Categories
Writing

Writing Progress Report – Second Quarter 2021

Progress Report – Second Quarter 2021

How great was second quarter 2021? So I spent second quarter 2021 working on planning Nanowrimo and some short stories.

Second Quarter 2021 Posted Works

Second Quarter 2021
First of all, I continued working 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 on the WattNaNo profile and nowhere else.

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:

  • Dinosaurs – 323+ reads, 9+ comments
  • How to NaNoWriMo – 22,775+ reads, 308+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 972 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 59,320+ reads, 530+ comments
  • Side By Side – 10 reads, 0 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 14, 070+ reads, 591+ comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 485 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 250 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 189 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,855+ reads, 45+ comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2019 – 1,551+ reads, 10+ comments
  • What Now? – 2,471+ reads, 104+ comments

More Published Works

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

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

A True Believer in Skepticism, to be published in Mythic Magazine.

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.

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 Mythic Magazine.

Killing Us Softly, a short story published in Corner Bar Magazine.

Darkness into Light, a short story 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 hand basket when the metals of the periodic table start to disappear. But then what?

Time Addicts – No One is Safe – so this one is all about what happens in the future when time travel becomes possible via narcotic.

Time Addicts – Nothing is Permanent – this is the second in this trilogy. What happens when time is tampered with and manipulated in all sorts of ways? It’s the ultimate in gaslighting, for one thing.

Time Addicts – Everything is Up For Grabs – coming in November 2021!

Prep Work

So currently, my intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I am writing the third novel in the Time Addicts/Obolonks universe. But I need to iron out the plot! So a lot of this year has been spent on that. I have called this one Time Addicts – Everything is Up for Grabs.

Second Quarter 2021 Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during second quarter 2021.

In Progress

As of second quarter 2021, the following are still in the running for publishing:

Publisher Title
A Thousand One Stories Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us
Adbusters Justice
Gemini Magazine I Used to Be Happy
RAB Mettle
Sonder Review Who Do We Blame for This?

All Other Statuses

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for second quarter 2021 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 were:

  • 23 submissions of 11 stories (so 6 submissions carry over from 2018)
  • Acceptances: 4, 17.39%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 11 (so this includes 2 holdovers from 2018), 47.83%
  • Rejected-Personal: 4, 17.39%
  • Rejected-Form: 3, 13.04%
  • Ghosted: 1 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 4.35%

2020 Stats

So in 2020 my querying stats were:

  • 37 submissions of 12 stories (so 9 submissions carry over from 2019)
  • Acceptances: 3, 8.11%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 7, 18.92%
  • Rejected-Personal: 12, 32.43%
  • Rejected-Form: 4, 10.81%
  • Ghosted: 11 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 29.73%

2021 Stats

So in 2021 my querying stats are:

    • 5+ submissions of 5+ stories (so 5 submissions carry over from 2020)
    • Acceptances: 0, 0%
    • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
    • In Progress: 5, 100%
    • Rejected-Personal: 0, 0%
    • 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.

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

So it’s work and the pandemic, what else?  But we also spent the end of the first quarter clearing out my mother-in-law’s apartment. Second quarter 2021? Dealing with the rest of it.

I fear second quarter 2021 will not be the end of that!

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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – The Enigman Cave

Review – The Enigman Cave

The Enigman Cave has some of its roots in fan fiction.

Background

So I had created a wholly original species called Witannen. They had flowers growing out of their scalps instead of hair, and the pure Witannen would sport little vestigial wings which couldn’t be used for much of anything. But the flowers, the chavecoi, would have a symbiotic relationship with a Witannen and could photosynthesize and prevent starvation.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | The Enigman Cave width=
The Enigmans, however, were something else. Also, I wanted them to be a lot more primitive. However it wasn’t until I decided to make them similar to Australopithecines that they sprang into sharp focus.

Plot

Marnie and her crew on the Valentina Tereshkova have one job – to find multi-cellular life. They have already found tons of primordial soup and unicellular life. The galaxy seems to abound with it. Hence the opening line: Life is common.

I think it’s one of the better opening lines I’ve ever written.

Back at home, there is a world government. But they seem to have forgotten the Val and the other wedge ships (another 20+ are also looking for life but have gone in other directions). And no wonder, as the government is collapsing. When the Val finds the Enigmans, the new despotic government sees an opportunity to play at being Cortez 2.0. Marnie feels her only hope of protecting the people of the Enigman Cave is to prove their intelligence. And how?

In the JAG Court.

Characters

The main character is Captain Marnie Shapiro, of the USS Valentina Tereshkova. Also, the other main characters include her first officer, Patricia LaRue, who she calls Trixie, which makes her sound like a dance hall girl. Trixie’s from London, Kentucky, with an accent right out of the holler.

The chief medical officer is Dr. Jazminder Parikh. At the start of the book, she and her girlfriend, Ginny Carey, have recently ended their relationship. Then there’s Marnie’s ex-husband, Ben Chase. Ben is the chief botanist aboard and he and his fiancée, nurse Kristen Watson, are about to be married. He also cheated on Marnie with Kristen.

So things are uncomfortable. But when Marnie meets the nighttime veterinarian, Lex Feldman, sparks fly. Nighttime vet, you ask? There are two vets, because the ship’s food stores are alive – goats, chickens, cod, and salmon. There’s even farming.

Day shift vet Tom Ciorciari is on the Bridge, because the Scientific Officer (I tried so hard to keep it from just copying Star Trek), Art Yarrow, is on paternity leave. Yes, it’s a ship with children, and even a mid-level officer in charge of them.

Plus the lawyers of the JAG Court are also important characters. The head of that unit is Hunter Garcia. The others are Terry Lynn Shull, Steve Roberts, Mike Medeiros, and Nick Minecci.

Also, lots of characters in The Enigman Cave are named after people I know.

The scenes take place either on board the Val or on the surface of Kepler 423-B, which they name Enigma.

Fun Fact About The Enigman Cave

I originally wanted to call this piece The Enigma Cave. And then I learned that title was already taken.

Ewps.

Memorable Quotes from The Enigman Cave

“Yes, Dr. Chase? The captain needs you here on the Bridge.”

And then in the background, there was Ben’s voice, whining and complaining, “I’m in the middle of an experiment.”

“Benjamin Chase!” Marnie yelled, her sudden increase in volume scaring everyone and breaking Tom out of his trance. “Get your ass over here. Now! Or I get somebody else to run Botany.”

“All right. But I blame you if this experiment goes to hell.” He cut the connection.

Tom looked back over his shoulder at Marnie. “What did we just find?”

“Wait for confirmation. Just, just wait for it. Astrid, send Ben the picture you took of the green stuff. Send it to his tablet.”

“Will do.”

A few minutes later, Chase stomped in. “You know I’m not on the Bridge crew,” he began, glaring at his ex-wife. “And who the hell sent me a picture of a bunch of chlorophyll?”

“Chlorophyll?” asked Ray. The others just stared.

“Yes! Goddamned chlorophyll. I don’t have the time for these shenanigans,” Chase huffed.

“Ben,” Marnie looked him in the eye, “are you absolutely certain that stuff is chlorophyll?”

“I know chlorophyll when I see it. Every botanist does.”

“And the chemical formula, Tom, what do you have on your screen?”

“C55H72O5N4Mg.”

More Quotes from The Enigman Cave (same scene)

“That, C-whatever, that stuff,” Marnie said. “Is that chlorophyll?”

“Yes.” Chase was even more peeved. “Everybody past Biochemistry 101 knows that.”

“They never found it off Earth though, eh?” Marnie asked, playing her trump card.

“What?”

“Here,” Astrid punched up another picture. “This is the atmosphere of the world we’re orbiting.”

Ben leaned over and then looked through the scope at the Scientific station. “Well, I’ll be damned.” He, too, was slack-jawed. “We, we found it.”

“Are you sure?” asked Marnie.

“Yes,” Chase was threatening to become as shell-shocked as Marnie and Tom had been. “Algae can have chlorophyll. They’re technically unicellular. But they, they live communally. I, I would say they, they count as, as multi-cellular.”

“Remember where you were, remember what you were thinking and, and how you felt,” Marnie said to them. “Because this is goddamned history.”

Rating

So if I had to rate The Enigman Cave, I would put it at about T for Teen. Because there are three sex scenes (one alien). Plus there is one incidence of violence but it’s only on screen for a moment. The inciting incident is a pair of deaths but the story starts after that, so I don’t show them.

Upshot

Also, at the time, it was the best book I had ever written. But now? I can’t say. I can still see some parts where it could stand to be trimmed. So now I strongly suspect it will need an overhaul before I can even think about querying it.

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How Do I Write a Book?

So, How Do I Write a Book?

Aspiring authors ask this all the time. While there are any number of people who simply work off inspiration, there are others who are filled with doubt. They ask: how do I write a book?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

How Do I Write a Book and Get Started?

You should start with short stories. Seriously. Much lower stakes. And write lots and lots and lots of them. Funny, sappy, scary, sad — it doesn’t matter. Fanfic is totally cool; so is nonfiction. However the spirit moves you.

Write about 1500 – 2000 words per day if you can, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day here and there or you miss word count. No biggie. Stuff happens. This is also how to win NaNoWriMo, an activity I highly recommend.

Do this for at least a year.

What Happens Once that Year is Up?

At the end of the year, if you’ve written 2000 words per day, you’ll have written 730,000 words. The vast, vast majority of them will be garbage. This is nothing personal. It is life.

Usually you need to write a good million words or so before things start to get good. By this point, you’ll be nearly 3/4 of the way there.

Time to Review

Then look back, particularly on your older stuff, and you will see how you’ve improved. You will also see how some of your work could be expanded. Maybe it could get a sequel or a prequel. Maybe you need to describe a character better. Whatever.

Edit and Expand

Do that expanding. Of course this also counts toward your million words. A million isn’t some magical number; it’s more that it’s easy to remember. And it tends to show quality because by the time you’ve written that much, you’ve gotten the garbage out of your system.

Get Inspiration

Observe the world around you. Family. Friends. Work. School. The people on the bus. Nature. Traffic. Etc. etc. etc. Write down what inspires or interests you, even if it’s just a phrase someone utters or the scarf they’re wearing. Use those observations as fodder for more of those short stories (yes, you should still be writing short stuff).

Keep Going

Another 6 months or so and yeah, you’ve hit a million written words. Again, look at what you wrote. See if you can change it, combine it, expand it, and otherwise mutate it.

How Do I Write a Book? Now’s the Time to Start Converting Your Short Scribbles into a Book

If you like organization (I personally do), then write an outline for what you think might be a decent book. Steal from your short stories for that book. They are a bank. You have made thousands of deposits. Now it’s time to make some withdrawals.

Tie it together with transitions. You really just care about characters –> conflict –> crisis (also called the climax) –> change. The scene is a particular species of character.

Get to at least 75,000 words. Send it to beta readers and listen to what they have to say (but keep in mind, they may be wrong). Edit it until it bleeds.

Reread it as if you were a fan, not the writer. Fill the plot holes. Sew up the loose ends. Edit again.

And voila, you’ve got a book.

How Do I Write a Book and Have it Go Anywhere?

So that’s the answer to ‘how do I write a book?’ For the answer to how do I get it published, read on.

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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – Mettle

Review – Mettle

Mettle is a punny title. And it may be the best thing I have ever written.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Mettle width=

The story sprung out of a dream I had where my wedding ring dissolved while still on my hand. Amateur psychologists, take note!.

I had the basic plot sketched out in an afternoon. I don’t believe I have ever gotten a book together that fast. And I probably won’t ever again. This was just an insane creativity timeline.

So the characters are a mix. Some of them came very quickly. Craig Firenze sprang, almost fully formed, and almost immediately. I heard his voice the loudest and the clearest. Then, as I recall, came Elise Jeffries, Nell Murphy, and Noah Braverman. Kitty Kowalski and Mink Lopez arrived together – Kitty and Mink. But the others took longer. However, I had Mei-Lin’s name pretty early. But I didn’t know too much about the character to start.

Background

This story was exceptionally easy to outline. I changed nearly nothing. The storyline came to me, I wrote it down quickly, and then added a few little flourishes. And then it was ready. Which is amazing and kind of rare, seeing as I am struggling over the Time Addicts outline for Everything is Up For Grabs. So even Untrustworthy was harder to put together.

Plot

In early 2020, Mount Tambora erupts as an earthquake hits Southeast Asia. So which came first? That’s sort of irrelevant, as a huge pyroclastic cloud springs up. This cloud blocks out a lot of sunlight and starlight. It gets colder, and dimmer.

Yet at the same time, Chinese students claim their experiments on chromium changed when the chromium somehow converted to vanadium. But that story is buried; Tambora and the earthquake are front page news.

When more elements convert to vanadium, people experience the effects. This includes the loss of gold, which hits financial markets hard. And losses of plutonium and uranium, which put countries on high alert, afraid of a nuclear war.

The more things change, the harder it is to live the way we all used to. So the quoted scene, below, takes place after the power goes out.

Characters

Mettle is an odd story for me because there almost isn’t a main character. Instead, the point of view shifts from chapter to chapter. The character with the most ‘screen time’ is probably Colonel Craig Firenze, but the more observational sections come from Nell Murphy. The scene is mostly Brighton, Massachusetts, although there are some scenes in Houston or in downtown Boston, plus a chapter is set mainly on an aircraft flying from Houston.

In a lot of ways, the story more or less takes place in my house.

There are about a dozen characters of note, mainly listed in order of importance:

  1. Craig Firenze
  2. Nell Murphy
  3. Noah Braverman
  4. Eleanor Braverman
  5. Olga Nicolaev
  6. Elise Jeffries
  7. Mei-Lin Quan
  8. Dez Hunter
  9. Mink Lopez
  10. Kitty Kowalski
  11. Jeannie Firenze
  12. Chet McKey
  13. Jerome Cordry
  14. Jackie (no last name)
  15. Shelley (no last name)

There are a few other named characters but these are seen the most, although Jackie and Shelley are only in one chapter. Which happens to be the same chapter. The last six on the list do not get a POV chapter.

Memorable Quotes from Mettle

He started to dump the corn into a bowl.

Mink came into the kitchen. “What’s left in the cabinets?”

“Green beans, some tuna, I think I saw tomato paste in there,” Dez said as Mink opened the cabinets and started to look for herself.

“There’s pumpkin pie filling, too, and we still have peanut butter. I wish we had bread.”

“Want some corn?” He offered her the second bowl and fork.

“Yeah, sure, thanks.” He dumped about half of his bowlful into her bowl. “Kitty, what are you gonna have?”

“I want French toast.”

“If we had eggs, we could make French toast, if we had bread. And a working toaster. Aunt Doreen used to say shit like that.”

“Yeah, she’s hysterical,” Kitty sniped. “This blows.”

Mink just shrugged and ate as did Dez. When they were done, she bussed the dishes to the sink and washed them, and then started to wash the other dishes. “Man oh man, we don’t have to live like pigs. Can somebody dry?”

Kitty made a beeline out of the kitchen. Dez came over. “Just leave ‘em on the rack. I can get ‘em later.”

Rating for Mettle

So Mettle has an MA rating. I am not kidding. While there are no sex scenes (a few are implied, though), every single main character has a potty mouth. Plus there are any number of violent scenes. Some are more graphic than others but the worst should be rather disturbing.

I 100% mean this.

Upshot

One thing which was great fun about this story was writing it with 9 1/2 points of view. I say a half because the first chapter is mainly news stories. So that one doesn’t quite count. And I have changed it to add little scenelets but the common thread is the news.

Each chapter worked as a separate POV. This is a style of writing I had not attempted before. And I found it exhilarating but it’s important to not confuse the reader. So I would really love to get beta readers on this one!

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Writing Progress Report – First Quarter 2021

Progress Report – First Quarter 2021

How great was first quarter 2021? So I spent first quarter 2021 still editing last year’s NaNo novel, and reading it aloud to my husband. This is how I find plot holes, so how awesome was that?

First Quarter 2021 Posted Works

First Quarter 2021

First of all, I worked on creating a number of new short stories. I’m not so sure if I will need to create cover letter pitches for them. We shall see.

Then on Wattpad I posted on the WattNaNo profile and nowhere else.

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:

  • Dinosaurs – 323+ reads, 9+ comments
  • How to NaNoWriMo – 22,775+ reads, 308+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 972 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 59,320+ reads, 530+ comments
  • Side By Side – 10 reads, 0 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 14, 070+ reads, 591+ comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 485 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 250 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 189 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,855+ reads, 45+ comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2019 – 1,551+ reads, 10+ comments
  • What Now? – 2,471+ reads, 104+ comments

More Published Works

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

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

A True Believer in Skepticism, to be published in Mythic Magazine. (this was withdrawn, as the magazine, I think, is going under)

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.

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 Mythic Magazine.

Killing Us Softly, a short story published in Corner Bar Magazine.

Darkness into Light, a short story 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 hand basket when the metals of the periodic table start to disappear. But then what?

Time Addicts – No One is Safe – so this one is all about what happens in the future when time travel becomes possible via narcotic.

Time Addicts – Nothing is Permanent – this is the second in this trilogy. What happens when time is tampered with and manipulated in all sorts of ways? It’s the ultimate in gaslighting, for one thing.

Time Addicts – Everything is Up For Grabs – coming in November 2021!

Plus a number of short stories to keep myself sharp. This year, I’m writing a short story every day, and am currently using one-word inspiration in alpha order. So, a word that starts with A, then the next day a word that starts with B, etc.

Prep Work

So currently, my intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I am writing the third novel in the Time Addicts/Obolonks universe. But I need to iron out the plot! So a lot of this year is going to be spent on that. I have called this one Time Addicts – Everything is Up for Grabs.

First Quarter 2021 Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during first quarter 2021.

In Progress

As of first quarter 2021, the following are still in the running for publishing:

Publisher Title
A Thousand One Stories Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us
Adbusters Justice
Gemini Magazine I Used to Be Happy
RAB Mettle
Sonder Review Who Do We Blame for This?

All Other Statuses as of First Quarter 2021

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for first quarter 2021 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 were:

  • 23 submissions of 11 stories (so 6 submissions carry over from 2018)
  • Acceptances: 4, 17.39%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 11 (so this includes 2 holdovers from 2018), 47.83%
  • Rejected-Personal: 4, 17.39%
  • Rejected-Form: 3, 13.04%
  • Ghosted: 1 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 4.35%

2020 Stats

So in 2020 my querying stats were:

  • 37 submissions of 12 stories (so 9 submissions carry over from 2019)
  • Acceptances: 3, 8.11%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 7, 18.92%
  • Rejected-Personal: 12, 32.43%
  • Rejected-Form: 4, 10.81%
  • Ghosted: 11 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 29.73%

2021 Stats

So in 2021 my querying stats are:

  • 5+ submissions of 5+ stories (so 5 submissions carry over from 2020)
  • Acceptances: **, **%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: **, **%
  • Rejected-Personal: **, **%
  • Rejected-Form: **, **%
  • Ghosted: ** (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), **%

It can be pretty discouraging and hard to go on when nothing new comes up which is positive.

This Quarter’s 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 you know that first quarter 2021 will not be the end of that!

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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – The Last Patient

Review – The Last Patient

The Last Patient was written for the Stardust, Always anthology. All of the proceeds go to the American Cancer Society. Please give generously, even if you never buy the book.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | The Last Patient width=
This short story is based on real events from my life.

Background

When I was in my first two years of college, I had a therapist. He was a fun guy; I liked him. Then I left Boston for the summer between sophomore and junior year. When I returned, I noticed he was more stooped and paler. He seemed to be tired and weak. I asked him what was wrong and he told me he had lung cancer. Keep in mind, this was late 1981 and that was essentially a death sentence.

I saw Dr. Brodie a few more weeks, with our last session happening before Halloween of that year. He told me that he didn’t want to see his other patients, who were all a lot older. At age nineteen, he felt I was lively and that helped him. He told me that I was his last patient.

Plot

This story was lifted directly from my memories: hook, line, and sinker. A few of the quotes are precisely as I remember them. It wasn’t writing. This was me taking dictation from my own memories.

Characters

The only characters are the unnamed narrator and Dr. Richard Brodie.

Memorable Quotes

Thirty-five years ago, a sacred trust was unexpectedly given to me, to be a friend and confidant to the man who was supposed to be mine. I did what I could, but I was not ready for it.

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

I would have liked to have shown him works like Untrustworthy. I think he would have been happy for me.

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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – All My Aliens

Self Review – All My Aliens

All My Aliens?
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | **

Background

This was a story originally created for a competition. But it also came from a very wacky idea I had had several years previously.

The concept was, how would First Contact happen? And so I hit upon a very strange way to do it.

Plot

Because TV is more important to many of us than we would care to admit, the idea was a simple one.

My aliens would have to originally contact us on television. And, even better, it would have to be via the medium of fiction. But what would be the best means of doing this? After all, TV shows are cancelled all the time.

And then I hit upon the more or less perfect answer.

Soap operas.

And so the idea was born – my aliens would make contact with us via the soaps.

My Aliens: the Characters

The characters are not of this earth, of course. The only two who really get names are Chaz and Katherinemma. Katherinemma got her name because Alyssa Milano had (at the time) recently named her daughter Elizabella. So K got her name as a kind of homage to that.

And Chaz, of course, was the most typical and obvious male soap star name we could think of.

The Action

Some of my favorite parts of this story are how the action zooms from the strangers thinking about contacting Earth to the stars getting here. And then, of course, they have to get to Area 51 (because, reasons). And, of course, the daytime Emmy awards.

No good soap opera would ever be complete without a dramatic scene with a slap. No good story about celebrities would ever be complete without some crazed fan screaming about having her idol’s baby. And no good science fiction yarn would ever be complete without something with tentacles.

Fortunately, the story has all of that.

It also has what, I feel, is perhaps the funniest ending line I have ever written.

Rating

All My Aliens is probably a K when you get right down to it.

Upshot

You can find it in the Longest Night Watch II, if I recall correctly.

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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
Inspiration Writing

Pulling Together a Plot and Outlining a Novel Using a Starburst Method

Starburst Method for Writing a Novel

Starburst Method? What is it?

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Starburst MethodI’ve found it helps to consider some scenes. Not to write them. You may even want to role play them. And consider, e. g. when, say, a main character named Jennifer reveals she’s a zombie (or whatever your story is about), then there has to be some time before where the other characters think she’s a normal person. Hence that scene doesn’t come at the very beginning.

And I am suggesting a middle or even ending scene like this and not the start because I think it puts less pressure on me (your mileage may vary).

Dependencies

Hence the idea is to consider dependencies. I also will use a kind of (it’s not the official ‘snowflake method‘) starburst method where I will take a legal pad and write a major character’s name (or what the character is if I don’t have a name yet, e. g. the cab driver) and circle it. Just write it in the middle of the sheet. Then draw spokes coming from the circle, as many as you like, and write more character names in circles, on the other ends of the spokes. Then, along the spokes themselves, write the connections. Not every character needs to connect to all of the others.

Connections

So in the example, Jennifer the zombie might connect to a cab driver because he picks her up after a concert. Some of those connections might turn into scenes, some of them might become back story. Or they might be scuttled. There’s no need to write absolutely everything.

Now we have Jennifer at a concert. Maybe she’s performing. And so we can work backwards a little, to determine a bit about her life or even when she became a zombie (maybe it was during music school).

Plot Advancement

We also go forward with the plot. Where does the cab driver take her? Maybe he takes her home. Or maybe he takes her to wherever she reveals she’s a zombie. Or maybe he kidnaps her. She might even make him her victim.

Consider where you want her story to begin. With her schooling? When she became a zombie? Right before she gets into that cab?

Consider where you want her story to end. With her revelation? Or with people accepting her new condition? With them killing her? Or with her striking back?

Hence you also ask questions (and you can have your friends ask you questions if you like, such as how she got zombified or whatever).

It’s not perfect; you still need transitions, but it works.

Categories
Writing

Self-Review – There is a Road

Review – There is a Road

There is a Road originally came about as a response to an image prompt on the old Trek United. However, I do not have the rights to use that image, and Trek United is a mere shell of its former self.

Background

The original image was a dreamy almost black and white, very shades of gray type of image. It was a wooden pathway into the woods, bending and seemingly with no ending.

Plot

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | There is a Road
There is a Road, exclusively on Wattpad

The narrator is never named. She talks about her grandmother’s death from smoking, and her father’s from a transport accident. She mentions aliens and flying. Hence the time must be the future, and perhaps it is a rather deep future versus right now.

And then the narrator talks about making art. As she describes her process, the reader begins to understand that the narrator has screwed something up royally. Whether there has been an explosion or a fire, it hardly seems to matter. Because all that matters is that (spoiler alert), the narrator numbers among the dead.

Characters

The only character is the unnamed narrator, although she refers to her father and her grandmother.

Memorable Quotes

Story Postings

This story is really only available on Wattpad.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

This story is odd and dreamy and probably a little too spiritual for regular consumption. Also, there is just no way it could ever get a sequel or the like. Could I take it off Wattpad and submit it to an anthology? I suppose I could but, frankly, I do not think it stands as one of my better works. The piece is old and the seams do show. Still, it is an interesting premise, and perhaps I should rework it one of these days.

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