Wednesday, May 4, 2022

IWSG: Wednesday, May 4, 2022 ~ The Best and the Worst


It's the first Wednesday of the month,
the day that members of the
Insecure Writer's Support Group
share their writing struggles
and writing successes
and offer their encouragement
and support to fellow writers.

To visit the IWSG website, click here.

To become a member of the IWSG, click here.

Our wonderful co-hosts who are volunteering today,
along with IWSG Founder Alex J. Cavanaugh are Kim ElliotMelissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken,  Lee Lowery, and, Nancy Gideon!

I hope you have a chance to visit today's hosts and thank them for co-hosting.
I'm sure they would appreciate a visit and an encouraging comment.


Every month the IWSG announces a question that members can answer
with advice, insight, a personal experience, or a story in their IWSG posts.

Or, the question can inspire members
if they aren't sure what to write about on IWSG Day.

Remember the question is optional.
This month's featured question is: 
It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

Happy May, Everyone!
I hope everyone is healthy and doing well, maybe feeling little optimism.

This month's question really resonated with me, 
not so much with writing, but with reading.
It catapulted me back to grade seven when I read 
the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens' A tale of Two Cities

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, 
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, 
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, 
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, 
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, 
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, 
we were all going direct to Heaven, 
we were all going direct the other way--in short, 
the period was so far like the present period that some of its noisiest authorities 
insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, 
in the superlative degree of comparison only." 

Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities. With Illustrations by H. K. Browne. 
London: Chapman and Hall, 1859. First edition

What a perfect description of the times we have been in 
since the beginning the pandemic, and the times we are facing
with the increasingly dangerous Ukraine-Russian war.

The passage gives me hope, because it reminds me 
that humanity has faced terrible challenges before,
and somehow we've always stumbled through to a better place.

A Tale of Two Cities is the only book I've ever read 
that I remember the opening and closing lines.
As much as I remember the opening, I remember the gut-wrenching closing more:
 "It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done,
it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."

I am terrified whenever I think of having my head chopped off by a guillotine.
And to think that Sydney Carton went to the guillotine willingly in the name of love!
Carton takes the place of Charles Darnay who is being executed
for treason against the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Estampe d'une double guillotine, musée de la Révolution française

Carton physically resembles Darney who is married to Carton's love Lucie Manette.
Carton loves Lucie unconditionally and is willing to give his life for her to be happy:
“For you, and for any dear to you, I would do anything…think now and then 
that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!” 

If I could write something like Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities, 
one of the best selling novels of all time, 
it would be the best of times for me.
That would be the highest of writer highs.

However I recognize that that is highly unlikely to happen,
and I am stumbling along with no book published at the age of 72.
Surely that is the worst of times for me as a writer.

Have I given up?  No. 
If I can publish my memoir, that will make my life worth living.
I will get there!
I really need to read this favorite novel again! 
Have I had someone who truly loved me?  
Yes, more than once.
John was the first.

Someone Who Truly Loved Me
Lac Seul, Ontario Canada
Summer, 1961
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue  
All Rights Reserved

And in a complete change of subject:
Let me share a review of a book that touches on someone else who loved me
(for a while).

C. Lee McKenzie’s recently published contemporary novel ‘Shattered’
is an uplifting story about a young woman 
whose life is shattered by a devastating accident.  
The novel is written for young adults, but it can be enjoyed by people of all ages.  
It is a timeless story about overcoming despair and rebuilding your life, 
not the life you imagined for yourself, but a good and rewarding life nonetheless. 

I have enjoyed reading a number of Lee’s books, so I was anticipating a good read.  
I was particularly interested in reading this book 
because I was married to a former paratrooper who was paralyzed
in an accident just as he was shipping out to Vietnam.  

I met my husband on a blind date in Madrid after he was paralyzed, 
so I know what it’s like to unexpectedly fall in love with someone who is disabled.  
As his wife I learned about the impact such an injury has on someone’s life. 
I also got to know other people with spinal cord injuries,
and to meet the people in their lives, those who stayed and those who couldn’t.

C. Lee McKenzie didn’t disappoint me.  
She deftly wove Libby Brown’s painful story of injury and recovery
with a compelling mystery, a sensitive love story, and a surprise twist at the end.
Most important to me the novel felt authentic.  

Libby wasn’t very likable at the beginning of the book.  
She came from a privileged background and single-mindedly focused
on becoming an elite skier and winning Olympic gold.  
When everything is stripped from her, she discovers who the truly important people 
in her life are and who are not worthy to be part of her new reality.

Who was the mysterious snowboarder 
who slammed into Libby and destroyed her dreams?  
Was the collision an unfortunate accident or cruelly deliberate?  
Is her life worth living after she is paralyzed, or would she have been better off dead?  
Will any man ever desire her and love her again?  
If you read Libby’s story, you won’t forget it! 
I am inspired by the books written by IWSG members,
like C. Lee McKenzie's Shattered which I reviewed above.
I think it's important to read books written by members of the IWSG community.
Every author appreciates the validation and encouragement that comes  
from having their books published, reviewed, and discussed by fellow members.

That's why I really enjoy the Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club on Goodreads.
It spotlights books written by talented and creative IWSG members. 

Each month two books are featured, from craft books to books in a range of genres.
The book club is a place for writers to learn, discuss, and enjoy 
the art of crafting stories and publishing books. 
I love how the book club supports IWSG members by sharing great reads, 
because we insecure writers are readers too.

This month's selections are:

The Or'in of Tane: Book One: The Chronicles of Aden Weaver
by Yvette Carol

This is the first book in Yvette Carol's debut middle grade fantasy series. 

Up on the Roof and Other Stories: Revised with Bonus Short Story 
by Judy Ann Davis

Judy Ann Davis's collection of humorous and serious short stories explores the relationships among people and families, young and old.

I invite you to check out the IWSG Book Club! Click Here 

Happy writing in May!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

My next post will be on Friday, April 15, 2022.


  1. Shattered was excellent wasn't it? One of C.Lee McKenzie's huge writing strengths is that he characters grow...

    1. Yes, Lee's book was excellent! And Libby certainly grew! I appreciated how authentic the story was, based on my experiences and understanding of how paralysis impacts the person injured and the people around him or her. Have a fun IWSG Day!

  2. It's something when a book's opening lines stick with you. I know two well - the Bible and The Hobbit.

    1. Hi, Alex! Actually I do know the first line in the Bible and in "The Hobbit.." But I don't remember the last lines. Now I'll have to go look them up. btw, I started "CassaDark" last night. I'm really enjoying it so far, and the evolution in your writing skills is obvious from the beginning. Bassan is a sympathetic character, and I'm really connecting with him. I can't wait to see where this story goes.

  3. Yes, these are hard times in the world right now. It's hard to stay positive. Like you, I try to remember all the hard times in history and even in our own lives where we've gotten through the hard times.

    I hope you get your memoir published. I'm 65 and not published yet, so you're not alone in not being published.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Natalie! I had really encouraging news from my endocrinologist yesterday, so I'm hopeful we can start dealing with my crazy eyes in the late summer or early fall. I'm feeling so much better, so I'm getting over the despair about my lack of progress on my memoir in the past seven or eight months. Meanwhile, I'll just plod along with alternating eye patches. I'm getting pretty good at one-eyed reading ~ lol! Have a great day!

  4. Beheaded because he loved her so much - that is devotion.

    1. That is devotion indeed, Diane! It's why I'll never forget the book even though I read it over fifty years ago. btw, I'm really enjoying Alex's "CassaDark" which I started reading last night. I hope it garners lots of sales. Have a great day!

  5. I enjoyed Shattered. I also enjoyed this post. Great insights. I have to keep reminding myself the same thing about the world having been through bad times before.

    1. I happy to hear that you enjoyed "Shattered," Melissa. It was such a good book. Sometimes, when I look back at history, I think we've always been on the brink of disaster. Take care and have a fun IWSG Day!

  6. Hi Fundy - just a quick note to say DO NOT GIVE UP. I just held my first novel in my hands on Monday and I'm 70. It is a thrill that I'd love you to have. Keep on keepin' on as that old hippy used to say!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jan! I'm thrilled to hear that you just held your first novel in your hands!!! Wishing you lots of success! Take care!

  7. A Tale of Two Cities--everyone should read that because it is referenced often in conversation or writings, without detail, but we all know what the allusion means. Yeah, I get it!

    Shattered--another great book by Lee. I await her next.

    1. Yes, Jacqui, I await Lee's next read too. And yours! I can't remember what inspired me to read "A Tale of Two Cities" in grade seven, probably my mother, but it obviously had a powerful impact on me. Have fun visiting around today!

  8. We do have a spectrum, and that's a fact. From the ones starting out to the masters of the craft. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    1. I continue to be inspired by how many masters of the craft there are, Anna! I hope that you are enjoying IWSG Day!

  9. While I suppose it was better than having an axe man potentially take multiple whacks, guillotines are horrifying to me.

    1. You have a point, Adam! I hope all is well with you! Take care!

  10. Thank you for that review. I echo Jan's comments. Good writing is good writing, no matter how old (or young) the author!

    1. Thanks, Liza! I am so excited for Jan, and I love the picture she posted of herself holding her published book for the first time. Take care!

  11. Some starts and finishes sure can stick with you indeed. Always interesting how stories resonate with each person differently. I don't think anyone will write some great super book that sticks it out generations these days, or at least it won't get seen, as there are sooo many being released every day. Great review as always too. And pffft 12 or 72, you can sure get it out in view.

    1. I love your take, Pat: pffft ~ lol! Books that will last? Perhaps J.K. Rowling's, J.R.R.T's, George R.R. Martin's, Kim Stanley Robinson's ~ Maybe that's hopeful wishing on my part. I walk around the bookstore, and I think all these people published a book, so I can. I hope you have a great weekend!

  12. That Charles Dicken's opening is still one of the strongest of all time and it certainly paints a true picture for the modern era.

    1. Dickens was a marvelous writer! I have so many books still to read. That's why I'm hoping there are libraries in heaven ~ lol! Have a great weekend, Denise!

  13. Thank you for this post. I love the opening and closing of The Tale of Two Cities - they do give me hope, too. I am sure you will succeed with your memoir, one word at a time! Take care!

    1. Thanks, Tyrean! Happy writing and creating in May!

  14. Loving and being loved is essential to our human existence. I really need to read A Tale of Two Cities.

    1. They're what makes life worth living for me! Happy weekend, Lynda!

  15. No giving up! We carry on until they pull the pen from our cold, dead fingers! (somehow, 'keyboard' doesn't really carry this image.)

    Great review of Lee's latest book! Another success from a talented writer. I really enjoy her books.

    1. Yes, keyboard doesn't work! Wishing you health and fulfillment in the coming months, Lee!

  16. Excellent Review! Thank you for sharing :D

  17. Please do not give up. We just have to keep at it despite the odds. Excellent Review BTW :)

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Damyanti! I'm not giving up! Take care!

  18. Louise, I love your commentary on A Tale of Two Cities. I loved that book, too. And fear not! You will publish your memoir--because you were loved and are loved by many.

    Lee's book sounds truly gripping. Fascinating! Bravo, Lee! Have a beautiful day!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Victoria! I'm glad that you enjoyed my commentary on "A Tale of Two Cities." All my best to you in the coming months!

  19. I'm embarrassed to admit I've never read A Tale of Two Cities... I should add it to my reading list.

    1. You shouldn't be embarrassed, Kim! There are so many amazing books to read. And not nearly enough time. The important thing is to enjoy the books you choose to read. Happy reading in May! Take care!

  20. Aha! Thanks for sharing that passage! Yes, the intro to the questions sounded a bit familiar to me. LOL...I loved Shattered, but I've enjoyed all of Lee's books. Storytelling and a subtle lesson in each.

    1. Hi, JQ! "Shattered" was a great read, for sure. It was especially intriguing to me because I married someone who was shattered. I'm still making the IWS rounds. Have a lovely weekend!

  21. I love your review and comments about Shattered. They echoed mine. Such an interesting story. I'm another who's never read Tale of Two Cities. I guess I should. The 1st line I remember best is "Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again." Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier. One of my all-time favorite books.

    1. Thanks, Diane! I really enjoyed "Shattered." I have read "Rebecca" several times during my life. Such a great story! Have. happy and fulfilling May!

  22. Hmm. My comment disappeared. Loved your review of Shattered. Totally agree.

    1. Commenting problems can make me crazy! I hope you haven't been having too many, Diane.

  23. Reading "Tale of Two Cities" in the 7th grade, I'm impressed. But it's been so long that I don't remember much about it except how he encouraged those around him as he waited for the guillotine. But the treason wasn't against Britain, but France, right? Lee has written some interesting books. This one is still on my tbr pile.

  24. Hi, Jeff! When I was in grade seven, my father was teaching in an isolated community well north of Sioux Lookout. My brother went with him, but my mother, my sisters, and I remained in Sioux. I would go to the library for Mom and pick out books for her from the library's small collection. She couldn't go because she had a toddler and a five-year-old. She was pretty lonely, so she would have me read books she was reading, so she could talk to someone about books.

    Two years later she took a correspondence course in European literature and had me read all her course books, again so she'd have someone to talk about the books with. So I read a lot of unusual books for my age.

    As for your question, I had to do some digging, because I read the novel a long time ago. Charles Darnay was arrested in England for treason and twice in France, once for being an aristocratic emigrant and then for crimes his father and uncle committed. I need to read the novel again ~ lol. Have a great weekend ~ well, great rest of the weekend!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.