Wednesday, January 2, 2019

IWSG - New Year, New Doubts

Not only is it the first Wednesday of the month, it's the first Wednesday of the year! Time for the first Insecure Writer's Support Group posting in 2019.

Created by Alex J. Cavanaugh, the IWSG is a blogging community that comes together to support each other in our ups and downs. We post on the first Wednesday of each month. You can, too! Click on Alex's name above and sign up. Be sure to visit some new to you blogs and say thanks to the co-hosts: Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

I'm starting the year in a down place, frustrated with some aspects of the publishing business and feeling like a failure in several ways.

I suspect part of it is the fact that the holiday season depresses me, but at the same time, I've had a string of bad experiences with some publishers lately, including two breaches of contract I've been dealing with. Maybe I've simply been lucky up to now. I can say that, overwhelmingly, short story editors and publishers are fabulous people who put their passion into their magazines and anthologies, and do their absolute best, even though most of them aren't making any money off these publications (and many are funding them from their day jobs). I've enjoyed working with those I've worked with in the past (and the vast majority of the ones I'm currently working with). It's disappointing that the end of my year (and thus the beginning of the next) had to be tainted by these experiences, and I keep telling myself it's rare, and to push forward. (To be clear, I'm not talking about normal things, like delays in publication, etc. I'm talking about breaches of contract; not getting paid; books not coming out at all, with a strange email from an editor that the publisher is refusing to respond to his queries about why the finished book has not been released, and said publisher ignoring my queries; and similar issues.)

In addition, I've been struggling with finishing anything. I'm at this weird crossroads where I'm doubting my writing and feeling like if I put out something  bad it will ruin any minor amount of accomplishment I've reached. So it holds me back. I realize it's this fear that's keeping me from writing, but recognizing the issue doesn't seem to make it any easier to write most of the time. I'm also struggling with resubmitting rejected pieces, but I'll be buckling down tonight and getting that done.

To end on a more positive note, I managed to not only get some writing done this week, but to finish a short story I'd been working on for a while. That, despite starting a new day job on top of the one I already have, and some real life stress/drama that's piled on in the last month. I'm feeling pretty good about that, and I hope it indicates those self-doubts are starting to fade some. Here's looking forward to a positive update in February.

I almost forgot the optional question for the month: What are your favorite and least favorite questions people ask you about your writing?

I like questions about what inspired my stories. Sometimes they're completely random, but often there's a story behind the story. There's at least one question I hate to be asked, yet I'm drawing a blank. I'll have to update if I remember it.

Before I get to submission stats for December, how about some IWSG news? We've got the contributors for the next IWSG anthology!

Oddly Suited by LG Keltner
Sea of Sorrows by AV Brown
Behind the Catcher’s Mask by Jennifer Lane
A Diver’s Ball by Angela Brown
Fearless Heart by Deborah Solice
The Dark Charade by CD Gallant-King
The Cog Prince by Elizabeth Mueller
Flower of Ronda by Myles Christensen
Remedy by Chelsea Ballard
Charleston Masquerade by Carrie-Anne Brownian

The top story has the honors of being included in the title. LG Keltner’s story came out on top! The official title of our next anthology – Masquerade: Oddly Suited. Congratulations, LG. (She was also in the top spot for our first anthology, Parallels: Felix Was Here.)

The IWSG Admins spent many hours reading the entries and fourteen were sent to our special judges. We certainly wish to thank them for taking time away from their own work to read the entries:

Elizabeth S. Craig, author
Kelly Van Sant, agent at Red Sofa Literary Agency
Elana Johnson, author
DL Hammons, Write Club founder
S.A. Larsen, author
Kristin Smith, author
Gwen Gardner, author and previous IWSG anthology winner

Look for Masquerade: Oddly Suited late spring!

Congratulations to everyone! There were so many great entries!

Don't forget #IWSGPit is coming up January 15! Do you have a manuscript ready to pitch? Come out to Twitter and pitch to editors and agents.

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Twitter Pitch Party!


January 15, 2019

8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time

All writers and authors are invited to participate.

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 15, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every 1 hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction
#UF - urban fantasy
#S - suspense

*Authors, please check out the publishers and agents before submitting.*

Also, start getting ready for the next WEP challenge. Here are the 2019 challenges, so you can plan ahead if you'd like.

The February challenge will be 28 Days.

Okay, time for my December stats. I post them each IWSG Day to keep myself accountable.

5 submissions
6 rejections
0 acceptances
1 story returned after contract timed out with no published book, so I'll be submitting that tomorrow, too
2 stories pulled from unresponsive markets who appear to have gone under
8 stories currently on submission

Are you submitting? Getting any writing done? What questions do you like or dislike people asking about your writing? What are your insecurities? Will you be taking part in #IWSGPit or WEP?

May you find your Muse.


  1. Yeah, the publishing business is definitely a tough one to say the least. Sorry about your bad experiences. I am writing something new and I'm crediting Story Genius in helping me. Of course, it isn't finished yet so...

  2. Sorry you've had some bad experiences lately. They are the exception though. Don't lose faith in yourself.

  3. Ugh! Hang in there, Shannon. Things will smooth out - they pretty much always do.

  4. ps you inspired me to send off another query on my scifi novel. Thanks!

  5. I'm sorry about your bad experiences, I hope they get cleared up soon.

  6. I'm so sorry about your issues with your publishers. I hope they get straightened out. I know how you feel about self-doubt. I had a lot of it in 2017 and 2018. It took a lot for me to get back to the place where I'm happy, I'm writing, and I'm happy with what I'm writing. You'll get there again. Just hold on.

  7. So sorry to hear about the publishing dramas :-(

    I love questions about the inspiration behind my stories too. Those ones are fun to answer.

  8. Publishing is rough and it likes to know you down a lot. Hoping it turns around for you and those issues with the publishers get resolved.

  9. Sorry to hear about your publishing troubles! But you’re writing, you’re submitting and there are other markets out there, I’ve had some dramas myself and been let down by publishers, but only one as bad as yours.

    Right now, I’m waiting on a couple of articles and have been for some months. Nowhere else to send them, either, with the oddities of the children’s non fiction marker!

  10. Well...
    I want to have some words here, but I guess I don't.
    Those things are part of why I just do it all myself at this point.

  11. I'm sorry you've been struggling, but it seems like you have a plan to get through it. That's half the battle. When I got bogged down with fear I finally walked away from all my WIPs and wrote a little short story just for me. I didn't plan on anyone else ever reading it. However, I had so much fun writing it that it's now my freebie for joining my newsletter. It broke down my walls and allowed me to enjoy writing again.

    Good luck!

  12. A breach of contract just baffles me. That's such a huge ding on the publisher's reputation. I'm so sorry it's happened to you and affected how you view your work.

  13. Hmmm - your current issues sound like something we might be reading about on Author Beware. What a PITA way to end the year.

    I, too, enjoy talking about the inspiration(s) of my stories. It gets me away from the brain freeze of "pitching" my work in general conversation.

  14. As someone who has been through the legalities of a publisher declaring bankruptcy and two more closing and annulling all contracts, I know how much of a downer that all is. Wishing you the best for 2019 and congrats on the new day job.

  15. Sorry to hear about your lousy experiences with some publishers. Fortunately, they are the exception, not the norm. Remember who they are and never submit to them again. It will be their loss in the long run.

  16. It's funny how when life gets crazy, you have odd things happen to load the thing up. Then poof, you either go crazy or get a bit calmer with it all.

    Tonight, a dog got the package of pastrami that I was going to use to make sandwiches for dinner. I'm a regular gourmet cook I know. I needed to whine a bit. But everyone was happy with the heated up leftovers. The dog looks like it is in a coma sleeping in it's bed.

    I hope all gets better for you. I remember when I had to hustle to make a living. I miss those days but I don't miss the stress. Take care of yourself.

  17. Sorry it's been rough lately. I hope 2019 is just what you needed.

  18. Ugh, negative business experiences, no fun.

    Keeping the holidays low-key and simple helps me not struggle with any blues during and after.

    I don't mind answering writing schedule questions because just answering helps keep me on schedule!

  19. I'm sorry you've had some rough times. I hope the new year is much better for you. Glad you were able to get some writing done and finish the short story - congrats!

  20. What a run of bad luck. 2019 has to be better, and it will be!! Whenever I have doubts about my writing (which is often) I will either step away for awhile, or try something new. Another thing I do every once in awhile is have a major pity party. We all deserve them. ;-)

    Just remember, you are an inspiration. Not just for me, but many others as well. You are a good writer. You give me goose bumps when I read your stories.

    Keep on keeping on!!

  21. Hang in there. Wishing you a wonderful 2019. Happy IWSG.

  22. I think the holidays put some heavy expectations out there, and when we don't meet those, it's human nature to go to that "down" place. I know I've been there a lot. Here's to rebounding and getting back on the positive side of things.

  23. Your bad experiences are so discouraging. Not trying to diminish yours, I'd be willing to bet that 90% of us have had bad experiences--with agents who do nothing, publishers who go bankrupt owing you money, or publishers who do nothing to promote your book and it languishes in no man's land. Consider it a painful learning experience. I feel your pain and the stress you're undergoing. It has to get better. Hugs.

  24. As usual, I admire your perseverance in the face of difficulties - an example to us all. You deserve to give yourself some time away from writing. Believe in yourself - I do.

  25. You are a n overcomer and you can move forward and do this. Persevere!