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Book Reviews Writing

Self-Review – The Enigman Cave

Review – The Enigman Cave

The Enigman Cave has some of its roots in fan fiction.

Background

So I had created a wholly original species called Witannen. They had flowers growing out of their scalps instead of hair, and the pure Witannen would sport little vestigial wings which couldn’t be used for much of anything. But the flowers, the chavecoi, would have a symbiotic relationship with a Witannen and could photosynthesize and prevent starvation.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | The Enigman Cave width=
The Enigmans, however, were something else. Also, I wanted them to be a lot more primitive. However it wasn’t until I decided to make them similar to Australopithecines that they sprang into sharp focus.

Plot

Marnie and her crew on the Valentina Tereshkova have one job – to find multi-cellular life. They have already found tons of primordial soup and unicellular life. The galaxy seems to abound with it. Hence the opening line: Life is common.

I think it’s one of the better opening lines I’ve ever written.

Back at home, there is a world government. But they seem to have forgotten the Val and the other wedge ships (another 20+ are also looking for life but have gone in other directions). And no wonder, as the government is collapsing. When the Val finds the Enigmans, the new despotic government sees an opportunity to play at being Cortez 2.0. Marnie feels her only hope of protecting the people of the Enigman Cave is to prove their intelligence. And how?

In the JAG Court.

Characters

The main character is Captain Marnie Shapiro, of the USS Valentina Tereshkova. Also, the other main characters include her first officer, Patricia LaRue, who she calls Trixie, which makes her sound like a dance hall girl. Trixie’s from London, Kentucky, with an accent right out of the holler.

The chief medical officer is Dr. Jazminder Parikh. At the start of the book, she and her girlfriend, Ginny Carey, have recently ended their relationship. Then there’s Marnie’s ex-husband, Ben Chase. Ben is the chief botanist aboard and he and his fiancée, nurse Kristen Watson, are about to be married. He also cheated on Marnie with Kristen.

So things are uncomfortable. But when Marnie meets the nighttime veterinarian, Lex Feldman, sparks fly. Nighttime vet, you ask? There are two vets, because the ship’s food stores are alive – goats, chickens, cod, and salmon. There’s even farming.

Day shift vet Tom Ciorciari is on the Bridge, because the Scientific Officer (I tried so hard to keep it from just copying Star Trek), Art Yarrow, is on paternity leave. Yes, it’s a ship with children, and even a mid-level officer in charge of them.

Plus the lawyers of the JAG Court are also important characters. The head of that unit is Hunter Garcia. The others are Terry Lynn Shull, Steve Roberts, Mike Medeiros, and Nick Minecci.

Also, lots of characters in The Enigman Cave are named after people I know.

The scenes take place either on board the Val or on the surface of Kepler 423-B, which they name Enigma.

Fun Fact About The Enigman Cave

I originally wanted to call this piece The Enigma Cave. And then I learned that title was already taken.

Ewps.

Memorable Quotes from The Enigman Cave

“Yes, Dr. Chase? The captain needs you here on the Bridge.”

And then in the background, there was Ben’s voice, whining and complaining, “I’m in the middle of an experiment.”

“Benjamin Chase!” Marnie yelled, her sudden increase in volume scaring everyone and breaking Tom out of his trance. “Get your ass over here. Now! Or I get somebody else to run Botany.”

“All right. But I blame you if this experiment goes to hell.” He cut the connection.

Tom looked back over his shoulder at Marnie. “What did we just find?”

“Wait for confirmation. Just, just wait for it. Astrid, send Ben the picture you took of the green stuff. Send it to his tablet.”

“Will do.”

A few minutes later, Chase stomped in. “You know I’m not on the Bridge crew,” he began, glaring at his ex-wife. “And who the hell sent me a picture of a bunch of chlorophyll?”

“Chlorophyll?” asked Ray. The others just stared.

“Yes! Goddamned chlorophyll. I don’t have the time for these shenanigans,” Chase huffed.

“Ben,” Marnie looked him in the eye, “are you absolutely certain that stuff is chlorophyll?”

“I know chlorophyll when I see it. Every botanist does.”

“And the chemical formula, Tom, what do you have on your screen?”

“C55H72O5N4Mg.”

More Quotes from The Enigman Cave (same scene)

“That, C-whatever, that stuff,” Marnie said. “Is that chlorophyll?”

“Yes.” Chase was even more peeved. “Everybody past Biochemistry 101 knows that.”

“They never found it off Earth though, eh?” Marnie asked, playing her trump card.

“What?”

“Here,” Astrid punched up another picture. “This is the atmosphere of the world we’re orbiting.”

Ben leaned over and then looked through the scope at the Scientific station. “Well, I’ll be damned.” He, too, was slack-jawed. “We, we found it.”

“Are you sure?” asked Marnie.

“Yes,” Chase was threatening to become as shell-shocked as Marnie and Tom had been. “Algae can have chlorophyll. They’re technically unicellular. But they, they live communally. I, I would say they, they count as, as multi-cellular.”

“Remember where you were, remember what you were thinking and, and how you felt,” Marnie said to them. “Because this is goddamned history.”

Rating

So if I had to rate The Enigman Cave, I would put it at about T for Teen. Because there are three sex scenes (one alien). Plus there is one incidence of violence but it’s only on screen for a moment. The inciting incident is a pair of deaths but the story starts after that, so I don’t show them.

Upshot

Also, at the time, it was the best book I had ever written. But now? I can’t say. I can still see some parts where it could stand to be trimmed. So now I strongly suspect it will need an overhaul before I can even think about querying it.

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Career changing Publishing

Beta Reading for Indie Writers

Beta Reading

Beta reading is both an art and a science, I feel. There are good ways to do it. And there are not so good ways.

But as an independent writer, the best way to get beta readers to help you is to become a beta reader yourself. Here I’ll address common issues and ways to make it a more productive experience for both of you.

Editing, Copy Editing, and Proofreading

A beta reader is analogous to a beta tester. You are supposed to be checking a piece before querying or self-publication or posting on a free content site such as Wattpad. Beta testers generally do not test software’s very first iteration. They might be asked to test a function or even the whole shebang once it’s done. But they don’t test the lines of code to see if they are correct. That is a developer’s job.

And beta reading is similar. You are not responsible for checking basic stuff like spelling. The author should have run their work through a spellchecker, prior to sending it to you. If they do not have a spellchecker for some odd reason, then you as the beta reader are in for quite the ride. And this is not a happy ride, I assure you.

How to handle it

What should you do If someone sends a document utterly riddled with spelling errors? Here are a few options:

  • Kick it back (nicely) and tell them to run a spellcheck before they send it back to you. If they don’t know how to do this, then you can suggest they Google free spellcheckers or save it as a Google doc (under Tools, there is a spellchecker).
  • Correct their spelling, but make it clear this will increase the time frame considerably. For most people, even if they are not in much of a rush, this a good incentive to take care of business.
  • Tell them the relationship isn’t working out.

A lack of spellchecking does not necessarily mean someone doesn’t care about your time. The writer might not be a native speaker. They might be very new to the scene. Or they could have certain forms of dyslexia which make a spellchecker kind of throw up its metaphoric hands and run in the opposite direction. If any of these are the case, then see if you can get compensated for your time. Because at that point, you’ve gone beyond beta reading.

Length and Time and Expectations

The best-laid plans, yadda yadda, you know the rest. We plan one thing, but life has a tendency to inconveniently intervene. Consider your time, how fast you read, and any monkey wrenches life might throw. A good rule of thumb for planning is to multiply by one and a half. Therefore if you think 1,000 words will take you an hour, then consider it will take 90 minutes and plan accordingly.

Ask about their schedule. Maybe they want to publish in two months, or twelve. If you can’t meet their deadline, all is not lost! Instead, you could just beta read the first few chapters. Figure out what works best. Or agree to work together at a later date.

Next, I’ll look at what you need to do, to be a good beta reader.

Categories
Book Reviews

Self-Review – Almost Shipwrecked

Review – Almost Shipwrecked

This story is one of those I desperately want to read with a Queens accent. It just seems like the heroine of Almost Shipwrecked is someone who maybe isn’t what anyone would call a Rhodes Scholar. And that is okay.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Almost Shipwrecked width=

Background to Almost Shipwrecked

When our narrator escapes her space ship, her escape pod takes her in an unexpected direction.

My main idea was to show more of a “below decks” character in a decidedly unheroic situation. There was to be no technobabble.

Plot for Almost Shipwrecked

The action starts with the narrator complaining more than anything else. And the first fact for the reader is: this was negligence. It wasn’t some fancy malfunction or an interstellar war.

Instead, the engineer got drunk one too many times, and did not do all of the necessary maintenance. The narrator and any of her shipmates who made it out, is damned lucky to be alive at all.

Characters

So the characters are really just the narrator and the folks she meets.

Memorable Quotes

I’m a payload specialist, or at least I guess I was. That’s a fancy way of saying I was in charge of inventory. I wasn’t a doctor like Mendez or an engineer like stupid Rogers or a leader like Ng. I’m more like a glorified box lifter upper and putter downer and counter and orderer.

Rating

The story has a K rating.

Upshot

I am so grateful that Almost Shipwrecked was a story in the January 2019 edition of Empyreome.

And I also like how there is a slight bit of hopefulness at the end. But only slight. And it is only maybe. Because the narrator’s life could end that night, or a few days later if she can’t eat anything on the planet.

Also, there is a prequel to this story, Hot Mess, where I reveal the narrator’s name, Cheryl Frasier.

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Book Reviews

Self-Review – Props

Review – Props

Props was written as a part of an anthology benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association – The Longest Night Watch. This short story is a part of the first of the three volumes (so far).

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Props width=
I wanted the story to be a bit of a revelation, that someone could be paranoid but still seem coherent and onto something, at least for a while. It relies on the old trope of the only person seeing the monsters being the sane one.

But the reality is that Sarah Nichols is far from sane. Instead, her world is collapsing unto itself because of Alzheimer’s. She does not realize that she’s just incorrectly trying to connect certain events and people and places, all with a veneer of science fiction.

Sarah doesn’t know where she is, so she creates a fantasy for herself. It’s not a terribly comforting fantasy. Rather, her fantasy is of an alien abduction.

Background for Props

Because I wanted to write a story with an unreliable narrator, I turned to a familiar old science fiction trope: alien abductions. For what do addled people think is happening to them when they transfer to a nursing facility? It has got to be confusing at best. Hence I figured someone would see it as an alien abduction.

Plot

Sarah Nichols, the ultimate unreliable narrator, starts to see conspiracies and oddities all around her. Whatever this new place is, and whoever these new people are, they can’t possibly be real. Instead, she insists they are all props in a scary alien play.

Characters

The characters are main character (and unreliable narrator) Sarah Nichols and Social Worker Emily Chen. Otherwise, the people don’t seem real to Sarah, so they don’t get names.

Memorable Quotes

Day 35 – They can’t seem to get the look of us humans quite right. Every single subject looks old and careworn. Even a child I saw, a little girl – she looked careworn. If I were an alien and had a human test subject, I tell you, I would get this right. But their lack of quality control tells me that there are opportunities if I keep a look out for them.

Rating

Props has a K rating.

Upshot

I think the story works pretty well. I am okay with how it was formatted (I should have probably been more insistent on changing it, but so be it). Please give generously. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease.

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Book Reviews

Self-Review – Surprises

Review – Surprises

Surprises was one of those weird little stories which I did not expect to write.

So it’s a sequel of sorts to The Enigman Cave.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | Surprises width=

Background to Surprises

The background is that Marnie and company are on their way back to Earth. So it is not going to be easy going. Marnie is well aware the reception they get might not be such a great one. In fact, it could even be a death trap.

The Plot of Surprises

And the plot is, well, there isn’t too much of one. Essentially, Marnie and her pals get drunk, much like at the start of The Enigman Cave. But in this instance, they are worried about how the Earth is. And so Marnie ends up an emotional mess.

But keep in mind, it was a requirement of this anthology to add two specific elements. I had to add a towel and the number 42. So this was in keeping with the anthology’s Douglas Adams theme. For this space opera, it did not lend itself too well to either Easter egg.

Characters

The characters are Captain Marnie Shapiro and her first officer, Trixie LaRue, and the chief medical officer, Jazminder Parikh. Assistant Veterinarian Lex Feldman shows up. But it’s botanist Ben Chase who gets the most time – and he isn’t even “on screen”.

Memorable Quotes from Surprises

“We got ourselves a gol-darned party here,” LaRue said, her accent betraying every moment of a rural Kentucky upbringing. “Booze ‘n dancing girls.”

“Just the one dancing girl,” Parikh said, doing a little swishing step and then a twirl which made her lab coat fly out a little bit, like the barest approximation of a whirling dervish. Her accent, in marked contrast to LaRue’s, was the posh product of a fine education in Leeds and a childhood in a wealthy suburb of Hyderabad.

“Jazzie, you sound plummier than usual,” Marnie said. “How much of that have you had so far?” She waved a bit at the bottle.

“I’ve had just enough to make me all right with it being chardonnay and not merlot. It’s alcohol for the damned hoi polloi, even worse than that white zinfandel rubbish. It’s a sorry sop for the masses.” She stabbed the air with a finger. “But at least it’s posher than that six.”

Rating

The story has a K+ rating. While no hanky panky occurs “on screen”, there are certainly references to it. Plus, there is a bit of bad language and a brief bit of nudity at the end. However, I don’t describe the nudity in any way. So it’s just … there.

Upshot

It was great when 42 and Beyond published Surprises. But the anthology is no more. It only lives on in memory and in a few scattered books and Amazon Kindle files. A pity.

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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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Book Reviews

Self-Review – The Interview

Review – The Interview

The Interview came about because I conjured up a kicker of an opening line. So then it immediately started to fall into place.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | The Interview width=

Background

Since I have been on countless job interviews, this one was rather easy to write. So I brought forth a memory I have of an interview being conducted over lunch. It was an odd situation. Two guys met with me and neither of them ate anytime. I ate Caesar salad by myself.

Also, as I recall, they were supposed to take me to some swanky-ish place. But instead, we went to Pizzeria Uno. At that moment, I should have known damned well it was not going to go well.

Plot of The Interview

The narrator meets a woman who runs an agency which hunts demons. And then things go a little haywire from there. In particular, during their meeting, the narrator gives away how she can sense demons. So this is vital information. But not when the story ends, it isn’t. Then it turns into an albatross around her neck.

As for the restaurant, it is a combination of a number of places I have been to. The parking lot, in particular, is from Jasper White’s Summer Shack in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But with the wine steward and all, the pretend restaurant in The Interview is a lot more hoity-toity.

Characters

The characters are the narrator and the head of the agency.  The narrator is the interviewee.

Memorable Quotes from The Interview

“So, how long have you wanted to hunt demons?” The question hung in the air for a second.

The job interview was being conducted over lunch and I had just taken in a big forkful of Fettuccine Alfredo. I washed it down with iced tea, swallowed, wiped my mouth, and tried not to look stupid. “It’s since I was just out of school. My classmates didn’t see them. But I did.”

Rating

The Interview has a K rating. While there is some menace behind it, nothing violent happens “on screen”.

Upshot

I was so pleased when The Interview was the featured story in the December 14, 2018 edition of Theme of Absence. So they even interviewed me! Canaries is another story in Theme of Absence. So I guess they like me.

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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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