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IWSG – January 2019

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Hey gang! It’s the first Insecure Writer’s Support Group post of the year. Check us out HERE and start 2019 by joining the best writer’s group there is.

Happy New Year!

I hope your holiday season was as filled with love and happiness as mine. I was fortunate to spend a great deal of time with my family, and I have to admit, I feel a bit spoiled. Today is the first day since before Christmas where I am pretty much alone in the house and I am feeling the heaviness. It was difficult watching Sheryl head back to work, and seeing my son heading back for college. The other son is working today, then will spend the rest of his time hanging with friends. This leaves me and the dog. I love the dog. The dog is excellent company, but I had become accustomed to the noise of a full house. I’m sure soon enough the routine will feel normal again and I’ll settle right in to things.

I’ve been pondering my writing goals for 2019, and while I refuse to set numbers as far as stories or works completed, contests entered, items submitted, I do want to spend more time creating new things, taking more risks, finding some much needed confidence in what I write. I’d really like to see something published this year, maybe several things. Funny enough (and maybe I say this every January), I feel ready to work hard and make that happen. I’m sure the usual insecurities will rear up, making me question every decision, but with the support of family, friends, and my IWSG blogging buddies, I will persevere.

One specific goal I’ve set, and I think it is an important one, is to compose more things by hand this year. I’ve a journal of sorts, something I’ve worked on since 1997 (I’ve three volumes completed so far) but the more I use digital software, the less I’ve used paper. I’m committed to 2 entries each week, and man, I hope writing this here helps me keep that commitment. I enjoy each revisit to those journals and every time I wish there were more to read. It’s time to make more a reality.

So tell me about your plans, goals, writing stuff for 2019. Let’s pretend this whole new year thing isn’t just an arbitrary time to make empty promises and really try to improve.

IWSG- August 2018

I had the pleasure of driving my 90+ year old grandmother to the doctor this morning, which means this lovely IWSG post is seeing the light of day a bit later in the day than I’d like. At 47, having living grandparents is pretty cool. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have each month to visit with her, take her shopping or to the doctor.

What I should do is sit down with her and record a ton of stories, memories, stuff like that. Knowing her, she’d be resistant at first, then once I got her talking, she’d be excited to talk.

But that can wait for at least one more day. For now, on the the IWSG fun. You know the drill, check us out and sign up HERE.

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I didn’t even check out the optional question for the month as I’ve had a busy month on the writing (and beta reading) front.

I promised myself I would enter two story contests and submit to at least one small press in July. Mission accomplished, just barely. I entered a Glimmer Train contest early in the month, but felt I didn’t have a super clean second story to submit. I pondered writing something brand new and hopefully feeling confident enough with it, but that didn’t work out. The story is mostly done, but without any editing or breathing time, I didn’t trust it would be solid.

So, yesterday I pulled out option number 2, gave it a pretty good look, and determined it was ready. The contest deadline was yesterday, and I pressed send with a few hours to spare. Now the waiting game begins, and I do hate the waiting game.

As for the small press- A local publisher had liked one of my pitches during PitMad and several weeks after I sent in my query and sample pages, requested a full manuscript. Of course I was unsure if the novel was edited well enough, so I spent the last three days doing a quick read, cleaning up stuff I’d been unsure about since the third draft. The manuscript was actually tighter than I expected. It seems all that editing paid off.

Fingers crossed that this opens some doors for me.

Also, I’ve had the great pleasure of helping a friend by beta reading her memoir. Man, she can write (quality and quantity), and at times I don’t feel up to the task, but I’m loving the sneak peek into her truly unique life. The hard part is focusing on the writing and not getting absorbed in the stories. I hope I have some helpful advice to offer.

What about you clowns? Got any good stories brewing, tales begging to be out there in the universe? I’d love to hear what you’ve got going on.

A Nibble

Last Thursday (18th) The Insecure Writer’s Support Group  held its second Twitter pitch party. I was a bit reluctant to participate, not because I think these events are bad ideas, but because of the frustration I felt after so much work and zero reward last time.

Of course when the day came, participation happened. I remembered that sitting around not tweeting pitches was a sure fire way to never get an agent or publisher to take a look at my writing.

I wrote two pitches the night before, but wasn’t satisfied with them the next morning. A bit of rewriting, some drama over what genre to place one particular manuscript, and I hit send on the first tweet. Before I could copy and paste the second, someone liked the first. For those who don’t know, agents and publishers search through the pitch party hashtag  for book ideas, and someone liking your pitch is an invitation to send an official query. In my experience with Twitter pitch parties, when likes come quickly, it is a friend who doesn’t understand what’s going on, or another author thinking the like is a good thing.

Imagine my surprise when an actual agent liked my pitch.

A few hours later a different pitch for the same novel received two more likes. My other two manuscripts also received some interesting attention from two individuals. Unfortunately neither of those opportunities are a good fit for me or my work.

Now the waiting game begins. Sending a query, even one per agent request is no guarantee of a full manuscript request or an offer, but man, it is so much closer than I was on Wednesday. Even if these opportunities fall through, I’ve at least learned that one manuscript has potential and that information is priceless.

I’m very grateful to those IWSG members who put together a fantastic event. It is the best writers group out there. Any writer who hasn’t joined yet really should.

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

 

Wonderful

A mostly Wordless Wednesday post-

Athena is almost 6 months old. While still a puppy, she is no longer the tiny little thing we brought home in July. She just passed the 50 pound mark. I can already see the adult dog she will become, and she will be amazing. Her guard instincts have kicked in and she spends many content hours staring out the windows, waiting and watching. I love her more and more.

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Hitched

Last Saturday my brother Robbie got married. It was a grand night, filled with family, fun, love, and some craziness. The venue (Publik Coffee) was near perfect. I’m a sucker for exposed brick walls, so I was impressed with this place the moment we entered. IMG_9622

Families and friends mingled on either side of the room. A testament to how well we all get along. There was very little awkwardness.

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I’ve liked my brothers girlfriend/fiance/wife, Emily since the first time we met. She has the right balance of class and irreverence, which makes her perfect for my brother and our family.

I can admit, there was a time I thought Robbie would never marry (which isn’t a bad thing. That sort of commitment isn’t for everyone), so as he stood in front of this room and said his amazing vows, I teared up over and over. More tears were shed when Emily took her turn. When two people have been through hell and fire, then find happiness together, well, I’m a sucker for that sort of story.

Here are some more lovely images.

This was taken just before the toasts.

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First dance. Also, I love dancing at weddings. It is a time when you can just be silly, dance like a crazy person, and have a grand time. The dancing at this wedding was particularly awesome, with all sorts of insanity. I hope there is epic video.

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I really dig this lady next to me, by the way. My wife is top notch.

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See you next week, friends.

 

 

IWSG-September

It’s my favorite time of the year! Summer is waning, and while I am not a huge fan of long, cold, Utah winters, I do love autumn. The temperatures hover in the near perfect zone. Football has started up again. Kids are in school. I don’t have as many yard work responsibilities. I’m calmer.

And I can’t think of a better way to start off this glorious month than with another IWSG post.

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From the website:

-Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! –

Doesn’t that sound great? If you like the way that makes you feel inside, sign up here. You only have to (get to) post once a month, and the feedback is always on point.

September 6 Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in??

My second novel was going to be about a woman trapped by a blizzard in her mountain cabin, confronted by the sudden appearance of her husband who had died from a heart attack ten years previously. He would inform her that he had been sent by God, and that God had decided the world needed purging. He was ashamed of his children and wanted to wash his hands of them, forever. In six months time, humanity would be gone.

Over the course of the winter, she’d engage in back and forth conversations, hoping to convince her husband to intervene with God on behalf of humanity.

I liked the idea, thought it would make a compelling story. About thirty pages in, I realized the book was going to come off very didactic, preachy and arrogant. Also, I was losing interest in the overall arc of the characters. The minor players (out in the big wide world) felt flat, locked into certain behaviors. I didn’t want to scrap the entire concept, but knew the idea needed tweaking.

The story shifted into a science fiction tale, where beings from another world have tasked themselves with taking care of our planet. Frustrated by what they believe is an immoral human attack on the environment, they decide to reset the planet, eliminating the mechanisms that pollute and damage the planet. Most humans and their technology must go.

I had not written sci-fi since I was very young, and I was sure it would be a disaster. Maybe because I kept the story rooted in the 21st century, centered the action around one family (aware of what is happening, but unable to do anything to stop it), and another small band of people, I was able to stay focused, not write outside my ability, create a compelling story.

What surprised me most was the way certain moral dilemmas played out in the book. I tried to write from as neutral a perspective as I could. It was fun to leave certain questions unanswered.

I’m still very proud of the book, and try to push it on anyone willing to read it (you, maybe?). I’m still not completely comfortable writing science fiction, and would never claim to be good at it, but I did enjoy creating this particular book.

Maybe I’ll write a thriller next, or a horror novel. Yeah, that’s it.

 

 

One More

The kids are back in school. Seniors. Their last year of compulsory education has begun, and honestly I don’t know how to feel about it. On a abstract level, I understand that they are nine months away from graduation, a year from 18, from having to really decide in what direction they want to go. As for actually knowing what that will look like, or how it will impact me, I’m clueless. I can only hope I’ve given them enough information, skills and direction to make the best decisions they can.

This transition from summer to the school year feels the same as every other. One day the boys are here, all the time, no real responsibilities, sleeping in, hanging out with friends. The next morning the house takes on a strange stillness. This year, the puppy is taking up some of the slack, and all of my free time, but I’ve still noticed an altered energy. Something is clearly missing, again.

I can’t help but think of myself at their age, my last year of high school in front of me. It seems forever ago and almost like it just happened. I can clearly remember many things that I did, wanted to do, experienced. My kids are different. School is different. They will have a completely different experience than mine, which is just as it should be.

But just like mine, the school year will pass, it will be over before they know it.

If I’m being honest (and I try to be), I’m looking forward to the time when it is just Sheryl and me, alone again. I know how amazing it is to have the empty nest, and while I will always welcome my kids home, I’m excited for the places Sheryl and I will go, as well as the quiet nights when it is just the two of us.

The anticipation is killing me. The possibilities are exciting to ponder.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the lads, the traditional first day of school photos. destry.jpg

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both

The headless dog photobomb is my favorite.