It's Not Paranoia if It's True July #IWSG

Happy July! Y'know, this monthly meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group really puts the ol' highlighter to how quickly time moves. I hope you're all have great summers - or winters, depending on which hemisphere you inhabit. Here's a picture of what's going on in my corner of Illinois. Yes, that's yet another storm rolling in from the west. WHATEVER!

An update for those of you who remember the tadpole video from last month: the tire tracks have dried up but I see no evidence of dried up frog babies, so let's all assume they grew their little legs in the nick of time and hopped off to live full, rich lives, okay? Now, onto the IWSG question of the month...

What personal traits have you written into your characters? 

Most of my female main characters have difficulty fully trusting people---the leading man in particular. They get that from me, and it's what ends up causing  the most conflict in their relationships. From the time I was young, I realized that when a lot of my "friends" were coming to my house to hang out with me, they were actually there because they wanted a chance to hang out with my cute older brother. I understood that my high school boyfriend had no idea who I really was but only wanted a girlfriend and...you know, what most teen-aged boys want.

Although I tend to still be distrustful by nature, I think I've gotten better at accepting that some people may actually like me for me. But my characters are a lot younger than me and haven't learned that yet. So many of them will continue "putting up walls," as we say in #BachelorNation, and thank goodness---because otherwise, my novels would all be about two pages long.  

There are two reasons why we don't trust people. 
First---we don't know them.
Second---we know them. 

This post is part of the:

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) PurposeTo 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! Join us.

Erika Beebe
Natalie Aguirre
Jennifer Lane
MJ Fifield
Lisa Buie-Collard
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!


What the Rain Brought - June IWSG

Happy June, everyone! We're FINALLY getting some warm weather here in the Chicago 'burbs. A bit rainy still, but sunshine shows up every few days, and I'll take it. All the rain makes for interesting discoveries at the restored prairie by my house. Look where some crazy frogs decided to lay their eggs:

But we're not hear to talk about amphibious parental decisions. We're here to talk about writing! Onto the optional question of the month.

Optional IWSG Question of the Month:
Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Wellll, it seems like the answer to this question would be Chick Lit/Romance because that's the category my novels and my current WIP fall into, and I do so enjoy writing contemporary, realistic fiction. BUT I have to admit that I've had wicked fun straying from this genre and dipping a toe into darker, Supernatural passages - like in parts of Divine Temptation and Hans and Greta - and into Magical realism, like in Sway.

I enjoy writing lighthearted contemporary romance because I love love, especially the early tinglings of a new romance. But I also like to spend time in imaginary places, and sometimes contemporary fiction keeps me too grounded in this world. After I finish my current WIP, I think I'm going to take off into something more fantastical.

This post is part of the:

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) PurposeTo 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! Join us.

Diane Burton
Kim Lajevardi
Sylvia Ney
Sarah Foster
Jennifer Hawes
Madeline Mora-Summonte


An Award-Winning... It's NOT What You Think! #IWSG May 2019

Happy May! I hope all of your Aprils were good. It snowed twice during April in my neck of the woods. TWICE. But still, it was a pretty good month. Writing took a bit of a backseat as I prepared to have the family over for Easter brunch. 

I did get to write some fun clues for the marathon Easter egg hunt, though. Here are the hunters nearing the mother lode of eggs: 

And my kids and I had a super fun time getting the Brookfield Zoo practically all to ourselves on the latest snowy day. We made good friends with this little fella below. Click on the image if you want to see him going nuts chasing my daughter's mold-o-rama.

 Also, I wrote a big fat newsletter for the boutique department store where I work. That always does a pretty good number on sapping my creative writing energy - but I like to think it's primed me for getting back to it. I mean, I do have to be pretty creative at fitting all the requests of eight different buyers and managers into the limited space they're each allotted.

Which brings me to the point of this month's post. So, you know how you can edit and edit and then edit again and still have errors in your manuscript? Pretty embarrassing, right? Well, it happens to all of us, and next time you want to beat yourself up for it, just bear in mind this snippet from the Autumn 2018 newsletter that I wrote and edited. The error wasn't caught until after it had been dropped at the post office to go out to over 40K readers...   

Surely, whatever typos you have cannot be as bad as THAT one. Like, seriously, of all the sentences that could've been cut off, it had to be that one? Award winning, folks. Award winning.

I'll have you know that the rest of the sentence was there when it was handed off to the printer (virgin bloody mary mix, btw) but something shifted during formatting and I failed to catch it when I signed off on the proof. It's taken me pretty much until now to be able to laugh about it. Luckily, my boss laughed right away. *phew*

Wishing you good writing and hilarious typos - that you catch before your work goes public!

This post is part of the:

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) PurposeTo 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! Join us.



Masquerade: Oddly Suited with Anstice Brown

Masquerade: Oddly Suited Tour Banner

Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Masquerade: Oddly Suited, a young-adult romance anthology from The Insecure Writer's Support Group which is coming out on 30th April 2019!

I've invited one of the authors, Anstice Brown to my blog to answer one simple question about her story (my favorite question, if you haven't noticed).

The question: If you had to chose one song that best captures the essence of your short story Sea of Sorrows, what song would you choose and why? 

The answer (by Anstice): The song that best captures the essence of Sea of Sorrows is"What I Did for Love" sung by the character Diana Morales in the musical A Chorus Line (music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban). Here is a beautiful version sung by Lea Michele from Glee:

The song was originally about how a dancer would feel after suffering a career-ending injury, but it can be applied to lots of different situations in which you know success, love or happiness are not permanent, but yours “to borrow”.

My main character, Mairg, is a shapeshifter who has never been seen in her true form by anyone but her sisters. She has come to accept that she will never have the chance to be truly known or understood. But one day she meets Erik, and he doesn’t see her as a monster. He gives her hope of another way of life in which she can help people rather than harming them.

At the end of the story, Mairg has an opportunity to seize true happiness, but it would come at great cost to someone else. She decides to “kiss today goodbye” and take control of her own destiny. I can’t reveal exactly what she does, but you can be sure that she does it “for love”.

‘What I Did for Love’ is a sad and poignant song but it’s also filled with the hope of moving on, free from regret. I hope I’ve captured the same bittersweet tone in Sea of Sorrows.   

About Sea of Sorrows

What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?

When ocean-dwelling shapeshifter Mairg is mistaken for Erik’s missing fiancĂ©e, she reluctantly agrees to help him find his love in order to protect her sisters. Erik gives her hope of a life free from killing, and she soon finds herself falling for him.

But her search for Aisla dredges up memories that Mairg’s guardian, the sea hag, would rather forget. Will Mairg fight against her own kin to save the girl Erik loves? Or will she embrace her monstrous nature and keep him for herself?

Author Bio

Anstice Brown has had her nose in a book and her head in the clouds for as long as she can remember. A geek/hippie hybrid with a love of all things retro, Anstice enjoys doodling, gaming and raving about books on her blog, Dusting the Soul. She adores speculative fiction and is currently working on a science fantasy novel.

Anstice has a BA in Literature and Philosophy and currently works as a school administrator. She lives on the East coast of England with her wonderful husband, daughter and their mischievous cat, Magical Mr. Mistoffelees.

Blog * Twitter * Facebook 

About the Anthology

Title: Masquerade: Oddly SuitedRelease date: April 30th, 2019
Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press
Genres: Young Adult Fiction: Romance – General / Paranormal / Contemporary
Print ISBN: 9781939844644
EBook ISBN: 9781939844651

Book cover for Masquerade: Oddly SuitedFind love at the ball...
Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?
Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

Stories Featured

Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.
Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher’s mound?
The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King
The new girl in town falls in love for a mysterious boy who is maybe, probably, most definitely, a vampire.
The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Falling in love, saving the day, and a masque—oh my! Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince?
A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown
You can be anything you want in the online world of Cumulus. A human. An elf. A powerful beast mutation from your wildest imagination. But can you be in love?
Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
What if life's price of servanthood could be changed?
Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
Is he a figment of her imagination conjured to keep her sane, or is he something else…something more?
Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian
Can two worlds come together and find love?
Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?
Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Everything is against Remy and Rudy, but on the night of the Masquerade Ball, they must choose: each other or their lives?
You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.


The authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to one winner. To enter, please complete the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open internationally from 12:00 am GMT 17th March to 12:00am GMT 6th May.

Tour Schedule

Visit the other blog tour hosts below to find out more about the stories and authors featured in Masquerade: Oddly Suited.


I'm Baaaaack! IWSG: March 2019

Hi everyone! I've finally made it back to the Insecure Writer's Support Group - and I've finally finished the first chapter in the second part of my current WIP. *whew* Let's hope this is the beginning of a pattern.

I don't have any good reason for having stepped away for so long, just got distracted by other shiny objects. I honestly got scared there for a bit that this writing thing was just a phase that had passed, but I've felt the pull back to it and am happy, happy.

Today, as I dip a toe back into feeling like a writer, I just want to remind everyone that no matter how stagnant you may feel in your writing, no matter how many steps you feel like you're taking backward, you're still way, way ahead of where you were when you started this writing journey.

My cousin recently returned this correspondence to my mum. It was written many moons ago by 7-year-old me to my dear, sweet Aunt Leona, whom we lost last December.
(My real name is Bev. My penname is derived from my last name: Nickelson) 

I love her even more for having saved this. ❤️ 

Hmm, I guess that's another lesson we can learn here - even though our writing isn't perfect, it can still bring joy to someone. So, keep on writing and learning and growing! I look forward to catching up with you.

Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) 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! Join us.