Wednesday, July 3, 2024

IWSG: Writing Tools


Happy Insecure Writer's Support Group Day!

The optional question for the July post is: What are your favorite writing processing (e.g. Word, Scrivener, yWriter, Dabble), writing apps, software, and tools?

I'm keeping my answers brief today, but my favorites are: Word, Google Docs, Atticus, Canva, Dragon Naturally Speaking (dictation software), ProWriting Aid, and Book Funnel. I also use RSS Feeds and Substack for this podcast.

Word is the word processing software that I find the most familiar. I am able to change around chapters and do most of what I need to do within word and the familiarity makes it easy to use.

I also use Google Docs for projects I plan to work on via my phone and my computer. I write on the go this way and keep my writing with me.

Atticus is a great piece of software and has an incredibly helpful team for writers who are PC users. Atticus software allows authors an easier process of formatting their books for ebooks and print than any other I have used. It's also possible to write within their program. I haven't learned how to use all the features yet but their team has plenty of helpful videos. offers a free and pro version of their online image program for anyone who wants to create images for their business. I find it helpful for book cover creation and images for marketing for my books, website, podcast, and more. I find Canva to be an addictive creative tool, and I enjoy using it for fun as well as for business.

Dragon Naturally Speaking is professional dictation software and I've tried plenty of the inexpensive types of dictation software, but this one is the best. I haven't used all the features yet, but I find it helpful for specific types of writing.

Prowriting aid was a piece of online software I didn't want to use, but once I started using it, I found it helpful for finding typos, grammar errors, and repetitive words. I don't like their "replace all" type substitution ideas, so I take all their suggestions and then rework them in my own document.

I have found Book Funnel helpful for building a newsletter audience and selling books and I have a current Book Funnel running, so you can see what it's like (you don't have to click my book or buy anything if you click the link below to see what a campaign looks like).

I use both RSS Feeds and Substack for my podcast hosting, and I host my newsletter through Substack.

And, I'm sure I'll think of something else as soon as I finish this post, but that already feels like a lot.

What are your favorite writing tools?

My links:

NobleBright Scifi and Fantasy Book Funnel - 37 Free Books, including Champion in the Darkness

Tyrean's Tales

Tyrean's Writing Spot Blog


BTW - I have had and will have a busy morning today, so I will be briefly hopping in the afternoon/evening today. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

IWSG - What are writers looking for in a writer website?


Insecure Writer's Support GroupA 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 Website / Facebook Group / Twitter / Book Club
Reedsy Discount 

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!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG areLiza 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. 

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

I'm rephrasing that question a bit: What are authors looking for from writing websites like IWSG?

I know I have found the community and general encouragement of IWSG to be what I am looking for here. But, I do know that I also enjoy reading the 20Booksto50K posts on Facebook, and I found them rather late in the game (just last year), and there are a number of helpful bits of advice/thoughts/questions for authors who are in the trenches of their work, and who are asking craft, publishing, and marketing questions, or sharing insights on what has worked for them.

That is something we have at IWSG as well, and I like that, but I would love to see more community involvement with those kinds of specifics.

I know we all write different genres and may be coming to this from different places in our careers, but I think we can continually benefit from some idea/tip swaps about specifics with craft, publishing, and marketing. These could be on the website, but also here in our monthly hops.

What do you think we need for the IWSG website? What offering/service do you want to see offered, if any?

Also, I am taking part in two Book Funnels for June, and they are as follows:

Author Help Books features ten books for writers, including
 A Pocket-Sized Jumble of 500+ Writing Prompts.

Fierce Fantasy includes 140 books of Fantasy Fiction which range from epic to urban. 
Many authors in this group are new to me, so I plan on picking up new reads, and I recommend checking out Karyne Norton's Blood of the Stars, along with my book Champion in Flight.

My podcast is ongoing through my Substack and other platforms. My favorite episode I've done so far was on character names. 

Thanks for joining me for this post!

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

IWSG, Dealing with Distractions, Pivoting, and Promos

 Yes, I'm tackling a bunch of items this month, so I will try to keep each section brief and readable. I like to ramble, but... I have a new venue for that. :)

IWSG - Insecure Writer's Support Group

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!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Victoria Marie Lees, Kim Lajevardi, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine! And we are led, as always, by Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh

Dealing with Distractions (and IWSG cont)

May 1 optional question - How do you deal with distractions when you are writing?

I deal with distractions daily. I use particular playlists of music, alarms on my phone, timers, prayer, and specific routines to deal with my bouncy brain distractions. I recently moved away from having visual images about my books and a bookshelf on the wall opposite to my desk, and hung a huge image of a green forest. (I actually used curtains I found online to do this inexpensively.) I find the color green to be both calming and helpful for focus. 

However, one of the biggest ways I deal with distractions is to set aside "deep work" times for my writing, revision, and "business sessions" as an author. During these deep work sessions, I turn off or mute most distractions. But the most important part of these sessions is how I start.

I start with affirmations about being a writer, like so: I am a writer. I am an author entrepreneur.

When I say those things out loud at the beginning of my work sessions, I find it easier to overcome distractions. 


If you've followed me for long, you know I've pivoted before. I think it is something to do with my bouncy, easily distracted brain. I decided to pivot away from video for now and stick with audio for my rambling bits about writing and sharing our work. You can check it out here: The Truth About Storytelling on Substack. It's also on Spotify, and I am trying to wrangle it to be in the right place on Youtube, but I haven't gotten there yet. In today's episode, I discuss our optional question and the IWSG. 

One pivot I am glad I tried last year is BookFunnel. I have found the service to be helpful for growing my newsletter and for gaining new readership.

New Promos With Bookfunnel

How do you deal with distractions, the need for pivots, and the like?

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

IWSG and 3 Lessons I Learned from a Social Media Fast


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! 

The awesome co-hosts for the April 3 posting of the IWSG areJanet Alcorn,T. Powell Coltrin,Natalie Aguirre, and Pat Garcia! The founder of IWSG is Alex J. Cavanaugh.

3 Lessons from a Social Media Fast

I decided to do a partial Social Media Fast during Lent, only posting once a week unless I had already committed to post about something, like a Storybundle or a BookFunnel, or for the IWSGPit. 

What I learned: 

My sales numbers didn’t plummet. 

My newsletter subscriptions increased. (Although I did take part in a newsletter subscriber BookFunnel, so that probably helped.)

I am healthier in mind, body, heart, and soul when I only check social media platforms once a week, and not even on every platform.

The Optional Question for IWSG is: How long have you been blogging? (Or on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram?) What do you like about it and how has it changed?

I have blogged since 2008/9 and I have been on Facebook since 2009. I feel it has changed in tone. Since the beginning, I have always felt this need to produce more content to create a stronger platform, but I think this is changing. I think this was encouraged and may still be.

Currently, I am cross-posting over three platforms and “highlighting” my posts on other platforms. This will change drastically this year as I take the three lessons I learned from my social media fast and start applying them over time.

The Deep Work Principle

I recently learned the idea of doing Deep Work and I am implementing it into my writing and media posting. This is my “next” step for online content.

What have you learned lately about writing, blogging, and life?

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

IWSG, Comic Con, and News


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! Find more information at the website: Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

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

March 6th question: 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?

To the first question, yes, I have played with AI to write a synopses, with mixed results. I don’t feel guilty about using AI for ad copy of various kinds because this kind of writing is short, necessary, and not something I am good at. I still have to revise everything - so this is not without work.

For the second part of the question, I think AI has already had an impact on creative writing, when we consider the use of grammar programs. Creative writing includes the joy of knowing the rules and knowing when to break them. AI doesn’t feel joy, or sorrow, or any other emotion. Only humans do. I maintain that this will always be what makes human powered creativity full of depth.


An Emerald City Comic Con Reflection

Massive, fun, interesting, overwhelming, frustrating, joyful, and full - these are just a few words to sum up my experience at Emerald City Comic Con last weekend, from Thursday through Sunday.

Authors from left to right: Peter V. Brett, Saara El-Arifi, Django Wexler, Katherine Arden, Terry Brooks, and moderator Madeleine Roux.

It was my first ECCC, and I loved the panels with writers they had for the literary track. I didn’t get to meet, but at least did get to see, Terry Brooks (Shannara, Magic Kingdom for Sale).

Authors: Jasmine Skye and Marissa Meyer on the Battle of the Tropes panel. (Yes, I wish I had a better picture.)

I finally met Marissa Meyer (Cinder, Renegades, and more) and she was also on two panels and a spotlight session I attended. Friday was my best day at the con, when I managed to go to three panels, a spotlight, and a class on fighting in fiction.

Left to right: Moderator, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, and John Rhys-Davies

Saturday was the day I only really made one event - the Lord of the Rings event on the main stage, which meant I had to stand in line for two hours. Lines were mismanaged and there were three rows of empty seats in the main stage area, which seats around 5000 people, but even with that, there wasn’t a way for everyone into that area. The crowd of 85,000 people were decked out in awesome cosplay, enthusiastic, and sweet, but I felt overwhelmed, and went home a bit early.

Sunday, in line, and taking photos with a few cosplayers. My friend has been to a number of comic cons before and knows how to pose. :)

On Sunday, my friend and I decided we wanted to meet Sean Astin (Goonies, LoTR, more) for an autograph and so we did that. This meant standing in line for hours, but we met some really nice people who we chatted with about various books, movies, and shows. I managed to sell an audio version of Liftoff and get a pre-order for Dark Blade: Forged, just by talking about writing, which was cool. When we met Sean Astin for the quick autograph session, he was kind and humble - talking about how wonderful the rest of the LoTR cast is and how he never expected so many fans would want to meet him. Then, we wandered through the merch tables, and they announced closing time. Where did the time go?


I will be on four panels at Norwescon, March 28-31! This event includes cosplay, panels, interviews, merch, and the Philip K. Dick awards. The panels are: “I Wrote a Song for My Story!” with Amanda Cherry, Metaerie, and Karen Eisenbrey; “Developing Strong Teen Characters” with Lish McBride, Kara Swanson, Karen Eisenbrey, and Anastasia Wilde; “Worldbuilding: The Burden of Being God” with Brenda Carre, Sandra Rosner, Thea Prieto, Lish McBride, and Kate Alice Marshall’ and “Short Stories vs Novels” with Camden Rose, Karen Eisenbrey, Tom D. Wright, and Kendare Blake. I’m excited to be a part of Norwescon this year!

I’m in the revision cave for a project and I will have news about it next month, I hope.

Are you looking for a #free, clean fantasy or scifi read? Check out this Book Funnel with over 70 authors and 80 books! This is only running until March 17th.

I have a book in The Galactic Mystery Bundle, curated by Simon Kewin! You can find out more at the Storybundle Website, but just to note, this sale is on for only two more weeks.