Friday, October 23, 2020

Grave Mistake #WEP #FlashFiction #2020 #TimeTravel

2020 Twice

Pink neon lights buzz nearby as I regain consciousness. The smell of sweat and french fries assures me that this is not the sterile lab we were in moments ago. 


I sit up and call to my partner again. Finally, I hear a grunt.

"That hurt more than expected," he says.

"But we made it, didn't we? This is the eighties?" 

Dan helps me to my feet. "Yeah. This decor is distinctive. We've escaped."

I look around the room, admiring the pictures. A door clicks behind me.


He's gone. I run out after him. 

There are people everywhere. No one in a mask. A few wearing leather jackets and only one glove. Hair defying gravity everywhere I turn. People are looking at each other, looking at me. No one is staring at a handheld screen. A man walks by me, music blasting from a large silver box he's hauling on his shoulder. No earbuds. A few people dance as he goes by, sharing in the joy of the song. Some roll their eyes at him. I'm so caught up in this music man that I almost don't spot Dan in a cafe.

"Amazon, Google, Netflix..."

"What are you doing?" I hiss as I grab his arm. The woman at the cafe table stares at me.

Dan smiles. "Fran, this is Ingrid. Ingrid, Fran. I'm telling Fran what stocks are going to exist in the next two decades so she can invest wisely."

Dan points to the newspaper Fran has laid out before her. She'd been looking at the stock exchange. 

"Is he making it up?" she asks me.

I fake a laugh as I pull Dan away from her. 

"What were you thinking? We can't tell people about the future! The timeline would change. We'd never be able to get back."

Dan grabs my shoulders. "I know. We aren't going back. When we don't show up, they'll think it failed. We can live out our days here, in this time. I've only got ten months left at most. And it's not like better cancer treatments exist now than in the time we came from, right?"

"That doesn't explain why you were giving out stock tips."

Dan smiles that devious smile of his, the one that talked me into this experiment. "I figured it out. Two-hundred thirty-seven changes need to be made for 2020 to not happen, to not go down as it did. Fran is one. She'll invest early in five major companies. Her daughter will inherit those. That will keep her from going through something that causes her to run for office. I have a whole chart, plotted it out. Just knock down the dominoes and what happened in 2020 will never come to pass."


Dan lived long enough to see the first one hundred eighty-seven changes. We made so many ripples in the pond of time. I watched in shock as President Dukakis lost to Bush. Operation Desert Shield became Desert Storm. Every day I found one more change to the world I remembered. I believed Dan was on to something, so I carried on with his work. 

We shouldn't have meddled. It was a grave mistake. The Amery Ice Shelf broke. That's when I knew the timeline was reverting. Covid still happened. The murder hornets were born, though did less damage this time, so far. The US Presidential debate disaster was different from the one I knew, but one candidate was a different person. In many ways, this new 2020 was worse than the one from which Dan and I escaped. 

"I have to go. I need to be somewhere by October 31."

My nurse shakes her head. "Yeah, yeah. Gots trick-or-treatin' to do, aye? Think you be a child, gonna get candy? What costume you gonna wear?"

"I don't have dementia. I'm a time traveler. I get things mixed up occasionally because I remember two different timelines. It's not easy!" I can't believe I've been remanded to this place by the state. "I have to get to my lab. If I could just make a phone call."

"Oh aye, fate of the world depends on you makin' calls, does it? Now look, you've soiled yer'self again. Great time-travelin' scientist, can't even master usin' a toilet on time."

Behind her mask, she coughs. I've watched her out the window. As soon as she leaves work, the mask comes off. Probably infected. I have only days to get to my lab to save the world. First, I need to break out. Actually, first, I need a clean pair of pants. 

764 words FCA

Want some real horror from a grave mistake? Stop by Operation Awesome for a true cautionary tale for writers. I took the chance so you don't have to.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

#IWSG Working Writer


October 7 question - When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

It looks like there's a book about this subject, but it seems to be out of print and not in ebook form. 

There's a website article about it.
"The best piece of advice I can give you is to train your brain to think about whatever your day job is as being in service to your writing career. ...
I will always be a writer.
Everything else is just part of the portfolio."

While researching what "working writer" means, I found one way some people define it is having landed an agent and getting advances for their books. So here's a brief "commercial break" :

That's going on right now, so if you know a YA writer looking for an agent, please send them over!

Back to the question.

I'm guessing that a working writer is a writer who no longer needs a second source of income to support their survival. And many people, especially Americans, have a standard living goal of over 50k a year.

50,000! That's the word-count goal in traditional NaNoWriMo. (← click if looking to buddy πŸ‘₯)

Is $50,000 enough per year in America to live? It's considered the door to middle-class in many areas.
Universal Basic Income might come into play in figuring out how much a person should need a year.
(We don't have that in America. But who knows what 2021 will bring. πŸ€”)
One plan suggests $2000 a month (for households making under 100k/yr). That's 24k a year. So if that existed, and writing generated the other 26k a year, there you go.
Biden has been quoted saying, "Getting an annual wage, you sit home and do nothing. You strip people of their dignity."
Trump's plans use income tax cuts instead, which results in more savings for the rich than poor, and nothing for those without an income.
Richard Nixon almost introduced UBI in 1969.
In 1797, Thomas Paine suggested something very similar to UBI.
There's a debate as to if UBI is mentioned in the Bible, and if it is pro or con.

I've forgotten the question.

I only have four books for sale right now. The two reference books are less than a dollar and the short story allows people to set their own price. Which leaves my speculative fiction book. 

Lumber Of The Kuweakunks on Smashwords

You can conclude that I am not presently making 50k from this blip in the publishing world.
Or even $2000 a month from it.
So no, in answer to the question, I cannot call myself a working writer. 
Then again, my day job does not presently exist (thanks, Covid). 🍞 Snookums is the breadwinner, and even that income stream is more creek than mighty Mississippi. But we're doing okay. I've actually lived on less than this in my life.

Does that mean I'm calling myself a hobbyist?
One day I might make far more. 
I do believe I'm going to need to publish more than four books for that to happen. 
I'll also need to work harder at promoting. 

(The Operation Awesome Team and I are working on a story about a certain book promotion opportunity right now. Is it worth it? Is it a scam? Find out in the coming weeks! YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THAT!!!)

How much per month do you feel someone would need to earn to call themselves a "working writer"? 

Do you feel it's better to earn income to support one's writing, or to use writing income to support one's life?

Regular followers might know that I spent the weekend doing the last ever Young Adult Scavenger Hunt (#YASH). Guess what? I WON the purple round! Okay, good news shared. I hope you'll have some good news to share too.

I have half a dozen book reviews to write this month, so please drop by to check those out. Also, #WEP October Challenge for 2020 - GRAVE MISTAKE - on the 21st.


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

#IWSG Beta Partner Author


September 2 question - If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

The first thought I had was to define beta partner:

"Beta readers are, first and foremost, readers. They look at your manuscript as if it were a book they just took off the shelf and aim to answer the question “What did you think?” They are big-picture readers, focusing more on the feel of the manuscript than the nitty-gritty of grammar and phrasing."

"A beta reader is usually a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author."

"A beta reader is a reader, usually one who reads in your genre and is a member of your target audience, who gives you feedback based on a reader's perspective, not a writer's perspective."

My next thought was to look at an Amazon list for books in the same selling category:

Best Sellers in New Adult & College Fantasy

Vampires, werewolf/shifters, witches, detectives, academy -- none of these will match well with what I've written.

David Estes seems promising. Though the Fatemarked series doesn't seem to be an urban fantasy.

Maybe I should look at what other categories Amazon has book 1 of my series in right now?

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: 

Well, that gives me some more options. (Though Fractions of Existence really isn't a Fairy Tale.)

I didn't write about teenage witches.

As usual, I don't feel like my series is similar enough to any other books in my categories.

So I'm going with an author that has a series I like. Though what we've written isn't overly similar, there's enough in common with our characters that I believe she'd "get" what I'm trying to do.

πŸŽ‰Victoria Aveyard is my answer for the September 2020 IWSG question of what author I would choose to be my beta partner. πŸ† (Especially for future books in my Existence series.)

The September Co-Hosts are:

Natalie Aguirre
Kim Lajevardi
Louise - Fundy Blue
Deniz Bevan
PJ Colando
J Lenni Dorner Hey, that's me! 😎

Much love to our leader:
Alex J. Cavanaugh

The Insecure Writer's Support Group Book Club group is reading this book in August/September. I've rarely seen my fellow Native Americans written well, so I'm somewhat curious about the book.

And don't forget that the IWSG Annual Anthology Contest closes today!
Genre: Science Fiction
Theme: Dark Matter
Submissions close on September 2, 2020

And if you have a query letter, check out Operation Awesome for #PassOrPages this month. Last one of 2020.
If you know a 2020 debut author, have them contact me. 10 interview spaces left this year!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Writer Archetype #IWSG

I came across a post about Writer Archetype on the IWSG blog. Having been behind on posting on my blog this summer, I thought it would make a good post.

(Sorry about ghosting. πŸ‘» Between deaths and near-deaths of people I know, and Snookums and I both being off from work for months on end, I've been AFK quite a bit more. Lots of outdoor adventures. Saved a life, prevented a forest fire, freaked out thinking my spouse had the Covid for two days (thankfully it wasn't that), and caught up with some family I normally only see in May. I wanted to post for WEP. I was working on a short story for the long-shadow prompt. It wasn't done in time. Maybe I'll turn it into a novella. We'll see. Hope you are all doing well.)

The first question of the Writer Archetype quiz stumped me. Who do I write for? This was what the elders agreed I am meant to do. But do I write for them? That doesn't feel true. I don't do it for money, that's for certain. Myself, my readers, my muse... I do love writing, so maybe I am doing it for myself. It feels great to have some readers who enjoy my work, but I don't think they're my main motivation. The characters might be my muse. One of them in the Existence series would certainly love that title. I guess that's the nearest to the truth.

I'm ashamed of myself for not being able to answer that I'm more prolific. It disappoints me to know that I don't write as often as I feel I should.

How detailed is my writing? To be honest, I'm not sure that I can be objective. I think I've infused a ton of detail into something, and then from reader feedback, discover that none of my clues came across. So maybe I don't use enough? On the other hand, I had to cut an entire scene from Fractions of Existence because it was weighed down with detail. I worked on that scene for three months with an editor, trying over and over, but no amount of verbs could solve the problem. I was trying to describe something that would stop the reader and make them question how this could exist, and then wonder why the character would do it. But trying to describe it at all took too many words. So there's a lot from the opening of the book that doesn't lock the reader into just how not human Xavier really is. The original was far less subtle.

Am I better at storytelling or research? I have no idea. I love them both. I would never want to be able to do only one.

Writer Archetype @JLenniDorner 50 percent teacher

A Teacher is a writer who, not surprisingly, writes to teach.  That feels true enough.

You are inundated by ideas - your own and other people's.  This makes sense, though it's really more my own ideas, not so much ones from others unless we count prompts. 

You are an outward-facing writer who would most likely not do your work if you didn't have readers.  This I'm not so sure about. 

You are great with starts, but struggle to finish.  You caught me.

If you're a Teacher, then you can stop trying to write highly personal essays that don't feel natural to you. That's not your strong suit.  I didn't think I did this, to be honest.

You are an idea person and sharing those ideas is where you blossom as a writer.  Okay. This explains why I volunteer at Operation Awesome and Blogging from A to Z. 

You need a system for capturing those ideas and sticking with one long enough to finish it. Try keeping an idea notebook and rewarding yourself for finishing one project by allowing yourself to explore another.  Just one notebook? My idea file has over three gigabytes!

There's an option to sign up for the Ninja Writers after taking the quiz. I'm not sure what they mean by the word "call," and I didn't see anything to click on to ask, so I didn't take the opportunity. Plus, it's on the weekends, which is when Snookums and I often have plans. It's unlikely that I'll spend $25 a month (or $250 a year) right now. I'm still kicking myself for the "The Writer's Treasure Chest Bundle" I bought from Scrivener Coach. It turned out to be one of those things that would have dazzled me five years ago, but now didn't give me nearly enough

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

#IWSG Genre Not of Choice


Have you ever written a piece that became a form, or even a genre, you hadn’t planned on writing in? Or do you choose a form/genre in advance?

Yes. I entered the IWSG mystery anthology contest a few years back. My story didn't make it in. It has a mystery element, but it's not really as much of a mystery far as the genre goes. There is no detective. There is "magic." And there are missing children. (They aren't runaways and aren't hiding.) It's really more of an Urban Fantasy, even though I tried to make it be a mystery.

Anyway, that's why I put it on Smashwords with the option for people to pay whatever they'd like. (Including nothing.)

**Update - September 2020 - This post was scheduled. For whatever reason, it never actually posted. I didn't even notice until the September post rolled around. August really was THAT messed up. Sorry.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Internet Interactions of Interest 3

Internet Interactions of Interest @JLenniDorner
Nothing like a little murder to start the day. πŸ˜‰

Round Three of #PUSHunt called for something seen in the last image of this post:
Have you ever wondered how sex-trafficking happens, how children could become prostitutes, or why so many runaways end up on drugs and doing sex work? There's a lot to learn on this post.

Twitter accounts of those mentioned above (when possible) --


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Centralia PA Fire in the Metaphor for Native Americans

Straub's cartoon ( echoes this point:

"If a house is burning down, you're obviously going to focus on putting out the fire instead of watering a house that's just fine. In this analogy, black lives are the burning house, and everyone else is living much more comfortably in the house that isn't burning down. Clearly, one is a bigger problem.",_Pennsylvania

πŸ€” Everyone else?

I have no desire to start an argument.
I DO agree that Black Lives Matter.
And that house in the metaphor is definitely on fire right now and deserves help.

But I can't pretend that the neighborhood down the block with the Native Americans (let's call it Centralia), hasn't been on fire for 400 years.
We ask for fire trucks. They send gasoline tankers to spray more fuel. πŸ”₯
But I am not going to say "all houses matter," because that doesn't help either.
(There's almost no interest in putting out the Centralia fire.)

Maybe the Black Lives Matter movement will change things for other non-Caucasions.
That isn't the reason I support the movement.
But it'd be a nice side effect.