Career changing Writing

Writing Progress Report – Fourth Quarter 2019

Progress Report –Fourth Quarter 2019

How great was fourth quarter 2019? So I spent fourth quarter 2019 preparing for and then doing NaNoWriMo. And then the aftermath! Then everything just sort of fell into place. So how awesome was that?

Fourth Quarter 2019 Posted Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Fourth Quarter 2019
First of all, I worked on a number of new short stories. A lot of these had been drafted on paper and so I spent some time fixing and polishing them.

Then on Wattpad I posted some fan fiction as I am not posting wholly original work there these days. That is, unless it’s for the WattNaNo profile.


Also, I have written over two and a half million words (fan fiction and wholly original fiction combined). So right now my stats on Wattpad for wholly original works are as follows:

  • How to NaNoWriMo – 17,865+ reads, 231 comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 972 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 59,075 reads, 528 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 13,007+ reads, 589 comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 468 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 249 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,692 reads, 48 comments

More Published Works

Also, I am amassing quite the collection of published works!

Untrustworthy, which is my first published novel. So yay!

Almost Shipwrecked, a story in the January 2019 edition of Empyreome.

Canaries, a short story in the March 29, 2019, edition of Theme of Absence.

Complications, a story in the Queer Sci Fi Discovery anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds went to supporting the QSF website.

Cynthia and Wilder Bloom, stories in the Longest Night Watch II anthology.

Nothing Good Ever Happens at 3 AM, a story posted at Unfading Daydream‘s October issue (about possession) and their 2019 Anthology.

Props, a story in the Longest Night Watch I anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds go to Alzheimer’s research.

Surprises, a story in Book One of the 42 and Beyond Anthology set.

The Boy in the Band, a story in the Pride Park anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds go to the Trevor Project.

The Interview, the featured story in the December 14, 2018 edition of Theme of Absence. So they even interviewed me!

The Last Patient, a story in the Stardust, Always anthology. This was an anthology where the proceeds go to cancer research.

The Resurrection of Ditte, a story in the Unrealpolitik anthology.

This is My Child, a short story published in the April 8, 2019 edition of Asymmetry Fiction.

Three Minutes Back in Time, a short story published in the November 2019 issues of Mythic Magazine.

WIP Corner

So my current WIPs are as follows:

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy – so this one is all about a tripartite society. But who’s killing the aliens?

The Enigman Cave – can we find life on another planet and not screw it up? You know, like we do everything else?

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy – so the aliens who live among us in the 1870s and 1880s are at war. But why is that?

Mettle – so it’s all about how society goes to hell in a handbasket when the metals of the periodic table start to disappear. But then what?

Time Addicts – the latest designer high doesn’t make you happy or sad, and it doesn’t even make you hallucinate. Rather, you can go back in time. Welcome to the 26th century, where the very rich use yesterday as their playground, and it’s up to Josie James and the rest of the OIA Department of Temporal Narcotics to rein in the worst of the abuses and cut off a burgeoning black market.

Prep Work

So currently, I have been working on some writing prompts to keep me sharp and keep the words flowing. My 2019 NaNoWriMo novel is set in the Obolonks universe. But I need more of a plot! So a lot of this year has been spent on that.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during fourth quarter 2019.

In Progress

As of fourth quarter 2019, the following are still in the running for publishing:

Publisher Title
Analog Science Fiction & Fact None of This is Real
Dual Coast Magazine A Kitten
Electric Spec Dinosaurs
Emerging Worlds Who Do We Blame for This?
Gods Among Men podcast Blue Card
Hecate Gentrification
Leading Edge Magazine Side by Side
Polychrome Ink Darkness into Light
Strange Fictions Killing Us Softly
Weekly Humorist Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us

Some of those have been out for a while, so I’m not exactly hopeful. Dinosaurs is on its 11th query. And Side by Side is on its 9th query. Who Do We Blame for This? is on query #8, and Blue Card is on query #7. Assuming no one picks them up, at some point, I’ll throw in the towel on those, and just post them on Wattpad. For Dinosaurs, this is its last shot.

All Other Statuses

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for fourth quarter 2019 which were not in progress.


So in 2018, my querying stats were:

  • 68 submissions of 19 stories
  • Acceptances: 4, 5.88%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 3, 4.41% (so these don’t seem to have panned out)
  • In Progress: 10, 14.71%
  • Rejected-Personal: 14, 20.59%
  • Rejected-Form: 24, 35.29%
  • Ghosted: 13 (so these were submissions where I never found out what happened), 19.12%

So in 2019 my querying stats are so far:

  • 30 submissions of 13 stories (so 6 submissions carry over from 2018)
  • Acceptances: 5, 16.67%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 10 (so this includes 2 holdovers from 2018), 33.33%
  • Rejected-Personal: 10, 33.33%
  • Rejected-Form: 4, 13.33%
  • Ghosted: 1 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 3.34%

So particularly discouraging is the fact that I had no new acceptances in second quarter 2019. In the fourth quarter, one story sprang back to life and I got another acceptance. So those were helpful. But man oh man! It’s still pretty discouraging and hard to go on.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Productivity Killers

So it’s work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Because fourth quarter 2019 will not be the end of that! Furthermore, during this quarter, I did NaNoWriMo and saw my parents three times. I was a busy gal!

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Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Friendship

Grab Some Inspiration from Friendship


Friendship is as inspiring as the memory of old love affairs. Our friends can help us write. Sometimes it’s because of something we did together. And sometimes it’s because we want to honor them.


For stories which need a lot of names, why not ask your friends whether they want their names used? I’ve come up to people and asked, “Can I kill you in my novel?” People usually love this. Bonus – when you write about them or you publish, or if you post a quote, be sure to tag them. Because your best friend from sixth grade will probably be thrilled (but ask, in case they aren’t).

And if you’re going to make a friend a villain, be particularly careful about asking permission. A suggestion: for truly villainous villains (e. g. sadists and despots), don’t use friends’ names. For my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel, I needed to populate a space ship with crew members. Some got more screen time (page time, I suppose) than others. Asking whether I could use my friends’ names was the fastest and easiest way to populate the ship.

Furthermore, it paid dividends with social sharing because so many people were tagged.

Friendship Characteristics and Quirks

Why do we love our friends? Is it how they play poker? How they sing? Their love of the same fandom we love? Then find a way to adapt these details and put them in your work. It can be something as simple as a man stroking his mustache or a woman’s Kentucky accent. Maybe your friends collect stamps or they run track. All of these are good details.

Of course, don’t spy on your friends and take extensive notes. But you know these people well. You have already observed their teddy bear collections and their overly full makeup drawers. You don’t have to spy.

Scenes Inspired by Friendship

Did you and your friend meet in some interesting manner? Did you bond over something funny? Then ask, can I adapt this for my novel? And I say ask – don’t assume. Because some people may feel that’s overly private.


Be respectful, of course. And your friends might not want their memories used for writing fodder. So ask! And if they allow it, do be sure to thank them. The acknowledgements section of your book is a great place for that.

Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Myths & Legends

Grab Some Inspiration from Myths and Legends

Myths and legends are perhaps the oldest stories we humans tell each other. They go back to before human beings were literate. They may go back to before agriculture, which would make them some six to ten thousand years old. Yeah, legends are that old.


We might, at least here in the west, think of Greek and Roman mythologies before we consider others. Or maybe we do not know any others. But there are plenty! However, rather than getting into specific culture’s mythologies, I would instead suggest considering certain ancient tropes.

Flood Myths

Floods make for great storytelling. This is because they are a kind of ancient people’s disaster movie. The effects are legitimately frightening and off the scale. Furthermore, most of us have experienced some species of flooding in our lives, even if it was just water rising in a creek and pooling around our ankles.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Getting inspiration from myths and legends
Getting inspiration from myths and legends

For a religious group, a flood is also a great way to separate out the righteous (using whatever criteria the group so desires) from the wicked. The best people can be quite literally be saved and the evil people can be swept away.

It is also far less messy than a fire or earthquake would be (although being swallowed up by the earth is another option when it comes to the fate of the wicked). There is nothing to clean up.

Legendary Battles

The fall of Troy makes for a great story. Can it inspire? Of course. Between the death scenes, Helen’s love affair and then her fall from grace, and the Trojan Horse itself, the story is fascinating reading.

Another (probably) mythological battle is Joshua’s invasion of Jericho. The story includes the image of a wanton woman (Rahab, who was most likely intended to be a prostitute) offering aid and comfort to the enemy’s spies, to the walls falling from trumpet blasts and not traditional attacks.

Takeaways for Myths and Legends and Writing Inspiration

Without getting into faith or religion (which will be handled in a different post), it is perfectly legitimate to use myths for writing. They are, after all, within the public domain.


Snowflake Novel Outlining Method Revisited

Snowflake Novel Outlining Method Revisited

Snowflake is but one method for outlining a novel. It’s not the only kind, and your methodology is probably best for you. But this is what I do.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | SnowflakeI do a variation on snowflake. Do this on paper. I’ve never been able to do it on a screen and I think paper gives some semi-permanent feelings. But if you can do it on a screen, then have at it.

The First Snowflake Falls: Getting Started

1) Start with a concept. Let’s say the concept is that the world has run out of pumpkin spice.

2) Name a main-ish character (this can always be changed). So let’s go with a sentient chipmunk.

3) Write the main character’s name in the center of a page and circle it.

4) Write the concept down as well, maybe at the top of the page and circle it.

The Next Snowflake Will Fall: Making Connections

5) Draw 3 lines between them, but fewer if it’s a short story, more if it’s meant to be a series.

6) Along those lines, write possible connections. But don’t worry about them sounding stupid. Your sentient chipmunk might be hoarding it (and thereby is the villain). Another option is they might be searching for it as some sort of chipmunk holy quest. Or they might stumble upon it by accident. It could be that they might have to pay it as ransom to the mean squirrel which kidnapped their baby chipmunks, whatever.

7) So now you’ve got more characters and more scene concepts.

Look, Another Snowflake: Supporting Characters

8) New page of paper. Same name in the center, circled. Now surround it with the names or at least descriptions of the other characters you came up with. In this case, the mean squirrel, whoever sent the chipmunk on the quest, whoever hid the pumpkin spice treasure our heroine stumbles over, the kidnapper, etc.

9) Draw connecting lines to the main character and, as before, write along those lines what the connections are. And do this even if you already have them written elsewhere. Otherwise, you’re going back and forth between pages, which is a pain.

Flurries: Supporting Scenes

10) Third sheet of paper: do the same with the concept and possible scenes. So these are scenes like the dramatic kidnapping, receiving the ransom note, a news story about the spice theft, the stumbling, etc.

More Flurries: Create Order (for the Scenes)

11) Fourth sheet of paper: take your scenes and put them in as coherent an order as you can and number them accordingly. Plus this can be changed. You’re just getting a rough idea here. So #1 kidnapper makes plans. And #2 spice is stolen; #3 meet the chipmunks, etc. Maybe you need to go back earlier to when the kidnapper first thought of the idea of kidnapping – that’s scene #0. Hence maybe you want the news story between #2 and #3 – then rename it #2a and move on.

Snow Showers: Moving Onto Your Computer

12) Transcribe the scenes into a word processing document. I use Word; some people like Scrivener or Google docs, etc. In addition, continue to reorder the scenes and see where the filler and the exposition go.

13) Transcribe the character types and any names you’ve got. First of all, you’ve got to get across that the chipmunk heroine is sentient (sapient, actually). So does she have an amazing backstory? Sketch it out. Because it may or may not end up in the book. Sometimes a backstory doesn’t need to be explicitly stated, but if you know your chipmunk was an escapee from a science lab, that might inform how you write her.

Just because you researched or thought of something, does not mean it absolutely must end up on the page.

The Blizzard: Assign Tasks

14) Time to figure out who does what. Hence maybe the crow delivers the ransom note, or the wolf acts as the squirrel’s henchman and does the actual dirty work of kidnapping.

15) Keep refining and go back to the paper if you need to.

** Note: a lot of people who don’t like outlines feel they have to show every single little thing planned out. But this does not have to be true. Because all you really need is a general idea for a scene, like chipmunk babies are kidnapped, pumpkin spice shortage reported in the news, etc. Just know what your scenes’ purposes are.

Post-Storm Clean-Up: Do You Really Need That Scene or Character?

A scene should have one of two purposes (it can have both):

1) Develop characters (particularly the main character) or

2) Advance the plot.

So any scenes which do neither get scuttled or altered.

Lather, rinse, repeat. This is my version of the snowflake method. But it’s not the only way to write a snowflake novel.

Career changing

Libraries – How to Get Your Book into Them


Getting into Libraries

Libraries are the unsung heroes of the American (and other countries’) educational system. They are where people look for jobs, listen to lectures, or teach themselves all sorts of things.

They are also a marvelous home for your newly-published book.


First of all, you probably can’t just write to or visit every library in creation. While writing is something of a number game, it won’t do you much good to just launch your book at every single library out there. You need to have a plan.

The best and easiest plan is to go with a library where you have some sort of a connection. Did you grow up in Cleveland, go to college in Dallas, and are now settled in St. Louis? Then try your local library from when you were growing up. Don’t try every single Ohio or even Cleveland library. The same is true of Dallas, plus you may want to try your alma mater. For St. Louis, do yourself a favor and get a library card before you even start. They want to know you, at least a little bit. So go and let them at least know that much about you.

The Approach

I’m going to give you three approaches.

With the book

Take your book with you, in a purse or tote bag or backpack. Ask to speak to whoever is in charge of acquisitions. Go to them, book in hand, and explain how you are related to the library. E. g. “I grew up down the street, on Parkland Road.” or “I just got a card three months ago.”

Now explain what you’re doing. “I’m a first-time author. This is my book. It’s about ____.

At minimum, tell them the genre. I find it’s helpful to tell them either where it’s shelved elsewhere (is it science fiction or fantasy, for example). Also tell them whether the work has any triggers or heavy sex or violence scenes. Mention if it is LGBT-friendly. This isn’t just a courtesy to help keep small children from taking out works with explicit sex scenes. It also helps the library decide how they are going to display the work and what they are going to say if anyone asks them about it.

Then give them the book. Yes, just hand it over. Make sure it’s a perfect new copy. Do not give them a signed copy. Why not? Because those can potentially be stolen. In addition, the library has to think ahead. Your book will probably end up in their book sale, and maybe even in less than a year. A pristine copy is easier for them to sell.

Without the book

No book? No problem! Come over with a business card instead. Again, ask to speak with whoever is in charge of acquisitions. Explain who you are and what your book is about. Hand over your business card. And if you’ve got the ISBN handy, then write it on the back. But also get their address of where you can send the work. Don’t make them ask for it. You have to do all the legwork here.

On the phone

This one is similar to when you go in but don’t have a copy of the book with you. Again, ask to speak to whoever is in charge of acquisitions, and explain about your work. Make it clear the book is free to them. Then ask for their shipping address, and whose name should it be addressed to. And the best part about this approach (or if you need to mail the book for any reason) is, you can just have Amazon ship it to them and send it as a gift.

What do you want in return?

Pictures. Yes, really! Tell them you will do this if they take pictures of your book on their shelves and send the images to you. Explain you are going to use them in your marketing campaign. And then do so, making sure to thank them profusely and link back to any libraries which help you out.


You just sold another book! Never mind that it was to yourself. You still sold one, and that counts for Amazon’s rankings system. Plus your book now is in a position to be seen by others. And the librarian knows your title. Finally, I have personally found talking to librarians to be easy. Because you’re not really selling. Instead, you’re giving them a donation. Libraries want authors to succeed.

Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Employment

Getting inspiration from employment

Adventures in Career Changing Getting inspiration from employment
Adventures in Career Changing Getting inspiration from employment

Working Stiffs

Employment colors most people’s lives (or the lack of a job). And whether your job is a creative one, or has to do with business, athletics, science, the Internet, or anything else, it can help propel your creative spirit to new heights.

Employment as Metaphor

So let’s say your characters are on a spaceship deep in the Andromeda Galaxy. Hence the time frame, pretty obviously, is the deep future. Yet even if you feel we’ll all be part-cyborg pod people, you can still see your current position (or a past one) as a kind of metaphor. Because even your heroes in space suits might become peeved if someone else uses their favorite ray gun. Or maybe they have a conflict over a meal – even if that meal is an alien carcass or a mess of nutrition pills. Since it’s your show and your universe, why not show someone who resents the person in charge?

Repetitive or Unpleasant Work

For even the most exciting and glamorous occupations, there can often be a great deal of repetitive work. Actors have to memorize lines or go to cattle call auditions or autograph stacks and stacks of head shots. Models have to travel a lot and miss their families, and they wait around a lot at photo shoots. And singers get colds. In addition, lawyers have to answer emails and phone calls and travel to court. Furthermore, doctors – even world class ones – sometimes deal with less than cooperative patients. And politicians deal with the polls and the press.

Most noteworthy, you’re a writer. So you know all about artist’s block.

Hence consider what you do, over and over again, at work. Maybe it’s running database queries. Or filing papers. Maybe you fill out tax forms or dig holes to embed fence posts or you clean animal cages or perform oil changes.

Now, please keep in mind, I want you to stay safe at all times! However, doing a repetitive task can sometimes lead to your mind wandering. So why not let it wander to and then linger on your writing? Maybe you can envision one of your characters performing your repetitive task. Never mind if the time frame is wrong; this is just an exercise. And then start thinking about other tasks your character could be performing. While writing about a repetitive task might not make it into the final cut of your work, it could give you insights into your character’s personality and motivations.

Maybe your character makes mistakes. Or maybe they’re perfect at executing the task. In addition, some character might rebel or be repulsed by your task. So, can you extrapolate that to your work and your universe? Maybe you can.


Whether you’re an accountant or an astronaut, you might be able to use your employment as a vehicle for writing inspiration.

Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Childhood

Getting inspiration from childhood


Ah, childhood. What is it about our younger years that gives us such feelings of nostalgia? Is it because things were so much newer then? Or were they simpler? We had fewer responsibilities.

Yet plenty of people don’t have lives like that. For those who lost a parent, or were abused, attaining the age of majority must have come as a relief.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll call a person an adult on their eighteenth birthday. It’s just easier that way.

School Days

Education is a somewhat separate topic and is addressed elsewhere on this blog. So let’s, instead, talk about the other trappings of being children.

A Lack of Impulse Control

Why don’t we let young children drive? It’s not just because they can’t reach the pedals. Rather, it’s really because they tend to lack impulse control. Patience is more than a virtue; it’s a mark of maturity. While people mature at different rates, and there are some kids who are very patient, the child population tends, as a whole, to be a lot more impulsive.

While this means triggers are pulled more often, and faster (and sometimes quite literally), it also means younger people are more likely to take chances. They aren’t as set in their ways, and they are not wearing golden handcuffs.

Taking it all too hard

Passions can often run hot and hard for minors. Hormones are directly responsible for some of this. An overall lack of impulse control may also be causing it. Or maybe it’s due to many young people not having too many good bases of comparison. Whatever it is, first loves and first losses hit very hard.


Some of this is certainly physical. We tend to be in better shape. Our joints are younger. And we might be thinner, even if that just means we haven’t yet had the chance to eat all of the things which are going to make and keep us fatter later in life.

However, flexibility also goes to being able to bounce back more quickly. So maybe the term is actually resilience. None of our experiences or relationships has terribly long track records. Even if we fall in love with a toddler playmate, it’s still not a lot of time when compared to couples who have been together for several decades. While we might flit by and not know what we’ve got till it’s gone, we are still able to (usually) move on.

Of course there are exceptions. And there are plenty of depressed teenagers out there. I am not discounting their experiences!


Nondepressed teenagers can often be rather resilient. Impulse control generally takes longer to develop, so adjust your characters accordingly. Younger people can also, at times, take things a lot harder than more mature folks do. Again, adjust your character traits accordingly. As for very young children, read up on everything from child care theories to the development of the brain, in order to really nail it. And not every little kid lisps. Please, please bury that cliché once and for all.

Thank you.

Career changing Promotions

Creating a Facebook page

Creating a Facebook page

How do you go about creating a Facebook page?

Adventures in Career Changing adding a Facebook page
Adventures in Career Changing adding a Facebook page

Pages versus Groups

Why do you want one over another? Why does it matter?

Groups, as might be expected, allow for more discussion. However, everyone is on a more or less equal footing in terms of presenting content. And if that is what you want, then of course that is perfectly fine. However, if you are looking to essentially market your own wares, then a group is not going to help you very much. Instead, your own messages will be lost in the shuffle of everyone else’s content and messaging. As the administrator, though, you can eliminate any discussions you do not wish to see. This can get tedious, plus you lose the entire discussions.

With a page, you are the site owner/administrator. You create the content, which others react to, which can include commenting, and those comments can include links. If you want those comments and links gone, you can eliminate them – an activity which is also bound to become tedious. But at least the generalized discussions would remain.

Look and Feel

We have all noticed branding for our favorite commercial ventures, whether it is the shade of green for Starbucks and its products, or the use of a mascot/spokes-character like Flo from Progressive Insurance. Or it could be the backward ‘R’ in the Toys ‘R’ Us store signage. For your Facebook page, your website, your Twitter stream, and your background image, it pays to brand these items. Branding can be subtle, such as a color scheme, or more sophisticated, with the creation of a special logo for your page.

How to Create a Facebook Page

Facebook is constantly changing the means of performing tasks, as it is continuously A/B testing (e. g. it tests which layout or color scheme, etc. gets you to click more).  Currently, the way to make a page is, click on Pages on the left side of your feed and then click on Create a Page. Then select the page type. Select Artist, Band, or Public Figure, and pick either Author or Writer. Add your name and then click Get Started.

Seriously, it’s that simple.

Now go make an author page!