Wednesday, December 7, 2022

The Holidays are Exhausting!

I'm a little late posting for IWSG today... but I'm happy I made it! I'm keeping up with my holiday to do list by the skin of my teeth. And it's draining my energy! I hope you are getting the most out of these shorter days and fitting in time for you as you search for gifts and stocking stuffers and prepare for company or travel. I'm very excited to see my boys as they continue their adventures through life.

One great thing about the holidays is they always bring out stories--reminiscing over fond memories and creating new ones. Do you ever get inspired to write a holiday story? What are your favorite books and movies to enjoy at this time of year? Harry Potter is one of my holiday faves in addition to some fun Christmas specials. And I love relaxing with the family under the glow of the tree as we watch together.

Though I haven't had much time to write lately, I am very excited to be a part of a Christmas anthology with a short story about my Pop Travel main characters, Cooper & Geri that I wrote this summer.

by Dragon Soul Press

my contribution...
A Cold Case for Christmas
by Tara Tyler

Though Geri is a tough FBI Agent, she's nervous about going home with Cooper for the holidays to meet his parents. When she arrives, her trepidation is magnified by a cloud of mystery hanging over the  cozy, old farmhouse that no one wants to talk about. She vows to fight back her urge to investigate so she can make a good impression, especially for the beloved, spooky, and judgmental cat. But as the clues pile up, her nagging need to uncover the truth might spoil everything.

Available Dec 20

I'm excited to read the rest of them!

I hope your holidays are warm and cuddly and full of magical moments!


Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Tri-Holiday Haikus

Is the world more chaotic or is that just me?

It could be the full moon, and it is getting closer to the holidays...
For IWSG this November 2022
I'm sending you all cheer and Haikus!

Falling leaves pile up
Enjoy raking in brisk air
Until wind sends more

Bundle up in warm
Sweaters, hats, gloves, boots, and scarves
And a cozy book

Halloween children
Go house to house in disguise
Or reveal their truth

Doors creaking, branches scrape
Raising hairs on back of neck
Nightmares come to life

After Halloween
Christmas looms - Joy is ahead
But turkeys still fear

Let's share and get stuffed
Families trek and gather
Glad it's once a year

Shoppers on your mark
For crazy priced strategy
Bargain hunters day

Finding perfect gift
Beautiful wrapping paper
Ripped to shreds, returned

House all a-glow
Scenes of holiday wonder
Don't blow a circuit

That should do for now. I could go on and on. I love Haikus. Drop one in the comments!
Hope your Fall is full of friends and family and fond memories - reminiscing and making new ones!


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

What's your purpose?

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? Ever think you had a bigger purpose?

Many of my writer friends started penning stories in grade school. When I was little, I loved playing pretend, but I couldn't sit still long enough to write down my stories. I was also a very organized, outspoken, and bossy child--anyone who knows me is not surprised by this, ha! Not a typical writer's attributes... In addition to those, I have always liked helping people. All those qualities along with life experiences led me to be a teacher, and deep down, I probably always knew that's what I wanted to be. 

Writing came later, and the passion for it took me by surprise. Now I'm blessed to be able to do two things I love.

But I'd like to do more. I often wonder, with so, so many people in the world, how can I make a difference? I want to contribute more, reach more, help more. I hoped writing would give me a way, and I started doing presentations at schools--then the pandemic hit. When we started coming back to life, I felt much smaller. Everything stopped. It was like starting over, but I don't have the gusto I did when I was first starting out. Social media has become tainted. I'm afraid of being judged and shunned. I just don't know what I should do...?

All I can do is keep trying, right? So this is what I've been up to:
  • I mentioned last month that I finally started writing again, and submitted a short story and am a part of a Christmas Anthology. so yay!
  • And I get encouragement from our weekly Tuesday night writer's chat - you should join us! (See link in the side bar.)
  • They also inspire me to look for events--tis the season and all that jazz coming up... so I'm searching. I was recently rejected for the umpteenth time from a big local book event. Not surprised since I'm not traditionally published anymore. I need to get my latest book done! Book events like a new title and are usually free. Vendor events don't care what you're selling, but cost a bunch to get a table--risky if you may not make a profit or at least break even!
  • Lastly, I signed up for a local Writer Happy Hour in November. It's hosted by Jane Friedman, someone I've been following for years. She lives nearby and worked for Writers Digest. I'm anxious and excited!
Tell me something good! What keeps you going? What are you up to?

Have a fun and spooky October!


Wednesday, September 7, 2022


Welcome to another edition of the IWSG - where fellow writers share their hopes and woes and highs and lows. I want to thank everyone who stopped by last month when I was a co-host. It was great to visit around and receive feedback!

So, how has your writing been lately? If you are on a roll, BRAVO! But if you've lost your motivation lately, I feel you. 2020 was like a mini-Armageddon! Everyone felt ramifications from the loss and loneliness. Some are still recovering. It took me two years to find inspiration to write again. I thought I was done. I tried a couple of events, but had no luck selling. I was really low and didn't think there was a point. 

But the writing bug was still in my system. So I went back to the beginning. I started with some poetry then dusted off some short stories. I decided I would write for myself and self-publish or query if it felt right. I ended up finishing my Pop Travel Christmas mystery starring Geri and...

I have exciting news! My story was accepted into an anthology!

I've always wanted to do a Christmas anthology. And I have to thank The Warrior Muse, Shannon Lawrence for pointing out this opportunity. Shannon lists loads of sites looking for submissions. I definitely recommend subscribing to her!

The name of the anthology is MAGICK AND MISTLETOE, the publisher, Dragon Soul Press.

Everything fell together with this one. While I was finishing the story, I started my search for submissions, but didn't have high hopes since it was already 12000 words. But then I found MAGICK AND MISTLETOE ready to accept any genre up to 15000 words! Yay! I submitted a week before the deadline, and only a few days after they started reading submissions, I got an offer. Double Yay! I'm so excited!

Here's my mock up cover to go with the blurb:


While trying to make a good first impression on Cooper's parents over Christmas, Geri discovers a mystery to solve, keeping her sane while she's under all that pressure--especially from the cat! 

So the moral of the IWSG story this month is: Don't Give Up!

Life will throw tons of obstacles at us, emotionally and physically. It's okay to take a break from writing to deal with whatever pops up or whatever self-doubt lingers. But things tend to turn around and lead you to what you need and what will make you happy. Don't give up!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

I am not a Mind Reader

Successful writers have an uncanny knack for publishing what readers want at just the right time. They set the trends that other writers try to catch a wave on.

And that's the topic for this month's Insecure Writers Support Group - where writers share, encourage, and discover! 

August 3rd IWSG Question:
When you set out to write a story, do you try to be more original 
or do you try to give readers what they want?

My Answer:
First of all, I have no idea what readers want... Readers are fickle. Trends come and go--and quickly! I write what I know and whatever inspires me at the time. I try to be original in my chosen genres. And I enjoy trying new things--like mashups!-- regardless if they're popular or not. I highly recommend you do the same.

Because secondly, Readers like good writing, plain and simple. I believe that Trends are formed from good, juicy stories. And when we read something we like, we look for more - similar topics, but more importantly, we want more from that writer.

If you write what you love, you'll write your heart into it--and that's what makes good writing!

Try to stop by some other blogs and read about what writer friends - new and old - are up to. Here's the IWSG list. And here are the moderators this month:

I'll be visiting around as many blogs as I can, because school is right around the corner, and after that, I don't get out much!

Hope your writing is flourishing
and your last month of summer is full of fun and sun!


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Make Sparkles!

Have you found a way to spark your writing? It's a Holiday IWSG Post!

Happy 4th of July, America!
What a perfect time to write a Christmas story! From night time sparklers to sparkly twinkle lights... Sure, why not? Christmas in July is a big saying, right? And I've always thought, if I start now, I should be able to publish my Christmas story in time for the holidays.

As I started my summer, I vowed not to work on school things until after my teacher conference at the end of the month. And I focused my energy on things I've been wanting to get done... including start writing again. I started slow, with some poetry. And that got my creative juices flowing again. But I wasn't ready to work on my on-hold novels yet. I decided to try a short story. It was fun to reminisce through my short story ideas and notes. So many stories waiting to be told! I bet you have similar files--I recommend perusing them even if just for a good laugh =D

I chose to tackle Cooper & Geri's First Christmas (title pending) - 
While trying to make a good first impression on Cooper's parents over Christmas, Geri discovers a mystery to solve, keeping her sane while she's under all that pressure--especially from the cat! 

I only had a few pages complete, and I'm not a great mystery writer, so this was just the exercise I needed to get back into the groove. I'm excited to say the draft is done and the editing has begun. I just might be able to publish in time for Christmas.

It's about time I did some writing. It feels good to get back into it.

I hope you are sparking up a storm this summer.
Thanks for stopping by -- Keep writing!

PS - We've also started our Writers' Chat back up for the summer. Drop your email in the comments if you'd like a reminder and link to join us -- Tuesdays, 7:30 pm (EST) on Discord

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

What happened to May?

I can't believe I missed a whole month!
Well, yes I can. Here's how it went...

It all started in April as stressful wedding plans culminated into beautiful nuptials in Charleston, SC on May 1:
my middle son and his new bride

Then as soon as we returned home, I had to:
    1) motivate my youngest son to fulfill his graduation responsibilities and help him get ready for his PROM!
    2) reign in the seniors that I teach for their last days and do little gifts for them
    3) finish organizing and planning my son's graduation party
    4) go to 2 graduations - one where I teach, then my son's
    5) finalize, set up, and finally enjoy my son's grad party -- to close the month on Memorial Day!

Not to mention, while all those major events were going on, I attended baseball games, awards dinners, senior night, emptied my classroom for summer, printed pictures, had a few crying sessions, and scrounged up time to get some regular chores done... And now, it's June. I can't believe I survived!

As I embark on summer break, I hope to find a spark to write. I've caught glimpses of poems floating around in my head, possibly lyrics, or maybe even a short story... I'm wishful thinking!

Hope you are enjoying warmer weather and sunnier days.

And may you find inspiration among the mundane madness!
I plan to visit around the blogs this summer - it's been too long!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Moody Writing

What's your mood today?

Welcome to the April 2022 installment of the Insecure Writers Support Group...

Does your mood affect your writing? I definitely have to be in the mood to write. Usually, I complain about not having enough time to write. But over spring break, I was blessed with some extra time, and I just wasn't in the mood... I am stuck in the editing of two novels. I have glimpses of new ideas, but I hate not finishing what I've started. If I was working on these WIPs, I'd have no trouble taking a break to write some new stuff, but my writing inspiration has left me.


Way back when, I was writing for myself. Then I made a goal to get published. Now I wanted to inspire kids, especially boys like my own, to read more and spread a positive message. 

Lately, everything has changed, as the world tends to do. My boys are grown (still not readers, taking after their father) and though I had a small audience and felt like I inspired some reader fans, I started to lose motivation when my publisher winked out of existence. Then Disney stole my Beast World setting along with my desire to keep going with that series. And finally, the isolation and harsh political undertones everywhere have made me wary to write anything that might offend someone. At this point, I don't see the upside of writing.

But don't feel sorry for me! I'm merely at a juncture. I still want to share stories and inspire others, I just need to figure out how. So whether I gumption up and write, or go out and speak, or try my hand at producing something, I'm still hopeful! God will guide me and help me keep my chin up.

I hope you are in a good place or will soon be! Keep writing and having faith!
Bad times can't last forever, though they may seem to... 
and sometimes we can find some big inspiration from them!


Just like the saying goes, April Showers Bring May Flowers!

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

The Publishing Biz

For this month's IWSG post, I'm sharing an interview about publishing with a pro!

L. Diane Wolfe
Senior Editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.

First, we'll talk about the IWSG Anthologies... How do you choose judges? and Themes? Can I ask - how much participation/entries do you receive?

We all search for judges based on the genre. Alex (J. Cavanaugh) probably does the most work on this.

For the theme, we all make suggestions and then vote on them. I always remind the other admins that simple is best and keep it to one-two words. We usually pick the best although I have the final say since it will be the title of the book my company publishes.

Alex said we had a record number of entries this year. That’s probably why this year’s top stories are the best we’ve ever had—lots of competition.

Fantastic - better and better every year!

As a publisher, how's business?

It’s been an interesting couple of years. 2020 we had no live events, which really hurt, but fortunately eBooks and audio books sold better than previous years, balancing out the lack of print sales. Last year was better although some of our live events allowed fewer attendees which certainly reflected in sales.

This year we have four amazing releases. It’s all a matter of getting them in front of their target audience.

I hear you and am also feeling the pinch. Hoping to get back to business soon!

Do you work with agents?

We’ve had agents approach us, but we prefer to work directly with authors. We are a small press, so it is my opinion that any agent contacting us is really aiming low and the author deserves better. (Agents take a 15% cut. Since writers can query us directly, I feel they deserve a better deal.)

That's reasonable and thoughtful! Many authors appreciate a direct approach.

What sells the best? Anthologies? a specific genre? popular authors?

Science fiction is one of our top sellers along with middle grade historical. But sometimes titles will surprise us. We have a fantasy/paranormal romance coming out later this year that’s garnered more positive review request responses than any book we’ve ever published. Some of our anthologies have done well and we are hoping that the upcoming romance title will perform great.

I think romance is a standard and usually does well.

What do you love about your job? (btw, do you have another job? Seems like this would be full time!)

I love the ability to work from home and set my own hours. Of course, my husband says I am the worst boss ever as I am at my computer (off and on) from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm or later doing work. I have a few other sources of income—book formatting, speaking engagements, teaching sessions at community colleges across NC, etc. I try to keep all of that spread out so it doesn’t take away from what I need to do for Dancing Lemur Press.

Well, your hard work pays off! Thanks for enlightening us on the IWSG Anthology and giving us info about publishing trends. All valuable info. Great chatting with you!

L. Diane Wolfe is the Owner of Dancing Lemur Press LLC as well as a Speaker & Author. Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. Wolfe is the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

  • Last little side note - I met a fellow local author recently, Janet Irvin, and she has a great blog and following. And I'm honored to be featured as her "Author of the Month!" Here's my interview... 

Make sure you follow Diane and check out her imprints and blog!

Looking ahead to better weather on the horizon.
Ready for sunnier skies and dispositions!

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

I Love a Happy Ending

I especially love a happy ending that leads to a beautiful beginning.

If you set any resolutions, I hope those haven't ended. But you can resolve to make improvements in your life at any time of the year! I found a great list of inspirational changes for a better you (and me). I edited it down to a more manageable list because I find a shorter list is easier to handle (and remember). Maybe just try one each month (and hope they stick from the previous month)

15 Positive Resolutions... (borrowed from Article)
  1. Drink more water
  2. Move more, sit less
  3. Volunteer more
  4. Call mom/siblings/grandparents more
  5. Live simple, consume/waste less
  6. Turn on music instead of video
  7. Take more breaks
  8. Ditch one bad habit
  9. Clean out your in-box
  10. Take a 24-hr break from social media once a month
  11. Clean out your closet
  12. Make a new friend
  13. Learn a new language
  14. Organize your photos
  15. Go outside more
I started working on #2 - I was doing great with my nightly treadmill treks, until I got sick again. I'm trying to get back into it now that I'm better. The trick is to remember to go down there when I'm at a break before my alarm goes off. I'm usually in the middle of something for the alarm and forget to go later.

I also picked up #6 - not that I watch much TV or videos these days. And not that I have much interest in the current TV Series. I've been watching re-runs of old faves and new-to-me oldies. But turning on my radio instead of wasting time trying to find something to watch has been a pleasant change.

And I hope to carry these forward into my regular routine when I choose another one... 

This summer I hope to pick back up on my writing. I've had a few ideas strike me but time is not on my side. I'm just glad we have the IWSG to keep me blogging. It's so nice to communicate with you all. Something I don't want to come to an end any time soon!

Speaking of Happy Endings, we are celebrating Valentine's Day with lovely bites from each author in the new IWSG anthology - First Love. Stop by if you can!

So, do you have any positive changes you're working on?
Is this year going well? I hope so!

Stay warm and optimistic!

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

New Year, New Life

Happy IWSG day and Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were jolly and you enjoyed time with family and friends. We sure did! We have been truly blessed. And after that short blip of fantasy, it's now time to face harsh reality again.

Big changes are ahead for me and my family this year. 

My oldest son who graduated from college and has a great job moved back in with us last summer to save money. I'm sure he will want to move out this year to be on his own. I've loved having him back, but he's ready to fly.

My middle son--the army guy who lives far away--will be getting married in May, if all goes according to plan. They are young, so you know how that goes.

And my youngest will be graduating high school then heading off to college in August.

I'm really glad I have a job to keep me busy or I don't know what I would do with myself. I've been down about all the changes, not only in my own future, but with the unstable world. I'm a worrier, which usually sends me into action, but I've been frustrated lately because there doesn't seem to be anything I can do. The down time has been awful.

The down time is usually when I write. But this funky mood has taken a hatchet my desire to write.  It's like my muse is being held for ransom somewhere. I haven't worked on my WIPs in a month. Sure the holidays are a busy time and I had to prepare for company as I finished up the semester at school, plus I got a cold in November and the flu in December... but I'm a whirlwind of activity. I thrive on chaos and pressure.

Probably the biggest drain on my willingness to sit down and write is the lack of events. In person book events kept me writing because I love talking to readers, and they bought my books. My writing had a purpose. I felt valued. After trying for two years to finish a new book, I've hit a wall. Motivation has left me stuck in a mud puddle of self-doubt.

With school starting back up, I'll be busy again, so I will survive. But I'm not sure if I'll keep up with my monthly posts. I really appreciate the IWSG and all my writing and blogging friends. You've always been there with acknowledgement and encouragement.

The world is constantly changing with highs and lows to keep it interesting. I hope you are dealing with it better than I am. Maybe I need to refocus and reboot. Maybe I will change tracks and start writing a non-fiction inspirational book... For now, I'm allowing myself to take a break from writing. Sometimes that's what we need to get the spark back, right?

Wishing you happiness and productivity and a light at the end of the tunnel in 2022!

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