Do You Dreamstorm Your Writing?


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Writing fiction is part art, part craft, part grammar. Today I talk about a drafting technique—Dreamstorming, at Chris Eboch’s blog, and no, this has nothing to do with dreams. Come chat with me there! :)

My writing friend Melanie Lee has interviewed me about my love for tea, and how it relates to writing…do any other writers/ readers of this blog love tea?

Happy Halloween, one and all….imagining y’all in your Halloween costumes !!

Do You Want to Write Books for Children?


Chris Eboch Kids writing

Chris Eboch: Writing for Children: The Eyes of Pharaoh

Writing books for kids is no child’s play. It requires a special skill-set to write books that will engage children as well as educate or entertain them. I’ve always been curious about writing for children, and today children’s author Chris Eboch shares some of the basics of writing for kids. Take it away, Chris!

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Damyanti asked me to talk about writing for children. That’s a big subject, butI’ll cover a couple of important points. Besides publishing a dozen children’s books myself, I’ve taught hundreds of students and critique thousands of manuscripts, so I’ll look at a few common misconceptions and mistakes.

Chris Eboch: Writing for Children

Chris Eboch: Writing for Children: The Well of Sacrifice

Misconception: Children’s books are easier than other forms of writing.

Truth: Writing for children is in many ways harder than writing for grown-ups. In both cases, you have to have interesting and relatable characters, dramatic plots, and smooth writing. For children, you have to do everything in fewer words. Picture books are typically less than 1000 words, with less than 500 words preferred. Short stories are usually under 1200 words (under 800 for Highlights magazine), while stories for the younger children may be under 400 words. Even novels are shorter and the writing must be tight, to appeal to busy and restless readers. You also have to have an appropriate language level. Learning to write well for children can take years (though they can be fun years!).

Common Mistake: Writing a story with no conflict, a slice of life or something quiet.

Solution: Children’s stories need a strong conflict like every story does. The character should have a problem or a goal. For very young children, it can be a simple goal, like making a new friend or staying up late. For young adult novels, it can be as serious as dealing with abuse or addiction. But children’s stories need plot, and plot comes from conflict.

Common Mistake: Writing a story where the adult solves the problem – a parent, grandparent, teacher, fairy godmother, ghost, or some other creature steps into fix the situation or tell the child what to do.

Solution: The main character should solve his or her own problem. In some cases it’s all right to ask an adult for help or advice, but the child must control the story, make a final decision about what to do, and be responsible for the end result. Kids are inspired by reading about other children who tackle challenges and succeed. It’s not as satisfying if someone else steps in to fix things (or worse, scolds the child for misbehaving and tells them what they should have done instead). Avoid preaching!

Common Mistake: Writing for children without reading modern children’s stories.  (This gets back to that misconception that children’s books are easy to write. Or in some cases the writer is basing their stories on what they remember reading as a child, which may have been many decades ago.) This leads to an outdated tone, inappropriate language level, stories lacking interest for today’s kids, or formats totally inappropriate for the market (such as 3000 word picture books).

Solution: All writers need to read widely in their genre. That helps you understand the parameters of that genre and see what has already been done. You’ll also start to internalize the language and pacing of children’s books. Stories have changed over the last century, so it’s important to read recent books or magazines to understand both what children find interesting, and how modern stories are styled. Reading can also help you with market research if you pay attention to the publishers.

Damyanti also asked about tips for breaking in to the children’s market. The best advice I can give you is to take time to learn how to write well, and to understand the market, before you start submitting your work.

Take courses (the Institute of Children’s Literature offers a correspondence course through mail or e-mail, and you may be able to find a local community college course).

Attend workshops or conferences (SCBWI, The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, has regional groups around the country and the world, many offering annual conferences or retreats and more frequent small workshops or meetings).

Read books or magazines on writing (including mine for novelists, Advanced Plotting).

Join a critique group, sign up for a critique at a conference, and/or hire an editor to review your work. (SCBWI can be a resource for finding critique groups and also offers a list of freelance editors – or you can see my rates and recommendations.)

Basically, don’t rush things. Starting a new career takes time and education, so take the time to learn and enjoy the process. Have fun with the writing, and your readers are more likely to have fun with the reading.

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Chris Eboch with her Children's Books

Chris Eboch: Books for Kids

Learn more about Chris and read excerpts of her work at www.chriseboch.com (for children’s books) or www.krisbock.com (for adult romantic suspense written under the name Kris Bock) or see her Amazon page. You can also read excerpts from Advance Plotting and get other writing craft advice on her blog.

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Through the months of November and December, some fab writers would take over Daily (w)rite. At least twice a week, this blog would host posts on writing, by writers.

I still have a few slots open for December, so I would welcome guest posts by writers who have something to say about the art, craft, and business of writing. Write me a mail at atozstories at gmail dot com to discuss this.

Guest Post by Mary Pax: Helping Our Fellow Writers


Semper Audacia by M Pax

Semper Audacia by M Pax

Through the months of November and December, some fab writers would take over Daily (w)rite. At least twice a week, this blog would host posts on writing, by writers.

I still have a few slots open for December, so I would welcome guest posts by writers who have something to say about the art, craft, and business of writing. Write me a mail at atozstories at gmail dot com to discuss this.

As a foretaste of things to come, I welcome Mary Pax to my blog today. I love her blog, and her latest offering, Semper Audacia, is on my TBR pile. It is a space opera of 13,200 words, priced at .99 cents, and is available on Smashwords and Amazon. If you haven’t already, I urge you to check it out.

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Helping Our Fellow Writers

All writers need help. Often we want to, but are unsure how. Whether short on time or money, you can still assist a fellow writer get off the ground. How?

1.  Click on the links to their book. If you have Facebook, click on the ‘Like’ button at Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, wherever the book is available.

2.  Tweet or send a FB message about the book to your followers.

3.  Buy or download the book.

4.  Leave a review. On Smashwords you need to have purchased there to leave a review, but on other sites you can leave reviews without having purchased – Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, you just need to be a member.

5.  Blog about the book and / or writer.

6.  Invite the author onto your blog to write a guest post.

All these things assist the author in getting his/her name out there. Marketing and sales are an uphill battle for all new authors, whether traditionally published, published through a small press, or part of the Indie Revolution. Together, we can help authors move another step, help them achieve their dreams.

This is a valuable network. That’s what blogging is all about. Networking. The value is in each of us helping each other. We can’t do it alone.

Leda says that same thing when facing her world’s enemy in a final showdown in Semper Audacia. She’s the last soldier left, the final line of defense. She calls on the ghosts of the dead to help her through it, the memories of those she loved, knowing she can’t get through it alone.

Here’s a trailer of the book:

Available for 99 cents from Amazon and Smashwords. You can find links for AmazonUK, Amazon DE, Amazon France, Barnes & Noble and iTunes on my website: www.mpaxauthor.com, or on my blog, Wistful Nebulae

Thanks to Damyanti for having me here today on her wonderful blog. What suggestions do you have in assisting our fellow writers?

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About M. Pax: Inspiring the words I write, I spend my summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where I live with the husband unit and two loving cats. I write speculative fiction mostly and have a slight obsession with giant, man-eating reptiles and Jane Austen. I know, they don’t really go together, but it’d be interesting to insert Godzilla in the middle of Pride & Prejudice.

Writers, are you Amateurs or Professionals?


Amateur or Professional?

Amateur or Professional?

Professional writers write for money. Amateurs write for enjoyment. If you are writing with no expectation of being paid, you are an amateur.”

Do you agree?

This is what I’m discussing at Misha Gericke’s blog today. Go weigh in, please, and check out what other writers have to say.

Writing Flash Fiction based on Reginald Marsh


Writing flash fiction has become one of my favorite writing exercises, and this is my entry in response to the flash fiction challenge at Pattinase, (based on Reginald’s Marsh’s paintings).

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Reginald Marsh: Two Girls: Flash Fiction Example

Reginald Marsh: Two Girls: Flash Fiction Challenge

It wasn’t her fault. The day was too gorgeous, Marta altogether too persuasive, the white swimsuit with black seams she had bought for herself the week before too flattering.

She had gone to the beach instead of staying home to tend to Charlie. Charlie had fever, yes, but it was summer fever, here today, gone tomorrow, and Charlie was a hearty boy.

The day had lived up to its promise. The warm sand had lulled her senses, Marta had made her laugh for the first time in months, the breeze had soothed her skin and the balmy, caressing water had made her wonder why she hadn’t done this before.

When she came back, the maid had called her husband. He stood by Charlie’s bedside, like a jug of ice on a summer afternoon, cold and sweating. He looked at the gasping boy and not at her when she spoke to him. He had his hand on the doctor’s shoulder.

Marta came to stand between them, one arm each around husband and wife, murmuring the sort of nonsense people utter at sickbeds without hope. It was to Marta her husband clung when the doctor closed Charlie’s eyes. If only you had called me before, the doctor said as he stood up, maybe I could have helped him. I’m so sorry.

Long after that sunshiny morning that darkened all the following days of her life; after they buried Charlie in a coffin the size of a crib, after her husband left her and married Marta, after her thick blonde hair grew wispy and gray, her body lost the battle of time without a fight– that day still came back in her dreams.

She willed the water to disappear, for the beach to become a desert, for the sun to burn her skin, anything to shorten her day out. She wanted to see Charlie. But lately, Charlie’s face had grown blurred in her memory despite the faded photographs by her bedside table. She felt tired, did not get out of bed unless she had to.

One night, as she slid again into that morning when she was a golden-haired goddess in the sun, who had a friend, a husband, and a son, and no idea at all that she would lose them all that very day, she decided she had grown too old to fight.

She had left Charlie back at home so she could enjoy a day in the sun, and that is what she would do.

As she let go, she saw the curve of her young back glowing in the sun, her blonde hair tangling over her blushing face, Marta’s neat figure in a swimsuit that was the same as hers except it was yellow, a red bandana holding back Marta’s dark hair. She saw her own face as it was on that day, smiling out a ruby-lipped smile, as if from a painting.

She wondered what had stopped her from doing this before.

Paying it Forward, Author Interview and Call for Guest Posts


Writer E J Wesley has asked me a few questions about writing and  A to Z Stories of Life and Death. Please come and chat with me there. Also, I’m guest posting at Kelly McClymer’s blog today, talking about reading, writing and reading like a writer. Join the conversation and pencil in your opinions.

Now for the Pay it Forward blogfest by Matthew at the QQQE and Alex. J. Cavanaugh. This is their requirement:

In your post, we would like you to please list, describe, and link to three blogs that you enjoy reading and know that others would enjoy as well.

So here are my faves:

Mostly Bright Ideas: I’ve never met a blogger who combines humor and philosophy quite this way. If you haven’t see this blog, you’re missing out big time. Follow this blog and it will lighten up your darkest hours.

Tale Spinning: If you like fiction (which I do, obviously) this is your blog. I love the whimsical stories, the elements of fantasy, and the vivid writing. Follow this one too.

The Task at Hand: For the simple, lingering joy of reading, this blog has few equals. I taste each word as I read it, and so should you.

Call for GUEST POSTS:  I’m taking a sort of blogcation in November and December. But since this blog  and Amlokiblogs are both doing quite okay, and have a good reach on Triberr, seems a waste to leave them in suspended animation.

Some of my amazing writer-friends have offered to guest for me, but I’m still looking for more posts, because 2 months for 2 blogs equals almost 50 posts! Feel free to suggest posts about books you have published.

If you’d like to do a guest post, please check the guidelines, and write to me at atozstories at gmail dot com if you’re interested.

So far, so good. Now, I hope you’re clicking away only to check out the links in this post. Have a good weekend and happy writing, everyone!

Interviewing Author Sarah Makela


I met talented author Sarah Makela during the A to Z Challenge, and have kept in touch via Twitter.

I’m not a Paranormal Romance fan myself, but I’ve read a few, and would like  to know more about the genre and its publication norms.

The story of Sarah’s publication is amazing, and since a lot of my author friends are also querying their books, I thought an interview with her would be of interest.

Sarah would be happy to answer any further questions in the comments, so ask away!

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1.      Tell us about the genre/s you write in, and what inspired you to choose them.

The genres I write in are cyberpunk romance, paranormal romance, and urban fantasy. I write paranormal romance because it’s something I’ve loved to read for a long time. I enjoy urban fantasy because it gives me a chance to follow a character around and immerse myself in their world. It also allows me to have romantic elements, but not focus the plot on the romance entirely.

Cyberpunk romance is a new genre for me. I only started writing it at the beginning of the year. It was something I found intriguing before but it intimidated me. The push to try it came when I saw a call for submissions for it. I figured I didn’t have anything to lose, so I went for it. I’m glad I did since I’ve fallen in love with the genre, and it led to me finding my publisher through a contest win judged by celebrity judges Angela Knight, Dakota Cassidy, Michele Bardsley, and Kate Douglas. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

2.      What is a genre that you find intriguing enough to try which is currently outside your comfort zone?

Well, I guess I just answered this one to an extent in the previous question. That said, I’m going to be trying my hand with a paranormal western romance which will come out December 2011. Another genre I’d love to try but haven’t yet is historical (of course with paranormal elements).

3.      What is the profile of the readers you target through your work?

People who enjoy reading the genres I write in. Beyond that, I try write stories I’d like to read and then I hope readers will feel the same.

4.      How important has your online presence been in the publication and sales of your work?

My online presence wasn’t a main factor in me gaining publication, having a great, polished story was. I don’t think it hurts though! I know of other people whom it was more important for. Sales though, I think having an online presence is a lot more important for, but authors shouldn’t nag people on social networks to buy your book or talk solely about their book all the time. It’s important to connect and communicate with people.

5.      What are your views on self-publishing vs traditional publishing?

I think self-publishing has opened the door for people to publish their stories without having to go through the process of traditional publishing, which I don’t think is necessarily a good thing. I know that I learned A LOT during my querying process. It helped to make me the writer I am. Also, I think self-publishing comes with the potential hazard of books being published that might not be ready to see the light of day.

A pro is that it gives authors with out of print backlists the ability to make those books available to their readers. Something else is the complete control it gives the author (for better or worse) about cover art/editing, etc.

I’ll be honest, I’m happy with having a publisher since with self-publishing the author is wearing all the different hats and has to do everything. I find myself a little overwhelmed with all that I have going on as it is. I’m more than happy to let other people do their part in making (and selling) my books. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever experiment with self-publishing though.

6.      How long does it take you from the germinating idea to publishing your novels?

It really depends on the book. I’ve been writing for about ten years, and I have several books tucked under the bed. With the Techno Crazed, the novella that got me published, I came up with the idea mid-December, wrote and edited it in January, and began submission at the end of January. It was contracted at the end of April and published June 16th. The idea for Jungle Heat came to me about nine or ten years ago. It was the first novella I completed. It was contracted at the end of April as well and published in July after coming very close to giving up on it.

My last two novellas have been about two and a half months from idea to publication due to writing them on contract.

7.       What is the process you follow in writing your novels: are you a plotter or pantser?

I’m pretty much a hybrid. My process is typically that I don’t follow a process. Haha… Some books I’ve written in true plotter form, and some books I’ve totally pantsed. Yes, I did mention that I have several that haven’t seen the light of day yet, didn’t I?

Anyways, I typically know what has to happen, but I figure it how to get there as I write. I’m happy that my publisher doesn’t mind since with Jungle Fire, my book that came out October 6, my initial idea was a little different than what came about at the end.

8.      Tell us about the books you have published, and anything you have forthcoming.

I have four books published with one free read short story coming soon and a paranormal western romance coming out in December.

Hacked Investigations 1: Techno Crazed-Cyberpunk romance

Private investigator Hannah Franklin’s life is turned upside down after being contacted by a former employee of MAX Home Security, the leader in security services. But they’re not just protecting people anymore. Hannah’s informant claims to have proof that MAX has ordered the assassination of politicians who stood against the corporation.

When her informant is killed and an attempt is made on her life, Hannah has no choice but to contact a freelance hacker. Her only hope now lies in the hands of a man she never expected to welcome back into her life.

Ian Bradley has lost his girlfriend and his job, as well as having acquired a very annoying gnome. Now his ex, Hannah, is in danger, and she needs his help. Ian vows to protect Hannah with every resource available to him — and as a technomage in a high-tech world, his resources are almost endless…

Hacked Investigations 2: Savage Bytes, which came out last month. Cyberpunk romance

Private investigator Hannah Franklin has a new partner, her sizzling hot lover and technomage, Ian Bradley. But they may be in over their heads when brought in by their friend from the hospital to quietly solve a case that baffles even the police. The victims are being drained of blood and having their organs removed in a ritualistic fashion.

When Ian’s attention narrows to solely encompass their work, he’ll need to keep their relationship strong, or he could find himself repeating a painful past.

The Amazon Chronicles 1: Jungle Heat-Paranormal romance

The Amazon Rainforest still contains a few secrets. One of these secrets is a hidden village of women whose history is filled with the horror of conquering men.

Adara Rukan, princess of the Amazons, ventures away from her village to find something waiting for her. Andrei “Rei” Makarov is a weretiger and a biologist on assignment. Can Rei and Adara find love enough to bridge their two separate worlds?

Jungle Fire by Sarah Makela

Jungle Fire by Sarah Makela

The Amazon Chronicles 2: Jungle Fire, which is my newest release-Paranormal romance

In the Amazon Rainforest, traditions are important. They’ve long led to survival for the Amazon warrior women.

Kyle Reynolds, ruler of the werepumas, is ready to fly in the face of those treasured customs for the love of Rubia Costa, who will soon be out of his grasp if he can’t win her affection before allies of the Amazons steal her away from him forever.

Find my books at Changeling Press and All Romance eBooks.

9.      If you had the chance to speak directly to your readers, what would you say to them?

Thank you for all of your support! I’m truly amazed and humbled. I love hearing from my readers, so don’t hesitate to drop me an email.

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Bio: Sarah Mäkelä lives in North Carolina with her husband and cats. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, computer and console games, and traveling all over the world. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, as well as the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers and the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapters. Find her online at www.sarahmakela.com.

Interview with Writer Sylvia Ney


I’ve always been interested in the work processes of other authors, so it is a joy to be able to host an interview with fellow-writer and blogger Sylvia Ney.

I hope you’ll enjoy the chat with her as much as I did, and feel as inspired by her personal writing journey!

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What genres do you like to write in? Which books in your favorite genres do you really like?

I enjoy writing in a variety of genres. Some of my favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Edgar Alan Poe, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Dr. Seuss, J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll. One of my favorite books is To Kill A Mockingbird.

Tell us about your personal writing journey, and your work process. This is very interesting both to readers and other writers!

I began writing when I was about ten. My cousin and I were playing school and she gave me a writing assignment. I’ve enjoyed writing ever since. I joined the school Newspaper in high school and college; working my way up to editor of both. I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications and began teaching journalism, Newspaper, Yearbook, Photography, broadcasting and Screenwriting. I spent seven years teaching others the craft I loved, but the only writing I published during that time was for educational purposes… lesson plans, curriculum, grant writing etc.

After the birth of my first daughter four years ago, I quit to become a stay-at-home mom.  I began writing again, but lost everything in a hurricane induced flood in October 2008. I was pregnant with my second daughter at the time and writing became my refuge.

Homeless, with a soon to be two-year-old and another on the way, writing kept me sane. I would love to say life has calmed down and I have a writing schedule, but with two kids under the age of five, that doesn’t happen. I don’t have a schedule or ONE specific process. I write when I have time or am inspired by things around me.  It would be nice for writing to become my full time career when the kids are in school. I have drawers full of my writing and I’ll get around to editing and publishing them when I have a chance.  However, my girls are my priority and I love spending time with them.  If it happens great, but life is good how it is.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing? How does it compare with traditional publishing?

Aren’t most of us self-published since we keep a blog? ;-)Seriously though, self-publication is very enticing. You’re not facing the rejection of an agent or editor; you have more control over your finished product, you choose the price and have an extremely shorter wait period to publication. However, I still prefer “Traditional” publishing for a number of reasons. I want someone else to feel it’s good enough to publish, I want someone else to help edit it (I don’t think many of us are capable of effectively editing ourselves, no matter how good we are at editing others) and I don’t want to have to worry about the hassle of the printing.Either way, authors should be prepared to do their own marketing.

Are there any tips you would like to share with new writers?

Read and write every day. Read your favorite genres, read books on the craft, read blogs of other authors. There is a multitude of information and contradictory advice out there. Weed through and find what works for you. Our minds don’t work the same and we all have different interests and strengths. Be willing to learn and find your own process for success.

What is your goal as a writer? How close are you to achieving it?

I’ve published articles, educational material, poetry, short stories and now keep a regular blog. I’d like to try to publish a book. I’ve written several, but am not yet confident enough to send them off. My main goal is to keep learning and trying new things. To me, that is success.

What is your latest work? What would compel a reader to pick it up? Where is it available?

My two most recent published pieces are: “Feeding the Soul” in Chicken Soup Just for Preteens which released July 26, 2011 and “Broken Angel” a short western published last month on Rope and Wire.


“Feeding the Soul”
is a recollection of a time I spent feeding the homeless when I was about twelve. Like most of the stories in this collection, it is a personal experience shared to help preteens understand some of the common struggles and views we all experience.“Broken Angel” was my first attempt at writing a western. I’ve only recently read a few westerns and loved the genre. Readers seemed to enjoy my tale and thanks to some great feedback from them, I plan rework it and possibly expand on the story.

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Sylvia Ney

Sylvia Ney

Sylvia Ney resides in southeast Texas with her husband, two daughters and miniature dachshund.She is a published author who sometimes ghostwrites for others. She has published poetry, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and photography.

To learn more about her or her publications, you can find her blog: Writing in Wonderland

She can also be found on Twitter: @SylviaNey and Facebook  - Sylvia Ney

Are You An Insecure Writer?


Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try.

Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try.

I could tell you I’m not insecure, but I guess I’d be lying.

Most writers, even successful, bestselling award-winning ones, have their insecurities….the difference is they’re not worried about their first publication, but whether their next novel would be better, more successful than the last.

Or at least I imagine they should, because after winning the Nobel prize for literature, this is what Toni Morrison had to say to writers, and to herself:

“Stop thinking about saving your face. Think of our lives and tell us your particularized world. Make up a story. Narrative is radical, creating us at the very moment it is being created. We will not blame you if your reach exceeds your grasp; if love so ignites your words they go down in flames and nothing is left but their scald. Or if, with the reticence of a surgeon’s hands, your words suture only the places where blood might flow. We know you can never do it properly – once and for all. Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try.”

So, as a fledgling writer who has taken to the pen three years ago, I know my craft is not the best it can be, that I still have a million miles to cover before I can bring any mastery to my writing.

And as to life experience, the lifeblood of our writing—who can claim to understand life’s depth, its purpose, its reach? Life teaches us till our last breath. No writer can ever measure up to everything his life has taught him.

So yes, I wear my insecurities like a uniform, they give me purpose, and my place in this world. I wake up each morning terrified of not being able to write, I labor the day away and it disappears, and at night I go to bed dissatisfied with what I’ve written. Inside me I know that no matter how much I learn writing, there will still be that much more to learn—because one lifetime is not enough to learn all the craft, the discipline, the art, the artifice that goes into writing.

An editor told me last week she is including one of my stories for her anthology, which should be in print end of this year. It was a moment’s validation. But along with a pat on the back, it was also a kick on the butt: it reminded me I had to finish a collection of short stories and my novel, and how I still had a long way to go with both. Back to my insecurities, back to the grind.

So to echo Morrison, who in turn has echoed Browning( Ah, but man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?):

I’ll always be insecure, and I’ll always be reaching for perfection. If nothing else, it would make me a better writer than when I began.

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Insecure Writer's Support Group

Insecure Writers!

This was a post for Alex J Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support  Group. Click on the link to reach fellow insecure writers!