The Ads Are Coming Back

We’re near yet another anniversary of this blog, and alas, I cannot afford to continue paying for it to not have popups and such. I sincerely apologize to my faithful readers (hi Mom!).

It’s been a few years for me on this writing journey. Sometimes I get a bit down when thinking about it, how there really hasn’t been a ton of success. It can be frustrating, having put a lot of work in, as well as more than a few dollars here and there. While it’s good to try and remain positive, and focus on the good news–and there has been some!–I also give myself the occasional permission to sit and mope.

Even when moping, I’ll still come back to the daydream of being a professional author. As in, it’s my job, my only job; my primary responsibility (aside from familial duties of course) being to sit and craft and create, to suffer through re-writes and edits, to pitch and deal with the annoying side of it all.

It’s a dream for sure, in the sense that it’s nice to have it and dwell on it for a minute, but it’s one afforded to very few. There’s no small amount of renowned authors who also have full-time jobs, and out of necessity rather than want. So I come back and ground myself, and remember that I do still get to sit and craft and create, I do suffer through the re-writes and edits, and I occasionally even pitch.

And that’s good enough.

I’ve got a few shorts out to magazines, I’m going through a first edit of Psychlone, and I’ve begun pitching my sci-fi novella Appizer Cares!. I recently finished a first draft of a horror novella. There’s countless shorts and novellas that require editing eventually, and a partially completed novella that I should return to soon. Not to mention the pile of story ideas and outlines that I simply hope to live long enough to work on.

So who knows, maybe that elusive happy blog post will be coming soon. But it’ll have popups on it. Sorry again.

Til next time my friends. Y’all stay safe out there.

Insert Clever Title Here

Haven’t half a clue what to blog about, and less than that as to what to title it.

It’s been a bit stressful and hectic around the J.J. Segwis household as of late. When it rains it pours, and in Florida, that can mean hurricanes. I’m not going to delve into specifics here as a lot of its quite personal, but in the interest of the purpose of this blog* and website**, suffice to say it’s caused a drain on my writing. Both in terms of taking away the precious time allotted for it, and in draining my creativity when I do sit down and attempt to put words to screen.

Even now I sit and stare at the screen. There’s stuff to share: I’ve submitted a fantasy short to Uncanny, I’m beginning the process of pitching a sci-fi novella, things are moving–albeit slower than they should be (from my end)–on the upcoming ZZ Adams novel in the His Storm Blows out the Light YA trilogy. I’m almost done with a first draft on a horror novella. But I gotta be honest, even putting that list down wore me out a bit.

So I’ll just make this monthly blog post nothing more than a checkmark on the calendar. Sorry there isn’t more. Still would love to find a way to promote my free stories that I’ll be publishing here… The Colonial, alas, has yet to get any views. Feel free to check it out if you’re into historical fiction.

Til next time my friends, I hope you are keeping the ennui at bay.

*There is no purpose for this blog.***
**The purpose of this website is ‘aspiring authors should have websites’.***
***I feel like neither of these statements are a shock to anyone.

Exhaustion

Per both QueryTracker.net and Manuscript Wish List, I have exhausted all possible literary agents for Capitalist Bacon. Per myself, I’m also exhausted with the whole querying process. Which isn’t new, considering I took a several month break from it at one point. But seeing the bottom of a second database’s last page inspires a new level to that weariness.

This leaves me at a bit of a crossroads. Of course, there are other resources for finding an agent out there. How many unique names I’ll find is a question, of course, but I’m sure there are many. And I truly believe in this story. I’m not saying its perfect–it’s as perfect as I can currently make it, yet I remain open to the fact that should it ever find an agent, there will be suggestions I can implement that would make it stronger. But the core of the story is one I truly know would resonate to many, and I remain firm in my belief that should it get out there, it will have readers and fans.

All the same, it may be coming time to shelve it, at least for a while. I’ve got a few novellas I’ve not put any real effort into querying as the process is arduous, time consuming, and frankly annoying (I’ve mentioned before my distaste for the entire query letter process so I won’t harp on it again); yet they deserve the effort no less than Capitalist Bacon. Plus, I’m now beginning to finally take action with my plan to bring some of my short stories here to the website. They also deserve to see the light of day. And hey, one’s up now! Check out the historical fiction The Colonial, which won an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. (I’ll probably do another post next week more about this piece. This is a soft opening for the stories-here-format.)

So, barring an unexpected acceptance from this last batch of queries, this will probably be the last post in quite a while where you hear about Capitalist Bacon. Again, I’ve not ‘given up’ on it, not at all. But it’s going to be set aside for quite some time. Who knows, perhaps an acceptance of another story will open the door for representation (admittedly unlikely as Capitalist Bacon is upmarket/contemporary, and my novellas that are ready for querying are all spec-lit).

But the writing doesn’t stop. It never stop. It can’t stop, even if it should.

Til next time my friends!

Holy Crap, A Whole New Post

The great Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite old-time authors. His economical prose, his searing portraits of the human condition’s darker side, his drink recipes; they’re all things I truly enjoy. One of the biggest myths surrounding his near-legend is that he, being the alcoholic he was, drank while writing his masterpieces. This was debunked by none other than the man himself in an interview during his lifetime (as opposed to an interview he held after his lifetime). Not only did he firmly reject the rumor, but he rejected the concept altogether: when told his peer Faulkner did so, he dismissively stated he could tell while reading Faulkner’s work when he’d had his first drink. Hemingway loved his craft with a devoted passion, and abstained from drink or any other potential distraction until his day’s work of word crafting was finished to his satisfaction, or until he realized he could not wring any more out of his mind. It’s an admirable thing to have that discipline, and its something we should strive to copy as stringently as we might copy some of the writing methods he developed.

Anyhoo, I’m two drinks in as I write this post.

I will say, I don’t drink while I write. I might scrawl some ideas down–honestly, taking a look at a section that’s troubling me with a slight buzz does tend to lead to insights and breakthroughs–but I’ll stick by Hemingway’s proscription to have nary a drop of booze in my system when writing actual words meant to be read (for my stories, anyways; again, there’s several drops in me right now). Now if I could figure out the rest of the distractions.

Hemingway had the pleasure of being able to write for a living, so the concept of a ‘day job’ didn’t factor in once he was established. Obviously bills and making the money required to pay said bills can’t be avoided. And while it sounds like he wasn’t a bad father, I do wish to be a better husband than he was (a few times over). Buuut I’m pretty sure I allow other distractions that aren’t as necessary.

For sure one major distraction right now is my obsession with the Ukraine war. I can’t help but find myself checking to see if the major cities still stand, if Belarus hasn’t overthrown it’s dictator (or Russia theirs, although that one for now is far more unlikely), and if Volodymyr Zelenskyy still lives.

Zelenskyy. Man. There are issues with the Ukraine crisis that are being woefully unreported, namely the treatment of Africans and other POC trying to escape, or the real fact that there is a whole division in Eastern Ukraine that does actually have a Nazi problem (not that Ukraine, led by the Jewish descendant of Holocaust survivors, has one on the whole anymore than other countries–including Russia itself), but it is hard not to have a crazy level of respect for this guy. His backstory to where he’s at now is this: Stephen Colbert becomes President, and then evolves into a historical figure of nearly incomparable stature while facing down one of our nation’s greatest crises, all at the immense personal risk faced by his fellow trapped citizens and military… by choice. I don’t agree with all of his political leanings as by all accounts he’s a neoliberal, but I simply cannot deny that the man is an actual leader, an actual servant of his people. It’s sad to know that, on a global scale, there are far more Putins out there than there are Zelenskyys.

(Is drinking while writing the reason every paragraph here features a secondary thought within ellipses?)

My hope aside from Ukraine’s triumph (Slava Ukraini!) is that we stop and take a global look at conflict. Speaking of world leaders, and speaking of media bias and blindness, Ukraine may have center stage but it’s far from the only crisis/war out there. Israel has cracked down on Palestinians again. Afghanistan has people selling their kidneys to afford food. Syria is still Syria; and that’s largely because of Russia too! We stare enraptured at Ukraine but can’t locate Yemen, who has faced the same level of assault for years, on a map.

Not to be a media apologist but I do get on some level why Ukraine is such a focus right now. The parallels between this and the start of World War II are eerie. There is a risk this conflict expands exponentially, with a nuclear conflict probably closer to reality than it has been in my entire lifetime. It’s human nature to worry more about things that could impact you and your family, and this conflict has the potential (albeit, still a slim one) of leading to nukes being lobbed across the ocean at us. (I live near enough to MacDill Air Force base that if the worst were to occur, I’d be in an at-risk area.)

But assuming the worst does not come to pass, we need to collectively open our eyes to the world around us. Not just at conflicts in Europe, not just at conflicts possibly involving superpowers clashing, but to understand that life is life and death is death and that if we consider Ukraine a tragedy–which it is–then so is Yemen, so is Somalia, so is Syria, and so on and so forth. If we’re outraged that Russia has responded to a perceived slight with brutal and deadly force–and we should be–then we should hold our leaders, and other world leaders be they allies or enemies, to the same standard. (Hey, I completed a paragraph without a secondary thought in ellipses!) (Aw, dammit.)

I’m not a person who believes that war can be erased. And I’m not naïve enough to believe all conflicts can be resolved by chatting or passing out flowers. There are Putins out there, and when they cross a line, force is all they will respect. But we stretch that excuse to every possible end point, to justify conflicts all over the world, and that needs to stop.

So, yeah, let’s focus past Ukraine–while still giving her our support and attention–to the other numerous victims out there. We can’t stop something we don’t know anything about.

(That won’t help with the distractions from writing though, will it?)

Time to go pour another drink. Til next time.

It’s Been 84 Years

Holy crap, I knew it had been a minute since I’ve written here, but seeing that my last post was in August really was a bucket of cold water. (Particularly considering the title of that post.)

I swear I’m alive. I also swear I’m seriously questioning having paid to keep this blog up and running, lol. I’ve been writing, that’s for sure, which is ironically the problem. Things have been… hectic for me to put it mildly, and finding the time to sit and write is often challenging, so when I do get it, I focus on actual word-smithing stories rather than newsletters, Twitter, or say, blogging here. I’d gotten behind on querying as well but I have managed to get back on the horse in that regard.

So what have I been writing? Well, back in December, I finished the first draft of Psychlone, the second in the YA Sci-Fi His Storm Blows Out the Light trilogy from ZZ Adams. Right now the brain-meld there is reviewing it for revisions to prepare for future drafts and, of course, eventual release. Meanwhile I’ve been working on the outline for Supercell, the explosive conclusion (yes, I’m a plotter, outlines actually excite me rather than drain my enthusiasm) to the trilogy. I’ve also been working on a second draft of a novella titled The Girl in the Ice Box, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy set in an original world of my own making. It recently finished peer reviews in my writing group the INKubator, and there’s definitely work to be done… but I’m feeling pretty good that once the suggestions are implemented, this will be good to go. First I’m taking some time away from it to get fresh eyes and a fresh mind for it.

Speaking of novellas, today I’m pitching Appizer Cares!–a Sci-Fi novella set in near-future Cleveland that features themes of capitalism, addiction, and technology dependence–through #SFFPit. As of this writing there’s no agent likes yet, fingers crossed but hopes well managed that will change by this evening.

I will say while I’m sorry to see #PitMad is gone, I kinda get it, too. I spent a full year (as in, all 4 events in each quarter) pitching Capitalist Bacon and never got more than a bare sniff. I attended pitch parties, learned algorithms (and broke my Twitter account several times trying to blow my algorithms up), worked with experts on my Twitter pitch; and yet nada except 4 days essentially wasted (yes, I was dedicating the whole day each time to the event, foolish me). After a while I started taking a look at the top literary and contemporary pitches and realized the agents really just weren’t there. Seeing brilliant pitches that made my teeth grind with envy, with significant attention and traction from the Twittersphere, yet nary an agent amongst the dozens of rogue likes: the message was clear, this wasn’t ever going to be the way to get my debut novel out to the world.

So long #PitMad, and a genuine thank-you for all the stories you did help along the way.

So as for Capitalist Bacon, it’s back to the grind of cold-querying. I’ve revised my pitch… again… and think it’s the strongest it’s probably going to get. The art of pitching does seem to elude me some. Even with help, including from professionals in the field, the concepts often either elude me entirely or at times seem outright contradictory. I’ll admit its frustrating, learning essentially a new art form to promote the other art form I’ve worked for years at.

Then again, if this blog is any indication, promotion simply isn’t my strong suit.

Seriously, how do other writers do it? Have a full-time job, a family, and time to both create and promote? I keep trying to crack that code. Alas, even as I write this blog, I feel guilty about not continuing work on the Supercell outline.

All I’m saying is Ernest Hemingway never had to bother sending out no sinkin’ newsletters.

Wow, this turned into a whine-fest pretty quick, huh? Ok, that’s enough of that crap. Things are moving, and I hope to have some positive announcements here soon. I would love to start releasing some short stories directly here, but I’m struggling how to properly do that. Obviously posting PDFs for download worked, uh, not great. I know other writers blog their stories, but since some of the stuff I want to share would be part of unique series (like the Poetic Narratives!), I’m a bit mystified how to keep that clean. I’m sure there’s a way but as I feel I’ve covered, I lack the time and brain-space to properly research and experiment. Oh, maybe I should be doing that instead of blogging. Derp.

Alright, enough non-sensical ramblings for me to look back on and shake my head at in a few years’ time. I’m going to get back to work on Supercell and perhaps later, maybe, just maybe, I’ll do that research. Til next time, which at this rate might be when I complain again about having to pay to keep this place running.

I Assure You, This Website Is Fully Operational

You just wouldn’t know it if you followed the blog.

So, the good news is I’m not dead. The better news is I haven’t been blogging because I’ve been immersed in a new and exciting project (the one I teased a few times over in the past). The bad news, of course, is that the four people who actually followed this blog probably no longer do. (Bye, Mom!)

Last I posted, I mentioned a re-do of the Poetic Narratives. Not just a deeper edit, but a release that was more web-friendly. Alas, I’m still trying to figure out how that will work on WordPress. I was hoping to release it via blog post–seems the better writer blogs I follow do this–but that’s, uh, tricky. WordPress, get on that. However I’m still committed to unleashing those horrific mistakes upon the world, but rest assured I have no intention on giving myself some deadline that I’ll inevitably fail.

But what’s really been drawing my time is, again, the exciting new project. The horrific brain amalgamation that is Z.Z. Adams has made a terrible mistake seen fit to involve me in one of their exciting series, His Storm Blows out the Light. More specifically, I am writing the sequel to Mindstorm, tentatively titled Psychlone.

I’m going to avoid talking much about this current project as its still very early on. After hashing out a thorough outline (yup, I’m a plotter), I’ve begun work on the first draft and as of this writing am somewhere past the 1/3rd mark. I wish I could say I was further, but alas, my ‘real job’ keeps expecting me to do stuff.

What I will tell you is that if you’re a fan of dystopian YA, then this is right up your alley. In the meantime, I’ll shamelessly plug the beginning of the series, currently available on Amazon. (There is also a free short story Hunter available.)

Fight for your friends, your family, your future.

It’s the near future and severe poverty is the new normal for the majority of humanity. The world is suffering from climate change and the future seems bleak. In the UK, children with incredible psychic abilities begin to appear.

For Oscar Hyde, life has never been harder. Everyone he knows is moving out of the city. Even his family are considering going. When Oscar discovers he has the power to be ignored, he succumbs to temptation and starts stealing. As his opportunistic tendencies take over, he becomes addicted to the adrenaline-fueled thefts. He has the power to be ignored, so why not use it?

But when agents from a secret organization come to kidnap him, he’s saved by a scrappy group of teenagers with psychic powers of their own. In the Core, an underground lair in the heart of London, they are watched over by Athena, a shadowy figure with an agenda as mysterious as she is. But they will need more than the considerable resources of Athena and the Core to fight off the organization that is gathering against them. Can they learn to tap into their powers and pull together, or will they fall victim to the secrets of their past?

Sound fun? That’s cuz it is. Grab it now, while it’s still free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Otherwise, there’s not much else to share. Sooner or later I’ll figure out an appropriate way to terrorize the populace with the Poetic Narratives, version 17.0. All share fear the name J.J. Segwis. And sooner or later, I’ll literally run out of agents to query for Capitalist Bacon. Till next time my friends, stay safe.

Bit by Bit

This website and blog have existed for a terrifying amount of time for so little to show for it.

This point has been driven home by a friendly email reminder from WordPress regarding the fact that my annual subscription is up for renewal. According to the dictionary, ‘annual’ indicates that it has been a year.

In terms of the ‘little to show for it’, granted, I’d hope to have had some success in regards to publication by now–a magazine acceptance, an agent for Capitalist Bacon, what-have-you. That said, I was darn well aware that’s a lengthy process. (Not like I started all that just a year ago anyways–only this website.)

I mean in terms of followers, activity, etc. etc. The reason authors have websites and blogs in the first place. (Well, that and ego, I suppose?) Looking around at some other writer blogs, I think some adjustments are in order.

First and foremost, the current way I’ve been handling my award-winning*, super-popular**, and completely free*** absurd comedy series The Poetic Narratives is clearly off. Look, I’m in my mid-30’s, but I’m not one of those uber-hip people in their mid-30’s that understands how the internet works. (I didn’t have a computer in my house until I was 12, growing up poor and all.) Sticking PDF files for download is probably just… not the best method. So, starting soon****, I will be releasing them in smaller, bite-sized episodes as direct blog posts.

(*You know damn well there are no awards. **My mom won’t even read them. ***This part is at least true. ****If this blog has proven anything, it’s that my concept of timeframes is flawed at best.)

Other than that, no news, as there never is. Edits are progressing, still got some exciting news that I hope to be revealing soon, continuing on the agent hunt trail. That said, it’s time to look forward to PitMad! If you’re on Twitter, follow me and give me a friendly RT on Thursday, won’t ya?

Til next time, y’all stay safe out there.

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.