Frequently Asked Question: Are You a Risk Taker?

Hi, everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for a question from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Are you a risk-taker when writing? Do you try something radically different in style/POV/etc. or add controversial topics to your work?

I guess the answer is: it depends on what you mean by risk.

I wrote The Rock Star in the Mirror in second person present POV. Honestly, it was an experiment. However, I wound up loving both the immediacy and the conversational tone it gave to Joe the Lion.

Several  of my books (the Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series and Down on the Corner of Love, just to name a couple of examples) deal with racism and prejudice — which has somehow become controversial to call out, but not to perform. Bayou Fire‘s female protagonist, Diana, lives with an invisible illness.

Some people might say that by writing about these issues, I’m doing something risky. I don’t think so. All art is intended to be thought-provoking.

Honestly, I think I took a bigger risk when I took a sternwheeler ride on the Mississippi River when researching Bayou Fire than in anything I’ve ever written. I’m a lousy sailor, but I got on that boat anyway so that I could see what it was like to ride one and understand how it worked.

At the end of the day, shouldn’t we all be extending ourselves just a little bit for our art?

Frequently Asked Question: “What’cha readin’?”

Hi, everyone. It’s time once again for the Insecure Writers Support Group‘s question:

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?

I think it’s crucial for authors to read widely … and not just in the genre they write. Branch outside your comfort zone. Sure, you may find that not everything is to your taste, but you’ll know what’s out there. If you most frequently read (or write) cozy mysteries, check out some noir or historicals. You never know; you might, as I did, find a new favorite author or two in the process. You will learn things about pacing, vocabulary, creating tension, and more if you expand your reading habits.

(Photo by the author, taken a couple of years ago. This stack includes books that came home with me from Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans in 2018, books from a swap shelf at the office, and those sent for review. Numerous genres and authors represented.)

Frequently Asked Question: With a Little Help From My Friends

Today’s question comes, once again, from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group:

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?

It may help to know that WordPress is not my first rodeo as a blogger. I was on Livejournal in the early 2000s (I have a paid, permanent account), but I was part of the exodus after the Russian company bought it out and laid down some heavy censorship. I also had an author blog over at GoodReads starting in 2009; this blog is now sent there via RSS.

So, when you consider that I’ve been part of the blogosphere for 20+ years, it makes sense that I have indeed made friends this way. Back when we were still traveling, we would meet up when one of us was in town (whoever’s town it was) and have dinner and/or drinks. It’s been wonderful getting to know the folks who were, at first, just pixels on the screen.

What doesn’t make sense is asking a closed question (i.e., yes or no) as a writing prompt.

Frequently Asked Question: When Is Quitting Time?

insecure2bwriters2bsupport2bgroup2bbadgeThis month’s question from the Insecure Writers Support Group is timely.

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?

I stopped reading a book just two days ago. It was one that many other people appear to have enjoyed greatly, but it wasn’t for me.

There are a few things that will pull me out of a story (homophone errors, for example), but the main one is this: if, by 100 pages into the story, you haven’t given me a character I can care about, I’m not reading any further. There are too many books out there and too little time.

Now, I will say that I have been on the verge of abandoning books and had them take a turn that kept me reading. It really is a rarity for me not to finish. But I have to care about the characters and what happens to them in order to do so.

Frequently Asked Question: It’s The Time of the Season

Hi, everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month, so it’s time for our question from the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Here is this month’s question:

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

In short, no. Living with autoimmune disease, having a full-time job, doing research; all of these impact my ability to write. Throw in the stress of COVID-19, and I’m just not producing on the level I would like.

And you know what? That’s fine. Every word we get down on paper (or the screen, but you know what I mean) is one we didn’t have before. Be gentle with yourself, friends. There are no rules.