Plan your novel!

Now! Dammit! Or else! Plan your novel. (This is dear me, love me, you can do whatever you want.)

I need to do some more planning as the end of the month looms large.


Clockworks from Andrew Gustar – Flicker

Easy: Jenna’s first novel, a full rewrite. (That part is hard, knowing was it is is the easy part, also reading that sentence, hard.)

Pre-November steps:

  • Make a Pinterest board (or rather add to the one I already have)
  • Pull out and enhance physical descriptions of the people I already have from both books 1 and 2
  • Write up description of the mashup/remade character
  • Consider the scenes that need to be added – figure out what the goal will be and about what they need to be and then let them noodle around in my brain
  • Set up time to write – create a real plan (either first thing in the morning, later in the day, weekends, etc)
  • Plan more backstory weaving in

Jenna’s novel is the first in an urban fantasy trilogy. A young woman who is struggling to regain her life after a long absence from the world is finally feeling settled. Now she’s finally gotten a job offer, she’s meeting new people. And she’s got a shiny little necklace.

The second book is written and I’m feeling pretty good about it, but the first needs to come in line with it. I know basically where the third will go for the big arc on it.

Now I just need better titles. Oof titles.




Romance and no more guilty pleasures

I’ve been seeing another round of smack talk about things. Because of course there is. This time it seems to be Romance. (You will recognize YA, paranormal romance, and many other genres/things in this, romance just happens to have it’s turn in the spotlight right now.)


There is a lot of desire in these conversations to say “These are my people!” or to scream it from the rooftops. A lot of this is trying to create in-group identifiers, but these are often created through out-grouping others. 

“Romance people aren’t my people and if romance people aren’t my people then you are my people.” That’s not actually that bad. Where it gets really bad is when someone goes on a screed to outgroup, to exclude some group of people so that they can show you that they are …whatever they are trying to demonstrate they are.


I think this is a very cynical and self protective way to go about things. Declaring your unabashed love for something requires being more revealing. A loudly declarative statement of affection is like stripping down and saying I’m vulnerable here and here, please don’t kick me there. 

And yes, wonderfully, much of the time those declarations get hugs and support. But even a few kicks can really hurt. Sure you get 50 hugs (if you are lucky) but just 5 kicks will take you way, way down. 

So why would you do that when you can declare how something is bad. Not even that you personally dislike it, but that it is “objectively” (which is nearly always how these things are set up) bad or wrong. That is basically putting up a coat of armor. Even if someone kicks you, you are wearing armor. You are ok. You won’t be hurt. 


Often when these things come up they are for groups it is easy to take potshots at. Who reads romance? Who reads YA? Who watches rom coms? I’ll give you a hint. Not people with all the power. I believe the fancy term for this if it was a joke would be punching down. 

It is really easy to go, “Oh those – people who aren’t like me or you – and their – thing I don’t like!” Now you and me? We belong together. Look at us all buddying up. But I didn’t have to take a swing at someone with giant mech boots, I only took a swing at someone who wouldn’t hurt when they tried to kick me with my armor. 

But I have the right to hate things!

Good for you. So do I. We all do. But why would you spend more time talking about the things you hate than the things you love. I know I’ve done it, and I will do it again in the future. I’m so far from perfect I can’t even see it’s shadow. But I do try. 

But…I still want to be a part of an in group. As much as I’d like to believe it, I’m not immune to wanting to be loved. To wanting to be a part of a group. Wanting people to include me. I get the same little rush everyone else does when someone says that they like me, that I’m like them (if I like them of course!), that I belong with their group. 

So yea, I’ll still say I don’t like things. I’ll still bash things. But I’m trying to be better, and I hope other people are too. 


S1.30 A Hairy Situation

A Hairy Situation is written by Marissa LaPorte

Marissa LaPorte is a 19-year-old student currently attending Grand Valley State University. She recently returned from studying abroad in England. LaPorte has been selected as a winner and a finalist for many flash fiction and short story contests held on the writing website and she was a runner-up the “Letter’s About Literature Contest” held in Lansing, Michigan. LaPorte has most recently been published in the “Hedge Apple” of Hagerstown Community College, “Serendipity” of Bay De Noc Community College,, and she will be published in The Flash Fiction Press in September.

Read more by Marissa.

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Critique Sites (Scribophile)

I broke this one into two posts. The first focused on Critters, this focuses on Scribophile.


Scribophile’s icon even looks more modern

Scribophile is much more of a writing community. Which, I could use a little of…even if sometimes I wish writing was really the solitary pursuit we are lied to and told it is.


So much more modern. Omg the website…it feels current. It feels like it isn’t 10,000 internet years old. (Sorry Critters, but it is true.) There are some cool tricks along with this, like inline editing tool. This tool is amazing. Just drop your comment right into the line of the content it goes with. Done! (The potential downside to this would be a focus on line edits when someone is looking for something more developmental.)

It is a community. Like there are groups and forums and it is far more interactive. This is both a plus and a minus for me. Having a community to talk about things like marketing and using tools and the rest? Could be seriously helpful.

Karma (like the credits from critters) doesn’t expire. This is the biggest pro for me and why I am trying it. I don’t want to go back and do all the math, but my rough guestimate would be if the points were the same I’d have way, way over 200 Karma sitting around unused. With Critters, I just stop for a month because I’m busy and it all goes away. So I don’t use it like I should. From everything I can see, Karma doesn’t expire. Having that giant number there mocking me would be an incentive and pressure to use it. I need that. This is entirely personal. I need a giant number mocking me.


There are so many rules and feelings. Don’t critique unless you ask someone first, don’t critique if they are in this or that thing, don’t critique when it is a blue moon on a Tuesday. Aren’t you a critique site!? Don’t you want people to critique?

Seriously, I did one critique and now I feel bad. Don’t get me wrong, I think the critique itself was good and valuable, but I don’t know if I followed the magical unseen rules or not. So much bullshit. I don’t know if I want to, or currently have the capacity to, climb bullshit mountain to figure out if I can critique things or not.

YOU ARE A CRITIQUE SITE! No one should get pissy about a decent critique. Sure, one that is brutally bad? I get being upset. But so many rules. So much demand to talk to people. I don’t want to be your friend. I want to give you good feedback on your work and go to the next. A fucking blood pact that we super swear that we will read and critique each others work, not what I signed up for. This is like a store saying they don’t want to sell you anything.


None of that seems to be official site policy. The actual site makes critiquing really nice and easy. It is like HERE have a thing to read! Nice, simple, straight forward. But I read a few posts from the forums and now I’m feeling very much like I should take my ball and go home.


I don’t know. I really don’t know. Anyone know of any other good critique sites that combine the best of these two. I really want to give Scribophile a good try. I want to push myself harder to talk about my work and myself. That might sound crazy because I’ve put out several things this year plus the podcast… Is that crazy? Do I do enough marketing? (No.) Do I get enough feedback? (No.)

I still feel towel throwey iney.


Critique sites (Critters)

So I’ve tried different Critique sites. Critters and now giving Scribophile a shot. I’m…frustrated.



I actually really like Critters. It would be the site I’d recommend for SFF short/flash authors. But …I’m me? And I have my own personal bullshit to deal with. This means it is good and bad.


It really encourages you to review something every week. Make a habit of it. Sit down, read, give feedback. It has great information about how to give a good critique. I think I’ve gotten a lot better at giving feedback because of Critters. And not just feedback for writing, in general, at work. I really appreciate the skills I’ve learned.

You also get to read the other critiques later (scribophile seems to let you do this right away – which I don’t like) so you can learn. Do you view things the same as other people, differently? How did they say something? Is what you are saying valuable? But without feeling (for me) like I need to read everyone else’s critiques first. That is probably something I can get over, but with Critters? Not even an option. As an author, this is great because you get multiple critiques and if 5 people say the same thing, pay attention. If only one person does? Eh..maybe it isn’t as big of a deal.

MORE CRITIQUES. From what I’ve seen Critters is usually much better for the number of critiques. Almost everything I ever sent in got at least 10. The basic number for Scribophile is …3 or sometimes 6?

No…bullshit? I mean yeah, sure there is bullshit. But, basically, it is unseen. Or it was to me. In the years I participated (under more than one name – sorry Critters, I know you have a real names only policy, but you are letting clearly fake names in so whatever) I never saw more than a couple of blog things, which will be in the cons below.

No other stuff. 99% critiques. Yeah, there are forums, I went there once, that was enough, there wasn’t much there, I left. It was ok. No one sent me messages saying I had to read them. I never felt like I wouldn’t get critiques if I didn’t make friends. Making friends wasn’t even encouraged. That’s my kind of people!

More short fiction and flash fiction. For me, this is a pro. For others, I’d think it is a con.

The weekly cycle. You don’t have to always be looking for new stuff, you just get the message once a week and you know you’ll have until the next Wednesday to do your critique and get credit for it.


The website feels so old. Like 10,000 internet years old. Everything about the site feels super old. The colors, the layout, the way it works. So old. So dated. But that is really all surface, it works fine everywhere I went.

You have to push to take full advantage of it. This is my biggest problem. By so very very much. I’ve done a lot of critiques. To fully take advantage of the site you need to always have something in the queue. If not? Your % goes down and you might as well have not critiqued at all. This is honestly 100% of my problem with the site. I’m bad at going HERE READ MY SHIT! And all the work I do every week I don’t send something in for critique is wasted, other than the value of doing critiques, which is a value! Don’t get me wrong. That is a huge value. Would I have kept doing Critters for several years if it wasn’t? (…Well maybe…)

I do find other ways to get feedback, but then…why am I doing this? This is the point where I throw up my hands and deflate like a popped balloon.


I don’t know. I really don’t know. More stuff later this week about Scribophile. I don’t know.


S1.29 No One Likes the Grimm Reaper

No One Likes the Grimm Reaper by Kim Letendre.

Kim has lived in Canada all her life, in Montreal for most of it, but moved to Ontario in 2011 and am now a university student in Toronto, studying immunology and animal physiology. Kim speaks both French and English and writes in both languages. One of her French short stories has been adapted into a segment of a play presented by the Théâtre Français de Toronto in 2014. She bakes and does fencing in her spare time and also enjoys reading all types of books but especially fantasy and adventure. Kim has a deep love for anything Alice in Wonderland and mythology, two topics that are not even slightly related. 

Read more (in French!) on Amazon

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Writing as a Job

I read a bunch about writing as a job. Chuck Wendig started the rabbit hole with a response to an article by Merritt Tierce at Marie Claire and then an article at Billfold by Ester Bloom who wrote another article at Medium which published another article by Martin Rezny. There is no way this is all that was written in response to this article or any of these. 

And now I’m going to contribute to this noise with my post! Late! Wee!

Hidden Jobs

I also listened to The Reality Check about the dream jobs recently. There are a lot of jobs in the world we don’t talk about. If you narrow it to legal jobs even fewer. I would be most interested to see a list of jobs that people think about when they are about 14-15. When we think that people (kids, really) are supposed to start deciding what to do with their entire lives.

Is there any surprise that we discard a lot of jobs as not real work?

Real work is stuff like police, doctor, teacher. If you asked my niece and nephew what the job titles of everyone I work with are? I’d bet they’d be totally baffled. (Heck, I bet half the people I work with would be baffled by what those titles really mean.)

I work with people who write. Heck part of my job is writing. (It is a pretty small part at this job, but at previous jobs it was a larger part, at one, the whole part.) 

But they don’t count

This is a weirdly common refrain. The people who write and survive are dismissed. 

Well that isn’t writing fiction. So we are only saying fiction writing can’t be a job? And then there is this implication that fiction is like writing or sports or dance or acting. It is one of these “jobs” where a few people make ALL THE MONEY! And everyone else does it because they love it. 

There are people who get by or are even *gasp* successful at writing who you haven’t heard of. There are also people in all those other categories doing the same. And not just because you don’t like sports or x music genre or ballet. People actually can do that as work. 

Back to the hidden jobs, I think a lot of these are hidden jobs. Out of sight out of mind. And unless you are interacting with project managers or writers or cellists every day they might as well not exist. So you think that no one can make a living making power points or writing romance or playing the cello. But they do. 

So I should quit my job!

NO! The throwing out the job because one single book did well? That’s like going well I got this one gig so I’m going to quit my job. Don’t…

Yeah she was lucky enough to have a husband to support her during this time. And if you have the resources to do these things, sure. Though I’d argue that having a job has a lot of other psychological benefits so if you don’t treat your writing like a job then you will suffer those things. 

I do think you can, and there are people who do, treat writing like a job. But that means you can’t get precious about it. Just like you shouldn’t get precious about any job.

Once you start to get precious about things you get fired. (I hope. I wish.)

Go dig some ditches!


8 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About ‘Scary’ Chemicals — the chronicle flask

I get so crabby when I see things labeled as “Chemical Free” I always want to stop and go “OH! So it doesn’t exist at all huh?”

This says it all much more nicely than me.

Chemicals. The word sounds a little bit scary, doesn’t it? For some it probably conjures up memories of school, and that time little Joey heated something up to “see what would happen” and you all had to evacuate the building. Which was actually good fun – what’s not to love about an unplanned fire drill […]

via 8 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About ‘Scary’ Chemicals — the chronicle flask



S1.28 Like Bad Spray Paint

Like Bad Spray Paint is written by JW Troemner

JW Troemner was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States, where she lives with her partner in a house full of pets. Most days she can be found gazing longingly at sinkholes and abandoned buildings. You can find out more about Rosario and her new best friend in Mark of the Dragon, the first book in the Urban Dragon series.

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