The question for this month's group is what's the weirdest thing you've ever googled for writing research?
Lots of murder and what not. How long does it take for blood to congeal. How quickly does a body decompose. Things like that. I'm pretty sure at this point that the FBI just cross references people with crazy google histories with their author websites and then writes them off as a lost cause (also, the FBI isn't getting involved unless your crime is crossing state lines, just sayin).
Actually, I did do a bunch of research on the FBI for one of my books because I decided that I thought the FBI would get involved in a case of a missing person who was potentially abducted by aliens.
Or the Bathrooms at the San Diego Convention center where a scene from a novel was going to take place.
And I did some extensive research on the Ghost Fleet for a scene in my current novel which, to be honest was actually pretty cool.
I guess I haven't really done anything that crazy (at least, not that crazy compared to crime writers!).
I'm working on a big revision right now. It's for a big book. It's not like anything I've ever written. It's so much not like anything I've ever written that I keep putting it off. It scares me. What if I completely fail this really beautiful idea? What if I'm just not as good as I've always thought I was and the real reason I normally write fluff is because I'm scared to learn that I'm not good enough to write anything else? If I don't try, I won't know, right? These are the the thoughts plaguing me as I tackle this monster, and by monster I mean a three part story that MUST be a three part story, and each part is about 90K, so I can't just smoosh them all together into one really long book. And it's full of pain and jealousy and duty and family and revenge and forgiveness, and I never write like this, so I must be screwing this all up. I feel like a fool for hoping. I feel like an idiot for trying. And I'm completely convinced that I'm just falling flat on my face, and everyone can see it except me. Someone very helpfully suggested I send it to a beta. I did. I sent it to beta readers in 2017. My betas loved it. They thought it was great, but in 2017, I could see where it needed something more. More depth, more character, more something. It's taken me 2 years to figure out what that something is, and I love it even more, but as I'm standing here trying to implement that SOMETHING, I'm terrified that I can't do it. I'm terrified that I'm just flinging words around in the hopes that something sticks to the wall. So that's me, scared that I'm destroying an idea I love and thinking I'll never write another story like this one. Which just means I'm a writer with the kinds of worries a writer has. This is an Insecure Writer's Support Group Post. You can visit the Ninja Captain here, and don't forget to say hi to this month's cohosts: Gwen Gardner,Doreen McGettigan,Tyrean Martinson,Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantine.
I should have known better. I started a new job and that's when I tend to drop off the radar. Which brings me nicely to my current insecurity. Turns out, I don't have particularly productive summers. I mean sure, I queried a lot. I painted a lot. I made a cover for a book that's going to come out soon (more on that another day). And that's when it hit me: I'm so wrapped up in productivity being word count or pages edited, that I completely forget the whole rest of the business part of writing. There is JUST So Much. And while I'm trying to stay positive and keep moving on my WIP, I have to give myself a break because I've done a ton of other work this summer. If this were a learn from my fail, that would be: word count isn't the only measure of productivity (nor is productivity the only measure of a life!). Anyhow, hop on the Blog hop, say hi to the Ninja Captain, and give a shout out to the cohosts: Renee Scattergood,Sadira Stone,Jacqui Murray,Tamara Narayan,and LG Keltner!
I'm taking a little bit of a writing vacation. I haven't taken an official one in a long time, but I've carved out some time from my writing schedule (i.e. I will not be hitting the self imposed writing deadlines I set for myself that were, quite frankly, impossible anyways). With luck, I'll be ready to come back to writing for July. I still have ambitious plans for the rest of the year, so it's time to rest up, find some good compression gloves and refocus!
The funny thing about the impostor syndrome in writing is
that we often forget that it breeds itself and proliferates.
At my day job recently, I was nominated to help our Union
(Join the union, pay the dues, unless you aren’t into things like sick leave,
40 hour work weeks, health insurance, vacation). So I have to go to the
employer who will surely be bringing a lawyer to the table.
Why am I intimidated by a lawyer?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. For some reason,
lawyers have always had a place in my mind as the pinnacle of modern
professionals. They dress nice (I have nice clothes, too). They have a fancy
degree (I’ve got one of those, too). And they have confidence (uhmmm…).
To be frank, I have considerably more education than
required to be a lawyer (I have more education than is required to be a
surgeon), so it’s not their intelligence. So why do I feel like a complete
fraud going to talk to them?
Part of it is that I have always viewed myself as the
underdog. I have never come into a situation and thought for sure I would win a
fight. I didn’t feel adult enough to buy my first home (or my second, to be
honest). I feel like most people got off the train when they were younger and
started believing in themselves as adults long ago, and I somehow missed the
stop—honestly I was probably playing D&D at the time. In fact, I’m sort of
terrified that someone will show up with a clip board and say “Rena, you enjoy
things too much to be on this Very Serious Panel That Discusses Very Serious
Things. Go home, impostor.”
So here I am, a little shocked to find that everyone at
every level experiences some impostor syndrome. And for me, my impostor
syndrome is tied to me feeling like an outsider. I have never fit in, and I’m
not going to start now just because the other side of the table has lawyers.
I grew up in a very small town. I grew up in the kind of
small town where everyone was just certain of my path and my destiny.
“Oh, that Rena. She’s going to be an amazing veterinarian
when she grows up.”
“Rena you’ll be such a great teacher.”
“You know, Rena, you can make real money raising sheep. If
you do your herd right, you’ll be able to go to college in the winter and work
lambing on spring break.”
“You need to study hard if you’re going to save the
Yup, my whole life was planned, signed and delivered by the
time I was 11. About then someone asked me what I wanted to do, and I said I
wanted to be an astronaut. Reader, I broke hearts with that simple proclamation.
But it’s an old small town and they knew the true path to
getting their way, patience, solidarity, and a steadfast denial of all words
actually issuing from my lips. I played a pretty convincing part, raising sheep,
showing horses, training llamas, you name it, I did it. But I also memorized
all the features on the near side of the moon. I studied the stars, I took
extra physics classes when I could. I sang in the choir. I was in the band, and
drama, and soccer and swim team. I wanted to play football, but that path was
closed to me. Small towns can only allow so much.
In school, I read every book in the library with a horse on
the binding. When I’d read all of those, someone recommended that I try the
ones with the rockets: and I did. And it was amazing! The only problem was,
none of those books were about kids like me. Not one. I grew up lonely and never
seeing a girl from a small town who got to have a story other than grow up and
fall in love. The story was always girl grows up and realizes horses are
childish and falls in love with a boy.
First, I desperately didn’t want to think horses were
childish (one of my first real jobs was as a horse back riding instructor). I loved horses (and had to sell mine to go to college), and well, let’s
just say the guys weren’t exactly throwing themselves to date the girl who ran
faster, got better grades, and could literally throw hay bales, so a love story
wasn’t exactly going to cut it for me. I was lonely, and my life looked nothing like the books that should have been hand made for me.
So one day, I wrote a different kind of story where a girl
rode her horse into outer space to go save the Starship Enterprise. Firstly
because everyone should ride a horse to go save the world, and secondly because
I’d never seen a girl like me, do anything the world seemed to think important.
Surely saving the Enterprise would count as important.
That story was very important to me, and no, no one will ever
read it. But it had everything that I loved and it spoke to me.
Hooked, I wrote another story just for me. This one didn’t
use nearly so much Intellectual Property not belonging to me. As with many
of my works, I cajoled, bribed, and begged until someone else read it. And that
time, that time I heard the timid voice whisper back, “I thought I was the only
I thought I was the only one.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve heard
that whispered back to me by people who were embarrassed by some deep truth so close
to their hearts they’d never shared it with anyone until I showed them the scars
on mine. People I didn't think I had anything in common with, people who didn't look like me, grew up under totally different circumstances saw something of themselves in my words.
And that’s why I write. I write because even in the world of
over sharing social media, I still hear it. People read my stories and confess
that they had always felt alone. They’d always thought they were the only one
who felt it—the shame, the secret joy, the guilt, the pain, and the pure
exhaustion that is life, or just how lonely it is to feel something you shouldn't feel because society tells you that you're supposed to have exactly one emotion (I'm looking at you motherhood).
In short, I write so people will know they are
not the only one.
I’ve talked before about how the best way to protect
yourself from failure is to never try. You are absolutely guaranteed to never
experience any rejection if you never put yourself out there for others to see
(and all too often, criticize).
Which brings me to today. I have cleaned my work area, swept
the floor, answered every email, done the dishes and cooked every breakfast the
people in my house are going to eat for the next week. Yeah. All of that.
I’ve spent the whole week thinking about how much writing I
was going to get done, but instead I have done LITERALLY every other chore in
the house. I’m avoiding it. I’m worldbuilding. I’m plotting, I tell myself, I
need time to think. Okay, that might be true, self, but it looks like, from
over here in the no word count land, that you are actually doing the thing where
you are avoiding writing.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I have an idea for
a novel, and I LOVE it. As in, I love it so much it might just break my heart. I
love the idea so much, I might just never write it because the book it will
become, no matter how good, will never feel like the shiny thing in my
imagination. If I could have one wish, it would be to be able to make books
fell the same way the idea feels in my head. It just doesn’t happen. Well, I
should say, It hasn’t happened yet.
Am I the only one, or do you procrastinate putting pen to
paper when you have an idea you’re in love with?
There’s so much going on right now, I feel like I’m one of
the spiny bits in an old school egg beater. Here we go:
The good news: Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon is available for sale. Yes, you read that right! I got the rights
to my book back, and it’s currently for sale on Amazon. I have not pushed it
out to other platforms, and it’s not looking like I’m going to anytime soon.
Turns out, I don’t have any time to figure out anything else right now (long
story), so for the foreseeable future, my book is on Amazon as an ebook. I have
some paperbacks left, but it’s a diminishing supply (don’t buy the fifty dollar
copy from that crazy person who thinks my book being rare drives up the price).
In a few months, I should be uploading to Create Space for those of you who
like books you can touch.
More good news: Prom, Magic, And Other Man-Made Disasters
will be up soon. How soon, you ask? Sometime this week, ebooks should become
available. I’ll post when things are settled out (it takes Amazon some time to
link editions, and I’m trying not to lose my reviews, those are hard to come
The BEST NEWS: The sequel to Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs
You Might Be Half Dragon is coming out! That’s right, it’s really really
happening. GROUNDED, NO PHONE, AND OTHER SIGNS YOUR MOM IS A FIRE BREATHING
MONSTER is in production!
What does this mean? I won’t have a release date
for a while yet, but I’m very excited to share the much anticipated sequel to
Acne. If you loved Acne, you’re in for a real treat as the gang is back at it,
but now things are bigger, more dangerous, and even more family secrets are
unearthed. It’s going to be a wild ride, and I can’t wait to unleash it on the
If you’ve been to my buy pages recently, you’ll probably notice
that they don’t work. My three novels have been taken down by my publisher, Curiosity
Quills. The publisher is in the process of reorganizing their business, and we
are currently in the process of rights reversion.
So what does this mean for me and my books?
Right now this means you can’t buy my books. (Sorry!) It
means I am taking a crash course in self publishing because I have an
irrational need to finish things. Acne has a sequel. It has two, possible
three, and I want to make sure the whole story gets told. This means drafting,
editing, formatting, cover art and marketing plan. This is not minor. On the
plus side, the first sequel has already been written, but there’s a lot of
production even when a book is 100% ready to go, and it isn’t there yet.
But Rena, you say, What about Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs
You Might Be Half Dragon? I haven’t bought my copy of that book yet! And I want
Yeah, for the books that were already finished, there’s a
different problem. There are some paperback copies going out into the world
still, but that’s a limited supply. There are no e copies. There were never
As of right now, it’s going to be a while before ebooks are available
again, and they will be. My plan is to re-release Acne and Prom as soon as I
solve the problem of formatting, cover art, and final typo fixes (an issue we
had with the previous books).
So I have a lot of work on my plate, and much sooner than I’d
On the plus side, this gives me the opportunity to have more
control of the direction these books take. I have loved being a Literary Marauder,
but now I get to shred the skies with my own flag—just as soon as I figure out
how to rig this spinnaker so it doesn’t flip my ship.
I don’t really know what happened to last year. It was
rough. It was good. Like all years, it was complicated by too many factors to
be easily summed up in a single post.
Going forward, I have a lot of thoughts. I’m working on
migrating the content of this blog into a new format (I’ll probably still cross
post for a while), but as I go back through, expect to see some old posts go
dark. Think of it as the pack rat going through and cleaning everything up.
In writing, I’m moving into a new phase of my own growth. I’ve
been working on improving my craft, and I feel like that’s gone well. It’s an
ongoing process, and with writing, you never “arrive.” Writing is like a knife,
constantly requiring honing. I took a break for the whole month of December,
and it was very useful to know there was no need to do anything for a whole
month. Now I’m cracking my knuckles and looking around at what needs to be done
to clean up my writing life. I have a list of projects, and I’m toying with a
Shiny New Idea. We’ll see.
To start the year I’m writing a low pressure piece just for
the fun of it, and to share it with my friends. I kid you not, it’s a piece
that I have no actual intentions of showing to the rest of the world, and I’m
really looking forward to the ridiculous purple prose of an elf prince falling
madly in love with the wrong person. So good.
I’m taking it easy right now due to other factors, so I’m
going to write my very extra pointy eared prince and then reassess the
direction of my career.
Do you plan out your writing year? Whenever I try to, it
takes a detour at Albuquerque. So no real plan this year. Working on craft,
writing something just for me, and we’ll see when we get there.