Taking An Objective Look at My Writing for Fun

Writing for fun (and other purposes) has become an integral part of my life. I am a published science fiction author. You can find me on Amazon. And I am also a fervent NaNoWriMo participant. And as a part of changing careers, I also write.

Janet Gershen-Siegel | Writing for fun | Untrustworthy

First Edition Cover for Untrustworthy

So let me tell you a little bit about that.

I won the first annual Riverdale Avenue Books NaNoWriMo contest (2013). So it ended up as my first time being published. Since then, I have written for a number of charity anthologies. Also, I have won NaNoWriMo every year since.

I have been writing fiction of one form or another for about fifty-five years. My great love is science fiction. However, I love writing comedy, romance, and mystery. Also, these elements often show up in my writing.

My Published Works

So at this particular point in time, my published writing for fun money (and maybe a smidgen of recognition?) consists of:

  • Untrustworthy, published by Riverdale Avenue Books.
  • 72 Hours of Insanity, anthology published by the Writers’ Workout. Available in Kindle version only.
  • Discovery, LGBTQ stories anthology to benefit Queer Sci-Fi. Published by Mischief Corner Books
  • Stardust, Always, anthology in memory of David Bowie and Alan Rickman, to benefit cancer research. Published by Writers’ Colony Press
  • The Longest Night Watch 1, anthology in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett. Benefits Alzheimer’s research. Published by Writers’ Colony Press
  • The Longest Night Watch 2, anthology in memory of Sir Terry Pratchett and Gene Wilder. Also benefits Alzheimer’s research. Also published by Writers’ Colony Press

In addition to Amazon, you can also find me on GoodReads, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble.com, and the Riverdale Avenue Books website.

NaNoWriMo

In addition, I have won NaNoWriMo every single year since 2013.

  • 2014 – Obolonk Trilogy (the NaNo story was the second in the trilogy):
    • The Obolonk Murders
    • The Polymer Beat
    • also The Badge of Humanity
  • 2015 – The Enigman Cave (queried).
  • 2016 – The Real Hub of the Universe Trilogy (right now in beta)
    • The Real Hub of the Universe
    • and The Real Heart of the Universe (2018 NaNo Winner)
    • The Real Hope of the Universe
  • 2017 – Mettle (right now in beta)
  • 2018 – The Real Hope of the Universe (to be edited)
  • 2019 – Time Addicts Trilogy
    • No One is Safe (2019 NaNo Winner) (to be edited)
    • Nothing is Permanent (2020 NaNo Winner)
    • Everything is up for Grabs (2021 NaNo Winner)
  • 2020 – Time Addicts 2: Nothing is Permanent (to be edited)
  • 2021 – Time Addicts 3: Everything is up for Grabs (to be edited)
  • 2022 – various prequels (currently writing)

Writing for Fun — Works in Progress

I am of the opinion that Ray Bradbury was right. He said that you should write a lot. It should be every day, if that is at all possible. Because, according to him, you can’t write a bad short story 365 days in a row. While I admire his dedication, I just do not have the time these days.

Hence it is a bit more of a chore for me to do non-work writing, as I write so much for work these days. I have any number of small pieces of paper with ideas scratched on them. That is another one of Bradbury’s ideas, to park the weirder ideas and stuff them into a jar labeled ‘Writing Ideas’. And I have done so. I really do have such a jar on my work desk.

As of this writing, the following are works in progress. As of mid-2022, they are all outlined and just about ready for November. Since I doubt I will be able to get to them all, some will show up as part of my 2023 NaNo project and possibly also my 2024 NaNo project:

  • Prequels to:
    • Time Addicts (drafted)
    • The Real Hub of the Universe
    • The Obolonk Murders
    • Untrustworthy
    • The Enigman Cave
    • Mettle
  • Third Obolonk Trilogy (in very early planning stages)

Short Story Writing for Fun

Short stories are a lot more hit or miss. Currently, there are two which I have queried and I would like to find a home. Somewhere.

You Will Drink Your Coffee and Like It – what happens when the fancy coffee machine becomes sapient?

Gentrification – pull away the layers of wallpaper, and you can uncover any family’s shameful secrets.

In addition to these, I have maybe another forty or so which could use some polishing and triaging. They are not all going to be queried. A few of them are probably the decent makings of books.

Ideas and Creation

Where does it all come from? Apart from Schenectady, of course. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ve got three general ways to come up with an idea:

  1. What if? Think up any scenario, anything! And try to figure out what happens if it’s altered in some fundamental manner. For example, what if the moon was 1/3 smaller than it really is?
  2. Reversal. The reader (and the writer, truth be told) expects one thing. Give them its opposite. Such as, making the grass pink.
  3. Unexpected combo platter. Take two (or more) ideas, and smash them together, like they were atoms in the Hadron Supercollider. A good example of this is a fan fiction (hey, don’t knock it!) series I wrote based on two words: smart kangaroos.

If these all fail, by the way, I know it’s probably time to take a break.

Takeaways

My favorite part about creating a story is, I feel, the part where the characters start to come alive. It is a lot like solving a double acrostic puzzle. With this type of a puzzle, eventually the scattered letters here and there start to coalesce into words, and then into the solution.

And with writing, eventually the scattershot ideas start to form into a coherent story line. Some of this happens during the initial ideas phase. More of it happens when I am in the process of drafting the outline. Yet more of it happens when I write the first draft. And then the last of it comes together during editing and beta reading.

It turns into something which you can reasonably refer to as a story. And it contains a population of characters with more than one dimension. They feel, look, and sound like real people. It is an amazing feeling when the characters are so alive in your head that’s it like you are taking dictation from them.

Tell me your stories, oh characters! I’m only here to translate them to paper or pixels.

Finally, I greatly appreciate your support and kindness. So buckle up, it’s a wild ride.

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