Wednesday, September 4, 2013

IWSG, Polar Night Sale, and a September Giveaway

This month's meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group marks the second anniversary of the hop, which was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh in 2011. I can't believe we've been going strong for two years now. If you haven't joined the group and would like to, visit Alex's page here. Everyone is welcome and you won't find a nicer group anywhere on the net. :)

This month my insecurity relates to reading, in spite of the fact that I love to read and always have. But lately I've been ruining my enjoyment of reading because I can't stop criticizing myself while I read. No matter what I'm reading, I keep thinking about how whatever I write is nowhere near as good as the book I'm holding at the time.

My inner monologue goes something like this: "I wish I could write like this. I'll never be able to write even half this well. I can't write descriptions the way this author does..." Eventually I get to "I suck and I might as well pack it in right now." ;)

It's a useless, destructive habit and one that I am trying hard to break. Anyone else have trouble enjoying books because you can't stop playing the comparison game?

Speaking of books, my book Polar Night is on sale for 10% off at Smashwords now through October 6, 2013. Just use the coupon code DK46V to get the discount when you check out.

Finally, as I count down to the December release of my follow-up novel The Ghosts of Aquinnah I've decided to hold monthly giveaways.

For September I'll be giving away an Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner's choice) $20 gift card to the first place winner and two sets of  Polar Night magnets and bookmarks (one each per set) to the second and third place winners. Eventually I'll be adding Aquinnah swag to the mix as well.

 If you'd like to enter my September drawing, just use the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. That's a cool prize!
    Sure there's been times I read a book and think crap, I don't write that well. But I just keep trying to do better anyway.

  2. It depends on what I'm reading. I either see all the errors because I know what the author should have done, or I kick myself for not being as talented. (Sometimes, both of these happen with the same book. LOL)

    This is where you need to go easy on yourself, and trust your critters and betas. If people who give you honest feedback like it, then stop worrying.

    Writers, even really practiced ones, have areas of strength and weakness. I think the solution is to allow ourselves to feel good about our strengths, then identify our weaknesses so we can work on them when we edit.

    Great post! :)

  3. Whenever a book or a story really moves me, that's when I start to feel that same pressure you mentioned.

    I've learned to let myself feel bad for a bit then remind myself I am the only one who can tell my stories, in my way, in my voice, etc and the same goes for that author. And most likely they struggled at some point, too.

    Then I go have some chocolate. :)

  4. Best wishes with Polar Nights! You are unique and like Mona said, only you can tell a story in a particular way.

  5. We all criticize ourselves when it comes to our writing.

    Hugs and chocolate,

    Tweeted and shared.

  6. Oh, Julie, I so relate - I do that as well. And not just with writing. I sing and whenever I listen to others sing, which is frequently, I compare myself and wonder why I sing at all? The only thing that helps me is the slogan: comparison is an act of vengeance against oneself.
    Good luck!

  7. I do this all too often as well. It's hard not to make comparisons. But I also believe it's never as bad as we think it is. All we can do is keep trying, right? (: Wishing you all the best with Polar Night, off to tweet for ya! (:

  8. @Alex, that's the best approach to take. I do think it's good to look at it as a way to improve myself.

    @Melissa, yeah, both can happen with the same book for me as well LOL. Going easy on myself is something I really need to work on, no question.

    @Madeline, that's a great point, we are the only ones who can tell our particular stories. And chocolate helps everything, no question.

    @Stephen, thanks!

    @shelly, yeah, I know it's a popular problem, I guess we all need to be easier on ourselves. Thank you!

    @Karen, oh, what a great slogan! I am going to remember that, thank you.

    @Elise, yeah, the only thing to do is keep at it. Thanks so much for tweeting!

  9. Nice prize Julie :)

    I try to turn that thinking on its head and tell myself that by reading someone who's work is better than mine, by osmosis, mine will get better too.

  10. I do that too, there are so many amazing writers out there. Doubts will haunt us forever, but you are an amazing writer!

    Love the giveaway! Great idea!

  11. I always do this emotional vacillation between: I'll never ever be that good-- Ooo I'm so inspired, let me read and study their style-- Wait, they did it. I can do it.

    Depends on where I'm at emotionally in the rest of my life how I interpret the reading! Too funny.

  12. I like to think of it as absorbing. Sure the writer may be more advanced, but by my reading their work, I'm absorbing that awesomeness to make me a better writer. :)

  13. Good post, Julie! I constantly do the same. I've always relished in the words, but since I now write them, there's a more intense "study" of the work I read. And yes, I think, "I'll never be this good." So I write. And I read. And relish in the words again, but this time, for the sake of osmosis.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

  14. Yes, the "everybody writes better than I do" syndrome. Why do we do that? :) I can't tell you how to stop that because I do the same thing...but stop that! It's not true!

  15. Way cool prize. And I know what you're saying. I listen to audiobooks while getting ready for work and I find myself writing down cool turns of phrase.Things I know but don't think of when I'm writing. The notes can make for nice reminders, with the hope that they will eventually come to me naturally.

  16. Thank you so much for your support, Julie and many sales with Polar Nights. I'm lucky, as I read children's books, the feeling of competitiveness, for some strange reason, doesn't happen.

  17. I find it inspires me to try harder, or I'll start mimicking what i like about that writer's style.

    And I think you write a damn fine book. I had a hard time putting down Polar Night. Normally, I don't like serial killer books. But I loved yours.

  18. @Johanna, thanks! And that's a smart way to look at it.

    @Yolanda, thank you!

    @Julie, I like the "they did it, I can do it" attitude. That's what I need to remember!

    @Pk, that's perfect. I will be absorbing the awesomeness too. :)

    @Michael, thanks!!

    @Michael, I love the osmosis idea, I'm so glad I brought this topic up because it's great to see new perspectives on this.

    @River, LOL, okay, I will stop if you stop too. :D

    @Donna, thanks! I've taken notes that way too, it can definitely help.

    @Carole, you're most welcome and thank you too!

    @Mary, thanks so much, I really appreciate that. :)

  19. Really awesome prizes, Julie!

    Reading is tough for me now as well. My inner critic doesn't know how to stop comparing myself to the geniuses out there lol

  20. Punch that inner monologue in the face and move on. Cool giveaway.

  21. Oh my gosh! I thought I was the only one with that annoying inner monologue. I've actually ceased writing for days after a really good book. Finally, I just said, Shut up! I am that good this is their story and mine is mine and only I can tell it. It works, most times...

  22. I sometimes think like that when I'm reading a book, but mostly I just get lost in the story. It does depress me sometimes, mostly when I read a really good book that sticks with me for a long time - it makes me think 'I could never write something that would stay with someone for this long after reading it'.

  23. Hey,Julie,

    When I come across a beautifully written sentence I go, wow, but mostly I have editor's curse. When I read other people's books, I tend to edit as I go, which sometimes takes away from my enjoyment.

  24. Ditto on all your sentiments. It's tough being a writer who reads. :) Your swag looks great.

  25. @SK, thanks! And I hope you can stop comparing and get back to enjoying reading too.

    @Sheena-kay, good idea, I am punching it now. :D

    @Jenn, I've stopped reading too, it's crazy. I'm working on telling myself to shut up now. :D

    @Laura, yeah, I've definitely felt that way too. :(

    @Joy, oh, I've heard other editors say that too, I can imagine!

  26. @Brinda, thanks! I'm excited about it, I had a great friend help me as I made a total mess when I tried to do it myself LOL.

  27. I feel that sometimes, reading like a writer! Thanks for the giveway :)

  28. I know how you feel - I try to avoid reading books in the same genre whilst I'm working on a draft, because I'll inevitably end up comparing myself!

  29. Ooh, a giveaway countdown. Very nice. Y'know, I really don't do a lot of comparing with my own writing when I read -- which I think make me the weird one, actually.

  30. Congratulations on both your books! That is so awesome. I criticize myself too when I read. Just this weekend I read a paranormal romance novel and I thought "My book sucks. It is not anywhere near the same quality as this one. What am I going to do?" I still like my own book though. I don't think you should care about not writing as well as someone else. Just write what and how you want to write and you should be fine. You are just amazing like that.

  31. Great giveaway! Sometimes I can't turn off my inner critic when I'm reading. Yet this mostly happens with writers that I know. I'm so in awe of them, I can't live up to that standard. I've been reading a lot of authors I don't know lately! *LOL*

  32. I SO understand. It's not an automatic process for me as it is for you, but I can certainly compare and contrast and conclude really bad things about my writing from reading. I try to get sucked in by the characters or the story whenever possible, though and on good days I read like fan. One way or another reading can't possibly be bad, we just have to stop picking on ourselves.

  33. So thrilled to hear the follow up is right around the corner, Julie! :D

    Instead of saying, "I'm not this good." when you read, try saying, "I'm going to figure out how the author made me feel this way, pulled this off, etc. and do it with my next book." I say this, because I'm the same when it comes to criticizing myself, and it helps if I view it as me being a student in a master's course who has tons to learn still. (And I believe we always do in this business.)

    Plus, it's cool thinking that Neil Gaiman, etc. is teaching me how to write one-on-one. :)

  34. Great prizes!

    I feel like that when I read too! Once I get into the story, I let it all go, but those first few chapters are just covered in green envy.

    And then afterwards, I have trouble with that too.

    Let's break that habit together somehow!

  35. I do that when I'm reading sometimes. I fixate on something they do magnificently and start to doubt myself. Ugh.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

  36. I'm not as well read as I used to be. Reading is almost a chore; I'm either critiquing or thinking "why can't I write like that?"

    Your giveaways sound fun :)


  37. Julie, I thoroughly enjoyed Polar Night.
    You did such a great job with the story! Great plot with twists and tension in all the right spots... wonderfully credible characters... I was sucked in from start to finish...?
    You are a wonderful writer - stop doubting yourself!
    (But I'm in the same boat... and do the same thing... *sighs*)
    Writer In Transit

  38. @Suzanne, my pleasure, thanks for your comment.

    @Emma, yeah, I do the same thing as far as avoiding when I'm writing a draft. If I don't I'll never finish it LOL.

    @Nicki, I don't think you're weird, seems like you are the smart one! :D

    @Muress, thank you! I appreciate your comment, and I agree with you, I end up still liking my book too.

    @Christine, I do it with both those I know and those I don't know so I'm out of luck LOL.

    @Beverly, that's true, I will always love to read so it will never be a bad thing, I'll always be a fan of a great book.

    @EJ, great advice, thanks!

    @Tyrean, I hope we can, lets give it our best shot. Thanks so much.

    @Shannon, ugh is right. I totally fixate!

    @Donna, that's just how I've felt sometimes, it seems like a chore and I never want that to be the case. Thanks!

    @Michelle, that's so kind of you to say, thanks so much. And you need to stop doubting yourself too!

  39. You write like you and that's awesome. We really can't compare ourselves to other writers, even though it's so easy to try to.

  40. The book I'm reading right now is one I'm studying with an envious eye. I read it and think, "This! This is what I want to write." And so I read patiently and absorb the story, hoping someday I'll figure out how to convey that kind of action and emotion in so few words. Sigh.

    And it's getting close to your second release. A double-published author! :)

  41. @Cherie, aww, thanks!

    @LG, that's just what I do. I think you'll definitely figure it out!

  42. I try to use those books as inspiration to eventually be like them someday. It's hard to do, but I'm sure those awesome writers read other's work and think the exact same thing.

  43. Hi, Julie.

    I am so surprised you feel this way. Seriously. We all have our own voice and your is unique and beautiful. You add suspense and the supernatural which is very intriguing.

    When I read, I find myself saying "i would have written it this way.

    I appreciate beautiful writing, but the story is what always grips me. Surprising twists and turns... story lines I never would have written.

    Feel proud in understanding YOU are the only one who could write your story!

  44. We probably all suffer from this to an extent but I think it's important to remember that we can never view our own work objectively - in the way that we come to a story that's already been edited, polished etc. Having said that, I also often think "They're so much better than me!" when reading for CPs. Like others said you should remember you have your own story that only you can tell, and it's probably not as bad as you think. :)

  45. That's why I've put off writing for so many years, but you shouldn't feel that way. Your second book is almost here, and you have much to celebrate! I wish that I could give you a big hug, and an even bigger pat on the back!


  46. Those bookmarks and magnets look so cool!

    Also, I can totally relate to "playing the comparison game" as an artist. I always feel like my artwork is so ugly and amateurish in comparison to everyone else's. You shouldn't feel so cynical about your writing, though, since I personally think it's awesome! :)

  47. Yes, I feel like that all the time - it makes me want to do better! What a great giveaway too!

  48. You could have been speaking about me Julie, so I haven't read a bestseller for a while :P I'm reading a very good book at the moment and just finished a short story which was almost poetry in its eloquence. I could weep... but I look at how long these guys have been writing, how many more hours they've put into their craft, and tell myself, that could be me at that stage if I work hard. It even works sometimes. :) Great giveaways too, I need to get me some swag. :D

  49. Maybe all writers are alike, because I feel the same way when I read a book too, Julie. Sometimes I reread a paragraph 'cause it's written well and interesting. I look forward to Ghosts...

  50. Thank you for the chance to win :)

  51. @Kelley Lynn, that's probably true, good point.

    @Michael, aww, thanks so much, that's very kind of you to say.

    @Nick, that's true about the objectivity, I know I definitely can't LOL.

    @Julie, thanks so much, hugs to you as well. And I'm glad you're not putting off your writing anymore, you definitely shouldn't!

    @Heather, thanks! And I think your art work is totally awesome.

    @Annalisa, it is good motivation, good point.

    @Shah, that's a good point, people put in tons of hours of hard work and practice. This is good motivation!

    @Cathrina, oh, I'll re-read passages like that too, I love doing that.

    @Lisa, my pleasure and thanks for participating!

  52. Thank you for the great giveaway!

    Amanda S on rafflecopter

  53. Thanks for the giveaway!


  54. Thanks Amanda and Thomas for entering! :)


Thank you for your comments!