01 August 2018

Simon The Cat Travels Through Time | IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is a place to share and encourage, where writers can express their doubts and concerns without appearing foolish or weak. It's a great place to mingle with like minded people each month during IWSG day. The fabulous co-hosts this month are Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover, and Lee Lowrey.

Every month there's an optional question which may prompt folks to share advice, insights, a personal experience or story. Some folks answer the question in their IWSG blog post or let it inspire them if they're struggling with what to say.

This month's question is:

"What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?"

Check out how people have answered this month's question, as well as the other insecurities and writing topics they may have shared by visiting the IWSG sign-up list here. If you want to see how I answered the question, have a look below. 

* * *
Image via The Graphics Fairy

"Simon, what's going on here? Why am I lying on the ground covered in sand?" After sitting up, brushing the annoying grains off of my clothes, I gazed up and saw a giant pyramid reflecting the strong sun. And was that a giant sphinx nearby?

"Simon, answer me! Last thing I remember, I was taking a nap, and now I appear to be in Egypt!"

"You should be addressing me as Your Holiness or as He Who Should Be Adored and Worshiped," the large gray cat said haughtily. He flicked his pink tongue across one of his paws, then cleaned sand off from behind his ear. Apparently satisfied with his appearance, he added, "After all, I am a god here."

I snorted - which helpfully got rid of the sand lodged in my nose. "You, a god. Are you kidding me?"

"That's exactly why I used my powers to have us travel back in time to this place. Here, people will build statues to honor me, they'll fan me to keep me cool, and they'll give me all the belly rubs I desire."

I rolled my eyes - which unhelpfully dislodged some sand from my eyelashes into the corner of my eye. "You are so selfish, Simon."

He growled.

"Oh, I'm sorry," I said, just a tad sarcastically. Okay, a lot sarcastically. "I mean, you're so selfish, Your Eminence Who Constantly Has Tuna Breath."

He growled some more.

"By the way, before you whisked me off to the past, I was busy writing my monthly IWSG post about the pitfalls you should avoid when publishing."

"I thought you said you were taking a nap."

"Same thing," I snapped. "Napping is how writers talk to their creative muses."

Simon did the feline equivalent of rolling his eyes. It's hard to describe what that looks like, but you know when it's happened.

"And do you know what my number one pitfall was? Getting too attached to a character. You know how I write cozy mysteries. Well sometimes, some characters just have to be killed off. Get my drift?"

He swished his tail back and forth, kicking up sand all over me. "Fine, we'll travel forward in time, back to that stupid boat in stupid Florida. But, you owe me a belly rub. And a statue wouldn't hurt either."

* * *

I'm not sure I can really answer this month's question as I very much at the start of my publication journey having just released my first book in June. But here are a few pitfalls I've tried to avoid so far.

1 - Comparing Yourself to Others

If you watch writing podcasts or frequent certain forums and Facebook groups, you might start to believe that everyone but you is killing it. There are countless stories about how someone has become an Amazon best seller, how they're making six-figure incomes, or how they churn out a new book each month. It's really easy to get caught up in all the hype and despair that you're not successful like everyone else.

The truth is that most writers will never become best sellers or be able to fund an luxury holiday to a tropical island from their royalties. Comparing myself to those superstars would take all of the fun out of it. After all I started writing because I enjoy it, not to become rich and famous.

2 - Not Taking Your Time

Wow, there is so much to learn when it comes to self-publishing. I'm really glad that I had a rather ridiculously long pre-order period so that I could get all my ducks in a row before my book was release. Once you finish your manuscript, if you're anything like me, you'll be itching to push the publish button and get it out there for all to see. But if you don't take the time to make sure you get everything right, you might find yourself stressed out when things don't go to plan.

3 - Not Having a Cat

Okay, this is really a point that Simon wanted to make. He feels that it's really important to have a cat as one of your main characters. Fortunately, I have one in my cozy series - Mrs. Moto, a Japanese bobtail calico. She's a very sweet cat, doesn't have a god-complex, and isn't snarky. 

Don't let Simon hear me say this, but having a cat isn't essential. But not knowing the common tropes of your genre is a potential pitfall. I write cozy mysteries and many of them feature adorable furry companions. No, you don't have to write to market and tick every trope off of the list, but if you publish a book that doesn't deliver what your readers expect, then you might find that you get some bad reviews. For example, if I had written in gory detail about the crime scene or had explicit sex scenes, than I'm pretty sure cozy readers wouldn't be buying the next book in the series.

If you want to know more about my cozy mystery publishing journey, I'm documenting the good, the bad, and the ugly over on my author blog. There's a whole bunch of posts on things like editing, book format, beta readers, cover design, and going Amazon exclusive vs. wide.

What about you? What pitfalls have you experienced on your publication journey? Or what pitfalls are you hoping to avoid as you start your journey?

A dilapidated sailboat for your anniversary - not very romantic.  A dead body on board - even worse.

>>Murder at the Marina<< is the first in a new lighthearted and humorous cozy mystery series about Mollie McGhie, a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth.

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  1. Simon is so right about napping ;-) And yes: my stories with cats in them are a lot of fun to write (I have a few in my short story collection) because the cats just run with the mayhem.

    Ronel visiting on Insecure Writer's Support Group day: Time to Say Goodbye

  2. I love Simon and I totally agree with him that a cat is essential. My cat Nate totally seconds this tip.
    I'm new to your blog and know I will love visiting. Such a fun post and I love all things cats! Congrats on your new book! :)

  3. Simon makes me laugh! I have a cat at home but somehow they never make it into my stories. Hmmm...maybe I need to add one. And I agree, we shouldn't compare ourselves and yes, we must slow down and take our time. Happy IWSG Day Ellen :)

  4. Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed your break. Do anything especially fun? Meanwhile, great post. I have the opposite problem with taking time in publishing. I'm still building my backlog of hoarded stories. ~grin~ I'm having fun, at least. And I know a someone who might like them if I ever kick the bucket before getting up nerve to try publishing. This fellow published one of my unrelated short stories in a sci fi anthology and writes other tales similar to my series. I should put him in my will to get these for posthumous publishing. ~grin~ Not sure if I'm kidding or not. Heh...

  5. What a fun post from top to bottom! You nailed it, girl. Good tips, too. I've totally aced the second one. I'm a whiz kid at taking my time. If I were any slower, I wouldn't be moving at all. :)

    As for including furry critters in our books, I don't write cozy mysteries, but I'll probably have animals in all the books I write. I can't imagine not having pets in my life, so why leave them out of my books?

  6. Hubby finished your book the other day and he loved it too. He says you're a most entertaining author. I agree.

    Have a fabulous day. ♥

  7. Love the part about not comparing ourselves to others. It really does take a lot of the fun out of things. I do try to learn from others and use their success to push myself harder, challenge myself more. But in a positive way. :)

  8. WONDERFUL advice, Ellen. I love what you said about not comparing ourselves to others. This is something I've struggled with in the past and I'm finally able to look at others, breathe deep, let go of any jealousy or anger, and let my Muse know that it's time we get back to work.

    Speaking of Muses, it is good to have a cat around. If I didn't, I'd be stuck at my computer all day, writing away, instead of getting up and down, trying to get them off the refrigerator, out of the bathroom rubbish bin, telling them, "No, you can't have canned food yet" and a million other things. ;)

    Happy Wednesday,

  9. I think Simon is really pushing for a series about him. As long as he's a god in those stories of course!

  10. Not Having a Cat!!! Too funny and don't worry Simon will never hear it from me. Loved the post and the advice. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  11. I like your list! Definitely know what readers of the genre are looking for. And yeah, comparing yourself to others is a quick spiral into depression. So having a godlike complex isn't common to all cats??? Does it count that my "cat" character is actually a god(ess)?

  12. Simon sure keeps things interesting! Love him <3

    Not rushing to publish is the best advice!

  13. Taking naps as a writers is fun, and a part of the process. I love to daydream about my characters while I rest. :)

    I have four cats, so I guess I'm good with #3. LOL

  14. Hi Ellen,
    It's a delight to read your posts and Simon's contributions. As you might suspect, I agree with Alex about a Simon series...as a god has an interesting appeal. You write with a delightful sense of humor and I'm one of those that comes back for more.

    I noticed a couple of visitors included a link to their site. Excellent idea. How is the link created and posted in with my comment?

  15. I try to write because I enjoy it, though I do find myself thinking I won't be as good as some people are. But I bet others thought the same thing. I try to avoid this, however. And I would like to see something of mine published one day, though I know it's hard to do so. But I try to do it so I can enjoy doing do.

  16. From your list (and your book), I'd say you are doing well with the learning curve! Also agree that napping is writing :D

    I heard somewhere that you've made it as a writer when your earnings can pay the power bill. I think I might have done that once or twice since I started publishing in 2012. Most months they'll at least pay for an occasional trip to the coffee shop.
    My IWSG Post

  17. Oops! I have a couple of dogs but no cats in my current story...! Sorry Simon - next time!!
    Now, time for a nap...

  18. I have one cat in a story, but I have two real ones. Who fortunately aren't as troublesome as Simon. (Although Star began today by falling in the fish tank. What a mess!)

  19. Another great post that put a smile on my face as I read it. Thank you. I am forever admonishing myself against comparing my writing to the writing of others, especially when I start to compare my draft-in-progress to a book I'm reading. It's such an unfair comparison, but it's so hard not to do it. In any case, thanks for the post. Happy writing to you! :)

  20. I like reading stories where there are pets. Currently I'm reading one with a enchanted cat who has all the answers!

  21. Simon deserves at least one point in all of this, and he's a great advocate for the felines of the world. Cheers Simon.

  22. Mrs. Moto is the best fictional cat of all time (sorry Simon), and her clue finding skills are without rival.

  23. Yes, definitely have a cat. One of my cats threw up on an old plot outline of mine, and I immediately scrapped it. It was good advice. ;) Happy IWSG day! http://www.raimeygallant.com

  24. I need to remind myself that I don't need to hurry. But you are so right: I'm soooo itching to press that publish button.

  25. Simon sounds like quite the character. If he likes ancient Egypt so much, maybe he should go visit for a good long time!

    “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt.

  26. So glad Simon is here today. Love your comment about napping. LOL Yep, that's when I do my best plotting. Best wishes on your cozies.

  27. Learning to trust my writing has been a watershed (LOL) moment. So much contrary advice out there.

  28. I'm not sure about the cat being 'optional.' I've decided not to risk it. BTW, off point, your idea of posting cat pix while you take a break is brilliant. I'm definitely going to keep that in mind. They might as well make themselves useful, after all.

  29. Amen on letting go of comparisons to others! It sucks out all of the joy, and you're totally right that most of us authors aren't making many bucks. We all need to remember to worship Simon so he doesn't take us time traveling.

  30. I'm often comparing myself to 'better' writers - including you, Ellen. It's so easy to do that - and to get bogged down in one's debut like me. Ok - and I don't have a cat - oops.

  31. Simon did it again. He had me smiling all the way. :-) Good tips to avoid pitfalls - I fully agree with them. So, I guess I better not compare myself to you, She Who Has Already Published One Book Successfully. :-) Thank you for sharing all your advice and experiences along the way. Very helpful!

  32. Lol! Maybe I need to get a cat. I agree with the pitfalls, especially the comparison one. It's hard not to do, but it's silly at the same time.

  33. I love my characters. I don't want them to suffer or die. Maybe that's why I don't write mysteries. Great advice about not comparing yourself to others. Everyone goes her own way at her own speed.

  34. Napping is an essential part of the process.
    Some of my characters have to depart... others will never do so. That's probably the best part of putting your dog/cat/guinea pig/bearded dragon into your stories as a character.

  35. Lol, I get attached to my characters, too. Luckily, I write picture books instead of cozy mysteries, so none of them REALLY have to die. But sometimes they do need to take reaaaalllly long naps (so I can write something else.)

  36. Yes, there is NO hurry to press that publish button. Do it when you're good and ready. Trust your gut too...
    Every writer has a different journey anyway, so it's not advisable to compare your journey to that of the next person... even though, at times, we tend to fall into this comparison trap.


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