What Motivates My Reading Choices?

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The question being asked this month for March is: Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

What Motivates My Reading Choices?

When I was a teenager, I loved reading big fictional stories like Gone with the Wind, Hawaii, Forever Amber, and mysteries, especially those with ghosts.

In my 20s, I added romances, historical fiction, gothics, and everything nonfiction: different cultures, science, how-to everything but especially on how-to improve myself mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. How-to write, how-to raise children, how-to get along with difficult people, how to understand men, how to grow better gardens, how-to make repairs on just about anything. Mysteries and nonfiction outpaced everything I read, though. All of these genres continued through my 30s.

In my 40s, I was reading everything to do with screenwriting: about craft, how to pitch, how to write treatments, and so forth, and reading lots of other scripts. As I had four, sometimes five, different part-time jobs, plus taking care of the house and the family, plus I was writing whenever I wasn’t working, I had little time for any real recreational reading.

In my 50s, I was reading textbooks and the classics, poetry, and any other literature assigned. I was back in school, taking piles of literature classes, and writing lots of papers. I was too tired to read much of anything not assigned. Though, I will admit, during vacations and holidays when the homework was done, I would read about mystics, being an intuitive, how to grow my psychic skills, about dragons and faeries. I took a year-long class that met once a month that unlocked and place in the forefront my intuitive skills that had been there all along and had been revealing themselves in the past decades.

I will say that my own writing changed immensely because of those classics and all the other literature assigned, which I never would have picked up on my own. As a result, both my writing skills and my literature knowledge went broader and deeper, at the same time.

Now in my 60s, I’m in a library book club where I’m reading literary best-sellers, and I’ve returned to my first real love—mysteries. I’m still reading the nonfiction books where I can raise my vibrational energy, grow my psychic abilities, and about science where other entities can live beside us—it really is all about the vibrational energies.

I continue to be fascinated with dragons and faeries and have a huge collection of books about both. Since I’ve written a book that has a dragon—Grendel’s Mother—even though she, the dragon, doesn’t have a huge role, I’m planning a book that features faeries as a culture living amongst humans and having to connect with them…for reasons of…well, I’m not revealing that plotline right now. <wink>

Because I know too much about how mysteries are constructed, I love a good mystery that can surprise me and keep me hooked page after page. They’re rare books.

I loved reading The Martian. That book was a page turner for me. I loved the science. Another page turner is Pretty Little Wife, a mystery with a twist because you know who did it right away. The problem is that the body disappeared and now even the killer doesn’t know what happened.

Normally, I’ll skip to the end of any book to see how it ends and then I’m analyzing the plot as I read to learn of its creation. Pretty Little Wife was the first book in a long time where I didn’t skip to the end. I wanted to be surprised.

***

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Posted in #IWSG, Reading | 7 Comments

Friendships Built Through Blogging

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The question being asked this month for February is: Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

Friendships Built Through Blogging

I know a lot of writers who do blogs tours, but I’m not one of them with the exception of this particular blog. I joined this one because of a friend’s recommendation. While I’ve been a guest on a few blogs here and there, mostly I was a guest helping a friend who had a sudden cancellation in their schedule and needed someone to fill the hole quickly.

One blogger, with whom I’ve developed an online friendship, publishes blogs written by the authors per her questions and then, she writes her own review in a separate blog. I’m totally amazed at her devotion to read the books and review them all with a short summary and a thorough explanation of what she likes about the book, along with her rating.

I’ve belonged to another group of writers for several years, but this group is about sharing our promotions, and over that time, I’ve gotten to know several of the members.

My claim is that it takes about three years to build a solid friendship. That theory appears to hold true both for online and in-person friendships alike. We may not be best friends but we’re no longer just acquaintances either. We’re more like friend-acquaintances. Willing to share tips, advice, and our experiences, whereas we might not be willing to do the same with acquaintances. At least, that’s been my experience.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Posted in #IWSG | 5 Comments

Six Reasons That Will Make Me Stop Reading Your Book

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The question being asked this month is: Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Six Reasons That Will Make Me Stop Reading Your Book

1) Punctuation and Grammar errors – I can live with a few errors here or there, but to have errors on every page? No.

2) Shallow characters – I don’t want to experience characters as if I’m watching them on stage and I’m in the back row seats, watching from a distance. I want to experience the characters as if I’m in their skin, feeling what they’re feeling. Characters with depth have wounds, secrets, and don’t talk on the nose. I love characters who banter and use subtext, meaning they may be talking about eating a hot fudge sundae, but what they’re really talking about is their relationship… or lack of one.

3) Plot holes – I can suspend my disbelief easily enough to go along with the character’s world, but I don’t like being yanked out of the reading and the story several times especially in the beginning because of the lack of inconsistencies or feasibilities given the world that was created.

4) Backstory – There’s nothing worse than having to slog through pages and pages of backstory before the action starts. I want a story that starts at the moment when the main character’s world changed. I want backstory that’s provided in small crumb-like reveals sprinkled here and there either through dialogue or a sentence or two of introspection that explains a character’s motivation.

5) Lack of research – I’m one of those readers who knows a little about a lot. If something doesn’t sound right, I’ll research it. For example, one author was using a zippered valise twenty years before zippers were invented. Another author had a character shooting a certain brand of rifle several years before its existence.

6) Telling – I’m one of those readers who wants action and dialogue. I enjoy fast reads because they keep me hooked, turning the pages, and not wanting to put the book down until I’m finished. If I’m able to put down the book because I’m bored, there’s a good chance I won’t be picking it up again. Showing is about eliminating wordiness, strings of little words, adverbs and adjectives, and using great verbs, instead.

Every now and then, I’ll find a great book that tells more than it provides action and has huge chunks of backstory, but those books are rare and they’re often award-winning books. Recently, such a book for me was Achille’s Song. Its characters made up for the huge chunks of backstory, and the story’s subject matter–Troy, mythology, and an untypical love affair—kept me hooked, along with the writer’s voice, which was lyrical and beautiful.

Give me a well-proofed, well-researched book with lots of action, no plot holes, characters that makes me want to know them better and experience their stories alongside them, great dialogue, and scenes that makes me laugh aloud, cry, sigh, or give me goosebumps, and I’ll finish your book. In fact, I could become your fan forever.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Posted in #IWSG, Reading | Tagged | 2 Comments

A Necessary Evil: Feeding the Writer

A Necessary Evil: Feeding the Writer…with a Chicken & Stuffing Casserole

I’m one of those writers who wants to go into the kitchen and ten minutes later be eating a solid meal. Second to that, I’m good with a dish that I can cook and still be eating several days later.

While I’m a decent cook, it’s not my passion. Nor, do I like being in the kitchen every day. Every few days is my preference. Cooking for one makes that easy to do.

Now that I’ve been diagnosed with celiac (can’t eat gluten), with a long list of allergies that includes all dairy products, (No more butter? NO!), finding substitutes for my beloved pre-celiac dishes has been a challenge. Thankfully more companies are producing gluten-free and dairy-free products.

(I highly recommend Country Crock’s Plant Butter made from almonds. It spreads like butter and even better, it tastes like butter!)

One such product that I discovered just before Thanksgiving was Savory Stuffing by Aleia. While I still miss the traditional crouton stuffing, this one tastes pretty good. Aleia has a box of plain stuffing croutons, as well.

I’m now using this savory stuffing, along with traditional stuffing ingredients and chicken to create a one-pan, one-dish meal.

The thing is, this recipe can work for anyone. Just substitute your preferred croutons and butter for mine, plus you can use more or less vegetables as desired. I like lots, so I actually use more than the recommended 1 cup.

My gluten-free, dairy-free recipe:

  • 1 box Aleia Savory Stuffing mix
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery (I’ve discovered I can freeze chopped celery!)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 5 T Almond Plant butter
  • 1.5 cups of chicken – I use whatever is handy: canned or leftover cooked
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Saute the carrots, celery, and onion until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are tender.

Mix everything in a large bowl, until the stuffing is moistened and all is thoroughly mixed. Pour into a baking dish.

Bake at 350, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.

If you want a crispy crust, bake for about 15 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until top is crusty to your preference.

To serve up as leftovers, dish desired amount into a bowl, add some chicken gravy and heat in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes or until hot.

***

I had two bowls of this dish tonight, barely making a dent of the total amont. I now have leftovers for the rest of the week. And, I’m willing to eat this for both lunch and dinner if it means not having to fix anything else for the week, adding a salad here and there, along with eggs for breakfast. 

How about you? Do you have a favorite dish you like to make while you’re writing that allows you to forget about cooking for a few days?

Posted in #amwriting, Writer at Work, writing, Writing Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pluviophile Productivity: Writing in the rain

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Pluviophile Productivity: Writing in the rain

I’m an avid, solid pluviophile. Someone who loves rain.

My best months of productivity occur on rainy days. Thunderous rains. Heavy downpours. And best of all, light misty rains.

For nearly ten years, I lived in the Deep South and loved sitting on my porch swing, enjoying the summer rains, writing with pen and paper.

Back in the Michigan, in spring, summer, and fall, I love to open the windows and door, listening to the rain while sitting at my computer.

Likewise, snowy days are excellent days of good productivity. Pure imagery magick occurs as big snow-globe like snowflakes—another form of rain—fall as I write.

There’s something about being hunkered down, whether snow or rain, not being drawn to the outdoors and engaging in another activity. My creativity thrives viewing earth’s thirst-quenching weather quieting the world and hearing the clatter of the keys.

***

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

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The Reasons Why I Write What I Write

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

The Reasons Why I Write What I Write

I write because I have to. I need to share. I need to express. I need to get it out of me—it being the need to vent, to give advice, to share something I’ve learned, or just to share a simple observation.

I write because I need to get all that stuff out of my head. The irony is that the more I write, getting it out, more of it flows in!

I write because I have people—characters—and topics, asking me, When is it MY turn? I’m surrounded by a crowd, all clamoring for attention.

My reasons for writing are that simple. So many ideas, so little time.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgePurpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Posted in #amwriting, #IWSG, Writing Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Characteristics of the Working Writer

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

October 7 question – When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Characteristics of the Working Writer

I’ve been a working writer since I was 26 years old with a newborn and a toddler. From the beginning, my goal was to earn an income from my writing. That made me different from the hobbyist writer.

According to IRS, a hobbyist writes for pleasure, for fun, not to make a profit. The working writer is trying their best to earn an income. The IRS has nine factors to judge whether you are a hobbyist or a working writer:

Question:  How do you distinguish between a business and a hobby?

Answer:  In making the distinction between a hobby or business activity, take into account all facts and circumstances with respect to the activity. A hobby activity is done mainly for recreation or pleasure. No one factor alone is decisive. You must generally consider these factors in determining whether an activity is a business engaged in making a profit:

  • Whether you carry on the activity in a businesslike manner and maintain complete and accurate books and records.
  • Whether the time and effort you put into the activity indicate you intend to make it profitable.
  • Whether you depend on income from the activity for your livelihood.
  • Whether your losses are due to circumstances beyond your control (or are normal in the startup phase of your type of business).
  • Whether you change your methods of operation in an attempt to improve profitability.
  • Whether you or your advisors have the knowledge needed to carry on the activity as a successful business.
  • Whether you were successful in making a profit in similar activities in the past.
  • Whether the activity makes a profit in some years and how much profit it makes.
  • Whether you can expect to make a future profit from the appreciation of the assets used in the activity.

An additional determination is whether the writer keeps separate bank accounts of business versus personal and if records are kept regarding their hours, projects, and submissions.

Five-hundred hours is the dividing line between hobbyist and working writer, too, and whether these hours are documented. How do I know?

When filling out a Schedule C through Turbo Tax, I was asked the question: did you work 500 hours this tax year in this business?

Five hundred hours per year equals just under 10 hours per week or almost 42 hours per month.

A working writer makes time or schedules writing time.

In my opinion, all three types of writers attend conferences, read how-to books, and ask questions, and love to talk about writing.

This list is what I believe are the differences:

Aspiring Writer

  • thinks about writing
  • doesn’t keep business records
  • asks questions in any group, thus doesn’t do any of their own research to learn the answers
  • are quite active in online groups
  • writes a little

Hobbyist Writer

  • writes when feels inspired, which means not every day
  • doesn’t keep good business records
  • likes to talk about writing
  • asks questions of other writers in those group of their genre, has done some research but relies on the other writers’ responses

Working Writer

  • writes nearly every day or per a planned schedule
  • writes even when not inspired; they know they’ll be in the zone soon.
  • writes even when sick, a loved one has died, divorcing, or some other life event has appeared in their life. They find solace in their writing.
  • has reams and files of their work even if not published
  • usually not in various online forums; if they are, they rarely read the posts or respond; they’re busy writing!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Posted in #IWSG, Struggling to write, writing, Writing Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Wishful Beta Partner Thinking

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

September 2 question – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

This question has to be one of easiest ever. No thinking required. If I could choose another writer, living or dead, as my beta partner, it would have to be screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. He authored TV’s The West Wing, and movies The American President and A Few Good Men just to name a couple.

The advice he provides through his class on MasterClass is incredible and bound to help make any writer’s work better, whether for the screen or the page.

***

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Posted in #IWSG, Writing Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Gluten Glutton

The stuff that goes on Behind the Scenes of a writer isn’t just about the words, the creativity, or finding new and better ways to get one’s butt into the chair to do the work.

To be effective Behind the Scenes, I’ve learned that I need to rest when tired, drink—water preferably—when thirsty, and to eat when hungry. It’s easy to put all three aside when in the zone and the writing is going well. I segue for a moment…

Part of my health journey for the past few years was to discover why I was having severe sinus issues, got vertigo, had been experiencing foot neuropathy since 2000 and had been having digestive issues starting about 2005. Every doctor I went to had no clue, and then one along the way said, “It’s going to be attached to a big disease down the road.”

In 2014, I asked my GP for a C-reactive Protein (CRP) blood test. I wanted to know my body’s level of inflammation. If high, that would tell me something was going on. The doctor tried to talk me out of it: expensive (it was but not to his $500 number. More like $250), insurance probably wouldn’t pay for it (they did), and it wouldn’t tell me much (it would give me the inflammation rate).

He did he test. When it came back, he was shocked. The CRP revealed I was celiac and my body’s inflammation rate was at 20%. The doctor said he couldn’t tell me where the inflammation was occurring, but I knew it had to be the celiac issues. Had to be.

Deeper research by me revealed neuropathy can be a symptom. Aha!

I searched for and found a local Functional Medicine (FM) doctor. The results: I’m definitely celiac, with a laundry list of allergen foods. From worst to least: tomato, vanilla, pork, hazelnut, pineapple, cauliflower, coffee, Cashew, casein, cow’s milk, blueberry, lemon, salmon, cola nut, peanut, pecan, sesame, paprika, garlic, kidney bean, green pepper, peas, orange, pear, raspberry, Red #3, cod, and flounder.

Additionally, I had a leaky gut. That means I had minute cracks in my digestive trac where food could slip between the thin layered cells and into my system—where it didn’t belong.

No wonder I had a 20% inflammation rate. Through more research, I discovered that cholesterol levels are attached to inflammation levels, confirmed by my FM. I’ve always had a bit higher than normal cholesterol number since the ’90s but nothing ever so outrageous that I needed statins. A few doctors tried to write a prescription, but I wasn’t buying into the sale. I never took them.

As a result of my work with the FM, we got my inflammation down to 4%, I lost about 15 pounds by eliminating foods my body couldn’t process, and all my aches and pains went away. ALL. OF. THEM.

My overarching goal was and still is to NOT go down the taking of regular prescription path, especially long-term. Back to Behind the Scenes original story…

Typically, I’m a solitary creative. I need large amounts of alone time. I enjoy my home: surrounded by books, favorite movies, and the quiet. I’m not interested in travel anymore, not when I was spending more time in the airport than I was in the air.

At this stage of my life, I’m content with pets of rocks and one lone pot of snake plants. Gotta have something that breaths in my carbon dioxide, right?

Whenever able, I enjoy opening the windows and door to hear the birds, rustles of leaves, or the rain. I’m such a pluviophile.

At the beginning of Covid-19, I didn’t have a problem. The only thing that changed in my life was no longer having Monday lunch at a favorite watering hole with a special group of friends, not having writing weekend write-ins or monthly meetings, and getting a regular haircut. I was okay, too, for a while in not going out to eat by myself, something I did a lot—several times a week—always taking a book with me; it was my reading time.

A couple months into the stay-at-home order, something snapped. I needed different.

I started eating bread. Every day. For two months. I was using drive-thru for that acquired difference.

I knew better but ignored that pesky ahem from my little inner voice.

For a few weeks of that first binge month, nothing happened. I thought: Maybe I’m not celiac after all.Yeah right, my pragmatic self criticized.

I continued eating bread.

And, I wasn’t writing. I was tired. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt overwhelmed every time I tried to sit at the desk. Even reading became difficult.

Then, I noticed my feet swelling at night. Tight, itchy skin, with toes looking like little sausages poking out from a swollen foot where I could no longer identify bones. An over the counter, no-name antihistamine took care of the swelling easily enough.

I continued eating bread. I gained back the weight I had lost.

A few more weeks passed. My body started talking to its many parts:

She’s not paying attention.

Yes, she did. She’s taking an antihistamine.

But that has to stop!

Then, we’ll have to do something that will get her attention.

I broke into hives in the middle of the night, waking up to a feverish scratching. There were hives were between my thighs and groin. At first, I attribute the hives to having worn underwear washed in a perfumed and dyed detergent. A mistake I had made and thought I had corrected. I was still taking the no-name brand with seemingly no difference. That was Wednesday.

By Friday, the hives extended down my thighs, behind my knees, on half my back, and huge hard ones on my scalp. Everywhere.

I stopped eating bread.

I went to the store and got the name brand Benadryl. That’ll do it, I thought.

That Monday, a week ago, I awoke with a swollen face and one eye nearly shut. A doctor’s visit where they fit me in that day (apparently to make sure it didn’t affect my throat or breathing—it can get that bad? Yikes!) resulted in a prescription for steroids. My FNP agreed with me: Yup, I had been incredibly stupid. No way could I claim ignorance.

It’s Monday again. In two days after starting the steroids, the hives disappeared. I’ve lost a solid four pounds from not eating any bread or gluten foods, eliminating all allergen foods, dairy, and soda.

I’ve been good, well, with the exception of a couple diet sodas the last couple days, which have proven again to be the wrong direction. More importantly, I feel much better. My energy is back. I’m sleeping good again—until I had those two sodas! The fog is gone. Mostly importantly, all pains and aches are gone. Again.

And, I’m back writing full-steam again. With renewed vigor and focus.

I now know that I can NEVER EVER eat gluten, dairy, or any of my allergen foods again. Or sodas as much as I hate to say it. I would much rather treat the cause and avoid all symptoms than indulge and forever be treating the symptoms.

I much prefer this Behind the Scenes writer than the one I had become. She was a sad story.

I should have taken a picture as a reminder for future temptations.

Posted in Writing Behind the Scenes | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Finding My Way Through the Genre Wilderness

With almost all of my writing projects from the start of writing the first word, I knew the genre and the form. Romance as a novel or as a short short story. Mystery as a short story or novel series. Poetry as a sestina, haiku, or sonnet. Romance novella series. 400-word column for XYZ (magazine/newspaper), non-fiction. And, so forth.

I say almost, because there’s only been one project that I began writing and had no idea what form it would take—would it be long, short, mid-length? —or the genre it would become. For its first written word, I dubbed it a historical, telling myself that I’d research the genre later. As to the form, I figured the story length itself would be the deciding factor. I suspected it would be a novel, but I wasn’t confident about it.

I knew the story took place in the late 5th century and I knew it would be fiction, based on a character from the world’s first English manuscript that had an unknown author. Those were the only two things I knew for sure.

The genesis moment occurred in the middle of my teaching a women’s study survey class where we were examining stories where women didn’t have a voice. In the middle of one student’s presentation of their book, I had that brilliant “Aha!” moment: Grendel’s mother in Beowulf.

I wrote those four words down and felt an excitement rise within, an excitement I hadn’t felt in while. Four years to be exact. Life had intervened followed by a decision to return to school so I could become degreed where I could teach accredited classes. Up until then, the classes I had been teaching in were either online or through adult enrichment classes at colleges.

Once I started going back to school, I was writing just as much as I had before, if not more, but it was all academic writing or creative writing forced by assignments, which were difficult to write because that deep-down bubbling joy and inspiration was always missing.

There was little time for laying any assignment aside, letting time work any creative juices. Instead, quick revisions and polishing, turning it in for a grade was the diction and process of my writing those days.

That initial excitement of a new idea stayed with me through the rest of that class I was teaching and through the commuting drive home. Walking to my car after class and during the drive home, the title was instant—Grendel’s Mother—and she was already talking to me. I saw flashes of scenes, but I had no idea of order or structure.

The minute I got in the door, I dropped my bookbag, keys, tore off my coat, and went straight to the computer. I didn’t even think about eating. That could wait a few minutes.

Those few minutes turned into an hour where I quickly wrote twenty pages of what I thought was the opening pages of the project. It felt like a book. It felt like a historical book. I saw it as a screenplay, too. The images were vivid, the dialogue clear and crisp.

Strangely, I didn’t have to struggle to discover any of the book’s characters. This is the one and only time where all the characters came fully formed, included their bitterness, goals, and wounds. All of them.

It was magical. I didn’t question anything.

I began to question the historical genre. I did some research. How was Beowulf classified? Medieval Poetry, Norse & Icelandic Sagas, English Literature, Epic Poetry, Mythology & Folk Tales. And then, I saw it: Epic Fantasy.

Not until, I was in the end revision stages—and there were many revisions—did the starting pages change. I changed the beginning to provide a better hook. To provide stronger action. The original beginning—that truly started at the beginning chronologically became the transition from present to past. The new beginning was an extremely active scene, taking place nine months later from the original beginning. The transition occurs as a way to deal with the present pain…and so, she starts remembering.

I even got as far as assigning the genre to YA historical because the heroine is a teenager in the beginning; but then, someone said, no, it’s not a YA because she ages. They were right.

The genre fit.

Grendel’s Mother became a novel and my first indie publication. To date, it’s still my most favorite book that I’ve written and published so far.

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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

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