The Purpose of IWSG is 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!

To join IWSG visit Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh here.



Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it?
Did it work out?

I usually save my answer until the end of the post,
but this month the answer is short and easy:


With housekeeping out of the way, let’s talk insecurity.

Like a shower with antique plumbing, insecurities run hot and cold. Everything is fine until someone presses the toilet lever.

Case in point: A couple years ago, I was ecstatic as the market for psychological suspense opened up. Publishers were clamoring for new offerings, hot on the trail of the next Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train (a book and movie which bored me to tears, but that’s another post).

Cover art by Stanley Zuckerberg (1951)

Cover art by Stanley Zuckerberg (1951)

I’ve always loved this genre of stand-alone twisty tales offering views into the human psyche—classics like Rebecca, Strangers on a Train, A Dark Adapted Eye, Shutter Island, and An Instance of the Fingerpost. I couldn’t wait until these books took over store shelves and replaced the same old same old. I was also excited at the prospect of publishers being more open to the work I’d like to be writing. Ah, sweet security … so warm and comforting.

Then someone flushed. Turns out publishers weren’t actually interested in anything new. They were, quite literally (pardon the pun), shopping for another Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train. Instead of bookstores filling with fresh, innovative psychological suspense, shelves bowed under the weight of imitations.

The genre I’ve always loved because of its breadth, sweep, and complexity artificially narrowed to books with contemporary settings, unreliable (mostly-female) narrators, and some sort of domestic and/or romantic conflict. There are exceptions to be sure, but why do we have exceptions other than to prove the existence of the rule?

I confess. I’ve employed many of these tedious, repetitive tropes myself, but that doesn’t ease my disappointment—either as a reader or a writer.

As I begin to ponder a new project, any of the security I felt a couple years ago has evaporated. While the story I have currently brewing falls squarely under the psychological suspense label, its historic setting is a direct violation of today’s attenuated genre parameters.

Thus insecurity again reigns. Just when I thought I was out, it pulls me back in. And trust me when I tell you, the water is very, very cold.


Being knee deep in a writing dry spell with the A to Z Challenge looming on the horizon, I’ve decided to take blog sabbatical until the dust clears.

Good luck to all the 2017 A to Z participants!
Hope to see you back here on May 3!