Categories
Publishing 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?

Categories
Publishing Writing

NaNoWriMo—Word Count, Love, and Please Don’t Panic

NaNoWrimo is Fun! But it’s  Misunderstood, Too

You may have heard, somewhere in your travels, about a little thing called NaNoWriMo. And while I don’t get paid by them or anything, I am still here to help you along in your quest.

Your quest, should you choose to accept it, should be to:

  • Learn what NaNoWrimo is
  • Figure out if you want to do it
  • And to succeed at NaNoWriMo

Sounds simple, right?

Not so fast, my writing pals.

What is This Stuff, Anyway?

So, the first thing you need to know is that NaNoWriMo is not a competition. Rather, it’s a personal challenge.

What do I mean by this?

The 1999 original idea behind it was to see if an amateur writer could crank out 50,000 words toward a new novel during a set amount of time. November was chosen, and I suspect that was because it starts with the letter ‘N’. It’s also because it’s 30 days long.

And while neither 31 nor 30 (nor 28 or 29, for that matter) divides evenly into 50,000, that’s not really an issue.

The Rules of NaNoWriMo

Write at least 50,000 words. During the calendar month of November.

And… that’s it.

Want to write a memoir rather than a novel? Have fun. Want to write more than 50,000 words? Go for it. Want to add 50,000 words to a preexisting project? Enjoy. Want to set a NaNoWriMo word count goal that’s less than 50,000? No one’s stopping you, although you won’t get a ‘traditional’ NaNo accomplishment.

There are no other rules to remember.

 

There are no NaNo police.

Math

If you divide 50,000 words by 30 days, you get 1,666.67, or 5,000 words every three days. Of course this is the minimum you need to succeed. Write 5,000 words every three days and, at 11:59 PM on November 30th, you can meet goal.

But life rarely works out that way. And God knows art does not.

There is nothing wrong with this.

Art

What happens if you write only 4,000 words in three days?

Then you’d better write 6,000 in some three-day period, not necessarily the one right after the period where, oops, you missed goal. Just do so before December 1st.

What happens if you write 6,000 words in three days, without having been behind? That is, what happens if you get ahead?

Give yourself a cookie or buy a flower or whatever you do for yourself to celebrate your small victories in life. Because, shhh—come closer now, for this is apparently a secret—getting ahead is the secret to winning NaNoWriMo.

Winning NaNoWriMo—Yes, You Can Do It!

Let’s get back to life.

Look Ma, No Plot!

So let’s say that you’re up early on November 12th, all set to write. You’ve got your lucky mouse pad. You’ve got your coffee (or tea, or juice, or cola, or whatever). And you’ve got time.

And…

… nothing.

No thoughts. No plot. And no words. The blank page or screen mocks you. You stare at it, then chug your beverage and surf the internet. All the while telling yourself that you’ll never succeed at this NaNo business.

Don’t fret, friends. Not every day will be perfect for creating. Our minds don’t really work that way. This isn’t a factory.

What Do You Do?

Give yourself a break. One big part of writer’s block is stress. So get up and stretch! Or take a walk around the block. Another thing you can do is brainstorm what should happen next. That’s even if the only thing you think of to happen next is someone gets a pedicure.

You need to write almost 1,700 words, right? Then that pedicure had better be spectacular. Describe the salon to every last detail. Have your heroine (or hero; not judging here) hem and haw over the color(s). Or even have them unable to pay. Another idea could be them skipping out on paying.

Imagine your character running down the road, Coral Sunset polish still drying on their bare toes, as they try to avoid paying the manicurist.

Silly? You betcha.

But it’s words. And words always beget more words. Your silly idea, by the way, just might lead to a better idea. But even if you scratch out the entire day when you start editing the piece, that’s fine. Right now, your goal is to write. Turn the key in the engine so you can drive to wherever you want to go—and don’t dwell on the fact that you had to drive through a rundown neighborhood in order to get there.

NaNoWriMo S-S-S-Sabotage!

The Facebook NaNo groups, when November (or December) rolls around, are filled with people who’ve got unsupportive families (by families, I am also referring to friends). What if someone you live with turns on the stereo or the TV—LOUD—when you’re trying to write? Headphones to the rescue. Either yours or theirs.

What happens if your kids get into the argument to end all arguments just when you’re trying to write the most amazing sex scene in the history of literature? Separate them, like you always do, and find something for them to do. It could be homework or chores, or contacting the parents of their friends and asking if they could have your little angels over for the afternoon. And volunteer to do the same after November 30th.

There are more ways you can be sabotaged; I’ll get to one of them when I get to the part about saving your work.

The Thrill is Gone

This isn’t writer’s block, per se. Rather, something is just plain keeping you from being creative. Major life events, even happy ones, can do that.

And that’s okay.

If you need to mourn the end of a life or a relationship, or you need to plan your wedding, then put NaNo on pause in your life. There’s Camp NaNo in April and June. Or you can write on your own. On the site, you can use their resources pretty much any time. It doesn’t have to be November.

Preventing Common Problems with NaNoWriMo

I’ve often heard that, to succeed, you need to visualize success. But I don’t do that. Rather, I visualize failure. And then I do everything in my power to avert and avoid catastrophe.

So hear (er, read) me out, okay?

No Brain, No Words, No Ideas

Let’s look back at the three things I said could happen when you try to write (there are more, but these are big ones).

The first is not having ideas.

So get ideas!

But how, I hear you ask.

As Sonny Curtis (and Joan Jett!) sang, love is all around. And so are ideas.

Ideas don’t just exist from November 1–30. They’re everywhere. And they don’t follow a calendar or set schedule. At the time of this posting, NaNo is still over a week away.

So get out and cultivate ideas. Write down whatever strikes your fancy. Whatever will work—or at least gets you words.

If you love to outline, then do so. If you just want a bunch of sticky notes with random phrases on them, go for it. And if you’re like me, and you’re in the middle, write a bare bones outline with some listed ideas and a ton of wiggle room.

You do you.

And no, dear friends, this is NOT cheating.

Because—as I said above—it’s not a competition.

NaNoWriMo Counterspy vs Sabotage

Okay, so maybe you’re not a spy, per se. But if you have the strong feeling that the fam is going to give you grief, prepare for that NOW.

How do you do this?

Have a special day in October. Eat out, go to a film, go leaf peeping, shop, whatever works. That one should be somewhat spur of the moment. And then schedule one, with a bit of planning, for December. With the exception of very small children (think preschool and younger), most people will be happy if they don’t feel you’re neglecting them. And most have enough patience to be able to wait 30 days.

For those who are older and should know better—and just can’t wait? Promise them something special, and of course you’ll need to deliver. A weekend away. Surprise bouquet. Cleaning the gutters without complaining or being nagged into doing it. Whatever works.

Will this perfectly eliminate every bit of sabotage? Perhaps not. But you have counterexamples to show off which can effectively combat any complaints that you’re not being attentive.

Get the Thrill Back

As I said above, you might have to put things off if life is dire or just plain too busy and hectic. Your best friend got Covid. Or your Mom is in hospice. Or the roof collapsed. You’ve got to make 200 favors for your best friend’s wedding in a month. You get the picture.

Your best bet is to keep plucking those ideas out of thin air, and writing them down. And then, when you’re ready, you’ll have a bank you can withdraw from.

And no, it’s not cheating!

Say it with me, people: NaNoWriMo is not a competition.

Practical Planning for NaNoWriMo

By the time this post goes live, you’ll have a little over a week before NaNo starts.

Clear the Decks

So—when does your family next go to the dentist? Make it for October or December. Same with haircuts and nights out. November doesn’t have to be 100% cleared of obligations. After all, Thanksgiving is right in there. But if you can change a few things here or there, do so. Oh, and if you can get ahead at work, at least make the effort. Less external pressure is a good thing.

Plan in Advance

Do you ever cook in advance? No? Then it’s high time you started. Make a few simple things which only need to be heated up. Pasta is your friend! Freeze whatever you can and you’re basically ready to rock. Take it out the night before to let it defrost (inside the fridge is better for food safety than your countertop) and then nuke it or toss in the oven to warm it and finish it off.

Boom, dinner is served.

You don’t have to do this every time, and you most likely won’t want to. But if you can get, say, four or five meals teed up this way, you’ll be a lot happier once you hit crunch time. And no one will have to wait for you to finish writing your epic battle scene so they can be fed.

Need to buy birthday presents, or go holiday shopping? Carve out time in October and December to git ‘er done.

Gather Your Tools

If you’re going to print anything, make sure you’ve got paper and ink, and your printer works. If you’re going to handwrite anything, make sure you’ve got pens/pencils and paper.

And make sure your computer has all the latest updates and patches. 

Practical Tidbits

Go to the NaNoWriMo site and, if you don’t already have an account, create one. Make sure you can get into your account! And check on how to save your NaNoWriMo word count.

Why am I not specifying how to do that here? Because it’s changed over the years. So go to the NaNo site.

Make sure you know how to save your word count.

Save, Save, and then Save Again

While saving your work is technically a part of planning ahead and being practical, it’s so vital that it gets its own section.

But keep in mind: you do NOT save your work on the NaNoWriMo website. Don’t even try; there’s no place for it, anyway.

That’s not the purpose of the site. So, you will need to save some other way(s).

The gold standard (it’s the standard because it’s what I do, ha!) is to save in three different types of places.

Here’s how.

#1 Save to Your Hard Drive

Saving your work to your hard drive usually means you can open it more quickly. You can probably find it faster. And it may save more quickly. All are good.

But if you’re using a public computer, or traveling and using someone else’s machine, then that’s out.

Also, this is the fourth laptop I have owned, and I’m on my second tablet. Before that, I went through I think three or four desktop units. And I’m on my third phone. In short, stuff breaks.

So don’t stop with your hard drive.

#2 Save to Portable Media Storage

Er, what’s that?

It’s flash drives, thumb drives, separate hard drives, and the like. Back in the day, it was floppy discs. It can be CDs or DVDs, too.

Whatever it is, it’s something you can hold in your hand.

But beware. Flash drives, CDs, etc. can break or die. And I will never forget when a young parent came into a NaNo Facebook group and said their toddler had stamped on their flash drive and destroyed it.

Plus, if you need to work with a public computer, then this may or may not be allowed. You may find that the library doesn’t allow anyone to use a flash drive. That’s okay. There’s another way to save your work.

#3 Save to the Cloud

There are a number of services by which you can store work in what is essentially a virtual form. You’ve probably heard of OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drives. Amazon also offers storage, and so does Apple (iCloud). You can use every single one of these for free, and they will most likely offer enough space for your needs without having to upgrade to a paid plan.

If you’re on a shared or public computer, this may also not be in the cards. But there’s one more way you can, in essence, save to a cloud.

Email your story to yourself.

While it’s a somewhat less elegant solution, it will still get the job done.

Let’s Get Psyched for NaNoWriMo!

You can write at any time. And you can write more, or less. You never have to sign up for NaNo, if you decide it’s not for you.

No biggie.

The main thing about NaNoWriMo is that it takes writing, an exceptionally solitary pursuit, and it turns it social. It’s also a convenient way to drum up interest in your work. On Facebook and Twitter, I use the hashtags #CountDownToNaNoWriMo and #CountDownToNaNoWriMo2021 (or whatever the year is).

I post little bits, and I write the blurb. Over time, I’ve found that writing the blurb early can help to crystallize my thoughts. And getting out a blurb and some basic info creates accountability for me. People cheer me on, and I don’t want to disappoint them.

It must be working, because I’ve made it to 50,000 words every time. 

Some Final Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

It took me about 3 hours to write this blog post. Its word count is almost 900 words above the minimum you need to write in one day to hit 50,000 words by the end of NaNoWriMo. Some days, it takes me more time than this. Other times, it takes less.

But in the end, it’s fun and rewarding. And no matter what, even if all you write is one word, that counts. If it’s a word you wouldn’t have written before, then NaNoWriMo has done its job, and you have succeeded.

Want to friend me on the NaNo site? Then go here. Go get ’em, tiger.

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Categories
Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – The Polymer Beat

Review – The Polymer Beat

The Polymer Beat moves the Obolonk action toward not just the robots which have an overall story line—it also explores main character Peri Martin’s romance with spy Dave Shepherd.
The Polymer Beat
Just like that universe’s society is tripartite, so are the three novels. So the first one, The Obolonk Murders, is all about the aliens.

And this, the second work, The Polymer Beat, is dedicated to semi-sapient and more than semi-sapient robots. Hence the third is all about humans and is called The Badge of Humanity.

The second and third novels also have somewhat punny titles, with both playing off the police props of badges and walking a beat. The reference to polymer is because of robots. These books all have themes. This one is robots although I will admit it’s subtle.

Background

After I picked The Obolonk Murders back up again in 2014, I realized I had the makings of a trilogy on my hands. Hence The Polymer Beat became my 2014 NaNoWriMo project.

I also had a few dangling bits from the first book, including solving the murder and Peri’s disastrous first date with Dave.

Plot

As Peri and Tommy work on the Obolonk cases, Peri and Dave Shepherd get closer. Peri knows this is a bad idea, but she goes along with it anyway. And, as she and Tommy continue to try to find the killers, she notices Tommy’s simplistic robotic feelings are taking a turn. Could Tommy become jealous?

Characters

The main character (as before) is Detective Sergeant Peri Martin. The scenes shift from the Boston Megalopolis to various places in the Solar System, including Ganymede.

Other characters include Tommy, Dave, They Say This is the One, Sally Bowles AKA They Say This One Tiles Bathrooms Adequately, and lawyer Akanksha Kondapalli.

Memorable Quotes

“Were you programmed to be an optimist?”

He considered the question briefly. “I cannot tell.”

“That’s okay. You know I’m gonna have dinner with Shepherd tonight, right?”

“Yes,” he mumbled as she hoisted her bag onto the room’s sole bed.

Peri stopped what she was doing and came close to the robot. “What is it?”

“It is nothing.”

She looked at him closely. “If I didn’t know any better, Tom, I’d swear you were upset.” He stood there stoically, although she did see him scan once, briefly.

Peri returned to her bag and began unpacking it, stuffing most of her clothing into the top drawer of the room’s sole bureau. “I’m not even so sure why I’m going out with him, truth be told.”

“I do not understand.”

“Heh, I would explain it if I could. It’s not like my mini-phone’s been chiming all day with offers since Charlie died.”

“Is this,” the robot paused, maybe to select the proper words, “your first such offer since that event?”

“Event,” she echoed, taking a shimmering silver dress out of her bag, “that makes it sound as if there were engraved invitations, or something.”

“I did not intend that definition.”

“I know you didn’t. But you gotta understand, Tom, or at least just, just try to. I saw Charlie mortally wounded by a scrubbed hot gun. It happened right in front of me.”

“That is what your psychiatric evaluation said.”

Trembling, she looked daggers at him. “What else do you know about me that’s private?”

Rating

The book has a T rating. There are no really violent scenes but there is an explicit sex scene. Occasional bad language, but not much.

The Polymer Beat: Upshot

Middle books in trilogies tend to drag, and this one is no exception. I need to improve it! In addition, beta readers would be helpful—hello!

It would be great to get some developmental editing help with the dragging parts in the middle to last third.

But I like the idea of it, and I think Tommy in particular gets developed much better. Dave remains an enigma, but that’s the idea. He is a spy, after all.

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Categories
Inspiration Writing

Writing Progress Report – Third Quarter 2021

Progress Report—Third Quarter 2021

How was third quarter 2021 for writing? So I spent third quarter 2021 writing short stories and working on planning NaNoWriMo. Work continued to be mega-busy, but I learned voice recognition on Word. It’s helped me tremendously with speed. So there was that…

Third Quarter 2021 Posted Works

Third Quarter 2021
First of all, I worked on a number of new short stories. A lot of these had been drafted on paper and so I spent some time fixing and polishing them. Some of these short stories work well together, so they have chapters and the like.

Then on Wattpad I posted on the WattNaNo profile and the Star Trek Fans 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 – 38+ reads, 9+ comments
  • How to NaNoWriMo – 23,785+ reads, 323+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 974 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 59,368+ reads, 530+ comments
  • Side By Side – 17 reads, 1 comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 14,856+ reads, 591+ comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 496 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 250 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 189 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,913+ reads, 45+ comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2019 – 1,700+ reads, 10+ comments
  • What Now? – 2,553+ 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 – society goes to hell in a hand basket when the metals of the periodic table start to disappear. Can a ragtag group in Boston figure out what’s going on before it’s too late?

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 am calling this one Time Addicts – Everything is Up for Grabs.

Third Quarter 2021 Queries and Submissions

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

In Progress

As of third 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?

But I am doubtful about all of these. I just don’t have the time or energy to devote to regular querying, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

All Other Statuses

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for third 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 my productivity killers are work, what else? See, I got a raise and more responsibility. And I’m supposed to be getting another person under me soon. As may be expected, that made it harder to get fiction writing accomplished.

I am working on a ton of things. Since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. There’s been a ton of stress but I am making an effort to at least write something every night. Because third quarter 2021 will not be the end of that!

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Writing

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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Writing

Writing Progress Report – Fourth Quarter 2020

Progress Report –Fourth Quarter 2020

How was fourth quarter 2020 for writing? So I spent fourth quarter 2020 working on NaNoWriMo. So this was either planning, or writing, or editing. The end of 2020 could not come fast enough.

Fourth Quarter 2020 Posted Works

Fourth Quarter 2020

First of all, I worked on the November 2020 NaNo novel. So this was planning and preparation, plus some research in October. Then of course in November I wrote like the wind! And finally in December, I wrapped up more of the storyline and edited a bit. The book clocked in at a bit over 65,000 words.

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

I also got some professional accolades, and have a good 10 articles published in Enterpreneur magazine. So of course this is huge for my career!

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 2021!

Prep Work

So, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, I wrote the second novel in the Time Addicts/Obolonks universe. A lot of this year has been spent on the plot for it. At this point in time, it’s just about time to start editing it. I have called this one Time Addicts – Nothing is Permanent.

Fourth Quarter 2020 Queries and Submissions

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

In Progress

As of fourth quarter 2020, the following are still in the running for publishing (I withdrew some and didn’t resubmit because … 2020):

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 fourth quarter 2020 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 so far are:

    • 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%

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

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

So it’s work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and so much of that is also writing. Hence, it can sometimes burn me out. Because fourth quarter 2020 will not be the end of that!

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Writing

Writing Progress Report – First Quarter 2019

Progress Report –First Quarter 2019

So I spent first quarter 2019 finishing The Real Hope of the Universe. Then everything just sort of fell into place. And how awesome was that?

Posted Works

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | First Quarter 2019
First of all, I worked to finish The Real Hope of the Universe. But the book got really long! As in over 185,000 words! It is now the longest piece I have ever written.

Then there will be a lot of time was spent on editing it. Also, I worked on submitting to various magazines and anthologies. January seemed to be a month of rejections. Maybe people were back from vacation. February definitely was better. And March was an improvement on that.

Then on Wattpad I posted some fan fiction as I am not posting wholly original work there these days. That is, unless it’s for the WattNaNo profile. However, if some of the shorter pieces never find a home after 10 or so tries, some of them will be reworked. But others just might end up there. I am not sure.

Then on Fanfiction.net, you guessed it, I posted fan fiction, and I even wound down. So except for two incomplete stories, which I may never finish, everything is there. So, no more Fanfiction.net, except for stats!

Milestones

Also, I have written over two and a half million words (fan fiction and wholly original fiction combined). So right now my stats on Wattpad for wholly original works are as follows:

  • How to NaNoWriMo – 12,407+ reads, 137+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 971 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 58,858+ reads, 526+ comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 12,351+ reads, 587+ comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 455 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 249 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,307+ reads, 43+ comments
  • What Now? – 149+reads, 6+ comments

More Published Works

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

Untrustworthy, my first published novel.

Surprises, a story in Book One of the 42 and Beyond Anthology set. So this one got to #3 in its Amazon category!

The Last Patient, a story in the Stardust, Always anthology.

The Interview, the featured story in the December 14, 2018 edition of Theme of Absence. So they even interviewed me!

Canaries, also to be published by Theme of Absence, on March 29, 2019.

This is My Child, to be published by Asymmetry on April 8, 2019.

Almost Shipwrecked, a story in the January 2019 edition of Empyreome.

The Resurrection of Ditte, a story in the Unrealpolitik anthology.

Complications, a story in the Queer Sci Fi Discovery anthology (so this book is only available from resellers).

Props, a story in the Longest Night Watch I anthology.

The Boy in the Band, a story in the Pride Park anthology.

Cynthia and Wilder Bloom, stories in the Longest Night Watch II anthology.

All My Aliens, a story in the 72 Hours of Insanity anthology (so this book is no longer available – anywhere!).

Three Minutes Back in Time, to be published by Mythic Magazine.

WIP Corner

So my current WIPs are as follows:

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy – so this one is all about a tripartite society where a Boston cop is investigating mass murders. But who’s killing the aliens? So how do humans and robots fit in?

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? So how can a plucky Irish scullery maid, her closeted employer, and a secret society in Boston save the world?

Mettle – all about how society goes to hell in a hand basket when the metals of the periodic table start to disappear. Then what happens in near-future Boston?

So if you noticed the Boston trend everywhere, give yourself a cookie. Because it’s one of my Easter eggs.

Prep Work

So currently, I have been working on some writing prompts to keep me sharp and keep the words flowing. Yet my intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I will probably start a new piece. So this may even be a series in the Obolonks universe. But I need a plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that.

However right now I am still working on The Real Hope of the Universe so it is on the back burner for now.

Queries and Submissions

So here’s how that’s been going during first quarter 2019.

In Progress

As of first quarter 2019, the following are still in the running for publishing:

Publisher Title Result Last Applicable Date
Andromeda Spaceways Magazine None of This is Real In Progress 3/10/19
Bards and Sages Quarterly Dinosaurs In Progress 1/17/19
Future Visions Killing Us Softly In Progress 1/27/19
Gods Among Men podcast Blue Card In Progress 2/28/19
Hecate Gentrification In Progress 3/10/19
Leading Edge Magazine Side by Side In Progress 1/18/19
Luna Station Quarterly Nothing Good Ever Happens at 3 AM In Progress 1/24/19
Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing Newsletter Who Do We Blame for This? In progress 12/12/18
Polychrome Ink Darkness into Light In Progress 1/27/19
Wee Tales A Kitten In progress 8/14/18
Weekly Humorist Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us In progress 2/17/19

I had to resubmit some of the older ones and declare them ghosted. There’s a lot of mental energy that goes into submitting, I feel. So sometimes I need to work my way up to it. Aside from new submissions for some works which were rejected, no news can often feel like goodish news.

All Other Statuses

Also see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for first quarter 2019 which were not in progress.

Stats

So in 2018, my querying stats were:

  • 68 submissions of 19 stories
  • Acceptances: 4, 5.88%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 3, 4.41%
  • In Progress: 10, 14.71%
  • Rejected-Personal: 14, 20.59%
  • Rejected-Form: 24, 35.29%
  • and Ghosted: 13, 19.12%

And in 2019, my querying stats so far are:

  • 18 submissions of 12 stories
  • Acceptances: 3, 11.11%
  • In Progress: 9, 50.00%
  • Rejected (any type): 6, 33.33%
  • Withdrew Voluntarily: 1, 5.56%

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

Work, what else? So I am working on a ton of things. And since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Because first quarter 2019 will not be the end of that!

Hence keeping up with this blog remains difficult. But I’m trying! Thank you for hanging in there, and sticking with me, first quarter 2019 and beyond. <3

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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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