Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: May 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our esteemed leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled some great co-hosts for this month: Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for lots of writing resources!

First of all, I would like to make an announcement regarding WEP. The winner's post for the April Challenge is now live. You can find that here.

Now on to the business of the day.

The optional question for this month is: It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

I've sure had a mixture of both, as I'm sure we all have. Personally, my favorite highs come from finding out I'm having a story published. When I found out that I won the 2015 and 2018 IWSG Anthology Contests, I was elated. Seeing my words in print makes all the struggles that come along with the writing process worth it. I'm sure publication counts as a high point for most.

When thinking about lows, rejection obviously came to mind. It always hurts to have a story rejected, but I think an even worse low than that comes from writer's block. If I'm submitting stories, that means the words are at least coming to me. I'm being productive, even if publication doesn't follow. The inability to get words on the page is far more demoralizing for me.

What are your writing highs and lows?


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

WEP April 2022: A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

 


It's already time for another WEP Challenge in our Year of Music. This month's musical inspiration is "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" by Bob Dylan. For more information or to join in on the fun, check out this post. If you need additional inspiration for this prompt, be sure to check out the Challenges 2022 page.

Here's my take on this month's prompt. I hope you enjoy.


Like a Waterfall

The sky looked identical to the wet concrete below. Water hemorrhaged from the sky, while the streetlights burned bright despite the mid-afternoon hour.

The weather report had warned a hard rain was going to fall, but no one in Rey’s little neighborhood had access to the most up-to-date reports anyway.

Rey pulled her frayed flannel shirt closer to her body as she huddled under an awning. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were a few degrees warmer, but the chill in the air sent the dampness radiating into her bones. Her teeth chattered, her limbs trembled. She closed her eyes and tried to envision bright skies and the gentle warmth of a summer breeze. The illusion was pleasant enough, but it couldn’t hold the cold at bay.

Ms. Dupree, hunched over her shopping cart with a tattered poncho pulled over her, trudged by. One of her tennis shoes had a hole so big her big toe poked through. Milo, who had to be nearly 80 years old, huddled across the alley, coughing into his white-knuckled fist. Up until recently, he’d still had his own home, but times got tough.

Nearly a dozen tents populated this little alleyway, shared amongst a current twenty-nine inhabitants. The number fluctuated from day to day. Some residents left one day never to return. Rey often wondered about them, especially little Ricky, who found his way to the alley at 15. His parents booted him from the house for being gay. She hoped that maybe his family had a change of heart, or maybe that he found a program willing to give him a leg up and out of this life. She hoped, but she knew the other dark possibilities that lurked on the edges of their daily lives.

The rumbling of her stomach interrupted her thoughts. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d been able to eat enough to feel full. At best, she could get her hands on enough food to take the edge off her hunger.

She dipped her hand into her damp jeans pocket and brushed her fingers against the change contained within. If she walked to the corner store, she might be able to buy herself a packet of peanut butter crackers. That had been one of her all-time favorite snacks as a child. Now those little crackers were tainted by the desperation of her situation.

The rain was falling too heavily to take the trip now. Hopefully it would abate soon.

Leaning back against the brick wall, she surrendered herself to thoughts that she generally tried to avoid. On days like this, it took too much energy to keep them buried.

The bright blue of Ethan’s eyes flashed before her eyes, and an aching pain flared in her chest. She’d only had him for a day in the hospital before the adoption papers were signed. Logic told her she couldn’t have been a good mother for him. She couldn’t even take care of herself most days. A pregnancy spent living on the streets had been risky enough. He deserved more than that. This knowledge didn’t stop the pain, though. He had to be two years old by now. Did he love peanut butter crackers? Was he allergic to anything? What made him smile?

These were answers she would never have.

She lingered awhile in the grief. It gnawed away at her insides, as persistent and potent as her hunger. She remembered the dreams she once had for herself. When she was young, she always imagined herself becoming a veterinarian. She could never stand to see an animal sick or suffering.

Now suffering was an integral part of her daily existence.

The rain persisted. Rey shoved herself away from the wall and began to walk. Why not? She was already half-soaked anyway, and she needed to eat something. Tears streaked her face, mixing in seamlessly with the pelting rain drops. It all ran like a waterfall down her cheeks. If she stayed in the driving rain long enough, perhaps it would wash her pain away.

Maybe the sun would eventually shine through and a rainbow would appear. Maybe, just maybe, there could be brighter days ahead.


Word Count: 702 words

FCA

Tagline: Rey attempts to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.

And there it is! Please read the other wonderful entries for the April Challenge!



Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: April 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our esteemed leader Alex J.  Cavanaugh has assembled a great group of co-hosts for this month: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise - Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for great writing tools and advice!

Today is a big day in my house. My oldest son is 13 today. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. He's almost my height, and it'll probably be mere months before he surpasses me. He likes to say that once he does, he doesn't have to listen to me anymore. Ha ha! We both know that isn't true.

It's a pivotal time in my home in a lot of ways. In a few days, it'll be one year since we purchased the home we're living in now. Due to various reasons, it felt like we'd be renting forever. Finally being able to own our home gave us a sense of pride. We did it. Our house isn't perfect (it's 114 years old, so it's bound to have its imperfections), but it's solid and spacious enough for our family. I love it.

My other son is about to finish 5th grade. That means he's starting middle school next school year. I have a daughter starting Kindergarten in the fall. And my youngest daughter is starting preschool at the same time. My husband is successful in his career. I've lost 35 pounds and remain committed to my fitness journey.

So many great things. Yet, when it comes to my writing, my confidence is low. One issue is that I have a lot of demands on my time. I need to keep up with exercise and housework. I cook daily. Someone always needs help with their homework. These are all important things, and it's easy to use them as excuses.

One thing I've had to learn is that it's important to take care of myself. It's so easy to put myself on the back burner when so many others need me. My health started to suffer because of that. Now I'm trying to do better. But health isn't just about physical health. It's also about mental health. It's about doing the things for yourself that bring you joy. One of the things that brings me joy is writing, but I haven't devoted enough time to my writing lately. I've decided to carve out time to write and submit a couple of short stories in the next month or two. While I may not have a ton of free time, surely I can make enough time to accomplish this small goal.

Remember to take care of yourselves. What small things bring you joy?



Wednesday, February 16, 2022

WEP February 2022: All You Need is Love

 Hello everyone! Welcome to a new year of Write...Edit...Publish! Since our year of art was such a great success, we decided to seek inspiration from music in 2022. It was quite the challenge to come up with such a small list of musical inspirations, but after much good natured debate, we came up with this list.



First up is the famous All You Need is Love by the Beatles. It seemed like a good choice for February and Valentine's Day.



I decided to try something a little experimental with this piece. Using a song for inspiration made me think of poetry, and when I saw conversation hearts in the candy aisle, I felt inspired. I decided to write a poem in the form of a conversation between friends who have differing perspectives on love. Hopefully the formatting is clear for all of you. I looked at it from multiple devices to make sure this looked good on all of them, but I can't check everything.

I hope you enjoy!

      

Conversation Hearts


       I say                       to you      

    all you need             is love …

It lifts you up when things are dark

    and holds back the cold with

          its warmth and light.

                  Embrace it.

                     Seek it.

       

                               Love is              grand.

                             I won’t deny     that truth.

                         It is also messy and imperfect.

                          It can surely wound you and

                                leave you in pieces.

                                      Take caution.

                                         Take care.


           Love                       endures.

      It inspires              and nourishes.

Poets and artists draw from its beauty

       and power to fuel creation.

              It binds us together.

                  It cherishes and

                      protects.


                         Love              nourishes.

                  It must also        be nourished.

            Love may die if its flame isn't tended.

                 Please, do not test it too harshly.

                      Treat it with tenderness.

                              It won’t come

                                     easy.


          Love is         blind.

     Love is bold    and bright.

  It fulfills us with its splendor.

      It outlasts all adversity.

          It is pure and kind.

                It is eternal.

                   Blissful.


                            Love               sees.

                        It sees and      it accepts.

                 It is not without conditions, but

                      it can mend and grow with

                        care and communication.

                             Love changes over

                                       time.


          Love is                     timeless.

        It survives            beyond death

    and lives on in the hearts of those

       left behind, providing comfort.

             Memory connects us to

                  our loved ones

                          forever.


                      Love                  lives on,

               bringing both        joy and loss.

             Grief may overwhelm, making it

                    hard to bear, and memory

                        may fade if we don’t

                             appreciate its

                                  gravity.

   

            Love is              romance.

       Love is like        a deep breath.

It invigorates and makes us feel alive.

        It flows like water in a river,

              aweeps us away and

                  surrounds us in

                       perfection.


                      Love is               complex.

                  It has good       days and bad.

                  It's often patient and hopeful,

                   but not without fail, and not

                          without compromise.

                              Imperfect people

                                        can’t

                                                  love

                                                          perfectly…


Word Count: 280

FCA


Tagline: The nature of love is hard to define.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to read and leave a comment on all the entries!


Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group-February 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our host Alex J. Cavanaugh has gathered a wonderful bunch of co-hosts for this month: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jacqui Murray, Sandra Cox, and Lee Lowery.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website to find lots of writerly resources!

The question for this month is: Is there someone who supported or influenced you that perhaps isn't around anymore? Anyone you miss?

Both of my parents are gone now. They were definitely the first to influence my desire to be a writer. Reading and writing were a part of my home since I can remember. Growing up, our shelves were filled with books. My parents usually had a book they would read during quiet moments after a long day of work. My mom also liked to write stories in her spare time.

I saw those books, and I thought whoever made them must have had super powers. The idea of creating those complex worlds and characters on the page seemed beyond comprehension, but I wanted to harness that power for myself if I could.

When I started scribbling my first stories on the page, my parents encouraged me. They would ask about what I was writing. When I told them that I wanted to write novels someday, they accepted that as a perfectly fine answer. I've heard so many stories of children being pushed away from creative endeavors by their parents. I was fortunate this was never the case for me.

My parents might both be gone now, but I still carry that legacy with me.

Who influenced and encouraged you?


Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group-January 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has recruited another wonderful bunch of co-hosts for this month: Erika Beebe, Olga Godim, Sandra Cox, Sarah Foster, and Chemist Ken.

Be sure to follow the IWSG website for great writing advice! The winners of the latest anthology contest are also being announced today, so be sure to check that out!

Rather than answer the optional question for today, I'd like to talk instead about resolutions. Yeah, I know, talking about resolutions in January isn't original, but it can still be quite helpful.

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't posted as part of IWSG for a little while. I wouldn't be lying by saying I've been busy. My kids and various other things have kept me quite busy. 

One thing I've been trying to do is lose weight and get back into shape. So far I've lost a little more than twenty pounds. I still have quite a way to go before I hit my goal, but I feel like that's a good start. Between focusing on that goal and juggling life with my kids, I've let my focus on my writing slip. Maybe it's easier to take the quiet moments I do find and use them to relax rather than motivate myself to put words on the page. Not that there's anything wrong with taking some quiet time, but I need to do a better job with how I manage that time. I need to motivate myself to get writing again.

So those are my resolutions. Continue improving my physical health, and carve out the time to write more. I know I can do it. It's just a matter of making it happen. Writing this post is one way of holding myself accountable and making things happen in 2022.

Have you made any resolutions for yourself?


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

WEP December Challenge-Narcissus


Happy December! It's time for the final Write...Edit...Publish challenge of the year. That means the year of art is coming to an end, and we're closing it out with NARCISSUS

It sure has been a fun year. A lot of you seemed to enjoy drawing inspiration from famous works of art. It wasn't always an easy task, but we saw some amazing entries! Next year, we're doing a year of music, and I'm confident we'll find plenty of inspiration with that as well.



The piece is want to share with you today is related to the novel I'm currently writing. The character here isn't a POV character in the book, but I thought it would be fun to get into his head and write something from his perspective for this month's prompt. I hope you enjoy!

Adoration

Tagline: Some people require adoration and total obedience.

 

The mirror revealed perfectly styled dark hair and piercing blue eyes. Dorian smiled and appreciated the change in his reflection. He adjusted the collar of his navy blue shirt.

“Go out there and wow them all,” he told himself. “They already look up to you. Now it’s time to make them love you.”

His group of followers started out small, but it had been steadily growing week to week. Word of mouth spread rapidly amongst the desperate. He fed them hope until they were fit to burst. He promised them all a better life, so long as they lived the lifestyle he prescribed to them.

A knock on the door pulled Dorian from his thoughts. He turned to see Trella’s shy smile. The girl was barely twenty, and when he’d first met her, she had been filled to the brim with frustration and resigned to her circumstances. She’d utterly transformed in the last few weeks. A light shone in her eyes that hadn’t been there before.

“Everyone’s getting anxious out there,” she said, her voice soft. She was in awe of him. That awe radiated out of every pore. She would do almost anything he asked. He’d wager his reputation on it. Given a little more time, she would be completely under his control.

What’s in store for you? he wondered. What purpose will you serve?

“I’d better get out there, then,” he said aloud.

Trella’s smile grew. “Good luck out there.” She paused a moment before adding, “Not that you need it.”

Dorian returned the smile. He didn’t need luck. He needed devotion, and if this girl was any indication, he didn’t need to worry at all. “I’ll see you afterwards.”

When he exited the room, he made sure to brush gently against her shoulder as he moved past. A surge of satisfaction welled up within him as Trella’s cheeks reddened in response.

It was only a short stroll down a narrow corridor before he reached the stage entrance. The sounds of the people swelled to greet him as he approached. They couldn’t see him yet, but the anticipation in the air felt electric. He breathed deep and relished in the feeling.

A few steps more took him around the corner and onto the stage.

Instead of increasing in volume, the murmurs of the audience fell away, resulting in dead silence. Each pair of eyes in the room came to bear upon him. Backs straightened. Faces turned up. Every person in the room was on the edge of their seat, waiting eagerly to hear what Dorian had to say.

It would be rude to keep them waiting.

The lights beamed down on Dorian, creating a cone of illumination around his body. He held his arms out and tilted his head slightly upward. “Welcome. I’m so glad to see so many of you here,” he began.

He lowered his gaze so he could get a good view of the people who filled the room. There weren’t enough seats for them all, so many stood against the walls. He’d need to rent out a larger room for the next gathering.

See me. Love me. Trust me.

Dorian didn’t speak the commands, but he didn’t need to. The audience was already obeying him. He felt it in the energy of the room. No one moved a muscle as they waited for him to continue.

“I’ve been telling you all along that change will not come easy. I will never lie to you, no matter how much simpler that would be for me. So many have lied to you your entire lives, and you all deserve so much better than that. I’m so glad to see all of you still here, so willing to do all it takes to succeed. I even see some new faces tonight. That’s wonderful.” A clip-on microphone carried his words effortlessly over the people assembled before him. “I will shelter you when you need it. I will do whatever I can to build you up into the most powerful people you can be. Those you love may look down on you now. They may think you’ve lost your minds. From their perspectives, they see a stranger who doesn’t know your way of life. They probably think I’m selling you a bag of goods that can’t possibly be real. When they talk badly about me and the changes you’re making in your lives, they genuinely feel as though they’re doing the right thing. They think they’re saving you.” Dorian laughed. “They couldn’t be more wrong.”

Only I can save you. Only I can make you happy.

“If you follow my regimen, it’s only a matter of time before they see how mistaken they’ve been. By eating the right foods, doing the right exercises, and removing yourself from toxic family and friend relationships, you can ascend to something greater.”

Leave everything else behind. Follow me. Worship me.

“Are you ready to walk away from the old and embrace the new?”

The applause was thunderous. People cheered and called his name. He closed his eyes and let the waves of adoration wash over him.

This is where I’m supposed to be. I have the power to shape people the way I want them. They're mine.


Word Count: 874
FCA