Edits, Re-drafts, and Re-writes.

These are a few of my (least) favorite things.

I will say, I hate them significantly less than I used to. I would be surprised to ever find a writer that actually enjoys this part of the process more than the initial writing/creating stage–although I’m quite certain said writer exists, somewhere–but it remains arguably an even more crucial step.

And I’m knee-deep in it now. I’ve re-drafted The Spirit of Winter for the third time, although it would appear off a few initial beta reader notes, it’ll be going through at least a fourth before it gets sent off to magazines for rejection. Hooray! The joys of writing an uber-complicated premise set in a deeply built world within 3K words. Then again, I knew it would be a difficult thing to pull off, hence why I created it in the first place. The best stories are rarely easy to write.

I’ve also begun some edits on The Simurgh, a fantasy short (although, clocking in at around 8-9K words, it’s significantly less… short) set in a separate, yet no less deeply built, world. At least I gave myself room on that one to get into necessary details while avoiding quick info-dumps. These edits are a challenge, but at least there is a bit of guidance based on some great feedback I received from a mag rejection.

Ajayi sits on the cusp of manhood, living in the shadow of a father he never knew, slain when he was a baby during his village’s uprising. Now that a Simurgh threatens them, they are forced to turn to the Spearkeeper’s elite Janluck troop–the same who put down the uprising ten years ago. Ajayi needs to hate them, but their commander Umayyad seems different; almost kind, even caring. How can Ajayi come to age in a world here two truths exist at the same time, yet contradict each other?

We’ll see who is up next to turn this one down when I am done. While longer stories are a bit easier to write, they also tend to narrow down acceptance rates.

I’ve also-also put some work into Capitalist Bacon‘s opening chapter. After the first million agent rejections (and a manuscript request that then ghosted me, even after I asked for an update), I decided to look at it with a critical eye once more, and identified a few tweaks that hopefully improve the work overall. It’s with my writing group now, so we shall see.

Oh, and for poops and chuckles, I even re-wrote a drabble from last year and tossed it out for submission. It’s set loosely in the same world as The Spirit of Winter and is entitled Escape. As the word count is probably about the same as the above blurb for The Simurgh, I’ll go ahead and skip that.

(And yes, yes, the Third Poetic Narrative is with some beta readers now, I promise I’m also still moving forward on that one.)

Anyways, off to continue the edits. I’ll be sure to post again as soon as I receive some good news about an acceptance. Hahahahaha! Anyways, til next time, stay safe and healthy out there.

Delays and Other Such Annoyances

Let’s play an old but fun game, shall we? Two truths and a lie: 1.) Winter officially ended March 20th. 2.) The Third Poetic Narrative was scheduled to be released ‘Winter 2020’. 3.) The Third Poetic Narrative indeed was released on that schedule.

Did you guess the lie? (If you didn’t, I mean… come on.) I’ve been told that I was born early and fast. Apparently I got that out of my system right quick cuz I haven’t been early or even on time for anything ever since. Hell, even this very blog post is several days late. The best part is, these are self-imposed deadlines! I know I will fail, yet… I don’t have a follow up for that, sorry. Truth be told, I haven’t a clue why I do this to myself.

I’ve got all sorts of goals that I’ve been slipping on. Part of the Inkubator’s writing group (if you love writing and the company of questionable folk such as I, check us out here) that I am a proud member of is an accountability channel. It’s very impressive, to me, seeing other talented authors posting their weekly word counts. For the most part, I’ve quietly ducked away, as its become a habit for me to post smaller and smaller goals… and still miss them.

I think what it has really come down to for me is biting off more than I can chew. Blogging, newsletter, various social media… it can be a lot when you also work full time and have kids. And the thing that’s been paying the price is my writing. Considering my ultimate goal is to a be a full time author, that’s unacceptable.

So I’m going to be scaling back a bit. The newsletter will remain functional, with the goal of short stories going out whenever available. If you find me on Twitter and want to chat, I’ll always make time to reply! Otherwise, I’ll be backing off that a bit. As for the blog, I’m going to be cutting down from bi-weekly to monthly, unless I have actual news to share, or a great short story I’ve reviewed. Let’s face it, I haven’t had that much to say every other week anyways.

Also, the upcoming schedule for the Poetic Narratives is getting adjusted to ‘TBD’ for all future entries. I’ll update them when I have an actual, feasible time frame to hit. The third is definitely still coming soon! We are going to set that for May, 2021, as it is in fact almost done.

For now, it may feel as if I’ve become a bit more absent, but rest assured: that’s because I’m busy writing away. Hopefully this means my blog posts and such will have a lot more meat to them, we shall see.

Until then, be safe and happy my friends! Til next time.

Oh, It’s Thursday

Hi everyone, hope as always y’all are safe and well. First thing’s first: yup, the third Poetic Narrative is delayed. Drink.

In my defense, I’ve been busy on other stuff. Including writing stuff! Got a hold request on one of my shorts for a top-tier mag, so that’s exciting. Still firing out the queries for Capitalist Bacon, as the last #PitMad was an unfortunate bust for yours truly.

I’ve also been… tapping away at the novella. Really, for what is left, it should have been done quite some time ago. It’s been a bit of a struggle with getting the energy together to wrap this first draft up. Sometimes I experience this, especially with longer works–I gas out near the finish line, and have to push myself to get through it.

In that regard, I found it somewhat fortuitous for one Mr. Chuck Wendig to post on his own blog an article addressing this. (Ye ole link here) Well, it partly addressed it, but it did focus on something that has bothered me of late: my writing word count. I’ve definitely slumped over the past year in terms of how many fresh words I bang out over the day. Some of it was playing catch up on an initial torrid pace: those fresh words needed editing to actually become something readable, and then said edited words needed to find homes. Yet still, there was a nagging feeling that I’d fallen behind.

Also fun to note is that Wendig related writing speed to running, a metaphor I’ve used myself. Great minds! Well, his is great, at least.

But it’s nice to see a talented and successful author such as himself speaking to the very weaknesses and fears I’ve been experiencing. It relieves a bit of the burden that I haven’t been working ‘hard’ enough or ‘fast’ enough. And while I’m aware of the capitalist trappings that such thinking inherently involves, at the same time, I’m aware that–live in the world you live in–if I’m going to make it, it’s going to take some hard work.

So thanks, Mr. Wendig, even tho you surely won’t read this (lol). But for my fellow aspiring authors who may also be feeling the burnout, the drag, the whatever… check his post out, and feel the sense of relief.

Then get back to it! (Kidding. Sort of.)

Speaking of, I’ll get back to it now. This novella won’t write itself. ‘Til next time my friends, everyone stay safe and healthy out there.

Busy Busy Busy

A hectic day, a glorious day! First and foremost, it’s #PitMad time, babyyyy. I’m madly participating, still seeking an agent for my debut novel Capitalist Bacon. If you’re on Twitter, look me up @JJSegwis and give my pitches a RT, why don’t you? Gotta work the uber-mysterious and all-powerful algorithms, after all.

While preparing for a proper PitMad sesh is a fair share of work in and of itself, there’s been plenty else keeping me occupied. As I mentioned in my newsletter, now that I’ve recovered from the ‘rona, I’m back to lifting weights at the gym. Which not only means I’m spending time on that, but as I haven’t lifted in damn near a year, it means it now also takes me twice as long to walk… anywhere, ever. Thanks DOMS, love you. (That’s sarcasm.)

But what else is new? I teased some super cool news previously, and I’m afraid to inform you that it shall remain a tease for now. However, I will tell you all that I did submit a story titled ‘Incorrigible’ for possible publication… and swiftly discovered the joys of attempting to submit a 9K+ commercial (ergo: non sci-fi, horror, fantasy, or any of the other fun genres) story to magazines. I do believe in the story, it’s one that rings quite true to me.

Steve wasn’t always a good person–far from it. He was homophobic, misogynistic, and chauvinist. But he’s better now, right? Or at least he has to be, if he is to help his beloved older sister deal with a school board determined to take away her basic rights. Joining a fight when he himself was on the other side not so long ago is going to be the true eye-opener for him.

Wish me luck, as I really hope it finds a home somewhere. (Then again, I feel the same about anything I submit, so…)

The third Poetic Narrative is slated to come out ‘Winter 2020’, which, in a very liberal sense, runs through March 15th. (Depending where you live, this is variously not-true.) The good news is, the draft is done and off to some beta-reading! We’ll see if I can actually keep to a schedule this time. In the meantime, check out the first two at the ‘Published Here‘ portion of ye olde website.

Oh, one last thing. When I pitch stories or my novel, I’m asked for a bio. I never know what to say, so I include the comment “when not writing, he enjoys cooking, gardening, and tending to a small zoo’s worth of animals”. If you feel like seeing pictures of said zoo, I’m doing a gradual photoshoot of the critters over at Instagram, so check me out over there if you enjoy seeing domesticated animals abusive overlords in their semi-natural habitat.

Alright, back to pushing for RT’s on my #PitMad pitch. Till next time, everyone stay safe and healthy!

Singing The COVID Blues

Well, last week I promised some updates on my personal writing front. Unfortunately, I don’t actually have that to share. Fortunately you guys, much like my parents, are used to me disappointing you.

My excuse this time? Well, as of today, I’m one week into having COVID.

To be clear, I and my family are fine. I actually have it the worst out of all of us, and that’s a highly relative statement. Last Thursday I woke up feeling like crap and immediately scheduled a test. Two days of feeling very feverish went by, and since then it’s just been a heavy exhaustion and some congestion. We are the lucky ones, hands down.

Probably the worst thing about this is the complete productivity drain this has been. When I say I’m exhausted, it’s a different kind of exhaustion, one that I don’t think I’ve ever felt. The problem is, whether I ‘exert’ myself physically or mentally, it lays me out. Meaning I can do crap all. (I put exert in quotes because that currently means ‘having a one hour zoom call for work’ or ‘spending fifteen minutes watering plants and turning compost’.)

I am slowly getting my energy back, though. I look forward to getting back to querying, working on a new and exciting writing opportunity (details to come!), or working on my collection of short stories and novellas that are in need of editing and submitting. Or, you know, doing my day job, or tending to my garden and small zoo. Or-or, I guess, spending time with my family or something.

A lot of complaining for someone who has a disease that has caused incredible damage–not to mention death–to so many, so let me calm my shit. I’ve known those, including those who one would call much healthier than me, who have been left struggling to breath and/or recovering for months. To reiterate: I, and my family as well, are lucky.

So anyways, hoping the next update has more exciting writing news in it. For now: wear your masks; wash your hands; keep your distance; and when you can, go get your vaccination. Just because it’s less than the flu for some doesn’t mean the same for everyone. It’s going to take a group collective to beat this thing, so be sure you’re part of the solution, and not part of the problem.

Till next time!

Check out “Weeds” over at Fictionspawn

Hey guys, happy Thursday! While there is plenty of promising progress to share, I already covered most of it in this month’s newsletter, and I don’t want to get repetitive. So instead, today I’d like to focus my blog post on someone else’s work.

I was fortunate enough to come across Fictionspawn, a blog featuring some very creepy illustrations and accompanying flash stories. While there is a whole breadth of great work there, I was particularly drawn to ‘Weeds’.

It’s a quick read, nestled under an unsettling image from the story. Steven King speaks of ‘terror’ as being the most important aspect of good horror, and Weeds grabbed that concept by the throat. Arguably just as impressive, it walks the fine line of being fully disturbing without crossing over into any ‘content/trigger warning’ territory, something I must admit I myself fail to do when writing in the genre.

I also loved how it didn’t end where I expected it to: twice, I thought we’d reached the climax, and then it went further. Sometimes this is an indication that a story didn’t end in the right place, but for Weeds it really elevated the piece overall.

Go check out the story for yourself here, and read some of the other work as well–there is a veritable library of other great shorts also available.

That’s all for today. As ever, hope everyone is staying safe and healthy, and till next time.

Can We Get Back to Writing? Please?

My last few blog posts have drifted quite a bit from my original intention of writing, in essence, a journal detailing my attempts to become a professional author. (For me to later look back on in humiliation.)

Maybe it’s because yesterday Joe Biden was indeed inaugurated, and there was no violence or other major disruptions, but I’m feeling it’s time to get back to that.

There really isn’t a ton of news to share. I’m wrapped up edits on a new short story, ‘The Spirit of Winter’, and am going to get some feedback from my writer’s group on it. I was also fortunate enough to win a place in #RevPit #10Queries contest, so I’ll be looking forward to the feedback on my query letter for Capitalist Bacon.

To be honest, since my Christmas Town meets The Siege of Gondor short, I haven’t written anything new. Seems I have a bit of writer’s block. I’m hoping by this Sunday to fix that… except I really don’t have much percolating in my head. So, we’ll see.

I haven’t been idle, though. I’ve been querying many an agent for Capitalist Bacon (although I’m putting that on hold until I get the aforementioned feedback on my query letter), keeping my shorts running through the chains of rejections, and editing my fairly sizeable catalogue of previously written, yet-to-be-submitted short stories.

But writing is a perishable skill. While I do count editing as a critical process in growing as an author, there’s still something to be said about consistently creating new words on a frequent basis. I was capable of banging out 1-2K words a day at one point, a fairly solid amount for someone with a family and a full-time job, but I wonder now what I could manage. It’s like running: you learn to run a mile by working up to it, and then you keep that by doing it every day.

So, that’s it for now. Hopefully the next blog in about 2 weeks time will be brimming with tons more exciting news. For sure, I’ll try to stick to writing going forward.

Stay safe, and till next time.

Well, That Was Fucking… Interesting.

(Note: this was first written January 6th, 9pm EST. I later edited it this morning to clarify any fits of passion. I’m pissed.)

I was going to write a blog today about how one of my New Year’s Resolutions (aside from losing my COVID 10… ok, 16 pounds) was to get back on schedule. Writing blocks throughout the day: time to write, time to edit, time to participate in reading stories in my writing group, time to tweet/blog/query/all that other fun stuff that comes with trying to become a professional author.

And I’d done pretty well, too! Seriously, was all set to brag.

Then, uh, there was an assault on the United States Capitol. And gosh if that didn’t destroy productivity.

As a history buff, and someone deeply invested in modern politics (as anyone with children should be, frankly), I was breathless trying to explain how big of a deal this was to my wife. Images of the United States flag being removed and replaced with a Trump flag… on the US Capitol… it’s actually hard to go into hyperbole how big of a deal that really is/was.

Deep down, we knew they would lose. Of course they would. No matter the collective indifference of both the D.C. police as well as the POTUS, an unruly mob was not going to overthrow our democracy and end our republic in a day. The real question in my mind was how bad was it going to get. Fortunately, no members of Congress were harmed or worse, which was my greatest fear. (That is not meant to downplay the fact that a woman indeed lost her life.)

But the ramifications are stunning, and we’re not going to fully understand them, not for a while anyways. If Trump serves out the rest of his term as acting President, then that is hands down the greatest abdication of responsibility by our entire government in modern history. We watched a madman attempt to turn his followers into an open coup. It remains to be seen if those affected by this–including his Vice President, who he effectively called a coward *during the siege*–will take action.

To be clear, the line has been drawn. Make it known to anyone and everyone: you can no longer claim to be an American and also a Trump supporter. Don’t let anyone say otherwise. Push them. Make them understand that they now support an open traitor to our republic, to our Constitution.

There had been handwringing as of late about ‘what happens when the next Trump arises’. Now that we’ve crossed the threshold where an authoritarian lunatic has been President, we can never again ignore the possibility of it reoccurring. The greatest fear expressed has been that next time, said authoritarian won’t also be a downright buffoon. (And look how much power said buffoon was still able to wield!)

If the combined Senate, House, and Vice President don’t take swift and drastic action, then those stakes have just been raised to brand new levels. Trump sat and refused to call his people back for over an hour. And when he did speak out, he first simply requested ‘no violence’. When someone finally convinced him to record a video telling them to go home, he still assured them that they were right, and that he loved them and they were very special.

Oh, and he refused to let the DoD authorize the National Guard to intervene. Virginia and Maryland had to do so, and later Pence himself. (Statehood for D.C.!)

A flag was taken down from our Capitol building, and replaced with the flag of a wanna be dictator. And that dictator is currently our sitting President. If Trump is not removed–either via new, fast-tracked articles of Impeachment, or via Amendment 25, both of which I bet would have the requisite Republican support now–then next time, that flag may fly far longer than just the few hours this assault occurred.

This cannot stand. There’s no waiting out the last few weeks of Trump’s reign. He needs to be removed, and removed now.

And then try the orange bastard for treason.

Because otherwise, the next Trump is going to be more successful.

Good night morning to you all, stay safe, and long live democracy.

The Rumors Are True

The Second Poetic Narrative is indeed here! Click on ‘Published Here’ in the top menu to check out both this installment in the adventures of J.J. Segwis, Dr. Jake Rammoerstoen, Danson C. Equestrian, Esq., and Mattothy Northman. You can also find the first Poetic Narrative there.

The Florida Men have reunited… yes, despite Jake’s previous death… and it’s no less than the governor’s mansion in their sights! Danson is determined to save Florida from it’s current administration. But it’s more complicated than just facing the uphill battle as an independent candidate. He’s going to have to contend with Matt’s chaotic designs, Jake’s obsession with revenge, and worst of all: J.J.’s attempts to help.

As this is political satire–satire focusing on Florida’s politics, no less–there are content warnings to be aware of. One cannot lampoon the state of… well, this state… without addressing issues of racism and bigotry. It is my most fervent hope that, despite taking the comedic twist of satire, these issues are still treated in a way that show them being a core rot in Florida, and one that spirals into further issues.

I hope you all enjoy. I welcome all feedback here, or if you want to reach out via email, twitter, etc., then feel free to check out the Contact page.