Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mini-NaNoWriMo Wrap-up

As some readers may remember, I posted at the beginning of this month that I had joined a writing challenge with some of my writing colleagues. We set up a mini-NaNoWriMo with a goal of 800 words a day, or 5600 words a week. The challenge was set to run from the beginning of August through the end of the month.

So, how did I do?

First, I want to say that the process was extraordinarily educational in that I learned a lot about my own writing process. I learned what worked for me and what didn't. I developed a solid discipline that helped me write through distractions, health issues, and family demands. I discovered that I wrote better in shifts--dividing my 800-word goal up into two shifts of 400 words. And I learned to listen to what the story was trying to tell me.

I didn't write every day. In fact, I had a week and half during which I did no writing at all. Part of that time was lost to injuries from a serious fall, and part of the time was given up to help move my son into his college dorm room. And yet, despite these diversions, I feel that I did well.

I finished two chapters of my novel and wrote half of another one.
I wrote a column for Mike's Writing Newsletter.
I wrote two critical essays for my MFA program.

In all, I completed 12,966 words in four weeks for an average of 3242 words per week. It's not 5600 words a week, but it's not bad.

And I'm pleased, so pleased that I plan to set this for my daily goal next month as well. Tomorrow, I begin the edits on those chapters I finished. Then it's back to writing new words, new material. Yes!

Finally, I'd like to send my congratulations to all of my writing friends who participated in the challenge. Every one of you is a winner!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Call for Submissions: New Plains Review

Call for Submissions:

The New Plains Review is seeking stories, essays and poems on the subject of
writing workshops and MFA experiences for its fall issue, devoted to the
theme of how writers grow--or not--in educational settings. Submit original
work by email to Editor Douglas Goetsch at douglasgoetsch(at)

(replace (at) with @)(as Word attachment or typed into the body of the email);

or send hard copy to:

Submissions, New Plains Review, 100 N. University Dr., Box 184, Edmond, OK,
73034. Deadline is Sept. 24, 2008. Note: We will gladly consider previously
published work if the author owns the rights to it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Online Marketing

Writer's Digest and The Penguin Group are offering The Penguin Author's Guide to Online Marketing that you can read and/or download FREE. The PDF file contains some good, basic advice about how to create an Internet presence to market your book.

Go here for your free download and to learn more about marketing your book on the Internet.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Essay Contest

Tiny Lights Essay Contest

Essay Contest Guidelines
14th Annual Contest Deadline: February 16, 2009

Tiny Lights invites entries that feature a distinctive voice, discernable conflict and an eventual shift in the narrator’s perspective. We are looking for writers who weave the struggle to understand into the fabric of their essays.This year, we are introducing a special prize of $300 for short essays (no more than 1,000 words).We can only consider unpublished work, or previously published material for which the author holds rights. Rights revert to author after publication in Tiny Lights.

Each essay must be accompanied by an entry fee. $15 for first essay, $10 each additional essay. Make checks payable to:

Tiny Lights Publications. Mail to: P.O. Box 928, Petaluma, CA 94953.

SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with sufficient postage required for contest notification and/or manuscript return. Multiple submissions OK.

Essays may be submitted in one of two categories:

STANDARD (no longer than 2,000 words) or

FLASH (no more than 1,000 words)

Please indicate preferred category on ms.

Entries should be typed and double-spaced.

Cover letters are optional, but the first page of the manuscript should include author’s name, complete address, e-mail, phone number, and essay word count.

Personal essay requires writers to communicate the truth of their experiences to the best of their abilities. While no theme restrictions apply to this contest, we will not consider essays that celebrate brutalitiy or the explicitly pornographic. Tiny Lights does not accept poetry, short stories, or material written for children. Entry fees for inappropriate submissions may not be returned.

Entries must be postmarked by Feburary 16, 2009.

Prizes will be awarded as follows:

First Place: $400

Second Place: $300

Third Place: $200

Two Honorable Mention Prizes: $100.

Three FLASH prize of $100 also offered. Awards will be determined by a panel of judges. Final authority rests with the Editor-in-Chief, Susan Bono.

Winners will be posted at by April 10th, 2009

Winning essays may be edited before publication. Final copy must be approved by writer. No essays published without author’s permission.

All contestants will receive Tiny Lights’ contest publication featuring the winning entries.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Call for Submissions: EcoPoetry


Coeditors Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street are soliciting submissions for an international anthology of ecopoetry. Their guidelines and requirements:

We are looking for a wide and varied array of submissions. Our working definition of "ecopoetry" is flexible; it includes not only what might be called nature poetry, and not only poetry that focuses on environmental issues, but also experimental poetry--poetry that explores language in its relations with the other-than-human. We welcome work by emerging as well as established poets. We welcome serious poems, playful poems, poems in open or traditional forms. Depending on limitations of space, we will consider not only short poems but also poems of several pages. The anthology will include only living poets or poets who were alive as of July 2007, and will include only poems either written in English or already translated into English; for poems not written in English, both the original and the translation must be submitted, and if accepted, both will be published. We will consider work that has been previously published.

The deadline for submissions is DECEMBER 15, 2008. Please send up to six poems to BOTH Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura-Gray Street. You may send them as email text or by snail mail. If they come as email text, make sure the spacing and lineation travel accurately. WE WILL NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS. Please also include a short bio and a cover letter, and an SASE for our reply.

Ann Fisher-Wirth
English Department Bondurant C-135
University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677
afwirth(at) (replace (at) with @)

Laura-Gray Street English Department
2500 Rivermont
Randolph College
Lynchburg, VA 24503

lstreet(@) (replace (at) with @)

We look forward to reading your work!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Too many writers? Not enough readers?

Are there too many writers competing for the same publication slots? What about readers? Who reads fiction or poetry? If you write fiction or poetry, do you read the literary magazines? Do you subscribe to any of them?

I visit a lot of writing forums on the Net, and it's appalling to see how many people are writing novels, short stories, poetry, and memoir, and yet...They never read anything in their genre of choice. If we don't read the work of our colleagues, how can we expect them to read ours?

Statistics show that reading is far down the list of popular leisure activities, but writing--as a hobby and as a profession--is growing.

Your thoughts? What can writers do to encourage people to read more?

For an interesting discussion related to this topic, visit the SpeakEasy at Poets&Writers. Log into the Fiction forum and look for the question, "Too many writers?"

More on Mini-NaNoWritMo

After my triumph last week, this has been a week of disasters and recoveries. I started the week with an accident that left me with some serious road rash on my knees and a nasty bump on my head. I had a bad fall in the parking lot when I was taking my dog home from the vet. Suffice it to say, tangled leashes, panicky and sick dogs, and distracted owners don't mix.

My injuries meant a couple of slow days, but now I'm back on track. My writing word counts so far:

Tuesday, 8/12--787 words
Wednesday, 8/13--708 words
Thursday, 8/14--798 words

The best part of this experience is seeing the chapters of my novel add up. Onward and upward!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mini-NaNoWriMo Update

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I made a commitment with several of my fellow writers to meet a minimum word count goal for the week of Aug. 1-8. All of us are facing deadlines and viewed this as a means to motivate us to get the work done.

So, how did I do?

The weekly goal was 5600 words, or 800 words a day.

My final count for the week? 5720 words.

I learned a few things from this effort:
1. I can write more if I relax about the editing during that first draft.
2. I can write under tremendous pressure and confusion. During this same week, our dog had surgery, requiring a lot of TLC.
3. I sometimes write better when I plan less, letting the story dictate to me.

It has been a good week. I'm pleased.

Now, I'm off to produce the next 5600 words and a new chapter or two of my novel.

Happy Writing! May all of you reach your goals this week, too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The great Russian author, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, died yesterday at the age of 89. His life and struggle should be viewed as an inspiration to anyone who wants to write. Some interesting facts about him:

When he criticized Stalin in a personal letter to a friend in 1945, he was sentenced to eight years in a labor camp. Three years later, he was sent to live in exile in Kazakhstan, where he wrote his first novel. He memorized most of what he wrote so that it wouldn't be lost if it were seized.

His work was originally banned in Russia and after he was finally able to return to his homeland, most of his countrymen had never read any of his books.

And yet, despite his hardship and suffering, he never stopped writing. He was award the Nobel Prize for literature in 1970. Here is what Solzhenitsyn had to say about his writing:

"During all the years until 1961," Solzhenitsyn wrote in an autobiography written for the Nobel Foundation, "not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared that this would become known."

To learn more about this wonderful author, go to:

Friday, August 1, 2008

Mike's Writing Newsletter--August Issue

The August issue of Mike's Writing Newsletter is now out. This month, Mike interviews the Producer and Filmmaker, Laura Friedman. And don't miss the article about the BEA convention. I have two articles in this issue: "Seven Things You Should Know About Your Book," and "Writer's Block? Tear Down the Wall!"

Each monthly issue is filled with interviews, articles, and helpful resources. And it's FREE! To start your subscription to Mike's Writing Newsletter, send an email request to:

You won't want to miss a single issue.

My Own Mini-NaNoWriMo

Most writers are familiar with the famous NaNoWriMo, the month in November when thousands of people pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Yesterday, I joined with some of my writer friends to form our own personal NaNoWriMo.

But NaNoWriMo takes place in November, you say. Why do this in August?

Well, one of our the most successful members of our little group mentioned that her publisher wants revisions on 35,000 words by the end of August and put out a plea for others to join her in making similar commitments. Another participant in our merry band said her agent wanted her to make substantial changes to her next novel. And still another member mentioned that she was preparing a collection of short stories for a competition with a pressing deadline. I added that my mentor wanted a complete draft of my novel by the first of December. In short order, we had almost ten people discussing deadlines and goals, and thus, our private NaNoWriMo was formed.

The leader of our group put together a few rules for us to follow. They were so well-crafted that I thought I would share. To find the goal for the daily word count, she averaged the goals of the various participants.

The Rules
Word count goal for each week--5600 words. That is an average of 800 words a day. If you go over the average on one day, you can carry them over to the next. If you don't make the goal, you keep on slogging through.

Any genre, any combination of genres, is acceptable. You can combine two 100-word poems with a 600 words from a short story to meet your daily goal.

Commit to one week at a time. You can quit after one full week, but no quitting mid-week. If you commit to a week, you stick it out until the end.

Support your fellow writers. Be sympathetic if they're struggling but keep encouraging them to meet the goal.

On Aug. 31, we will all celebrate!

So what is your mini-NaNoWriMo goal?

Anyone who wants to join me in writing 5600 words a week is welcome to post his efforts and successes in the comments session. I will be there to cheer you on!

My word count for 8/1/08: 1894 words