The Insecure Writer’s Support Group #IWSG

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

If you’d like to chime in and let us know your answers to the questions or drop a link to your post if you’re participating, please do so in the comments! And check out the IWSG website for more answers!

February 1st question – If you are an Indie author, do you make your own covers or purchase them? If you publish trad, how much input do you have about what goes on your cover?

Jayden: I’ve designed all of my own covers.

From left to right, in the order I designed them. The first novel I published, Slave, I took off the market. It needs some editing just because I’ve learned a lot in the years since I published it. I also have different feelings about the title, but since the main character is only ever given that name (in a kink context), it would require a total rewrite. But, fun fact, the person on that cover is me.

The sneakers on Runaway are also mine. (In retrospect, at least when it’s small, it’s hard to read the “A choose your own erotic novel by” part.

The last one is also a picture I took. The rest were ones I purchased online.

I have a minimal amount of graphic design knowledge, and since I’m just publishing for fun, I’ve decided that although the covers would be better done by a professional, they’re fine for my <$5 novels. My first pinned post has the purchase links for all available books if you’re interested.

What makes a good book cover for you?

#Bloganuary 31

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

Where is the best place to watch the sunset near you?

Jayden: We live in a valley, so it’s hard to have a good place to watch the sunset near the bottom of the valley, but there are some cool places to watch it up in the mountains. I think Camp is my favorite place, currently.

#Bloganuary 30

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What would you title the chapters of your autobiography?

Jayden:

  • Chapter 1: Urban Life – A Lesson in Making Friends
  • Chapter 2: Suburban Life – A Lesson in Teenage Drama
  • Chapter 3: College – A Lesson in Real Urban Life
  • Chapter 4: First Marriage – A Lesson in Growing Up
  • Chapter 5: Freedom – A Lesson in Finding Myself
  • Chapter 6: Second Marriage – A Lesson in Balance

#Bloganuary 29

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What is something you learned recently?

Jayden: I learned that I can stay calm in a medical emergency. Richard sliced his finger open yesterday pretty badly. He handled it very well, his first aid training kicking in no problem, but mine did, too, which surprised me. Five stitches later, he’s doing just fine, but the amount of blood was a little intimidating.

#Bloganuary 28

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

Describe your perfect birthday cake.

Jayden: Something vanilla. Light and fluffy. I love whipped icing. And no blue dyes that will turn my tongue funny colors.

#Bloganuary 27

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What are the pros and cons of procrastination?

Jayden: Pros: I work well under pressure, so sometimes I can do my best quality work when I procrastinate.

Cons: I spend a lot of time being anxious and frustrated with myself.

#Bloganuary 26

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What language do you wish you could speak?

Jayden: Spanish. I’m tongue tied so it’s literally impossible for me to roll my Rs, so I stayed away from Spanish when I was young. Now I’m struggling to learn.

Richard: Honestly, probably German. A few of my friends speak it, and it’s useful in several of the hobby communities I’m in.

What’s Good Wednesday? 1/25/23

What’s Good Wednesday?

We did this long ago, but we decided to bring back and a once-a-month chance to share what’s going well in our lives, and welcome you to share what’s good in your lives! Please comment below and let us know what’s good! Feel free to be vague or specific. We’re just happy to share good things!


It’s the end of January, thank goodness! This has been a very stressful month that was looming over us before and during. We’re so glad to be almost done with it and onto the next thing! We’ve been able to spend some much-needed time catching up on cleaning and organizing, and enjoying down time together.

We’ve done some fun things this month like:

  • Visit a knife store
  • Go to the drive-in movies
  • Have a reading date
  • Have of great sex

I’m sure there’s more, but it’s a start to reflect back on! What’s gone well for you this month?

#Bloganuary 23

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What’s a lie you tell yourself?

Jayden: That I’m going to have more time someday. I don’t know how to do down time, so I always fill it with things. But at least now I fill it with things (and people) I love instead of fill it to run away from something.

#Bloganuary 22

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What was your dream job as a child?

Jayden: For a brief time, I wanted to be a marine biologist. But mostly, I wanted to be a teacher. There was, of course, also the times I wanted to be a famous musician, or better yet, wanted my dad to be a famous musician so I would get the money but not have to do the work. 😉 (Plus it was my dad’s dream, so I wanted it for him.)

Richard: Also marine biologist (same as everyone). I was briefly obsessed with specifically being a paperback writer due to the Beatles song.

#Bloganuary 21

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

Who is your favorite author and why?

Jayden: Mary Higgins Clark. She is the queen of mystery! I was introduced to her when my grandmother passed away and my mom handed me Stillwatch from my grandmother’s closet. It was a book from her TBR (to be read) pile. I fell in love with this powerful female author who was everything I wanted to be. To this day, she’s the only author I collect novels for, and I have a good portion of them. She is phenomenal.

Richard: I’m really bad at these questions. It turns into a philosophical, “but what does favorite mean?” thing. I think we’ve had this come up before and I’ve thrown out Naomi Novik, KA Applegate, and maybe Kim Harrison once? Let’s go with Michael Stackpole today. While I (like every other millennial) has a “remember when you found Animorphs?” story (Borders? or a bookstore that would soon become one, Oxford Valley Mall, 1997, book #7 The Stranger) I think Stackpole is probably the most important author for my overall development as a reader/writer.

It’s a twisty, nerdy road. I don’t really remember a time before I was a Star Wars fan as a kid. My dad brought a demo disk for TIE Fighter home (probably circa 1994, based on the release date) and I was already really into it. That would also be the year that the Battletech cartoon came out. I maintain that it is a far better show than it’s generally given credit for. As a 5 year old, the fact that it had giant robots and something resembling a coherent plot made it the best thing ever. (These will converge eventually, I swear.)

The next year, 1995 (again, guesstimating based on the release date), my dad proudly came back to the car (where I was probably reading something considerably less cool than Animorphs or a Michael Stackpole book) with a copy of Mechwarrior 2. He (correctly) realized that anything with the Battletech logo on it would obviously be awesome. I think he also played the demo and probably saw that it won every freaking video game award that year. Or one of his German gamer friends told him to play it. That was how we got a bunch of game recs back in the day.

Fast forward to probably 1997, when my dad got a copy of The Krytos Trap from the library. I liked it (but, again, I’d have liked just bout anything Star Wars at that point.) Around the same time, we also got a copy of a strategy guide for Mechwarrior 2. As I recall, it was not a terribly useful strategy guide (aiming and driving at the same time is hard for an 8 year old!) But this was back in the good old days when strategy guides would have all kinds of cool behind the scenes stuff. So the first 50 pages or so were less about the game, and more about the history of Battletech, including book recommendations. Stackpole’s Warrior trilogy came highly recommended (with good reason, it’s probably the best thing he wrote in the setting.)

So off we went to the library, to use those old school loud keyboards with the plastic couch protectors on them. While they didn’t have the Warrior books they did have the Rogue Squadron (fuck you Disney!) series. I’m pretty sure those were the first “adult” books I read. That’s mostly true, I think I tried to read War of The Worlds in like 3rd grade. It didn’t go very well.

I found a ton of my other favorite authors via the Star Wars EU and Battletech series. Looking back, it’s kind of weird to see how all the pieces fell together (Star Wars>Battletech Cartoon>Mechwarrior>Strategy Guide>Rogue Squadron>Battletech Books…) None of them are that odd. I was a nerdy boy in the 90s, of course I liked Star Wars. But it was an interesting and meandering road. A few of those authors are still publishing today, and the ones that aren’t are always a gem when they pop up at a used bookstore. I am glad that I fell down the Battletech side of the rabbit hole instead of the 40K one. (Otherwise, this post would probably be about Dan Abnett. Who is fine, I guess.)

Anyway, I’d say Stackpole has a strong claim to the “best military sci-fi media tie-in” author title. How impressive this is is up to you. I remember finding his website back when I was in high school, and a lot of his advice for writers is really good. Don’t edit until you’re done a draft. Start with interesting characters and let them drive the story. I think balance is really his biggest strength as an author. Finding the ratio between political intrigue (giving your new wife a china set of all the planets you’re going to conquer as a wedding gift? YES!) personal drama, humor (again, FUCK YOU DISNEY!) and mech/starfighter battles isn’t easy. He gets his explosions wrong sometimes, but we forgiven him.

#Bloganuary 20

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What irritates you about the home you live in??

Jayden: We have a loft apartment, so there is no bedroom door and the walls don’t go all the way up, so there’s no privacy.

Richard: There’s no utility sink.

#Bloganuary 18

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What’s your favorite meal to cook and/or eat?

Jayden: To cook: chicken, rice, sour cream, and cream of mushroom soup. It’s a recipe my mom adapted years ago, so it’s comfort food for me. It’s my favorite dish that I can make myself.

To eat: I don’t think this counts as a meal, but I would make one out of it. Richard makes the best sourdough biscuits. Yum!

Richard: I’ve really been enjoying experimenting with chili lately. Jayden can’t have beans, so I’ve had to change my recipe a little (celery and carrots help give it some texture). I’ve been working on a sweet, medium spice turkey recipe lately.

Making chili also means I have to get my corn bread game on point.

And as far as favorite to eat… chili is a great excuse to pull out a spork.

#Bloganuary 17

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

Describe the happiest day of your life.

Jayden: Our wedding day. It was near perfect. Richard had a good time. My daughter had a good time. My friends and family had a good time. It was wonderful. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Richard: In the winter of 2020-2021, Jayden and I got snowed in together. We had just started dating, and it was a record breaking snow. We spent three days drinking tea, having snow ball fights, and snuggling (and of course, having sex). WHERE’S MY SNOW, WINTER!?

#Bloganuary 16

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

Do you have a memory linked to a smell?

Jayden: Yankee Candle’s MidSummer’s Night brings me right back to middle school. Hanging out with my neighbor (who I was hopelessly in love with) on his back porch, listening to music with that scent in the air. The first time I smelled that candle, it took me right back.

Richard: We just did a sense memory piece at grad school last week!

Cold, dark, and sweet. That’s the smell of our basement. Same as most people’s I think. But it doesn’t go with the rest of it. Sound? Plasma rifles jrrrrr, exploding fireballs, cries of pain. Touch? Cold, sharp metal. Warm skin. Taste? Bitter coffee. Sour pretzels. And all I can see is hundreds of demons, dripping with blood.

I’m 4 years old, sitting on my dad’s knee at his desk while he plays Doom.

#Bloganuary 15

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What fear have you conquered?

Jayden: In about two years, I got a new job, left a marriage, moved out, got remarried, and started a doctoral program. By the way, I hate change. I’m much happier now, but it was very scary at the time.

Richard: I’m embracing my sexuality and writing about bisexuality and erasure in my thesis.

#Bloganuary 14

Hello readers! We’re here with the answer to the latest question in our Bloganuary series!

What is your preferred mode of travel?

Jayden & Richard: The train. We both love it, and we both hate that the passenger train infrastructure in our area sucks.