26 March 2015

Writers' tools: Duotrope

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might've noticed that on most Mondays I post 3-4 calls for submissions, usually themed calls with upcoming deadlines. Where do I find these calls? Duotrope.

What is Duotrope?
Duotrope is a database that helps writers find markets (e.g. journals, magazines, publishers) that accept unsolicited submissions (meaning you don't have to be agented or personally invited to submit). The database interface lets you search by a number of different factors, including word/line count, genre and whether or not it's a paying market.

You can also build your own little database within their system of your own pieces of writing, which you use not only to list what you've written and want to submit but also to track where you've submitted which pieces, how long it takes for markets to get back to you, which pieces have been accepted/rejected, and your acceptance rate.

In addition, subscribers can elect to receive email announcements about new markets, markets that have reopened, those that have been declared defunct, and upcoming themed deadlines in the genre(s) in which they write.

Why I like it
Before someone told me about Duotrope, I spent hours searching for literary magazines and journals via Google search. The ones I found weren't guaranteed to be open to unsolicited submissions, much less be paying markets geared toward what I write. Not only do I come across a ton of markets I probably would never know about if not for Duotrope, but their search features mean I can narrow it down to what's relevant to me.

22 March 2015

Writers' tools: notebooks & pens

I have a confession to make: I love, love, love paper products and pens. I've hoarded them for years. One of my favorite pastimes is going into a bookstore or quirky gift shop and browsing their selection of notebooks and journals. I currently have 15 blank journals and 6 blank notebooks waiting on the shelf for their turn. And I have a big Ziploc bag full of pens that will probably - if I'm being really honest with myself - dry out before I have a chance to use them. But I can't help myself. Some people collect stamps or rocks or their roommates' hair from the bathroom sink; I collect pens and notebooks.

Another confession? This blog post is really an excuse for me to show-and-tell some pretty things, aka some tools I use in my writing process that you might want to check out if you're also a fan of the instruments of writing by hand.

Wait. Writing by hand?
"Don't we all use computers now?" I imagine you thinking. "And didn't you write a whole post on Scrivener as the new word processing tool for writers?"

Yes, yes. But you know what? Sometimes I like to write by hand. I keep a journal in actual physical form, for example. I tried journaling on my computer for a while but it just wasn't the same; it wasn't as satisfying or motivating. I also find it helpful to brainstorm by hand, freewrite by hand, do story and character development by hand, and pretty much tackle anything I'm unsure about via writing by hand. So there. Can we get to the pretty things now?

18 March 2015

ROW80 2015 Round 1 Wrap-up

This is the final week of ROW80 Round 1. Time to reflect back on my goals and report the overall progress for the round! Below you'll find my original goals in black, changes in red, and progress in blue.

Creative projects
I have SO MANY WRITING PROJECTS I want to get done this year: two novels, a collection of short stories, and 2 books of poetry. Because I still have not figured out how to clone myself, I must work within normal human parameters - for now - which means breaking it down into manageable chunks. This round I worked on a novel under my pseudonym (codename WIP1) and a collection of short speculative fiction stories under my own name (codename SF). Goals:
1) Finish drafting and editing WIP1. Beta draft of WIP1 complete, feedback received, and I'll be done with the next draft by the end of next week, at which point it goes to my line editors. Round 2 starts April 6th, so I'll still be finishing up this book.
2) Finish writing the 1st drafts of the stories for SF & begin to revise them. I finished first drafts of 3 more stories and made progress on a couple more, though they haven't reached first-draft status yet. I plan to work on one more first draft in the next round, but I'll be focusing mainly on my book of dream poems and my pseudonym's projects for the rest of the year.

13 March 2015

Recap of "success as a writer" series

What is success for a writer? Is it plugging away at 500 words a day until you finally finish that book you've had in your head for the last 10 years? Is it getting signed with an agent or publisher? Getting a good review in the New York Times? Publishing a book that becomes a bestseller? Establishing a loyal readership? Selling the film rights to your book? Making millions? Becoming required college reading? Maybe it's all of those things. Maybe none of them.

Over the last several months I've been soliciting and publishing guest posts about different authors' definitions of success as a writer. Here's a quick recap:

For Kristen Strassel, who has seven books out, success "is a moving target" that, for now, means "to have people reading and enjoying [her] books."

Kiersi Burkhart, who already has an agent and an international book deal, defines success as writing full-time and making a living off it.

Ruthanne Reid's definition of success has changed over time from being a bestselling author with a movie deal and fanfic based on her work to writing something that she's "proud of and happy with" and that doesn't "leave [her] burned out and angry when [she's] through."

For Ebony Williams, who's on the verge of self-publishing her third novel, success means having "a nice following of people who believe in all that [she does]."

Although Scott Burtness has self-published one novel and has a second on the way, he doesn't consider himself to be an author yet, much less a successful one, nor will he until he's made more money on book sales than he spends on publishing and marketing.

For me, success means making just enough money writing what I want to be able to justify spending the time on it that I want to, making a difference in people's lives with what I write, and continuing to challenge myself and grow as a writer.

Nancy Christie also has several criteria for success: being happy with what's she's written, having it accepted for publication, and getting positive feedback from readers.

To finish off the series, Maree Miller confessed that although she's in the process of querying her first novel, for her, it felt like a huge success just to finish it so she could move on her to writing the next one.

What's your definition of success as a writer? How will you get there?


Need help figuring out what success looks like to you? Or maybe you already have your definition but need some support to achieve it. Writing coaching can help you articulate your goals, identify what you need to learn to accomplish them, break goals down into manageable tasks, stick to your timeline, navigate challenges and celebrate your accomplishments.

08 March 2015

A less-than-productive week

My energy has been ZAPPED this week, not only by last weekend's festivities but also by mega-allergies and a family emergency on top of all I originally had planned (i.e. editing and coaching work, business envisioning work, pseudonym's branding process, revising a novel). The result was that I spent a lot of time just trying not to feel tired and the rest of the time - and what little energy I had - doing work for clients.

The good news is that I feel like I'm snapping out of my energy-drain and have a good plan for the coming week that involves resuming my ritual of getting out of the house for 2-3 hours every morning to go write in a coffee shop or the library. I'm not exactly sure why it helps me feel more energetic and focused to do this, I only know that it does, and I haven't done it in something like three weeks. Time to rectify.

Now for this week's...

ROW80 Update

"A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life."

[Note: This update only includes the past week's tasks and the coming week's tasks. If you'd like to know how they relate to my goals for this round, you can read my 2015 Round 1 Goals post.]

Creative projects
Past week's tasks: Finish re-reading WIP1, making notes & formulating revision plan Mon-Tues; Wed-Fri begin carrying out revision plan. On Monday I decided that re-reading WIP1 would distract rather than aid me at this point in my process, so instead I formulated my revision plan and began to implement it. However, due to the aforementioned factors, I got no further on the revision for the rest of the week.
Coming week's tasks: Email line editor to see if I can have an extension; if not, rework revision plan to fit two weeks. In either case, continue WIP1 revision.