Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Phew buddy*, writing has been a challenge as of late.
* Buddy in the singular since only one person reads this**
** Hi Mom***
*** “Oh G-d he’s still on the obnoxious footnotes thing”

Time crunch is an issue to be sure, but the fact of the matter is I’m struggling with this WIP. As I mentioned before, its a story that’s had the start of a first draft exist in various stages over the years, and I’m damn determined to finish it this go-around.

Truth be told the themes, plot twists, likely plot holes, etc. are dogging me. All while I’m trying to make a horror story actually, ya know, horrifying. Writing is easy and fun!

I’m definitely at two stages with this story, neither of which are ideal: the ‘I know where I’m going but I don’t know how to get there’ stage, and the ‘I’m damn sick and tired of this WIP and I want to hurry up and finish it but then that means the ending will be rushed garbage’ stage.

I’ve also been seeing a side WIP. I know, I’m such a dog. The short story I wrote for the His Storm Blows Out the Light series got some great feedback from the Z.Z. Adams team, and I’ve either been actively applying it, or coming up with ways to apply it. That’s about all I will say on that dalliance, because a gentleman doesn’t edit and tell (I’ll have some better updates likely by the next post).

Regardless of all this, I have been dedicating myself to working on the horror story once a day. Whether that means a single sentence, five pages, or going through a series of ideas to break out of the latest block I’ve got on it, it’s an exercise in discipline I’m dedicated to uphold until this draft is done. It’ll require quite a bit of work afterwards, but I’ll address that later. You can edit bad writing but you can’t edit a blank page, and all that. Considering how long I’ve sat on this story, and yet through the years always finding myself coming back to it, it deserves to at least get a completed first draft this time around.

I do find this 24-7-365 ‘touch the story no matter what’ plan helps keep me in the story, even if I sometimes still stare at my screen and yearn for literally anything else to do. Going forward, as I work on future pieces, it’s an idea I plan on always implementing.

Anyways, that’s the latest from my end. How’s you guys? Let me know either in the comments or HMU**** on Twitter.
**** Do the kids still say ‘hit me up’?*****
***** And if they do, do they still abbreviate it ‘HMU’?

Till next time my friends, everyone stay safe out there.

AMBUSH BLOG POST

So, back in the days* of my youthful** ambition*** I intended to keep a schedule of bi-weekly blog posts, and I still have a calendar reminder in my phone as of such. It went off today, and despite having scaled back to monthly**** posts, I decided why not.
*it’s only been, like, a year or so
**I was already old then
***’Ambition’ is a strong word
****So is ‘monthly’

I’ve been struggling with my latest WIP. It’s actually a story I first conceived of and started at least a decade ago, and have re-started a few times. The concept has always struck me as interesting so I keep coming back to it, and this time I’m determined***** to actually finish a full draft.
*****As determined as I am to stop putting in footnotes in this post.

It’s another horror story, BTW. Not sure why I’m on a horror kick? As some of you know from reading my ‘About Me’ section******, I have a real problem with bouncing around genres, which surely dooms my attempts at a full-time writing career*******. Maybe it’s because I’m so thoroughly sick and tired of this miserable Florida summer (which will be the coldest for the rest of my life!) that I’m full-on yearning for Fall to come already, and with it, my favoritest of all holidays. (Yeah, you sweat your ass off in Florida on Halloween too, but we try to pretend we’re dying a little less that day.)********
******None of you have read my ‘About Me’ section, and none of you will.
*******That’s just one of a great many reasons my full-time writing career is doomed.
********I apparently wasn’t that determined to stop the footnotes.

Re-writing a story started so long ago, using scraps and starts of drafts and notes, is a real process. A slog, to be more accurate. I’m curious to see if this actually helps hone my editing skills when I’m working on other drafts. Either way, this time’s the charm–hell or high water, it’ll get done. Whether it ever sees the light of day or not is a different story.

What about you guys, anyone else feeling the urge to hurry up with summer and get to fall already? Or is that an exclusively Florida thing? Feel free to yell at me if you’d rather change places and live in G-d’s swampy taint while I have to shovel snow for six months out of the year.

Oh, quick His Storm Blows Out the Light update. Last I blogged, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure the theme/tone/content of the latest short story I drafted would fly through the ZZ Adams radar. Lo and behold, so far so good! Edits are underway on it now but the big news is there’s agreement it fits the general storyline thus far.

Anyways, that’ll do it for this ambush blog post. Til next time.*********
*********And stay safe, y’all.

Another Blog Post

Not sure how to start this, so I’m going to type ‘not sure how to start this’ and then move along.

I’ve been fairly productive in the writing department recently, despite a myriad of distractions. I finished the edits on the horror novella I discussed in the last post and it’s currently being reviewed in my writing group The Inkubator. Of course, for a story I meticulously edited, a few plot holes–including a rather gaping one–have been found. Le sigh. (Easy fixes, fortunately.) And that’s all I’m going to say about that story. You’ll have to wait to read it should it find publication.

I also completed work on a short story set in the His Storm Blows Out the Light series, regarding a character I’ve found quite interesting and set between the upcoming Psychlone and the planned third in the trilogy, Supercell. HOWEVER! I don’t know that this story will see the light of day. Why, you ask? Well–the series is a YA one. And while dark themes and moral quandaries are a (rightfully so) mainstay of that genre, this story ended up quite… dark. So I shall be trusting the mind-meld that is Z.Z. Adams to make the call on this one. We shall see! I won’t be upset if at least the current version is a tad ‘too much’; in fact, I won’t even be upset if the whole concept is scrapped altogether. Sometimes that’s just the way of it.

As I mentioned, there’s been lots going on in the peripheries. While I’ve been able to overcome that recently, it’s probably going to slow down the writing in the near future. Started a new job, got some sugar glider drama I’m dealing with, a new goldfish has entered the chat… and then all the other crazy bouts of distractions that always exist. I’ll do my best to post here again next month, even if that post is just “…” and nothing else.

Till next time my friends, stay safe.

Am I Pretty Yet

Ok! Phew. Cleaned up some of the website. Still gotta work on the whole ‘Published Here‘ area, but I’ll get to that later. (Not like my attempts to promote that have worked anyways, so what’s the rush?) Also, yes, this website looks like an amateur did it for free, because, well… plot twist! An amateur (me) did it for free.

I also have news! As of Friday I completed the second draft of Psychlone, the second book in the YA Sci-Fi trilogy His Storm Blows Out the Light, a partnership with the Z.Z. Adams brain-meld. I’m also working on a pair of short stories in that series, and have drafted the outline for the third installment, Supercell. (The outline got pretty beefy, there is a chance it could end up being a 2 parter, but that will be clearer once I’ve actually written the first draft.) I’m quite pleased with this second iteration of Psychlone and am excited to see where Z.Z. Adams takes it in the editing process.

After I complete a first draft of one of the short stories in the HSBOtL series, I’ll probably get to work on editing a horror novella I drafted a few months ago. Breathers between projects, where I focus on something different, seems to keep my mind fresh. (It’s probably the ADHD.) We’ll see how that draft ends up.

Otherwise, not a whole lot new here. It’s hot, very hot, here in Florida. But at least the Tampa Bay area has finally begun to get some rain. Not sure where the myth that Florida is constantly getting drenched comes from; there’s lots of areas, especially along the coast, that have practically desert-like droughts for significant periods of time. It can be quite fun going from six or more weeks of no rain and blistering heat to getting 2-3 inches of rain a week. Very frustrating when you’re an avid gardener like myself (split tomatoes everywhere). And the water bills in those dry spells don’t help, considering the already exorbitant power bills (A/C’s run 24-7 during these months).

Anyhoo, that’ll do for now. Stay safe my friends, ’til next time.

It’s A Mess

So, I’ve officially shut down the paid version of this website, and it’s been technically re-launched for free. Just a quick blurb–in case you haven’t noticed, it’s a mess.

I’ll be cleaning it up here soon. Unfortunately wifey and I have been running through a second bout of COVID. And while overly trusting in anecdotal evidence over empirical evidence is one of the reasons that Donald Trump became more of a renowned medical expert than, say, actual medical experts for a significant portion of the US; my anecdotal evidence is that those saying these latter strains are less severe than the first ones are full of shit.

Anyhoo. As if my juggling of full plates wasn’t comical enough, I do intend to put cleaning this clownshow of a website up near the top of the list. Hopefully next week it’ll be less of a garbage compactor. Still amateur as hell, but, you know.

That’s all for now. Stay sanitary, my friends, til next time. *cough*

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 na├»ve 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.