Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Wishes

David, my brother, asked me to pass on his thanks for everyone's support with his efforts to raise money for prostate cancer. My 'Making a Difference' post has the details about his efforts. He still has a long way to go, so if you could share this link,, or consider donating a small amount, that would be awesome. Again, thank you so very much.

Also the health concerns I had a couple of months ago are now officially over after I was given the all clear. Yay! Thank you for your prayers and well wishes. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. The IWSG Team has also passed on their Christmas wishes over at our website.

I will return for the first IWSG posting in the New Year, Wednesday 7th January.

What will you be doing over Christmas? (pop on over to the IWSG site to find out what I'll be doing)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Making a Difference

There are many things we do that make a difference in this life. Often they are underestimated, such as a smile or a word of encouragement. My brother, David, has recently decided to make a difference early next year by helping the people of a small village in South America and at the same time, raising money for prostate cancer.

His trip sounds amazing. Over two weeks in Peru! During that time, he’ll spend a few days in a village to provide help to the locals in the form of teaching, helping out around the village, and the medical people going along will do vaccinations. He’ll also trek up to Machu Picchu. As exciting as the trek sounds (I’ve always wanted to visit that ancient, spectacular ruin), I honestly think he will gain the most from his time in the village. There is no substitute to helping others.

If you’d like to help David raise money for prostate cancer, then click here:

You can also help by sharing the link.

None of the money donated will go to David or his trip. All of it will go to the Mater Foundation for prostate cancer research.

What was a special, little thing that someone did to make a difference to you? Have you ever travelled to Peru or some other remote place?

Photo: I'm sad to say, I did not take this photo. It's by Hernan Irastorza

Monday, December 1, 2014

Now Available: The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond #IWSG

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Guide to Publishing and Beyond

Now Available!!!
And it's FREE!!!

Happy days!

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey.

Barnes and Noble

Be a part of the IWSG:
WebsiteFacebook GroupFacebook Critique Circle Group

*NOTE: If Amazon still isn't offering the book for free (we've been on their case about it for a while now) then you can get your free kindle edition from Smashwords.
Because of certain unexpected factors, I won't be able to post on Wednesday. This will be my IWSG post. Mainly I just wanted to say how excited I am about our book finally launching after months of hard work, writing, editing, collating, formatting. (I've lost count how many times I've read through it). While the IWSG team put it together--including Alex J Cavanaugh, Michelle Wallace, L Diane Wolfe, J L Campbell, Susan Gourley/Kelley, Joylene Nowell Butler and yours truly, Lynda R Young--it's a book that wouldn't have been possible without the generosity, enthusiasm and talent from our long list of contributors. You can all be super proud of this publication.

A big thank you to all the members of the IWSG who have made this group what it is today. You guys are truly awesome.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Importance of Taking a Break from Writing

As some of you know, I've been away for the last two weeks. I completely unplugged from the internet and went on a trip to get away from everything. What did I do? I went on a cruise. And wow, what a cruise.

Hubby and I went to the South Pacific Islands and pretty much did nothing the whole time. Having no access to friends and easy information via the net felt strange, but soon we reveled in the joy of sunshine and relaxation.

I had planned to catch up on a mountain of reading and maybe a little writing. Instead I slept. A lot. Sheer bliss. No pressure to think up new stories, fix old ones, achieve, produce, or make and maintain connections. No push. No rush.

Initially that familiar sense of guilt nagged on my thoughts. I should be writing, or in the least, reading! There's ample opportunity. Then I decided to sweep that guilt away. The result? Now that I'm back, I find myself  full of creativity and bursting at the seams with fresh ideas and a renewed passion.

My advice to anyone struggling with a lack-luster creative drive, take that break. Not a partial, semi-break, but a full and proper break where you take away all the pressures and just be wonderful to yourself.

When was the last time you took a proper break? What do you do to be wonderful to yourself?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Confidence in Creativity #IWSG #GCAP14

As some of you know, because I’ve delved into the game development world, starting up my own indie game studio, I attended a gaming conference in Melbourne last week. Technically it was two conferences, but the one I’m focusing on today is the Game Connect Asia Pacific 2014 (GCAP)  The final keynote speaker was Rami Ismail, game developer ‘and business guy’ from Vlambeer, a Dutch indie game studio. As the final keynote speaker, he gave an awesome talk about confidence in creativity. Because a lot of what he said can be translated for any creative pursuit, writing included, I’m going to share the gist of his talk here for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

First he explained what confidence is and isn’t: It’s an internal force. It’s about trusting your choices. It’s not about pushing anything on anyone. It’s not about arrogance, exaggeration, or lying.

While it’s intimidating to talk about our work, it helps to know that normal doesn’t exist. We’re all weird in our own special way and that’s interesting.

Likewise we have to believe in what we create. Find the passion for what we do by asking ourselves why we started the project in the first place. Stopping at, “Because I love it,” is a mistake. Dig deeper and find the fundamental truths about your game/story/creation. Then communicate what you are excited about with your work. This will help you stay motivated to finish the project and it will help you with marketing once it’s out there.

There is no way to improve except to try and possibly fail. Dare to be vulnerable.

As you can imagine, the whole room was buzzed by his talk. I certainly felt newly inspired for my own creativity and I hope to hold onto that motivation for a long while.

What motivates you with your creativity? What conferences have you recently attended that gave you a fresh insight and boost to your motivation?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month.

To join the group or find out more, click here.

Photo: Sunset on the first night in Melbourne.

Note: For the next two weeks, starting this weekend, I will be unplugged so you won't see me around the blogsphere, the twitterverse, or the and I won't be able to answer any emails either. Yikes! I'll share what I've been up to on Monday 24th.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cake and Writing Confidence

Today I'm over at the IWSG website with a post about Finding the Confidence to Write what You Love. I'd love to see you over there.

Today is also Holly Sinclair's Foodie Blog Hop. There's so much I could write about food but managed to narrow it down to wedding cake.
My hubby and I got married in 1999. It was a small wedding with only 50 guests. We did as much as we could ourselves: the invitations, the order of service, the bombonieres. We weren't up for making our own cake, but when we walked into bakeries or patisseries and mentioned we were interested in a wedding cake, eyes lit up. We couldn't believe the prices. All I wanted was chocolate mud cake. How much could a mud cake cost? Put the word wedding in front of it and the price sky-rocketed. So we built one ourselves. Keeping 'wedding' from our vocabulary, we bought one large cake and one smaller one. We then went to the local craft shop and bought some ribbon and gold roses. Ta-da! A wedding cake! I think it cost us $45 total rather than $800. Best tasting wedding cake ever!

Thank you to everyone for the prayers and hugs last week. I'm still going through medical issues. It's a waiting game now, so continued prayer would be awesome.

Don't forget it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group day on Wednesday. Yikes it's November already! If you'd like to be a part of an awesome, supportive group and haven't signed up yet, click here.

And don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website.

What's your dream wedding cake? What's the best cake you've ever tasted? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Books, Books, Glorious Books

It's time to celebrate many book releases and cover reveals, but first, an update for The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond:

The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond
As some of you know, this book has been a lot of hard work editing, proof-reading, collating, formatting. We are super thrilled about it. As a team, we even conquered the synopsis. It's coming together in an exciting way. The articles from over 100 writers across the globe are brilliant, informative, inspiring. There's still a lot yet to be done, but we're on track for the December release!

We even have a snazzy trailer for the book, created by HJ Blenkinsop. 

A Lizard's Tail by Bish Denham
When a feral cat threatens the lives of all who live at Stone Wall, Marvin knows his destiny has finally arrived. But how can a young, vain lizard get rid of such a dangerous enemy?

Paperback, Kindle

Vitamins and Death by Medeia Sharif
YA Contemporary, Prizm Books
Release Date December 10, 2014

Find Medeia:
Blog | Instagram | Twitter

Gears of Brass, a Steampunk Anthology
Release Date: November 10, 2014

Congrats to SA Larsen for her story 'Time Spun Souls' which is included in this anthology.

Soulless by Crystal Collier
New Release
Book 2 of the Maiden of Time series.

Kindle, Paperback

For the last three weeks I've been going through some personal/medical stuff that has been super draining so I haven't been around much. My apologies. It's not over. Unfortunately. Sigh. While it's not life-threatening, it is still something that requires unfun tests and waiting and if I'm unlucky, then surgery. Joy. On a high note, I'll be going to a gaming conference next week. A timely distraction. So I won't be posting again until November 3rd. Prayers and virtual hugs are welcome.

Are you excited about these books? What other books are you excited about? What have you been reading recently?

Monday, September 29, 2014

That Semicolon is Killing Me #IWSG

A sign at the local coffee shop had me giggling and wincing at the same time. It read:

Dear Customers;
EFTPOS is temporarily unavailable.
Sorry for the convenience

The owners of the shop may have heard my guffaw because, not a minute later, the sign was taken down and a new one put up. Convenience was changed to inconvenience. But the semicolon remained. It made me squirm as if I had a tick in my eye.

Do you have trouble ignoring the bad grammar or punctuation around you? Do you correct presenters on TV shows, rewrite sentences while reading published books, chuckle at dodgy sentence structure on goods? Have you influenced your non-writing family member enough that he or she also corrects the bad grammar?

If you’ve said yes to any of these questions, then I have bad news for you: You are cursed. Yes, cursed. There’s no going back to being blissfully unaware of typos, comma splices, or dangling modifiers. You are doomed to annoy your friends (or bite your tongue a lot), fated to spend hours nit-picking over your work, ruined for the rest of your literary life.

The good news is, you’ve also been blessed. Why? Because you are a writer, and being a writer is the best thing in the world. Go on, you can admit it. It’s safe here.

What are some of the funniest mistakes you’ve made or seen? How do you survive the errors everywhere?

This post was written for the IWSG Group. We post on the first Wednesday of the month. Sign up is HERE.

I’m posting early because I wanted to remind everyone about the impending deadline for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond. It’s chugging toward us at a rapid pace. Not the book, but the deadline for submissions, which is October 2nd. We’re looking for articles on writing, publishing and marketing. For the guidelines, click HERE.

While we prefer email submissions, TheIWSG[at]gmail[dot]com, if you are submitting via your blog, then make sure to use the book sign up sheet so we don't miss your awesome work.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Motivation to Write

Being on a diet, I’m a little obsessed with food and have been craving something extravagant, my favourite indulgence being seafood platters. I turned to hubby and said, “When I get my book published, I’m going to take us out to some fancy restaurant with the money I earn.” He said, “So you’ll be ordering a scallop then?”

Ah, yes, he understands most of us don’t write for the money. We can, of course, dream and work toward achievable goals. If money were my sole goal, then I probably would’ve stopped writing a long time ago.  

What motivates you most to write?

Out now: How I Found the Write Path, compiled by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo. This is a compilation of letters to our past selves, sharing the secrets of the writing trade. With over sixty authors around the world contributing to the book, it’s well worth the read. I have the honour of my letter being included as well. So go grab yourself a free copy today.

Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, Txtr, Scribd

The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond
Once again I’d like to thank everyone who has already sent in their submission for the book. If you haven’t already sent in anything, then your deadline is October 2nd. You can find the details here.

Important note: In the interests of copyright laws, we request you don’t use any direct quotes from other published writers unless you know without doubt it's in the public domain eg Shakespeare.

So far we’ve received a lot of submissions on writing, which is fantastic, but we’d also love to see more entries on publishing and marketing so we get a good balance for the book.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is Self-Publishing for You? And Secrets of Honor

Today I'm over at the IWSG Website with an article about whether or not self-publishing is for you. Please pop on over. I'd love to see you there.

Today is the official Secrets of Honor release day. Yay, Carol!

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of the first lady’s dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.

Available on Kindle and Paperback
Thanks to Mark Noce and Sittie for the Versatile Blogger Award. As part of accepting the award, I'm supposed to share 7 things about myself: I love God, garlic, friendship, my gorgeous husband, story writing, reading, and sunlight. 

Congrats to Mark for his two book deal as well!! How awesome is that?!

A note about the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond: We've already received some fabulous submissions. Keep 'em coming! Your deadline is October 2nd. I'd like to encourage every member of the group to consider contributing to the book, even if you aren't currently published yet. What better way to get started?

Don't forget to pop on over to the IWSG Website.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

An Exciting IWSG Announcement

It's the IWSG Anniversary! Yay us!

Today marks three years since the very first IWSG post. Next month marks one year since the IWSG site and Facebook group opened. And we’d like you to help us celebrate!
The IWSG Team is putting together an eBook that will benefit all writers: The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond. And we invite all IWSG members, Facebook members, and followers to contribute.

The details:
The three topics will be writing, publishing, and marketing.

Each contribution needs to be between 200 and 1000 words. Focus on one of those three aspects and give us your best tip or procedure. The essay can include bullet points, top ten lists, and recommendations. (Websites, software, books, etc.)

You can either post it for your October 1 IWSG post or email it directly. TheIWSG[at] or alexjcavanaugh[at] (Since the length can go over the standard IWSG post length.) Include a one sentence byline and a link to your site. Also state that you give us permission to use it in the book and which topic it falls under. (We will only edit for misspellings and grammar mistakes.)

All submissions need to be sent or posted by October 2, 2014. We will compile them into an eBook and aim for an early December release. The book will be free and available for all eReaders.

Thank you for making the IWSG such a huge success!!

A big thank you to Elizabeth Varadan for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

Another big thank you to M Pax. On Crystal Collier's blog, I won two of Mary's ebooks, The Rifters and The Initiate. Apparently I'm the very first to receive a copy of the Initiate. It's so new, it's still smoking. I'm super excited to read both.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bits and Bobs and Some Other Meanderings

In my last post about the prejudices within a writer, I seemed to have struck a chord. Consequently, I received many thoughtful comments. One stood out for me and I wanted to share. It was from Carol Riggs: "Readers enjoy all types of books--not everything has to mean something profound. Isn't having readers enjoy a book a profound experience in itself, w/o having to change the world and be on the NYT bestseller list? I think so!" I think so too! Thanks, Carol and everyone who took the time to leave a comment. I appreciate all of them.

I won a $10 Amazon gift voucher from C Lee McKenzie as part of her Double Negative Tour. A big thank you to Lee! If you haven't picked up your copy of her latest YA book, do so today!

I recently read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. So far this is my absolute favourite book I've read this year. Wow, the voice is amazing, the story wonderful. I loved everything about it. Clearly, I need to read more MGs if this is the kind of gem I'll find. No surprises, the book won a Newbery award.

A $25 juicer from Kmart is my new friend (for however long it will last). Yes, I'm cheap. I'd wanted a juicer for a while but they all cost ridiculous prices when I wasn't sure I'd love it. Well, it turns out, I love it. Above is a pic of my more daring blend: kale, cucumber, apple and ginger. Yum. So far, my favourite blend is the good ole orange, apple and ginger combo. Tonight I might try carrot, fennel and ginger. Have you gone juice crazy? What weird combos have you tried (made or bought)?

I also recently mentioned my computer crashed big time. Well, I'm happy to say my tech-savvy husband got it up and running like new again. My game project is back on track. Woot.

Because I'm super busy with writing along with game development, I'll be back to post again on the first Wednesday of September for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. My favourite group! In the meanwhile, happy reading and writing!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Prejudices within the Writer #IWSG

The community of writers is a special one. It’s full of insane, generous people who have chosen writing as a pastime—or perhaps writing chose them. However, we’re not immune to prejudices—mostly against ourselves.

There’s a common belief that there are classes of writing. The good, the bad and the ugly. The literary, the genre and the first draft. Like all prejudices, they only damage. Not all writing needs to change the world. Not all of it needs to dig deep to uncover truths meant to change a person’s life. And not all of it needs to be perfect at every stage.

I’m a genre writer, my favourite being anything speculative. In some circles, science fiction and fantasy lack a certain kudos that literary works hold. Romance writers seem to be on the back foot as well and let’s not talk about the poor horror writers. Not only that, it’s easy to get fooled into thinking you’ll never be good enough, never get noticed by a publisher, and certainly never hit the bestsellers lists. That only happens to the lucky people.

Well, excuse my language, but pish posh to prejudices! Don’t let yourself lose focus. When I returned to the roots of why I started writing in the first place, I was suddenly okay with being a genre writer.

Writing is a form of expression that’s crucial to my sanity. It doesn’t matter what type of stories I create. It doesn’t matter that my work won’t turn into classics for generations to come. All I need to do is cast aside the damaging prejudices that are both contagious and toxic, and write what I love.

How about you?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. To join or check it out, click HERE.

Also we, at the IWSG, have a special announcement for the IWSG anniversary coming up. Stay tuned!! (Psst, it's super exciting).

And for those of you who have joined the IWSG Facebook Group, we've turned Fridays into promo day when you can share your links to your books, blogs or whatever you'd like to promote, or simply share any great news you might have.

Note: my main computer died (thus no pics in this post). The harddrive went boom. I'm not a happy camper. Luckily I can write anywhere (yay for crappy old laptops). Unluckily, however, it means my game project is on hold. Sigh. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Championing Your Story plus Transformers Review

Today's post is over at the IWSG. It's offering tips to help you be your best champion for your stories. I'd love to see you over there.

A quick Transformer's Review:
Yep, I dragged myself out into the cold Aussie winter and checked out Transformers 4. It's a true giggle-fest and all for the wrong reasons.

Sounds and music: awesome

Acting: Hmmm

Dialogue: So bad that I laughed in places I wasn't supposed to laugh.

Special effects: the destruction of anything and everything was impressive. Big thumbs up. However there were some dodgy green screen effects that could've used some attention.

Character development: none

Plot: holier than a holy thing on a holy day.

Final word: Switch off your brain and go see it. Despite its massive flaws, I had a good time. Probably because I expected little except things-go-boom and that's exactly what I got.

Seen any good (or bad) movies recently? Don't forget to pop on over to the IWSG.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dealing with Inevitable Setbacks #IWSG

Big news: I worked out how to open and close a door. Pretty awesome, huh? Okay, so I'm not talking about a regular door. I'm talking about a door on a skyship hovering above the clouds many years from now. Sound slightly more awesome now?

As some of you know, I've been working on a Mystery Project. I can now tell you I'm diving head first into the indie games industry. It's both exciting and challenging all at once. As I've mentioned in a previous post, the learning curve is massive, even though I have a background in 3D animation.

I had hoped to show you some polished screenshots by now, but I hit a monstrous setback. Testing revealed I needed to change my processes. That meant tossing most of what I'd done so far, setting aside everything I'd learned and focusing on a whole new way of achieving my goals—like opening doors. Sigh.

When faced with setbacks like this, it's easy to wallow and whine, to think it's all too hard. The same goes for when we're faced with massive rewrites to fix our manuscripts. Or when we're faced with the possibility that we can't go any further with that particular story and it's time to put it in a drawer to clear the way for a new story.

I'm a firm believer that no writing is wasted writing. No art is wasted art. No learning is wasted learning. While initially I did feel like I'd gone backwards with my indie games project, I soon realised I'd only go backwards if I gave up.

What setbacks have you had to face lately? How have you overcome them?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month.

To join the group or find out more, click here.

Picture: One of my unfinished corridors. No texture on anything except the door so far. But the door does open. Woot!


Friday, June 13, 2014

Then and Now

Today The Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson and Nancy Mock are hosting the 'Then and Now' bloghop. It's about whether or not our favourite films from when we were kids have stood the test of time. I chose two. One that didn't lose it's shine and one that did.

The NeverEnding Story
Going to the movies was one of my favourite pastimes as a kid. I almost always went with my friends, but occasionally I'd go with my mum, especially if the movie was considered a kid's movie, which we secretly loved. At that time, anything kiddy was out and anything slightly geekish was even more out. The NeverEnding Story was both kiddy and geeky. So this was the first movie I ever went to see on my own.

I loved it. I suspect I loved it more because, being all adult-like, I saw it on my own. Then I went to a very un-adult birthday party where us kids played games like digging for chocolate in a pile of flour while our hands were tied behind our back. The topic of the movie came up at the party. My best friend piped up, jumping with excitement, 'I want to see that movie!' Holy Geek, Batman! It was suddenly okay to be odd. Yep, I loved that movie.

Now that I'm well and truly settled in my geekiness, the movie doesn't have the same magic it once did. I still love kid's movies, but this one leans slightly toward trying too hard. Perhaps it's the feeling I get of being told a message. The sets are still magical, the general storyline still great, but it has lost some of its lustre.

The Dark Crystal
A similar style of movie as The NeverEnding Story, The Dark Crystal is another fantasy meant for a young audience. The difference is, this one was as glorious then as it is now. It has story, humour, a feast for the eyes with lush hand-built sets, nail-biting conflicts and memorable characters. And it was done using puppets (I refuse to call them muppets). What can I say? Best animated* film of all time.

What movies have stood the test of time for you? Which movies haven't?

*Okay, so it's not technically animated, but what would you call a puppet movie?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Overcoming the Sense of Failure as a Writer #IWSG

The deep dark certainty we've somehow failed as writers is a common ailment we all get at some point in our writing career. It's part of who we are and why we write in the first place. But just because it's as common as a wart doesn't mean we have to put up with it. There are a number of ways to overcome that horrible sense of having failed as a writer. The first and most important way is:

Don't see it as failure.
You know that tenth, fiftieth, one hundredth rejection letter you're holding in your shaking hands? That isn't failure. Instead it's another stone that's been turned on a beach full of possibilities. You know that paragraph/chapter/story that's refusing to write? That isn't failure either. It's a challenge to accept, a chance to rethink, a puzzle to solve.

Mistakes and mess happen, especially when we're writing a first draft. Even when we've reached a tenth draft. The process of writing is a long, slow and messy one. We have to dig in and get our hands dirty to find a treasure. The first try is bound to turn up a wonky throw-away. It's okay, though. We can tweak, adjust, and fix until that baby shines. Or we can toss it and start over. It's just part of the process and doesn't somehow make us failures as writers.

Make failure work for you.
Say you've failed to achieve a goal. A wholesome wallow can be good for the soul. So do your wallowing, maybe eat some chocolate. But don't let the dark depths drown you. Stand up, dust yourself off and get to business. I don't mean blindly charge forward, gritting your teeth in determination until the next fall. I mean, get to the business of dissecting the failure. Ask yourself where you might've tripped up so you don't trip on the same pebble again. Learn where your weaknesses lurk. Then actively work toward strengthening those areas.

Do the same for your successes. Don't simply celebrate and move on. Analyse why you might've succeeded. Why was this time different? You might be tempted to think you were simply lucky. While luck can have a small amount to do with success, it's never the whole story, nor even the main story. If you spend the time to uncover the cogs turning behind your successes, then you'll be more likely to make success happen again.

There's so much more to writing than sticking to schedules and following the rules. We are complex creatures who feed on creativity and wild extremes of emotion. Writing helps us make sense of the chaos. So the only time we fail is when we quit writing.

What are some mistakes you've learned from?

Photo: A photo I took a few years ago in a cave on the south coast of Australia.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month. 

To join the group or find out more, click here

Monday, June 2, 2014

4 Ways to Sift Through Writing Advice

There's a plethora of writing advice out there in bookstores, on the internet, at writing conferences, in critique groups, within the circle of family and friends. We are surrounded by well-intentioned people with opinions on how we should write. Some of the advice is sound, some of it contradictory, some baffling and some seems to make sense but you're not so sure a few months later. To find out how you can sift through all that information to know which advice to follow, click on over to the IWSG website where my post is today.

I'd also like to share Carol Kilgore's exciting cover reveal. I love this cover!

Coming September 2014

You can connect with Carol and her books here:
blog . website . facebook . twitter . goodreads . amazon

Congrats to Mark Noce who has a fabulous short story, "Meet Me at the Waterfront" on Every Day Fiction. It's well worth the read so pop on over.

Last week I forgot to mention the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Milestone. I don't know how I forgot. The IWSG Facebook group hit the amazing milestone of one thousand members! We're up to 1081 now! Big thanks to everyone who have made this possible.

Just a reminder about the IWSG Facebook Guidelines:

1. Since the focus of IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

2. You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSG'ers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges, with the rest of the group. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some lurk for a long time, before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

3. News and Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly. 

After all this exciting news, don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website! I'd love to see you over there.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How I found the Write Path

Today's post is brought to you via the special blogfest, How I Found the Write Path, hosted by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo. The Prompt: Write a letter to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. Details here.

Dear Younger Self,

You know how you hope you'll make a huge success of yourself, buy a mansion with an ocean view from your earnings as a bestselling author, and won't be able to walk down the street without being accosted by fans begging for your autograph? Good news: You can still walk down the street without getting mobbed by fans. Go you! Bad news: You didn't become an author until much, much later in life. Why? Because you quit. Dumbest thing you ever did.

Writing in dribbles--a couple of paragraphs a month or a handful of pages here and there--will mean it'll take you nine years to finish your first novel. Seriously, girl? You want to take nine years to write a book? Waiting for inspiration is one of your first mistakes, though not your biggest.

Your biggest mistake, apart from quitting, was having a totally skewed idea of what it takes to get published. You didn't do the research, you didn't put in the hours, and you gave up before you hit any kind of momentum. Surprise, surprise, there's a business side to writing if you want to get published. It's not easy for a dreamer like you, but neither is it impossible. Remember that.

Here's what you're getting right:
You are reading a lot. That's the best thing you can do so keep reading. Don't turn your nose at different genres. Read anything you can get your hands on. Even non-fiction. You'll notice a difference in your writing when you expand your exposure to a variety of styles and story types.

You are currently fearless when it comes to writing. Hold onto that fearlessness. You'll need it when you start reading How-To books on the craft or sharing your work with others outside your family. That's when you'll start to think you are doing it all wrong and the first doubts will come nipping at your ankles. Continue to write what you love, not what you think other people will love.

Here's what you could improve on:
Write every day. Don't be afraid to draw up a writing schedule. It might seem regimental to your creative self, but you'll revel in it. Same goes with outlining. Get over the fantasy that outlining is somehow less organic and creative, and give it a go already. You'll thank me later. Write more short stories to hone your skills. Attend more workshops. Find a critique group and enjoy the support and encouragement of other writers. Only other writers can truly understand what it's like to be a writer.

One last piece of advice: Write down your ideas. No matter how certain you'll remember those ideas, trust me when I say, you won't.

And, whatever you do, don't quit, you big goose!

Lynda R Young
Author of speculative short stories and YA novels.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When the Project becomes the Mountain #IWSG #b3d

Since today is the first Wednesday of the month, it's IWSG Day. Time to post about our writing insecurities or encourage others. Normally I go the encouragement route, but for today, I thought I'd visit the scary side: an insecurity I'm currently harbouring. Eek.

It's about my Mystery Project, the one I've called my non-writing project, only it does include writing. A different kind of writing. And a bunch of other stuff that's sending me slightly insane.

So what's this Mystery Project all about? Well, I can say there are no ducks involved, or any mysterious elixirs brewed under a full moon. I'm not ready to say exactly what it is, but it does involve 3D art and animation.

As some of you know, I was a 3D animator and graphic designer in another life. My program of choice for the art was 3ds Max. It's one of the industry standards for professional work. However, it costs around six grand. That was fine when a company provided the program. Alas, I no longer have access to it. That means learning a whole new 3D program. Double eek!

I'd heard good things about Blender. It's a free 3D package which can be used for commercial work. Anyone can download it and have a play. While it lacks some of the nifty time-saving features of 3ds Max, it still does everything I need. And the images I can generate from this package have the potential to be spectacular.

So I set myself up with Blender, just one of the new programs I'm going to have to learn for my Mystery Project.

A screen shot of me fumbling around in Blender. All this for a pipe!
Insert insecurities: It's been a few years since I'd dabbled in 3D so I soon realised how rusty I'd become. Turns out the keyboard shortcuts in Blender are completely different to 3ds Max. But I still remember the Max shortcuts (three deadpan cheers for muscle memory), which means I'm moving meshes when I want to pan the scene, or doing who-knows-what when I want to change the view, among other things. I feel like a noob all over again, taking hours to create objects rather than mere minutes.

Am I taking on more than I can handle? This is a question I'm asking myself on a daily basis. I'm still excited about the project. Ultimately it will even help my writing. So that's a major plus. Over time I'll get the hang of it—already, I've started to speed up—but in the meanwhile, I need to remember to take baby steps and celebrate the little victories.

What daunting tasks have you taken on? How did you find the reserves to complete those tasks?

#IWSG #b3d

Monday, April 28, 2014

SNIP, SNIP REVENGE by Medeia Sharif

In the thick of writing, along with that mysterious non-writing project I'm attempting, I wasn't going to blog until May's Insecure Writer's Support Group post. But for Medeia, I've come out of hiding--and the crazy brain-meltiness that is the mystery project--to bring you her new release:

SNIP, SNIP REVENGE by Medeia Sharif

YA Contemporary, Evernight Teen

Release Date April 25, 2014

Beautiful, confident Tabby Karim has plans for the winter: nab a role in her school’s dramatic production, make the new boy Michael hers, and keep bigoted Heather—with her relentless Ay-rab comments—at bay. When a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. The fastest barber in Miami Beach has made her look practically bald. 

With all her pretty hair gone, Tabby doesn’t believe she fits the feminine role she’s auditioning for. Michael is still interested in her, but he’s playing it cool. Heather has taken to bullying her online, which is easier to do with Tabby’s ugly haircut. Tabby spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until all of her problems deepen. After messing up, she sets to make things right.

Author Bio
I’m a Kurdish-American author who was born in New York City, and I presently call Miami my home. I received my master’s degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. After becoming a voracious reader in high school and a relentless writer dabbling in many genres in college, I found my niche writing for young people. Today I'm a MG and YA writer published through various presses. In addition to being a writer, I'm a middle school English teacher. My memberships include Mensa, ALAN, and SCBWI.

Find Medeia

Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Writer's Tool: Observation

For the April A-Z Challenge I've written about a writer's tool: observation. You can read it over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group. I'd love to see you over there.

Lately I haven't had the time to join many blogfests, but this blogfest caught my eye. Co-compiled by Carrie Butler and PK Hrezo, How I Found the Write Path is an exciting project aimed to help and encourage writers everywhere. The end result will be a collaborative eBook which will be free to download. 

Write a letter/note to yourself when you first started writing toward publication. Keep it under 800 words, including as many (or as few) of these elements as you like:
   - A lesson you learned the hard way
   - Something you didn’t expect about the industry (positive/negative)
   - A writing-related resource you could never do without now
   - One thing you’d change about your journey
   - One thing you’re glad you did
   - Your number one tip for pursuing publication
   - Anything else you feel is worth passing on 
Then post during the week of May 19th. For more information or to sign up, click HERE

And don't forget to visit me over at the IWSG website

Please note, as mentioned in my last post, I won't be around as much for the next couple of weeks (at least) due to my Mystery Project. More on that later. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Good habits of Successful Writers

For the April A-Z Challenge I've written a short list of the good habits of successful writers. You can read it over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Thanks: I recently won a kindle edition of Melting the Ice Queen's Heart. A big thanks to Amy Ruttan, the author, and to Nas Dean at Romance Book Haven. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Project update: As some of you know, I've taken on a huge non-writing project while I'm still writing. I'm not ready to say exactly what this project is until I have something to show for it. However, I'm still super excited, I'm learning heaps, and I'm re-learning heaps more. I'm sorry I haven't been around as much. I hope you'll all understand. I'm still popping around when I can, though.

What have you been up to recently? Has the A-Z challenge kept you busy? 

I hope to see you over at the IWSG to check out the good habits of successful writers.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How to be Patient with your Writing Career

One of the core triggers for a writer’s insecurity is impatience. There’s a certain desperation to become published. We catch the dream with visions of bestsellers lists, book signings and our book with a snappy cover and our names written across the jacket. This dream, when we let it bloat into the realm of unrealistic timings and overinflated goals, can become our downfall.

This writing dream is a distant location with a long and often arduous journey to get there. We forget the travel and decide all we want is the destination. We want to be a writer more than we want to write.

We forget the joy of writing, the pure pleasure of creating something from nothing, the magic of conjuring worlds and characters, evoking emotions in others, being able to touch people with a poignant scene, to make them laugh or cry and get involved in the story. We’re too busy wanting to get published, wanting to get noticed, wanting to quit our day jobs, or whatever else it is we want right this very instant. When it doesn’t happen fast enough, we start to think we aren’t good enough and will never be good enough. The doubts start to set in and bam, we’re insecure and unproductive. We may even toy with the idea of quitting.

Talent is not a factor when it comes to writing. Some might disagree with me, but I’ll stand by this. A person with a boatload of talent, but is easily swayed by their doubts, won’t go as far as someone with less talent, but a mountain-load of drive. Natural born talent might get you started and might gain you some early accolades, but it won’t help you cross the finish line.

There’s only one way I know to be patient and that’s to enjoy the writing and to just keep writing and doing everything you can to improve. The hike will always be easier when we love it. If we don’t, then we’ll drag our feet and everything along the way will become that much harder.

Daily ask yourself what you want. Daily fall in love with your manuscripts. Enjoy the storytelling process. Be a slave to your stories. Delight in the lack of sleep because you have to wake up in the middle of the night to write down an idea.

You are a writer. Rejoice.

How do you remain patient with where you want your writing to go?
This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month (I’m day early because of the A-Z Challenge). To join the group or find out more, click here.

I’ll be taking part on the A-Z Challenge via the Insecure Writer’s Support Group website. Today I’m kicking the challenge off with a short writing tip: A is for… Applying Yourself as a Writer.

You can also link your A-Z posts in the IWSG Facebook threads we will provide.

I’d also love to share the exciting news that one of my wonderful critique partners, and an amazing writer, Carol Riggs, has signed a contract with Angry Robot’s YA imprint, Strange Chemistry. Her book, The Body Institute, has gone to a brilliant home after a ‘competitive bidding situation’. You can read the announcement here on Publishers Weekly. Congratulations, Carol!

Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Survive a Writer's Life

Today I'm over at the Insecure Writer's Support Group website, talking about ways to best survive the difficulties of a writer's life.

I'd love to see you over there.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Of Insanity and Creative Works #IWSG

It’s been my experience that insanity and creativity go hand-in-hand. I’ve taken on a number of extra projects this year, one of which is not writing. It’s an artistic endeavour. No surprises since it would be a rare thing to find me doing anything that’s not creative. It does require a steep learning curve, though. Eek.

Creatively speaking, the more insane things get, the more alive I feel and the more satisfied I am in the work I produce, whether it’s a story or a piece of art. Consequently, I shouldn’t be nervous about how much I’m taking on. I must confess, however, I am. Just a little.

Nervous and excited.

Can I do it all? Can I do it all well? Will I be able to find the time? Will I be able to achieve the result I have jumping about in my head?

Does it matter? Not really. Part of the fun is in the discovery and learning and pushing myself to improve. I’m having a wow of a time tip-toeing along the blade’s edge that is insanity and creativity. How about you? What keeps you dancing along that edge?

My writing tip for the week:
Writing (and anything creative) is hard. So what? You love it don’t you?

Photo: I took this photo a couple of weeks ago. I love the colours.

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month, we post about our insecurities or share encouragement. To join the group or find out more info, click here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Does a Tidy Desk Mean a Tidy Mind?

Warning: the images in this post may be disturbing--especially if you like a tidy work environment.

This photo clearly shows I've recently cleaned up
Today I thought I'd share the mess that is my office. I clean up my work area once every 4-6 months depending on whether the piles of papers and notes threaten to topple, or if I want to avoid writing, then I tell myself that cleaning my desk is justifiable. I'm still doing something toward my writing, right?

For a while I bought into the saying that an untidy desk reflects an untidy mind. So out of embarrassment, I'd clean up. Funny thing was any chaos I might've been harbouring didn't suddenly disappear. On seeing a clean desk, no clear skies came rolling in and no golden ta-da moment of inspiration struck. My mind is a chaotic soup of what-ifs, doubts, crazy worlds, and weird characters. No clean desk is going to change that. (Or maybe I'm just used to the mess so it's no longer a distraction).

After doing some reading, I discovered that an untidy desk often enables creative types. “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” according to Dr Vohs, a behavioural scientist at the University of Minnesota. I like the sound of that! But that's me. How about you?
This desk would be messier if I had more room
Does a clean desk or work area make a difference to the way you work or think?

I've continued the discussion in the IWSG Facebook group as well. Feel free to pop on over and post a pic of your area.

IWSG news: Today, Alex J Cavanaugh has a guest post at How to Write Shop, talking about the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Please pop on over and support our awesome group, or find out more about the group.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Writing Likeable Characters

I've often heard the advice that writers should strive to create likeable characters. Unfortunately the term 'likeable' is often misunderstood to mean someone you'd want to get to know in real life. As a result, writers turn their creations into sugar sweet confectionery that's neither likeable nor realistic.

I just finished reading The Diviners by Libba Bray. It's a young adult book set in the 1920's. It's a wonderful read, but I'm not sure I'd want to make the main character my best friend. She's far too selfish. Oddly enough, she's likeable nonetheless. Why? Because she's interesting. She's bold and open-minded and just a little bit sassy.

I also recently read Bloody Waters by Jason Franks. It's about a girl named Clarice and her rock band, Bloody Waters, as they rise to stardom with the aid of a deal done with the devil. Another fantastic read. I definitely would not want to know Clarice in real life, yet she's a fabulous character to journey with through the novel. She speaks her mind, is as rough as sandpaper, and will take out anyone who gets in her way.

Another great example of unlikeable likeable characters is to read pretty much any of the books written by Joe Abercrombie. The Blade Itself is his first novel. It's full of horrible people capable of doing horrible things, yet I was drawn to them anyway. He turned the sanitised fantasies into something new and engaging.

So when you hear the call for 'likeable' characters, think instead 'interesting'--characters with depth, inner conflicts and flaws. Realistic characters with no rainbows and unicorns in sight. It's the quirks that make the characters likeable and encourages readers to read more.

What stories have you read with unlikeable likeable characters? What do you think made those characters work?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Best Writing Advice Part 2 #IWSG

There's something deeply encouraging about hearing great advice from peers who genuinely understand what it means to choose writing as a career path. In the last month I've been especially encouraged by all my wonderful bloggy friends who have left comments here and on the Insecure Writer's Support Group website. It's because of your readiness to share great advice and to support each other. I'm truly warmed and gratified to be a part of this community.

Consequently, I want to share just some of the advice given in the comments for my post, The Best Writing Advice Ever. It would be a shame for these tips to become lost in the comments. In my post, I wrote that the best advice I've ever been given is to keep writing and don't give up. I put out the question, what other advice have you been given that's been invaluable? Below are some of your answers:

Stephen Tremp, L Diane Wolfe and Kittie Howard mentioned how important it is to write about what you love: "Write what you're passionate about. If you don't, it will show."—L Diane Wolfe

Along similar lines, Patsy Collins said, "Write what you enjoy rather than what you think will sell".

"Often as beginners we spend too much time worrying about all the advice." A very true statement (and one I wish to expand on in a future post) from S P Bowers.

Jemi Fraser was the first to mention how important it is to read. Laura Pauling also emphasised this, along with Jay Noel and Nas

Madeline Mora-Summonte mentioned the importance of hard work and quoted Stephen King: "Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

Toinette Thomas said the best advice she was given was to get some beta readers.

Susan Gowley/Kelley said, "As soon as you finish one project, dig into the next or have more than one going at a time."

"Just keep writing everyday." --Pat Hatt

"Finish what you start." --Chris Andrews and Charlotte Brentwood

Nicole Singer shared what her crit group told her on her first day: "Don't take what we say personally, but take it to heart."

"Put a manuscript away and don't revise it immediately." Wise words from Medeia Sharif.

"'There's an audience for everything.' We shouldn't be discouraged if we feel like our writing isn't as epic as someone else's. It's the core emotions and feel that carry book, and there WILL be people who identify with your core." --Crystal Collier

Denise Covey shared advice she read in Donald Maas' writing tips: Dig deep to make the story worth reading.

And to finish off with a chuckle, Shallee McArthur shared what a teacher once told her: The two keys to a good book are to have a unique take on something, and not to suck.

From this great pool of advice, which have you recently found the most encouraging and helpful? Which do you find particularly difficult to follow through on? Is there any other advice you'd like to share?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. On the first Wednesday of every month, we post about our insecurities or share encouragement. To join the group or find out more info, click here.

Note: Alex J Cavanaugh, our resident Ninja Captain extraordinaire, would like everyone to know that his book, CassaFire, the second of a wonderful space opera series, is on sale for a short time at just 99c. If you haven't yet read this series, now is a brilliant time to start (the first book is CassaStar). If you aren't a scifi fan, then don't worry, this series appeals to non-scifi readers too.