Categories
Career changing Inspiration Writing

Writing Children and About Children

Children

Children characters can present their own set of challenges. And keep in mind, I wrote a bit about kids in the Aging post. However, now it’s time for a deeper dive into what it means to write about children.

Don’t gloss over childhood. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Some kids have truly horrible lives – bullying, abuse, poverty, and trafficking are all still with us. And don’t forget, even infants can get cancer. But right now, let’s concentrate on some issues that are a lot easier to take.

Infants and Toddlers

The very young can change in rather rapid and surprising ways. Fortunately, several developmental charts exist. And they can give you an idea of what a baby or child can do at a certain stage. Hence, for example, a newborn should not be out of diapers unless they have help or you are writing some sort of fantasy. Furthermore, while these charts give an idea of what to expect, they’re not laws.

Kids develop at their own paces. So recognize that while your newborn character going diaper-less is probably not going to be believable, you can still write a range for these milestones. Furthermore, you can also use standard milestones as a way to signal problems with a baby, such as by showing the reader a child who should be crawling as barely holding his head up.

Preschoolers and Elementary School Children

The start of school is a major event in a young child’s life. And so are other firsts, such as learning to read and beginning to really socialize. And their vocabularies are growing as their worlds continue to expand. By this time, they probably have a good idea of their sexuality even if girls are icky and boys are gross.

For the most part, a child does not naturally lisp! Adding lisping and other affectations will just irritate most readers. However, you can indicate immaturity with simpler sentence structures and vocabulary. A young child has not read Kierkegaard. And they probably don’t know what plenipotentiary means, either. Unless, of course, they’re a genius.

But use genius characters sparingly. Most people just plain aren’t Einstein or Hawking, etc. Too many geniuses, unless you make them some sort of a special program, are just going to be annoying to readers.

Tweens and Teens

As with younger children, these older kids have their own developmental milestones. Puberty in girls comes with not only the development of secondary sex characteristics, but also menarche. Adolescence in boys can arrive later than in girls.

Writing a historical novel? Then know that menarche (a girl’s first menstrual period) occurs about three years earlier now than it did a century ago. This is due to, among other things, better nutrition.

Kids in these age groups tend to start to get interested in relationships (although asexual folks beg to differ). Plus, everything can be ultra-dramatic. Some may be losing their virginity or facing pregnancy issues. And others might be late bloomers, wondering why things are happening to everyone but them. Our present-day culture attaches a number of privileges to this time, including becoming old enough to drive, work, drink, marry, go to war, and even vote.

Takeaways

Kids are more than their developmental stages. However, it still pays to know these and follow them, even if you want your characters to subvert them. And as with all characters, do your best to avoid clichés.

Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Writing Better Dialogue

Writing Better Dialogue

Better dialogue can elevate any piece. And it can even help to salvage a bad or otherwise forgettable piece of writing. Consider, for example, the works of Aaron Sorkin or Robert Altman. While these are examples from television and film, they should give an idea.

Sorkin is known for excellent dialogue, from such films as The Social Network and TV shows like The West Wing. However, Altman’s fame comes more for overlapping dialogue, from films like Nashville, M*A*S*H, and McCabe and Mrs. Miller.

Word Choice

Consider your characters’ educational levels. A college graduate will, in general, use longer and more complex and subtle words versus a high school dropout. This does not necessarily mean one is smarter than the other, I might add. Hence consider who says prior to instead of before, or automobile rather than car. Because that will help the reader to define who is speaking if you are more or less consistent with who uses the ten dollar words, and who does not.

Affectations, Accents, and Pet Names

While I don’t want to get into accents again, you should consider regional dialects and regionalisms. A sandwich on a long roll is a grinder in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, but it’s a hoagie in Philadelphia, a po’boy in New Orleans, and a sub in New York. So if your characters are from Queens, you’d better have them call it a sub unless they’re messing around or are copying someone from out of town.

Pet name usage can be extremely helpful in writing. When you write a couple, you may find you are writing a ton of dialogue between them. And it can get boring to constantly write he said, she said, so you can usually drop that after the first trade of words. However, you may need to pick that up again after a while if you think the reader will get lost. And it could be that they can really get lost if your couple is of the same-sex variety. However, if one person calls the other one snookums, and the other doesn’t use pet names or just says darling, then the reader gets a clue when you use those terms. Just be consistent and your readers will thank you.

Takeaways

Listen to people talk whenever you can, and try to read your dialogue aloud. If you can get a friend to help you, even better. Because if your sentence is a tongue twister for you, then it is for your character (and, by extension, your readers as well).

Unless you meant to do that.

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Writing

Writing Progress Report – Third Quarter 2020

Progress Report –Third Quarter 2020

How great was third quarter 2020? So I spent third quarter 2020 mostly working. The pandemic continued, as did the American conversation about race. Which is not a bad thing.

Third Quarter 2020 Posted Works

Third Quarter 2020
First of all, I worked on a number of new short stories. A lot of these had been drafted on paper and so I spent some time fixing and polishing them.

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

Milestones

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

  • Dinosaurs – 29+ reads, 9+ comments
  • How to NaNoWriMo – 18,579+ reads, 231+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 972 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 59,292+ reads, 530+ comments
  • Side By Side – 9+ reads, 0+ comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 13, 479+ reads, 590+ comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 473 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 250 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,814+ reads, 45+ comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2019 – 1,124+ reads, 7+ comments
  • What Now? – 1,949+ reads, 48+ comments

More Published Works

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

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

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

Canaries, a short story in the March 29, 2019, edition of Theme of Absence.

Complications, a story in the Queer Sci Fi Discovery anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds went to supporting the QSF website.

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

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

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.

Darkness into Light, so this is a short story to be published in Corner Bar Magazine.

WIP Corner

So my current WIPs are as follows:

The Obolonk Murders Trilogy – so this one is all about a tripartite society. But who’s killing the aliens?

The Enigman Cave – can we find life on another planet and not screw it up? You know, like we do everything else?

The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy – so the aliens who live among us in the 1870s and 1880s are at war. But why is that?

Mettle – so it’s all about how society goes to hell in a 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.

Prep Work

So currently, my intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I am writing the second novel in the Time Addicts/Obolonks universe. But I need to iron out the plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that. This one will be called Time Addicts – Nothing is Permanent.

Third Quarter 2020 Queries and Submissions

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

In Progress

As of third quarter 2020, the following are still in the running for publishing:

Publisher Title
Defenestration Magazine Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us
Journey Into… None of This is Real
Minola Review Gentrification
Protean Justice
Salvage Blue Card
Short Story.me Who Do We Blame for This?
The New Southern Fugitives The Guitarist
The School Magazine A Kitten
Utopia Science Fiction The Student
Whiskey Island Magazine I Used to Be Happy
Zooscape A Kitten

All Other Statuses

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for third 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:

  • 27 submissions of 12 stories (so 9 submissions carry over from 2019)
  • Acceptances: 2, 7.40%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 11, 40.74%
  • Rejected-Personal: 8, 29.63%
  • Rejected-Form: 2, 7.40%
  • Ghosted: 4 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 14.81%

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

Third Quarter 2020 Productivity Killers

So it’s work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. So there is a lot going on, and I am busy as all get out. Because you just know that third quarter 2020 will not be the end of that!

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Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Writing Exposition

Exposition

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Exposition

Exposition works.

First of all, exposition basically means a literary device intended to describe a character’s background, or “our story so far”. It can be done elegantly, with flashbacks or dialogue or even a character finding something or other. It can be clunky, like when characters say, “As you know, …” and then proceed to clue in the reader but then tell the other characters everything they should, logically, already know. For example, one doctor telling another one how chemotherapy works would denote really clunky exposition.

Clunkiness was rather memorably skewered by the Basil Exposition character in Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery. However, you and I don’t want that to happen with our works.So we’ve got to try to be a lot more eloquent. Hence we’ve got to figure out how to clue in our readers in a more natural fashion. So consider your setting.

Using Settings for Exposition

What do I mean by this? Your story’s circumstances and your characters’ specifics might be places to sneak in some background. Are they spies? Spies get briefings. Are they museum goers? Museums have docents (specialized guides) and tours, and they also have guidebooks and even identification for paintings or artifacts. Hikers use trails. Motorists use maps (or GPS, if the time period is right).

There is nothing wrong with a character reading a street sign, either out loud or to themselves.

Here Now the News

Love or hate it, but a character reading a newspaper or listening to radio news or watching it on television can provide a level of exposition to your story which can be seamless and even elegant.

Chapter Titles

When your chapter title is Sunday, August 6, 2017, 11 AM, San Francisco Chinatown, you get across a ton of information in a very short space. And you do so without interrupting the flow of the story unnecessarily.

Character Names and Occupations

These are more subtle, but if your characters have names like Maria, Vito, Anna, Guido, and Antonio, your reader will think Italy or at least an Italian family. If your characters have occupations such as blacksmith, miller, alchemist, and barber surgeon, your reader will think of medieval times.

The New Guy

There is a damned fine reason why a lot of television pilots involve someone coming to a new city or starting a new job. This is because explaining the story and the plot and characters to the new kid in town is perfectly natural.

“Excuse me, but where’s the spaceship parking bay?” “Oh, it’s next to the mess hall. I’m Dave; I do the regular run to Venus every Thursday.”

It’s natural, it flows, and it doesn’t bog down the story.

Interweaving Exposition

Yet another method is to weave the exposition into the story or the dialog. “You have great eyes. I love that color blue.” “My mom always said they looked like the ocean. But I grew up in Kansas and I confess I didn’t see the ocean until I was thirty.” Or “You look like hell,” she said, noticing the wound on his arm. “Oh, you should see the other guy.”

Get it?

Takeaways

Exposition is truly vital in writing but you need to get it across without a dump of information. Read back your exposition. If it reads like a text book, or it goes on for too long, see about changing it but also about breaking it up. A bit of exposition here and there, even if it’s the same amount as in your big info dump, will stick out a lot less.

Categories
Career changing Publishing

Writing a Query Letter

Writing a Query Letter

Now that you want to get your work published, it’s time to write a query letter!

It’s understandable to be a bit anxious about this. Practice will help a lot, not just with writing better queries, but also with your nervousness. Understand that many famous authors were rejected several times before they were published. So keep on plugging and try not to get discouraged.

Query Letter Basics

What is a query letter | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Adventures in Career Changing
What is a query letter?

First things first: always do what the publisher says you should do. Seriously. Queries are cover letters accompanying your submissions to a publisher or agent. They can vary in length, but Job One is always to do what the recipient wants. That is, if the recipient wants it as an attachment, send an attachment. If they want it in the body of the email or sent via snail mail or faxed, then do that. Double-spaced? Do it. Times New Roman font? Why, that’s suddenly your favorite font, too!

The last thing you want to do is annoy the recipient of your letter. So follow directions to the letter. Unsure of an instruction? How about asking on Twitter? Do not let your manuscript get a rejection under a technicality.

Rather than giving you an example, it’s probably best to link to a successful modern query letter. Now imagine your work, with a showcase like that. Change the genre if necessary, the character names, etc., and you’ve got the bare bones of a query letter.

Suggestion: check several successful query letters, particularly those which are fairly recent and are in your genre. If they are the queries which your actual target admires, then so much the better.

Keep plugging. Queries are a rite of passage for every author. They will get easier as you keep on doing them.

You can do it!

Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Getting Inspiration From Sexism

Yes, You Can Still Get Inspiration from Instances of Sexism

Sexism remains an unpleasant reality in our world.

Since sexism is still with us today, you might see it, or even experience it yourself. However, even an unpleasant experience can inspire fiction writing. Because sometimes, you just want to write a villain. And maybe your villain can eventually see the light and change, too.

Sexism At Work

In the United States, there are rather specific laws governing and prohibiting gender discrimination. However, that was not always the case. If you write historical fiction, things can differ considerably. Consider what gender discrimination means. It means judging a person’s characteristics or abilities based upon sex and often traditional gender roles.

Hence judges might see women as better parents in custody battles. Or men might get blue collar jobs more often due to perceived differences in physical strength. And this can happen even when physical strength does not factor into job performance.

Sometimes women lose out on promotions due to imagined differences in toughness. And men can find they are overly scrutinized in professions where they may be in the minority. These can be nursing or teaching or the like.

In Social Situations

Some instances of sexism have mild or semi-benevolent origins in what is gallantry behavior. Holding the door for someone is a nice thing to do. However, when a person only holds the door for women, that is move which treats the sexes differently. Even a positive difference is a difference, particularly when it can be a vestige of not just gallantry. It can also be a vestige of behaving as if women are incapable of taking care of themselves.

Social sexism can also take the form of deciding who asks whom out, or who pays for a night out. Waitstaff can perpetuate this by asking for women’s food orders first, and also by giving the man the check. Teachers might perpetuate these behaviors by giving strength tasks to boys and praising the quietness or cooperation of girls.

When sex is an excuse for a snap decision about someone without taking specifics into consideration, then it’s sexism.

Casual Prejudging and Sexism

Whether you try to excuse it as locker room banter, or it appals you, sometimes people indulge in this. And it can even happen almost inadvertently.

One area where this tends to happen is with apparel. It’s rare when boys or men receive judgment for what they wear. That is, unless it’s overly feminine, filthy, or completely inappropriate for the occasion or task at hand. Or it’s the wrong team’s jersey.

Women and girls are often judged by their clothes. It can be skirt or shorts length, the neckline of a blouse, or the height of their heels. And yes, sadly, that goes into the rape old trope. What was she wearing?

No matter what, we still hear it.

Takeaways

Characters can remark on everything from who pays for dinner to who gets the right to vote. They can support sexist conventions by pulling out chairs for women and giving little boys toy trucks. Or they can upend those conventions by giving up seats on the subway to men. Or by giving little girls chemistry sets.

Categories
Career changing Publishing

Writing a Blurb

Are You in the Middle of Writing a Blurb?

Have you ever written a blurb for a book? Here’s how.

Grab the Reader’s Attention

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Blurbs
        Blurbs are a great way to sell your work

The most effective blurbs are:

  • short
  • specific as to genre (don’t be coy; if it’s horror, then say so!)
  • open about who the protagonist is
  • spoiler-free
  • not a rehash of the first chapter or the entire plot
  • neutral about the quality of your work (don’t say: this is an incredible book. Your saying that does not make it so. Sorry.)

So keep in mind – these are not the same as the summary you write for a query.

Blurb Samples

In this fantasy tale, Dorothy is whisked away by a twister to an unknown magical land. But first she has to deal with the quite literal fallout of her house falling on, and killing, a wicked witch.

Blurbs give us an idea about the story, and they make us want to read more. Also, a blurb for The Wizard of Oz would likely be longer than the above, better reflecting the work’s complexity and length. While a long book does not need to have a long blurb, it at least could conceivably support one. However, a short novel probably would not. Unless, of course, you’ve written The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird.

Reclusive millionaire Jay Gatsby leads the good life in 1920s New York. As his friend Nick Carraway watches, Gatsby’s life takes a turn with the all-too appealing but also all-too married Daisy Buchanan.

Or –

Scout and Jem Finch live in Alabama with their widowed father, Atticus, the town’s leading lawyer. It’s the 1930s, and Maycomb seems far from sophistication or enlightenment. And so the trouble starts when a black man is accused of raping a white woman – and Scout’s father agrees to defend the accused.

Back to you.

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Career changing Publishing

Working With a Beta Reader

What’s It Like, Working With a Beta Reader?

A beta reader is somewhat different from an editor.

For one thing, beta reading is generally something that people do for free.

Beta Readers

Beta readers are people who read over your work and evaluate it before it goes to a publisher. They might read for typos, spelling errors, grammatical issues, and punctuation problems, but that is not a very good way to work with them. Work with an editor for that.

Instead, you want them to help you with flow and continuity. If your main character is female and 5’2″ and has a chihuahua on page 4, then she should still be female, 5’2″, and the owner of a chihuahua on page 204, unless there is some on-page reason why she isn’t. E. g.:

  • She is transgender, and successfully transitioned (with or without surgery) to male. Or the character no longer identifies as female or male.
  • The character had a growth spurt and is taller, or has osteoporosis, and shrunk, or maybe her legs were amputated (sorry, character!).
  • She gave away the chihuahua, or it ran away, etc.

The last thing you want is for your beta reader to wonder where the chihuahua went, particularly if the little dog isn’t a big part of the story.

How Can You Start This Relationship?

The best way to get a beta reader is to be one. So offer a trade with another indie. Be kind when you’re done, and either recommend your beta reader friend or at least donate a little something to one of their three favorite charities. If the work is absolutely abhorrent, at least you can say you did that.

What Should You Expect?

You’re working with a volunteer. Things might be slow. You cannot be overly pushy. However, setting an expectation as to the overall deadline (be generous with the time frame!) is helpful. E. g. if you want the beta reading to be done in ten months for a 100,000 word document (very possible, even for a busy beta reader), say you need it done in nine months and try not to be overly anxious about it.

What Are Some Practical Tips?

Use Google docs in order to avoid version control nightmares. Create a schedule and a set of expectations. Hence for our hypothetical 100,000 word work, a nine month time period gives the beta reader about 39 weeks to get it all done. If each chapter averages about 1,100 words long, then you want a beta reading turnaround of about 2 – 3 chapters per week to make it in nine months. See why I’m talking about giving yourself a one-month cushion? You’ve also got to account for vacations, illness, the other person being busy with other stuff, and even a lack of motivation on their part.

How Many Beta Readers Do You Need?

For our 100,000 word work, you’re probably going to want more than one beta reader. In fact, I would recommend that for any work longer than what most people would call a short story. You need some give and take and a consensus. If three beta readers tell you a chapter is dull, then it’s dull. If two say you need to use the word ‘whom’, and one says to use the word ‘who’, look it up on a trusted authority, such as Grammar Girl. Majority does not rule here.

Demographics

Good beta readers are in the demographics of the people you’re trying to reach with your novel. They like your genre or at least are willing to read in it and offer feedback. They don’t tear you a new one when they don’t like something, but they are also unafraid to tell you if something isn’t working for them.

Some Standard Questions

Ask them:

  • Are the characters believable? Are they distinguishable?
  • Do you think the situations are plausible?
  • Are the settings well described? Can you picture yourself where the characters are?
  • Do the transitions work?
  • Are the conflicts plausible?
  • Is the conclusion a satisfying one?

Also ask about genre-specific issues, such as whether your mystery was too easy or difficult to solve, if your horror story was scary enough, if the technobabble in your science fiction novel was credible, etc.

Practical Tech

Google docs is particularly useful for multiple beta readers, as they can see each others’ suggestions. Just set everyone to ‘suggesting‘ and not ‘editing‘. Google docs will also inform them when changes have been made, so they are reminded that you’re still out there, and you still need their help. Be sure to make corrections on the page so the beta readers can comment on them if they want to.

Don’t like Google docs? Then use Word and turn on its editing features. Use Dropbox or the like if your documents are too big to practically email back and forth.

Manners Count With Your Beta Reader!

Be gracious about the corrections; these people are trying to help you! But if it’s important for your character to be Lithuanian or eating pretzels or whatever, then stick to your guns and explain why. Do so without rancor, of course. Be kind and your beta readers will be so in return to you.

Establish a really good relationship, and you could be reading for each other for years.

PS… Beta Reader Rewards

Not 100% necessary, but nice to do all the same. I’ve gotten and given gift certificates. And if your work makes it to publication, send them a signed copy. For free.

Categories
Career changing

Writing Progress Report – Second Quarter 2020

Progress Report – Second Quarter 2020

How was second quarter 2020? It was dominated by COVID-19 and our country’s conversation about race; that’s how it was. So I spent second quarter 2020 hunkered down. And working! There is so much out there on small business recovery. And man oh man, is it ever confusing.

Second Quarter 2020 Posted Works

Second Quarter 2020
First of all, I worked on a number of new short stories. A lot of these had been drafted on paper and so I spent some time fixing and polishing them.

Then on Wattpad I finished posting fan fiction as I am not posting wholly original work there these days. That is, unless it’s for the WattNaNo profile. The only exception is anything which went through a ton of querying but never got anywhere.

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 – 29 reads, 9 comments
  • How to NaNoWriMo – 18,579+ reads, 231+ comments
  • My Favorite Things (like kibble) – 972 reads, 133 comments
  • Revved Up – 59,252+ reads, 530 comments
  • Side By Side – 9 reads, 0+ comments
  • Social Media Guide for Wattpad – 13,479 reads, 590 comments
  • The Canadian Caper – 473 reads, 37 comments
  • The Dish – 250 reads, 24 comments
  • There is a Road – 188 reads, 28 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2018 – 1,814+ reads, 45 comments
  • WattNaNo’s Top Picks 2019 –  1,124 reads, 7 comments
  • What Now? – 1,949 reads, 48 comments

More Published Works

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

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

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

Canaries, a short story in the March 29, 2019, edition of Theme of Absence.

Complications, a story in the Queer Sci Fi Discovery anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds went to supporting the QSF website.

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

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.

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.

Prep Work

So currently, my intention, for this year’s NaNoWriMo, is that I am writing the second novel in the Time Addicts/Obolonks universe. But I need to iron out the plot! So a lot of this year will be spent on that. This one will be called Time Addicts – Nothing is Permanent.

Second Quarter 2020 Queries and Submissions

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

In Progress

As of second quarter 2020, the following are still in the running for publishing:

Publisher Title
Corner Bar Magazine Darkness into Light
Daily Science Fiction The Student
Gemini Magazine The Guitarist
Journey Into… None of This is Real
Minola Review Gentrification
Pif Magazine Soul Rentals ‘R’ Us
Protean Justice
Salvage Blue Card
Short Story.me Who Do We Blame for This?
The New Southern Fugitives The Guitarist
Whiskey Island Magazine I Used to Be Happy
Zooscape A Kitten

All Other Statuses

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

  • 24 submissions of 12 stories (so 9 submissions carry over from 2019)
  • Acceptances: 1, 4.17%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 0, 0%
  • In Progress: 11, 45.83%
  • Rejected-Personal: 7, 29.17%
  • Rejected-Form: 1, 4.17%
  • Ghosted: 4 (so these are submissions where I never found out what happened), 16.67%

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

Second Quarter 2020 Productivity Killers

So it’s work, and the whole social distancing thing, what else? Plus the country is in the midst of an upheaval over race. It’s .. a lot.

I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Because second quarter 2020 will not be the end of that!

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Inspiration Writing

Getting inspiration from injuries and medical care

Getting inspiration from injuries and medical care

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

Injuries and medical care

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

Injuries

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

Illnesses

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

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

Childbirth

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

Death

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

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

Medical Care: Takeaways

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