Career changing Inspiration

Eavesdropping for fun and inspiration

Eavesdropping for fun and inspiration

So, Eavesdropping?

Eavesdropping really works, and it is probably a writer‘s best tool. Once you start listening in on conversations, you will open up a whole new world. Because real dialogue, interspersed with your created dialogue, adds realism.


First of all, you have got to be subtle. This means maybe you pretend to play with your phone. Or you look out a window or stare into space. Because you should not be obvious about such things.

Eavesdropping for fun and inspiration | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adventures in Career Changing
Eavesdropping for fun and inspiration

Furthermore, conversations are often layered. While you are perhaps listening to one person talk to three other people, there is a give and take between that person and the others. However, there are also words passed among the others in the group. Then they might even break off and begin their own conversations.

This doesn’t even get into what happens when you’re in a crowded room. Since it is hard to follow a lot of conversations, concentrate on only one or two. You won’t hear it all, anyway. Furthermore, if you split your focus, you won’t get anything good.


I am not saying you need to be nosy. Furthermore, this is not for gossip. Rather, you are a writer and you are doing research. Do yourself a favor and mix up what you hear. Don’t copy paragraphs outright. Instead, grab a sentence here and there. Write them down and put them away for later. Since you will presumably be writing for years, a sentence might work a decade from now. You never know.

The Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent

Have you ever heard that? Make sure to change names. Or eliminate them altogether. You can also swap gender. Hence if a friend is complaining about her boyfriend, why not change the friend to a man? Or slip the complaint into something else. The complaint could be about your protagonist’s coworker.


Be subtle. Don’t use what you hear in order to gossip. Change the details. Finally, don’t repeat truly personal information (bank accounts, divorce proceedings, fatal disease diagnoses, etc.) unless you change nearly all of the verbiage. Be your usual pleasant, polite, and caring self. Yes, even as you gather some writing fodder.

Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration from Friendship

Grab Some Inspiration from Friendship


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


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

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

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

Friendship Characteristics and Quirks

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

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

Scenes Inspired by Friendship

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


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

Career changing Publishing

Writing Needs Editing Part 2

Editing Part 2

More Editing

Editing Part 2!

So last time, we looked at some general issues surrounding editing. Although the process may seem daunting, it still must be done. For this post, I will assume you have done the tasks outlined in the first part.

If not, then this methodology will still work. But I think you’ll find you will need to do the preliminary steps anyway. Hence you might as well get them done now. Then it’s on to Editing Part 2.

Spell Check

Maybe it sounds dumb. Perhaps it’s obvious. But you still need to run a spell checker. Don’t have one? Then try a free spell checker online. But if you have a spellchecker in your application, use it.

Understand that certain typos will be a problem. If you type ‘that’ for ‘this’, it will not show up, as those are both real words. Hence your spellchecker provides only a preliminary solution. Have the program ignore names, in order to eliminate them from contention.

Find and Replace

Your find feature is a godsend; use it! Furthermore, if you use names which might have typical typos, try searching for them with ctrl-F. For example, the main character in my 2015 NaNoWriMo novel was named Marnie. Hence I searched for the word ‘Marine’. But I made sure to check on usage before hitting ‘replace’.

This feature also works when you change a character’s name.

Find and Count

Do you overuse some expressions? Repetitive language isn’t bad. But too much of it is dull. Consider usage, and adjust repeated sentences accordingly.

That Attack

My good friend D. R. Perry taught me this one, and I love it.  Have your program count how often you use the word ‘that’. Of course, it’s not a bad word outright. But overusing anything can be dull. By counting this particular word, you get a handle on your use of certain idiomatic phrases. E. g. ‘he thought that’, ‘she said that’, ‘they felt that that was funny’. In all three of these instances, the word ‘that’ can be cut without losing any sense.

Synonym Sweep

This time, search for the word ‘very’. As with ‘that’, the word is perfectly fine, despite what Stephen King says. However, he is right (as was Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society) insofar as it’s a not so precise use of language. What’s better: ‘very big’ or ‘gigantic’? For a children’s book, probably the former. For any other kind of book, it may be the latter.

If you can clip the adverb and instead enhance the adjective with a better synonym, your writing will be more interesting. Stay away from obscure adjectives (e. g. ‘Brobdingnagian’). Also, your characters can use all the adverbs they like when speaking. But try to cut them in your scene setting, your transitions, and your exposition.

That’s the first half of Editing Part 2. Now onto the second half.

Fat Cutter

You’ve been doing this all along, with ‘that attack’ and ‘synonym sweep’. The idea is to excise unnecessary words. Unlike the former two methods, this one will require some reading. Up until now, everything has been done programmatically. Now you need to do some digging. But first check how long your chapters are. There is no hard and fast rule for chapter length, but if all of your chapters are 20 – 35 pages and one is 63, then that one might have some fat you can cut. Or maybe you can just split it into two or even three chapters.

Consider descriptive text and exposition. You need it, but how long does it have to be? Familiar places in the current time period probably just need a few words: downtown Detroit, the Great Barrier Reef, etc. Or familiar places in the past need more but can still be pretty spare, such as Victorian-era London, or ancient Rome during Claudius Caesar’s reign. Familiar places in the future need more but you can build on today: 2023 Berlin maybe has taller buildings, 3116 Istanbul might be enclosed in a geodesic dome. Unfamiliar places will need more lavish attention to detail. But metaphors and similes are your friends. The new planet might be as big as Saturn but without rings, and smell like wet dog.

Scene Shifts and Plot Changes

These are much bigger and will take up a lot more of your time. Before you do either, you might want to consider whether your story can be understood by beta readers without doing either. If so, then keep this in mind (maybe take some notes) but don’t do it. See what beta readers say. Maybe you won’t need to make such drastic changes at all.

Final Read-Through Before Betas

Give it one last read-through. Look for the right words in the wrong places (e. g. a typo which turned out to be a correctly spelled word, so spellchecker missed it). Look for sense and ease of understanding. Make sure your plot makes sense.

Then kiss your manuscript good-bye (for the time being) and send it off to beta readers.

Post-Beta Readings and Editing Part 2

After betas, Editing Part 2 should be followed by a kind of Editing Part 3. Consider your betas’ advice. You don’t need to take it all, but listen with an open mind. Do one last read-through and then send your work to a professional editor, if you can afford one. Why should you, if you’ve done all this? Because you (or I) may have missed something. In addition, all this preliminary work was free. Your edited work will come back a lot faster and cleaner.

Then, and only then, can you consider querying.

Career changing Publishing

Writing Needs Editing Part 1

Editing Part 1

What’s this All About? Editing in a Nutshell

Check out editing part 1. If you don’t do any editing, don’t expect people to read your work.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Editing Tips

Unless you normally write six-word horror stories, you are going to need an editor. Everybody needs this service. However, you should edit your work before handing it over to a professional. In particular, if you are just coming off NaNoWriMo, you need to trim the fat. Because we all pad in order to make word count for NaNoWriMo. Don’t be ashamed of this! And a lot of it might turn out to be the good kind of fat. In particular, if it helps you introduce a new and interesting character, or set a new scene, or transition a story line properly, it can be terrific. But you still need to go through it with a fine-toothed comb. Everybody needs to do this. And there are no exceptions.

Adding Words

Sometimes, you actually add words in order to edit a story. And that is perfectly fine. If a description was rushed, or a scene feels forced, you may need to add words. In particular, if you wrote your story with placeholders such as: fix this later or add transition here, you must address those problems!

Getting Started

Are you wondering why this post was not added in November? It’s because editing requires some ‘leave it alone’ time. Frankly, this is too early. Because I highly recommend leaving your work for a full month before tackling editing. Just, find something else to do during the month of December. Between the holidays and the end of the quarter and the end of the tax year (and up here in New England, you might get some snow to shovel), I’m sure you can think of something.

Okay, Now We’ll Really Get Started With Editing Part 1

So you’ve set your work aside for a month. Your first job is to read your manuscript through from start to finish. Want to take notes? Sure. Or not. This is your show. But read all 50,000 or 100,000 or whatever words.

In the next post, I’ll show you where to go from here.

Career changing Personal

Lonely Writer

The Lonely Writer

Are you a Lonely Writer?

Independent writers can sometimes be rather lonely indeed. You can feel as if it’s just you in a sea of promotions, prompts, social media, and writer’s block.

Adventures in Career Changing | Green | Lonely Writer

I’m here to help you. I am getting my Master’s degree in Communications (social media), and this is my capstone project. Yeah, I’m being graded for this! I might just continue after graduation. Furthermore, I can see there is a need out there, for a sharing of this sort of expertise.

I am also a published author. I write or do something regarding writing every single day. Plus, I just so happen to be a retired attorney, and I used to work in databases and even voice recognition. My resumé is rather eclectic.


I seem to have a pretty balanced brain, in that I am not too far over on the artistic side (right) or the analytical side (left). However, I tend to split the difference. Or maybe it’s just my genetics. Because my father is a retired engineer and an inventor, several times over. And my mother is a retired reference librarian. This stuff is in my DNA.

So with such an odd and varied background, I have become what you, too, need to be:

  • Organized
  • Artistic
  • Persistent
  • Legally savvy
  • Open to all sorts of possibilities


I know you need some help, or maybe just a sympathetic ear. And believe me, I know! Just between you and me, we have to wear a ton of hats. Writer. Marketer. Accountant. Lawyer (or at least paralegal). Editor. Cover artist.

Fortunately, you are not alone.

And I am more than willing to share my expertise and my experience. So let’s explore, together, how to navigate the waters of being an independent (no agent yet) author, whether published or not. I’ll provide videos and cheat sheets for you to refer to, so you’re no longer in the dark.

We’re gonna make it.

We’re in this together.