Wednesday, January 6, 2021

IWSG - January 2021

 This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post for January.

Alex's awesome co-hosts this month

Ronel Janse van Vuuren ,
Please stop by their blogs and say thank you

Aren't you glad it's FINALLY 2021?
I am. 
Here's hoping for a better year.

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?

Oh my. I almost decided to skip this month's optional question. I'm not sure you will want me to answer. My comments might stir up insecurities rather than calm them.

Keep in mind that I freelance as an editor. What makes me good at that makes me a picky reader.

Melissa's Naughty List

The #1 thing that will make me put a book down is poor editing. If I feel like I need to take a red pen to a novel, it ruins the enjoyment for me.

Anachronistic language in a historical novel. If your 19th century characters go out for some 'retail therapy,' I won't be a happy reader.

Historical characters who behave inappropriately for the period (as if it's 1990 instead of 1890). I don't mind characters who are a bit ahead of their time in their opinions, but I expect them to observe the social mores of the setting year. 

Stilted dialogue.

Weak or implausible motives. Implausible behavior. 

Boring openings. Disappointing endings.

POV errors. Not establishing POV in the first couple of lines of a new chapter or scene. Not setting up a new scene so that the reader is oriented to who, where, and what. 

Poorly crafted prose (excessive exposition, info dumps, word overuse, etc.). I like tight writing that reads smoothly.

Insta-love. Romance novels in which the MCs' relationship is based on sex. Physical attraction might cause them to notice one another, but give me more.

Characters whose emotions feel inappropriate or excessive OR characters who come across as flat / deadpan because there aren't enough emotional cues woven in.

Too much research or historical data inserted into the story. Research should form the skeleton of your book, not the skin. (The amount a book can bear varies by genre.)

Authors who use their book as a soapbox for political or religious views. I don't mind characters being characters, even when they're different from me, but if the author is using them to push an agenda, it turns me off.

Unlikable MCs. They don't have to be entirely lovable from page one, but give me a save-the-cat moment--a glimpse of his or her positive traits to keep me reading.


I have two announcements - one happy, one sad.

Lisa Buie-Collard has a new book!

Congratulations, Lisa!


Now for the sad.

I got word recently that Josephine 'Jo' Wake--avid blogger, bowler, and surrogate grandmother to many of us writers on the blogosphere--passed away. Jo was part of a private goal group with me and several other writers. She was a vital member of our group who kept us on our toes and was always willing to offer a critique whenever one was needed. Our beloved Grandmother Dragon will be very missed.

To honor her memory, we are posting a favorite recipe. 

Dad's Favorite Oatmeal Cookies 

  • 1 cup shortening, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • 2 cup raisins

  • Preheat oven to 350*F. Cream shortening and sugar, then add wet ingredients and mix. Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl. Add dry to wet a little at a time, mixing well. Stir in nuts and raisins. Place by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Don't over-bake.

IWSG is the brainchild of Alex J. Cavanaugh. It's a monthly bloghop that offers a safe haven for writers to express their feelings and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. It's also a venue for offering  support, both in the form of comments and positive posts. Writers of all kinds are welcome. 

We 'meet' the first Wednesday of every month. If you're interested in learning more, click on the link above. And don't be intimidated by the size of the group. We're not expected to visit everyone on the list

Twitter handle is @TheIWSG 
Hashtag is #IWSG