Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: July 2020

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Alex J. Cavanaugh has gathered another group of wonderful co-hosts for this month: Jenni Enzor, Beth Camp, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Tyrean Martinson, and Sandra Cox.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website for great writing resources!

This has been a crazy couple of weeks for us at home. One of the tendons in my husband's leg snapped while he was at work not long ago. The good news is that it isn't a major one, so surgery isn't necessary. Since the tendon helped to support his knee, he will need to do physical therapy to ensure his knee doesn't give out a few years down the road. He also had an issue with one of his feet during this time. So he was off work a little more than a week, and we've been focused on getting him feeling better. Now that he's back to work, hopefully there will be a relative return to normalcy around here.

As things at home have been so crazy lately, I haven't done a lot in terms of writing. I want to change that. As such, I went searching through writing related quotes to boost my inspiration. I came across this one, which was just what I needed to see right now.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” -Stephen King

It isn't easy to get back into the swing of things. It can be downright intimidating at times, but that's okay. The important thing is to press on and keep writing.

Have a happy July everyone!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

WEP June Challenge-Urban Nightmare

It's time for another WEP Challenge. This month's theme is Urban Nightmare. It seems oddly fitting now. Be sure to stop by the sign up post if you want to join in!

This poem is the result of me trying to grapple with the world as we know it. Humanity has been through many times of struggle, and people have been proclaiming that it may well be the end of the world for a long time. And if not the end of the world, at least the end of life as we know it. I can see why people may be tempted to think that way, but I have to hope for something better. Giving in to despair solves nothing.

Poetry isn't my strongest suit, but it felt like the best avenue for self-expression at the moment.

In the Streets

The forecasts of the world’s end
came time and time again.
The end is nigh came the cry,
“You must repent, amen.”
Those dates foretold came and went
and life continued on.
New voices rose as others faded
but people wished them gone.

Then science chimed in with its warning,
but cries fell on deafened ears.
“We don’t trust you!” many yelled.
“You’re only stoking fears.”
The warming planet, depleted resources.
Those in power waved them off.
Changing things would take effort.
So much easier to scoff.

Then the viral threat reared its head,
but it started so far away.
“It isn’t here, no need to worry.
It’s easily kept at bay.”
The spread came anyway, as history
has shown it surely could.
The illness spread like wildfire
before people finally understood.

Soon the streets were empty.
The world fell quiet and still.
Life ground to a halt,
by an act of collective will.
The urban nightmare set in,
as the emptied streets mirrored death.
The end of our lives as we knew them.
We all paused and took a breath.

As it turns out, pausing and waiting
was not as simple as it sounded.
People grew restless and bitter
and the problems compounded.
The allure of life as normal
was too precious to resist.
“The world must open once again.
Life must go on. We insist!”

And as life started to resume
old problems bubbled up.
Lives taken unjustly with no consequence.
More people did rise up.
“We want to change this now!
Listen to our pleas!”
They filled the streets and shouted
While others got down on their knees.

Most took to the streets in peace,
and still some violence reigned.
The message filtered through the chaos,
while many relationships were strained.
Disagreements did abound as talks ensued
about how to fix what was broken.
Ideas did flow through,
but many resentments were spoken.

The world’s ills weren’t visible to all
while others accepted them as fact.
“You can’t fix all of society,” they said
in the hopes of keeping it intact.
Change is painful for all,
but some have more to lose.
Livelihoods upended and lives lost.
Society needs to choose.

Illness rampant and unrest in the streets.
It all seemed too grave to bear.
How can it all be made right at last?
How will we wake from this nightmare?
As buildings burn and tempers flare,
we all forget to listen.
As lives are lost and futures changed
and the mounting tears glisten.

Sickness threatens with a new wave,
while our societal sickness festers.
While it may feel hopeless at times
we must stand up to the jesters.
Scary as the future is
we must work to make it bright.
Life and society will never improve if
good people don’t join in the fight.

Word Count: 465

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another group of marvelous co-hosts: Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and Natalie Aguirre.

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

Here is the optional question for this month: Writer's have secrets! What are one or two of yours, something readers would never know from your work?

This is a tricky but fun question. It's tricky, because I've shared a lot about myself on this blog over the years. I think my biggest secret that I'm a little embarrassed about is how disorganized I can be with my writing sometimes. I try to plot, and I keep track of my word counts. These are simply meager attempts to get a handle on the chaos that is my writing process.

I can never write a story in sequential order. I hop in between scenes in an attempt to get an overview of the story as a whole. It's almost as if I need to write a scene for each of the major plot points in the story before I go back and fill in the rest. It's part of my process, and while it feels chaotic in the moment, it ultimately seems to work out.

As for non-writing related secrets someone might not know about me, I drink most of my cups of coffee cold. This isn't because I prefer to drink them cold, either. It happens purely through circumstance. Sometimes I get involved in something and forget I have a cup of coffee. Other times I have to put it up because my daughters both love grabbing at my coffee, so I can't have it within their reach out of fear they might burn themselves. The end result either way is cold coffee. And even though I would rather drink it hot, I'll still take it at whatever temperature I can because I want the caffeine.

Lastly, I'd like to wish my husband a Happy Anniversary! As of yesterday, we've been married 13 years.

What secrets do you have?

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Insecure Writer's Support Group: May 2020

It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group! Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled another great group of co-hosts for this month: Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for lots of great advice!

The optional question for this month is: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

I'll say this. I've needed additional help getting into the zone lately. The stress of the pandemic is a factor, but an even bigger factor is having the kids home all the time and adjusting to them learning from home. I find the best time to get any writing done these days is after I've put all the kids to bed. The down side of that is I am often tired or stressed out after a long day. Still, trying to sit down and write can be a good way to end the day with a sense of accomplishment.

Normally I would sit down to write with a cup of coffee, but since I'm writing later at night, I've had to substitute that with a cup of tea. Sometimes putting on some soft music helps. If all that fails, forcing myself to start writing, putting one word in front of the other, can get things going.

There are no guarantees, of course, and in stressful times like these, it's understandable if your creativity well is less plentiful than normal. Enjoy the times when the writing flows, and when it doesn't, try not to be too hard on yourself. We're all human, and all we can do is our best.

Do you have any writing rituals that help you get into the zone?

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

WEP April Challenge-Antique Vase

It's April, and that means it's time for another WEP Challenge. This month we have Antique Vase. I hope you enjoy!


The bright light of day hit Donna in the face as she exited the attorney’s office. She squinted as she cradled the antique vase in her arms, keeping one hand atop of it to ensure the lid wouldn’t fall and smash to bits in the parking lot. The heft of it sent waves of pain through her shoulders and down her back. In all the years she admired this vase from afar, she never imagined how heavy it would be.
“I can’t believe she only left you a vase,” Orville said as he walked beside her. He twirled his car keys in his hand, the other shoved deep in his jeans pocket.
Donna glared. The expression was lost behind the massive vase, of course, but the expression still made her feel better. He could probably do with a smack upside the head like she used to deliver when they were kids, but they were in public and her arms were occupied. “Don’t be like that,” she muttered. “I always loved this vase. I was never allowed to touch it as a child. That probably made me love it even more, to be honest.”
Orville shook his head. “I always thought it was ugly.”
Donna bristled at that. The tan paint on the outside was cracked in places, and little chips and dings adorned its surface. Once vibrant red zigzagging lines on the top and bottom had faded to the color of dried blood. Okay, it wasn’t the most beautiful object in the world, but that didn’t dampen her love for it. Her nostalgia goggles wouldn’t allow her to forget all those hours she spent staring at it as a kid, wondering about all the places the vase had been before it took up residence on her aunt’s mantle. Who owned it before? How had it earned all those little imperfections?
“I know Aunt Margaret wasn’t the richest woman in the world, but it seems like you got the short end of the stick,” Orville continued. “You actually visited her regularly. Mom got the house, and they barely got along, for crying out loud. I saw her three times in five years, and I still got her car.”
The car in question was a ten-year-old black Chevy Impala. Aunt Margaret had been proud the day she bought it. “First brand new car I’ve ever owned in my life. It’s about time I treated myself.”
Donna decided not to reply. It would only encourage him to keep babbling, and her patience was wearing thin. She didn’t want to get into an argument.
Aunt Margaret wouldn’t have held back, though. Were she able to hear Orville right then, she’d have given him a piece of her mind. She wasn’t one to mince words.
Their aunt lived alone most of her life. Her husband Charles up and left one day nearly thirty years before. No warning. No explanation. They didn’t have any children, either. Donna assumed her aunt might have moved on and started seeing someone as time went on, but she never did. The only time Donna asked about it, Margaret had shrugged. “I decided I don’t need the drama. I do just fine on my own.”
And she had. She never needed to ask anyone for anything. Perhaps her fierce independence had been intimidating to many, but Donna always admired it. She wished she could feel that confident in her decisions and interactions with others. Maybe if she could bring herself to tell Orville what she thought of his words, he might learn to shut his mouth a bit more often.
Donna almost heaved a sigh of relief when she reached her SUV. She leaned against the rear so she could keep the vase aloft while she fished her key fob out of her pants pocket.
“Talk to you later,” Orville called out as he headed off toward his own vehicle.
“Thanks for the help, little brother,” Donna grumbled under her breath.
The balancing act that followed kept Donna’s blood pressure elevated, but she finally got the rear hatch opened and the vase safely stowed away with some pillows and blankets to cushion it. She still didn’t know where she would keep it in her home, but that was a problem for tomorrow.

*     *     *

The next morning, Donna knelt on her living room floor beside the antique vase. She’d been too tired when she got home to properly study it. She now allowed herself a moment to run a hand over its surface. The rough texture of the surface teased her hand with its history, a secret she would never know. She moved her hand to the lid and, exercising great care, gently started to pry the lid back.
Did she anticipate finding anything hidden within? No. The action came more from the childhood fascination she’d built up around this vase. Kids want to turn over every stone and open every box, after all. This felt like a natural extension of that.
The lid came free easier than Donna expected. She gently set it on the floor and peered inside.
A golden sparkle caught her eye immediately. She reached inside and felt cool metal disks. Her heart nearly stopped when she pulled out a handful of golden coins. Her eyes were on the verge of bulging from her head as she reached in with her other hand. There were more coins inside. Many more, but there was also something else. She closed her fingers around the newly discovered object and fished out a stack of hundred-dollar bills.
She continued to scoop out the unexpected treasure, piling it on the carpet as she went. Her thoughts were wild with the possibilities. How much was here?
“No wonder the vase was so darn heavy,” she said to herself. “It had a secret.” So did Aunt Margaret, for that matter. And, on reflection, Donna knew it would be best to maintain that secret.

Word Count: 990

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: April 2020

It's the first Wednesday of April, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled a group of great co-hosts for this month: Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard.

Be sure to visit the IWSG website for lots of writerly inspiration!

The optional question for this month is: The IWSG’s focus is on our writers. Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Things in my world feel a bit crazy, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. Since the schools have shut down, I have all four of my kids at home every day. It doesn't feel the same as summer break, either, because I can't take them out to do so many of the activities associated with summer. I'm also doing my best to keep them on track with their learning, and that (along with the general level of anxiety I'm feeling on any given day) has hindered my writing. I started off the year doing so well, but I've stalled out over the last few days. Still, I shouldn't be too hard on myself. I've written just over 90K in my WIP, and I just need to wrap it up. I'll get there eventually.

My oldest son Jude also turns eleven on Monday. I feel guilty we won't be able to take him out for dinner like we originally planned, but I'll still make him a cake at home and try to make it as fun a day for him as I can.

Then again, some things in our world here at home are exactly the same. My husband is still working. His workplace has been deemed essential. I worry about what he might be exposed to while he's out, but we also don't have the financial concerns so many others are having right now. That's something to be grateful for.

How is life for you these days? How have things changed in your world, and how are you coping?

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: March 2020

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 assembled another cohort of excellent co-hosts: Jacqui Murray, Lisa Buie-Collard, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, and Shannon Lawrence.

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

I wanted to take the time here to talk a little about my writing strategies for this year. One of my main challenges has been getting words on the page. I can come up with all kinds of excuses for not getting any writing done. The housework never ends. The kids always need something. I'm often tired. And those are all valid in their own ways, but sometimes I use those excuses as a crutch. I know I can make some time to get at least something written, and that if I want to make serious progress as a writer, that's what I need to do.

That's why I made a New Year's resolution. I set some goals for myself. I decided I was going to write a minimum of 500 words every single day, no excuses. My weekly minimum was 5,000 words. My monthly goal was 25,000 words. I told myself I wanted to exceed those as much as I could, but as long as I met the minimum, then I was doing okay. I got myself a planner and gave myself a star for every 500 words I wrote in a day. It may seem silly, but each star I gave myself felt like it's own little reward.

I'm happy to say that, so far, I've stayed on track with my goal. I haven't missed a day, even though it wasn't always easy. I contracted a nasty chest cold thanks to my children, so writing through that was a challenge. To prove my progress, here are the first two months of writing I documented.

I've now surpassed 70,000 words in my WIP. It's my goal to wrap up the first draft within the next few weeks, and as long as I stick with my word count goals, I should have no problem doing that.

What methods do you use to motivate yourself to write?