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Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration From Literature

Getting Inspiration From Literature

Literature sometimes feels like medicine writing. You know you should read it. But sometimes it just feels like cod liver oil in book form.

Literature

What is it about literature? From the classic to the lowbrow, it permeates our lives. As writers, we might appreciate it more than others do.

Reading to Write

First of all, whenever people ask about how to best develop their writing chops, inevitably they are told two things. One of these is to read extensively. Hence if you are following this, you are already halfway there. And it does not have to be classics. It does not have to be Silas Marner or the like. You can be voraciously reading YA, or bodice rippers. It does not matter.

As a writer, examine the work. How does the author pull you from one chapter to the next? Or how does she start? How does the story end? Are the supporting characters as interesting as the lead(s)? Or do they take over? Or are they cardboard cutouts? Do you ever lose the suspension of disbelief?

Writing to Write

The other standard piece of writing advice is: write a lot. And you can do that with any form of literature. Hence take whatever you just read. Flip the POV (point of view) and rewrite it. Gender swap. Figure out what happens after ‘The End’, when the curtain comes down. Decide what happened before the story started. Write a back story for a supporting character, or even a bit player.

So if the work is in the public domain, then you might even be able to publish your work. Yet if it’s not, then treat it like any fan fiction and use it as a learning experience. Since you can’t publish fan fiction, why not consider how to further alter your new piece? Maybe you can convert it to something more wholly original. Because you might even be able to publish it.

Takeaways From Literature

Since so much of writing is structural, why not pick apart someone else’s work? Because if they have been published, then someone liked their work enough to take a chance on it. Finally, a peek behind the curtain can also show you where even great works falter. And that can be comforting if you ever doubt your own abilities.

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Writing

NaNoWriMo Advice for All

NaNoWriMo Advice for All

NaNoWriMo advice? Yes; I’ve won it every year I’ve entered.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | NaNoWriMo Advice

This is (for real!) how to do NaNoWriMo. Learn from my mistakes!

Preliminaries

1) Plan if you can and if that helps you. I would suggest even pantsers should at least do research in advance. No sense in looking up how to say “I love you” in Latvian during November if you can do it beforehand. And no, that’s not cheating.

Dailies

2) Write every single day. It should be at least 1667 words, but even 1 word beats the hell out of none. I have found this is some of the best NaNoWriMo advice I have ever gotten. Writing every day gets you into a habit.

Move Ahead if You’re Stuck

3) Can’t write chapter 4? Then skip it and write chapter 5. You’ll go back, or maybe chapter 4 will turn out to be superfluous. You’ll stitch it together later.

Don’t Edit!

4) Don’t edit! Do that in January or February (in December, either finish or just leave it). In November, it’ll eat up time when you should be writing.

Manage Family Expectations

5) Tell your family or whoever you live with that you’re doing it. Ask someone else to take the kids for an hour, or say you’ll make dinner all December if someone else does it in November, etc. Just, set expectations and get some help from others to get all the other little things done around your home. E. g. my husband isn’t a writer but he’ll put on his headphones at his desk while I’m writing so his computer sounds won’t bother me. Little things like that help.

Getting Ahead

6) If and when you can get ahead, do so. Can you write 1800 or 2000 words or more instead of 1667? Then go for it. No law says you have to stop at 1667 and call it a day. If you’re feeling it, have at it!

November 30th Isn’t Some Magic Day When Suddenly You Have to be Done With Your Story

7) The story does not have to be finished at 11:59 PM on November 30th. You just need 50,000 words. For the last two years in a row, I finished NaNoWriMo in the middle of November but didn’t finish the books (they were both over 100,000 words) until January. No, this is not cheating.

Nixing Writer’s Block

8) Got writer’s block? Then step away from the keyboard and exercise for 15 – 30 minutes. Pump iron, take a walk, play frisbee, beat the rugs, shovel snow. I don’t care. Just burn calories and then go back to it. Because it really does help.

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

9) Don’t compare your accomplishments to others. Because there will always be someone who writes 100,000 words in one day or something like that. And there will always be people complaining that they’re behind. Also, there will always be people typing up until the very last second, and there will always be people wasting time online. Don’t worry about them.

Just take care of your own work and leave them to theirs. Their issues, quirks, and complaints are none of your concern.

Back Up Your Work!

10) Back up your work! I back up in three rather different places – my hard drive, a flash drive, and OneDrive, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage. So I highly recommend a similar setup for everyone. I had to replace a computer right before 2017 NaNo but I lost none of my prep work because it was on two places other than my old laptop’s hard drive.

There is always someone who loses their work during November. And I have seen it all, from soda on keyboards to toddlers stomping on flash drives and breaking them, to power outages. Don’t be that person.

Sabotage

Lots of people get this, and sometimes a friend or a loved one doesn’t even realize they are doing this. Remember what I said about managing family expectations? You may need to reiterate this. Or you may need to put it in writing so it’s not “forgotten”. Your solutions might be to get up early to write before others are up, or at lunch break, or during a commute, or late at night when everyone’s gone to bed.

Got headphones (or at least earbuds)? Then put those suckers on, even if you play no music at all. This is body language. You are busy and working; others will just have to wait. And tough on them.

You Take Care of You – And Guard Your Writing Time Jealously

Here is also where expectation management comes in handy. If your family was already told you would not be cooking in November, then they can’t say on the fourth that you didn’t warn them. You can also stave off some of this with family preparations before the first rolls around. Got a slow cooker? Then make a bunch of meals and freeze them for during the month. Get the kids’ haircuts and dentist appointments out of the way in October. You get the idea.

If it’s someone or something that really can’t wait (your toddler is screaming, your mother is in the emergency room, or your spouse is seriously threatening divorce), then by all means stop what you’re doing in order to deal with that.

And if you don’t make it to 50,000 words, it’s okay. Really, it is. NaNoWriMo exists so that writing, which is an often solitary endeavor, gets a social component. But that’s it. If you write in December or October, or you write less than 50,000 words, or you never validate, it’s equally okay.

Some Final Words of NaNoWriMo Advice

The best NaNoWriMo advice I can give anyone is to have fun with it. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Finally, you can find me on .

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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.

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Supporting Indie Authors

Supporting Indie Authors

Supporting Indie Authors – do you do it?

I am published, and one issue that comes up, time and again, concerns how people can go about supporting indie authors. In particular, friends and family far removed from the business of writing or social media or public relations or marketing or the like still want to help out.

And for the writers, who may feel strange suggesting or requesting such support, I hope this little guide can do just that. Instead of asking, perhaps they can simply point to this blog post.

The #1 Way You Can Support An Independent Author

This one’s easy. Buy their book! Which version? Any version!

However, authors might get better percentages of the take with a particular format. If that is the case, and you don’t mind which format you purchase, you can always ask your friend the writer. While we always want you to buy the book (and a sale beats out no sale), if we have our druthers and it really makes a difference, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

The #2 Way To Support Independent Authors

Supporting Indie Authors
Untrustworthy by JR Gershen-Siegel

So once you’ve bought the book, a fantastic way of supporting indie authors even more is to provide an honest review. Amazon, Smashwords, and many publisher sites provide a means of reviewing novels and other creative works. Be sure to review where you purchased the book. Why? Because then you can be listed with verified purchase next to your name. This adds considerably more credibility to your review (and some places require it now).

The Sum and Substance of Your Review

What should you say in your review? If you loved the book, say so. If it was a decent read but not your cup of tea, say that as well, as it’s honest, fair, and remains supportive. After all, not everyone loves the same thing. If you’re not in the demographic group the work is aimed at, then no problem. You gave it the old college try and that’s just fantastic. The longer the review then, generally, the better. Specific references to events in the book, without giving away spoilers, really help. E. g. something like: I loved the character of ___. She was believably vulnerable.

Negative Reviews

What if you hated the book? Should you lie? Absolutely not – and, I might add, don’t lie even if the author has specifically asked for positive reviews only (an unethical request, by the way). However, if the book stinks (I’ve read books that have made me want to burn people’s computers, they were so horrible, so I know exactly where you’re coming from), then you have the following options:

  1. Don’t post the review at all, and say nothing to the author.
  2. Don’t post the review at all, but mention it to the author. However be prepared for, potentially, some negative push-back, in particular if that person specifically requested just positive reviews. You can sweeten the pot by offering some other assistance (see below for other things you can do to help).
  3. Post a short review. Reviews don’t have to be novel-length! You can always write something like Interesting freshman effort from indie author ____ (the writer’s name goes in the blank). There ya go. Short, semi-sweet, and you’re off the hook. Unless the book utterly bored you, the term interesting works. If the book was absolutely the most boring thing you have ever read, then you can go with valiant or unique (so long as the work isn’t plagiarized) instead of interesting. Yes, you have just damned with faint praise. But sometimes faint praise is the only kind you can give out.

Really going negative

  1. Post a negative review. However, be prepared for your friendship to, potentially, end. Yet is that the worst thing, ever? I’m not saying to be mean. Don’t be mean and don’t take potshots at a person’s character or personality. This is about the book and not about your relationship with the person (although it can sometimes turn into that. But keep the review about the creative work only). However, if the friendship means more to you, then seriously consider options #1 or #2 instead.

Furthermore, many sites have star systems. Adding stars (even a single star) is helpful as this signals to readers that there is at least some interest in the piece.

The #3 Way to Support an Independent Author

Post and/or share the links to either the creative work or the author’s website, blog, Facebook Author page, or Amazon Author page, onto social media. This method is free and anyone can do it. This means tweets, Facebook shares, Pinterest repinnings, or Tumblr rebloggings. Plus it’s clicking ‘like’ on Instagram, voting up a book trailer on YouTube or adding it to a playlist, mentioning the book in your status on LinkedIn, or sharing the details with your circles on Google+, and more. Every time you provide these sorts of social signals to social media sites, the content goes to more people and you are supporting indie authors. Without spending a dime, and barely lifting a finger, you can provide a great deal of help.

The #4 Way to Support Independent Authors

Be sure to follow your friends’ Amazon Author pages, and their blogs. Hit ‘like’ on their Facebook Author pages and follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. There are agents who give more weight to indies with larger social media followings. You can hate the book but still follow the author.

You can also work some magic in person. Show up to any signings or discussions, even if you just drink coffee and don’t participate. Ask for the book at your local library or bookstore. Read the paper version in public (train stations are really great for that sort of thing). And you can also talk to your friends, or email them about the work. Consider your audience, and don’t just spam your friends. However if your writer pal has written, say, a Christian-themed love story, then how about sending the link to your friend who has a son studying to be a pastor?

If your friend is local, try contacting your local paper and asking if they’d do a profile on the writer. They can always say no, but sometimes reporters are hunting around for short feel-good locally-specific blurbs. It never hurts to ask.

The #5 Way to Support an Independent Author

Here’s where it gets to be a time investment. Help them. A lot of serious authors ask questions about all manner of things, in order to perform proper research. Can you help with that? Do you have personal experience, or are you good at Googling?

You can also act as a beta reader when you’re supporting indie authors. Beta readers read either the entire draft or a portion of it or sometimes just the first chapter or even character bios. Here’s where you can be a lot freer with criticism, as this is all private. Is the mystery too easy to solve? The character names are confusing? Or the protagonist isn’t described clearly? The scenario is improbable? Then tell the writer. This isn’t correcting their grammar or their spelling (although it sometimes can be). Instead, this is giving them valuable feedback which will help them become better.

As always, be kind. This is your friend’s baby, after all. But if you can’t tell the difference between Susan and Suzanne in the story, then other readers probably wouldn’t be able to, either. Better that that is fixed before the book is released, than afterwords.

Final Thoughts on Supporting Indie Authors

The life of a writer can be a rather topsy-turvy one. You’re high on good reviews, and then you get one bad one and it depresses you. You write like the wind for weeks, and then you edit it and it feels like it’s garbage. Or you get writer’s block, or life gets in the way.

Sometimes the best thing you can do, as a friend, is to just listen, and be there.

Categories
Book Reviews Writing

Writing Progress Report – Fourth Quarter 2018

Progress Report – Fourth Quarter 2018

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

Finished Works

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

So here’s what I created and improved.

October

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

November

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

December

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

2018 me

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

Milestones

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

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

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

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

WIP Corner

The current WIPs are as follows.

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

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

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

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

Prep Work

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

Queries and Submissions

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

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

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

Stats

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

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

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

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

In Progress

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

All Other Statuses

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

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

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

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

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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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Social Media

Wattpad gets into the Digital Publishing Game

Wattpad gets into the Digital Publishing Game

GoodEReader reports in 2014 that Wattpad, the giant free stories platform, is entering the digital publishing business.

Wattpad gets into the Digital Publishing Game

In early May of 2014, it was reported that Wattpad had decided to e-publish two of its most famous stories. My Wattpad Love has over 19 million reads. A Proscriptive Relationship has over 30 million reads on Wattpad.

To provide some perspective, it should be noted that Stephen King has sold a total of 350 million books, but this is spread over 49 works, giving him an average of a little over 7 million sales apiece. Of course sales and free reads on a website aren’t the same thing, but these sheer numbers are still rather impressive.

But can free readers be converted to paying customers? Just as importantly, Wattpad is a social site. People click, visit, vote up and add stories to their virtual libraries. But how much of that is due to the quality of the prose? Is some of it due to the writer’s personality and following on the site?

Of course that is the case, but the question is, how much? Context, as Avinash Kaushik wrote, is queen. But how can context be accurately (at least as accurately as possible) determined here?

Millions of clicks are difficult to ignore, but what is the best way to weed out sympathy clicks, friendly clicks, clicks made in error and the like? And that does not take into consideration whether any of these people will convert to a paying model. Why buy these cows, when the milk has been provided for free (and in an easy to digest package, too, I might add) for so long?

But even a one percent conversion rate will turn heads.

Move over traditional publishers. The shelf just got more crowded.

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