06 July 2022

Stuck in Many Ruts

*It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!*

I have been in such a rut lately. I know I've been talking about not writing for quite some time now, so much so that I actually skipped IWSG last month because I was so sick of talking about it. But it's not just the writing. 

I haven't been reading much at all. I've been stuck on the same book for literally the whole year so far, with no desire to finish it or to try reading something else. I feel like I don't know what I like to read anymore, so it's hard to decide. I have a few horror books on my wishlist recommended by a Youtuber I watch, and I don't typically read horror but I do like horror movies, so I thought trying something different would be a good idea. 

Speaking of movies, I haven't been watching too many of those, either (although I feel I should get some credit for binge watching the latest season of Stranger Things, especially since that last episode was movie length). I typically have a goal to watch 100 movies in a year, and I have so many streaming platforms with a ton of movies on my watchlists, but I've only watched 26 so far this year. I don't know what my issue is here, I think I just get sucked into watching reruns on TV on my days off instead of actually picking something to watch. 

I started using Letterboxd to track my movies, so if anyone else is on there, we can follow each other! You can find my profile here. 

I also haven't been using social media very much anymore. I very rarely post on Twitter or Instagram. Even when I've taken pictures, I just haven't had the motivation to post anything. I guess I'm experiencing social media burnout. I just don't have the desire to do it. 

The only thing I've been really focusing on lately is getting back into dieting and exercising. It's definitley something I need to do and if it's all I can motivate myself to do right now, then that's ok. I always work better with a deadline, and my husband and I are going to New York for our anniversary in September (I haven't been there in five years!), so I really want to lose some weight before then so I can look good! 

I don't really know how to get out of all these ruts. I try to just take things day by day. 

04 May 2022

Highs, Lows, and Bracelets

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

This month's optional question 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)?

My writer highs usually involve, well...actually writing! I love getting new ideas and thinking about them nonstop, or flowing through a first draft and holding nothing back. And while editing and rewriting can be hard and tedious, one of my favorite things is when I actually figure something out and everything falls into place and feels perfect. 

Another writing high for me was getting a story published in the IWSG anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life.  

My biggest writer low was Pitch Wars, but we don't need to talk about that...I've had a few times where people read my work and I either got a negative response or no response at all. I have learned from these scenarios to not send out my work if it's not ready, and also who I should be sending it to. Just because someone seems excited to read your work doesn't mean they're actually going to do it. 

Not writing at all is also a pretty low time. It's hard to have absolutely no desire to write or even think about writing, but right now I'm just kind of going with the flow. I think the urge to write will come back eventually, but not until I'm ready for it. 

On a side note, a few months ago I mentioned that I wanted to get into jewelry making, partially just so I could do something creative, and I finally started! I'm just making bracelets so far because I have no idea what I'm doing and figured they were the easiest. I also just like bracelets.

These were the first four I made that went with the shirt I wore on Easter (lol), and considering the fact that I'd never made a bracelet in my life, I thought they were fairly decent; 

And these are the ones I made this past weekend. I've been playing around with what materials go better with certain beads and working on the technique, and I can already see the improvement. 

I'm just gonna keep doing it because it's fun and I like shiny things. I think someday it would be nice to actually turn it into income, but that's a long way away! 

Any writing highs or lows to share? What creative outlets do you have besides writing? 

25 April 2022

Alex J. Cavanaugh's CassaDark

Today I have a very special guest, the Ninja Captain himself, Alex J. Cavanaugh! He's here to talk about his new book, CassaDark, and what brought him back to writing a book in the Cassa Universe. 

Why Return to the Cassa Universe?

Why add to a trilogy that is complete, successful, and at a good stopping point? That’s a very good question! Because I did write a fourth book. Let’s look at some of the reasons why I went this route.

My last novel was Dragon of the Stars, and I had no ideas for another Dragon book. Sure, I’d created a short story for a fan covering a span of time after Dragon ended. There could be more adventures, but in terms of stakes, what more could I throw at the main character, Aden? What he sacrificed at the end of that story was just short of death, so I couldn’t envision piling more on the poor guy.

Byron, the main character in the first three Cassa books, was getting too old. Even with Cassans living to a hundred and twenty, the next jump forward in time (since I seem to like going twenty years ahead with each book) would’ve placed him close to eighty. I did not want to write Cassa: The Geriatric Years. It would be like watching Harrison Ford play Indiana Jones today. Painful. I couldn’t continue with my main guy.

I didn’t have the urge—or any ideas for—a new story line. Series are easy because once the first book is done, the world is established, and the next books just expand on that. I’d already stretched with Dragon. Nothing new struck me as enough to start a book set in another world.

Well then, what about Byron’s son, Bassan? What happened to the young man who saved the galaxy in the third book? That’s a lot for a ten-year-old to carry. Where would he be now as an adult? And that’s when the wheels started turning…

Now, normally returning to a series is easy. The world is established. The characters are established. Just create the adventure and let everything fall into place. Right! Except I’d not written a full length novel in over five years. Cranking out words—tough to do when you’re as rusty as heck. Took me two years just to get the first draft together. Way longer than for any other book.

I think familiarity is what carried me through to the end. Even though Bassan is much older, I still knew him, still knew the world he inhabited. And I’d missed certain aspects. There is no telepathy or teleportation in Dragon. Those elements might sound convenient, but they don’t always work as advertised, so it added a level of challenge to the story.

Ultimately, I’m really pleased with the result! Bassan isn’t Byron, but he holds his own. I think readers will relate to his insecurities. He’s an average guy, with some unusual talents, just trying to find his place in the world.

Aren’t we all?

Alex J. Cavanaugh works in web design and graphics, and he plays guitar in a Christian band. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is known as Ninja Captain Alex and he’s the founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.





By Alex J. Cavanaugh

His world is unraveling…

Bassan’s father is stepping down from command. His best friend almost dies when Bassan freezes. Now, he’s being sent across the galaxy to speak at an important conference. Despite saving the eleven races years ago, he’s paralyzed by fear and doubt. Could things get any worse?

Once there, new acquaintance Zendar convinces Bassan to visit his planet for a humanitarian mission. Bassan’s special connection to ancient technology is the key to saving Zendar’s people. One problem though—it’s a prisoner planet.

On Ugar, he discovers things aren’t so straightforward. As each secret reveals itself, the situation grows more desperate. If he can’t find the right answers, he might die along with Zendar’s people. Can Bassan summon the courage to be a hero again?

Science fiction - Adventure (FIC028010) / Space Opera (FIC028030) / Space Exploration (FIC028130) Print ISBN 9781939844842 $16.95 / eBook ISBN 9781939844859 $4.99


iTunes – https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id1574189874

Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/Search?Query=9781939844859

Scribed – https://www.scribd.com/search?query=9781939844859&language=0

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58461762-cassadark

06 April 2022

No Ideas!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

What am I insecure about this month? The fact that I have no idea what to write about! I've been in a rut for a long time and feeling very burnt out when it comes to writing. I've had little snippets of ideas here and there, like my subplot idea last month, but I haven't been doing any actual writing. 

I wish I was writing, but I don't really see this as a bad thing. I clearly needed the break from it, and I've been exhausted for a long time due to other things. It's not really something I want to force until it feels right. It's definitely frustrating that it's been so long since I've really written anything, but if I have absolutely no desire to do it, then it's ok to take a break.

I know I'm defnitely not done with writing forever. I don't know if I need to change my routine, wait until the inspiration strikes on its own, or maybe I just need a really long vacation (I haven't had more than 3 days off work since last September). Work definitely leaves me feeling exhausted, but I know that's not the only reason I can't motivate myself to write. So, for now, I'm just going to let things be and wait for those ideas to come naturally. 

02 March 2022

Hijack the Subplot

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

This month's optional question is: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?

That's an interesting question for me because while UL has a controversial subject matter, when I first started writing it, I didn't really feel conflicted about it. As I started to develop and flesh out the story more, it became more difficult to balance writing this topic while trying to maintain some level of sensitivity. That's probably why I still haven't figured it out! One of the reasons, anyway...

Speaking of UL! No, I'm not actually writing anything. But I am doing some THINKING, which is better than nothing and has really gotten me excited. 

I've been working on figuring out the third act of this book for a while now, and completely reworked it from the previous draft. Only a few scenes were kept and most of what I've written is brand new. That doesn't mean I'm satisfied with it. Is it better than before? Yes. But is it what the story really needs? Probably not. 

One of the things I've worried about is that the third act is weighed down by the subplots. They take up a lot of space, maybe even more than the main plot, which definitely isn't a good thing. I know I need to cut down a lot or the end of this book is just going to drag on forever. 

So I had a random idea that may just speed things up. Basically, I'm going to have my MC reveal something to a subplot character way earlier than he previously did. I have two subplots in this book, and this is the less important one, so speeding things up will definitely help the book overall. I think I can wrap this subplot up earlier, and also this particular idea helped make certain things about these characters more realistic to me. 

I think it might be good to have this subplot not be as complicated as it previously was. The main plot and the other subplot both end on a heavy note, and while this particular subplot always ended with an upbeat tone, it took a long time to get there and things got a bit convoluted along the way. I think this change will make the subplot end more quiet and simple, which could help support the other plots by not getting in the way, and just helping to develop the main character. 

The only downside is that I'll have to rewrite part of Chapter 18, which is my favorite chapter in the whole book. It won't change what happens in the main plot in this chapter, but I have to figure out how this change will affect the mood and tone of the scene so that I can still have it end the same way. It's not that I don't think I can do it, but I just have to take the time to figure it out. 

If I can map out this subplot and make the changes I want, I really think it could work. And if it does work, then maybe, just maybe, the rest of the book will start to fall into place. I can only hope!

02 February 2022

Focus on the Positive

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

Once again I feel like I have nothing to write about, and I couldn't think of a response to this month's question, so I'm on my own here. I feel like I'll just end up spewing the same crap I've been talking about for months. And I haven't started writing again, so I can't talk about that. 

HOWEVER. I think I'll do something different this month and focus on some little, positive things. So I'm just going to make a list! I love lists!

- While I haven't done any writing, I have been thinking about it. Sort of. I've been trying just to read UL lately and listen to its playlist. While I'm hoping it will lead to some writing eventually, I'm trying not to force it and just let it come naturally.

- I'm back on my diet and I've been going to the gym more often. I haven't been going 5 days a week like I'd like to but that's really because it's very cold out and sometimes I just want to stay inside. But I have been trying some new healthy recipes so that has been fun. 

- Despite the diet, I will be having some cupcakes for the musiversary on the 15th, as required. And I will not dwell on the fact that it's been eleven years and I still haven't finished this book. And I will not share my cupcakes with Jordan. 

- I've been thinking about this for a while now, but I'd like to start making jewelry. I just feel like I need a creative outlet that isn't writing, and I got inspired by the idea (and bought lots of beads). Now I just have to actually learn how to do it. It would be awesome to eventually start selling jewelry, but I have to at least make sure I can do it first, so I'll start by making some things for myself. 

- For hubby's birthday in March, we're spending two nights at Foxwoods casino and going to our favorite restaurant there. We haven't gone away for more than one night in years so I'm really looking forward to it. 

- I started today with a little self-pampering. Just a bubble bath and a clay face mask but it felt great! I work too damn hard, I need to relax sometimes. 

Well, that's about it. I've been trying not to stress out lately, so I figured I'd focus on the little wins instead of the doom and gloom for once. I hope everyone's staying positive in this crazy world! 

05 January 2022

Lost My Mojo

It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's the posting day for the Insecure Writer's Support Group! Click here to learn more and sign up!

This month I'm a co-host! The other awesome co-hosts are Erika BeebeOlga GodimSandra Cox, and Chemist Ken!

This month's optional question is: What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

I know I've talked about this before, but definitely entering Pitch Wars. Not only was my book not even remotely ready for a contest like that, but the feedback I got was so negative that it sent me into a depression that I'm honestly not sure I've 100% recovered from. I've gotten back into my book several times since then, I've gained and lost the passion over and over again, but I think that was what started it. 
I mean, I'm so traumatized from the whole thing that I have "Pitch Wars" muted on Twitter. I don't ever want to hear a single thing about it ever again. 

My insecurities this month are slightly related. There isn't any specific reason for it, but when it comes to writing, or really being creative at all, I feel like I've lost my mojo. 

I just feel like I don't have a creative bone in my body right now. I have no desire to work on ANY writing, not just UL. That drive just isn't there. I know life has been tough lately, too, between work being extremely stressful (short staff for months and Covid is only getting worse), having to put Gizmo down in October, two deaths in my husband's family, and just the fact that anxiety and depression are issues I already struggled with, certainly not helped by everything that's been going on. 

I still feel optimistic sometimes. I like to be silly (see above gif). I try not to get weighed down with heavy things. I try to leave work stress at work. Hubby and I and have been having nice date nights by going to the movies and dinner, but I'm starting to feel nervous about going out in public again. So many people at my work are testing positive and we're all vaccinated. I also eat my feelings so I have been gaining more weight than I'd like. 

I just haven't been even thinking about writing lately. And between losing that and my cat, I feel like I've lost my social media identity. My Twitter was all about writing, Instagram all about the cat. It's so hard to figure out what to post now. I feel lost. 

I'm taking things one day at a time, though. I don't want to pressure myself too much and feel overwhelemd. My only writing goals this week were to write this post, do my co-hosting duties, and visit other blogs on my reading list or who comment on my post. In the past I would have tacked on a bunch more writing related goals for the week, but I think this is enough. Next week, I'll pick something else. 

My favorite saying has become "one thing at a time." When you're thinking of all the million things you want or need to get done that you think your brain is going to explode, just focus on what the very next step is. Then the next one, and so on. It's really helped my stress at work when I feel overwhelmed, and I think it could work for everything else in life, too. Don't focus on tomorrow if it's too much for you. Just worry about today.