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Personal, or, Thank You to Fan Fiction

Thank You to Fan Fiction

Thank you.

Thank you for your kind support.
And thank you from me.

To you, the readers. To the professionals who create this great show, and to anyone who has stumbled across my blog and my work, even if you didn’t care for it.

Thank you anyway.

An Announcement

But now it’s time to scale back, big time.

Because I just cannot do this anymore.

This does not mean I stop posting! Oh, no. It’s more that a monthly blog post and even the twice weekly posts are just not going to happen anymore. Not unless things change rather drastically in my life. And I would rather they did not.

So, what does this mean, really?

The Future

Life has changed for me, big time. If you have been following my journey at all, then you will have seen how I grew from someone who could not wait to fling fan fiction goodness out to the ether, to someone with writer’s block. And a published author as well. And an avid NaNoWriMo participant as well.

I also got a job in there. In January, I will have been blogging here for six years. Holy cow! I think I’ve only worked at a job once for longer than that, no lie.

So I was bound to change. And here is how things are changing.

My Blogging Plans

It will take a lot – and I mean A LOT – for me to write any more fan fiction of any sort. It’s not that I don’t care for it. I love it! But I’ve grown beyond it.

However, there is still plenty to post at both Fanfiction.net and Wattpad. I will run out of new fanfiction to post at FF.net long before I run out on Wattpad. So I estimate I will finish on FF.net this year. As for Wattpad, maybe in 2019? I’m not sure.

Hence this blog will scale back to only once every quarter for these progress updates. I’ll have more to write about per post, which should presumably be of more interest. And I will be able to save some time.

Some musings on creativity

I have written well over a million words of fan fiction (I haven’t tallied up every single story but I will). That’s a lot of words. However, writers are often told that our first million or so words are garbage. I had written perhaps a total of 100,000 before I got to Star Trek fan fiction writing, so I like to think I hit my stride right about the time 2014 or 2015 started.

This is just about when Untrustworthy was accepted for publication, so I suppose that works. I also wrote Revved Up during this period, and I revisited the Obolonks and continued and finished their story. I even went to graduate school and created a Facebook author page.

As for fan fiction, that was about the time that I mainly worked on the Barnstorming series with a few short stories in the HG Wells universe but nothing else and that’s pretty much the way it’s been ever since.

Original Work

Untrustworthy isn’t really the gold standard, but it was published so there’s that. I truly think I have gotten better and I can really see the seams in that work now.  One thing that has proved fascinating is that folks from Europe seem to prefer it. Perhaps I should market it there more aggressively.

The Obolonks could use an overhaul. I know that trilogy drags in spots. The Enigman Cave has been professionally edited – and that was kind of costly – so I would like to get it out there, somewhere. I may end up self-publishing that one. A big thank you to Roberta, the best editor in the multiverse.

The Real Hub of the Universe is a good series but it needs an ending. And Mettle needs an ending, too. But those are both far better. If I shop another story to publishers, it will be either Mettle or I will try for the Hub series. We’ll see.

2018 Writing Plans

I fully intend to change the way I write and submit. To that end, these are my plans although work and life might derail them, and they probably will.

  • Write like for NaNoWriMo every odd-numbered month, and keep a tally. These would be short stories and longer form pieces.
  • Write like Ray Bradbury, which is – you just get out 2,000 words or so every single day no matter how you’re feeling. Fortunately, I have a jar of writing ideas and a ton of prompts. This would, again, only be during the odd-numbered months.
  • Spend the even-numbered months doing all the ancillary stuff – editing, researching, querying, and promoting.
  • Cultivate more beta readers and work closely with them. I have a few but what I would really love is a writing partner, someone who I can trade with regularly. But those can be a lot like a marriage. It’s not easy to find a writing soulmate, as it were.
  • Get something else professionally edited, and that something is probably going to be Mettle if I can get it finished and beta read. If not, then I might get started on the Hub series. I’m not sure.
  • Get together a great 2018 NaNoWriMo book. That might turn out to be the third Hub book.

Apple Carts Were Meant to Be Upset

Yeah, about all those plans? Who knows how well I’ll be able to do any of them.

Work is reportedly going to go a lot closer to full-time. I have been enjoying only working about 20 – 25 hours per week but that may have to change.

My other issue is family stuff, and to see what happens with my elderly parents and mother in law. Of course I am hoping for the best all around.

As for my own health, it’s better than it was a few years ago.

Possibilities

This is where I leave you – temporarily – with possibilities. My next post will be the progress report for this month, and then nothing until the end of March. Onward and sideways. Or as characters have said:

  • “Let’s go steal from the nuns.” – Elise Jeffries, Mettle.
  • “We communicate in stories. And so I want to tell you this one.” – Marnie Shapiro, The Enigman Cave.
  • “Have courage, Ceilidh Aisling. Muster up those reserves from when you first left for America.” – Ceilidh O’Malley, The Real Heart of the Universe.

See you soon.

Review – Untrustworthy

Review – Untrustworthy

Background

Untrustworthy - Barking Up the Muse Tree
Untrustworthy

Untrustworthy is my first-ever published novel. Much like Reversal, it begins with a dream. And that makes perfect sense, as a dream inspired it.

Plot

As Tathrelle begins the part of her life related by the story, the reader sees flashbacks of what seems like a dream and then seems like an earlier existence. However, the older life gets cut short in favor of the new. Tathrelle’s life, instead, centers around her wife Ixalla, and the children they are about to have.

The Cabossians, a species made up by me, can have children in any combination, so long as both parties are fertile. Hence both mpreg and all varieties of marriage (same- and mixed-sex) figure in the plot.

Furthermore, Tathrelle’s new job drives a lot of the action, as she has won an election and represents the people in what obviously starts off as a military dictatorship. Also, in the background, a disembodied voice tells the people what to do. The first statements come out more as helpful hints and requests, such as to thank the public transportation driver or set the thermostat to a particular setting.

But that’s all about to change.

Music

The inspirational song for this book is Bastille’s Pompeii. Years later, and I am still incapable of hearing the song without thinking of the book, and vice versa.

Story Postings

Unlike any other works in this blog (as of now), this story is for sale and is not truly ‘posted’ anywhere. Even on the NaNoWriMo site, all you can find is a short snippet.

Rating

The story is Rated T.

Upshot

Without giving away more of the plot, I think the story is okay but the truth is, I have written better since then. However, it is a great first effort for publication. Furthermore, I feel it works in some ways to get me into the publishing game, but then what? I feel the book was promoted pretty well but not very well. I know it has more reviews than a lot of other indie works, but not as many as others. Sales come few and far between.

In the meantime, I write about different things. Can Untrustworthy serve as an entree for diverse works such as the space opera of The Enigman Cave, the science fiction detective stories in The Obolonk Murders and its two sequels, the Victorian urban fantasy of The Real Hub of the Universe and its two sequels, or the odd science fiction dystopia of Mettle?

Stay tuned, and thank you, as always, for your kind and unwavering support.

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Review – There is a Road

Review – There is a Road

Background

There is a Road - Barking Up the Muse Tree
There is a Road

There is a Road originally came about as a response to an image prompt on the old Trek United. However, I do not have the rights to use that image, and Trek United is a mere shell of its former self.

The original image was a dreamy almost black and white, very shades of gray type of image. It was a wooden pathway into the woods, bending and seemingly with no ending.

Plot

The narrator is never named. She talks about her grandmother’s death from smoking, and her father’s from a transport accident. She mentions aliens and flying. Hence the time must be the future, and perhaps it is a rather deep future versus right now.

And then the narrator talks about making art. As she describes her process, the reader begins to understand that the narrator has screwed something up royally. Whether there has been an explosion or a fire, it hardly seems to matter. Because all that matters is that (spoiler alert), the narrator numbers among the dead.

Story Postings

This story is really only available on Wattpad.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

This story is odd and dreamy and probably a little too spiritual for regular consumption. Also, there is just no way it could ever get a sequel or the like. Could I take it off Wattpad and submit it to an anthology? I suppose I could but, frankly, I do not think it stands as one of my better works. The piece is old and the seams do show. Still, it is an interesting premise, and perhaps I should rework it one of these days.

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Review – The Dish, a Passive-Aggressive Short Story

Review – The Dish

Background

The Dish - Barking Up the Muse Tree
The Dish

The Dish came from a dirty plate in our kitchen sink. Therefore, it proves you can get writing inspiration from just about anywhere.

Also, without a doubt, it serves as an utterly passive-aggressive study of human nature. Essentially, you first. No, you. I insist. I’m not gonna until you do it first. Etc you get the idea.

Plot

The main concept behind this plot serves to almost warn couples but also provide a bit of a primer on how to really be passive-aggressive. The narrator is never named and is only barely described as being female but there is nothing else.

Hence she remains a cypher, as does the cause of whatever the argument was initially all about. Also, the husband remains a cypher.

A plate is an odd place for inspiration, but the truth is that a plate had been sitting in our sink and I was getting annoyed by that. However, I didn’t make any moves to take care of this tiny mess. Neither did my husband. We are only talking about a few days here. The plot, of course, takes some liberties with the time, as this is fiction and not reportage.

Story Postings

This story is only available on Wattpad.

Rating

The Story is Rated K.

Upshot

As I noted previously, inspiration can come from nearly anywhere. And while this little story could perhaps stand some improvement, people tend to like it wherever I have posted it. For I did use it as a sample of my non-scholastic writing for a course when I was getting my Master’s.

By the way, yes, that’s really one of our dishes. And I think I was the one to rinse it off and put it into the dishwasher.

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Review – The Canadian Caper

Review – The Canadian Caper

Background

The Canadian Caper - Barking Up the Muse Tree
The Canadian Caper

The Canadian Caper exists as my foray into writing bandfic/real person fiction.

First of all, my true mission here was to try to combat the surfeit of Wattpad band fiction, mainly centering around both One Direction and Justin Bieber. Furthermore, I was really into Postmodern Jukebox when I wrote it. Hence the entire story serves as an attempt to almost newsjack two separate genres and trends. Hence one was the bandfic trend on Wattpad, and the other was the popularity of PMJ on both YouTube and Facebook.

Plot

The PMJ Detective Agency has to solve a mystery when Puddles Pity Party, the six foot eight tall clown with the golden voice, is kidnapped.

Music

So as should be expected, the story is chock full of music.

The first song is Robyn Adele Anderson singing Jason Derulo and Snoop Dogg’s Wiggle.

As the team assembles, the next song is Von Smith singing Magic!’s Rude as he romances his girl.

So it was great fun turning tiny Ashley Stroud into a professional kickboxer. The next song is her singing Iggy Azalea’s Fancy.

Next up, I turned Cristina Gatti into a video games aficionado and computer hacker. Here she sings Stay with Me by Sam Smith.

In addition, ecology maven Morgan James doesn’t taken any guff from the loser she’s been dating, and lets him have it with Really Don’t Care by Demi Lovato.

Once the team assembles, they’ll need disguises, so it’s off to the Thrift Shop, a cover of the (Grandpa Style) Macklemore song, as sung by Robyn Adele Anderson.

In keeping with the somewhat corny plot thread, our heroes win a singing contest in a small town when Robyn sings Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines.

As they thwart their enemies, our heroes sing Ellie Goulding’s Burn.

After a brawl (hey, it’s noir fiction!), PMJ sings Lorde’s Royals.

Finally, for the last chapter, as romance blossoms and PMJ gets everything they ever wanted, Scott gets the girl, and Robyn sings Katy Perry’s Birthday.

Story Postings

This story only exists on Wattpad.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

Furthermore, while it was a good idea at the time (I suppose), I grossly overestimated Wattpad interest in Postmodern Jukebox. However the truth is, the two sets of demographics do not really mesh that well at all. However, my attempt at trendjacking was not a completely bad idea. It would have probably done better elsewhere, but there are few places to post wholly original fiction you don’t really want to try to sell.

Finally, the story also became dated fairly quickly when, apparently, Bradlee and Anderson stopped seeing each other. Ah, well. That’s the nature of trendjacking; it never lasts.

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Review – The Social Media Guide for Wattpad

Review – The Social Media Guide for Wattpad

The Social Media Guide for Wattpad started off as a means of reviewing what I learned in class at Quinnipiac University. As a student, I wanted to make sure I understood the material. Creating a guide seemed the perfect way of doing just that.

Background

The Social Media Guide to Wattpad - Barking Up the Muse Tree
The Social Media Guide to Wattpad

The Social Media Guide made sense as a project. I wanted to cement my own knowledge, and also to help others. As a result, I started off with talking about exactly what I had learned in school. Namely, this consisted of the POST strategy (people, objectives, strategy, and technology). My main idea was to keep Wattpad posters from simply diving into social media. It made more sense to have a plan before doing so. It always does.

Plot

Of course this one does not truly have a plot. Rather, I divided it into sections. So this was everything from demographics research to determining objectives, to deciding on strategies. For the technology portion, I wrote sections devoted to Facebook and Twitter, and also talked about YouTube, Tumblr, and Pinterest. As I recall, I don’t believe I covered any other social media platforms. Hence there was nothing on Snapchat or Storify, for example.

Story Postings

This work can only be found on Wattpad.

Rating

The book is Rated K.

Upshot

While I imagine it worked out well enough, I am not so sure I would ever really put in the effort to update it. While The Social Media Guide has over 11,000 reads and more than 560 comments (more than for all of the instances of Reversal, combined), the commenting dropped down to nothing once the new content stopped. Furthermore, this is the kind of work which I should be charging money for. While I will not remove the book (hence its free status remains assured), I need to think about personal finance these days.

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Review – Revved Up

Review – Revved Up

Revved Up rocks.

Because I have more or less run out of (completed) Star Trek fan fiction to blog about, I would like to introduce some of my wholly original fiction to this blog. I hope the insights will prove fruitful or at least interesting.

Background

Revved Up - Barking Up the Muse Tree
Revved Up

This story started because I had stayed at my childhood home and noticed something odd in the front yard. And the truth is, it was nearly nothing. However, I sometimes have an overactive imagination, and so I took this idea and I ran with it.

What did I notice? It was only a few ruts near a flower bed. They were nothing, really, and were most likely made by a hoe or a rake. However, in my mind, I decided they would be tire tracks. And then the fun started.

Plot

A holier than thou narrator tells the story to an unnamed police officer. The plot circles around the narrator’s elderly parents’ next-door neighbors. And the narrator refers to them as the POJ Family. That is, the “Pair of Jerks”.

As the story progresses, our narrator gets more and more self-righteous as the POJ Family continues to perform more and more outrageous acts in her parents’ sleepy, leafy Northern New Jersey suburban street (Note: my folks live on Long Island and they don’t even live in the inspiration house any more).

Sharp-eyed readers should be able to follow along at least in part. The narrator keeps a lot of information close to the vest, so it pays, actually, to read the book again. And no, I’m not trying to inflate read counts.

Story Postings

The story’s sole posting is on Wattpad, where it was named a Featured Story a few years ago.

Rating

The story is Rated K.

Upshot

This story has had better traction than nearly anything I have ever written. With (as of the time of the writing of this blog post) over 54,000 reads and over 400 comments (many of which referenced that surprise ending), Revved Up remains an unqualified success.  Of course having Featured Story status helped a great deal.

Could I sell it? I have toyed with that idea, but the story is so odd and it’s really too short for a novel. Plus it does not really lend itself to a sequel. While sequels are far from necessary, it helps if that’s an option.

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Progress Report – April 2017

Progress Report – April 2017

April 2017 turned out as yet another quiet month for Star Trek fanfiction writing.

Posted Works

Barking up the Muse Tree | Janet Gershen-Siegel | jespah | Quill

First of all, on the G & T Show forums, I posted nothing. Because at that site, the forums were removed a few months ago, due to the influx of spammers. And at this moment in time, the replacement blogs have not yet been created or started. Hence, still nada!

However, at this time, I still have no replacement, and neither do they. Therefore, I posted very few stories and, as a result, the read counts did not advance too much.

And on Fanfiction.net, during April 2017, I finished posting The Point is Probably Moot. And then I started Shake Your Body. Because I had finished a book, I decided to update Fictionpad. As a result, I added A Long, Long Time Ago; Ohio; You Mixed-Up Siciliano; Spring Thaw; Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain; and The Point is Probably Moot to that site. While I receive nearly no read counts from that site, they still seem better than nothing.

Finally, on Wattpad, I finished You Mixed-Up Siciliano and added Souvenirs. Also, I started to post the next fanfiction piece from The Times of the HG Wells. And that turned out to be Spring Thaw.

Milestones

See the Stats page for individual read and review counts.

WIP Corner

Because I finished and won NaNoWriMo in 2016, I sent The Real Hub of the Universe our for beta reading. And that has proven more difficult as usual, as people are just plain busy. Furthermore, this wholly original science fiction work takes place in Victorian Boston. As a result, I have mainly outlined the first sequel and as I have tried to get it started (and I even wrote a few chapters, but now I’m stuck again). However, I would like to put off writing the second book until I get at least a modicum of feedback on the first one, and that has proven elusive.

Also, the editing for The Enigman Cave is finished and it is ready for querying. However, it has proven hard to get psyched up to do that. It can sometimes be difficult to be able to mentally handle what can often be a lot of rejection.

I also wrote a short story (which currently has no place for posting) called The Escape Violinist. And I have a pretty well-formed idea for another one which will probably end up the length of a novella.

Prep Work

I next created a Wattpad draft for the following fanfiction piece from The Times of the HG Wells. And that turned out to be Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’ Down the Plain.

This Month’s Productivity Killers

As always, sometimes the muse just takes a vacation. And that can be extremely frustrating! I ended up working for five separate companies and that, of course, made me rather busy indeed. Furthermore, I wanted to take something of a break. The Real Hub needs editing and beta reading. Hence that means I need to take any changes into consideration before I can really start  the sequel. In addition, I must get psyched up to query The Enigman Cave as it is ready and all I just need to pull the trigger.

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