Wednesday, May 3, 2023

IWSG - Inspiration & Struggle

Time for the May IWSG!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer's Support Group exists for writers to give and get support. Anyone can join. Simply click on Alex's name and put your blog on the linky list, then post on the first Wednesday of each month.

The co-hosts this month are Joylene Nowell Butler, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Meka James, Victoria Marie Lees, M Louise Barbour.

The optional question this month is: When you are working on a story, what inspires you?

Music and a walk are go-tos. Of course, a good book or movie can also be inspiring. Another author's success can be inspiring. Lots of things!

As far as insecurities, I'm struggling right now. When life things are rough, my creativity takes a nosedive. But I was so productive while working on Happy Ghoulidays II, so I'm hoping to get back there. I had several trips and it's the end of the school year (and I have a senior, so it turns out it's a LOT!), so I'm trying to give myself a break until the end of May. Not to say I'm not going to write or edit at all, just that I'm trying not to punish myself if I don't get as much done as I feel like I should.

Short version: I'm looking forward to things normalizing!

And I did get through initial edits on the horror comedy, so I have gotten something done. Some of my problem is probably that my focus is on edits, and they are my least favorite part of the process.

I also think I need to figure out a time/way to get out of the house to write. My hours at work increased, and I sit in this chair so much of the day that when it comes time to write I just want to shut my brain off instead and put the laptop away. I'm sure plenty of you can relate.

Subject change!

This upcoming Saturday, May 6, I'll be a spotlight author at Mountain of Authors, which is put on by the Pikes Peak Library District. It's one of my favorite events. It used to be there would be two panels then a keynote speaker, but it changed for a while because of COVID, just as everything did. I was excited to see that this year they're bringing back a panel in addition to the keynote speaker! I've been to events where authors were second class citizens, but this event has always treated its writers so well.

And bonus: it might just give me that energy I'm missing, spending time with fellow writers.

What are your insecurities lately? What inspires you? What's your favorite writing event?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

IWSG - Flops & Friends

Happy IWSG Day!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group exists to support the writing community in the airing insecurities. Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, anyone can join. Simply click on his name and put your blog on the linky list.

The co-hosts this month are Jemima Pett, Nancy Gideon, and Natalie Aguirre. Be sure to drop by their blogs and thank them for their help!

The optional question this month is: Do you remember writing your first book? What were your thoughts about a career path on writing? Where are you now and how is it working out for you? If you're at the start of the journey, what are your goals?

Technically, my first published book was my nonfiction title The Business of Short Stories. The first ones I wrote are in limbo somewhere. My career path has been a bit different from that of most authors, as it's focused on short stories up to now. 

All that is changing, as I feel like I've grown stagnant in my writing career. I don't want to keep doing the same thing over and over again (this from a person whose longest work position before getting bored and moving along has been maybe 2 1/2 years). That doesn't mean I want to abandon horror or short stories, but it's time for me to grow and stretch and try new things. What that means right now is writing the next two books in my urban fantasy series so I can self-publish those, completing edits on a horror comedy novel I'll be shopping to agents this year, writing a memoir of my dad's journey with ALS, and writing the first in what will be a proposed amateur sleuth mystery series so I can start shopping that, as well. In addition, I'd like to revisit a YA Post-Apocalyptic novel I wrote way back when to see if I can bring it up to my current standards and either start shopping it again or finish what was a planned trilogy to self-publish.

So I have some fairly diverse plans for the next year, yeah?

I do have the rights back on enough short stories that I'll be releasing another collection in the next year. I just haven't decided how I want to time that yet. Plus I have to figure out which unpublished short stories to put in it, because I always like to put several brand new ones in for those who loyally purchase every publication I'm in. 

While I'm doing all this, I'm telling myself I will be pulling back on both submitting short stories and attending writing events as a speaker/featured author. Given, there are a few favorite events I'll likely keep appearing at, but I will not be seeking out new appearance opportunities. Which also means slowing down on the podcast appearances I was doing for a while. I think? (I have a work ethic I struggle to overcome, lol, which means I say I won't take on anything more, and then I do it anyway, but I REALLY need to give myself a break.)

Since I'm pulling back on submitting short stories, I'm going to probably cease keeping track on my IWSG posts to kind of discourage any deep focus on that. We'll see if that works or if I remember next month that I'm not doing that, LOL!

Both Sandra Cox and I are guests on L. Diane Wolfe's blog today, so stop by and say hi!

I want to thank anyone who helped with my book release in March! Diane is the last person on this hastily thrown together blog tour. Something significant and traumatic happened when I should have been prepping my book release, and it tied my hands for a couple weeks right after I got the book cover. I wrote out a whole post last month about it and ultimately decided it wasn't something I could share at this time. When I posted in desperation for help on Facebook the week of the release, a lot of people stepped up and helped by sharing the book release post. I feel bad, because, depending upon how that's shared (visibility setting) I can't see everyone who shared unless I happen to scroll past the post on their page. So some people don't end up getting thanked.

My current insecurity? I consider this launch a bit of a flop. The sales just weren't there. Since I released this title to force myself back into the game and it was meant to be fun for me, I've decided to move on and quit dwelling on the numbers. I didn't expect it to be BIG, but I did expect more than what ultimately happened. Interestingly, with the posts people did, several included other titles, and I saw a bump in sales on my older titles, so that was awesome and took away some of the sting of the low sales on Happy Ghoulidays II. But the support I got from the blogging community, the local writing community, and my friends and family when I asked for help is the most important and valuable thing that came from this book release. I appreciate all of you.

Onward and upward! The book is out. I learned some things. There were many factors I had zero control over due to personal life issues. But the factors I CAN control, I learned about. Each experience is an opportunity to learn, right? That's what I'm doing.

I'm actively editing the horror comedy novel now and will be asking for beta readers in the near future, and that's exciting! I have a plan for research material I'll need for my dad's memoir. And I've crappily outlined (I hate outlining and simply don't do it) the mystery novel. 

Cheers to next steps!

This ended up much longer than I intended. It was kind of a mental dump. I'll either add the open submissions onto this post later tonight or do a whole new post with those, but I wanted to get this posted.

What are your insecurities? Where are you on your journey? How has your journey changed since you started? Have you ever had a book release you considered a flop?

May you find your Muse.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Happy Ghoulidays II is OUT!

Today's the birthday of Happy Ghoulidays II! Happy Ghoulidays II brings horror to the holidays in a follow up to Happy Ghoulidays. The first one covered Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day (and Lupercalia). Happy Ghoulidays II picks up where the previous one left off, covering St. Patrick's Day through Halloween, with pit stops on April Fool's Day, Mother's Day, Election Day, the 4th of July, Easter, and Beltane.

Title: Happy Ghoulidays II
Release Date: March 17, 2023

The holidays elicit a mixture of emotions, from joy and revelry to despair and rage. In these stories, we examine the dark side of the holidays with a twisted Easter egg hunt, a desperate St. Patrick's Day curse, a monster that's only visible in the light of fireworks, a mother's guilt on Halloween, and more in this follow up to Happy Ghoulidays that embraces the underlying shadows of our favorite holidays.

Available in e-book on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Scribd, and Smashwords. Universal link

Available for paperback from Barnes & Noble: B&N paperback 

Amazon paperback: Amazon paperback 

Amazon International: UK | DE | FR | ES | IT | NL | JP | BR | CA | MX | AU | IN

Signed copies are available from my Square Storefront. You can also get the Ghoulidays box set, which has both 1 and 2: Warrior Muse Press Square Storefront

Monday, March 13, 2023

More Blog Visits for Happy Ghoulidays II!

I'm visiting some more folks this week to talk about Happy Ghoulidays II. The book releases this Friday, March 17th! Schedule below:

Monday, the 13th

Marcy S. Hatch - Maine Words

Natalie Aguirre - Literary Rambles (I'll be in her follower news, but she always has a great post so I recommend visiting her!)

Wednesday, the 15th

Patricia Josephine - Twisting Myths

Jeff Wood discussing a short story career

Thursday, the 16th

K.A. Olgren - Stories 'n' More for an author interview

And a final one on April 5

L. Diane Wolfe - Circle of Friends

Thank you to everyone who hosted me and everyone who visited, commented, and shared! You can check out last week's posts at Guest Posts at Alex's, Anna's, and the Colorado HWA. (DeAnna's post was scheduled after I titled it, but the link is in the post).

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

IWSG - Cover Reveal & April Submission Roundup

It's time for the March IWSG!

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer's Support Group is a monthly blog event where writers can post about their insecurities and lend support to other writers. Anyone can join. Click on Alex's name above and add your blog to the linky list.

This month's co-hosts are Deidre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose. Be sure to stop by and visit them!

This month's optional question: Have you ever read a line in a novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?

Oh yeah. I am constantly awed by glorious wording (and occasionally plot twists, though I find those harder to come by). I love a good plot twist, but I can't think of one off the top of my head that awed me. The entire opening sections of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca are worth reading for the fantastic wording. Ken Kesey's novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has some great descriptive sentences. And the opening line of Stephen King's The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger is a great one, as well.

I'm skipping submission stats this month, because I haven't been submitting while I finished getting Happy Ghoulidays II ready. Speaking of which, how about a cover reveal? I don't have the paperback pre-order link yet, but I'll post the e-book link below.

Happy Ghoulidays II releases Friday, March 17 (St. Patrick's Day), as the first story in the book involves St. Paddy's. The universal link for e-books is HERE.

If you're willing to help with my book launch this month, you can sign up HERE.

And look what my husband (my cover designer) did!

If you missed L. Diane Wolfe's guest post last week, she wrote about tying books in a series together. Check out the post and her new book!

Open for Submissions

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

Dragon's Roost Press is seeking submissions of weird, dark speculative fiction for The Midnight Zone. Must involve a new monster. 1000 to 5000 words. Pays $.03/word. Deadline March 30.

Aurealis is open year round for authors in Australia and New Zealand, but they're open to international submissions once per year for the month of March. Speculative fiction. Pays $20-$60 AUD per 1000 words. Deadline March 31.

Masks Literary Magazine is seeking poetry and prose up to 3000 words. Pays $20-$25. Deadline March 31.

Gordon Square Review is seeking poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Word limit varies per type of submission. Up to 7500 words for prose. Pays $10-$25. Deadline April 1.

ev0ke is seeking pieces with the theme "sex magic." They take a variety of submission types. Pays $5. Deadline April 15 (does not open until April 1.)

Dread Stone Press is seeking horror flash fiction. 500 to 1000 words. $.02/word. Deadline April 15. (Opens April 1.)

Seaside Gothic is seeking flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays .01 pounds/word. Deadline April 16.

Reservoir Road Literary Review is seeking literary fiction short stories and lyrical creative nonfiction. Up to about 8000 words (no hard limit). Pays $5. Deadline April 30 (does not open until April 1).

Khoreo is seeking speculative fiction. Up to 5000 words. Pays $.10/word. Deadline April 30.

Dragonsoul Press is seeking stories featuring pirates for Pirate Gold. Yes, that even includes space pirates. 3000 to 20,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline April 30.

Inklings Press is seeking speculative fiction mystery stories. Up to around 5000 words. Pays $10. Deadline April 30.

The First Line is seeking stories starting with the line: "All the lawns on Mentone Avenue are mowed on Wednesdays." 300 to 5000 words. Pays $10-$50, depending upon submission type. Deadline May 1.

Rock and a Hard Place is seeking literary noir stories about rich people behaving badly for the anthology The One Percent: Tales of the Super Wealthy and Depraved. 2000 to 5000 words. Pays $25 to $35. Deadline May 1.

December Magazine is seeking literary prose, poetry, and nonfiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $10 per page. Deadline May 1.

Three Ravens Publishing is seeking post-apocalyptic stories for Tales of the Apocalypse. 5000 to 10,000 words. Pays in royalties. Deadline May 1.

What are your insecurities? What's your favorite line from a novel (or what novel is it from)? Have you written a series? Any of these publications of interest?

May you find your Muse.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Guest Post - L. Diane Wolfe: How to Tie Together a Series

L. Diane Wolfe is stopping by today to discuss her new book with a guest post about tying series together.

How to Tie Together a Series 

Sometimes writers plan out a series. Sometimes one book turns into more. And sometimes a writer conceives of multiple, seemingly unrelated stories. How can one tie it all together? 

Here are some ways you can groups stories into a coherent series: 

Continuation of the characters: 

Take the main character and continue his/her adventures. Each story can stand on its own or each one can progress forward in time. There are a lot of examples in the literary world: Sherlock Holmes, Jack Reacher, Nancy Drew, etc. Readers who fall in love with the main character will enjoy more stories surrounding that person. 

It doesn’t have to be the same character, though. The main character’s best friend could become the main character in the next book, and so on and so on. Many of the secondary characters will cycle in and out of the stories, keeping readers grounded in the cast. I did this with my new adult series, The Circle of Friends. 

Set in the same universe: 

Think DC or Marvel comics. Many superheroes across one large universe. Sometimes they cross over, sometimes they are merely referenced in another story. The stories can also be set many years apart. The Imager series by L.E. Modessit is an example of a single universe series, as is Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. 

Using a theme: 

If the characters don’t overlap and neither does the setting, then stories can be tied together by theme. The theme can be simple or complex. It can tie specifically to the stories’ genre. But some key element binds the stories to a series, a theme that readers will enjoy regardless of the exact setting or characters. Theme is what I used to tie my In Darkness series together—each main character(s) deal with a darkness in their lives, whether it’s due to their supernatural nature (vampire, shark, werewolf, alien) or human flaws and baggage dragging them down. 

If you have some stories written and would like to tie them together, consider one of those three options. If you’d like to plan a series or turn a single book into one, now you have some ideas. Series do well, so if you can get one going and it’s successful, you’ll gain dedicated readers for years. 

In Darkness: The Vampire 
By L. Diane Wolfe 

Souls shrouded in darkness… 

Stuck working as a barmaid for her demanding father, Anna dreams of adventure. When mysterious strangers enter the bar, she overhears they seek Zancrela, an ancient fortress filled with treasure and a magical library. Taking her chance, she offers to guide them. The conditions: deliver Zancrela or die. 

As they journey through the wilderness, she discovers their secret: they are vampires. And most view her as food. One takes interest in her and her heart dares to hope, but it might not be enough to change her fate. Will Anna find Zancrela or become a vampire morsel? 

Release date – February 7, 2023 
Romance / Paranormal / Vampires (FIC027320), Fantasy / Paranormal (FIC009050), Fantasy / Romance (FIC009090) 
eBook ISBN 9781939844903 
$3.99 eBook available in all formats 

Buy Links: 

A professional speaker and author, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars, offers book formatting, and author consultation. She’s the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.