Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Bad Guys, Bad Guys . . . What you gonna do?

Today's simmering into 87F. Thank goodness, it's movie day, where the air conditioning is cranked up really high, and I'll smell that buttery popcorn while sitting in the dark, watching a movie. Tuesday is our excuse to go out, dinner and a movie, though the choices in movies isn't that great this summer:  Bikeriders? Thelma? Ghost Light? Well, that last one is a takeoff on Romeo and Juliet, so we'll see.

Update on Unleashed Pursuit. Each day begins with writing, though the challenge this week seems to be really understanding my villain. I can see his face, maybe hear a little dialogue, but I still don't understand how he became a bad guy, someone who runs a sleazy nightclub and trafficks young girls. 

A little research online led to a fascinating article from Psychology Today that points me right to nurture vs. nature. In short, those early childhood years have a profound influence on how someone's ethics, morality, and behavior develop. So, if I throw abandonment and outright abuse into the mix, I just might have my bad guy.

The article by Dr. Joseph H. Baskin points out that poor impulse control, an inability to delay gratification, and an unwillingness to actually see the possible consequences of an action -- all lead to trouble. One final point by Dr. Baskin suggests I should be looking at a psychopath, someone so damaged by his childhood that he cannot feel for another (empathy) and who is driven entirely by self-interest. If someone says no . . . does he fly into a rage?

Interesting. If someone tells me, "No, I don't think you can write another book," (for example), I do feel an almost immediate inner sense of stubbornness and recommitment to my goals. But I'm not a bad guy. Not even when I worked at the bank so many decades ago and was told by one of my bosses to hide several hundred thousand dollars, without telling anyone. For about 5 seconds, I did think of a trip far, far away. Instead, I took the unmarked envelope to my friend in Operations and told him to put it in the vault without looking. 

What I'm reading this week: I'm fascinated by Joan Kopczynski's Spies, Lies & Psychosis: A Personal Journal of Adult Schizoaffective Illness Triggered by Traumatic Events of Love, Espionage, and Betrayal. This entertaining and intense memoir dives into the emotional costs of a high-stress life and is nearly impossible to put down. Currently only available as a paperback, I found my copy at the library.

May you stay cool in the coming week of heat waves.

And what do you think about creating a fictional villain? Any suggestions?

Saturday, June 08, 2024

IWSG June: . . . "I'm late, I'm late . . . "

 Like Alice down the rabbit hole, I'm late. It's Saturday night. My post for the Insecure Writers' Support Group's June question was suppposed to be ready to read on the first Wednesday of the month. Ouch. The truth is that real life distracted me from my writing life.

So, in an effort to catch up, here's my response to this month's question (see more about IWSG below).

IWSG June 5 Question: In this constantly evolving industry, what kind of offering/service do you think the IWSG should consider offering to members?

Although I haven't taken advantage of the other services that IWSG does offer, I'd begin by saying that this online community already does much for writers at every level. Their website HERE offers links to writing and marketing tips, with separate links for resources for writers who self-publish and those who are interested in traditional publishing. We can sign up for a newsletter, participate in pitches, buy IWSG swag or anthologies with short stories by members, and more.

For me, what's most important is the community we create by participating each month -- which involves visiting and reading posts by other members each month. Over time, I've come to know many writers here and appreciate their insights into all aspects of the writing life. 

So, what more should IWSG consider? Only two ideas occur: 1) Online workshops on topics most of interest to members, perhaps taught by members, the topics based on a survey of said members. 2) Perhaps some way members could collaborate -- in joint promotions thru a kind of clearinghouse, for example, or find beta readers or arc readers who are interested in a particular genre. 

UPDATE ON MY OWN WRITING: Despite all else, I'm making steady progress on Unleashed Pursuit, now up to 52K. I'm not quite sure how long this police procedural will be. My writing friend says don't worry about length, just tell the story you love. But I still wonder and am working to finish by the end of 2024.

That means I can pick up Book 2 in my art crime mystery series starting in 2025, right? 

Spring is starting to turn to summer very quickly now with temps in the low 80s. May your own writing go well, as always, and please consider visiting our hosts for this month's IWSG -- Liza at Middle Passages, Shannon Lawrence, Melissa Maygrove, and Olga Godim -- as well as just a few of the 103 writers who participate each month by clicking HERE!

Read on for more about the Insecure Writers' Support Group!

Insecure Writer's Support Group

A database resource site and support group for writers and authors. Featuring weekly guests and tips, a monthly blogfest gathering, a Facebook group, a book club, and thousands of links – all to benefit writers! #IWSG

Fast Five Free Gift - Mobi / Epub / Pdf

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!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.
The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Liza at Middle Passages, Shannon Lawrence, Melissa Maygrove, and Olga Godim!

Every month, we announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. Remember, the question is optional. 

June 5 question - In this constantly evolving industry, what kind of offering/service do you think the IWSG should consider offering to members?

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

A Memory of New Orleans and Katrina . . .

These days marked by concern over global warming, brought me to thoughts of Katrina, that Category 5 storm that devastated New Orleans and its surrounding burroughs back in August of 2005. Nearly 2,000 people died. The economic effects were measured with losses of about 130 billion dollars.

Three years after Katrina, we went to the Gulf. Our buddy was still living in a FEMA trailer and shuffling through contractors to rebuild his house after three feet of river sludge changed the shape of the 9th Ward.

So, we went down to New Orleans, rented a basement apartment that smelled like the Mississippi, and we worked at the library, unpacking donated books, sorting them into what could be redeemed, some so musty from Katrina it didn't matter who wrote them.

New Orleans was as fourth as big as it had been, cars navigated past potholes, strip malls were all boarded up, even Fats Domino's house had been abandoned. The neighborhood had a party when Piggly-Wiggly reopened. 

Wherever we went, we heard stories of what happened when Katrina blasted in and the levees failed.

Then our buddy said we had to go see the Indian parade.

You'd hardly know slaves had been kept if you visited any of the sugar plantations out on the delta, restored white antebellum gentility, not a hint of slavery. But once slaves worked the land, as ordinary as mint juleps on the veranda. Some escaped to the bayou, and when men with dogs came hunting, they hid with the natives. The Indian parade began sometime mid-19th Century with secret societies forming tribes, part thank you, part coming-of-age for young black men, part pure survival through post-Civil War segregation.

We lay on the grass at Marcus Garvey Park as families gathered, smelled barbeque, and lapped up the gravelly blues and jazz of Dr. John and gospel singers, their voices a honey-toned prayer.

Around the park, boarded up houses, their roofs long gone, reminded us of Katrina, and the fear that comes in the night and the next morning, when no one knows how the world will be put back together, but no one looked at the neighborhood.

"They're coming," someone cried, and we all ran to the street. There's no describing the music, the horns and the beat of the drums, the elaborate costumes, dyed chicken feathers, beads, glitter, gleaming and bouncing in the sun as each group of dancers passed. 

And we danced behind them for sheer joy, for the sun was shining and it didn't matter if you were black or white, or somewhere in between, for you were here, in this place, part of this community, bringing New Orleans back to life.

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

IWSG: May . . . Distractions!

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Day and Writing Distractions

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Let's visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Special thanks go to the co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Victoria Marie Lees, Kim Lajevardi, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine! 

May 1 question - How do you deal with distractions when you are writing? Do they derail you?

What a great question for this month. Especially for May . . . spring flowers, warmer weather, green grass, the sound of lawnmowers, and finally, perhaps, leaving winter behind (though I did see snow on the ground last week).

I had a BIG distraction in March, and, yes, it derailed me. I was unable to write, really plunged to the bottom of a well of self-doubt. Certain things that shall remain unnamed conspired to force me to look again at my childhood, memories I did not want to revisit. April began and I challenged myself. Even though I did not believe I could do it, I set a goal of writing 4,000 words on my current wip, a police procedural. I also agreed to run two writing workshops at the end of April. 

What is commitment, after all? That promise we make to ourselves, that hope that somehow we can bring about change, positive change. So, I signed up for NaNoWriMo's April Writing Challenge. Each day became a little easier. By the middle of the month, I was writing again and enjoying the whole process of telling my story. Affirmations! By April 30, I wrote 8,109 words.

And those two workshops, a part of 4 free workshops for a small group of writers sponsored by our local library and the Inland Northwest Writer's Guild, were simply wonderful. I learned so much from the writers who shared their works as we dug into genres, themes, characters, conflict, and settings. 

Was there more? Yes. Colin Conway, an excellent and prolific writer of police procedurals, taught a workshop on branding. Everyone stayed. I was entranced at his discussion of how we writers can better market ourselves to reach those readers who care about what stories we tell. I'm hoping to begin to make changes . . . starting with the blog AND my newsletter. 

So, if YOU haven't signed up for my newsletter and want to see more, go ahead. Sign up by filling out the box on the right hand side of this blog. If you have any trouble, just drop me a line at bluebethley@yahoo.com   

What you can expect in the newsletter? More about writing -- my own writing, what goes on behind the scenes with characters, plot twists, and more. And a little more about what you want to know! Send me those questions. I truly want to hear from you!

And now, here's a picture from the past. Who's that nerdy 6th grader with glasses? That's me!

Click on this link to see what other IWSG writers are up to this month: Insecure Writing Support Group,  

May spring be very special for us all -- with few distractions!

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

IWSG: April . . . Writing and Blogging????

 Wish I had something exciting to share. It's been a relatively quiet day, but I didn't begin writing first thing this morning. Maybe it was the clouds instead of sunshine. Maybe it was completing those online tax forms for a few hours, but, you know, a little perseverance, and we CAN meet our daily goals.

Here's a picture of one block from my 'Wonky Flower' quilt, currently in progress. Bright colors hint at summer to come -- and warm weather. Yes, I love to balance writing and quilting. One seems to nurture the other.

WRITING/NANOWRIMO UPDATE: Goal by end of month, another 3,000 words on Unleashed Pursuit. That goal seems a little pessimistic now, as today 581 words were added, for a total of 1,303 so far. But it's taken a few weeks to recover from that long drive back home from Tucson. I'm thrilled to be writing again, truly.

MARKETING UPDATE: This is such a hard process. Like so many, wouldn't we rather be writing? But, I will be teaching 2 mini-workshops this month about how to dive into writing for the Spokane Public Library, sponsored by INWG (Inland Northwest Writers Guild). 

And, just for April, I've reduced the price of my historical fiction, Standing Stones, to 99c. NOTE: Nearly all my books are available as well on Kindle Unlimited. 

IWSG MONTHLY POST. This month's question is a real doozy:  So how long have I been blogging? How about since 2005! Check out that first post RIGHT HERE and you'll find a little story about a police officer who let a perfect stranger (me) look behind his official mask. That first post was the only blog post I wrote in 2005 -- followed by one more post in 2006. 

And then I met online groups, like Sunday Scribblings, the Internet Writing Workshop, and National Novel Writing Month. Writing challenges, like April's National Poetry Writing Challenge, and monthly writing challenges from IWSG (Insecure Writers Study Group). I appreciate so much connecting with readers and writers, so, yes, I'll keep blogging.

You can check out a few of those early posts (just click on the sidebar links). This was fun to look back that far AND to realize how much so many people have helped me and challenged me each month to keep writing my books, stories, and poems. Thank you!

So here's a little about IWSG. This month's hosts are Janet Alcorn, T. Powell Coltrin, Natalie Aguirre, and Pat Garcia!   Why not visit their blogs to see what they're up to?

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! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

May April bring you all that you wish for: health, happiness, and
a new appreciation for this amazing gift of life!

Monday, March 18, 2024

A few trip memories and . . . First Lines

Home now after 6 days on the road, driving back from Tucson. Not so easy to settle back into those familiar routines after being away for 6 weeks. I can close my eyes and see palm trees, cactus, and desert mountains, their layers outlined in red and orange and brown. Imagine walking along a winding trail in Kolob Canyon to see petroglyphs from long ago, estimated to be about 1,000 years old and made by the Anasazi or Southern Paiute. No one is quite sure how to decode these images.

Everywhere we drove along the Red Vermillion Trail, magnificent vistas of the desert near Zion greeted us:

As we stopped at the Navajo Bridge, we saw something unexpected: An American Condor entertained us by flying back and forth over the bridge before settling to sun himself on a nearby rock.

Now, home, it's time for writing. I missed participating in First Line Frenzy with Rebecca Heyman of Reedsy last Wednesday. We were driving through an unexpected snowstorm, near Coeur d'Alene. So, this morning, I discovered an older blog post highlighting her reactions. An interesting read. Here are my first lines from Unleashed Pursuit:

Cat unlocked the door between the two apartments and led the young girl clutching her four-month-old baby inside. “You’ll be safe here. Just stay one hour, and then . . ..” Cat pushed a slip of paper into her hand. “Go to this address. They’ll take care of you.”

If you enjoy reading gritty mysteries, would this pull you in? As I reread it, my editing head starts listing questions . . . so this may not be the final opening. But isn't that the way some of us write? First the concept, a few scenes, then more scenes, plot holes, duplications, and revision. Lots of revision. Wouldn't an outline help? Funny to mention as that's my next challenge, especially since I'm stuck on the ending and have been for awhile.
  • Does the story end with HEA, hero and heroine finally together?
  • What remains unresolved between them? With the case they've worked on?
  • What changes have either made? What lessons learned? How have they healed (if they did)?
  • Do they remain committed to their previous lives -- both in different locations? If they are ready to move, which one will make that sacrifice?
As you can see, much more work is needed on this draft, currently at about 49K. Luckily, mornings are perfect for digging in.  May your day go well.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

IWSG: March 2024 . . . already?

 No, I'm not really ready for it to be March or 2024!

We're in Tucson for another day, warm sun, palm trees, cactus-covered hills around us. Sigh. People are talking about today's rain -- supposed to drizzle about 4pm. Oofta. They don't know how lucky they are. Today's temps of 43F-60F do not really compare with 20F-43F back  home. By the weekend, Tucson will see temperatures of 75F, but we'll be on the road, heading for maybe snow?

Here's my favorite picture taken at Zion NP:

I'm a day late in writing a response to this month's IWSG prompt: Have you "played" with AI to write those nasty synopses, or do you refuse to go that route? How do you feel about AI's impact on creative writing?

Yes, I did play with ChatGPT once last year when working on an outline. The draft summaries were helpful, but I didn't like not being able to work my own way into the story, so I stopped using AI.

The real problem is that narrow difference between 'helping' and 'replacing'. And that may refer to more than writing. Would it be easier and less expensive, for example, for corporations to use AI to write manuals than to pay technical writers? The direction we're headed with AI suggests a possible dark future, and I'm not talking about science fiction.

My sister says, "That will be interesting." I think we'll find the changes AI brings more life changing at all levels. Maybe I wouldn't mind a little help in figuring out what to cook for dinner, or to manage finances, or maybe even to market my writing, but is that all that AI will bring us? Will we decide what we want to use AI for, or, at some point, will AI take over?

Allen likes to tell a story about how early AI learned to play chess, playing thousands and thousands of games with itself, and then beating every human who ever played, including chessmasters. That self-learning capability probably leads me to paranoia. Truly, do I have any say in what AI will be used for? Or what it will become? I think not. 

Sorry for the dark response. In reality, I'm happy and excited. Tomorrow at the crack, we head north for home. Yes, colder temperatures, but family and quiet await us. I'll return to writing once again, cherishing memories of good times with family and friends and Tucson itself. 

I'm looking forward to your thoughts on AI. May all go well for you!

And about IWSG, aka Insecure Writer's Support Group: When my writing has slowed down, especially on the blog, participating in IWSG has helped me actually to write AND to connect with other writers, each of us on our own path. We try to read about 12 other posts and to show our appreciation to the hosts for this month. So, why not jump in and see what others are doing?

The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Kristina Kelly, Miffie Seideman, Jean Davis, and Liza @ Middle Passages!

Insecure Writer's Support Group is dedicated to its 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! 

And thank you to Alex Cavanaugh who says: "Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!"

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Checking back in for 2024


Just recovering from a day of driving and a little hiking with friends at Snow Canyon near St. George, Utah. We are here for another week before heading further south, on our way to Tucson, looking forward to warmer weather and sunny skies. Being older than average has slowed us down a bit. 

Did you notice I haven't blogged since 2023???  Perhaps it was just time for a little break. There's something about the start of a new year that invites us to reflect. Maybe it's time to cut back? Maybe it's time to set new goals?

Mine are rather simple:
  • Finish Unleashed Pursuit (a doggone mystery), currently 43K (goal: 65K).
  • Develop a realistic marketing plan (goal: 2 action steps/month).
  • Cook more vegetarian meals (goal: 4 days a week).
What are your goals and/or dreams for 2024? 

What would you really like to accomplish this year?

And, what do you think:  Should I continue this blog? Aim for weekly posts? Whatever you comment, trust that I will take your suggestions seriously.

May 2024 be a good year for us all!

Source: Kumospace