Posted in Fourth Russian novel, Writing

IWSG—March odds and sods

It’s time for another meeting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The first Wednesday of each month, we share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears. This month’s question is:

Other than the obvious holiday traditions, have you ever included any personal or family traditions/customs in your stories?

I had to think about this one for awhile before thinking of the very proletarian custom of eating in the kitchen. Until I was about twelve, I thought everyone ate in the kitchen and saved dining rooms, if they had them, for very special meals. Then I discovered the bourgeoisie and wealthy never eat in kitchens if they can help it!

Thus, many of my characters eat in the kitchen because there’s no dining room in their home, or the dining room is reserved for special occasions.

Full disclosure: As proud as I am of my deeply proletarian roots on both sides of my family, and as hard as it is for me to relate to people raised bourgeois, most of my tastes and interests are anything but proletarian!


Early last month, Word decided to install updates on its own volition, and I found myself locked out from updating or creating files because my father (whom I got my copy from) elected not to renew membership. Just when I finally felt fully comfortable with Word again! It’s back to Pages for now.

My external mouse has also been giving me grief. It often doesn’t work in the left USB port, and sometimes temporarily gives out in the right as well. Briefly disconnecting it tends to work, but other times only a restart fixes it. It’s a good thing the cable stretches far enough for the mouse to still be on the left side when it’s plugged into the right USB.

I finished going over the proof of The Twelfth Time, and now have to correct the TOC before submitting the new file for hopefully the final going-over. I also finally found solutions for the seemingly trickiest sections of Dark Forest in those second edition edits. They weren’t nearly as difficult as I feared.


I’ve been having so many headaches over A Dream Deferred, constantly going back and forth over where the Konevs should live and go to school when they return to New York, even after declaring in “2019 in review (Writing)” that I’d come to final decisions. I even began thinking about them staying in Minnesota after all!

I fully own to up my failure to outline new storylines and chapters as they came up, which has led to an embarrassing, very uncharacteristic, snowballing strategy of stuffing in everything but the kitchen sink. Several storylines and hints of future developments feel so detached from the main plots, just kind of hanging out in the background and being trotted out every so often to remind the reader they still exist. They’d work so much better moved into the fifth book.

Other storylines were abandoned or altered in media res. I’m normally not this unfocused and bloated, even deliberately writing at saga length!

I’m now set on my original plan of Lyuba getting a scholarship from Columbia. Ivan won’t get his master’s right away, but be invited to study at the Art Students League of NY in Greenwich Village. The Konevs will live in an apartment in the Kalviks’ building in the UWS, an early cooperative, instead of a condo by any other name downtown.

For their part, the Kalviks will downsize to a smaller apartment in the building and give their penthouse to the Zyuganovs, who desperately need a housing upgrade.


Have you ever literally lost the plot while writing, a storyline or entire book just running away from you and becoming more complicated the more you try to fix it? Have you ever decided to move something into a later book in a series?


I started reading at three (my first book was Grimm's Fairy Tales, the uncensored adult version), started writing at four, started writing book-length things at eleven, and have been a writer ever since. I predominantly write historical fiction family sagas/series. I primarily write about young people, since I was a young person myself when I became a serious writer and didn't know how to write about adults as main characters. I only write in a contemporary setting if the books naturally go into the modern era over the course of the decades-long stories being told over many books. I've always been drawn to books, films, music, fashions, et al, from bygone eras, and have never really been too much into modern things. If something or someone has appeal for all time, it'll still be there to be discovered after the initial to-do has died down. For example, my second-favorite writer enjoyed a huge burst of popularity in the Sixties and Seventies, but he wrote his books from 1904-43, and his books still resonate today, even after he's no longer such a fad. Quality lasts for all time.

4 thoughts on “IWSG—March odds and sods

  1. Growing up, my kitchen was narrow, so there was no room for a table. We’d eat special dinners in the dining room, but on regular nights (most nights), we used TV trays. lol


  2. When I was growing up our houses always had a dining room of sorts which was almost part of a kitchen. I loved eating breakfast at my grandparents’ house as they always took that meal (and lunch) in the kitchen of their fine old home. Dinners in the dining room always felt kind of special too.

    I’ve lost my way in plenty of plot lines. I guess that’s partly why I never seem to finish anything.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out


Share your thoughts respectfully

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s