Categories
Inspiration Writing

Getting inspiration from injuries and medical care

Getting inspiration from injuries and medical care

Medical care matters in our lives, so it should matter in fiction, too. Because unless your setting is a magical one, somehow, some way, any hurt characters will need healing. And they may even need it in a magical setting as well.

Injuries and medical care

Medical care might not seem like an inspiring subject. However, doctors naturally witness drama on most days. And some of the most compelling stories can be about that, such as Coma.

Injuries

So, have you ever broken a bone, or suffered a sprain? And if either of those things happened to you, what happened next? Did you faint? Or seek medical attention? Was it fast? Or maybe did your injury linger, even with an infection or complications. Did you need to have surgery? And even if you were not the injured party, maybe a friend or a family member was.

Illnesses

So illnesses, of course, can run the gamut. They can be mild colds or HIV. And they can be chronic, like diabetes is considered to be today, or a death sentence, such as Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is even more compelling and heartbreaking due to its gradual theft of the self.

We often think of cancer as the worst of all possible diseases, yet treatments are better now than they ever have been. However, if you are writing historical fiction, that was not the case, even as recently as the 1970s or so. And if you aren’t squeamish, look up the treatment for breast cancer for John Adams’s daughter. Yes, that John Adams.

Childbirth

Of course these days only women give birth (although medical science may change that someday, and don’t forget about transmen!). However, men can always witness it, not only the actual event but also everything leading up to it.

Death

Of course death comes along with the territory. Consider the impact not only on the patient and their family, but on the caregiver(s). How do home health aides feel? And what about doctors, or even researchers trying an experimental treatment? Losing a patient is tragic, yes, but researchers can learn a lot from that.

Plus, naturally, the end can bring with it an autopsy.

Medical Care: Takeaways

Characters slip and fall, or they get battle injuries or just a cough. The medical care they receive matters.

Categories
Publishing Writing

Character Creation

Background – Character Creation

Character creation is rather personal. It depends on how organized you are, and how much you like to plan. So character creation will vary. This is what I tend to do. However, my methods are not necessarily the best or the most consistent ones.

Character Creation Adventures-in-Career-Changing
What’s your character creation process like?

Your mileage, when it comes to character creation, will undoubtedly vary. And that is perfectly okay.

This is actually a picture of me from 2015, by the way.

Origins for Character Creation

For me, characters arise in a few ways. One is just that I can ‘hear’ their ‘voices’. Or I might see a face clearly. Lots of situations or activities can create a focus. So I might walk around my neighborhood and consider what I see. This is whether it’s something from nature or just someone’s illegally parked car. Music in particular can be helpful for this, although it is not absolutely necessary.  For a fanfiction bad girl character I named Pamela Hudson, her personality came barreling in when I heard the Amy Winehouse song, You Know I’m No Good.

And sometimes, characters just appear, fully formed. I tend to consider names in the context of how they sound and what they mean. Hence a character like Marnie Shapiro Chase came out of nowhere because I liked how her name sounded. Then I worked on putting her together. The same was true of Colonel Craig Firenze. He started off sounding good and I built from that.

Character Creation: Ethnicity

Still other characters might arise out of names and ethnicity. Or even national origin. Jazminder Parikh and Akanksha Kondapalli are both Indian women, but Jazzie is a doctor, whereas Akanksha is an attorney. I also tend to like someone to be from the southern US. Hence Jeannie Louise Scutter and Patricia LaRue arose. Characters from the UK might be Dave Shepherd, super-spy, or Dr. Devon Grace. Plus there are also scullery maids Frances Miller and Ceilidh O’Malley. So it runs the gamut of rich and poor.

In addition, I try to write some characters of races different from my own. These run the gamut from Dr. Elise Jeffries and Dr. Mei-Lin Quan to Solar System President Fankald Williams and her sister, Tamara Woods.

What’s in a Name?

While draping a character around the meaning of their name is kind of silly, it can sometimes help to inspire. I liked the name Ceilidh O’Malley, and it was a bonus that her name means a type of jig. Hence someone who grew up in grinding poverty had a rather frivolous name. So I gave her the middle name of Aisling, which is Irish Gaelic for dream.

Dave Shepherd didn’t originate as a protector in the Obolonk universe, but as I wrote him, he became one.

Other characters just almost tell me their names. This was certainly the case with Craig Firenze and Kitty Kowalski in Mettle. In Mettle, the two bratty tweens were always going to be Kitty and Mink. Tathrelle was another name that sprang up, for Untrustworthy. Frances always existed in The Real Hub of the Universe, but her surname started off as Marshall, not Miller. Her name was changed as a character named Marsh was mentioned too often with her.

Other characters are named for people I know, in whole or in part. The Enigman Cave is particularly chock full of such characters. It’s everyone from the Chief Veterinarian to a space defender to the Chief Engineer. The Real Hub of the Universe has some, including the Chief of Police. Plus the Ashford baby is named for a man I know.

Character Creation: Show Some Emotion

Characters also exist to make the main character feel something. And this isn’t always something good. Ben Chase exists to piss Marnie off in The Enigman Cave. Johnny Barnes exists in The Real Hub of the Universe to terrify Ceilidh and force her into action. Jeannie exists in Mettle to anger Craig and eventually make him not feel too bad about getting on a plane. And one of the reasons Dave Shepherd exists in the Obolonk universe is to help Peri get over Charlie.

Plus there are always love interest characters, even if they don’t last. That’s Lex Feldman in Enigmans and Dalton Farouq in Time Addicts, the 2019 NaNoWriMo novel.

Shapiro, Shapiro, Shapiro

As a kind of personal ‘tell’ and Easter egg in my works, every longer piece (except for Untrustworthy, as none of those characters are human), somebody is named Shapiro. This is even true in fan fiction, where characters Ethan and Rebecca Shapiro (father and daughter) figure prominently in the overall storyline.

The Obolonks series has Greg Shapiro. He’s a wisecracking cop living in Connecticut. The Enigman Cave has Marnie Shapiro Chase, the captain of the spaceship. Marnie’s kind of frumpy and nerdy but also very smart. Then in Real Hub of the Universe, the name is subtle. Blima Shapiro Taub is a character never actually seen ‘on screen’. Blima is known more for her jealousy than anything else. In Mettle, Shapiro is Eleanor Braverman’s maiden name. Eleanor suffers from Alzheimer’s.

So you can see that the Easter egg characters are all rather different.

In the November 2019 NaNoWriMo novel, the name shows up as a the married name of a sibling of the protagonist.

Character Creation: Purposeful Characters

Sometimes characters are necessary to fulfill some purpose or another. Technically, that’s supposed to be the case with all characters (oops!). Either advance the plot or be background exposition. Hence Noah Braverman’s fellow reporter, Francine O’Donnell, serves to give him a bit of a reason to express his thoughts out loud in Mettle. Ben Chase serves as Marnie’s foil, but he also makes a big discovery which helps drive the Enigman plot. And I needed Livia Thorson in Obolonks to explain some of the robotics, just as I needed Ned O’Malley in Real Hub to explain how Ceilidh was going to get to the states.

Sometimes purposeful characters come in the form of radio or TV show hosts, or nameless people reading news stories aloud or commenting on them. How many times have you stood in line at a coffee shop and heard people discuss the events of the day? Even if it’s the sports section or politics or whatever, it can still help to orient readers as to time and place.

In Untrustworthy, Ixalla started off as a kind of explainer character, but then the role grew when I turned her into a revolutionary.

Takeaways

Why do you need a character? Do you like them? Do they drive the plot? Will you kill them off if you have to? Make characters to fulfill these purposes or to add depth and background. Give your story dimension with people who feel real.

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


Categories
Writing

Self-Review – Your Call is Very Important to Us

Your Call is Very Important to Us – a Look at a Short Story

Your Call is Very Important to Us comes from a general concept of ‘the world turned upside-down’. This short story was written for the third volume of The Longest Night Watch. All of the proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Association. So that is, if we ever publish it.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Your Call is Very Important to Us width=
I never name the narrator in ‘Your Call’. The reader just gets her husband’s name, Milo.

Background

The world has gone to hell in a handbasket, and we’ve dropped the bomb. And so has our unnamed other side. There’s devastation. No one and nothing will survive.

Enter our characters.

As the narrator says, her husband was a doomsday prepper. And while everyone thought he was nuts, they were okay even as the world came to an end.

So who’s sorry now?

But our narrator’s got one big problem. She’s bored out of her mind.

Plot for Your Call…

With nothing to do but read, eat, and fool around, the narrator and her husband are at the ends of their tethers. They are older people – there aren’t going to be any children. So they are not going to repopulate the earth.

The one break to the monotony comes in the form of something you and I both hate – automated telemarketer calls.
Of course, a ringing telephone in the middle of nuclear devastation is a cause for concern, wonder, hope, and fear. I will admit that a part of the idea came from Ray Bradbury’s classic Martian Chronicles story, The Silent Towns

Characters in Your Call…

The only characters, apart from people the narrator talks to on the phone who may or may not still be alive, are the narrator and her husband, Milo. Milo never speaks and neither does the narrator. All the reader gets are her rambling, wacky thoughts, presumably in writing.

Memorable Quotes

When the bombs dropped, we were already ensconced in our shelter. Milo built it. Milo’s my husband. He was one of those doomsday preppers. People used to say he was crazy. But they’re not saying it now. Why not? Because they’re probably all dead. If the radiation and heat won’t get you, the germ warfare will, Milo says.

We live just outside of Henderson, Nevada. It’s near Las Vegas, or at least it was. I’m not so sure what’s up there anymore. It’s probably not much.

Rating

This story has a K+ rating. While the one sex scene takes place off screen (as it were), the backdrop is nuclear war, and of course that’s upsetting.

Upshot

One very big issue is that the volume has been delayed for what I believe is coming upon years. Yes, really. So I just checked – the story has been in limbo for over two years. So will it ever be published? Right now, I’ve got to say, I have my doubts. Big, big doubts. And that’s unfortunate, because I really love this story. And I love the charity and the group. But I suppose we’ve got … issues.

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


Categories
Writing

Writing Progress Report – First Quarter 2020

Progress Report – First Quarter 2020

How great was first quarter 2020? So I spent first quarter 2020 finishing up my 2019 NaNoWriMo novel. In February, I started to edit that same novel. This also meant starting to outline that novel’s sequel. I will be writing it for 2020 NaNoWriMo. So how awesome was that?

Fourth Quarter 2020 Posted Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | First Quarter 2020
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. However, I did post Dinosaurs and set up Side by Side for posting in the future.

Milestones

Also, I have written over three million words (fan fiction – 59% – and wholly original fiction – 41% – combined). The percentages are continuing to move in favor of more wholly original works.

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

  • Dinosaurs {this story failed 11 attempts at traditional querying}  – **25+ reads, 9+ comments
  • How to NaNoWriMo – **18,233+ reads, 231+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 972 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – **59,102+ reads, 530+ comments
  • Side By Side {this story failed 10 attempts at traditional querying}  – **0+ reads, 0+ comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – **13,159+ reads, 591+ comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 468 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 249 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo Top Picks 2018 – **1,773+ reads, 45+ comments
  • WattNaNo Top Picks 2019 – **354+ reads, 3+ comments
  • What Now? – **1,887+ 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.

Killing Us Softly, a short story to be published in Corner Bar 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 the 2019 NaNo novel and finally finished the first draft on January 11. My 2020 NaNoWriMo novel will also be set in the Obolonks universe, and will serve its a sequel. But I still need more of a plot! However, this one is going faster than last year’s.

First Quarter 2020 Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during first quarter 2020.

Publisher Title
Baltimore Review Gentrification
Cricket Magazine The Student
Divertir Publishing A Kitten
Funicular Magazine Blue Card
Gemini Magazine The Guitarist
Johnny America Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us
Menacing Hedge Darkness into Light
Protean Justice
Short Story.me Who Do We Blame for This?
The Binge-Watching Cure None of This is Real
Whiskey Island Magazine I Used to Be Happy

In Progress as of First Quarter 2020

As of first quarter 2020, the above are still in the running for publishing. Some of those have been out for a while, so I’m not exactly hopeful. Who Do We Blame for This? is on query #9, and Blue Card is on query #8. Assuming no one picks them up, at some point, I’ll throw in the towel on those, and just post them on Wattpad. This is what happened with Dinosaurs and Side by Side.

All Other Statuses

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for first quarter 2020 which were not in progress.

2018 Stats

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%

2019 Stats

So in 2019 my querying stats were:

  • 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%

2020 Stats

So in 2020 my querying stats so far are:

  • 13 submissions of 12 stories (so 9 submissions carry over from 2019)
  • Acceptances: 1, 7.69%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 11, 84.62%
  • Rejected-Personal: 1, 7.69%
  • Rejected-Form: 0, 0%
  • Ghosted: 0 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 0%

It can be pretty discouraging and hard to go on when nothing new comes up which is positive. It was a huge lift when Killing Us Softly got an acceptance!

First Quarter 2020 Productivity Killers

So these days it’s work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and that includes editing last year’s NaNoWriMo project. I am also outlining this year’s NaNoWriMo project. That one is the sequel to last year’s. So, I was kind of swamped.

Because first quarter 2020 will not be the end of all that work! Furthermore, during this quarter, I had articles accepted by Entrepreneur magazine. I was a busy gal!

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

Categories
Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – Cynthia

Review – Cynthia

So Cynthia is a fun although ultimately sad story.

You see, Cynthia is a Great Dane.

And to her sorrow, her master is succumbing to Alzheimer’s. This short story was written for the second volume of The Longest Night Watch. All of the proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association.

I love the canine point of view. There is just something about writing about a species that is so incredibly close to us yet their ‘language’, such as it is, is vastly different.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Cynthia width=
Furthermore, dogs experience so much more than we do when it comes to scent that their perceptions have to be rendered in that manner.

Background

I have always been a dog lover, and I have some fan fiction where the POV comes from a canine perspective. As a result, I had the itch to write something similar yet wholly original.

Plot

The plot is small and compact, and it reflects how Daniel’s life is shrinking in on itself. The dog even says that there is more food when Keisha arrives, and the walks are longer. You don’t need to be human to know that Daniel is faltering. Because this status quo will change, and the center will not hold.

Characters

The characters are the narrator, Cynthia the dog, Daniel Robinson, her owner, and Daniel’s daughter, Keisha. However, we only see Keisha at the end, although there is a mentioning of her before.

Memorable Quotes

I love him.

He smells good.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Canine POV, as I noted above, is great fun to write. But the story is truly a sad one. For Keisha in particular, her father is slipping away. And even though she’s a nurse, she can do nothing to slow down or stop his decline.

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


Categories
Writing

Self-Review – Untrustworthy

Self-Review – Untrustworthy

Untrustworthy is my first-ever published novel.

Background

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Untrustworthy

Much like a fan fiction novel called Reversal, it begins with a dream. And that makes perfect sense, as a dream inspired it.

And the dream, originally, was of seeing scenery change before my eyes (I have had this same dream before, and have written about it before, yet in different ways every time).

Plot

As Tathrelle begins the part of her life related by the story, the reader sees flashbacks of what seems like a dream and then seems like an earlier existence. However, the older life gets cut short in favor of the new. Tathrelle’s life, instead, centers around her wife Ixalla, and the children they are about to have. Past is prologue.

The Cabossians, a species made up by me, can have children in any combination, so long as both parties are fertile. Hence both mpreg and all varieties of marriage (same- and mixed-sex) figure in the plot.

Furthermore, Tathrelle’s new job drives a lot of the action, as she has won an election and represents the people in what obviously starts off as a military dictatorship. Also, in the background, a disembodied voice tells the people what to do. The first statements come out more as helpful hints and requests, such as to thank the public transportation driver or set the thermostat to a particular setting.

But that’s all about to change.

Characters

The main characters are Tathrelle, Ixalla, Velexio, Adger, and Students Number Five and Seventeen, along with a character just referred to as the unknown girl. The scene is solely on the planet Caboss, in the Central City.

One thing that surprised me as I wrote is that the main character, Tathrelle, did not turn out to be my favorite. Instead, that honor belongs to Ixalla. Ixalla was originally not much more than an expository mouthpiece. She really took flight when she became a revolutionary.

Memorable Quote

Ixalla yelled to them all, “This is the very last vestige of your privacy, and it is going up in smoke! You are all voluntarily giving it up! And for what? Is it for some vague notion of security? For the new requirement that anyone who is fertile is not just privileged, but that they are – we are – somehow, now, required to prove our fecundity? What will we have to prove next?

Music

The inspirational song for this book is Bastille’s Pompeii. Years later, and I am still incapable of hearing the song without thinking of the book, and vice versa.

Story Postings

Unlike any other works in this blog (as of now), this story is for sale. It is not truly ‘posted’ anywhere. Even on the NaNoWriMo site, all you can find is a short snippet.

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

Without giving away more of the plot, I think the story is okay but the truth is, I have written better since then. However, it is a great first effort for publication. Furthermore, I feel it works in some ways to get me into the publishing game, but then what? I feel the book had pretty good promotions but not great promotions. I know it has more reviews than a lot of other indie works, but not as many as others. Sales come few and far between.

In the meantime, I write about different things. Can Untrustworthy serve as an entree for diverse works such as the space opera of The Enigman Cave, the science fiction detective stories in The Obolonk Murders and its two sequels, the Victorian urban fantasy of The Real Hub of the Universe and its two sequels, or the odd science fiction dystopia of Mettle?

Stay tuned, and thank you, as always, for your kind and unwavering support.

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


Finally, you can find me on .

Categories
Writing

Self-Review – The Dish

Review – The Dish

The Dish came from a dirty plate in our kitchen sink. Therefore, it proves you can get writing inspiration from just about anywhere.

Background

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | The Dish
The Dish, exclusively on Wattpad

Also, without a doubt, it serves as an utterly passive-aggressive study of human nature. Essentially, you first. No, you. I insist. I’m not gonna until you do it first. Etc you get the idea.

Plot

The main concept behind this plot serves to almost warn couples but also provide a bit of a primer on how to really be passive-aggressive. The narrator is never named and is only barely described as being female but there is nothing else.

Hence she remains a cypher, as does the cause of whatever the argument was initially all about. Also, the husband remains a cypher.

A plate is an odd place for inspiration, but the truth is that a plate had been sitting in our sink and I was getting annoyed by that. However, I didn’t make any moves to take care of this tiny mess. Neither did my husband. We are only talking about a few days here. The plot, of course, takes some liberties with the time, as this is fiction and not reportage.

Characters

The only character is the unnamed narrator although she does refer to her husband, who is also unnamed.

Memorable Quotes

I am, despite my flaws, what they used to refer to in the old days as a ‘good woman’. And I am! But then there’s that dish again.

Story Postings

This story is only available on Wattpad.

Rating

The Story is Rated K.

Upshot

As I noted previously, inspiration can come from nearly anywhere. And while this little story could perhaps stand some improvement, people tend to like it wherever I have posted it. For I did use it as a sample of my non-scholastic writing for a course when I was getting my Master’s.

By the way, yes, that’s really one of our dishes. And I think I was the one to rinse it off and put it into the dishwasher.

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


Finally, you can find me on .

Categories
Book Reviews Covers Writing

Self-Review – Revved Up

Review – Revved Up

Revved Up rocks.

It’s the kind of story I tossed off rather quickly and then it kind of took on a life of its own.

Background

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Revved Up
Revved Up (exclusively on Wattpad)

This story started because I had stayed at my childhood home and noticed something odd in the front yard. And the truth is, it was nearly nothing. However, I sometimes have an overactive imagination, and so I took this idea and I ran with it.

What did I notice? It was only a few ruts near a flower bed. They were nothing, really, and were most likely made by a hoe or a rake. However, in my mind, I decided they would be tire tracks. And then the fun started.

The Plot of Revved Up

A holier than thou narrator tells the story to an unnamed police officer. The plot circles around the narrator’s elderly parents’ next-door neighbors. And the narrator refers to them as the POJ Family. That is, the “Pair of Jerks”.

As the story progresses, our narrator gets more and more self-righteous as the POJ Family continues to perform more and more outrageous acts in her parents’ sleepy, leafy Northern New Jersey suburban street (Note: my folks live on Long Island and they don’t even live in the inspiration house any more).

Sharp-eyed readers should be able to follow along, at least in part. The narrator keeps a lot of information close to the vest, so it pays, actually, to read the book again. And no, I’m not trying to inflate read counts.

Characters

No one is actually named in the story. The main character is the narrator, who is telling the story to an officer of the law. The other characters are her elderly parents, her son and daughter, various neighbors, and her next-door nemeses, the so-called POJ family.

The narrator is a divorced middle-aged woman and that’s all a reader learns about her. Her children are teenagers; her parents, elderly and coming to the time in their lives when they’re just about ready to move into assisted living.

As for the POJ family, they have a decidedly more earthy philosophy than our heroine. And so she takes matters into her own hands.

Memorable Quotes

I returned to my parents’ home and the three of us began washing the many plates – eighteen in all. My mother declared that perchance these city people did not understand our ways and so she carefully hand-lettered a number of delicately-worded thank you notes to everyone in the neighborhood. We knew who had provided the apple pie, the cherry cobbler and even the New York-style cheesecake.

Story Postings

The story’s sole posting is on Wattpad, where became a Featured Story a few years ago.

Rating for Revved Up

The story has a K rating.

Upshot for Revved Up

This story has had better traction than nearly anything I have ever written. With (as of the time of the writing of this blog post) over 58,000 reads and over 500 comments (many of which referenced the surprise ending), Revved Up remains an unqualified success. Of course having had Featured Story status helped a great deal.

Could I sell it? I have toyed with that idea, but the story is so odd and it’s really too short for a novel. Plus it does not really lend itself to a sequel. While sequels are far from necessary, it can help if that’s an option. But I am totally fine without one.

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


Categories
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.

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 – 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.

Stats

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!

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

Categories
Writing

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.