Category Archives: fiction

Musing 10/16/17 – Are We Getting Too Old For This Sh**? Part 2 or: “So now blogs are obsolete?”

Well peeps, in about 12 days, I’ll be hitting a milestone birthday –that’s right, I’ll be um – 30.  Forget what I said about being 33 last year.

I’m taking a bit of a break from my current WIP, tentatively titled Gunslinger Witch, although my friend Robin says I should be careful it’s not confused with Stephen King’s, The Gunslinger.  I told him that was unlikely to happen.  I personally was thinking people may confuse it with the anime Gunslinger Girl.

OK, that’s not the subject of this Musing however.

I’m not a big newsletter reader.  I am subscribed to a few, mainly informational, genre-specific books or current markets accepting submissions.  One of the newsletters I receive is C. Hope Clark’s (You are absolutely fabulous, BTW), Funds for Writers.  The topic of her most recent newsletter?  How the blog is now passé.

It is?

Maybe she’s right.  In all the years I’ve had this blog I’ve had some wonderful people stop by and of course I appreciate it but not many at any given time.

On the other hand…

See above.  I don’t like a lot of newsletters crowding my in-box and I am very particular about the ones I choose.  I know that comes off a bit bougie.  My apologies.  I had a newsletter a long time ago when I had my published works out and it no more sent people here or to my site than any other social media type.  I ended up shutting it down a while ago.  Many of the email addresses were gone and no one bothered to let me know.

Also, people unless it’s specifically set up that way, people can’t respond to a newsletter.  I wanted to voice my opinion on the subject but there’s no way to do so.  Maybe she had some bad experiences with commenters and I certainly can’t blame her for making commenting impossible if that’s the case.

I want to hear from my readers.  I want to know their thoughts on various subjects.  Of course, that doesn’t mean someone can come on my blog and act like they don’t have any common sense or home training.  But I’m always interested in a good discourse.

So of course, I must look into this further.

Now the first things that came up in a search using, the term, “Are blogs passé?”  Most articles were from business bloggers who responded with a resounding no.  I couldn’t find anything very recent.  The first was from 2015.  A 2013 New York Times article touching on the removal of several of their blogs, the author asks why and are blogs outdated?  She received the usual corporate responses.  However, readers were quite vocal about the disappearances and said so.

There was another blog owner who asked himself this question because his readership was dwindling.  I give them props because they were doing fan better than I am but they said no matter what they would continue although that last post was March of 2016.

Jane Friedman has a guest blogger write an article back in 2013 on concerning the subject.  It was quite interesting.  Simon & Schuster apparently requires them.  Well, at least they did back then, I doubt that’s changed.  The author suggested to an aspiring author to become an editor for a site where she was managing editor.  But she also encourages new writers to do so however experienced writers should find larger platforms that they can contribute to if they’re looking to promote their work.  Well right at this second, I don’t have that problem.

I tightened my search parameters: “Is the author blog passé/out of date?”

Nothing specific came up.  Most of it was either how to work on your blog or the best author blogs.  I tried one more time, “Is the blog out of date?”  Mainly suggestions on updating blogs and deleting posts came up.

I’d be interested in knowing how Ms. Clark came to that conclusion or was it just personal preference?  I of course can only give my opinion which is this – it really depends on the person doing the reading.  Blogs are good for people who prefer to get their author news online instead of via email.  I can go either way myself.

I wonder how she feels about podcasts?

*****

I’m finding more things that are confusing the you-know-what out of me.  Apparently, six-guns and sorcery is now being replaced with gunpowder fantasy.  I have to admit it does sound better.  I’ve also seen something called latte-lit.  Anybody have any idea what it is specifically?  Books about coffee?  Books you can read with coffee?  I thought all books could be read while drinking coffee.  I do it all the time.

So of course, we must turn to the internet.

Apparently, I’m not the only one asking this question!

You know an explanation or references would be nice when people make these things up.

The only references I could find were a year-old posting on Agent Query, and it was still anybody’s guess.  All of a sudden, I want a latte and it’s after 8:00 PM.

Next thing, the acronym, STEM (or STEAM).  From what I gathered, it means books about:

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATH.

When it applies to kids it means books that makes these subjects easy and fun to learn.  It would have been nice to have some books like these when I was growing up.  But here are some links which discuss the genre and gives examples:

The Educator’s Spin on It:

https://theeducatorsspinonit.com/2014/11/stem-books-for-children.html

Teach Beside Me:

https://teachbesideme.com/stem-books-kids/

What We Do All Day:

https://www.whatdowedoallday.com/tag/steam/

13 Cool STEM Books for Kids Who Love Science (and More)

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/13-cool-stem-books-for-kids-who-love-science-and-more

So, what have you seen that is confusing the you-know-what out of you?  Comment and I’ll work my magic.

Peace~

CJ

Read my previous blog posting:

Musing 9/12/17 ~ Are We Getting Too Old For This S***?

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Mini-Musing: 09/17/17 ~ It’s Hard to Let Go

With all the Musings, I’ve been writing for the past few weeks you would think this would be easier.

I’m considering letting my work go.

It took me five years to write my work mainly due to life throwing all types of crap at me and I’ve actually gotten some positive feedback not to mention a few requests for full copies. And before this, I had NEVER received requests for full copies. So of course, I realized that I had to be doing something right. The only problem is, so far none of the requests for a full have panned out. I think of the maybe six I’ve been asked for, only one agent has actually responded, although it was a rejection at least I wasn’t left hanging.

Of course, time has passed and IMHO my writing continues to improve or at least I like to think that it has. But any author will tell you when faced with this decision, it fills you with doubt. You wonder, what’s the point of starting something new? Maybe you just can’t write, pure and simple. Then your Muse tells you, “But the industry had shown interest!” But it’s difficult to keep that in your mind when nothing comes of it. It’s sort of like, when an author receives nine five-star review but the tenth review is a one-star. We focus on that one-star review. It drives us insane. We wonder for weeks or months what we did wrong. Which is why I, and many of my fellow writers, concentrate on our writing instead.

And if you’ve read my previous Musings, you will see my comments on current trends in the industry and what types of works are being requested. Not much that I want to write, so it’s hard to decide if I should go into semi-retirement or something like I mentioned before.

I’ve also mentioned while I’ve been hanging out that I have a new idea kicking around in my head but quite frankly, I have no idea if it will fit the current trends. Now of course, the last thing any author wants to do is write to trends. They can end in an instant. It’s just that this particular work, which I thought of long before this whole issue of Afrofuturism came into play, may just fit the trend. Notice I said may. It makes it near impossible to decide.

What can I do?

Well I suppose, write.

Everything else will likely work itself out.

Peace~

CJ

Musing 9/12/17 ~ Are We Getting Too Old For This S***?

This Musing is actually going to handle a couple of subjects that are on my mind right now.  I ask for your patience.  If you haven’t already you may wish to read my two previous Musings which are companions to this one.

Yesterday, I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot of a small shopping center when my phone pings with a message.  I’m following agent Quressa Robinson, with Nelson Literary on Twitter to whom I just sent Tinderbox so I took a moment to glance at it:

Afrofuturism + high/epic fantasy = Happy Me.

Umm…. what exactly is Afrofuturism?

I did ask the agent on Twitter but I haven’t received a response yet.  I also asked if she could provide some examples.  If I receive a response, I’ll post an update.  When I got home, I asked Big Brother what he thought it meant and he didn’t know either.  And he’s much older.  Best guess it was something that combined a futuristic setting with magic but maybe combined with African lore?  We weren’t quite certain.

Now at the time he was watching BraveStarr, if any of my peeps remembers it and I said, “Maybe something like that?”  Big Brother thought that was highly likely although neither of us were certain.

So, I went upstairs to my office, got on the PC and looked it up:

“Afrofuturism is a literary and cultural aesthetic that combines elements of science fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, Afrocentricity, and magic realism with non-Western cosmologies in order to critique not only the present-day dilemmas of people of color, but also to revise, interrogate, and re-examine the historical events of the past.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrofuturism

And now I’m even more confused.  Big Brother was too when I showed him the definition.  I then pinged my BFF and fellow writer, Kelli and asked her if she had any idea what it meant.  Sorry the print is so small.  Here’s an abridged version of our conversation:

musing 1

musing 2

musing 3

Young Adult and Middle Grade ANYTHING seems to be the big thing lately.  The ones I chose were merely requests that caught my eye.  There were many that were alike in some ways and other I felt the need to comment.  Once again, I’m not trying to offend anyone.  this is just my humble opinion.  Some particular ones I saw:

musing 4

OK, this would be interesting but personally the only experience I’ve had with a sideshow is the story I wrote of the same name.  And I’m not a big circus fan, well not anymore.  I think I’ve been to a circus only once in my lifetime.  So this isn’t something I would want to write.

musing 5

I’ve only seem clips of Moonstruck but I love the scene where Cher slaps the guy and says, “Snap out of it!”  Although from the plot, I’d wonder, is this something young adults would like?  Then again, I’m an old lady so maybe it is.

Why do some agents want stories about toxic friendships?  Saying they “like” that type of story?  I’ve had toxic friendships and you know what I learned?  To end them as soon as I realized that’s what it was.  Also, something I wouldn’t like to write.

musing 9

My work is speculative fiction with a non-white MC.  Unfortunately, my experiences with this agency have been less than idea.

And I’m still trying to figure out what PB is.  It’s probably very simple.  One of those snakes it would have bit me, things but I do like this idea.

Musing 11

 

But how would you define that?  People of color can see the world in a myriad of ways, depending on their upbringing and where they are from, among other things.  A person of color who was raised in the inner city may carry themselves differently from someone who was raised in the suburbs.

musing 12

Hmm…he may just like Immortal Stream.  I’m keeping him in mind.

musing 13

I’m assuming this means that she wants a WOC to write a story about the MC involving themselves in forbidden fruit?  That’s what the quince is known as, apparently (https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-quince-1705661), the Greek Forbidden Fruit, otherwise, I’m really confused by this.  Like what?  Dating someone outside of their race?  Very few people, at least no one I know, considers that forbidden fruit anymore.  So what else is there?

 

 

musing 15

Sigh…

It’s 5:29 pm EST and it looks like the #MSWL Twitter Feed is winding down for the night.  Can’t believe I was looking at it for four hours but research is research. I have lots of ideas but I’m not seeing any requests that match my writing and/or interests.  As previously stated, many of the requests were for diverse or LGBTQI, YA/MG.  There was little to no fantasy of any type requested, mainly asking for was historical, romance or contemporary.  Some suspense and just a dash of horror.

Can I write within these genres?  Yes.  Do I want to? No.  And I’m afraid if I start something new the trends will change by the time I’m finished.  I just saw a post on the #MSWL feed that asked a perfectly legitimate question –

“When did adults stop reading?”

I mean, I still do – well I try to anyway and although at times, I’ll read a certain YA book, I’d rather read about adults myself.  And I like to think adults are craving good books.  I’ve written YA before and when I did, this was long before it was popular.  Not to mention the internet was in its infancy and there was no social media or things like MSWL or Query Tracker.  This was before many writing venues existed online so it was really hard to see what was popular.  When I was fighting to get my YA published, the response I usually got was they weren’t accepting it, although it never said so on their websites or that; “This is a good story, but our plates are full.”  Even though again, no indication that they closed to queries.  Then came my writing defeat and I was pretty much through with the YA trade.

So, I’m sitting here thinking, maybe I’ll go into semi-retirement.  I’ve said over and over I don’t want to quit writing.  It’s very easy to do quit though, I’ve tried it a dozen times.

And although I have an idea kicking around in my brain, I haven’t decided if it was going to be young adult or adult.  I was leaning towards the latter.  And it’s epic fantasy, although I’m thinking of maybe adding six guns and sorcery as part of the deal.  No weird stuff though.

But the fact is, I’m not going to write something I’m not in love with, no more than literary agents will offer representation on a book they are not in love with.  Maybe someday, hopefully in the near future, there will be a market for what I write again.

I just hope it doesn’t take too long.  I’m a mature woman after all.

Peace~

CJ

 

Musing 8/29/17– May I Have A Word, Literary Agents?

Wow!  Two Musings in two days, that’s a record!  First I want to say that I’m not trying to offend ANYONE with this post, certainly not people in the industry.  Either way this may or may not get me into a situation but I just need to get this out of my system.

Again, if you’ve been reading my Facebook page, I’ve been writing like crazy lately and am still feeling the mojo but sometimes, I hit a small roadblock when I think of how long I’ve been waiting to hear about past works that have been sent out.  It makes me wonder why I continue to do so when I seldom if ever receive a response. 

Somewhere on this blog, I mentioned how I’ve had a number of agents never respond to queries.  Many are agents who promise to respond to everything.  And this is after waiting for a long time and then nudging and I do mean a LONG time.

Right out I have two full works out to agents.  One I was ecstatic to receive a rewrite and resend request and the other the straight full request.  Now literary agents, believe it not, we writers do know how busy you are.  Not all of us expect an answer in a month or so.  I’ll usually wait for three before nudging and depending on what the agents lists as their response time.

However with these two, I have been waiting for the rewrite and resend it’s been a year from my sending in the R&R and for the other it’s been two years and two months.  I did recently nudge again on the first and re-query on the second but to be honest, I’m not expecting to hear. 

With these long waits I can’t decide if I should put the book aside or not.  I’m assuming there must have been something good about the work, otherwise why ask to see more?  And I have every confidence in this work, and I really don’t want to file it away or start anything different until I get a response one way or the other.  It causes quite a conundrum.

My questions are first, how long are we supposed to wait when you ask for a full manuscript before we assume it’s a no?  Is it really right to leave authors hanging when you’ve practically dangled their dream in front of them?  Agents, if you’re no longer interested after a partial, full or rewrite and resubmit (especially this) is sent then PLEASE do us the courtesy of letting us know.  A simple email with an, “I changed my mind.” will suffice.

I am not talking about the queries. We know some of you get thousands per week.  I am talking about taking an author to the next level and then putting them aside indefinitely.  I often see agents posting on social media about how, “they have lives too,” and authors need to respect that.  Believe it or not, most of us know that and we do.  You shouldn’t lump all writers in with the few who don’t know how to carry themselves.  But you are also running a business and since we writers are expected to behave a certain why, why can’t this professionalism be returned?  I’ve seen other writers ask these question.  I don’t know if they’ve ever gotten a response.  Lately, I’ve just felt the need to open up about how I feel.  I don’t need to tell anyone, writers, agents, publishers, editors, how hard this business is.  We all know.  And we know how long it takes but I don’t believe anyone is so busy that it takes two to three years (not months) to conduct their business.

A few weeks ago, I was trying to enter the Manuscript Wish List program that gave writers the opportunity to have a first page critiqued by a literary agent.  The agents they had chosen have already seen my work, so I emailed the moderator/agent, asking advice on  what I should do or if I should still apply.

I won’t print the actual email responses here because I don’t have permission, however I was advised that it might be too awkward between myself and the agent and it wouldn’t help get my work to the front of the line, which is not what I was trying to do.  I just wanted the same opportunity that they were presenting to other writers.  Then the moderator/agent stated, “Believe it or not, it now takes some agents three to six months to respond.”  I responded with pretty much the same thing I’ve said here, very polite and professional of course and thanked her for her time.  I’m also curious that if this is the norm, shouldn’t agents list these time frames on their pages, so authors won’t bother them with nudges?

This does not mean I plan on giving up, although there were times, I have thought of and actually said I plan to do so.  I’ve always said take the opportunity to wallow if you need to then get back to work.  I just hope someone sees my post and it creates a better understanding of what we writers are going through in this crazy little thing called the publishing industry.

Peace~

CJ

Musing 08/28/17– Weird is the New Brilliant?

I’m a big fan of the Nostalgia Critic! Well it’s sort of an off and on relationship. I gave him up a few times but came back. Why mention this? Because there is a question I was pondering concerning stories that are not quite well — they’re different and they seem to be the type of stories magazine publishers want.

I hadn’t watched before but now since I was pondering, I thought I’d give it a shot.

In this video, the Critic postulates that there is so much weirdness going on nowadays in current media, is really brilliance in disguise? To get the full picture watch the video, then if you don’t mind finish reading my post please. I’ll wait.

All done? OK, as my peeps may know, I was currently hit with a massive dose of inspiration. Yes, yes, I know, humor me, OK? The Muse was at her best and brightest and I wrote or re-wrote ten stories and have them out into the world right now.

Now of course there have been a couple of rejections but as any writer knows that’s a given. But one particular one I received invited me to first read their magazine – which I’d already done and in fact subscribed to it so I could get the exact feel for what they would like.

I thought the story I sent would be perfect but apparently not, so I continued reading/researching to be certain. Now yesterday evening, I read a story that well – I couldn’t follow at all. Absurdly weird is what I would call it but apparently there was something that caught the editors eye and it was accepted. Now I am NOT saying the story wasn’t good but to me it simply had no logic. But then again, as I’ve mentioned in the past, my Army buddies once told me I was too logical for the military.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen stories like this. Some I have understood and enjoyed perfectly well but others…

So I thought, am I missing something? And that is when I recalled the Nostalgia Critic video, so I sat and watched. Now some of the shows he touched upon were Adventure Time and Steven Universe, both *former favorites of mine.

He goes onto say how other stories we are familiar with uses their weirdness to tell the reader/watcher about important the social issues. I’ve always gotten the message despite the weirdness or at least I did once I got a little older.
But when weird goes to far and it gets crude and disgusting then there is no message no matter what the writer/animator says, IMHO. Yes, they have a right to create whatever they want. Not everything has to have a message weird or not but at least let it have some purpose besides shock value again, IMHO.

I’ll do weird every so often but it is impossible for me to write weird without there being a purpose or message. Does that still make it weird? Well according to the Critic, it can.

So what to do? Make up something weird to hopefully sell a story?

Nope, sorry, can’t do it. I may just need to leave that market behind. I really don’t want to but hey, what are you gonna do?

So do you do weird or what do you think of it? What would you do in this situation? post away.

Peace~

CJ

*Sorry but, I got out of Steven because Peridot was annoying and as for AT, Finn who was always a reasonably smart boy suddenly pulls a totally messed-up stunt with Flame Princess. Hey, don’t judge me.
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