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Book Reviews Writing

Writing Progress Report – Fourth Quarter 2018

Progress Report – Fourth Quarter 2018

How superb was the fourth quarter 2018? Totally! It was another productive three-month period.

Finished Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Fourth Quarter 2018
First of all, I posted some new short stories which had not yet made it to the group.

So here’s what I created and improved.

October

By design, I did no writing. Instead, this was a month to catch up on posting some older stuff. Plus, I got together the last of the outline for The Real Hope of the Universe. October was truly vital for getting my act in gear for NaNoWriMo.

November

I wrote well and regularly this month. It was great progress and I wrote a total of 64,335 words during the calendar month. And I ‘won’ NaNoWriMo on the twenty-second of the month.

December

By design, I continued to work on The Real Hope of the Universe. By the time the month was halfway over, I had written a total of over 91,000 words for Real Hope… So, that was just about 26,500 new words in December. This also means the book is longer than The Real Heart of the Universe, the middle book.

2018 me

And the truth is, that seems to be a regular pattern for me. The first book is long. Then the middle one is quicker. And finally the last of the three is long again. But that is also because I hate saying goodbye to characters!

Milestones

Also, I have written over two and three-quarter million words (fan fiction and wholly original fiction combined). That is over one million wholly original words and over 1.8 million for fan fiction.

So right now my stats on Wattpad for wholly original works are as follows:

  • How to NaNoWriMo – 12,183 reads**, 137 comments**
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 969 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 58,729** reads, 526** comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 12,309** reads, 587** comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 453 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 249 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1233** reads, 43** comments

A lot of the surging in stats on WattPad has been due to the upswing in popularity for the WattNaNo profile.

WIP Corner

The current WIPs are as follows.

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy is a futuristic crime story where our society is divided into three parts – humans, semi-sentient and sentient robots, and aliens. I may end up writing a sequel trilogy. I’m not sure, so stay tuned.

The Enigman Cave takes place about a half a millennium from now. And it imagines a first contact where the aliens are at the level of Australopithecus.

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy takes place about 140 years ago and covers an Earth overrun by warring alien factions during the Victorian Era.

Mettle takes place only a few years from now and is the story of how society crumbles when metals begin to disappear.

Prep Work

So currently, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I will write the third novel in the Real Hub trilogy. But I need to get the outline in order!

Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during fourth quarter 2018. The third quarter was full of disappointments. Except for the 42 and Beyond anthology, I got no bites.

But then the fourth quarter picked up! Hence the following happened:

  • Almost Shipwrecked – accepted for publication at Empyreome.
  • Killing Us Softly – currently under consideration at Jay Henge Publishing (Pioneers & Pathfinders).
  • Surprises – accepted for publication via Hydra Productions’ 42 and Beyond, Book 1.
  • The Interview – accepted for publication at Theme of Absence. Published on December 14, 2018.
  • The Resurrection of Ditte – accepted for publication at Jay Henge Publishing (Unrealpolitik on Amazon).
  • Three Minutes Back in Time – currently under consideration at Alternate Peace.

Stats

According to The Submission Grinder, here are my lifetime stats:

  • Pieces: 17
  • Submissions: 65
  • Rejections: 35 (53.85%)
  • Acceptances: 3 (4.62%)
  • Pending Submissions: 13 (20.00%)
  • Lifetime Earnings: $26.25

Note: this doesn’t include anything not submitted via the Grinder, such as Untrustworthy and Surprises. And of course the remaining percentage of the total is everything where I’m still waiting to hear. By my count, I’ve submitted to 58 different publishers (at least two aren’t included in the Grinder’s overall count).

And by the way, I consider an acceptance rate of over four and a half percent to be outstanding!

In Progress

Right now, The Real Hope of the Universe is a WIP.

All Other Statuses

I continue to wait on the potential for a number of submissions to finally go through and gain acceptance.

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

Happy holidays from Adventures in Career Changing!
Happy holidays from Adventures in Career Changing!

So it was work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Furthermore, as a manager, I have obligations that go far beyond my own job. The holidays got nuts, and my house is in renovation hell. So, what else is new?

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Social Media Writing

Social Media Happy Holidays!

Are You Having Happy Holidays?

Well, happy holidays from me!

So thanks to the fine folks at Canva, there’s a new holiday image and I’ve got to say I really love it.

Plus I was getting a little tired of reusing the older holiday post. Hence here’s something new which I hope will be a lot more timeless.

Happy holidays from Adventures in Career Changing!
Happy holidays from Adventures in Career Changing!

Reflections

Because the year is drawing to a close, I get a bit pensive. So I often wonder if the year worked out all right. Did I accomplish everything I had wanted to? What were my obstacles? And how did I try to overcome them? That is, if I tried to at all ….

In addition, this is when I start to look forward to the following year. Some of this is in terms of resolutions. And some of this is in terms of goal making. Because I am working on becoming a more regular writer, many of these goals center around writing. But also around its ancillary activities. Because editing, proofreading, beta reading (both for me, and for me to do for others), and promotions are also important.

A writer, if they are at all serious, will have to do all of these things. And by the way, that is even true of big time famous authors. They have to accept editing. And they have to promote their works. Plus we all need to work on our craft. None of us are perfect.

So without further ado, here are some possible goals for next year.

Next Year’s Goals (More or Less)

Goals come in a few flavors.

Writing Goals

So in 2018, one great goal worked out beautifully. It was to write every day, every other month. Now, sometimes that was a bit difficult to do. There were some days when I just plain didn’t want to write something on top of everything else. But the discipline, I feel, was good for me. So that’s one goal.

Dovetailing with this goal was writing short works during the off months. This I did a lot of although not enough. It came in mighty handy during my most tired days to already have a draft, and just need to polish and type it. Hence I need to do that more.

Promotional Goals

Another goal from 2018 was to use the off months to promote. This one did not work out quite so well. Life was busy and I was tired. And I was suffering from some wicked imposter syndrome on top of everything else. Hence I will need to work harder to promote. Fortunately, this blog is a part of my promotional efforts.

Publishing Goals

Yet another goal from 2018 was to query my unpublished works. And again, my adherence to that goal was kind of spotty. So I will need to do better in that area. It may help to get the whole process more organized. And I have been trying to do just that. In addition, I need to know when to throw in the towel and instead pull the trigger on self-publishing. For some works, that might be the best or even the only place to get them out there.

A related goal is to really learn as much about self-publishing as I can, from the top down. This also ties in with promotions, to understand how to best promote my work and get it in front of the biggest audiences. It might be in the form of giveaways, swag, conferences, conventions, or something else.

Community Goals

Finally, writing is a community and that means we need to have each others’ backs. While Facebook has splintered badly in that area, Twitter is still a good place. Following and participating in author hashtags like #AuthorConfession or #OneLineWed already help. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve got over 1,000 Twitter followers. That is a tipping point in Twitter, I’ve noticed. In general, an account starts to get people following for the sake of following. However, one thing I need to work on is if I can shunt some of the accounts I’m following to lists instead, and then unfollow. Because if the number of people I’m following stays below the number of people who are following me, it should help to bolster my influence.

Takeaways

I realize this was a bit of a heavy topic for the holidays. Are you looking forward to next year? Are you planning, or just winging it?

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Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Senses

Senses

Our senses shape the real world, so why not the fictional one as well?

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Senses
Use your senses to write

When we talk about the senses, what do we really mean? And how can our thoughts about them lead us to writing inspiration? To begin, let’s look at them in order. This is more or less in order of how important many people feel they are. However, your list’s order may vary.

Sight

First off, when we talk about sensations, we inevitably go to sight. Sight is likely the first sense ever evolved by us (probably about 600 million years ago, at the time of the so-called Cambrian explosion). Hence it is important and a lot of our brain power is devoted to it. But what does it mean to write a story based upon sight? Since our vision is fairly sophisticated (as opposed to that of, say, flatworms), that can encompass shapes, colors, or sizes, or even perceptions of textures.

Hence why not write a story where the scene steals the show? Or one where the narrator is a static object, such as a tee shirt or even a computer? Another idea: write a story based upon a color.

Hearing

When we think of hearing, inevitably we consider music, but we can also think of the sounds of voices or even the mundane sounds of life. When you write, think about how people sound. Do they speak with accents? Are they loud? And what are their pitches and tones? Could some characters sing soprano, whereas others are basso profundos? Maybe someone is a horrible singer. In addition, a lot of us know someone whose voice goes up at the end of sentences, even when they aren’t asking anything. Why do they do that?

Other sounds can be of interest, such as barking dogs, running water, or the gentle hum of a space heater. What about explosions, or creaking doors? Nails on a chalkboard, anyone?

Why not write a story where the sounds are the main focus? Or one where music flows through the action, or one where silence reigns supreme? The film A Quiet Place has taken that idea and really run with it.

Touch

Touch and, by extension, feelings, can make a great topic for storytelling. Think of hot and cold, or various degrees of comfort. Touch connotes everything from caresses to slaps. Feelings naturally make us think of emotions. So maybe the reaction ends up being more important than its cause. Or a character’s depression or their nervousness or contentment become the focus.

Why not write a story where touch steals the show? Or one about odd touches like itchy sweaters or dog bites or the rain beating against a character’s face?

And when it comes to feelings, why not let them take center stage? A story based upon anger will compel in one way; one based on humor will compel differently.

Smell

Smell has a number of great synonyms and near-synonyms which add nuanced shades of meaning. When something reeks, it has far different connotations from when it has an aroma or a bouquet. Aromas also link us to some of our deepest and oldest memories. When smell becomes part of a story, that often adds more realism. Because there’s nothing like saying a planet smells like wet dog to immediately put you there.

Why not let smells take over? How about a story told from a dog’s point of view? Or one connecting an aroma to a memory (Proust did that!)?

Taste

Because taste is dependent upon smell, we can often lose a lot of our sense of taste if we have a stuffed nose. For writers, taste can add a feeling of home to a story. Or a story can feel very alien if a taste is particularly odd. The taste of chocolate or ice cream might add pleasant connotations. Yet the tastes of blood or bile will take those away just as quickly.

Why not give taste the spotlight? How about describing a meal on another planet? What about the taste of blood or coffee or a dollar bill?

Takeaways

Want to know how to add believability to a scene? Cover three senses at the very least. Most people go with sight and sound as no-brainers, but what about adding something else? The taste of a lover’s kisses, the smell of a soldier’s old boots, or the texture of a prison uniform can get the reader right into a story.

Categories
Career changing Writing

Advice for Dealing With a Rejection

Dealing With Rejection

Rejection stinks. There’s no two ways about it.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Rejection
Rejection may stink, but not writing? That’s a lot worse.

Here are three things you can do if you have received a rejection from an agent or a publisher.

Mourning

1) Mourn. Yes, mourn! It kinda hurts so allow yourself to feel hurt. But! Put a time limit on that. As in a week. Then consider yourself done with mourning what was.

Leave it!

2) Stick it in a drawer for three months, minimum. Let it go and move onto other things (another good reason to work on a lot of stuff at once).

Review it!

3) After the magical three months (or more) have elapsed, take out the file and the rejection slip.

Objective Considerations

Consider a few objective things: (a) was it the wrong genre for that publisher? Then be more careful next time and keep track of which publisher accepts which kinds of works. (b) was it not submitted correctly? Then take the time to do submissions right. Do they want an attachment? Then send one next time. Do they want just the pitch and three chapters? Then send that. Do they just want the pitch? Then only send that. You get the idea. (c) Did you submit to more than one publisher when this one said they didn’t like that? Then don’t do that again.

Subjective Considerations

Also consider subjective things: (a) did they not understand what your story is about? Then you need to work on your pitch/blurb. A writers’ group is a great place to do that. (b) did they say they had trouble getting through your story? Then you need to edit that sucker. Never mind if you already did. Edit again. And consider working with a pro editor. They are pricey but that is for a good reason. If you absolutely cannot afford a professional editor, then you need to hack away at your work yourself. So determine whether scenes or characters can be combined, as a start. Go back to beta feedback (you did work with beta readers, right?) and figure out what you hand waved away and work on what they told you to do. Because they were probably at least partly right. (c) did they say it just wasn’t for them? Then figure out why. Maybe they got three other moose detective stories before yours. Or maybe they’re closing the imprint you queried to. Maybe they’re just swamped.

Moving On

Most importantly, keep the fires burning. Keep works in five categories:

  1. Idea stage. You’re just kicking this one around.
  2. Outlining stage. If you don’t outline, then consider this the ‘serious ideas’ stage.
  3. Rough draft writing stage. Get it on paper or pixels.
  4. Beta reading/editing stage. Polish that prose and alter your work in response to feedback.
  5. Querying stage/publishing stage. If you’re self-publishing, then this is just the publishing stage.

The mourning, etc. I listed above? Call it stage #5a, or #4a if you really need to go back into the guts of the piece.

Your writing is worthwhile, even with a rejection. You can do this.

Categories
Book Reviews

Writing Progress Report – Third Quarter 2018

How Awesome was the Third Quarter 2018 for Writing?

Third quarter 2018 was another productive three-month period.

Finished Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Third Quarter 2018
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.

So here’s what I created and improved.

July

I wrote well and regularly this month. It was great progress for third quarter 2018.

July 1 – 7

During the first week of July 2018, I wrote every day. I wrote Glass, a science fiction piece. Then I added Disaster with Place Cards, another in the series of comic stories about a human-alien wedding. Freshly Baked Bread was about an abused mountain girl getting away. The Crossing was an imagining of how my ancestors got to the US.  Candy was about an executive restraining herself from committing sexual harassment. Turkeys was another tiny piece, semi-comic. Then the last was Impromptu Memorial, which was about a very real memorial in my neighborhood for someone who was shot.

The stories were all … okay. I think the best one was Freshly Baked Bread. It had more of a plot and more thought to it.

July 8 – 14

In the second week of July 2018, I wrote every day. First up was The Court, a reaction to how immigration courts in the US have been treating children. Then on the same day, I wrote Designer Maroon (another in the series about the human-alien wedding) and I started a piece for an anthology, Surprises, which takes place a year or so after the events of The Enigman Cave.  Next was The Little Farm, a historical piece about the Black Death. My next foray was Shadow Puppets, about the wife of an Alzheimer’s patient. Soup was a historical piece about the Great Depression. And Canaries was about an alien conquest of Earth. King Me was about a researcher studying centenarians.

It seems I was hitting my stride better. From Surprises to King Me, I think they were all pretty great.

July 15 – 21

During the third week of July 2018, I wrote every day. The Hermit was another Dark Ages story. Jurisdiction concerned the legal implications of shapeshifters living among us. Fragments was about an archaeological discovery in a distant star system. Then I posted My Heroes, where pixies help a middle-aged nurse. I then posted Weeding, about a teenager and his elderly neighbor. The following day, I flipped point of view and posted Neighborly, from the elderly neighbor’s POV. My favorite, by far, was the story posted on the 21st, Three Minutes Back in Time, a historical science fiction piece.

The others were rather good although I’ve done that same sort of pixieish story before, with The Forest. As for Three Minutes … it helped tremendously that I knew the POV character as she was an original character in, of all things, a Star Trek TNG fan fiction. But there’s nothing Trek in Three Minutes … at all, a story to query.

I also wrote a story for the 42 and Beyond anthology, Surprises, which is a sequel to The Enigman Cave. It takes place maybe a year after the events in the book.

July 22 – 31

In the ten-day period of July 2018, I wrote every day. Naturalization is another story about the wacky mix ups aliens get into. In this one, aliens in an ESL/naturalization class learn about human culture (like, what’s a bicycle?). Pixies is a lot like My Heroes, where little people help out us humans. Roommates is a kind of strange  rebellion story, where two people, thrown together by aliens to mate, plot their escape by talking political nonsense with hidden meanings. Yeah, even I think that one’s weird.

Rage is weird (and I didn’t name it well), where a cosplayer is bothered but then turns it around. Marked is a topic I’ve tackled before, where imperfections are blown way out of proportion. At least they’re not lethal, but the ending is a lot like a Twilight Zone episode. I can do better.

Medals is a retread of a story I did in fan fiction. But it’s still a winner and I should query it, as it covers a disabled veteran ‘running’ a 5K. A Life in Maps is a wacky time travelish story where the main character can go anywhere if she touches a map. Eventually, she gets an idea to touch older maps and ends up with a form of time travel. It’s another one I should query.

Scratches, Beware, and The Unexpected Phenom rounded out the month.

Scratches is another we’re-on-a-ship-but-I’m-the-lone-survivor stories, but it has more detail and is better certainly. Beware is a bit of a fan fiction retread about vermin on a space ship. Phenom is a bit about sports.

My best works for this time period were Medals, A Life in Maps, and Scratches.

Best of the Best for July

In the month of July, my best work was The Hermit, Fragments, Three Minutes Back in Time, Medals, and A Life in Maps.

August

By design, I did no writing. Instead, this was time for submitting to various magazines.

September

I also wrote well and regularly this month. It was more great progress for third quarter 2018.

September 1 – 7

During the first week of September 2018, I wrote every day. My first story was First Real Job, about a former homemaker getting a job answering mail for a thrash metal singer. I deliberately didn’t reveal the gender of the homemaker. So it could very well be a man. The second work was a little something to slip in the Real Hub series, A Celebration.

For the third day, I wrote Money Changes Everything. That one is another cautionary tale from the Middle Ages. And on the fourth day, I wrote Chip, about POWs trying to escape a Stalag. For the fifth day, I wrote Save Me, about an Amish girl looking to change her life. On day six, I wrote Examination, about a weird test. Kinda creepy! And on day seven, I wrote The Shimmering Wasteland, where a routine tax collection creates an interstellar incident.

Only The Shimmering Wasteland really stood out. This is typical for me for a week of writing after some time off.

September 8 – 14

In the second week of September 2018, I wrote every day. On the first day, I wrote Appealing, which is a direct homage to a fan fiction, about a woman released from prison after two decades. Next was What’s Your Story? That odd little story was about time travelers escaping the destruction of the Earth. On the third day, I wrote The Messenger, a kind of crazy story where the Roswell incident brings new fashion to Earth but also women’s liberation. That one was well-received.

On the fourth day (September 11th), I wrote The Bride, a direct prequel to The Real Hub of the Universe. Then on Day Five, I started to transcribe Killing Us Softly, where first contact goes wrong in a very weird kind of way.

The best of the bunch was definitely The Messenger. It’s the kind of story I should edit and submit.

September 15 – 21

During the third week of September 2018, I wrote every day. Four of these days were spent on Cape Cod. For the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth, I finished Killing Us Softly. I think it’s a good piece. On the seventeenth, I posted Make a Wish, yet another medieval time period story. For the eighteenth, I posted The Law, a western where a woman becomes sheriff. And on the nineteenth and twentieth, I wrote (posting on the twentieth) Gentrification, where a house flipper meets a family devastated by illegal abortions in two separate generations.

For the twenty-first, I started to transcribe The Student. That one was about an alien student in an integrated school, and I meant it to be a lot like the real-life story of Ruby Bridges.

During this time frame, there were two great stories: Killing Us Softly and Gentrification. I think I’d give the edge to Gentrification.

September 22 – 30

In the ten-day period of September 2018, I wrote every day. On the twenty-second, I finished and posted The Student. That one is about an alien version of Ruby Bridges. From the twenty-third through and including the twenty-sixth, I transcribed and then posted Miss Milky Way, which is exactly what it sounds like. For the twenty-seventh, I wrote The Test, a story I tossed off about the end of a relationship.

On the twenty-eighth, I added Underfoot, where little people have crash-landed in what is now a back yard. And on the twenty-ninth, I posted Feathers, about aliens who may be conscripting us into a war. Finally, for the thirtieth, I posted Sunshine, an odd little bit about cows.

Best of the Best for September

So the best of the best were: The Shimmering Wasteland, The Messenger, Killing Us Softly, Gentrification, and Miss Milky Way,.

Of these, the best was probably Gentrification.

Best of the Best for Third Quarter 2018

From July: Three Minutes Back in Time. And from September: Killing Us Softly. Best of these two? I honestly think it’s a tie.

Milestones

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 – 7,332 reads, 78 comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 969 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 58,601 reads, 524 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 12,156 reads, 587 comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 452 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 249 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 826 reads, 43 comments

WIP Corner

The current WIPs are as follows.

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy is a futuristic crime story where our society is divided into three parts – humans, semi-sentient and sentient robots, and aliens. I may end up writing a sequel trilogy. I’m not sure, so stay tuned.

The Enigman Cave takes place about a half a millennium from now and imagines a first contact where the aliens are at the level of Australopithecus.

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy takes place about 140 years ago and covers an Earth overrun by alien factions during the Victorian Era. I’m still getting together the outline for the third book.

Mettle takes place only a few years from now and is the story of how society crumbles when metals begin to disappear.

Prep Work

So currently, I have been working on some writing prompts to keep me sharp and keep the words flowing. My intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I will probably write the third novel in the Real Hub trilogy. But I need a plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that.

Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during third quarter 2018. So far, I’ve received some encouragement but no acceptances. Yet I keep plugging.

In Progress

I spent time on perfecting The Real Heart of the Universe. This came from some excellent beta reading.

All Other Statuses

I worked on some old fan fiction to try to finally finish it.

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

Work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. And… I am now a supervisor, with two direct reports! So I have even more to do!

In addition, do you like this page? Tweet it!


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Categories
Writing

Writing Progress Report – Second Quarter 2018

Progress Report – Second Quarter 2018

Second quarter 2018 was another productive three-month period.

Finished Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Second Quarter 2018
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.

So here’s what I created and improved.

April

By design, I did no writing. I posted The Badge of Humanity (Book 3 of The Obolonk Murders trilogy) and The Real Heart of the Universe (Book 3 of that trilogy) for review.

Also, I queried The Resurrection of Ditte twice and Darkness into Light one time.

May

I wrote well and regularly this month. It was great progress for second quarter 2018.

May 1 – 7

During the first week of May 2018, I wrote a piece every day. I posted The Lark, Recovery, Flooding, Intolerable Behavior, Coping, Cultural Exchange, and Suspension of Disbelief.

In keeping with the dystopian scenarios that have been creeping into my works lately, The Lark, Coping, and Cultural Exchange are all pretty creepy, with the former two being post-disaster stories. Cultural Exchange is more of a first contact gone wrong short story. Recovery is kind of odd, as I deliberately made it unclear whether the narrator was human. Suspension of Disbelief is almost the prelude to a whodunit. Flooding takes the perspective of (yes, really!) a worker ant. And Intolerable Behavior is a comedy; the main character is rather similar to the unnamed narrator of Revved Up.

I think I like Coping and Flooding the best, with the former having a commanding lead over the latter.

May 8 – 14

In the second week of May 2018, I wrote a piece every day. I posted Side by Side, You Never Know, Taste, A Path Not Taken … Much, Coincidence, Succession, and Snub. Side by Side is another comparison of one timeline to another. Readers said they felt one of the sides was like The Path (from the previous quarter). You Never Know is a humans fighting back type of story. Taste is another return to cave people. A Path … is a wry comedy about another first contact gone wrong. Coincidence is a creepy Twilight Zone-type piece where people seem to be disappearing. Succession is a sequel to Merciful. Snub is a kind of wedding drama piece.

This week, I like Side by Side, You Never Know, Coincidence. If I had to pick a favorite, I would probably go with either Coincidence or You Never Know. The former because I spent some time crafting it (rather than just reeling it off), and the latter because it’s ultimately got some hope in it (like Coping does, from the prior week).

May 15 – 21

During the third week of May 2018, I wrote a piece every day but the 19th (the day off was because a friend had died).  I wrote Dinosaurs, The Panther, Chains, Freedom, The Seed, and Time Stretching. Dinosaurs is about a race which has gone past physical bodies and moved onto mechanical ones. The Panther is another tale of cave people. Chains is a kind of odd dystopian story. Freedom is the defiant words of a prisoner.The Seed is yet another cave people story. Time Stretching is just a short tween thing.

This week, I liked The Panther the most, with The Seed coming in second.

May 22 – 31

In the ten-day period of May 2018, I wrote a piece every day. I wrote Just About, Captive, Your Planet Smells Like Wet Dog, A Touch of Gray Hair, Carney Crash Canyon, Separated, A Place, The Ridge, Placid, and Treasures. Just About is a sonnet I wrote for my wedding anniversary. Captive is about a woman held hostage in the jungle. Your Planet Smells Like Wet Dog is a semi-amusing alien contact story. A Touch of Gray Hair is an amusing piece I wrote for a contest. Carney Crash Canyon is a depressing story of a crash victim waiting to die. Separated is about children separated from their parents in America. A Place is about a mentally ill or challenged person being mainstreamed. The Ridge is a war story. Placid is about Nessie. Treasures is a strange story about witness protection.

I think my favorites from this period are Your Planet Smells Like Wet Dog, A Touch of Gray Hair, The Ridge, Placid, and Treasures.

For this month, my overall favorite is the last story I wrote, Treasures.

In addition, I queried Ditte again and Blue Card.

June

By design, I did no writing.

Milestones

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 – 6,196 reads, 75 comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 969 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 58,341 reads, 524 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 11,953 reads, 587 comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 439 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 248 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 684 reads, 43 comments

WIP Corner

The current WIPs are as follows.

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy is a futuristic crime story where our society is divided into three parts – humans, semi-sentient and sentient robots, and aliens. I may end up writing a sequel trilogy. I’m not sure, so stay tuned.

The Enigman Cave takes place about a half a millennium from now and imagines a first contact where the aliens are at the level of Australopithecus.

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy takes place about 140 years ago and covers an Earth overrun by alien factions during the Victorian Era.

Mettle takes place only a few years from now and is the story of how society crumbles when metals begin to disappear.

I also spent a bit of time writing fan fiction, in order to finish up a series during second quarter 2018.

Prep Work

So currently, I have been working on some writing prompts to keep me sharp and keep the words flowing. My intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I will probably write the third novel in the Real Hub trilogy. But I need a plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that. This quarter, I got closer to having a viable plot for what I now know will have the title of The Real Hope of the Universe.

I also have some ideas for a time travel series and maybe even young adult. But those didn’t happen during second quarter 2018.

Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s going as of second quarter 2018.

In Progress

Publisher Title Result
Flash Fiction Online A Kitten In progress
Owl Canyon Press A Touch of Gray Hair In progress
Not One of Us Almost Shipwrecked In progress
Cincinnati Review Blue Card In progress
ServiceScape contest Darkness into Light In progress
Factor Four Magazine Dinosaurs In progress
Strange Horizons Side by Side In progress
Kferrin.com The Interview In progress
AGNI Magazine The Resurrection of Ditte In progress
Slice Magazine The Resurrection of Ditte In progress
Analog Science Fiction & Fact This is My Child In progress
Apparition Lit Flash Fiction Contest Who Do We Blame for This? In progress

All Other Statuses

Publisher Title Result
Clarkesworld Magazine Almost Shipwrecked Rejected
Spaceports And Spidersilk Almost Shipwrecked Rejected
Unidentified Funny Objects Almost Shipwrecked Rejected
Threepenny Review Blue Card Rejected
Fantasy & Science Fiction Dinosaurs Rejected
Shimmer Dinosaurs Rejected
Boink Zine Eight Nights Rejected
Bolide Publishing The Enigman Cave Ghosted
RAB The Enigman Cave Back in play! 6/14/18
Apex Magazine The Resurrection of Ditte Rejected
Metaphorosis Magazine The Resurrection of Ditte Rejected (personal, encouraging)
Daily Science Fiction Who Do We Blame for This? Rejected
Freeze Frame Fiction Who Do We Blame for This? Rejected

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

Work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. And yes, that includes second quarter 2018.

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Personal Writing

Writing Progress Report – First Quarter 2018

Progress Report – First Quarter 2018

First quarter 2018 proved to be a good time to write. Since this is the first of my writing progress reports, here are the details.

I write all the time or at least I work on something to do with writing. The process generally runs from idea to percolating that idea or combining it with other ideas, outlining, drafting, preliminary editing, and reading aloud to my husband (a HUGE help for spotting flow errors). Then it’s beta readers sending feedback which I work out, off to the pro editor, write the query letter, query, wait for acceptance or rejection.

Accepted work? Then it’s time to work on promoting it. Rejected work? Then it’s time to regroup. This may mean more editing on my part, or changing the query or just shelving a work for a while.

Finished Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | First Quarter 2018
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.

Here’s what I created and improved.

January

I wrote well and regularly this month. It was a great kickoff to first quarter 2018.

January 1 – 7

During the first week of first quarter 2018, I wrote a piece every day. there are two pieces over 2,000 words long: The Resurrection of Ditte and A True Believer in Skepticism. Another four are under 2,000 words: Short, Sharp; Dragon for Sale, Cheap; Too Tired (tiny!); and The Landing. The seventh was also under 2,000 words and is a little scene from The Real Hub of the Universe trilogy: Snowy Allston.

Of these seven short stories, Dragon and Landing are both comedies. Allston is kind of melancholy. Tired was really just so I could get something written that day. The other three are somewhat ironic and all of them give off a Twilight Zone sort of vibe.

My favorite for this week is a tie between Ditte and Skepticism. They both having something to say about the human condition.

January 8 – 14

Then I wrote more stuff during the second week of first quarter 2018. All of the pieces are under 2,000 words. I wrote: The Forest; I Used to be Happy; The Star; I Hate Promises; A Kitten; The Outside World; and  The Meeting.

Of these seven short stories, The Star; I Hate Promises; and The Meeting are comedies. The Forest and The Outside World are more like fables, with the former being about helping a stranger and the latter about being curious about freedom. A Kitten is heartwarming and could be read to a child.

My two favorites for this week are I Used to be Happy and A Kitten. Both should make a reader think, and I love writing like that.

January 15 – 21

And I wrote even more during the third week of first quarter 2018. These are all under 2,000 words: The Other, Canada Saves the World, Worthy, Nothing Good Ever Happens at 3 AM, Who Do We Blame for This?, None of this is real, and Inventory.

Of these short stories, The Other is another fable. Canada Saves the World and Inventory are comedies. None of this is real is more of a nascent romance. Nothing Good Ever Happens at 3 AM and Who Do We Blame for This? are both tragic first contact stories. Worthy is kind of an odd story about what is a sort of dystopian society that has lost its way.

This week, I had a lot of favorites. In fact, the only one that wasn’t a favorite was Canada Saves the World as it was just kind of silly. Even Inventory was better.

January 22 – 31

So I wrote a lot more during the final ten days of the first month of first quarter 2018. Everything was under 2,000 words long. And there stories were: Soul Rentals, And the Horse You Rode in On, The Guitarist, The Metuchen Mystery, So Long, Will’s Dog, I Used to be Cruel, Just Married (sequel to The Meeting), Justice, and This is My Child.

Of these short stories, Soul Rentals is kind of spiritual. And the Horse You Rode in On is historical. The Guitarist is YA. The Metuchen Mystery is fantasy. So Long is tragedy. Will’s Dog and Just Married are more fluff pieces. Justice is dystopian. I Used to be Cruel and This is My Child are both drama.

For these last ten days, my favorites were pretty much everything but The Metuchen Mystery, which felt too light and silly. I’m not a fan of dragons, even if they are in New Jersey. The Guitarist was a particular fan favorite. I wrote almost 29,000 words during this month.

February

By design, I did no writing. However, I edited Mettle and The Enigman Cave. I didn’t do any promotions although I was busy with some work for Wattpad (I’m an Ambassador there). Working with beta readers was iffy/spotty at best. Since I do my best to nurture those relationships, but I also need to get a lasso around version control, I created a Facebook group and started using Google docs. So far, that’s had a mixed reception. Plus I didn’t work on promotions. It’s not so much that I was busy; it was more that I’m just kind of burned out on that.

Beta readers, so far, have enjoyed The Guitarist, The Obolonk Murders, None of This is Real, and The Forest. Who Do We Blame For This? got a mixed reception, as did So Long and This is My Child. I’ve been trying not to be too pushy but unfortunately Facebook algorithms require a lot of activity. I’m still trying to find a good groove there while, at the same time, respecting everyone’s time and interest levels. And my own, too!

Plus I worked some more on the plot for Real Hope of the Universe.

March

There was even more writing!

March 1 – 7

I started off the month with a bang, writing Kelvin 505.928, Oh Little Town, Almost Shipwrecked, Courage, Hot Mess, Enchantment Street and Clay. These were under 2,000 words long.

So of these short stories, Kelvin 505.928 is science fiction. Oh Little Town is horror. Almost Shipwrecked is humor and is a lot like The Meeting. Hot Mess is a prequel to Almost Shipwrecked. Courage is a romance with a twist. Enchantment Street is kind of dreamy and it’s one of the more positive stories I’ve written this quarter. Clay is a kind of odd deep future type of time travel story. Yeah, it’s weird.

My favorites this week included the one-two punch of Hot Mess and Almost Shipwrecked, plus Courage is a sweet story.

March 8 – 14

And then I kept it up by writing Blue Card, Protection, Shadows, The Path, Guinea Pigs, Loud, and It’s Five O’clock Somewhere  …. These were under 2,000 words long.

Hence of these short stories, Blue Card is dystopian and might even be the Nazis or something like that. Protection is a bit of a true crime story. Shadows and It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere are both time travel stories and they are representative of how I’ve been thinking about that premise lately. The Path is another dystopian story but there’s a bit of hope in there. Guinea Pigs is a weird science fiction story that’s kind of underdeveloped.

My favorites this week included Blue Card as it’s evocative and creepy at the same time. I also liked Shadows and It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere. 

March 15 – 21

During the following week, I wrote Space Con, Daybreak, AM/FM Ghosts, The Interview, Modern Sonnet, The Witness and How Much?…. These were all under 2,000 words long.

Therefore of these stories, Space Con is something of a science fiction true crime story. Daybreak is a medical miracle. AM/FM Ghosts plays with some urban fantasy I’ve been considering. The Interview and How Much? are both truly creepy science fiction. Modern Sonnet is a touch of poetry. The Witness is a little crime drama.

This week’s favorites included the matter-of-fact vibe of Space Con and the creepiness of How Much? But the big winner is also the fan favorite: The Interview. Beta readers told me they wanted to see more, which is always a great sign.

March 22 – 31

During the final 10-day period, I wrote Appealing, The Cause, The Invaders, Halfway, Merciful, Wicked Ways, and A Trip (there are three more but they’re being posted after this blog goes live) … These were under 2,000 words long.

Hence of all of these, Appealing is an after-prison story which I admit I cribbed from my own fan fiction. The Cause and Halfway are historical. The Invaders is a little bit of unexpected humor. Wicked Ways and Merciful feel like they relate to each other, as an oppressive society turns to good. A Trip is similar to a work I did for an Alzheimer’s charity Anthology, called Props.

This week’s favorites included Appealing (one beta reader liked the main character’s strength) and Halfway. I also like Merciful; it’s a hopeful story. During this month (apart from three stories which won’t make it to this blog post), I’ve written just under 19,000 words. The big drop-off in production makes sense as work ate me alive.

Milestones

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 – 5,662 reads, 74 comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 969 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 57,999 reads, 523 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 11,870 reads, 587 comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 436 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 248 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 236 reads, 8 comments

WIP Corner

The current WIPs are as follows.

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy is a futuristic crime story where our society is divided into three parts – humans, semi-sentient and sentient robots, and aliens. I may end up writing a sequel trilogy. I’m not sure, so stay tuned.

The Enigman Cave takes place about a half a millennium from now and imagines a first contact where the aliens are at the level of Australopithecus.

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy takes place about 140 years ago and covers an Earth overrun by alien factions during the Victorian Era.

Mettle takes place only a few years from now and is the story of how society crumbles when metals begin to disappear.

Prep Work

So currently, I have been working on some writing prompts to keep me sharp and keep the words flowing so first quarter 2018. My intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I will probably write the third novel in the Real Hub trilogy. But I need a plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that. And – heh – I might actually have a different plot for this year’s NaNo, taking place in, of all things, the Obolonks universe. But I really should finish Real Hub. Really. Shut up, plot bunnies!

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

Work, and what else during first quarter 2018? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Plus I have all sorts of offline junk going on, including house renovations and the inevitable lousy New England weather which means shoveling snow and also running the car when it’s really cold out so it won’t stall.

Another productivity killer was my own mood. Not only does winter do it to me (I get Seasonal Affective Disorder), it’s also that, as I mentioned above, I’ve got some burnout. Sometimes the writing days did not come so easily.

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Categories
Career changing

Writing Progress Reports – Coming Soon!

Writing Progress Reports

I hope you’re interested in writing progress reports. Because I will be adding them.

writing progress reports
Yes, writing progress reports are coming soon!

I love to write and I try to do it on a somewhat regular basis.

For 2018, one of my resolutions (a fancy word for plans) is to write a lot more like the late, great Ray Bradbury. Bradbury did two things.

  1. He wrote something like 2k words per day.
  2. He wrote whether he was feeling it or not.

And that’s a great attitude right there. For Bradbury, there was no such thing as writing 52 bad short stories in a row. Because, yes, those weekly writing sessions would turn into short stories. I am certain some of these did not sell nor see the light of day. Others did, and became parts of The Illustrated Man, etc.

Practice Makes Perfect-ish

So the chances of writing a good story vary, of course. However, the chances of writing a good story if you do not write at all are, naturally, a big, fat goose egg.

Writing is also good practice for more writing. And I have also found that, at times, I have cribbed from an older work and stuck it in a newer one where it worked better. But I would not have had that bank without writing the older story first.

A Word About Fan Fiction

Egad, I wrote a ton of it! As in, over 2.5 million words – no lie! It wasn’t until around 2014 or so where I came to the conclusion that I had learned everything which writing fan fiction could possibly teach me, so it was time to let it go.

However, that cribbing I mentioned, above? I’ve done it with fan fiction the most. Obviously, I don’t copy the canon stuff which other people created. Instead, I use my own in new ways.

Current WIPs

You’ll be seeing a lot about current WIPs (works in progress). The truth is that any work not yet published is technically a work in progress, for it can be altered at any time up until release, and that’s even after a successful query (a query is where you fling your work off to a publisher or an agent to try to get it published). A WIP even encompasses works tossed into drawers and kept from the light of day for a long time. So those will be in these writing progress reports although, I admit, sometimes they’ll just be a placeholder for “nothing much happened”. Because not everything is worked on all the time.

Ancillary Activity

Writing is not all that there is to writing. Uh – what? What I mean is, you don’t just write. You research and plan. And you also edit and send out work to beta readers and address their feedback (which is sometimes to reject their feedback, by the way). Plus you put together queries and send them. In addition, you promote published works and collaborate with a publisher or an agent, a cover artist, etc. Or you self-publish. And you handle rejection. And bad reviews.

All of these are important activities. However, they are also all dependent upon writing. You can’t query without a written project. And you don’t get reviews on the dreams in your head. So writing is paramount, a good chunk of all of it. But these other things matter as well. If I may, I think this is a pretty decent breakdown:

  • Idea generation 5%
  • Research and outlining (planning) 10%
  • Writing 30%
  • Preliminary editing 5%
  • Beta reader contact, nurturing, and addressing feedback 10%
  • Work with a professional editor 10%
  • Querying (including creating the query letter and blurb) 5%
  • Working with a publisher or agent (or both), and a cover artist 10%
  • Promotions 10%
  • Handling reviews and rejections 5%

Short Stuff

Idea generation, preliminary editing, querying, and dealing with reviews are all small because they shouldn’t take too much of anyone’s time. Ideas are everywhere. Usually you’re stuck trying to choose among them. Preliminary editing is really just for glaring errors as you run spellcheck and also handle anything you know is a problem for you (for me, it’s the word ‘that’ and also too many characters saying ‘all right’). Querying is small because you really can’t simultaneously query most places, so you send a query out, wait a month, etc. Handling reviews, etc should also be fast. Don’t get cocky with glowing reviews and acceptances, and don’t let rejections and bad reviews get you down. Learn from all of these things and move on.

If you’re self-publishing, then querying is 0% and working with a cover artist should probably be a quickie 5%. The 10% you just saved should be shunted off to promotions because you’re it.

The Middle of the Road

Middle ground activities like outlining, working with beta readers, working with an editor, and with a publisher and cover artist, etc are middle of the road because you’re often working on someone else’s timeline. Plus outlining isn’t for everyone. If you don’t outline, then that time should be split between preliminary editing and working with beta readers.

Beta readers are important and perhaps I should give them more weight. It kind of depends. Some give detailed, helpful feedback. Others say nearly nothing or are s..l..o..w. Same thing with pro editors, and I do mean pros. Editing should be paid for. But if you’ve done good preliminary editing and gotten (and acted upon) good feedback from beta readers, then pro editing should take less time. And it might even cost less. As for time spent with a publisher, these days they are rather hands-off and that is especially true for newbie authors. Unless you’re JK Rowling, you’re probably not going to get the royal treatment. Particularly because publishers are so hands-off these days, you’ll have to pick up the slack when it comes to promotions.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Of course writing is the big one – it’s why we’re here in the first place!

Resolved

I will do my best to write at least 1,000 words every day during odd-numbered months (January, March, etc.). This includes NaNoWriMo in November, when that number should rise to at least 1,800 words per day.

I will do my best to work on the ancillary activities for at least one hour per day during the even-numbered months.

Oh, and you’ll see writing progress reports at the end of every quarter, so look for the next one at the end of March of 2018. You will also see stats if I can put them together. And I will occasionally give you the specifics about the WIPs and published works (and will try to keep those spoiler-free) so you’ll have a better idea of what the heck I am talking about in these writing progress reports in the first place. Thank you for your kind support!