Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘IWSG’

Photograph Inspired Tales #IWSG


Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month’s question is:

Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the February 5 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

dear arlie_3 friends

Snapshots from the Past

I’m laughing as I re-read this month’s question, posted to us from the awesome Insecure Writer’s Support Group. You’re asking me – the self-proclaimed Queen of the Antique Stores? The one who can’t always afford to buy the coveted treasures she sees displayed on the shelves and counters?

Ah, but never feat…I can afford to buy photographs and postcards, and thus have filled up my own coffers with these wondrous paper delights. Some of these photographs, and many of the postcards, have been making their way into my Vintage Daze Short Stories. Although many tales are still in the ‘In Progress’ status, and some in the done–but-editing-phase, one short story is completed and published.

Dear Arlie began with some postcards I inherited from Pauline, an elderly woman that I grew up next door to. The postcards she sent to a friend from 1907-1911 kicked off the story, but then I added vintage photographs from her companion, Bea’s, scrapbook to embellish Dear Arlie.


Another postcard that I discovered in an antique store on one of my jaunts inspired the beginning of a story, The Grotto. The Grotto is a magnificent creation in Iowa that is still in existence.  On this story, I had many snippets of Iowa history that I wanted to include, but they were from a wide range of time. Wanting to stay within a short story length and not have a full saga, on this story I have a current day woman visiting her grandmother that suffers from dementia. This way the different periods of time come out in varying memories through their visits. This story is only about halfway completed. It got pushed aside last year so I could start working on some Christmas short stories and I haven’t returned to it yet.

I have a feeling that many authors reading this will be nodding their heads in agreement about the ‘never returned to it yet’ phrase.

Now, thanks to this delightful prompt from my IWSG friends, I feel inspired to blow the dust off of the sitting stories and finish a few of them up in this brand new year and brand new decade. Thanks IWSG!


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Jeepers Creepers – IWSG


Every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) announces 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! (But I usually try to go with their question.)

November 6 question – What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

first flight


A writer’s browser history – it’s funny, but this subject just came up in my writer’s group a few days ago. One of the members is writing a psychological thriller. She was telling us about how she’s creating a board about her serial killer, similar to the ones shown in police departments in crime shows. She was joking about hoping that the police never show up on her door with a search warrant for any reason, laughing about what they’d find when they entered her office. She’s going to be doing some blog posts about her progress with this, and wants to put a disclaimer somewhere on the board – ‘Honest, I’m just a writer!’

From there we started talking about how our browser history would look to anyone examining it.

Best poison for…

How to dismember…

How deep to bury…

How long to freeze…

Alas, lately most of my writing lately has been historical fiction, so I can’t think of any fascinating things that I’ve had to research. Most of my searches lately have been of the ‘When was this phrase first used’ category. Or, what type of clothing was worn in X? When were bicycles first used? What movies were showing in 1934? What books were published in 1848? How long does it take to churn butter?

‘Jeepers, creepers’ is one of phrases I had to look up. More of a fact check instead of research. This frequently comes up in my writing group. One of us will use a phrase and some asks – was that even used then? Out come the phones as people frantically start googling the term.

I did that myself. I was reading a children’s book, set at the time the Wilber and Orville Wright were about ready to have their first airplane flight. The phrase was used a few times in the book. I thought – that’s too early. That’s a 1920s phrase.

I was wrong. The phrase came into popular use much earlier and was used in 1903.

These little pieces are all tidbits that I need to know. And they’re interesting to me – however, I doubt any of these searches quality for the strangest thing to google prize. I am interested to read some of the other posts today, to see what odd things that other authors have had to research.

Patience Required #IWSG


Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!


Patience Required

calendar flying by

I thought I was prepared for a freelance writing career. Before I gave notice to my employer, I prepared. I’d read about a freelance writing life. I started submitting long before I gave my notice. I had some money in the bank. I was ready. I had a plan. I had patience. I had this!

And then – the realities proved that I didn’t.

Knowing that I wouldn’t work and get a paycheck two weeks later (immediate cash compared to how the writing money trickles in), I had enough cash to get through three months.

And then…the car broke.

I had a plan and I was submitting.

And then…the acceptances didn’t come in fast enough.

And then…

Much to my dismay – and what wasn’t planned – was me taking a part-time job. But, I discovered that I really do like to eat! And the car, now fixed, really likes to eat too. And so do the plethora of cats that fill the house.

Several things caught me by surprise. The first was that even thought I thought I had a well-thought out plan – it wasn’t adequate. The second was that even though I thought I was patient – I wasn’t patient enough.

But a fun surprise down the line was having small checks appear in the mailbox unexpectedly.

When I started out, I sent submitted some devotions to The Secret Place. They only accept three submissions a month, so January, February and March of 2015 I sent in three a month. By then the realities were starting to show themselves and I knew I needed something that paid larger amounts and paid faster. So I stopped.

In May 2015 I got two rejections from them. Crickets on the other seven submissions. By then I was looking at other markets and never submitted anything else.

In October of that year, nine months after I sent the first devotion, I had one acceptance. Four months later I had another acceptance. And then an even louder chorus of crickets.

Two and a half years after sending in the first batch of three submission, I was pulling some weeds in the back yard. By then, thoughts of the other submissions never even crossed my mind. I heard the mailman drive down the street, so wandered out to the mailbox, expecting only a bill or two, possibly a letter from a friend. When I pulled out an envelope from Judson Press, I was confused. The name seemed familiar, but it didn’t match anything that I knew I had out.

I couldn’t wait to get to the letter opener. I tore the envelope open walking back to the house. There was a check for $20! Checking my list of submissions, I found it was to a devotion I’d sent in February 2015 – and a check arrived in June 2017 – two years and five months later!

I didn’t complain. It was just the right amount to buy a new printer cartridge, so I sent up a silent thank you to the heavens. After that, three more checks trickled in, one a quarter.

Now I regret not continuing on with my submissions. In my impatience of not seeing immediate results, I stopped and went to other avenues. I should have kept writing and submitting and I might have had other checks coming in through the next few years. But I stopped. So that pipeline is now dried up.

These periodic checks, while small and not large enough to retire on, showed me that patience is truly a large part of being a writer. That is one of the many things that I’d underestimated when I first stepped onto this writer’s road.



Any other historical fiction authors here? In April I started a weekly newsletter – Pages of the Past – celebrating historical fiction. Each week I have an author spotlight on a historical fiction author, along with a Reading Roundup of 1-2 books from different eras. If you’re an author and are interested in being interviewed for an author spotlight, email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com. Right now I’m scheduling authors for October and November. Also, if you have any books you’d like featured, email me and let me know and I’ll get it scheduled into the next newsletter for that era.

If you’d like to take a look to see if you’re interested, here’s a link to the May 31st newsletter.


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Only Five?


Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This Co-Hosts this month are: J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker , Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

Only Five?

Oh goodness, Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) – you ask about five objects you’d find in my writing space? Only five? Since my writing room doubles as a crafting room also, I could list more like five hundred objects. Although I could see where most people would either quit reading or fall asleep – at least by item Number 47. So perhaps five is a nicer number to play with. Besides, after so many notebooks, paperclips, pens and staplers we’d all be snoozing, including myself. Many writers will probably have what I’ve listed first, but probably not the other four writing accessories.

IMG_0685[1].JPGStack of query and submission ideas

Many writers will have this item, a supply of possibilities to send query letters or essays to, or other publishing options to pursue. Although many may have a more organized approach, I am a pile kind of person. I have a notebook – two of them – that are supposed to hold these possible markets. Three years later the notebooks are gathering dust in a corner and the pile system is entrenched in place. And growing. I think for every one market I query or submit to, three or four other markets replace the one that’s gone.

IMG_0687[1].JPGA bunch of carrots

A few years ago, after I’d started writing in earnest, I had a dream. I was in the backyard with bushel baskets standing in front of four small garden plots. I was harvesting carrots. Two of the plots had a meager harvest, one had decent harvest, and one plot produced a bountiful carrot harvest. The bushel baskets on that one were overflowing with produce. I realized that with my writing I’m planting carrots. I’m planting the seeds of future harvest. Some seeds may not grow very well, giving me few carrots. Other crops may produce abundant supplies of the golden vegetable. I purchased some carrots from the local craft store to remind me that my words are simply planting seeds for future crops. I may not see immediate results. And the results will vary from scanty to plentiful. I just need to keep planting my carrots.

IMG_0686[1].JPGPieces of the past

Shopping malls don’t tempt me. Not in the least. I can live the rest of my life without going to another one. But antique stores…they’re my catnip. I adore pieces from the past and my home is filled with many family heirlooms and treasures gleaned from visiting antique stores in many different states. The ‘curtain’ in the window in front of my desk is a 1930’s quilt top, completely hand stitched and picked up for a pittance at a yard sale – the same one where I bought a set of 30 1934 quilt squares that I’ve since taken to a museum in Iowa. Handstitched dish clothes from the same era, vintage books, antique pottery, Depression glass, vintage bottles…they’re in here too, adoring the shelves along with books filling five book cases.

Wind chimes

Yes, wind chimes. A whole window full of them. Hey, if I put them outside I’d rarely see them. I spend much more time at my desk now than I do in the garden. So I installed a dowel in front of the window and hung a dozen wind chimes.

IMG_E0602[1].JPGTator Tot

Tator Tot is the newest addition to my writing space. My writing/craft room used to be (notice the used to part?) the only cat-free room in the house. We’d been watching one of the feral kittens outside for several weeks. One was extremely lethargic and listless. It got worse. We picked it up one day and its gums were so pale they were white. A month ago we made an appointment at the vets and brought it inside. Not knowing if it was sick or not, we couldn’t have it in the main part of the house with the others. So in my room it came. Tator Tot turned out to be a little boy and was extremely anemic, had roundworms, and was severely underweight. (1 pound when he should have been 2-2 ½ pounds) The vet said he probably wouldn’t have lasted another few days, and was doubtful if he’d even make it now. He made it and a month later is a little demon, never still until he wears himself out and plops down, now exhausted from hours of play instead of simply no energy.

So if my writing’s slowed down a bit over the past month, I’ll blame it all on Tator Tot. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll still keep him for Item Number Five in my writing space. Now…if I can only figure out how to have him help me harvest a few carrots.


The Sound of Crickets #IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?’


The Sound of Crickets

So much for my first-thing-in-the-morning-project. It’s now turned into first-project-after-lunch. Which is ridiculous really, because the answer to this question isn’t that difficult. It will take me five minutes to write this post and another five minutes to post it. I shouldn’t have procrastinated on an easy task.

I don’t celebrate at all.

If I finish a writing goal, I cross it off my list and head to the dozen others that are awaiting my time and attention. If I get something published, I might have a high-five with my significant other, and then go post the good news on Facebook.

That’s about it. My celebrations are the sound of crickets in my office. Nothing. Now crickets might be a symphony outside in a field, but in my office…nada.

But, now I’m debating my routine. Maybe I do need to celebrate my accomplishments in some small fashion. Hmmmmm……

No. Then it adds another task to the list. You know, that list that never seems to go away no matter how much I work towards that goal? I believe I’ll keep this routine just the same as it is.


Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

Taking Me Back #IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. If we want to. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked, ‘What do you love about the genre you write in most often?’iwsg

Taking Me Back

Like many authors, I write in several different genres. It depends on what muse I’m listening to that month – or that day. But the genre that keeps calling me, luring me back time after time is historical fiction. Not as historical as in pirates and vikings of long ago, or even Civil War. Although, who wouldn’t love to write the next Gone with the Wind? The historical time frames I enjoy writing ranges from 1900 – 1950, with my all-time favorite period being the post-Depression years. It must have been reading Grapes of Wrath in junior high, which turned into one of my top-five favorite books, and one that I end up re-reading every 5-10 years.

There’s something about writing and researching that pulls me back to an era I personally know nothing about. But I feel like I do. I feel like I lived it. I think I’d like a time machine so I could really travel back in time and live a day in these times past – as long as I can bring my air conditioner and washing machine with me.

Check out more Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts here.

1930 chevy

Looking for Dead People #IWSG


I look for dead people.

Is this a weird thing – or a cool thing – to research? I suppose that depends on who you ask. Since many of my friends are paranormal researchers, or ‘ghost hunters’, researching and looking for tidbits about dead people are just the norm. Others may not find my passion as intriguing.

I could sit behind my computer screen for countless hours, and I have. I’ve spent hours and days looking for obscure facts and references for a short story. I literally spend more time researching than I spend on the writing of the piece.

But the one who often haunts me…the one whose past hasn’t sprung to life with my written words yet, is Mitty Ann.

mitty ann headstone.jpgI moved to Texas in 2008. Since I adore visiting historic cemeteries, that’s where we went, off to local cemeteries in search of dead people. At Medlin Cemetery in Trophy Club, just a few miles from the house, I discovered Mitty Ann Medlin and she touched my heart. I couldn’t even begin to count the hours I’ve spent researching Medlin history, specifically in regard to her and her immediate family. I have a notebook filled with notes and print outs. I even made a trip to Denton to the Emily Fowler Library, home to many historic records of this north Texas area.

Mitty Ann, who was really named Permelia after her grandmother, was born October 27, 1828. Her father, who was a Justice of the Peace in Cole County, Missouri, moved the family to Texas in August of 1847. After arriving in Texas, Mitty Ann married Francis L. Harris, who had also moved here from Missouri with an earlier group of pioneers. They had a son, Charles Simpson Harris. Unfortunately, as was much too common in those days, Mitty Ann did not survive and died April 5, 1850, after giving birth to their only child.

I want to write her story. I’ve wanted to write it since 2009. So, why is it 2017 and I haven’t even started writing her story yet?

Because ‘I’m not good enough yet.’

Or, so I keep saying to myself.

Writing her story is important to me. Even with all the research I’ve done so far, I need to do more. I need more details. I need to learn more about life in the 1850’s. And I don’t feel as if I’m competent enough to tell her tale yet.

Lack of facts isn’t really holding me back.

Lack of time isn’t stopping my progress.

Lack of storyline or plot isn’t keeping me stuck.

It’s me.

Do we ever outgrow our fears and insecurities? I ask as I write this blog for The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, feeling that this group totally understands how my fears of not being good enough have kept me from moving forward with some of my big writing dreams.

All I know is that as I keep fighting my own worst enemy – me – I’ll keep looking for dead people, and enjoying every second of doing so.


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