland Arcana is seeking short fiction. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.01/word. Deadline October 1.

What are your insecurities? Have you been submitting? Any of these links of interest? Have you seen any of the shows or movies I listed? How about the books? What's happened in your world this week?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Reading Tonight & Relaunching Life

Hi guys! I have a live reading tonight via YouTube. Stephen Graham Jones and Jeamus Wilkes will also be reading, and The Dollhouse Thieves will be performing. The theme is Ghostly Campfire Edition. You can CLICK HERE to go to the YouTube channel. It starts at 7 PM MT tonight. By the way, there's a Facebook page you can join if you want to know about upcoming readings. I think they're every month. There's a Hot for Teacher theme coming up soon. These are run by Amy Armstrong.

My husband and I celebrated our 24 year anniversary last week. We went out for a late night dinner on the patio of a local restaurant. Maybe next year we can take a little trip for our 25th. It's the first time I've worn makeup and dressy clothes in MONTHS! 

About a month ago, I put notice in at my day job. Friday was my last day, so I've officially embarked on a dedicated writing schedule. It's time I focus more on my writing and see what I can do right now while I get my health under control.

I've taken inspiration from Becky Clark, who wrote Eight Weeks to a Complete Novel: Write Faster, Write Better, Be More Organized. While I haven't read the book yet, I did take a half-day workshop she taught based on her book. The thing about Becky is that she's highly organized and she gets her words in. She mentioned the other day that she writes Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesdays she cleans her house and tends to chores, errands, and appointments. While she and I have very different writing methods, this particular idea will be incredibly helpful for a variety of reasons:

*With my ADHD, I tend to get overwhelmed if there's a lot to do, and I basically meltdown and get nothing whatsoever done, because it takes work to pare it down to what I should do right now. I've found lists and schedules to be helpful with this. Having a regular ongoing schedule and routine should help even more.*As a mom, I tend to feel guilty if I'm not tending to household things and spending some good time with my kids. This method of scheduling will ensure I don't give up writing until I've cleaned the house, that I get both of those things done, and that I have evenings and weekends to spend with the kids without having to feel guilty because I'm not writing.

The tweaks I'm doing to work on my health and ensure I don't overdo things, but that I get physical movement in (by the way, she does have a scheduling method in the book that includes getting exercise in) are:

1. Doing sun salutations before breakfast. To break back into yoga, which I think will ultimately help with the fibromyalgia and my other physical issues, I'm starting with the easy stuff to get in the habit and improve my flexibility. I used to be incredibly flexible before a chiropractor screwed up my neck and the rest of my spine.

2. Starting my day with breakfast and no restrictions on how I relax while having breakfast. A problem at the day job was that my sleep schedule is incredibly messed up, and I was constantly waking up with just enough time to get to work, which meant no breakfast, and usually no food until a late dinner. Since my job picked up during the pandemic and I was filling in as a server (my regular job was as a bookkeeper), I wasn't feeding my family until 9 at night, since I got off at about 8:30. This isn't helpful for someone with a permanent migraine (not eating protein steadily or hydrating well enough can lead to a major increase in the migraine). When I did have breakfast, I'd shove it down so fast and rush off. It's not healthy (and yes, I get a lot of people do this, and it's not healthy for any of them). So now I have no time limit, and I can peruse Facebook, read, play a game on my phone, or watch TV. 

3. Reading a craft book and spending some time outside. I'm currently reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I've never read it before. Monday, my first day on the new schedule, I made myself chai with this new mix I found, and read the introduction to the book. I haven't just been outside in the sun this entire spring and summer. I thrive in the outdoors. I don't metabolize Vitamin D well. It's time for some sun! 

4. Setting a daily word count and writing until I meet it. Once I've read a chapter and had my time in the sun, it's writing time. Right now, I start on the back porch with my writing. My daily count is 2000 words. I have to reach that count before I stop for the day, but if I want to continue past those 2000 words, I can.

5. I haven't started this one yet, because I'm trying to establish the routine right now, but I intend to set a timer for every hour so I can get up and do about five minutes of exercise. When it's nice out, that will be a quick walk around the block. If it's not nice outside, it might be climbing the stairs, walking around the house, or finding a quick office workout video online.

6. Attending to writing business items once the word count is done. This includes my newsletter, blog, various updates on social media, record keeping, and anything else having to do with business. 

I'll work out the rest as I go. I'll also be adding a walk in the evenings come next week. And Sundays will soon be recording days for podcasts. We're hoping to launch in October, and we've got our first topic researched and ready to go. I do still have a volunteer job that takes time and creative energy, but that ends at the end of September. I could have waited until then, but I'd rather have all of this started before then. Saturdays are free time. I may actually get back to my photography and scrapbooking, and I want to take a weekly hike with my kids, weather permitting. Right now, we've been running in the 90s, so it's too hot for hikes, but we'll hit the sweet spot soon, and this being Colorado and high desert, there will be sporadic nice days throughout winter, too. I've downloaded an app that pulls up nearby trails and rates them by how hard they are, so hopefully I can discover some new trails I haven't already used. I already have a go-to for when time is limited, and I know how to make it the time I need it to be.

The thing about fibromyalgia is that you need to build yourself up to physical activity and get into better shape in order to get some relief, but you have to do it just right so you don't cause a flareup, which then sets you back however long that flareup lasts. This has been a nasty cycle for me for the last year and a half. The longer I'm forced to sit out, the worse shape I get into. Last winter I was walking everywhere, exercising regularly, and twenty pounds lighter. I've since had two flareups, the first massive, the second one not as bad, but that's the one I'm trying to pull myself out of. I'm incredibly excited to finally have the opportunity to focus on that instead of it being a peripheral hope.

So that's my big update right now. I figured I share it in case there are parts of it anyone else can use.

Recent Media


The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

This was a lusciously written book full of magic and romance, but also intrigue and grief. The author says she writes fairy tales, and I'd say that what's left behind in my mind. I'd been considering reading this for a while, but when a speaker quoted bits of it in a workshop, I decided I needed to read it sooner rather than later. Absolutely gorgeous book.

Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo

Someone at work loaned this to me. It's a lovely, relaxing, peaceful book, even if it doesn't all work for you. I can say there are things I'm not interested in trying, but there are other things I'm definitely going to try to use or to tweak so that they're usable for me. But honestly, she's just a such a sweet person, and it's a great back porch or beach read. She's all about bringing positive energy about.

Vegan Baking for Beginners: 75 Recipes for Sweet & Savory Treats, by J.L. Fields

My daughter is the only one who used this, so far, but she made the spiced sugar cookies then decorated them as characters from her favorite show Daganronpa. These cookies were so good! J.L. is a local vegan author, who does food shows and knows her stuff. She has several sets of recipe books for vegans. Though I'm not vegan, I am egg and dairy free, and I find it relaxing to be able to cook or bake something I know is safe. I also try to make vegetarian/vegan meals regularly.

TV Shows

In the Dark

This show is about a blind woman who finds her friend's body in an alley. By the time the police arrive, there's no body. They don't believe her. She sets out to not only prove her friend is dead, but to find his killer. She and her friends become embroiled in a situation they could never have imagined. This is my current binge watch. I'm often not a fan of self-damaging characters, but the emphasis on that was lessened as the show moved forward. But I will warn you that she is a very damaged character at the beginning, and self-destructive.

New Girl

I need something a bit fluffier to watch, too. This wasn't something I watched when it was originally out, but I decided to give it a second try. The things that irritated me the first time I tried it didn't bother me this time, though I get frustrated with characters who do stupid stuff all the time. Luckily, the stupid things they play for laughs aren't overdone (most of the time), and this show makes me laugh out loud, which is something I think we all need right now. It's about a set of immature roommates who bring in a new roommate: Jess. The manic pixie dreamgirl thing was being overdone with her at the time this show came out, which annoyed me at the time. Now I find her endearing.


Small Town Dicks

If you're familiar with The Simpsons, you'll know who Yeardley Smith is (or Herman's Head, for those few of you who also watched that along with me). She's teamed up with two detectives to discuss true crime in small towns. They bring on the detectives involved in each case, as well. There's something kind of fun about hearing Lisa Simpson talking about true crime.


Meh. Nothing exciting to put here.

Music Videos

That's all for today, folks! What are you watching? Reading? Listening to? What have you been doing to cope with things? What's your reading schedule?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

IWSG - Stumbling Into Short Stories

Hey, hey, hey, this week it's ACTUALLY time for the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG allows writers to express their insecurities and support each other. Anyone is welcome to join. Simply click on Alex's name and put your blog on the linky list. Then post the first Wednesday of each month and hop around to visit others.

Our exalted co-hosts this month are 

Susan Baury Rouchard, Nancy Gideon, Jennifer Lane, Jennifer Hawes, Chemist Ken, and Chrys Fey!

The optional question this month asks: 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, when I started out trying to be a professional writer, I first tried writing a couple novels. One I only researched (I'm probably on a watchlist because of it). It was back when the Hantavirus hit the news. It started on a reservation, and I had an idea for a mystery story in the Tony Hillerman-type style that involved the government releasing a test virus on the reservation. Considering the government's past, it wouldn't have been the first time they tested something on a minority population. I spent months researching government testing and biological warfare. Astoundingly, I found out how to make anthrax from one of the library books. I have no idea idea which book now, and I don't remember anything other than that it was shockingly easy to get what was needed.

Tony Hillerman ended up putting out a book that seemed to have a similar premise. I was upset, figured I'd never get a book published if he'd beat me to the punch (I was about 20), and I got a new job where I was working 9am to 2am all but one day per week, in which another manager opened and I closed. Zero days off, discouraged, overworked, exhausted, I gave up on the story. 

I started another book, but it felt more like a thriller short story to me, so I eventually hopped back into short stories, because I just didn't have time to do anything else. Two rejections (one from Aasimov's and one from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, both via mail, both of which I still have!), and I set that all aside until years later as a new mom. I made money as a stay at home mom in writing a monetized blog on being the mom of a child conceived via IVF (2005) and eventually writing articles for an online periodical (2006) (and being a guide on ChaCha and kgb--I suck at not working). But I started slowly, but surely writing short stories and learning how to submit them, all while I also worked on another novel.

I thought being a novelist was the only way to break in, but then my short stories started selling. Then I started being invited to speak and to teach. Writing organizations and the library started treating me like a real author before I felt like one.

Short version: I created my career by accidentally happening into a different form than the one I thought was required to make it in the writing world!

On the flip side, I've had short stories end up clearly needing to be novels, and I'm working on two of those now. We'll see what happens there.

That turned out longer than I intended, so I'll save the rest of my post for next week (if I remember what I was going to say.)

If you missed my post last week, I had a new story come out that is FREE to read, plus I was interviewed, and one of my stories was read on a podcast, also free to listen to! Here's that post if you want the links: Horroraddicts, Dust Bunnies, & Novel Noctule.

Submission stat time! Each month I report the previous month's submission stats to keep myself accountable.


9 submissions

1 acceptance (YAY!!)

1 rejection

12 stories currently on submission

6 stories pending resubmission

Pikes Peak Writers continues with free online programming this month, so if you haven't been able to drop in, you're still welcome! We're likely looking at doing this for at least the rest of 2020. Write Brains are a two hour workshop, Writer's Night is for writing discussions (you can throw out a topic/question for all to discuss or just hang out and take part in the discussion), and Write Drunk, Edit Sober is a series of mini lessons with prompt writing between each lesson. There's also a free conference being put on this fall by three writing groups working together: Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Northern Colorado Writers. Anyone can take part, all for completely free. Go the Pikes Peak Writers website for more information.

What's your answer to the IWSG question? What are your insecurities? How are you doing right now? Have you submitted anything? 

May you find your Muse!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Horroraddicts, Dust Bunnies, & Novel Noctule

I had it in my head that this was the first week of August, which I guess it technically is, BUT it is not time for IWSG yet, so...well, I don't know what I want to write about. I'm unprepared!

But I do have some news!

My story "Dearest" is featured on And, hey, I get to say a little snippet to introduce the podcast as the guest author.

Along with the podcast, Naching T. Kassa interviewed me with some fun questions.

Finally, my story "Dust Bunnies" is in Issue 7 of Novel Noctule and is FREE to read! Check out my story and read the other great fiction and non-fiction featured in this issue. You'll never look at dust the same way again.

That's all for today, folks! I hope you get a chance to check out the podcast, the interview, and the story. I'll see you next week for IWSG!

What do you think of the cover? Have you read Novel Noctule? Have you listened to the Horroraddicts podcast before? If you listen to the podcast or read the magazine, what did you think of my stories?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sometimes a Break is Necessary

As writers, we tend to make ourselves push through the hard times. We often beat ourselves up if we're not productive enough (in our own eyes). Rather than taking a break, we push through. We tell ourselves it's a job, that we have to work the job no matter what else is happening.

I did that last year. Through surgery, diagnosis of a disorder of my central nervous system, my dad's death, experimenting with medications to treat the disorder, hours upon hours put into my day job and volunteer job, etc.


I didn't further my career during that time. I didn't make more of a name for myself. I didn't progress any further than I already had. As far as I can see, no benefit came from it.

Now that I relaxed and gave myself a smidge of time off, I'm starting to make progress. My creativity is flowing. I'm writing and submitting. I'm not pushing myself if I don't feel like writing.

None of this came from pushing through.

I say all this just to point out that sometimes maybe we really do need a break. If you're pushing yourself too hard, not feeling that creative spark, beating yourself up, not enjoying any of the process, then maybe it's time to take a period of time off.

When I say off, I mean off. Don't plan, don't outline, don't do anything you have to force yourself to do. If you get a story idea, but don't feel like writing it then, jot it down. You'll be able to revisit it after you've taken a break. Read, hike, sit on your back porch, watch TV or movies, talk to friends, play games. Take a break when your mind says it's time.

How much faster might I have hit this point if I didn't push and make myself miserable instead? Probably significantly faster.

Be sure to listen to yourself and do what you need for your own self care. Especially right now. Many of us are finding that we're struggling more than usual. People who've never experienced depression before are now dealing with it. So if you need a break, take it.

If you haven't seen it on my Facebook page, my husband and I have put in an offer on a house on 25+ acres in southern Colorado. It's a basic structure, with a cistern for water, but it's plumbed, has septic, and is set up to use a generator. We'll be putting in solar power eventually. Cross your fingers and squeeze your thumbs that it goes through for us! It's part of our dream together.

View from the front porch

Side view of the house as we approach from the drive

Wood stove inside--does it look familiar?

Media Moment


Little Creeping Things, by Chelsea Ichaso

This is a YA thriller with an unreliable narrator. Lots of twists and turns. The main character is ridiculed and avoided because of a fire she accidentally set as a child that killed her best friend at the time. But she's the last person to hear the voice of one of her bullies before that bully disappears. She figures they'll pin it on the Fire Girl if she doesn't figure out who really did it first. The book isn't perfect, but it's an engaging read that will keep you guessing.


I got on a Kathleen Turner kick for a few days, so I watched some old familiar favorites.

Random Kathleen Turner facts:

Body Heat was her first film role (she'd been in a TV show.)

During the filming of Body Heat, it was actually freezing cold, so they sprayed the actors with water to get the appearance of sweat and made them suck on ice cubes before scenes so their breath wouldn't show in the air.

Kathleen Turner was a gymnast.

During the filming of Serial Mom, she was finally announced her diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis, which had been causing her severe chronic pain for several years. The medical treatments caused her gain weight and changed her voice, which is why she was largely absent from films and TV for a spell. She has been in remission since 2006.

Kathleen Turner taught Matthew Lillard that one of the first things you do is memorize everyone's names from the call sheets.

She's often been compared to Lauren Bacall, and introduced herself as "the younger you" when they met.

Some Writing Facts:

Michael Douglas optioned the script for Romancing the Stone from Diane Thomas, then a waitress, for $250,000. During the filming of Jewel of the Nile, she died in a car accident in the Porsche Douglas had gifted her (her boyfriend was driving).

The actress who played her sister in Romancing the Stone, Mary Ellen Trainor, was also a writer on the film.

Now for some links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting Submissions:

Denver Horror Collective is seeking horror stories involving the Wendigo for Consumed, an anthology. 3000 to 12000 words. Pays $20 for the first 3000 words + 1/2 cent per word after that. Deadline August 15. (Full disclosure: I'm a member of DHC.)

The Ghastling is seeking "literary fiction and illustration devoted to psychological horror, folklore, ghost stories, and the macabre." Current anthology theme is Strange Signs/Ritual Protection Marks. Up to 3500 words. Paying magazine. Deadline August 23.

Have you ever denied yourself a break? Have you ever taken one when you felt it was necessary? Did either help you? What's your favorite Kathleen Turner movie? How are you doing right now?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

IWSG - Determination

I swear, it was just the first Wednesday of June last week. Gah!

But since it's the first Wednesday of July now (one week later...for real), it's time again for the Insecure Writer's Support Group!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG serves to give us insecure writers a place to post about our insecurities and/or to encourage other insecure writers. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and add your blog to the linky list.

The co-hosts this month are:

This month is all about determination.

I am determined to get more writing done.

I am determined to get more submissions out there.

I am determined to get all pending stories edited.

I am determined to get podcast plans finalized.

I am determined to complete pending research.

I am determined to update all my social media/websites.

I am determined to make some life changes.

I am determined to flip this frown upside down.

I am determined.


Submission stats for the month of June:

1 submission
1 acceptance
3 rejections (all with a request to send something else in the future)
6 currently on submission


Media I've Enjoyed This Week

A Bad Day for Sunshine, by Darynda Jones

A witty mystery with some well written and intriguing characters. Small town life isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's hard to keep secrets, especially when teenagers are involved. There's mystery, romance, intrigue, and laughs (real, genuine, out loud ones). There's also heartbreak and disjointed memories that make me eager for the October 2020 release of book 2.

Hannibal (Netflix)

I don't know why I didn't watch when it first came on, but I think it was after we'd cancelled cable, but before we had Netflix. I'm watching the first season now. Dark, gritty, and a mental labyrinth. The mood is oddly calm, yet tense. There's so much going on. Hannibal is fascinating and misleading.

You know what's funny? A room full of stand up comedians, locked together and being monitored by Rebel Wilson, while they try to make the others laugh and try not to laugh themselves, so they can be the last comic standing. That's right. They're not allowed to laugh. But they have to make everyone else in the room laugh in they want to win. This one is ongoing, so if you don't want to wait for the next episode, wait until the season's over to start watching it. I'd forgotten how hard it was to wait for the next episode of something!

What media have you been enjoying this week? What are your current goals? What are you determined to do this month? What are your insecurities? Have you submitted this month?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

You're More Qualified Than You Think

An intersection occurred yesterday that I wanted to address. I finished the book "Hiding in the Bathroom: How to Get Out There When You'd Rather Stay Home," by Morra Aarons-Mele. While it's applicable to any introvert, it's mostly addressing women in business who aren't big on rubbing elbows and would rather do anything than try to court customers or other business people.

The other item was a post by a local podcaster, who has discovered that the female experts he contacts for his podcast tend to feel they're not qualified to speak on the subject and often refer him to someone else who they feel can speak more accurately on the issue (4 of the last 6). The majority of males invited accepted his invitation, and as far as I know, none of the ones who turned him down did so because they felt they weren't qualified.

This is reflected in the aforementioned book, and I've seen it myself when inviting women to speak for Pikes Peak Writers.

Women tend to diminish themselves and doubt their abilities, while men will put forward confidence even if they don't feel it. Basically, they embrace where they want to be in order to get there, and women hold themselves back out of fear of looking bad or failing and letting someone down.

I'm not going to summarize the book, but I highly recommend it for those who struggle with getting themselves out there. She has helpful tips to help you not only look at what you need to do from different angles, but also how to be successful while still holding true to yourself, which is something I don't often see in these recommendations. Usually, it's all about how to act like a man, make deals like a man, etc. But as Aarons-Mele points out, being someone other than yourself isn't going to help you progress in life. Instead, it's going to cause you additional stress.

I decided awhile ago that I would say yes to things that scared me (courtesy of Shonda Rhimes "Year of Yes," which I also recommend.) I've since done it many times, including accepting teaching opportunities, a job, and anthology invitations outside my normal realm of experience. So far, I haven't regretted it once (though I've repeatedly feared it would be shown just how underqualified I was, so believe me, the fears exist in me.) What I have regretted are the missed opportunities that spun away from me for various reasons over the years.

If someone invites you to do something, to speak or submit, it's likely because they feel you're qualified for the thing they've invited you to do. Consider saying "yes" and figuring out how to make it happen, no matter how scared you are.

Media I've Enjoyed Lately

Truth and Lies: Jonestown, Paradise Lost

"Enjoy" is a weird word to use when talking about a documentary that examines the Jonestown cult deaths, but I did learn some things I wasn't aware of, and having actual survivors talk about their experiences is powerful. I feel like it could have gone more in-depth on some of the stories, but it was still a fascinating documentary.

What We Do in the Shadows

I liked the movie okay when it came out, but wasn't blown away, so I hadn't bothered watching the TV show version of it. I finally did, because it came up as a recommendation, and now I'm hooked. I'm finding the show more entertaining than the movie. The actors are hysterical, and their foibles are endearing and ridiculous. The cast of the movie make an appearance, along with several other surprising and amusing guests (Wesley Snipes as the Day Walker--familiar to fans of Blade) in one episode. One of the vampires is familiar to me from IT Crowd, and I've found him funny in everything I've seen him in.

Key & Peele

In the history of great comedy skit shows, this is one of the best. They're both genuinely good actors, and hints of Jordan Peele's dark side reveal themselves in some of the comedy skits. Their Halloween shows are the best, with hints of horror. I'm rewatching the series on Hulu right now. My favorite skits tend to involve classrooms with Key as a teacher and ones where Peele takes on a female persona. And don't forget Obama and his anger translator! I laughed myself into tears last night at one episode involving a flight attendant arguing with a passenger that really wants to use the bathroom. Of course, as any good comedy does, modern issues are addressed in some of the skits in a humorous way, and it shows a clear repetition of issues taking the spotlight right now.

What has made you laugh lately? What entertainment have you most enjoyed? Have you said yes to something that frightened you lately? Have you said no to an opportunity because you thought you weren't qualified enough?

May you find your Muse.

**Buddy Frightened Clip Art,, OCAL
**Yes Button Clip Art,, Chris

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WEP Challenge - Urban Nightmare

The Widow
998 words

Stamped concrete and steel grew from the ground as man-made mountains. Far above the sidewalks, the urban fortresses stared down blankly, anonymous witnesses to the drunken fumblings and crimes below. Four in the morning was a quiet time downtown. Businesses were closed, lights off.

Kasey drew her coat tighter to combat the icy wind. She approached an unmarked metal door and knocked. A scrawny man in jeans, t-shirt, and a vest looked out at her with bloodshot eyes and sweat-greased hair. "What do you want?"

"I'm here to see Milo."

"Milo's not taking visitors."

"Tell him the widow's here."

The door shut in her face. Kasey waited patiently until the door opened again. The same man as before gestured her inside.

"Arms out," he said. Once finished with a quick pat down, he led her down a dark, narrow hallway to a large office full of framed comics. It smelled of old alcohol and cigarettes. An over-sized desk stood in the center of the room, a squat, bald man seated behind it.

"Kasey," he said.

"Hello, Milo."

"Leave, Carter." The other man left quickly, and Milo leaned back in his chair. "So you've finally come to confront me. What's your plan?"

"No plan. Can I sit down?"

Milo waved toward a chair in front of his desk. "Sit."

She settled into the chair and leaned forward. "Why do you think I'm here?"

"Revenge, of course."

"For what?"

Milo raised an eyebrow.

"I know what I'm angry about, but do you? Do you even feel you did anything wrong?"

Milo chuckled and pulled out a bottle of cognac. He held up two glasses and looked a question at Kasey, who shook her head in the negative. He poured himself three fingers-worth and put the bottle away.

"Well?" she asked.

He watched her as he took a drink. "I know what you think I did."

Rage boiled through her entire body, and it took everything in her not to shoot out of her chair. Instead, she kept her face blank. "You don't seem afraid of any reprisals."

"I may be old, but I can still defend myself against the likes of you."

Kasey nodded. "It's easier to believe that, I'm sure." She reached under her shirt and pulled the gun from her bra holster.

His face blanched at the sight of the weapon. He slid a hand beneath his desk.

With a laugh, Kasey put the gun on the desk. "It's not loaded. Why would I go against someone like you with a gun? You really need to train your people better, though." She looked pointedly at his arm. "You can let go of your weapon now."

He did so.

"You know, I'd go away and never bother you again if you'd just admit what you did. I'm not recording it. There's no way it could come back to bite you in the ass. I'll even prove I'm not wearing a recording device."

He looked at her appraisingly. "While I wouldn't mind making you prove it, I don't believe you would record this. You're here for something different."

"It seems you've got me down pat. What do you say? Are you ready to tell me what you did?"

He took another drink, this one longer.

Kasey felt the burn of it in her own throat, thinking how much she'd love to be having a drink at home right now. While she was doing a good job of acting cool on the outside, her insides writhed with fear and anger. The permanent, seething rage that had lived within her these past months was the only thing holding the fear at bay, but it wasn't doing a great job of it. Sweat ran down her back and pooled under her breasts and underarms. Her heart beat like a drum solo, and she couldn't swallow through the dryness in her throat.

"Sweetheart, I didn't do anything wrong. It was your husband who screwed up, and he knew exactly what he was doing. Knew what the cost would be if got caught. It's him you should be mad at." Another drink, and this time he licked his lips as he set the glass down. "I know it's hard to be mad at a dead man, though."

"You're trying to get a rise out of me," she said. "It's not going to happen."

Milo coughed and pulled at his neckline. Spots of red crept up his face. His hands started to shake. He tried to laugh, but it quickly turned into a choking cough. He wheezed and took a drink.

Kasey smiled. "Do you want to hear my intentions now?"

His breathing came in labored pants. He slammed his hands on the desktop and struggled to stand. "What did you do?"

"Don't you know anything about how women kill, Milo? We don't shoot or stab." She reached a gloved hand across the desk and held the glass up. Only a trace remained in the bottom. "We plan. And we poison."

Milo gagged and fell to the floor. The sounds of his retching followed her through the door and down the hallway, where she nodded to Carter, took her coat, and left the building. The door slammed behind her. She didn't have long before Milo's goons figured it out and came after her.

She slipped down one of the alleys, heart in her throat. Movement occurred all around her. Kasey ran full out, winding through the labyrinth of alleys and behind buildings. It took a couple minutes to reach the right alley. When she did, she dissolved into the shadows just like her fellow street people. Her sleeping bag was where she'd left it, a warm pair of socks tucked in the bottom. She climbed in and snuggled up, seeking an escape from the cold wind.

Milo's people could look for her all they wanted, they'd never find her. They had no idea that she'd been living her own urban nightmare since they'd murdered her husband.

No critique, please! It just felt good to get something written.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Jemi Fraser Blog Tour - Bloo Moose Romances

Today I'm delighted to welcome Jemi Fraser to talk about her Bloo Moose Romance series!


Thanks so much for having my on your blog today, Shannon!

When I was a kid, I read Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. What a book! The story follows Mowat’s real-life experience in Canada’s north. He was hired by the government to find out why the wolves were indiscriminately slaughtering caribou. Of course, he found no such thing. The book is a fascinating account of Mowat’s year long study of the often-maligned wolves. They’ve also made a movie based on his book/experience.

In the book, we see the powerful prejudices people had against wolves and the assumptions made from rumours and non-scientific information. (Sadly we still see too many parallels in today’s world.)

One of the characters in Reaching For Normal is a former SEAL who is now helping track wolves for the people reintegrating the animals into Vermont.

Myla is an adventure writer who is experiencing winter for the first time. When they hear wolves howling, Myla is terrified and Sawyer is excited.

The crazy man was enthralled by wolf howls. How was she supposed to save a nutcase?

But, Myla is willing to learn…

“I was getting my information from Little Red and her pig buddies.”

The wolf aspect is out on the periphery of the story, but it’s an integral part to the growth of both characters.

How about you? Any other Mowat fans? Anyone interested in wolves?

Welcome to Bloo Moose, Vermont where love is worth the risk! Small-town contemporary romance with an element of suspense. Each book is a stand-alone.

Reaching For Normal
She’s no damsel in distress. He’s no Prince Charming. But if they don’t team up it won’t be only wolves that’ll be dying.    Apple.     Kobo.    Google Play.

Reaching For Risks
One Reno List for the B&B. One Risk List for herself. One sexy retailer who should be the last one she wants.    Apple.    Kobo.     Google Play

Reaching For Everything
Love means nothing in tennis. Can he prove to her that love means everything in life?     Apple.     Kobo.     Google Play

Jemi Fraser writes both fiction and nonfiction. Her nonfiction work focuses on the ways that dementia has impacted her family. Her fiction work varies from contemporary romance to suspense and flash fiction. Years as a teacher have taught Jemi that life is short and that happy endings are a must.

Jemi lives in Northern Ontario, Canada where snow is always a topic of conversation and the autumn leaves make everything better.

Website                  Facebook                Twitter        
Amazon                  BookBub                Goodreads
Just Jemi blog         


I love that you brought up Never Cry Wolf! I've never read the book, but I'd like to. It was a movie I used to watch with my dad, and I have such fond memories of it. I wish you much good luck with your launch!

May you find your Muse.