Submission Work

This past year I’ve been working on writing and submitting short stories. I’m always amazed at the work involved in getting the writing out there. Slowly, I’m figuring out ways to streamline this process. I’ve come up with a few ways to make it easier.

First I’ve made a binder that holds all of the guidelines for places to submit to. That way I have it all in one place when I’m getting ready to send a piece of writing out. I can easily check word counts, genres, and refresh my memory of the details each publisher wants included in a submission such as format, biography, cover letter, etc.   

Second, I have a file saved with various biographies about myself. When researching publishers I’ve found that they all have a certain style. Some are very serious and businesslike while others are more lighthearted and humorous. I’ve written a variety of biographies, all of them short, to match the different styles. This makes it easy to include one with only minor tweaking.

Third, I have a file of cover letters. Again, each place has their own preferences so I try to have a few formats of those as well.

Fourth, I need to keep track of the submissions. There are a lot of software programs available out there and just trying to figure all of them out takes time. For now I use two. I found the StoryTracker application for my itouch. I like this because it’s pretty simple and automatically figures out the response date. I also found a program called Sonar3, which is free (you can donate to the programmer if you feel it’s worth it, and so far I do, even though I just started using it) and helps keep everything organized at a glance. These two programs help me keep track of what I have submitted, how long it has been, whether the piece has been accepted or not and so on.

This is a learning process that I am constantly reworking.

How about you? Do you have some tricks of the trade you can share to make things easier for writers? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Writing Update for July

Since I can’t come up with anything poetic or terribly creative today, I’m just going to post an update about what I’m doing with my writing. Hopefully it won’t bore you too much but it helps me keep accountable and stay on track.

In the past week I have written six poems. If you read my previous post, you will see that I have no idea if they are any good but for some reason I had to write them. 

Poetry Books

Poetry Books (Photo credit: chillihead)

I also wrote another entire scene for the longer piece of fiction that I’ve been working on for a while but had been stuck on. The reason I managed to get unstuck was because of a couple of things.

One is that I left it alone for a while to give myself time to ruminate on it. Sometimes if I just let things simmer in the back of my mind, without looking directly at it, I’ll come up with a spark that will get me going again. I wasn’t getting any sparks so unfortunately, I let it sit for longer than I had planned, but in the end this seemed to work out okay.

Second, I went to a virtual conference about teen books for work (it was pretty neat and I have to admit that I geeked out a little! See the link below to find out who was there.) and there were web casts of various authors discussing their books, their writing as well as taking questions from the participants. One of the authors said in his advice about getting un

Smiley face 2

Smiley face 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

stuck with your writing (I really perked up at this since I felt like he was addressing my issue!) was to go back and read what you already have. Often, you will find something there that you may not have paid attention to that will show you where to go next. So that’s what I did and sure enough, I got going again! It feels good to be moving forward on that story again.

What do you do to get unstuck with your writing?

I also forced myself to do some market research. I have a short story that I thought would be a perfect match for a publication I’ve submitted to before, but discovered that they are closed to submissions right now. So, I figured it was time to explore some new places to submit to. And I did. I’ve written before about how much time this takes but it’s a necessary chore to make sure I’m sending my writing to places where it stands a chance of getting published. I don’t want to waste my time or the editors’ time at the other end. That just bogs everyone down.

Does anyone have any tips on making market research easier? Or other great places to find markets?

So that’s my update. I hope you didn’t find it too boring and maybe there was something helpful for you?

Thank you, as always, for reading.



Writing Progress through March

I’ve been kind of unfocused with my writing but did manage to submit two short stories. One has been rejected but had a nice note with it. The other one I just sent out so it’s too soon to hear anything.

I do tend to go into a funk in February and March and find it very hard to focus, let alone be creative. But I’m plugging along. Now that March is about done and the days are longer, I should be able to kick it in gear more.

Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do

Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do edited by Meredith Maran

I read this great book which was very inspiring. 

Each chapter was about and by each author. I particularly liked at the end of each one, the author gave a few of their best writing tips. I would recommend it to anyone interested in writing.

How is your writing going? Do you find that you write better during certain seasons? When you are feeling uninspired and unfocused, what do you do to keep going? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Here is an entire page dedicated to Writing Funks by the Wordwrights:

Fifteen Minutes

On those days when it seems daunting to park myself in a chair and write, I’ve found a great way to trick myself into doing it. I tell myself that I will just sit and write for fifteen minutes.

I discovered this initially when I read the book Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. The book is full of inspiring exercises and practical tips for writing. I’ve taken the basic premise that we can all squeeze in fifteen minutes to work on our writing.

I’ve made a few rules that make this work for me:

-I have to work on a new piece of writing and add to it. If I’m stuck at some point then I have to at least make notes about what I will work on next in the story or move on to another scene. Keep going forward.

-I can work on revising something that is completed.

-The fifteen minutes cannot be used for going online at all. No checking email, Facebook, or even researching something for the writing I’m working on. No distractions. If I have to look something up, I make a note right there in the draft using the comment feature to remind myself later. The goal is to make progress.

The best part about this approach is that I start to write and/or revise something I’ve written and the next thing I know, time has flown by! Very rarely have I tried this and actually stopped in fifteen minutes.

On days when I have so much to get done and am fretting about not getting to my writing, I can do this and feel a sense of accomplishment.

What do you do to keep writing? Or to start writing on those days when you need a kick-start?

Writing, Writing, Writing

I’ve noticed that I haven’t been posting here as often as I would like. Why? I’ve been getting a lot of creative writing done. I find it interesting that when my writing wasn’t flowing easily, my blogging was easy. Now I see that while my latest fiction is coming easily, I haven’t been as inspired to blog. Just an observation.

The great thing is that I sat down and wrote a 2000 word short story in one sitting last weekend. I love when that happens! I read it to my writing group last night and the reactions were positive. I’ll get a written critique of it next month.

And I’ve been working on the story I started while flying to Denver at the end of August. That story is coming together well so far.

I will have to see how things go in the future. I would like to do more of both. Blogging and creative writing. I’ll work on that!


Writer’s Vision Versus Editor’s Vision

I think like most writers I write because I have to. I also write the stories I would like to read. I’ve written a few short stories that I’m happy with and have submitted them to be published.

I’ve gotten good feedback on one story in particular but had basically the same comment from two different editors. They both liked the story but felt it needed more tension.

 This is my conundrum. I love my story the way it is. So do I change it with the hopes that it will be accepted and published? Or do I keep the story the same and keep submitting it to different publications hoping that somebody will enjoy it the way that I do?

 Now if I take my own advice about getting critiqued, I’ve learned that when more than one person makes a comment about my writing that it’s usually worth making a change. Going on that logic, then, yes, I should rework the story to add more tension.

So I have started reworking this story. Adding the necessary tension makes the story darker which will probably appeal to some readers. It is changing the entire feeling of the story. Maybe this is good for me to push my comfort zone? Is giving up on my vision or making it better?

I guess it’s a question of how badly do I want this story to be published? I’m not sure. I will continue reworking it and see how it turns out.

I am also keeping the original. At least I’ll have the story I enjoy for myself!

Has anyone else run into this and if so, how did you handle it?

Productive Writing Days

The last few days have been nicely productive for my writing.

I revised the short story that the Wordwrights critiqued for me.

I got a rejection email about a short story I submitted last month, so I did what I usually do; I sighed and moved on by sending out another short story that felt ready to go. I didn’t get a note about why they rejected this one so I’ll reread it and see if I can figure out what needs fixing and send it out again.

Then I started a new short story and got the whole thing down this morning. It will need a lot of tweaking but it’s on paper now. That always feels good.

I have a few short stories to work on. One  story I’ve sent out a couple of times and it came back both times with almost identical comments about it being too slow in the beginning. At least that is something concrete to work on which is great!

I’m trying to keep at least two pieces of writing out there at a time and have been managing to do that for a few months now.

I feel that I am constantly balancing writing time with everything else in my life but I always feel so much better when I put writing first. Okay! Back to work!