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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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Career changing Legal

Why you can’t charge for fanfiction

Why you can’t charge for fanfiction

I enjoy fanfiction as much as, perhaps, the next person. But you still can never, ever charge for it. I implore you: don’t even try.

Seriously, put it out of your mind.

Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Copyright and fanfiction
Copyright and fanfiction often collide

But aren’t there exceptions?

Yes, there are some. But first, let’s talk about why fan fiction is problematic.

Issues With This Form of Expression

For writers like you and me – and Stephen King and JK Rowling as well – we prepare our own universes. Some universes are familiar and take any number of real-life elements. For example, King’s The Stand mainly takes place in more or less present-day America. King does not run into any copyright issues with New York City being New York City. Other places in the book, though, are more the product of his imagination. In Rowling’s Harry Potter universe, though, a lot more of the scene is dreamt up by her.

For both authors, and for countless others, originality consists of creating a universe, creating characters, devising a plot, and then executing the plot in some fashion.

In fan fiction, another person (or persons) created the universe and the characters. Even when the fanficcer adds characters, the fictional world remains the original author’s creation. Hence one of the main issues with fan fiction is that it keeps the fanficcer from learning how to do that.

Benefits of Fanfiction

It’s not all bad, of course. The biggest and most measurable benefit is that it keeps you writing. Creativity is often sparked by simply being creative, that is, you write five or seven days per week, and you can fill up that writing time fairly readily. But if you only write three times per month, you may find you have writers’ block when you make the infrequent attempt. There is something about the pressure of deadlines or at least the pressure of your own internal expectations. It helps to not have a blank page to stare at all the time.

There is nothing whatsoever wrong with borrowing another’s universe in order to keep writing and exercising the creativity muscle.

Just don’t try to sell it.

Categories
Career changing Publishing

Transitioning from fanfiction

Transitioning from fanfiction

If you first wrote in someone else’s universe, and now you want to claim your own, you may be transitioning from fanfiction.

Going from fan fiction writing to wholly original writing

It’s more than just ‘filing off a few serial numbers’.

How writing fanfiction can help you

It teaches you how to follow continuity. It can keep you writing when you’re stuck. Writing begets more writing (even fan fiction!), so it pays to keep going. You are better off, in terms of preventing writer’s block, to just keep on writing. Hence, if all else fails, go with fan fiction. Of course there are plenty of places to post it online. Here’s one.

How writing fanfiction can hurt you

It does not teach you how to make your own world, and it can hamper your growth in this area. Furthermore, if you are not used to making your own characters, it can hurt you there, as well.

Flip Your Perception

So consider what the foundational IP (intellectual property) does, and why it matters to you as you start the process of transitioning.

  • Interesting stories – spend some time deconstructing your favorites. Where did the writers hand-wave a problem away? Also, where did they get confusing? In addition, where did they deliver on the promise of their teaser/preview?
  • Compelling characters – why do the canon characters matter to you? Again, engage in some deconstruction. Forget who plays a character. So consider how you would feel about a character if someone else played them. Furthermore, consider how you would feel if the character’s gender and/or sexuality were swapped. Would you feel different if the character was of a race different from the current actor’s? Be your own casting director. Who, living or dead, could play the role better?

More ideas

  • Fascinating scenes – even within a familiar place, commercial intellectual property exists inside its own bucket. It might be a city block, a hospital, a car driving across the country, or somewhere else. What would happen if the scene shifted? Does the work succeed if it moves from Milwaukee to San Diego to Angkor Wat?
  • Action-driving plots – what kicks things off? If it’s a television program, what happened during the pilot? Did someone new move in? Did someone lose their job? Have a wedding? Have a kid? Graduate? Get arrested? Would the storyline still work if the pilot was different?
  • Believable effects, makeup, costumes, lighting, scenery, etc. – technology is a part of onscreen fiction writing. New techniques are constantly being invented, as studios save money but also enhance believability. What happens if an older show or film gets new makeup and green screening? Does that help the story, or harm it?

Blaze Your Own Trail

For every exciting intellectual property out there, whether it’s books, films, YouTube videos, TV programs, or something else, it all started somewhere.

So what is your story? Who are your characters?

Who knows? Maybe someday someone will want to write fan fiction about your work.

Categories
Career changing Publishing

Scene Setting

Scene Setting

Scene setting is important to know.

What is Scene Setting?

Basic scene setting is a fundamental skill which every writer needs to perfect. Let’s look at some ways to do it.

All the old familiar places

When your story takes place during the present day, you’re in luck! You can get away without going over basic information. Present-day Moscow has cars. Today in Paris, people used the metric system. Current day Kentucky has telephones. So your really basic information is already there. Don’t waste time or pixels or reader good will by explaining any of that, unless it’s somehow important. E. g. if your Russian character was raised in the sticks, maybe they never saw a car before. If your Parisian is a transplant from the United States, she might occasionally forget that most countries use different systems for weights and measures. And if your Kentuckian was deaf and now suddenly can hear (and also led a sheltered life) telephones might be odd things which now have a purpose they didn’t have before.

Familiar place, unfamiliar time

Then there’s the scenario where your location is close or familiar. But the time is now. So, what is it, the past or the future?

Forward into the past

If it’s the past, then you need to do some research. Wikipedia is not a good final source, but it’s not a bad first one. What I mean is, you can start there, particularly if you are unsure about names or parameters. But then you need to branch out. Hence if you are trying to determine whether there were gas lamps lighting the streets of Berlin in 1740, you might want to start with looking up gas lamps and moving on from there. If they were invented later, then your question is answered. But if they were invented earlier (I honestly don’t know), then you should be looking at other sources. You can check footnotes, or just do some creative Googling. I have found The Library of Congress has some great old images, but you may need to spend some time looking, as not everything is logically labelled.

Back to the future

For the future, of course you can invent what you like (and I will get into that with a later blog post). But it pays to do some research anyway. Get an idea of what’s coming. If, say, solar-powered belt buckles are being patented, then why not put them in your near-future story? However, if you are writing a deeper, later future, you might want to make them passé.

Familiar times, unfamiliar places

Is the place found on planet earth? Then do some digging. And don’t just look at touristy sites! I live in Boston. It’s not all Faneuil Hall Marketplace, not by a long shot . By the way, a public service announcement from me: Harvard University is in Cambridge, not Boston. And it is far from the only university in this city.

For alien places, consider what it means if the gravity is stronger, or weaker. What happens if the atmosphere is thinner? One way to make things easier on you is to research similar locations. The Andes or the Himalayas could stand in for a planet with thinner air, for example.

Totally alien

Consider not just the look, but what happens when you engage your other senses. Is the place hot? Smelly? Smoggy? Is the landscape muddy? Frozen? Sandy? Do your characters have to climb? Cross rivers?

Takeaways

Put the reader in the action by engaging multiple senses. Latch onto the familiar if you can. Analogize to give the reader a faster understanding of the place. Do the homework, even on the small almost throwaway scenes, so your readers won’t have to.

Categories
Career changing Publishing

Genre Treatments

Genre Treatments

What are genre treatments?

Genre Treatments

When it comes to genre treatments, do you treat horror, science fiction, and romance all the same way? Or do you just stick to one genre and call it a day?

What are Literary Genres?

It might help to understand just what literary genres are. Let’s start with the short one.

Nonfiction

Narrative nonfiction tells a story. Biographies and autobiographies are often more or less subsets. While it’s possible to relate a biography in a non-narrative form, that’s pretty rare. Essays are a form of short nonfiction. And speech is pretty self-explanatory.

Fiction

There’s a lot more here. Poetry is usually rhythmic (although it doesn’t have to be) and has evocative imagery. Drama is serious stuff, and it can be a part of theatrical performances.

Humor or Comedy?

Humor is of course the funny stuff. Don’t confuse it with comedy (although we use the terms interchangeably in common parlance). Comedy is just when the protagonist lives at the end of the piece. Contrast that with tragedy, which is where the protagonist dies by the end. But comedy, traditionally, does not mean something is funny.

By this definition, A Clockwork Orange is a comedy.

Fantasy or Myth?

Science fiction and fantasy are pretty close. While fantasy is generally more otherworldly, science fiction usually dovetails with possible science, no matter how far-fetched. Fairy tales, in contrast, are generally drawn from folklore. The more general term, folklore, goes beyond stories to songs and proverbs from long ago. Legends, on the other hand, often have a basis in fact. This can be the subject (a national hero, like El Cid) or the plot. A fable is often short, but it always contains a moral lesson. A short story is generally too brief for a subplot.

Realistic fiction is also fairly self-explanatory. It’s fiction which could be real. Historical fiction adds a historical dimension although it’s often also meant to be realistic.

Horror evokes fright and visceral reactions. Tall tales are overly exaggerated and are virtually the opposite of realistic fiction. Mythology is a traditional narrative with a religious or faith-based component. Mystery involves the solving of a crime or uncovering secrets. Finally, fiction in verse is much longer poetry which contains subplots and major themes.

What are generally not considered to be full-blown genres? Young adult, adventure, romance, etc. Hence the idea, for the most part, has more to do with length and execution than subject matter.

How Do You Treat These Genres?

First of all, consider pacing. Horror often slows down, and then speeds up. Mystery might take a while to build to a satisfactory conclusion. Furthermore, mysteries contain red herrings. Myths might contain repetition. Some of that comes from oral tradition. Humor is all about timing. Drama can often be slow and building. Traditional poetry has a sing-song rhythm.

What is your particular spin? Do you use short, choppy sentence to speed up the action? Do you also choose shorter words?

Consider your genre as you write.

Categories
Book Reviews

Self-Review – The Real Hope of the Universe

Review – The Real Hope of the Universe

Hope was a huge theme in this book.

The Real Hope of the Universe picks where The Real Heart of the Universe left off. As the book to wrap up the trilogy, it had to resolve a number of subplots. So many subplots. Hence the first draft clocked in at over 185,000 words. Oh. My. God.

I didn’t need an editor. I needed a weed whacker.
Adventures in Career Changing | Janet Gershen-Siegel | Quill | The Real Hope of the Universe width=

Background

To wrap up the series, the aliens needed to leave our world. But how?

In addition, there were numerous subplots to resolve. For me, it can be hard to get all of that fixed and sewn up, tied neatly with a bow. This made for any number of issues with length. For after I wrote the first draft, my mission was to cut it by 50,000 words. The second draft (what I call a second draft is often what people call a fifth or a sixth draft) was about 48,500 words less. Much, much better, but still a bear.

Plot for The Real Hope of the Universe

When we first see Ceilidh, Devon, Shannon, and Jake, they are riding in a carriage in Scotland. It’s the 1880s, and there are strange things happening throughout the planet. Some of these odd occurrences happen due to alien intervention. But some of them happen because of what human beings do.

Unlike the other two books, I had to devote this one to far more science fiction. And so it is! Yet at the same time, I had to resolve the subplots. Hence I wrote meanderings to here and there. But as I ruthlessly slashed away at the first draft, I tied a lot more of the subplots’ resolutions to science fiction.

Characters

The characters are the main character, Ceilidh O’Malley. Also, her boyfriend (later husband) Jake Radford and her employer, Dr. Devon Grace. In addition, there is the colony known as Shannon Duffy and the members of a secret society. These include men from both North America and Europe.

Memorable Quotes from The Real Hope of the Universe

They stopped on the steps for a second. “If you wish to leave now, say so.”

“If you’ll have any family you can talk to at all in the future, it shall likely be Luke.”

“So it would seem we should stay and wait it all out. So at least there’s a fighting chance of pulling out the whole truth, and he gets my side of things.”

“Not your side, Jake. Our side.”

“Ours, then. You are my truest companion.” He smiled a little, but it wasn’t in his eyes, which darted to the left for a second. His hand on hers was damp with sweat.

“Coming, you coward?” John sneered. “Or will you stand on the stairs forever, like a mental defective?”

“John,” Ceilidh said, “Kindly don’t speak to us this way. You may have arguments with my husband. He and I are willing to hear them. But a schoolyard bully’s insults are beneath you.”

John was nonplussed, and seemed to be deciding if she’d insulted or praised him. “Just get in the library already.” The library was a dark room, paneled in oak, with more decorations than books in the shelves.

Rating

The story has a K+ rating. As this one has more Gothic elements to it, there are some occasional squicky moments. For anyone who enjoys reading Gothic tales, some of the scenes should be familiar.

Upshot

Because it was the end of the series, I struggled to let go. This is a normal pattern for me. It is quite literally nothing new. Hence the ending is dragged out far more than it ever needed to be.

When the first draft was done, it was the longest piece I had ever written. It took me about four and a half months to finish the first draft. And this was writing every day!

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