#IWSG Just keep writing (and reading...if you can!) and #WIN an #Amazon #GiftCard

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Every first Wednesday of a new month, a group of writers takes time blog about their fears and insecurities without fear of being judged or ridiculed.

In fact, we write about our innermost doubts to join our peers in shared worries and struggles, because we've found that we all suffer from the same concerns, weaknesses, and nerve-wracking experiences.

And we've also learned that many have overcome these same insecurities, so we can blog about our successes and triumphs, too. Many blog to share encouragement and advice, because writers are the most generous, helpful group of people you'll ever meet.

We all want to see each other succeed and don't want anyone to have to reinvent the wheel. If there's one thing writers all need more of, it's time, so when one person has spent countless hours learning something new, the writer will share it with everyone else to save them time!

Sound amazing? It is. And we have the generous Alex J. Cavanaugh to thank for all of this camaraderie.

Need more encouragement and writing buds? Find the IWSG on Twitter: @IWSG and #IWSG

Each Month we blog about our doubts or accomplishments OR we can write about an optional monthly questions. This month's question is:

February 1 Question: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I still feel like a newbie posting on these Wednesdays, but this month I'm co-hosting, so I look forward to meeting MANY more of you than I have in the past few months!  My response to this month's question is: Man, I've heard writers talk about this a lot. And I have to say, writing has changed my experience as a reader to some extent.

I've always had a harder time getting into novels.  I usually give a book until the fiftieth page to suck me in. In some ways, writing has made this WORSE. It's much harder for me to lose myself in a character and her world because I'm paying attention to the WRITING. I'll reread the first sentence multiple times, and then the first page. I'll consider the premise, the hook, the first pages, the characterization, the goal, obstacle, antagonist...basically I'm trying to reverse outline the dang beginning.  Talk about ruining a good thing! BUT if the book is good enough, I do eventually let go and enjoy the story. That being said, I am constantly aware of phrases I adore and want to save as quotes or strategies the author uses to develop her characters.  Before writing, I'm quite certain I read a book cover to cover and didn't think twice about any of those things.

Also. I think I'm more aware of authors. Before writing, I chose a book based on the cover and title and maybe the blurb and first few pages, but NOW I choose based on author, and genre, of course. I also read a variety of fiction now. Years ago I stuck mostly to adult mystery/thriller series, though I threw in the occasional literary fiction, romance novel, and historical novel...whatever Oprah had been recommending at the time. I didn't venture away from the same ol' same ol' much at all.

For the MOST part though, I'm still a reader, and I'm a writer, and I enjoy the two in different and distinct ways. Unfortunately, the writing takes up a lot of my reading time. I feel scolded when authors tell me how much I should be reading when I'm not, but honestly, during the school year, I have to choose. I either spend a couple of hours reading or I spend a couple of hours writing. And when I have a writing schedule and deadlines I'm holding myself to, well then, there isn't much of a choice. Which, I suppose, is why I devour three books in a week during spring break and the first week of summer. I just can't make it happen even though I KNOW it's important to read a lot to be a better writer. I know, okay?

(Adding this in now that the day is half over...I DO take my Kindle to bed with me every night and fall asleep after reading a page or two of fiction, but that just doesn't feel much like reading to me since it's not long enough to get into the book or enjoy it (even when it's an amazing story...I'm just TIRED). I also read for critique partners when I make time for it, especially when they have deadlines, so I DO read their fiction as well.)

How much time do you dedicate to reading and writing per week? How do you make time for both? I'd love to hear how you make it work. Share any advice you have in the comments. And I'll be by to visit you when I'm done teaching today!

But before you comment and take off...

Today I'm also being featured at the extraordinarily talented author Crystal Collier's blog talking about my pen name's new release. Visit her to discern two truths and a lie about yours truly. 

Last week YA Bound Book Tours hosted a blog tour for my new release and in honor of the tour and my book, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card! And you're in luck because there are still 11 days to enter! 

Good luck!

When you leave here, be sure to visit this month's co-hosts as well as all the other bloggers listed on the hop! 

The awesome co-hosts for the February 1 posting of the IWSG are Misha Gericke, LK Hill,Juneta Key, Christy (that's me!) and Joylene Buter!

And also welcome new IWSG Admin Heather Gardner today!

And... one more tiny thing! (Now that I've written it, it turned really long....Bear with me. It's such HAPPY news!)

I have one really wonderful writerly thing to share. I teach in a PK-8th grade school, and even though I chose a pen name to be all secretive, word got out that I released my first YA novel, and ever since I've been showered with happiness because of it. Parents and their daughters stop me in the car line (while I put their children in the cars at the end of the school day to send them home) to tell me they LOVED my book and that they got nothing accomplished over the weekend because they couldn't stop reading, or that their mom is reading it now because they enjoyed it so much, or that they wrapped it and gifted it to a friend. And THEN I walk down the hall and see middle schoolers reading my book, and when they see me they're so excited.

(Here's the really, really happy part, so if you skipped the rest READ THIS--->>>) BUT THE BEST THING happened the other day when an eighth grade boy who's struggled with behavior and motivation in school since kindergarten approached me to ask about my book and to tell me that he wants to be an author. He told me he wrote a short story that wasn't very good. AND I THOUGHT OF ALL OF US! And I swatted at the air and said "Every writer writes stories that aren't very good at first. I've been writing for six years. Keep writing." And his eyes lit up and he said, "Okay." So I told him to write that night and over the weekend and pledged to get a few chapters of my own done. And since then he's stopped me to tell me that he started a new story. And he's so excited about it. And we've been holding each other accountable for at least fifteen minutes of writing each night. YOU GUYS. I'm tearing up right now just sharing how happy it made me to find a student writing buddy that I can share my love of writing with, and I'm so overjoyed that he is so excited about writing, too. Writing is  such a PASSION, and once we take hold of it and it takes hold of us, we can never let it go, no matter what the world tells us. And THAT'S what this group is all about.


Thanks so much for visiting with me today!



Guess what?!?!?

I wrote a book, and now it's published! You can, like, buy it and read it and everything! AND PEOPLE ACTUALLY ARE! And if you're curious, or love angel books, you can too!

99 cents 
Free with Kindle Unlimited
$8.99 paperback

$8.99 paperback

So...this month I'm making a few rounds to chat about, gasp, myself and my writing and MY BOOK! If you're interested in learning more about my writing process or behind-the-scenes information about When Ash Rains Down, visit these two lovely ladies who invited me to their blogs this month!

Author Diane Burton interviewed me...find out just how badly I messed up my first manuscript and what my go-to genre is (isn't it paranormal...??)!

Author Hart Johnson interviewed me...find out how I successfully, or un-successfully?, balance out how much faith I put into my non-Christian genre books AND MORE, like who inspired my characters, is Shady Creek, WI a real place? and what's NEXT in my series?

The week of January 23 there will be a BLOG TOUR hosted through Ya Bound Book Tours. You won't want to miss it. There will be fun content shared through blogs you may not have seen before, plus, and this is the scary part...reviews. And while some have reviewed my book already on Goodreads and Amazon, some are holding out for that week.

Oh, and I know how it is with book blogging and reading and writing, mostly you'll want to hop around to the blogs that day because...

I'll be giving away a $25 gift card for Amazon!  
Yeah, I thought you might like to know about that. I'll post again that week so you don't forget to enter and win, because I'd love to give that to one of my friends!!!

So, if you have time today or this week, please visit Diane or Hart and leave them a comment, and I won't forget to remind you to enter the giveaway in two weeks!

Happy reading and writing!

Christy (ahem, Cecelia)


#IWSG (on my birthday!) My Constant Battle...

My Constant Battle with the Clock
and All That I Must Learn

It's super hard to believe that it's already time for another IWSG post. I'm not sure what happened between Halloween and now, but Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Year's flew by in half a flash.  

One of my biggest insecurities right now is lack of time. All writers, all people, have that same problem, I know, and for the most part I think I handle my time well. I prioritize my mental to-do list, get the most important items checked off and make my way down the list without getting overwhelmed too often. But as a writer, there's always so much more to do, and with a full-time job, three kids, other family, and a house to take care of, I'm struggling to keep up with what I see other writers accomplishing. There's always so much more to learn, and the thing that's blowing my mind is that I'm adding to that list every day, which means, what I thought I had to learn yesterday increases ten-fold each and every day, so even when I cross items to research and accomplish off that list, it only continues to grow...never, ever does it diminish.

The best I can do, that we can all do, is to keep making those lists, to continue learning, to continue growing, and to continue giving all that we undertake our all. I can only do so much each day, and I think I'm managing to balance work, family, and writing. I do hope to get more miles in this year. Running has fallen by the wayside a little bit and my body is unhappy for it. I recently joined a 500 mile group, so the goal is to run 500 miles this year. Once the weather got frigid (I live in Wisconsin) my quick, daily, 2-mile outdoor runs took a hike. And, since running is where I do my best scene, character, and dialogue brainstorming, figuring out how to get back into a daily running schedule will help me in two areas.

Another major insecurity is waiting to find out how readers enjoy my first book. Today is my 40th birthday and the official release day of my pen name's young adult paranormal novel. Waiting for sales and reviews is both exciting and worrisome. Then, there's also the deadlines to complete the next books in the series!

I'm contemplating gifting myself a day or two off in the next month or so!  And now that I'm sitting here scrambling to write this post for you, I'm wishing I'd gifted myself a day off on my birthday! (But, as a teacher, that often means more work...sub plans...and I wasn't feeling up to it!) Soon!

I'd ask for tips on how to balance life and writing, but I think I most need to set and stick to a schedule and stay off the internet during those set writing times. 

Set. A. Schedule.
Stick...to it.

This will work for all the balls I juggle each and every day!

Now...to do it!

The question for today: January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

I don't think I can name one. I'm glad I've learned all that I have, and if I've unlearned any along the way, then that was a learning point also. I'm interested to hear what the rest of you said for this though!

Have a wonderful month writing friends!


If you're new to IWSG, the details about it are below:

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! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Every month, we announce an optional 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. 

The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG are Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!