Archive for the ‘Insecurities’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!
Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

March 1 question – Have you ever read a line in novel or a clever plot twist that caused you to have author envy?
All the time! My gosh, I couldn’t begin to count how many times that has happened. Isn’t it fairly typical of all writers (and artists) that we compare ourselves unfavourably to those peers we most admire?
In the last few years, I’ve read some stellar novels. The boys and I read Mortal Engines, the first book in the award-winning Mortal Engines quartet, by Philip Reeve, and every night, after reading, we’d have to talk it over. We could not read four pages and go to bed silently. I thought, wow, imagine publishing a book that stirred people that way. The unique dystopian world, the images raised large in our minds, the issues brought to life clamoured to be heard. The boys and I would end up having long existential conversations, in consequence, thinking about pollution, progress, and what we would do if… I felt deep envy of the vastness of the concept Reeve had conjured. It was so fresh and keen, the world-building first class, the story gripping. It was dangerous and scary at times, touching at others, spellbinding – it had it all. And, boy, did I wish I’d thought of the sheer scope of the Mortal Engines world.

Another book that stands out is Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield. This one is mainly because of the lyrical style of storytelling and the truly intriguing central question, that of a drowned girl who, hours later, seemingly comes back to life. How? This perplexing mystery draws us through incredibly detailed depictions of country life revolving around the enigmatic Thames River. Unfortunately, the answer to the mystery lets the whole novel down. Therefore, any feelings I’d had of wishing I’d written the enchantingly detailed body of the book had dissipated by the end.
Then there was Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, a tour de force of world-building enough to make any fantasy writer quake with covetousness. From the astonishing opening, I read with my mouth agog. It begins:
When the Moon rose in the Third Northern Hall I went to the Ninth Vestibule
Entry for the first day of the fifth month in the year the albatross came to the south-western halls

And with those words, one finds oneself ushered into the House, which shares its halls with the tide and the earnest, endearing Piranesi, the only living inhabitant of the House apart from the strange weekly visits from a man he calls the Other. So beguiling, so otherworldly, so clever, and haunting was this novel that I literally “looked forward” to every chance I got to read some more. As with Mortal Engines, I found myself thinking about Piranesi long after each day’s reading. I was absorbed. And the twist was killer. What I envied most was the world-building prowess demonstrated by Clarke. Being a fantasy author, I know how hard it is to build a world out of thin air, and to do so as convincingly as this was awe-inspiring. The world of the House was so real in my mind I wished I could go there. Piranesi won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2021 and was chosen as Book of the Year by The Times, Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, and many more. That book is envy-worthy!

That wraps up the books I’ve read recently. But, if we go a bit further back in time (say 50 years, to my childhood), then we reach the pinnacle. Last but certainly not least in the jealousy stakes has to be my all-time favourite books, which most readers of this blog will have heard me bang on about many times before, the Moomin series by Tove Jansson. What I love and admire the most about this series is the charm, the sense of humour, and the child-centered voice with all the guilelessness and transparent innocent joy of a child in springtime. Even reading them as an adult, the humour on every page is subtle, sweet, and life-affirming, the books make me want to weep with happiness. They are the perfect children’s books and deserve their place as revered classics in every library worth it’s salt. Jansson’s masterpiece, the Moomin series, remains my Everest – my hope has long been to one day be a good enough writer to write a series to compare. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but that’s my secret (and now, not so secret) hope.
What about you? Are there any books you wished you’d written?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol

To write a story that works, that moves the reader, is difficult, and most of us can’t do it. ~ George Saunders


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I would have posted this last week, but it was the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s monthly question, so the story became delayed by a week. On the 27th Jan the rain that had been “persisting down,” as my father used to say, fell more steadily towards late afternoon. Another tropical cyclone was expected, and a heavy rainfall watch was in place. Nevertheless, my friends were gathering that evening for dinner. I wobbled down to the garage in heels, carrying a heavy oven dish of the blueberry apricot crumble I had made for dessert, plus a paper bag bearing vanilla bean ice cream and two tubs of thickened cream. I had to splash through water to get to the car, thinking, that’s odd. I’ve never had to do that before. Then I noticed sheets of water streaming off the higher ground beneath the house onto the concrete pad the car was sitting on, something I had not seen in my 58 years of living here.
Undeterred, I backed out of the garage and headed slowly down the road, having to breach a small lake of surface water at the end. I turned right and drove halfway along through swirling muddy water. The thought in my mind was, your instincts are telling you to stay home, you idiot. Why are you still driving? Through the sideways curtains of torrential rain, I glimpsed a line of cars ahead, waiting to get through as a little Suzuki car bravely pushed through the sizeable lake spanning the intersection to turn into our street.

Holy crap. I knew I needed to get home as fast as possible. I turned around and ploughed my way through, making it back to the saturated garage about five minutes later.
Man, was I grateful to be home. But would we be safe? When I told the teenagers indoors about the street flooding, the youngest son and his girlfriend immediately galvanized into action. He needed to take his girlfriend home before the 6 p.m. curfew. The pair raced out the door slinging on raincoats, hoping vainly to catch the last bus, which their mobiles informed them was “five stops away.” I told them to run, as I had seen the state of the roads.

And from then on, I worried about them.

40 minutes later, the youngest son rang. They had realized the bus would not be able to make it through the rising water, so the pair of them had trekked to the nearest shops, sometimes wading through water up to their waists. They were wet, scared, and tired. The girlfriend’s mother was on her way to pick them up.
Thank goodness!
20 minutes later, the son rang again. Every road they took to return to the girlfriend’s house was blocked or flooded. They were still trying to get through.
At this point, I was praying. There was nothing else I could do besides giving instructions on the phone. I was at home, looking after my son with Down syndrome. Luckily, he sleeps through anything. I, on the other hand, spent a miserable evening. The rain pelted down harder and harder. I have never seen rainfall like it – the term “biblical proportions” sprang to mind. I kept checking the scene outside the house and listening to the radio. Friends and family on social media shared videos of people riding a bus home with water sloshing around their ankles and a bus floating sideways across the road. There were photos of the airport and the local supermarket completely awash.

Looking out the windows often and constantly reading the live updates on the news, I began to panic. Though I am an optimistic person, I found myself thinking about the real possibility of being flooded out of our homes, maybe evacuated, maybe loss of life and I was shaking all over terrified. I feared for my friends, and my extended family living across the city, including my eldest son and granddaughter. I also feared for my elderly neighbours, the white-haired couple and the grandmother on her own who live at the bottom of the street. At one stage, I donned a coat and gumboots to check the water level outside. It was a relief to see that it had not changed and everyone was still safely above the water level.
You can imagine it was a long night.
Finally, I got the news my son and company had arrived safely at the girlfriend’s house. They were straight into hot showers and promised me they would eat a healthy meal. Through social media family and friends chatted online together sharing updates, which is how I knew everyone else I loved was at home and dry.
Thank heavens!

I woke the next morning thrilled to find we were still in our beds and the rain had abated. I felt humbled, grateful for our lives and that our homes were still standing, grateful and aware of our blessings, and very grateful that the rain had stopped. We had 245 mm in 24 hours. It was officially our “wettest day on record.” Since then, we have had blue skies and sunshine. Strange weather, man! I went out and about the neighbourhood, looking at the damage. Folks were cleaning their yards, and I passed a few groups gathered on sidewalks or outside houses, chatting with brooms in their hands and rubbish bins. Everywhere people stood talking. I’ve been chatting with folks, too. It struck me that disasters make people connect with other people. I know the names of two more neighbours I didn’t know before. It helps to know the name of the folks living cheek-by-jowl with you when the chips are down. We’ve been reminded that we need each other, I guess, which is a beautiful thing to come out of this disaster. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. There were four dead. It has been horrendous for us, but somehow, we got through it.

As an introvert, I require time to come to terms with everything. It might take a week to sift through the contents of my mind. Secondarily, I need to clean the garage. Now, another cyclone is on the way. Whewee!
2023 – how’s everyone else finding it so far?

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette Carol

“You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” – Maya Angelou


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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

This month’s question:
What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

There are a few genres I would be too scared to tackle, and some I know I should never attempt. I wanted to write romantic novels at one point when I was a lot younger, and I made it to the halfway point with a contemporary romance set in the South Island of New Zealand when I ran out of steam. It felt like a case of mentally choosing a direction, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I couldn’t sustain the energy levels needed to finish the project. As Gina Cole said at the launch of her book Na Viro last Friday night at the New Zealand Society of Authors meeting, “Writing a book is tough.” Short, sweet, and to the point! All the fates have to be aligned, and your energy has to come from the inexhaustible fuel supplied by conviction. You can’t fake story writing. It needs to come from a deep source within or the well runs dry pretty quick.

I wouldn’t dare write literary fiction because I neither read the genre nor enjoy it. Throughout the recent writers’ festival, I sat in on several live interviews or “conversations,” and two of them were with authors of highly-praised literary novels. Those were the only events where I felt out of place. Truth is, I’m not as intelligent as I look. The thought that went through my head multiple times while watching those interviews was, “I think this conversation is above my pay grade.” A lot of the points they made did not compute.
Likewise, horror and all variations thereof leave me cold. It’s another personal no-go zone. I don’t have the stomach for horror. The only horror story I’ve read – apart from critiquing my friend, Maria Cisneros-Toth’s book, Spooky Tales – was Ghost Story by Stephen King (Peter Straub). The latter’s novel freaked me out big time, and I couldn’t stop thinking about Ghost Story afterward. I didn’t like feeling afraid in my own time because of a book, and it put me off reading horror altogether. The only horror movie I’ve ever seen was Dawn of the Dead when I was a teenager. I lasted five minutes watching that movie, and then I stood up and walked out of the cinema. It’s the only time I’ve ever done so. And I’ve not seen a single horror film since. The genre is not my bag. I don’t want nasty images replaying in my mind long after a movie is finished. And the same goes for the darker sorts of fiction. I don’t want to read threatening material or have it cloud the bright sky of my imagination. It feels like I need to protect my good spirits and keep my environment positive. My friend would call it ‘keeping my armour polished.’

Another genre I avoid is picture books. There was an extended period in my twenties when I wrote picture books for the 0 – 5-year-old range. I spent at least a decade developing the stories and illustrating them. Looking back on this time, I learned a lot about writing through labouring under the constraints of the form. The economy of language and tightness of composition is essential, along with an ear for the rhythm of the spoken word. However, I prefer using lots of words, and I felt confined by the genre and miserable. Eventually, the limits of the form began to feel like a straightjacket, and I felt driven to escape.

Alternatively, my first ever experiment writing middle fiction was like lighting a flame. With more generous word limits, I could have fun with words and spend more time getting to know my characters. I could explore the plot, the story arc, and so on. The natural fit for me was to write fantasy because that is the genre I read as a child and still like to read now. When I think back, it wasn’t a matter of consciously choosing what I would write at that point. I picked up the pen and that’s what came out. Fantasy middle fiction fit like a glove, and I’ve been playing happily in my sandbox ever since.
What about you? What genre do you avoid? Which do you embrace?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol

Let it be easy. ~ Anon

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In June 2015, I had my first book launch planned for September of that year. My greatest fear was public speaking, so I knew there was no way I could deliver a speech at the launch without serious help. After some searching the internet, I discovered Toastmasters. The non-profit educational speakers’ organization began with Ralph C. Smedley in the United States, and now boasts 352,000 members in 141 countries. With more than 16,400 individual clubs worldwide, there was a club within a ten-minute drive of my house. I rocked along that week, joined up, and was assigned a mentor. What is a mentor? A mentor is a person who provides guidance and support to empower a protégé to reach their goals.

In Toastmasters, they assign a mentor to guide each new member for the first six months. Debbie was my mentor, and she was brilliant, yet not even she could help me with my nerves. Public speaking is the number one fear for most people, and for me, it felt debilitating. The way I managed the fear was by tightly controlling my speeches. I would start work on them two weeks before the due date. I would write out the idea and edit it endlessly until every word was in the exact right place. Then a week before the presentation was due, I would start memorizing the piece. I would work on it line by line, learning and rehearsing until finally, I knew it verbatim.

On the day of the meeting, in a state of high anxiety, I would pace outside rehearsing my lines. Only after giving my speech could I finally relax. The months went by, and I survived. I successfully delivered the keynote at my book launch and even won a speech competition. Somewhere along the way, the challenges of Toastmasters became fun. Far out, I thought, is it true that I have conquered my greatest fear? It was “a feather in my cap,” as my father used to say.
Then came the day an evaluator gave a speech evaluation that stopped me in my tracks and changed my trajectory forever. On that day, I remember being secretly pleased with my speech because I had recalled every word perfectly.

Mike was my evaluator. He was one of our best storytellers. Mike could come up with a speech on his way into the club and deliver an amazing piece a few minutes later. He said, ‘Your speech was fine, great. We’ve said it all before. But…you speak as if you’re talking to yourself in the mirror. You’re not connecting with us, just reciting something you’ve learned by rote. My challenge to you is to stop memorizing your speeches.’
Whoa. I was thunderstruck. My face was burning. This advice came three to four years into my Toastmasters journey, and I had memorized all my speeches until that point. I felt utterly humiliated. Scurrying home that day with my tail between my legs, I cried my eyes out. I swore I would never return to the club again! But Mike had issued me a challenge. Could I give a speech without memorizing it? I didn’t even know. Looking it up in the educational material, I saw that Toastmasters recommend solidifying the central ideas and that you learn any quotes, dates, or numbers but resist memorizing the rest of the content. Oh, geez.

For my next speech, I hatched an idea, wrote four words on a card, and attempted winging it after only two run-throughs. I felt like a hot mess. Without a clear path mapped out before me, I was sure I fumbled about for the words. Nevertheless, I did it. The second speech without memorizing was a bit easier, and the next one was a bit easier again. Then, I began to experience a real change, the back and forth, the give and take, of connecting with the audience. That’s where the magic lies. Mike’s honesty had released me from a self-imposed prison, my little cage. It was a whole new day.

Here’s the thing with public speaking. I have learned that it’s not about projecting an image of perfection onto your audience or trying to look like something you’re not. It’s about sharing your views, your thoughts, your feelings, your perspective – who you are – with others authentically. It’s about being present in the moment with your audience. That’s when you get truly memorable public speaking, and it’s also when the content comes across as the most meaningful.
It’s a process and I am still learning to the best of my ability, one meeting at a time. These days I even get to “pay it forward” by mentoring new members and passing on what I have learned, which really is a great feeling! In the words of John Ford, You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart.
Why not have a go and try public speaking. You might surprise yourself!

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette Carol



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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post on the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organizers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG, and the hashtag is #IWSG.

March 2 question – Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?
Yes, the example that stands out in my mind concerns the first book in my Chronicles of Aden Weaver series. In the first book, The Or’in of Tane, Aden Weaver lives with his grandparents, Nana Jeen and Papa Joe. One night, two assassins attack Aden in the vegetable garden of his grandparents’ house. A big fight ensues between Aden and the two assassins. Nana Jeen and Papa Joe arrive, and the fighting is ferocious. In the first draft of my story, both grandparents are killed in the fight.
My then critique partner, the wonderful author and YouTube queen, Maria Cisneros-Toth, took exception to this version of the book. She cited good reasons: it was too much for child readers to lose both beloved characters so early in the story, it was unnecessary, gratuitous to kill both of them, etc. But what it boiled down to, Maria admitted, was that she did not like the idea of losing both the grandparent characters. Maria pleaded with me to keep them alive and change the storyline.

In the world of writers, there are plotters and there are pantsers. Plotters map out a story in detail first. Think of JK Rowling’s grid pattern story plans which detailed every significant development and turn in the seven-book series. Whereas Pantsers write stories as they come, flying by the seat of their pants. Then they edit for years afterward. I’m a Pantser, and I write all my copy as stream-of-consciousness material coming straight from the muse onto the page. I had set down the content for The Or’in of Tane as faithfully as it came to me. In other words, I felt wedded to the content. That’s one of the things I find most valuable about joining critique groups when I’m working on new material. They offer the dispassionate third-person perspective. They can reflect things the author can’t see. When it comes to editing I can delete an adverb and correct punctuation. But, I find it difficult to question the big things. And this was one of those times. Maria was able to reflect that it was too much to kill the grandparents so early in the series. And, I could hear the truth.

When I thought about it, I felt excited at the thought of them surviving the fight. I couldn’t wait to get started on the changes. And that told me I was going in the right direction. I went back to rewrite. In the new version, Nana Jeen and Papa Joe get badly injured in the fight. It changed many things about the way the rest of the story played out. It was the right thing to do. Furthermore, having the grandparents there in the final scenes of the trilogy, to witness their grandson on his triumphant return, gave an emotional resonance to those end scenes. I never once regretted saving the grandparents and rewriting that scene. I was just glad there was a seasoned eye on hand to guide me on the story development at the right time. Thank you Maria for the advice.

I had written the grandparent characters into the narrative for a reason. As the daughter of immigrants to New Zealand, our little nuclear family grew up without the benefit of extended family. My only experience of grandparents was through letters and those grandparents I saw in the movies or read about in books. My grandmother moved out to New Zealand when she was 79. We had some sweet years getting to know each other before she passed away ten years later.

My siblings and I grew up without grandparents, and for that reason, I revere the elderly and always have to add a grandparent or two into my fiction. I didn’t want to kill off Nana Jeen and Papa Joe. But, I struggle with questioning the muse. Maria more or less gave me permission to throw out something I didn’t feel worked and to replace it with something lighter. The story immediately improved.
Some edits are too scary to make on your own.

Sometimes you need a friend to hold your hand and say, it is okay. You can do this.

Sometimes you need friends.
What about you. Have you joined a critique group? Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story?

Keep Writing!
Yvette Carol

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


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Eight months ago, I published my debut series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. Since then I’ve been lying low, recuperating, resting, relocating my will to live. Once restored to my former glory, I assured myself I would be free to start a new story. Fresh fields, new pastures, unexplored horizons beckoned. So exciting. The possibilities endless. Who knew what I would write next? Let’s go!

Writing Woes (for the “pantser”) #1: The Blank Page.

I recall vividly the first morning I sat at my desk, lifted the pen and stared at the blank page. It wasn’t thrilling; it was mortifying. I sweated bullets for a full ten minutes, staring at the page until the lines blurred. There were no words spilling out, no inspiration flowing forth like a fountain. It was sheer torture squeezing one or two words on the page.

I thought, you’re not a writer, you’re an imposter. Had I lost the ability to write? I have always believed myself a storyteller, a writer, ever since I was a little girl. Without my stories, who am I? Writer’s block sucks.

Writing Woes #2: The Free Fall.

Lucky for me I remembered the writing course I had taken with Tiffany Lawson, in 2012, “Method to Madness.”* Tiffany had taught us the benefit of starting each creative writing session with a deep relaxation technique, designed along similar lines as the ones used by method actors to get into character. From then on, I began every writing session with relaxation exercises. I eked out a few more words. What a relief to be writing again, but even that was scary.

Once I was underway, writing a few pages every day, I reached another treacherous stage of writing new copy—the sickening feeling of free-fall when you are literally writing into the void. Of this nerve-rattling process, the greats have said many astute things, including Ray Bradbury, who advised to writers to ‘jump,’ saying their wings would unfold as they fell. Gulp! Easier said than done.

Writing Woes #3: The Trust Game.

Marilynne Robinson is a pantser like I am (we write “by the seats of our pants”), and she once described her method as ‘sitting down with a blank page and a pen, discovering her way to that page’s end.’ In the same way, I try to figure out the characters as much as possible beforehand, then treat writing as an expedition to parts unknown. But just as with any exploration, the process requires extraordinary faith.

For this sort of writing, trust is paramount and courage required by the bucket load. A pantser can pour months even years into a story on the barest whiff of hope that in the end all the disparate parts of the story will come together and eventually make sense.

Writing Woes #4: The Restraint Game

When any author starts a new book, everyone wants to know more. Friends and family pester for the details. Everyone surrounding the author seeks reassurance the creative madcap in their midst is actually working on a story and not doing what Jack Nicholson’s character did in The Shining. I’m constantly prodded for details by well-meaning loved ones. But what the bystanders don’t realize is that it’s dangerous to talk about a new story in the fledgling stages.

I have learned it is unwise to broadcast material while it is still green. Questions get asked, things get said that can’t be unsaid. Gossip has a scattering effect, like picking apart the very fabric of the imagination. As an author who started out talking too much about her books, only to have the energy for them dissipate, I have learned the hard way that silence is golden. So far I have side-stepped and avoided hard-line questioning from everyone, including my best friends and publicist about the new story. I’ll reveal no details until the rough draft is in the bag.

If in doubt, just remember this one rule, never, never, never talk about your story before you’ve finished writing it. Loose lips sink ships!

Duly refreshed as to the terrors involved in writing fiction, I have had to remind myself again, why do I do this job? There are far easier ways of making a living… easy, cushy, boring ways of making a living.

Nah! Give me the terrifying roller coaster of the creative life any day.

Call me crazy, but I still love writing fiction.

How about you? Do you love what you do?

Keep Creating!

Yvette Carol


“Nothing in the whole world felt as good as being able to make something from a sudden idea.”―Beverly Cleary.


*This course is no longer available, but check out the other courses on offer at

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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

The May 5th question, if you’d like to answer it, is: Has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? If so, did it surprise you?

They say you should be careful what you wish for. For the last thirty-five years of writing for children, I’ve longed to get a book into Magpies Magazine, the prestigious children’s literature magazine for New Zealand and Australia. To my surprise and delight, I finally got in this year. A well-known Kiwi writer had read and reviewed my first book, The Or’in of Tane. Woohoo. The only problem was he gave a critical review. Dagnabit. I read the skewering with a sinking heart. Then I did a bit of pacing the hallway, truth be told. I had to talk to someone and as I was on my own in the house; I talked to myself.

While it might be true I myself write negative book reviews sometimes, I try to only ever criticize the superstars who can take a pipsqueak like me, or those writers long gone.

I kept going over the different criticisms the reviewer had made and testing them to see if they were correct. Being the respected and amazing author he is, I had to assume he was being fair. For a moment I felt badly about the series I had poured heart and soul into for the last 15 years of my life.

Thankfully I recovered enough to realize the reviewer had been harsh. He focused a stone-cold sober eye on my fantasy world and picked out ‘problems with scale’ and such, questioning ‘how insects could fly a plane’ and so on. This high power magnifying glass sort of stuff doesn’t hold up too well when you point it at any epic fantasy, because fantasy will never stack up to reality. It’s like asking how did rat and mole from The Wind in the Willows light a fire and make food on stoves in their homes? That would have been impossible for a rat and a mole, and so on.

Feeling perturbed, I turned to my publicist, Karen, for advice, and her response was so wise and experienced I thought I should share it here for the benefit of everyone else.

Karen replied, ‘Unfortunately, this review thing is just part and parcel of being a writer. Of course, it is wonderful when you get a glowing review—which you have had! But it is always a kick in the guts when people say anything remotely negative. But let nothing derail from your vision and your voice! Just remind yourself that it’s all very subjective and if you get an adverse comment, it doesn’t mean it is actually true! Usually it means it just wasn’t their cup of tea, or you got a reviewer who was nitpicking and not reading in the book’s spirit.

You must move on!

Karen and I, seated at the far end of the table

And as an author myself, I know all about the emotional ups and downs. I think it’s about building some resilience so you can come to shrug off anything that might get you off track, but it takes a little time. As you write more books, sell more copies, get more great reviews, your confidence will grow. So hang in there—you are clearly a natural writer, this is something you should do, and I’m sure you will look back in years to come having had much success! It just takes time!’

I was so grateful for these sage words of advice. Thank you, Karen! Moving on.

Last year I took part in an Indie Book event with my Chronicles of Aden Weaver series and talked with other authors. I remember one lady saying, ‘even a critical review is a good review.’ I hope that’s true. All I know is I can’t go back. I’ve done the best I can to this point and shall continue to do so. Not everyone is going to love my books! Now it must be time to get on and write the next one.

Writing is the cure. Do you agree?

Keep Reading!

Yvette Carol


Remember that moment in time when writing was a joy, and we were excited and ready to take on the world. ~  Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG Leader and Ninja


It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

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?

This is a timely question because I’ve been thinking about this very thing lately. I’ve read several books in the last two months, being our summer holidays here in New Zealand. The novel I’m reading at the moment is by an Indie author I met recently. When I took part in a local book signing event with other Indies, I ended up buying more books than I sold, as usual. Seriously, how can you resist? I could have bought a dozen more great looking books, but I had to be discerning, so I kept it to five. I sold four. These new purchases I added to the teetering tower of my “to read” books in the corner of my bedroom.

As much as I’m new to being self-published, I’m also new to reading Indie fiction. I plucked one of the books I’d bought from the top of the pile and started reading my first Indie work. I wasn’t sure what to expect, however the story has a great premise, and it interested me.

The hitch came in the first part of the story when there were one or two wobbles with context and grammar. They were simple little things yet because of this I don’t want to name the story, to protect the author. What did these slight errors do? They made me hesitate in my headlong flight into belief in the story unfolding. So instead of getting further sucked into the magic and the mystery, it jolted me back to reality. When I started reading again, there was a hesitation within. Sometimes the errors were so minor, I almost didn’t notice them, but then I’d question what had just happened and have to go back to check earlier parts of the narrative. Spell broken. It’s that dreaded moment in every author’s book where the reader might put the tome down, never to return!

Why did I stick with the story after a so-so start? Because I’d paid twenty bucks for that book so I was determined to get my money’s worth. But also the story is solid. This is the thing. Fortunately, with this Indie tale, there were only a few mistakes, and as the story is progressing, the author’s confidence grows. No more wobbles. I am back into becoming fully immersed in the tale. (I’m still only halfway through).

What I have learned from reading my first Indie novel is that if you have a good enough story line, it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, the readers will stick with your stories, anyway. I am thoroughly entertained and I literally look forward to picking it up and reading more each day.

I should file this under ‘Lessons learned so far in 2021.’ It’s all about the story and only the story!

Before going, I’d like to say a big thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG Leader and Ninja, for the stirring piece written for the January issue of the IWSG newsletter. ‘Reach out to other writers, encourage one another, and come up with some new strategies. Remember that moment when writing was a joy, and we were excited and ready to take on the world.’

Yes! Needing to pick up the reigns and get writing again this year, it has dismayed me to feel no energy towards getting started. I truly do feel encouraged reading Alex’s post and more than that, inspired to create. If I feel the joy in writing again I will write stories people want to read. That’s the goal, right?

What stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Keep Writing!

Yvette Carol


If ever there was a time to reboot our lives and set some goals, it’s now. Leave 2020 in the past. Find that creativity and hope and make plans for a new year. ~  Alex J. Cavanaugh,


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It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!! Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Yes, definitely the winter and autumn months are the most productive for me because during those months I’m indoors more and the shorter days keep me at my desk, whereas in spring and summer I’m hopping outside all the time at every excuse just to do things in the garden and feel the warmth of the sunshine. Spring is my favourite season of the year. I love the blossoms and flowers, the cool green shade of new leaves, the scents on the air.

Working from home in your jim-jams with a view of your garden, outside the French doors it’s hard not to hop outside and run around barefoot regularly.

In particular, I find the start of summer distracting. For us here in New Zealand, summer begins in December, which is also the beginning of the festive season. Coloured lights are going up outside houses and within. The lighted trees are appearing in living rooms, including ours. The decorations festoon the shops and there are wonderful gift ideas everywhere I go. I’m not one of those people who can do Christmas shopping all year round. To me, that is something you do in December, when there’s glitter and greenery in every mall and the cupboards at home become hiding places for gifts and gift-wrap. I like to make a master list around this time of the folk I want to buy a little something special for, and that includes family, friends, teachers and all the various bods who help my son with Down Syndrome throughout the year.

Then a few days of each week leading up to the 25th, I go out and slowly make the rounds of all my favourite stores. I don’t rush in, buy the thing I want and rush out again, I like to window-shop, walk around and look at the decorations and all the wares. I savour the experience. I like to take my time over every gift and think about that person and consider them. Then I get to go home and wrap the gifts beautifully. It’s lovely.

Shopping in crowds gets a little stressful, however. There is a lot to do in the festive season. It’s busy. Everyone rushes everywhere. Doing the grocery shopping yesterday, there was a lot more traffic on the road, the car parks were fuller and the queues longer. But you expect public places to be more crowded, and you adjust to it as you go along. Buying your groceries takes a lot longer, but that’s okay. I even enjoy the hectic side. It’s only Christmas once a year and after the shit year we’ve had this is fun.

It’s almost impossible for me to get any writing done in the festive season, so productivity plummets through early summer to mid-summer.

Usually after Christmas there are family jaunts to the beach, picnics, road trips and get-togethers. I will typically pick up the pen and paper or the laptop again, in February to start my writing year again. I’m lucky though, as I don’t do this to make a living. I write at the weekends when my kids are elsewhere. If I was a professional writer, I would have to put butt in the chair and do the hours.

I really prefer to be a part-time author at this stage. I’ve been raising kids all my adult life. On Sunday I turn fifty-six years old and it feels like I can see 60 coming up fast. I don’t want to spend my entire life hunched over a computer. I want to be out there enjoying my days as well, so for me, being non productive is important to my well-being. Then I feel I come back to my writing with extra energy, fresh eyes, and a new appreciation of life.

How do you feel about your productivity and why?

Keep Writing!

Yvette Carol


Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.”


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I’m in a general state of panic at the moment. And it’s not to do with Covid, although maybe it should be. I gathered with my sister and nieces for a walk on the beach last week, and they asked me how things are going with my books. I’m in the last stages of putting out my middle-grade trilogy, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I replied, “I’m freaking out!” And then I said, “My good friend should never have asked me, ‘what do you really want with your books?’” because I answered that I want more people to read them.
The problem with asking for more is you have to be more.

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My friend seemed to think I needed a gentle push with my writing career. When we talked about it I said I was happy tootling along with no one reading my work because some of us writers are terrible introverts and suffer self-doubt. She said, “If you want to sell more, you will have to up your game.”
I felt conflicted. I don’t want to push my books on everyone and start marketing big time and trying to sell, sell, sell. Every time a writing “friend” I’ve gained on social media turns around and asks me to vote for them in an online contest or “like” something for more media exposure, my heart drops.

I know self-marketing on social media is a necessary evil these days, but I can’t stand that stuff.

Still, I couldn’t ignore the fact the gauntlet was down. Also, my friend offered to connect me with two successful women for advice. The literary agent and the publicist I spoke to were wonderful and let me ask them 200 questions about the business.
Top of the list of recommendations from both women was to get a publicist. I took the leap of faith and hired one. Last week my new publicist sent me the press release she’d put together for the trilogy, and that was when the nerves really kicked in.

The words, ‘Yvette is available for interview. Contact her publicist.’ Stood out in bold type. Am I really doing this?
My sister and nieces have encouraged me to keep going, despite my fear. So I have restrained myself from cancelling the whole PR thing and fleeing for the hills.
Today an email arrived from the company, showing the literary publications and bloggers who have requested copies of my books for review. In my career I have stayed so far under the radar that I have never had a review. This is a strange confession to make because I write book reviews, but I’ve never been on the receiving end. The thought of all these reputable outfits (like Magpies magazine, for goodness sakes) critiquing my books is absolutely terrifying. I am convinced they will throw my stories in the rubbish.

Old, buried feelings of not being good enough resurface. I’m freaking out.

In times of need, I turn to mentors. I read some of my favourite quotes from the kick-ass “WanaMama,” Kristen Lamb. She said, “If we never fail, we never learn. Show me a person who never fails and I’ll show you someone who’s done nothing interesting. Publishing involves… humans. Humans who screw up, make mistakes, etc. Even better? Now that we’re in the digital age? Humans can screw up much FASTER and INSTANTLY. Successful people don’t avoid stress, they learn to manage it… often the hard way. Yay!” *my bold type
A few years ago, worried about putting my story out there, I mentioned my fear to Kristen. She sent me this brilliant poem by Edmund Vance Cooke, How Did You Die? The stirring call to courage included this great passage:

You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
Come up with a smiling face.
It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
But to lie there — that’s disgrace.
The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
Be proud of your blackened eye!
It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts,
It’s how did you fight — and why?

I needed that. Thanks, Edmund! Thanks, Kristen.

I re-read the letter from my publicist, listing all the literary types asking for copies of my books to review. My youngest son asked me what I was going to do. I was reminded of Anne Lamott’s words in Plan B, about her teenage son, But most of all he needs me to be alive in a way that makes him feel he will be able to bear adulthood. I turned to my youngest and said, “I’m going to be brave.” And I will.

What about you? Have you had to up your game recently? How did you survive?

Talk to you later.
Keep creating!
Yvette K. Carol

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~ E. E. Cummings

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