Wednesday, June 29, 2022

June Writing Update

June was another slow month for me writing-wise. Part of that is because I still have so many household chores when I get home from work that I generally don't get to my computer until eight-thirty or nine at night. (These chores can involve preparing three different meals since everyone eats something different, washing and drying dishes, cleaning appliances as needed, making lunch for work, setting the table for breakfast, setting things out for evening smoothies, and cleaning up after the smoothies are made. That isn't a complete list.) By that point, it's hard to pants a plot into existence (since it's hard these days to pre-plot/think about stories in my head before getting to the laptop). However, I did manage to write and submit a short story (less than 3,000 words) for an anthology about librarians, so I wasn't entirely unsuccessful. We'll see how it goes. A couple of markets I'm eyeing for completed short works will open in July, so I plan to submit to them.

I've been mostly working on the Season Avatars short story collection. Currently, I've been working on a short story featuring Kay, but I find myself blocked and thinking I need to start over with a different plot.

I haven't done anything lately with revising Restaurants and Revenge. I don't feel that the ending quite works yet. Maybe I need to reread that part of the story (I should have some time for that over the holiday weekend), or maybe I should just find a couple of beta readers. I'm still looking for people who will finish the story and give me useful feedback on it. 

I hope your writing is going better than mine. Hopefully next month I'll have more to post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Semiannual Reading Update

I usually post a semiannual reading update at the end of June, but I'll post it a little early this year so I can talk about writing next week. I track all books I finish in all formats. My challenge this year is to read 150 books, which is about what I read last year. With 82 books under my belt, I'm well ahead of schedule. (I tend to lose ground during the summer, so it's good I'm ahead for now.) How do I read so much? I make time for it, and I replace other activities (like watching TV) with reading. Cozy mysteries, my favorite genre lately, can be short and fast-paced, so some of them only take two or three hours to read. 

Here's the genre breakdown:

Fantasy: 10

Science Fiction: 4

Cozy Mysteries: 48

Other Fiction: 5

Non-Fiction: 15

Many of the mysteries I read have a paranormal element, but I count them as mystery instead of fantasy.

Here are a few of my favorites so far:

Meet Me in Another Life

The Dawn of Everything

A Spindle Splintered

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld (a reread)

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics

 What are your favorite books so far this year?

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Twenty Year Anniversary!

Sunday is a special day. Not only is it Father's Day, it's also my mother's 90th birthday. (I plan to visit her this Friday with my son.) It's also the twentieth anniversary of my start date with the company I work for. I started in R&D, was transferred to QC for a few years, and wound in QA, which is where I still am. (I tell new employees I hope I don't end up in Logistics or Sales next, since I'm not suitable for either of those departments.) Hopefully I'll be able to continue working there until I'm ready to retire!

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Mid-Month Mysteries: Author Nancy Warren

I decided to change the Mid-Month Mysteries blog series to focus on individual authors instead of books with specific subjects. Let's start with one of my favorite cozy mystery authors, Nancy Warren. She's a best-selling mystery and romance author who's currently writing several cozy mystery series. These series are typically set in England and feature a witch as heroine. I first discovered her work with The Vampire Knitting Club. The heroine, Lucy, runs a knitting shop that her grandmother used to own, even though Lucy is a terrible knitter. Vampires meet there weekly to knit and help her solve mysteries. Despite Lucy's struggles with knitting and witchcraft, I really liked her as a heroine and am disappointed that the series seems to have finished after thirteen books. The Vampire Book Club is set in the same fictional universe as the Vampire Knitting Club and follows the same general premise: a witch runs a shop and works with vampires to solve crimes. Quinn, the heroine of this series, is older and a more experienced witch who is banished to Ireland for misusing her magic. I admit I'm not as fond of her as I am of Lucy. Warren has two more cozy mysteries series that I've read: The Great Witches Baking Show and Village Flower Shop. The first series is set in a cozy village, which is described so well it makes me want to visit. This series is also complete. The Village Flower Shop is a new series (only one book out so far).

What I like about Warren's mysteries is her settings. She crafts inviting settings that you want to spend time in. Add in interesting mysteries and a touch of magic, and it's no wonder she's a best-selling author.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

June IWSG: When the Writing Gets Tough...


Here we are again at the beginning of another month and another post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Learn more about them on their website, Facebook page, and Twitter

Our hosts this month are SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray

Here's our question for this month: When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If [you] have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

This is a tough question to answer because there are so many possible reasons for the writing not going well. For example, if I have a great idea for the opening of a story but don't know how it'll end, I'll soon start floundering around. Perhaps I don't know enough about a subject to know what details to include or if something is feasible. There could be personal distractions affecting my focus or simply a lack of time/energy for the story. If you can correctly identify the problem, then it's easier to figure out the solution. 

The wording of this story implies that the best solution for writing problems is to push through the writing. Sometimes, however, I feel it's better to set a story aside, at least temporarily. I admit I have a couple of half-completed works in my science fiction Catalyst Chronicles series that have been shelved for years. One of them is told by a Native American teen, and I don't feel I know enough about her background to do it justice. (Plus, I lost focus on the plot.) The other story meandered into side plots, and I felt stuck on it because I had planned to write the Native American teen's story first. It might be best for the series if I discard the first story (which was planned as a short story set between two novels) and tell the other one (the next novel and a major turning point in the series) anyway.

As far as the second question goes (not starting a story), I think that can have many causes. One thing I've noticed as I've continued to write is that there are three different series in three different genres that I want to work on, but I don't have enough time for all of them. Currently I'm trying to focus on editing my cozy mystery, Restaurants and Revenge, and finish drafting stories for a fantasy collection to be called The Season Between. These series are priorities for me because they're more marketable than the Catalyst Chronicles series and because I'm also internally driven to work on them. Inner drive or grit is part of the answer to both questions, as grit will help you overcome internal and external obstacles.

What causes your toughest writing problems, and how do you overcome them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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