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.

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick hello to you all. Whether you’re preparing for Christmas Eve, waiting for Kwanzaa, still fat off of latkes from Chanukkah, or in any other way celebrating, I hope your holidays are warm, bright, and safe. 2020 has been an… unfortunate episode for all of us. I know many are having to suspend long-held traditions; I hope you are able to find new ways to create a happy memory.

When the calendar flips to 2021 in a few days, no magical switch is going to fix all the ails that have plagued us (no pun intended). But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. For Americans, while the incoming Biden/Harris administration brings with it… well, lots of questions, it at least ends (ugh, for now) Trump’s stranglehold over the executive branch of government. The COVID vaccine is rolling out globally, and hopefully as we finally bring the pandemic under control, we can start a return to some economic normalcy. And who knows, maybe we can collectively learn some lessons on how the established capitalist structures failed us and figure out something new?

I’m not religious, but I do have kids, and that gives me a certain sense of charm when it comes to the holiday season. And dammit, I’m choosing to accept that, embrace it, and dare to have a tad bit of optimism going forward. The “hope for the best and prepare for the worst” mentality has let us down this year because, well, good luck having possibly prepared for half the bullshit we’ve collectively faced.

Right now, millions are suffering. If you’re not one of them, count your blessings, and then consider how to move forward and help them. Happy Holidays, and ‘til next time.

PS–I *swear* the second Poetic Narrative will be done soon!

Who Wants A Free Short Story?

“But JJ,” you say. “We are all waiting on the second Poetic Narrative you said would come out in Fall 2020.” You check the calendar you keep with you at all times. “And Fall ended a few weeks ago!”

Ok, ok, and I’m working on it–honestly! For a freebie, I still want it to be the best quality possible. Plus, this adventure of the Florida Four is a political satire, ergo it’s a bit of a trapeze walk. There’s one good result (people read it and find it funny) and a million bad results (people find it ham fisted or otherwise unfunny, people find it offensive and cancel me before I even get started, etc. etc.).

But in the meantime, I’m looking to beef up my email list. So here’s a special deal. I have a Chanukkah holiday horror flash ‘The Shamash’, and I’m going to send it out via my email list tomorrow at sunset (5:39pm EST) in honor of the holiday’s end. It should be worth noting that you also get a short comedy ‘The Candidate’ just for signing up, so it’s a two-for-one bonanza!

There’s no time to waste, the clock is ticking. Click here and get signed up now!

Am I A Real Boy Now?

It is imperative, critical, crucial, and all the other super-important adjectives that every writer participate in NaNoWriMo. If one doesn’t, then the title of ‘wannabe author’ is seized from them by force, and they may also have to forfeit a pint of blood.

Anyways, I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo.

But I am participating in #PitMad! So that means something. I think. I made some hasty edits to my tweet-pitch and unleashed that sucker 9:30am EST. If nada, then I’ll make some more hasty edits and send again in 4 hours, rinse-and-repeat one last time after that. Wish me luck.

Also, I am indeed officially late for the second Poetic Narrative to hit the website, but fret not–it shall be soon. The Florida Men reunited for no less than a shot at the governor’s mansion, meaning there was the fun task of balancing the absolute horror shit-show that is Florida politics with some semblance of comedy, and I’d like to make sure I got it right. (Or close enough, anyways.)

If you want to follow along with a bumbling fool navigating #PitMad, give me a follow on the ol’ Twitter. Otherwise, don’t mind me, I’m just sitting here staring at my Twitter notifications tab.

Till next time y’all.