The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Natalie Aguirre, Kim Lajevardi, Debs Carey, Gwen Gardner, Patricia Josephine, and Rebecca Douglass!
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!
October 4 question: The topic of AI writing has been heavily debated across the world. According to various sources, generative AI will assist writers, not replace them. What are your thoughts?
I think AI needs to be carefully regulated. The replacement of writers, artists, and performers is a clear and present danger. Computers already run the world. Putting them in charge of art would be the death of creativity. I’m especially disappointed when I hear of authors using AI-generated cover art. If those in the artistic community don’t stand together, what chance do we have?
It’s wishful thinking, but I hope someday the world looks like Star Trek. Even with those advanced computers, art is still celebrated by the humans of the future. On Deep Space 9, the captain’s son became a famous author. That’s a future I’d like to live in.
September 6 question: The IWSG celebrates 12 years today! When did you discover the IWSG, how do you connect, and how has it helped you?
Wow, 12 years!? Happy birthday IWSG!
I joined the group in 2021 near the beginning of my writing journey. I was excited to find other writers for advice, motivation, and to feel like part of a community. In real life, I don't know anyone I can talk to about writing. The blog hop is my favorite thing about the IWSG. I love seeing what everyone else is up to. There are so many different genres and writing styles represented. We are a fun, diverse bunch!
My backyard needs to be raked…in July.
This leaves me with two questions:
Can I start drinking pumpkin spice lattes yet?
Is it back-to-school season yet???
My summer has not been a season of writing. Even this blog post has been a challenge. From 5 am to 8 pm every day since June, my kids are up and yelling “Go, go, go!” Seriously, how do teachers do it? I’ve also been busy planning the kids’ birthday party (which, thankfully, went off without a hitch last weekend). We’ve had tons of fun with play dates, spray parks, etc, but I haven’t touched my book since school ended. I’ve barely even read anything. I’d hoped to publish the third and final installment of my trilogy before Christmas, but…2024 it is.
Now, about that pumpkin spice latte…
The awesome co-hosts for the July 5 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and Natalie Aguirre!
July 5 question - 99% of my story ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?
My dreams don't usually make sense. The ones that do make sense aren't the ones I'd want to write about. Example: Last night, I dreamed about someone who's been hostile to me for years. Let's call her Sarah. Since I can't escape this woman in real life, naturally my brain plunged me into a world where Sarah moved into my guest bedroom. She followed me through my house, criticizing my parenting, clothing, eating habits, you name it. I did not wake up refreshed.
The dreams I would want to write about are inspiring because of how they make me feel, not because of the story details. I want to capture the suspense of a chase scene, but I don't want to write about my second grade teacher hunting me through the school while hurling razor-sharp no. 2 pencils. I want to capture the contentment of a hug from a lost loved one, but I don't want to write about my long-dead grandma turning up alive and well. (It was all a big miscommunication with the hospital. The Alzheimer's is gone, and she's still the same age. Also, my dog Bo is in the corner napping. At forty years old, he needs his rest.)
My story ideas usually come from movies. When a film has potential but doesn't go where I want, I lie awake stripping it down to the studs and renovating it into my dream book. I revisit it every night, making sure the foundation is solid, decorating every room, and filling it with a new cast of characters. If only I could make myself dream about that!
The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are Patrcia Josephine, Diedre Knight, Olga Godim, J. Lenni Dorner, and Cathrina Constantine!
June 7 question - If you ever did stop writing, what would you replace it with?
I started writing because I couldn't not write. I needed an outlet that was just for me. Writing is my selfishness.
The thing that could stop me is the word Yes. There's daily pressure to do more... take on more... give more of one's time and energy. School, church, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, random strangers--everyone asks for time like it's no big deal. Sometimes they ask politely. Sometimes they ask in a way that tells rather than requests. They imply our time is owed. That we're not doing our part.
Sometimes my No is firm. Sometimes it's whispered. No makes me feel guilty. One day, I might give a reluctant, defeated yes. That weak yes will get a training montage where it gets stronger, better, and faster. Saying No will get harder. It's tricky to turn a Yes back into a No.
So, to answer the question, obligations are what might replace writing. Groups like the IWSG remind me that writing is a valid use of time and shouldn't require excuses. To anyone who's reading this, thank you for your support. Even if reading my blog doesn't seem like much, it really helps. Love you guys, and long live the IWSG!
The awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Meka James, Diane Burton, Victoria Marie Lees, and M Louise Barbour!
May 3 question - When you are working on a story, what inspires you?
When I need inspiration, I look to my characters. I mean, I really look. I cast the roles in my head and visualize a real person speaking every word, doing every action, and making every facial expression. If I can't picture the actor saying the line, I can't write it. Visualization is what helps me overcome writer's block and inspires me with ideas.
So, just for fun, here are some of my imaginary cast for my Blue Nova trilogy:
Mayor Hubble: Brian Blessed
With his booming voice and grandfatherly look, he fits Mayor Hubble to a T.
Jess: Rachel Zegler
This isn't the greatest photo, but it's the only one I could find. Jess goes through many changes throughout the series, but I think her metamorphosis could be captured by the actress who played Maria in West Side Story.
"File:(2015-11-21) Fire & Ice - Danielle Panabaker & Robbie Amell 07.jpg" by Heroes & Villains is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Cropped.
Dr. Vile: Robbie Amell
One reader told me she pictured Jason Momoa in the role. To each her own, but I think Robbie Amell would be a better fit. I can picture him as every version of the character, and he's got that longing look down pat (judging from his role as Nathan on Upload).
"Anthony Field (6640182481)" by Eva Rinaldi is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Cropped.
"Hugh Jackman" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Cropped.
Garrett: Hugh Jackman and Anthony Field (AKA Anthony Wiggle)
This is an imaginary casting, so there's nothing to stop me from merging two people into one. Superheroes are science fiction, after all. I picture Garrett as a combination of these two talented Aussie actors.
Strike: Evan Peters
This actor is already associated with an X-Men superhero, but I still see him as the young, outspoken, and sorta goofy Citadel trainee introduced in Heart of a Hero. Evan Peters is a bit old for the role now, but I picture a younger version of him as Strike.
Gale: Anya Taylor-Joy
Couldn't you just see her floating in the air as Gale, then primly landing to look down her nose at you? She'd be fun once you got to know her though.
Akio (Shatter): Ken Watanabe
He's amazing in every role, and I can't help but hear his voice whenever the telekinetic supervillain speaks.
Commander Clash: Joel Kinnaman
Stern and commanding, he's perfect to portray the powerful superhero in charge of the Citadel. I've loved watching him play Ed Baldwin in For All Mankind.
Omni: Taika Waititi
This choice may seem odd since the actor plays humorous characters, but hear me out. There's a darkness to his role in What We Do in the Shadows. I think he could tap into that darker side and be a good fit for the all-powerful, mass-murdering supervillain. (There may also be more to Omni than pure evil, but you'd have to read book three to find out.)
"File:110818 Gemma Chan in an interview for Collider Video.png" by Collider Video is licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Duchess: Gemma Chan
I love Gemma Chan in everything she's done. The Duchess character won't be seen until book three, so I'll just say that she's a straight-laced villain who has no problem calling the shots in the League.
Étoile: Danai Gurira
You haven't met her yet, but when Étoile is introduced in book three, she'll be important to Jess's story. I wonder if Danai Gurira can do a French accent?
Aubree (Blue Nova): Kiernan Shipka?
I saved my main character for last, because I struggle most with casting her. To me, Aubree is the illustrated version of herself that's on the book cover. I keep her vague in my mind, but for the purpose of this blog, let's cast her as Kiernan Shipka.
I've been meaning to share my dream casting for a long time, but I've been nervous about including images. Legal stuff is so stressful to decipher! I found these photos through Creative Commons. The images there are labeled with the info needed to correctly attribute and use them. For anyone curious about Creative Commons, here's a link:
The awesome co-hosts for the April 5 posting of the IWSG are Jemima Pett, Nancy Gideon, and Natalie Aguirre!
April 5 question - Do you remember writing your first book? What were your thoughts about a career path on writing? Where are you now and how is it working out for you? If you're at the start of the journey, what are your goals?
I definitely remember my first book! It wasn't too long ago.
I started Falling for the Villain during Covid lockdowns. I wrote feverishly on my tablet every spare moment while my kids were distracted with TV or toys. The book was the first in a planned trilogy, and I thought I'd churn out books two and three quickly.
That did not happen.
Suddenly, my kids weren't so easily distracted anymore. They demanded to be entertained. While I wrote Heart of a Hero, I looked forward to them being in school a few hours a week...plenty of free time for mama! What a silly, optimistic person I was. In those tiny, minuscule hours, I'd sit down, reacquaint myself with where I left off, type a few pages, and BOOM, it was time for school pickup. If it’s possible, my progress on book three has been even slower. My revised goal is just to publish one book per year. That would be great.
The awesome co-hosts for the March 1 posting of the IWSG are Diedre Knight, Tonya Drecker, Bish Denham, Olga Godim, and JQ Rose!
March 1 question - Have you ever read a line in a novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?
Absolutely. All the time. But as I sit here grasping for examples, I'm coming up short. Off I go to Goodreads to gather quotes from my recently read books:
"It had occurred to her that she smiled more often to preempt someone else’s displeasure than to express her joy."
― Evie Dunmore, Portrait of a Scotsman
"Having regrets is the only sign that you’ve done anything interesting with your life."
― Lisa Kleypas, Secrets of a Summer Night
"What part [of me] did you miss the most?"
"Your mind," she said, and smiled at his expression.
"I was hoping for a far more depraved answer than that."
"Your mind is depraved," she told him solemnly.
― Lisa Kleypas, A Wallflower Christmas
Every line from Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files inspired author envy as well, but it's been so long that I can't remember any examples!
Plotwise, I remember feeling all kinds of things from the twists in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. I wasn't an author yet at the time, but if I had been, I'd have felt envy.
Books one and two in the Blue Nova Saga are BOTH on sale this week for $.99. If you've been waiting to read the ebooks, now is the time to head to Amazon!
An arch enemies-to-lovers story with humor, epic battles, and twists you won't see coming! Book 1 can be read as a stand alone.
Falling for the Villain established Blue Nova's super-powered world. Now, Heart of Hero reaches beyond River City. The world of heroes and villains is about to get a lot bigger.
The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Jacqui Murray, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Pat Garcia, and Gwen Gardner!
February 1 question - If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?
I paid a graphic artist to design the covers for my self-published books. He is a friend whose work I've always admired, and I love the comic book vibe of his art. I sent him SO many reference photos for how I wanted Blue Nova, Dr. Vile, and the Citadel to look. Somehow, he amalgamated all my ideas into a gorgeous image that represents the book perfectly. Looking at the covers of the first two books inspires me whenever I hit writer's block. I know people say "Don't judge a book by its cover," but respectfully, that's nonsense. The cover is part of the experience. As a reader, I pause to glance at the cover repeatedly. It helps set the mood. Maybe that's why I'm not crazy about the clip-art-looking people on the covers of contemporary romance novels. Yes, the covers are discreet. And yes, Fabio was overused as a cover model. But dang it, I want something beautiful to look at, even if it's just the heroine's face and a bouquet of peonies!
Anyway, I digress. With regard to my own covers, I'm hoping my designer friend will create one for the third book in my trilogy too. After my Blue Nova books, I think I'll try a different genre, possibly under another pen name. I'm considering self-made covers for future books, but it will depend on how good I can make them look.
The only time I've made my own covers was when writing for Wattpad. I created them on Canva for free. It was fun and easy, but the result was far from professional. Canva also had licensing rules to consider. I believe it was fine to use those covers for up to 10,000 units (a number I'll never get close to, and even if I do, that's a GOOD problem). If Canva's rules are still the same, I might use it in future. We'll see how much of my graphic design class I remember from university!
What about you? What skill level do you have for designing covers? What kinds of covers do you prefer on books you read?
Nothing fancy, just my thoughts on the writing journey, creativity, and life in general.
Falling for the Villain
Like superheroes? Love romance? This novel is for you!