Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘What would make you quit writing?’ #amwriting #July2021 #BookBlogger

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

July 7 question – What would make you quit writing?

The awesome co-hosts for the July 7 posting of the IWSG are Pat Garcia, Victoria Marie Lees, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

 
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What would make you quit writing? 

I would never, ever quit writing.

I started writing poems, stories, and novels when I was a teenager. I can’t imagine my life without writing, every single day.

The only thing that would stop me would be a serious illness, which would make writing cognitively or physically impossible.

If I stopped writing novels, which I’m (almost) sure I wouldn’t, I’d still write poems, diary entries, blog posts and perhaps even my memoir.

On the other hand, I might quit publishing one day (although I can’t see this happening any time soon), because, especially when you’re an indie author, there is too much to do in this wonderful but exhausting profession. 

As well as learning about and improving our writing craft, blogging and using social media, we have to learn about the business of publishing and marketing. We have to outsource experts such as proofreaders, editors and cover designers, and hundreds more things.

I’ve learned where to find experts, on goodreads, you tube, reedsy, fiverr, and following the advice of some generous bloggers, podcasters and youtubers who share their knowledge and advice, such as The Creative Penn. 

I’ve learnt how to use Canva, Facebook author page, Goodreads, Amazon Author Central, how to format and upload my books on amazon, and use wordpress. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is simple-stay-in-bed-facebook-cover-1.jpg

I made this banner for The Eyre Hall Series myself on Canva. It used to be a trilogy, but it has now become a series of six books. Book One, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, is available for preorder and it will be published on 22nd August. And books two and three, All Hallows at Eyre Hall and Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall will be published the same week. Book four, Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall will be published in the autumn.

This may not seem like a lot, but hey, the first computer I ever saw was on Star Trek when I was ten. I wasn’t near enough to touch a real one until I was nearly thirty and it was called Amstrad (does anyone else remember it in the 80s?). So I feel quite proud of my digital competence!   

Right now I’m learning how to set up a mailing list with mailerlite. After watching a handful of videos hundreds of times, and trial and error, I’ve done it, but I haven’t managed to link it to WordPress. That will be my next milestone.

Here’s the image for the landing page. If you click on it, you will be taken to the sign up page. Go ahead, make my day and sign up if you want to get news of special offers, new releases and updates on The Eyre Hall Series and all things related to Jane Eyre.  

The Eyre Hall Series is the sequel to Jane Eyre. Especially for readers who love action packed, neo-Victorian romantic thrillers, with gothic mansions, evil villains, unforgettable main characters, lots of drama, and unexpected twists and turns, reminiscent of Victorian novels.

You can preorder Blood Moon at Eyre Hall here, or you can ask me for an ARC in the comments, or sign up for my email list by clicking on the image above.

If you’d like to read or reread Jane Eyre, I’m posting one chapter a week, every Friday, in flash fiction, directly from the original novel, for readers who prefer to read an abridged version, here, just click on the banner below:

Thanks for reading! Have a fabulous Wednesday and keep writing, no matter what!

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Readers’ Surprising Responses’ #amwriting #Histfic #JaneEyre #May2021

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

May 5 question – Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

The awesome co-hosts for the May 5 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, PJ Colando, Tonja Drecker, Sadira Stone, and Cathrina Constantine!

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Have my readers’ responses surprised me? Definitely!

I have over a hundred written reviews on Amazon, and over two hundred reviews on Goodreads, which may not seem like a lot, but it never ceases to amaze me. The fact that so many readers, people I don’t know and who may never have heard of me, a relatively little known author, in a vast ocean of millions of books and writers, have been motivated to read my books and taken the trouble to write a review, amazes me.  

I feel encouraged by the good reviews, which fortunately account for the majority, and that used to surprise me when I started publishing, seven years ago, in 2014, because I was very insecure!

I used to feel upset when I got a negative review, again, because I was very insecure, but now I’m less insecure and I appreciate them too, because some are useful, and at least they all count as reviews!

At first, I was surprised that so many readers disliked my novel because they thought I had treated Mr Rochester too harshly. In my defense, I’d say I didn’t lock him in a windowless attic, or make him suffer any physical torture! He lived a good life, with his wife and son, even though he went back to some of his old ways. 

I mean, locking your wife in an attic in dire conditions, hidden from everyone (in spite of being a moneyed heiress), and pretending you’re single to the point of intending bigamy (until your wedding was interrupted at the altar) with an innocent nineteen-year-old, is pretty objectionable behaviour, even for 19th century standards.    

On the other hand, I can appreciate the fact that Mr Rochester has been an icon of passionate love, aka the brooding Byronic hero/lover, who is brought to his feet due to the love of a ‘good’ woman, for almost 200 years, but that’s due to an erroneous interpretation of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

Jane Eyre is the protagonist the reader should root for, not Rochester. Jane is the independent, resourceful and single-minded nineteen-year-old woman who stood up to a manipulative rake and won him over on her terms, with her money (Spoiler alert: at the end of the novel she becomes an heiress herself), once he was a widower, and once she had made her way in the world working and living on her own, a feat not all women achieve, even nowadays.  

I’d love to continue to be surprised by my readers, and I hope to surprise them too with more novels. I started by writing The Eyre Hall which will become The Eyre Hall Series shortly, as two new novels, Blood Moon at Eyre Hall and Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall are coming soon! 

Take a look at my provisional banner, I’m still making changes and adapting the covers. Do you like them? 

If you’d like to read or reread Jane Eyre, I’m posting one chapter a week, every Friday, in flash fiction, directly from the original novel, for readers who prefer to read an abridged version, here, just click on the banner below:

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Favourite Genres and Novels’ #amreading

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the March 3 posting of the IWSG are Sarah – The Faux Fountain Pen Jacqui Murray, Chemist Ken, Victoria Marie Lees, Natalie Aguirre, and JQ Rose!

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March 3 question – Everyone has a favorite genre or genres to write. But what about your reading preferences? Do you read widely or only within the genre(s) you create stories for? What motivates your reading choice?

I love reading, and although I make sure to widen my scope by reading outside my comfort zone, I have a favourite genre: romance.

I’m an incurable romantic, so novels that include an exciting, breathtaking, convoluted or epic love story with a reasonably happy or optimistic ending will give me great joy.

Some examples of classic romances I reread regularly for pleasure and inspiration are: Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Great Expectations, Gone with the Wind, and the Thorn Birds.

Gone With The Wind

Now for more contemporary examples of novels which include romance and have moved and inspired me recently and I’ve reviewed on my blog:

Recursion a techno thriller by Blake Crouch including a recurring love story which defies time.

The Kiss quotient a fun and moving romance including a heroine with Asperger’s and a complex hero.

Kissing my Killer by Helena Newbury an enemies to lovers mafia romance.

The Last Necromancer by C J Archer a steam punk fantasy romance (this one is part of a series)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris a historical romance set in a concentration camp

The Book of Two Ways a contemporary romance by Jodi Picoult involving a woman who loved two men at different times and is faced with heart wrenching choices when they come together.

Cold Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas a Victorian Romance set in London

Sustained, A contemporary romance between the guardian of six nephews and nieces and a high-powered lawyer who prefers one-night stands.

Captured a vampire romance by Erica Stevens (this is part of a series)

Captured (The Captive Series Book 1) by [Erica Stevens, Leslie Mitchell G2 Freelance Editing]

The Baron by Joanna Schupe, about a fake medium and a railway baron, set in New York’s Gilded Age.

Missing You a crime thriller by Harlan Coben about a man who will never forget the woman he loved, even when she died, but is she really dead?

Holy Island by LJ Ross is the first novel is a series featuring DCI Ryan, who is the lead detective in the series. He meets his love interest in book one and she will appear in 17 of the 18 novels in the series. Crime fiction.

Holy Island: A DCI Ryan Mystery (The DCI Ryan Mysteries Book 1) by [LJ Ross]

I don’t care about the genre as long as there’s a moving love story in the narrative. I’m not referring to a typical romance of boy meets girl and they fall in love, I want novels to include other themes and plots, too. A love story which focusses on two characters obsessively is not enough to keep me reading.

What kind of romance novels do you enjoy reading?

 

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘7 things which stop me from finishing a book’ #amreading

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

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January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Life is short, and getting shorter every day, and there are so many books to read that no one can read all the ones they’d like to read, so we have to pick carefully, and even then, if we’re not happy we can stop reading, because we don’t have to finish every book we start. I certainly don’t.

I’ve identified seven issues which could stop me finishing a book.

1- Unmet Expectations.

There are many reasons to read the first line of a new novel. But if it hasn’t been written or recommended by a fellow author or blogger, I decide to download a sample after reading the title and the blurb, although the cover also entices me!

If the book is described as a legal thriller, that is what I expect to read, and if I discover it has a dystopian setting, or it is a romance, I may not continue. On the other hand, I may like the writing style and proceed anyway.

2- Unlikeable characters

I don’t mean villains. I love villains, especially if they’re complex and part of the main plot, such as unreliable narrators!

An unlikeable character is one I can’t relate to, find irritating, whiney, or unbelievable. If there is only one, that may be ok, but if several characters, especially the main one, fall into this category, I will probably stop reading.

3- Poor editing

Repetition of events, words, phrases, too many adverbs, swear words, clichés etc. can put me off, but not always, because the characters and story can pull me in and persuade me to continue.

4- Trigger topics

We all have topics we do not want to read about explicitly, because they upset us. These topics are often related to sex, violence, drugs, trauma, etc.

I have a few personal ones, which is why the blurb should advise readers if the novel includes any sensitive topics.

5- Pacing

Sometimes I like the writing style and characters, but little seems to actually happen by means of a traditional plot. If I already know this might be the case because it’s what may be referred to as ‘literary fiction’ I may continue reading, anyway. But if I’m expecting a fast-paced thriller, according to the blurb, I would feel deceived and might not read on.

Contemporary readers, unlike Victorian readers who revelled in three-volume novels, are impatient and demanding, so books should respond to their audience’s needs. 

6- Implausible plots

I prefer history and reality to fantasy, so I don’t read a lot of fantasy. I’m not happy when novels take a sudden and implausible supernatural twist and I might not read on, although other factors, such as writing style and characters might keep me reading.

I like plot twists and unexpected turnings, and even open endings, but loopholes in plots or ones that work out because of a sudden implausible event, or novels that drop a plot line or character in the middle are often annoying.

7- Writing style

This is a make or break one for me. I can read about any topic if I like the way it’s written, sci-fi, fantasy, vampires, erotica, westerns, warfare; it doesn’t matter if the writing draws me in.

The problem is, I have no idea how that happens.

I believe it when they say agents read the first line, paragraph or page and decide if they want to read the book, because I do exactly the same. I only carry on regardless if it’s one of my many favourite authors, or if it has been recommended by someone I trust.

So, what’s the secret to drawing the reader in?

I have this quote pinned on the wall in my study and I read it every day, hoping it will inspire me, because it’s the hardest and most important thing to do as a writer.

Not only the opening line of a novel, but I’d apply this proposal to every chapter, because you need to get the reader hooked on the first page and continue reading after the first paragraph of every chapter.

So, what makes you stop reading a novel?

By the way! Happy New Year!

 

#IWSG Why do I write what I write? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs #amwriting

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

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This is a question I rarely ask myself explicitly, but I do think about the answer, because so many people ask me, and on this occasion it’s the Insecure Writer’s question for the month, so I’ll do my best to reply.

As I understand it, this question has two parts, a) why I write and b) why I write what I write.

a) Why do I write?

I write because I can’t not write, the same as I can’t not think, or feel, or walk, or talk.

Once I learn to do something which is useful and rewarding, it becomes part of my life and I can’t unlearn it or undo it.

I can’t stop writing a poem when I see a beautiful image, or have an emotional thought, or memory.

I can’t help carrying a notebook and jotting down ideas for poems or scenes for my books, and I’m sure I’ll never stop doing it, in fact I shudder to think I could ever stop the creativity flowing through my mind.

Now to the second part of the question, b) why do I write what I write?

I write about topics which I feel strongly about. This doesn’t mean I’m on a mission to change or improve the world, I would never be so presumptuous, it just means that I write about what is significant for me.

I write poems because I love capturing my emotions with a few symbolic words and giving them an artistic shape and sound, based on syllables and rhythm or rhyme.

I write Victorian novels because I admire Victorian authors who gave me so many hours of joyful reading and inspiration, and in so doing, I offer them my humble tribute.

I write about Jane Eyre, because when I first read it in my early teens, it was the first novel that inspired me to even think about writing myself, and I’ve never been able to get Jane Eyre out of my mind.

I write my blog because I want to reach out to and communicate with other authors and readers. It’s thrilling to know I can ‘meet’ and interact with other people who I’d never be able to reach or talk to or read about in my day-today life, if I wasn’t an active blogger.

I could go on, and if we could sit and chat with a coffee, a tea, a beer or a glass of wine, depending on our mood and the time of day, we’d share more ideas and reasons, because I’d love to know why you write too, and of course, why you write what you write.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or share and/or leave a comment 🙂

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

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#IWSG POV: Protagonist or Antagonist? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

  • March 6 question Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

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I definitely prefer first person point of view of the protagonist, as a reader and as a writer. My favourite novels, when I started reading adult fiction, in my teens, such as, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, David Copperfield, and Rebecca, to name a few, were written in this fashion.

The first person narrator, whether he or she is protagonist or antagonist, has the powerful advantage of speaking directly to the reader, but on the other hand, he or she also has the enormous disadvantage of limited knowledge and bias.

The first person narrator cannot be everywhere or be aware of everything the reader would like to know. Moreover, he or she is necessarily biased due to gullibility, innocence, ignorance, physical, or psychological problems, or he or she can be downright evil and purposefully lead everyone along the wrong path, which is usually the case of the antagonist as first person narrator.

The question posed, implies that only one narrator is possible, and that he or she is either protagonist or antagonist, but there are many more options available to the writer. There could be more than one point of view, and more than one protagonist and or antagonist, or the protagonist and antagonist could even be the same person at the same or different stages of his/her life.

The first time I read a novel with various first person narrators was Laura, by Vera Caspary, also in my teenage years. I remember being pleasantly surprised, as a reader, by two aspects, the multiple first person narrators and the presence of unreliable narrators, including the antagonist.

In one of my ‘A’ level texts, The Fall, Camus’ manipulative first person narrator, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, whose long series of monologues is a confession and reflection of his life, to a stranger he calls, ‘cher ami’, thus, mostly using the second person ‘you’. He is also both protagonist and antagonist, as he finally turns the mirror on his patient and unsuspecting listener/reader.

The options are endless. In my case, I’ve published three books and written five (two will hopefully be published this year), and all of them have multiple, first person narrators, including protagonist and antagonist.

Although I don’t mind reading novels written in third person, I can’t see myself doing so. I would especially avoid third person omniscient narrators, mainly because I think it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of manipulating characters, events and readers. I prefer to allow my characters and readers more space to grow and reconstruct their own novel.

I overcome the hurdles inherent to first person narration, at least partly, by having more than one first person narrator, which I believe gives the novel wider scope and perspective.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy has several, rotating first person narrators, and although some readers have complained, most readers have positive opinions. The use of various first person voices is innovative and enriching, but it’s by no means easy to juggle so many characters at once, and it’s not something I’m planning on doing again, at the moment.

My two latest, unpublished novels, both have only two points of view. In one case it is the protagonist and the antagonist, and in the second case a mother and daughter, who are both protagonists. So far, beta readers have responded favourably, and I’m satisfied with the end product, although, one still has to go through the final draft and editing stage.

I think two narrators give enough scope for multiple perspectives to allow readers more space to interact with the narrative.

I will probably experiment with other viewpoints in the future. As I said, I enjoy many  different points of view as a reader, but for the moment, I plan to continue writing novels with, at least, two first person points of view.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or leave a comment 🙂

What about you, how many and whose point(s) of view do you prefer as a reader and as a writer?

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

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#IWSG Avoiding Pitfalls @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe,Sandra Hoover, Lee Lowery, and Susan Gourley!

August 1 question – What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey? 

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The single best piece of advice I’d give an author, especially an author who is aiming to self-publish, is to find a good editor.

It seems obvious. I mean, everyone knows that, don’t they?

It also seems easy. I mean, there are plenty of editors out there, aren’t there?

Yes, to both, but authors can still make mistakes. I did.

When I finished my first novel, I found an editor via Goodreads. She was recommended by another editor an author I knew had hired, and she was reasonably priced.

I thought I’d got it right, until another editor, who saw my book, which had been accepted for review on Rosie’s Book Review Team, read my novel and pointed out some / too many errors in the first few chapters.

Most were punctuation, but not all. I’m useless at commas. I actually have nightmares with them, so I was relieved that an editor/proof reader had gone through my manuscript, but it hadn’t been done thoroughly.

I’ll forever be grateful to Alison Williams for pointing out these errors in my novel and for her patience and advice while editing the following two novels.

An author knows and expects that not every reader will enjoy their novel, for numerous reasons, style, characters, plot, etc. and that’s acceptable and to be expected, but what is unacceptable is to have editing errors.

All novels whether self-published or traditionally published should be professionally edited.

There are many editors available, and I’m really not an expert on finding the right one, I was just lucky I found her, or rather she was kind enough to find me, just a few a months after I published All Hallows at Eyre Hall, in May 2014.

I cringe when I think of those few months when my novel wasn’t in perfect condition. The good news is that amazon makes it really quick and easy to update your new version for both kindle and print.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or leave a comment 🙂

What about you, what pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid before publication?

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

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Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon 

 

#IWSG ‘Celebrations’ #amwriting #InternationalWomensDay #ProudWoman

This month’s IWSG question for debate is, ‘How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?’ comes just a day before International Women’s Day, so I’m combining both ideas in this post, that is celebrating writing goals, personal goals and celebrations in general.

Pride in our lives and work, and the celebration of goals we’ve reached, is relevant every day, but especially today, which is a day for celebrating our achievements as women.

As a part-time writer (I wish I could be full-time), I don’t set goals in stone, because I don’t want to feel frustrated if I don’t reach them on any given day, so, as I wrote in one of my previous posts, I write short notes to myself after spending some time writing.

Most recent Writer’s Journal, on the right.

 

My notes, which could be called my Writing Journal, include four points:

  • A summary of what I’ve been doing, writing, editing, finishing a chapter, researching, rereading, etc.
  • I might include a word count, especially when I’m starting off, but now that I’m at the editing stage, I’m actually cutting out words, so I write down the total manuscript word count, just to keep a check on it, but it’s no big deal. Sometimes a word or a sentence takes days, and others you cut out 300 words, or write 5,000. My overall goal is to be working on my manuscript for as long as I can as often as I can. 
  • Thirdly, I remind myself what to do the next time I sit down to write, which could be the following day, or the following week. It’s usually something like, ‘finish editing chapter 10’, ‘have a nother look at the end of the first chapter,’ ‘check the dates for….’ etc.
  • The final point is important, I write how I feel about what I’ve been doing. It might look something life, ‘I feel so pleased I finally sorted out chapter X’, or ‘I’m still not sure about….’, etc.

The first thing I do when I sit down to write is read my last diary entry and take it from there. However, it really depends on my mood. I might not follow my own suggestions, although I usually do. It helps me to stay focussed.

One of my ‘stellar moments’

I’ve had some wonderful moments as a writer, such as when I hit publish on Amazon for my first novel, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. Then when it was an Amazon Bestseller lists on several occasions, and I can say the same for Twelfth Night and Midsummer. The mostly good reviews and some successful blog tours, also made me feel very optimistic and infused with courage.

Another fabulous moment was having my books in my hands in the CreateSpace print edition for the first time, and my one and only book presentation of All Hallows, was also a unique day.

I celebrate these occasions as I suppose most people do. with those of my family and friends who can share the moment with me (my family and friends are all over the world, so it’s not easy), either going for a drink or a meal.

Overall, my first three novels have brought me untold hours of joy, frustration, happiness, and fulfillment. It’s been a learning process and even a struggle, at times.

I’m proud of my achievements and I celebrate every day I write as a good day, because I love the freedom, creativity and satisfaction it brings. I’m a simple creature, that’s really enough for me.

However, the best is yet to come. I hope My fourth novel, now in the rewriting/editing phase, which is a contemporary, romantic suspense, will bring me more reasons to celebrate, hopefully this time in the traditional publishing route. This is my provisional cover and title.

I’m also proud to celebrate being a happy woman almost every day. Todays’ a little different because instead of taking it for granted I can spell it out and reinforce the joy being alive, being a person and being a woman brings me.

I’m proud and thankful to be a mother, grandmother, daughter, cousin, wife, teacher, mentor, friend, writer, blogger, poet, photographer, dreamer, person, and alive… every day.

#IWSG Surprising Writing #amwriting #WWWBlogs

The IWSG is a fabulous site for authors to share and encourage ech other by expressing doubts and concerns and looking for advice and guidance in our writing life. It’s a safe haven and meeting place for insecure writers of all kinds!
The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day when we post our thoughts on our own blogs. Check it out and join in here! 
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
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I’m taking part by answering this week’s optional Question: 
Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)

I surprise myself every time I pick up my pen, because I (almost) always jot down my ideas on paper before I sit down to the ‘real’ work of giving shape to my untidy notes on my laptop.

I always carry a pen and notebook, ready to capture the idea on the spur of the moment, before it escapes forever… Many of those ideas are never transformed into complete stories, although they may become part of a story. I use the same notebook until all the pages have been used up, which usually takes about a month, and I keep them at hand, just in case, for years.

This was sitting on a plane, but my favourite place to write is in the car, when I’m not driving!

I’ve written three historical novels and have started a fourth, but my heart isn’t in this fourth novel, at least not yet, so it’s resting on my shelf for the time being, because I wanted to write something different, but I haven’t known what for a long time.

I felt lost, not knowing what kind of novel I wanted to write. I kept filling notebooks full of  ideas which never came to fruition. It wasn’t writer’s block, because I had plenty of random creative ideas, but I felt I lacked purpose. I needed to find a project that would absorb all my creative thoughts and energy. I was getting worried. Although there were many ideas, not one pulled me obsessively, which is what I need to immerse myself in a novel completely.

It has taken me about a year to feel overwhelmed by a new project, but it has finally happened, when I least expected it, on a long car journey, as co-pilot, the seed of an idea dropped and flourished. When I arrived, I had a rough outline, main characters, setting, and a sense that ‘this was it at last’.

Throughout the following month of August, at a holiday flat by the sea, the plot grew and the characters came to life. It’s not a historical novel and it’s not a family saga. It’s a type of novel I never thought I’d write. A contemporary, romantic thriller simmered for 30 days, in a whole notebook of ideas. I’m back home now, and the proper, chapter by chapter outline is almost complete.

I’m a plotter, mostly, although I enjoy improvising, too. I love it when a character I hadn’t planned surprises me by popping into my mind and taking over, or when a plot twist happens unexpectedly as my characters are thinking or speaking. I can deal with these surprising characters and events and rework my original plan. On the other hand, I find it impossible to write without a destination, and that’s where plotting helps me focus.

I welcome surprises as a writer. I never know when or how a creative idea will take root in my mind, and I love the challenge of continued surprises as the novel unfolds.

Antonio Machado (1875 – 1939), drawing by Leandro Oroz Lacalle (1883 – 1933)

A famous Spanish poet, Antonio Machado (1975-1939), wrote, “Traveler, there is no road; you make your path as you walk.” I agree with Machado’s idea, but I also like to know where my destination lies.

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Do you like surprises as a writer?

Have you ever surprised yourself?

#IWSG ‘Weird Research’ ‘The Sin Eater’ #amwriting #Histfic

It’s the first Wednesday of the month when we, Insecure Writers, share our insecurities with each other and the blogosphere in the Insecure Writers Support Group monthly blog hop. Join in here and tell us all about yours.

There’s an optional question every month, this May it’s: 

What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

My work in progress is a contemporary thriller, but so far I’ve written historical fiction set in Victorian England, and although I already knew a great deal before I started, I’ve had to do a lot of extra and specific research, which I greatly enjoyed.

I’ve researched clothes and accessories, recipes for food, household management, furniture and household ornaments, cookery books, working conditions, poor houses, funerals, novels of the period, theatres and plays performed, opium addiction, most frequent illnesses, sea voyages and everything to do with ships sailing to America from the UK, and plenty more details to make the readers feel they were immersed in the 19th century.

If I have to choose one aspect as the weirdest, I’d have to choose the Sin eater, a sinister character in my novels, who is based on real people who carried out this disgusting chore, in order to have a morsel to eat, or occasionally because they had a macabre interest in being close to death and dead people.

Sin eaters existed in England up to the end of the 19th century. They would be summoned to a deceased person’s bedside to perform a ritual usually including eating food from a plate on the dead person’s body, symbolising the eating of their sins, so the dead could pass on to the next world in a sinless state, while the sin eater absorbed their sins.

Many sin-eaters were beggars, and the custom was carried out in different parts of the British Isles, including Yorkshire and Wales, until mid-19th century. The last Sin-eater reportedly died in Shropshire, in 1906.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy is not a horror story, but there gothic elements and some sinister characters and events in the novels, which are set in Victorian England. 

I originally introduced th Sin eater in my first novel as a gothic element of mystery surrounding a funeral. My Sin eater was more evil than eccentric, and as there were several funerals of nasty and sinful characters throughout the trilogy, I realised his presence would be required more than once.

As the trilogy progressed, the Sin eater became a recurring and even essential part of the main plot of the novel, as his character grew from an eccentric or macabre person to an evil and sinister one, more akin to the devil’s servant, or even the Devil himself.

Many of my readers are surprised and even shocked by his presence, which adds a paranormal and sinister element. Mr. Isaac Das Junot, originally from the Netherlands, claims to be a descendent of Judas Iscariot, and member of an evil clan who search funerals of the evil to absorb their sins and grow even stronger in their wickedness. 

However, Junot cannot influence or make use of good people. He has no use for goodness. He is only attracted to evil, which is why Jane Eyre is not afraid of him, although she is aware that he is evil and respects his powers of evil.  

Here is part of a scene in which he has a conversation with Jane Eyre, who is now Mrs. Mason, in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall. This is their second meeting and the second time he appears in the trilogy. Junot narrates this chapter.

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“Why do you not fear me, Mrs. Mason?”

She stopped outside Mr. Mason’s door to answer my question. “Because I know that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, just as happiness and sadness, and beauty and ugliness are all part of our nature. There is no good without evil. Each of us has both. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. You chose evil, so you make the rest of us your opposite: good. Why should I fear you?”

“You are unwise not to fear me,” I said as we walked into the same room I had entered the last time. The corpse was laid out, dressed, and blackened. The smell was the most nauseating I had ever encountered. Was he already decomposing? Had his soul escaped before my arrival?

“When did his body perish?”

“Five days ago.”

“Close your eyes and turn away. He has been expelled from the flesh, which has already been taken over by the corpse eaters, but he is not far, yet. I hope I am still on time, for my sake and yours, Mrs. Mason.”

She turned to face the door. “Do what you have to do quickly.”

I proceeded with my incantation. He was indeed still there, naked and petrified, unable to return, and yet unwilling to leave, so I stole his sins and left his carcass to wither.

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Have you ever heard of Sin eaters?

Which is yor wierdest character?

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