Moving work to Wattpad

Last night I experienced an interesting thing. I was at a high school graduation party for a family friend. My wife’s friend, who I had not seen for some years, turned to me and said, “so, what are you up to?”

I was about to go into what it was like being a substitute teacher all year, but he interrupted me. “I mean, what have you been writing?” he asked.

I told him but wasn’t able to SHOW him. Almost everything I have published within the last couple of years has been lodged behind one paywall or another.

I was in this liminal space. A published author that couldn’t show a friend, and potential read, what I’d been working on for the last couple of years because someone else was charging money for it. I was not paid any money for my work.

It was in this moment that I realized I wanted to have my work somewhere people could read it without a paywall. I wanted to be able to point to a place and say “my work is here.”

Today I was perusing literary magazines to submit to and all I could think was. . . nobody is going to read my work if I publish in these little, anonymous lit mags. At least if I put them out there for free I can tell someone where the work is, they ask, and they can read.

So I started a Wattpad account.

I know. Wattpad is mostly for teenagers who write fanfiction and dare I say poorly written romance novels. You know what? I’m not above having my work sitting along with that material. The fact is Wattpad has millions of users across the world, and if this is a place I can tell people to visit if they’re interested in my work–great. So that’s what I’ve done. I published the first 5 pages, or so, of a short story that I’m happy with. I’ll post again next week, on Wednesday, and each week after that until the whole story is on there–then I’ll do the same thing with another story. I think I have about 4-5 short stories that I’ve been sitting on, and I think I could even publish my backlog there too–because those magazines only get the rights for the story for six months or something like that.

So this is what I’m doing. Wattpad. Maybe I’ll get a few readers along the way, but most of all, I’ll be able to share my work with the people who are interested in it and ask me about it.

Check out my Wattpad page here.

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Small Thoughts Review: Banshee by Michael Cassutt

Banshee by Michael Cassutt is a science fiction novelet published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s, Jan/Feb 2020 issue. While I say it’s science fiction, it could be categorized as science fantasy in the sense that little of the plot hinges on the actual science that makes the plot possible. Stretching subgenre even further, this could be considered science weird literature, or weird science fiction, similar to Jeff Vandameer’s work, though less on the horror spectrum and more on the absurd.

The premise hinges on the idea of the “Banshee,” a person who has gone through a medical proceeding that changes their whole body into. . . well pretty much anything. There are people who have morphed or “Bancheed” themselves into dinosaurs, unicorns, Martians, etc, etc. It’s ridiculous. Yet, the main character was interesting enough to keep reading about–which is a testament to the piece.The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January/February 2020 ...

However, I find this pice irksome for other reasons as well, despite its redeeming qualities. For instance, the piece functions on the premise that nobody over the age of 30 can make scientific breakthroughs. It’s a joke, but the piece goes to lengths to illustrate how people over 60 have good or great ideas that benefit everyone. This sentence really drew my attention in today’s political and economic climate, as well.

“But he had proven one thing: Smart political decisions could be made by people over sixty.”

Sure, this may be true–but putting it in this piece, which didn’t feel overtly motivated by politics, felt like a plea to readers to trust in the old political guard of today. A guard that has given us deregulated banks that caused the 2008-2010 recession, unprecedented levels of student debt, and a for-profit health care system which only makes money when it can successfully deny care to as many people as possible. That sounds cynical and maybe agist, but all I’ve seen, my adult life, is white, male, politicians creating policies that ultimately impact my generation and those younger than myself in negative ways. In the rare occasion, a politician with policies that would affect me and my generation I positive ways does gain a foothold, everything possible is done to make sure they cannot implement their platform. While this piece is ultimately about an older man changing in his ways and views to become relevant again, the quote above feels like an appeal to younger generations to trust their elders. It’s difficult, we’ve been given few reasons to trust our elder political leaders. While trust in some may be warranted on a case-by-case basis, I think the trust needs to be earned, not granted due to empty promises.

Small Thoughts: The Converter of Time by Mina Ikemoto Ghosh

The Converter of Time:

Speculative City #6

By Mina Ikemoto Ghosh

The Converter of Time by Mina Ikemoto Ghosh explores how industry capitalizes on the fears of the populace it claims to benefit.

In the story, there are two societies–those who live within the Converter of Time (or CT) and those who live without. Those who have escaped the CT are free from the fear of death, willingly infect by a genetically engineered virus. It sounds a bit like toxoplasmosis, but there aren’t any cats involved.

The narrator isn’t human. There is talk of braiding “fur” and slicking ears back when something bad happens. Part of me thinks this was an effective way to tell the story, part of me wonders if it’s necessary. The fact that the characters aren’t human gives them license to act decidedly different than humans, which at times they do. On the other hand, up until halfway through the story I didn’t know they weren’t human, and so had to adjust my mental image of the story in the middle of reading. I can see why Ghosh didn’t introduce their alienness to readers from the outside. You tend to lose people when you start something off with alien main characters. I know I immediately wonder if they’ll be relatable. If they are, that’s good. But if they are overly human in their logic and emotions, then I begin to wonder why they aren’t just human. So–I guess Ghosh is walking a thin line here. Aliens or humans? For me, this story is a good one. I like the themes, the structure, the world it is set in. But I don’t think the alienness of the characters is essential to the plot, and so it tends to distract.

The finished product, however, is an intriguing and well-crafted, excellently written, and darkly imagined look at how industry leads us astray.

Mina Ikemoto Ghosh is a British-Japanese writer and illustrator. Her style incorporates brushpen and bold, dark, dynamic linework – drawing on the influences of the manga she grew up with and Japanese calligraphy – and the fine pen lines she saw in illustrated English books. She admires Chris Riddell and Amano Yoshitaka, and draws on her love of nature and BA in Natural Sciences for her story subjects. Trial and error over a couple of million words’ worth of manuscripts has taught her enough about narrative to know that she’s got many, many miles to go. She would like to see more illustrated YA fiction.