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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – Mettle

Review – Mettle

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

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

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

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

Background

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

Plot

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

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

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

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

Characters

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

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

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

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

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

Memorable Quotes from Mettle

He started to dump the corn into a bowl.

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

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

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

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

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

“I want French toast.”

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

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

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

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

Rating for Mettle

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

I 100% mean this.

Upshot

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

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

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Writing

Writing Progress Report – First Quarter 2021

Progress Report – First Quarter 2021

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

First Quarter 2021 Posted Works

First Quarter 2021

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

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

Milestones

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

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

More Published Works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Props, a story in the Longest Night Watch I anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds go to Alzheimer’s research.

Surprises, a story in Book One of the 42 and Beyond Anthology set.

The Boy in the Band, a story in the Pride Park anthology. So this is an anthology where the proceeds go to the Trevor Project.

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

The Last Patient, a story in the Stardust, Always anthology. This was an anthology where the proceeds go to cancer research.

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

This is My Child, a short story published in the April 8, 2019 edition of Asymmetry Fiction.

Three Minutes Back in Time, a short story published in Mythic Magazine.

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

Darkness into Light, a short story published in Corner Bar Magazine.

WIP Corner

So my current WIPs are as follows:

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

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

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

Mettle – so it’s all about how society goes to hell in a hand basket when the metals of the periodic table start to disappear. But then what?

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

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

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

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

Prep Work

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

First Quarter 2021 Queries and Submissions

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

In Progress

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

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

All Other Statuses as of First Quarter 2021

So be sure to see the Stats section for some details on any query statuses for first quarter 2021 which were not in progress.

Stats

So in 2018, my querying stats were:

  • 68 submissions of 19 stories
  • Acceptances: 4, 5.88%
  • In Progress-Under Consideration: 3, 4.41% (so these don’t seem to have panned out)
  • In Progress: 10, 14.71%
  • Rejected-Personal: 14, 20.59%
  • Rejected-Form: 24, 35.29%
  • Ghosted: 13 (so these were submissions where I never found out what happened), 19.12%

So in 2019 my querying stats were:

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

2020 Stats

So in 2020 my querying stats were:

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

2021 Stats

So in 2021 my querying stats are:

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

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

This Quarter’s Productivity Killers

So it’s work, what else? I am working on a ton of things and since that is also writing, it can sometimes burn me out. Because you know that first quarter 2021 will not be the end of that!

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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – The Last Patient

Review – The Last Patient

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

Background

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

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

Plot

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

Characters

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

Memorable Quotes

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

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

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

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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – All My Aliens

Self Review – All My Aliens

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

Background

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

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

Plot

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

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

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

Soap operas.

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

My Aliens: the Characters

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

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

The Action

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

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

Fortunately, the story has all of that.

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

Rating

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

Upshot

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

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Career changing Writing

Advice for Dealing With a Rejection

Dealing With Rejection

Rejection stinks. There’s no two ways about it.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Rejection
Rejection may stink, but not writing? That’s a lot worse.

Here are three things you can do if you have received a rejection from an agent or a publisher.

Mourning

1) Mourn. Yes, mourn! It kinda hurts so allow yourself to feel hurt. But! Put a time limit on that. As in a week. Then consider yourself done with mourning what was.

Leave it!

2) Stick it in a drawer for three months, minimum. Let it go and move onto other things (another good reason to work on a lot of stuff at once).

Review it!

3) After the magical three months (or more) have elapsed, take out the file and the rejection slip.

Objective Considerations

Consider a few objective things: (a) was it the wrong genre for that publisher? Then be more careful next time and keep track of which publisher accepts which kinds of works. (b) was it not submitted correctly? Then take the time to do submissions right. Do they want an attachment? Then send one next time. Do they want just the pitch and three chapters? Then send that. Do they just want the pitch? Then only send that. You get the idea. (c) Did you submit to more than one publisher when this one said they didn’t like that? Then don’t do that again.

Subjective Considerations

Also consider subjective things: (a) did they not understand what your story is about? Then you need to work on your pitch/blurb. A writers’ group is a great place to do that. (b) did they say they had trouble getting through your story? Then you need to edit that sucker. Never mind if you already did. Edit again. And consider working with a pro editor. They are pricey but that is for a good reason. If you absolutely cannot afford a professional editor, then you need to hack away at your work yourself. So determine whether scenes or characters can be combined, as a start. Go back to beta feedback (you did work with beta readers, right?) and figure out what you hand waved away and work on what they told you to do. Because they were probably at least partly right. (c) did they say it just wasn’t for them? Then figure out why. Maybe they got three other moose detective stories before yours. Or maybe they’re closing the imprint you queried to. Maybe they’re just swamped.

Moving On

Most importantly, keep the fires burning. Keep works in five categories:

  1. Idea stage. You’re just kicking this one around.
  2. Outlining stage. If you don’t outline, then consider this the ‘serious ideas’ stage.
  3. Rough draft writing stage. Get it on paper or pixels.
  4. Beta reading/editing stage. Polish that prose and alter your work in response to feedback.
  5. Querying stage/publishing stage. If you’re self-publishing, then this is just the publishing stage.

The mourning, etc. I listed above? Call it stage #5a, or #4a if you really need to go back into the guts of the piece.

Your writing is worthwhile, even with a rejection. You can do this.

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Inspiration Writing

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

Starburst Method for Writing a Novel

Starburst Method? What is it?

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

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

Dependencies

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

Connections

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

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

Plot Advancement

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Writing

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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Social Media Writing

Social Media Happy Holidays!

Are You Having Happy Holidays?

Well, happy holidays from me!

So thanks to the fine folks at Canva, there’s a new holiday image and I’ve got to say I really love it.

Plus I was getting a little tired of reusing the older holiday post. Hence here’s something new which I hope will be a lot more timeless.

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

Reflections

Because the year is drawing to a close, I get a bit pensive. So I often wonder if the year worked out all right. Did I accomplish everything I had wanted to? What were my obstacles? And how did I try to overcome them? That is, if I tried to at all ….

In addition, this is when I start to look forward to the following year. Some of this is in terms of resolutions. And some of this is in terms of goal making. Because I am working on becoming a more regular writer, many of these goals center around writing. But also around its ancillary activities. Because editing, proofreading, beta reading (both for me, and for me to do for others), and promotions are also important.

A writer, if they are at all serious, will have to do all of these things. And by the way, that is even true of big time famous authors. They have to accept editing. And they have to promote their works. Plus we all need to work on our craft. None of us are perfect.

So without further ado, here are some possible goals for next year.

Next Year’s Goals (More or Less)

Goals come in a few flavors.

Writing Goals

So in 2018, one great goal worked out beautifully. It was to write every day, every other month. Now, sometimes that was a bit difficult to do. There were some days when I just plain didn’t want to write something on top of everything else. But the discipline, I feel, was good for me. So that’s one goal.

Dovetailing with this goal was writing short works during the off months. This I did a lot of although not enough. It came in mighty handy during my most tired days to already have a draft, and just need to polish and type it. Hence I need to do that more.

Promotional Goals

Another goal from 2018 was to use the off months to promote. This one did not work out quite so well. Life was busy and I was tired. And I was suffering from some wicked imposter syndrome on top of everything else. Hence I will need to work harder to promote. Fortunately, this blog is a part of my promotional efforts.

Publishing Goals

Yet another goal from 2018 was to query my unpublished works. And again, my adherence to that goal was kind of spotty. So I will need to do better in that area. It may help to get the whole process more organized. And I have been trying to do just that. In addition, I need to know when to throw in the towel and instead pull the trigger on self-publishing. For some works, that might be the best or even the only place to get them out there.

A related goal is to really learn as much about self-publishing as I can, from the top down. This also ties in with promotions, to understand how to best promote my work and get it in front of the biggest audiences. It might be in the form of giveaways, swag, conferences, conventions, or something else.

Community Goals

Finally, writing is a community and that means we need to have each others’ backs. While Facebook has splintered badly in that area, Twitter is still a good place. Following and participating in author hashtags like #AuthorConfession or #OneLineWed already help. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve got over 1,000 Twitter followers. That is a tipping point in Twitter, I’ve noticed. In general, an account starts to get people following for the sake of following. However, one thing I need to work on is if I can shunt some of the accounts I’m following to lists instead, and then unfollow. Because if the number of people I’m following stays below the number of people who are following me, it should help to bolster my influence.

Takeaways

I realize this was a bit of a heavy topic for the holidays. Are you looking forward to next year? Are you planning, or just winging it?

In addition, do you like this page? Tweet it!


Finally, you can find me on .

Categories
Career changing Inspiration

Senses

Senses

Our senses shape the real world, so why not the fictional one as well?

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Senses

When we talk about the senses, what do we really mean? And how can our thoughts about them lead us to writing inspiration? To begin, let’s look at them in order. This is more or less in order of how important many people feel they are. However, your list’s order may vary.

Sight

First off, when we talk about sensations, we inevitably go to sight. Sight is likely the first sense ever evolved by us (probably about 600 million years ago, at the time of the so-called Cambrian explosion). Hence it is important and a lot of our brain power is devoted to it. But what does it mean to write a story based upon sight? Since our vision is fairly sophisticated (as opposed to that of, say, flatworms), that can encompass shapes, colors, or sizes, or even perceptions of textures.

Hence why not write a story where the scene steals the show? Or one where the narrator is a static object, such as a tee shirt or even a computer? Another idea: write a story based upon a color.

Hearing

When we think of hearing, inevitably we consider music, but we can also think of the sounds of voices or even the mundane sounds of life. When you write, think about how people sound. Do they speak with accents? Are they loud? And what are their pitches and tones? Could some characters sing soprano, whereas others are basso profundos? Maybe someone is a horrible singer. In addition, a lot of us know someone whose voice goes up at the end of sentences, even when they aren’t asking anything. Why do they do that?

Other sounds can be of interest, such as barking dogs, running water, or the gentle hum of a space heater. What about explosions, or creaking doors? Nails on a chalkboard, anyone?

Why not write a story where the sounds are the main focus? Or one where music flows through the action, or one where silence reigns supreme? The film A Quiet Place has taken that idea and really run with it.

Touch

Touch and, by extension, feelings, can make a great topic for storytelling. Think of hot and cold, or various degrees of comfort. Touch connotes everything from caresses to slaps. Feelings naturally make us think of emotions. So maybe the reaction ends up being more important than its cause. Or a character’s depression or their nervousness or contentment become the focus.

Why not write a story where touch steals the show? Or one about odd touches like itchy sweaters or dog bites or the rain beating against a character’s face?

And when it comes to feelings, why not let them take center stage? A story based upon anger will compel in one way; one based on humor will compel differently.

Smell

Smell has a number of great synonyms and near-synonyms which add nuanced shades of meaning. When something reeks, it has far different connotations from when it has an aroma or a bouquet. Aromas also link us to some of our deepest and oldest memories. When smell becomes part of a story, that often adds more realism. Because there’s nothing like saying a planet smells like wet dog to immediately put you there.

Why not let smells take over? How about a story told from a dog’s point of view? Or one connecting an aroma to a memory (Proust did that!)?

Taste

Because taste is dependent upon smell, we can often lose a lot of our sense of taste if we have a stuffed nose. For writers, taste can add a feeling of home to a story. Or a story can feel very alien if a taste is particularly odd. The taste of chocolate or ice cream might add pleasant connotations. Yet the tastes of blood or bile will take those away just as quickly.

Why not give taste the spotlight? How about describing a meal on another planet? What about the taste of blood or coffee or a dollar bill?

Takeaways

Want to know how to add believability to a scene? Cover three senses at the very least. Most people go with sight and sound as no-brainers, but what about adding something else? The taste of a lover’s kisses, the smell of a soldier’s old boots, or the texture of a prison uniform can get the reader right into a story.

Categories
Writing

Writing – Starting a Piece

Background – Starting a Piece

Starting can be fraught with stress and worry. You can, at times, wonder if what you’re doing is worthwhile at all. But don’t worry; it is.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill - Starting a Piece
Starting a piece? Here are some ideas of how to get going.

One year I created a kind of web. I had the main character and put her name in a circle on paper. Then I drew a bunch of lines radiating out. I connected her to other characters and then, on the lines, wrote why they connected – whatever it was (and she didn’t have to connect to everyone, of course). That got me to start creating scenes, and I ordered them. Some ended up just being little scenelets. I did this with all of the major characters and eliminated redundancies. Once I had the order down, I started to think about transitions between scenes.

Points of View

This web concept worked very well for a story with one main character. For The Real Hub of the Universe series, Ceilidh was always the center of things and everything would happen from her point of view. If she did not directly witness something, she would have to read about it or learn about it in some other fashion. Sometimes this meant that another character would have to have a conversation with her.

Multiple POVs

For a piece with multiple points of view, the process can differ. This time, the web is more like a series of intersecting rings. How do characters relate? What do they see, feel, and hear, touch and taste? Who do they know, or like, or despise? What are their goals? What are their prejudices? With Mettle, there are nine separate points of view, although some of them (like Eleanor’s) aren’t the focus too often. Instead, characters with more “screen time”, such as Nell, Craig, and Elise, had to do more of the heavy lifting. One thing which helped a great deal (and it was serendipity, I swear!) was that one of the major plot points concerned lessons which the middle schooler characters had not yet had. Therefore, a part of the exposition became teaching them. As they were taught, so was the reader.

This is one of the reasons why so many television programs kick off with someone moving or getting a new job, or the start of a relationship. Newness is appealing, yes, but it’s also because that gives an expository “out”. If everyone in the book or TV show knows how high Niagara Falls is, then they won’t need to bother talking about it. But if one character does not know, then the audience or reader learns this piece of information at the same time that the ignorant character does. That’s ignorant in terms of “not knowing” rather than being dumb, FYI.

Starting a Piece: Some Takeaways

If you’re still having a hard time starting, recognize that it can also be a species of writer’s block. But if the stress is really bad, you can always write about it.