The Planner Experiment: May Week 2

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My new focus on contests brought me to something fun. Literary Taxidermy is having a contest in which participants write a story that starts and ends with lines from a selected work. This year’s selection is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The idea of the contest is to start with the first line of Mr. Bradbury’s story and create something completely different that then ends with his last line. I already have a ton of ideas. I think I’ll write drafts for at least three of them, maybe more.

Other interesting contests I found were:

Jerry Jazz Musician’s Short Fiction Contest  This site is looking for fiction that incorporates aspects of jazz music.

Online Writing Tips Story Prize This contest is free and offers a £100 prize. There’s no theme or genre. Enter any story of 1000-4000 words.

This Week’s Pages

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2019 Planner May Week Two

I think part of my frustration last month and why I kept getting behind on the pages was I wasn’t making the time to use them. This week, I’m renewing my efforts to completely fill in the pages each day with the goal of three submissions every day. I hope you’ll join me. I look forward to hearing about your journey to publication. I hope the daily planner helps motivate you to submit your stories and poems.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

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The Planner Project Continues into May

May planner

2019 Planner May Week One

The Experiment

For readers who are new to Experience Writing, thank you for being here. These free daily planner pages are part of an experiment I started at the beginning of the year. I wanted to get ahead of the submissions game and know about deadlines in advance, so I didn’t feel like I had always just missed something. To accomplish this goal, I have been researching and reading literary magazines, and other writing markets, and incorporating information about deadlines and expectations into a daily planner design.

My hope is that you will download the pages and either print them out or use them in your word processing software, to motivate you to submit your stories and poetry to literary and genre markets, get your pile of rejections, and eventually get published. I also hope, that in return you will give me specific feedback on how the pages can be improved.

Another Great Resource

I’ve made many interesting journal finds on Submittable lately, but when I expanded my search to look for anthologies and other deadlines, I happened across a site I hadn’t visited in a while. Publishing . . . and Other Forms of Insanity has a listing of deadlines by month along with a treasure trove of useful information for writers.

April Review

As I expected, I tried to do too much in April. Writing a story each weekend for the Writer’s Games and a poem and blog post every day for NaPoWriMo and A to Z Challenge was a lot. I managed to do it all, but the Planner Experiment didn’t get the time and attention it needed and I’m feeling pretty burned out. Of course, getting the flu at the end didn’t help. In other words, I only accomplished 2 submissions in the whole month of April. However, I have many new things to submit, so I look forward to making up for it in May.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Journal Submissions: 0

Other Submissions: 1 anthology, 1 poem to Master Class collection

Rejections: 8  (3 of these letters sounded like I made it past the first round and was given serious consideration. I’ll take them seriously and make sure to submit new work to them during their next reading periods).

Stories Written: 6 short stories, 2 flash

Poems Written: 28 published to Experience Writing, 10 not (saved to submit to journals)

Books read

  • novels 2
  • short story collections 2
  • poetry collections: part or all of 30+
  • craft books 3
  • short stories in literary magazines: did not keep track

Master Classes: 3 – Neil Gaiman, Billy Collins, and Margaret Atwood (all amazing)

Lessons Learned: I often think I can accomplish more in a day than I actually can. A good way to use the planner pages is to be honest with myself and track how long it really takes to do things. The biggest lesson is to not let myself burn out and find fun and excitement in my work. This round of rejections made me feel like I’m getting my stories to the right people. I now need to get them to the right people at the right time (with a little persistence and luck sprinkled in).

What’s Next?

I’ve decided to go back to focusing on deadlines for the monthly planner pages. It makes more sense to me. When I put everything together for next year, I’ll re-evaluate. It’ll be easier when I can see the whole picture with more experience and personal knowledge.

This month, I’ll be exploring contests. I need to figure out how to evaluate which contests to enter. There are so many and they all have entry fees, usually around $20 each, so picking the right ones for my work is important to me. If anyone has advice, please share it in the comments.

I’m also thinking about compiling a chapbook of my poetry and a short story collection manuscript to submit to contests. I had been thinking about self-publishing a collection of my work and the Kindle Storyteller Writing Competition has me thinking about it again.

The Pages

I apologize that the pages are late again, but I’m just glad I haven’t given up on the project and was able to motivate myself. I like the look of the pages this week. What do you think? I will update the deadlines page as I find more interesting markets. Good luck with your submissions and I look forward to your comments.

2019 Planner May Week One

Happy reading, writing, planning and submitting!

Fun with homonyms – Poem: Washington & The Planner Experiment April Week Three

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National Poetry Writing Month prompt:

Write a poem that incorporates homophones, homographs, and homonyms, or otherwise makes productive use of English’s ridiculously complex spelling rules and opportunities for mis-hearings and mis-readings.

Writer’s Digest April PAD (poem a day) challenge:

Pick a state (or province, territory, etc.), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.

My poem

Washington

Mom used to tell me as we road tripped the state
that it’s like the whole country condensed in one place
There’s the ocean’s salty waves that wave from the west
to the rainforest’s trees their trunks, their thick necks
bare to the blade, our trunk full of junk jammed to fill
does not buck with the bumping we pass through
the mountains along treacherous, winding passes and
tire the tires breaking all the way down then pass
the cows ducking ducks and craning cranes
the tank tanks as heat shimmers along the blank horizon
and we worry we’ll tumble like tumble weeds in the wind
but we flow like the currently generated current
to Mom’s hometown where arid space led to space
then I retrace, re-verse in reverse
and retrain the terrain so I can see
that we’ve tripped from sea to shining sea.

Reading

Today’s poetry book for inspiration is Locomotion by Jaqueline Woodson. I was excited to come across this book as I really enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming.

The Planner Experiment

How are your submissions going? I hope you’re staying motivated and reaching your goals. The project is changing slightly as I’m getting my hands on physical copies of the magazines. This week, I read Alfred Hitchcock and Fantasy & Science Fiction. They were very different and intriguing in their own ways. I hope you’ll look over my descriptions of these magazines and tell me if they are helpful.

This is the final weekend of The Writer’s Games. I’m excited that I was able to write a new story each week. It’s a practice I hope to continue. I’m looking forward to editing the new stories and finding homes for them as we continue this year-long journey.

2019 April Week Three

So how is the experiment going for you? What aspects of the planner are the most useful? What parts aren’t you using?

I’m thinking about adding the poetry editors along with the fiction editors. I also think I’ll start putting the journals that have both fiction and poetry in each of my deadline boxes. That way people that are only interested in submitting poetry will find this planner as useful as writers submitting fiction or who submit both. What do you think?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: Fickle Spring

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This week spring sprung, pounced really. We raced from snow to Seattle summer weather with speed that could induce spine-snapping whiplash. The cherry plum trees in my yard went from bare to full blossom in forty-eight hours. I woke up one morning and found myself instinctively picking things up and putting them away everywhere I walked.

The sudden change in the weather is easy to correlate with my change in behavior, but I’ve noticed a different sudden change in behavior that doesn’t have a ready correlate. Lately, I’ve been moody in my reading. I’ll start reading a book, decide I don’t like it, and put it down. A while later, I’ll try it again, decide I don’t like it and put it back down. Another day, I think I’ll return it to the library and suddenly, it’s great! It’s as if I had to be in a specific state of mind and the stars finally aligned.

This made me think about submission rejections. The readers at literary journals, reading and reading stories all day, don’t have the time to pick up your story over and over until the stars align perfectly and they are in just the right state of mind to see the brilliance of your story. You have to keep submitting your best work, giving it the best chances by following submissions guidelines to the journals that appear to be the most likely to be looking for your stories, but then it is out of your hands.

I admit, the rejections got to me. I stopped submitting this month. Then when I did motivate myself to submit, the journal’s submission window had closed early.  But I am determined to make up for my little dip in motivation and confidence. This week, I have set a firm goal of three submissions a day for seven days! When I accomplish that goal, I will increase my submissions total from last month which was this month’s goal. It will be difficult, but I know I can do it. Wish me luck. I could use some encouragement. I hope you’ll join me.

The Pages

For this week’s pages, I chose a photo I took of the cherry plum blossoms in my yard. The white blossoms become little yellow, tasty plums. For the background I use GIMP to change the opacity and lighten the colors.

2019 Planner March Week Four

Coming in April

Last year, I participated in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) for the first time. I also did the A-Z blog challenge, exploring a new word starting with each letter of the alphabet. I enjoyed how the new word interacted with the daily prompts. This year, though I know I will be spreading myself thin, I want to do both events again and add the Writer’s Digest PAD (poem-a-day) challenge. Since I’m finding that most journals will not publish anything that’s been posted to my blog, it makes sense to attempt two poems a day, at least.

What challenges are you looking forward to this April?

 

 

The Planner Pages: Changing course

March week three pages

The Experiment

This month is flying by and I have very few submissions to show for it. My main issue is trying to read enough of each journal to get a feel for it and then when I’ve spent so much time reading the journal, I decide I don’t have a story that fits.

I’ve been debating if I want to continue to list deadlines, or reading period openings and I have officially switched to openings. This week, I finally convinced myself to submit to a magazine only to find they had closed submissions early due to too many submissions. I’m seeing more and more that journals that use submittable will only take a certain number of submissions per month due to costs which makes their deadlines indecipherable. I am also finding that I procrastinate, so deadlines are not really helping me plan ahead. It makes more sense, for all these reasons, to start looking at journals by when their reading period opens. So, after this week, I’m changing course.

This means I will have to redo all of the pages from this quarter for next year, but it was all an experiment, so I’m glad I’ve come to this decision now instead of in the fall.

Reading Discoveries

Though I have hit a slump in my submitting, I have made some fun discoveries through continuing the experiment. After reading an interview with the editor of Hinnom Magazine, I picked up a copy of The Nameless Dark: A Collectionby T. E. Grau. The first story, “Tubby’s Big Swim” is thoroughly entertaining.

In Blackbird I enjoyed Miniature Man by Carrie Brown and was excited to read This Is The Age of Beautiful Death by John Dufresne. I have read and enjoyed John Dufresne‘s books on writing and recommend them often. It was fun to recognize an author I admire as I was reading through the magazines.

In Shenandoah, I enjoyed Tender by Shruti Swamy.

I hope you’ll make some time to treat yourself to these great stories.

The Pages

Here are this week’s daily planning pages with new writing prompts and magazine information: 2019 Planner March Week Three

I hope you are finding the daily planning pages helpful, informative, and motivational. What do you think of the writing prompts I’m making up? Have you tried any of them? How are your submissions going? Do you think you’ll reach 100 rejections this year?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: March Week Two

March week 2While I worked through the week’s pages, I came across an error. The dates for Pseudopod’s reading period are 3/15-3/31. The good news is we didn’t  miss out. I will try to be more careful. I’m glad I have a story that I want to send to Pseudopod, so I noticed the error.

I found some new deadlines coming up soon. My original search weighted to the magazines that paid authors and did not charge fees, however, I think including as many deadlines as I can, so you can make your own choices and analyses, is a better goal. Luckily, this is a year long experiment, so I have time to consider this issue.

Here’s the new March planning page with deadlines: March Deadlines update

I had some fun photographing fabrics for backgrounds, so the next few weeks will have original, textured backgrounds. I’m still playing around with chart and graph ideas. Hopefully I’ll have something for next week.

Here are this week’s pages: 2019 Planner March Week Two

Plan a great week!

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

The First Week of March Planning Pages & March Reading Goals

Books through a fish eye lens

Here are the  pages to plan out this week:

2019 Planner March Week One

This week includes an interesting selection of literary magazines and a podcast along with original writing prompts.

March Reading Plan

I picked up a really fun selection of books from the library to read this month.

Novels

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler (Everyman’s Library Classics) by Italo Calvino
Swing Time: A Novel by Zadie Smith

Short Story Collections

Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World
The Nameless Dark: A Collection by T. E. Grau

Poetry Collections

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Poems by Elizabeth Bishop

Graphic Novels

B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs Volume 1
Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
Home After Dark: A Novel by David Small

Craft Books/Non-Fiction

The Playful Way to Serious Writing by Roberta Allen
Writing Tools: 55 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark
Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers’ Guide from the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University

I hope you will join me in reading a wide variety of great writing. What have you planned to read this month?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: February Week Three Planner Pages

Week three pages blue

As I write this, I’m listening to short stories from Asimov’s Science Fiction on their podcast. I also discovered and have been listening to The CryptoNaturalist. I hope to have stories on both of them some day. Earlier today I enjoyed listening to stories, some read by the authors, over at Three-Lobed Burning Eye. I submitted a story to them this morning.

I have very exciting news. Yesterday, I submitted to three different magazines. It was the first day I have reached that goal. This morning, I did it again. I’m on a roll, but today’s submissions made me aware of another problem with my plan: sometimes the magazine or journal that appears to be the best fit for my story doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions. That means I may need to wait months before I can submit it again.

But wait! If I submitted the story to a magazine that is a good fit, I may not need to submit it again because they will publish it. So the only  real problem is how I will come up with three submissions for tomorrow. There-in lies the importance of learning about all of the literary journals that I would like to publish stories in and learning when their reading windows are, so I can prioritize the magazines for which I’m willing wait.

For those of you who are hoping to achieve a three submissions a day habit, here are some tips for preparing your submissions:

Make submitting easier:

  • Have a short bio written that you can cut and paste into your cover letter or submittable form when requested.
  • Re-read, edit, and format (most journals ask for Shunn format, but you may also want to have a copy with no personal info on it because many journals ask for that) your stories so they are ready to go when you find a good fit.
  • Try to find interviews with the editor to learn what they’re looking for and read stories from the journal. Find something you like or a story that is somewhat like your story, so you can mention it in your cover letter.
  • Read and re-read the submission guidelines and follow them carefully.

The Planner Pages

I have yet to receive your feedback and fervently await some data other than my own for this experiment, but we are only two weeks into it and I’m already seeing personal results.

Positive results

  • I have already submitted more than I did all of last year
  • I have a new outlook on rejections as accomplishments to work toward and they already don’t sting as much as they did before.
  • I am becoming familiar with literary magazines so that I can choose the best fit for my stories and write personalized, informed cover letters.
  • I have read a ton of short stories and poetry
  • I have collected, reviewed and organized my poetry and very short stories.
  • I’ve written a lot of writing prompts and come up with a lot of story ideas.
  • I’m finding ways to improve my design in open office though this part of the project is time consuming and can be frustrating.

Not so positive results

  • I haven’t found a daily routine yet.
  • I’m obsessively researching the journals.
  • There isn’t enough time in the day to read all the stories and poems.
  • I’m not writing new drafts for my ideas, at least not as quickly as I would like.

These problems, I believe, will taper off soon. I did write a very short story rough draft this morning. I’ve gathered most of the journals that I plan to include in the planner. By the end of the month, I should have them organized into their planner months and be able to prioritize getting familiar with each one.

The Changes

I was getting frustrated with the tools I had in open office, so I looked up loading new fonts. You can download free public domain, commercial use fonts at 1001 fonts. Having a selection of fonts I like made a lot of difference, but then I wanted borders and frames for my sections instead of just lines. This led me to the clip-art gallery. I downloaded frames and borders from public domain vectors.

This endeavor was not as successful as downloading and applying the fonts. Loading the clip-art into the gallery wasn’t particularly hard, I was just impatient and kept accidentally shutting down the program. Once I got the frames and borders into the clip-art, they didn’t look great when I resized them, so we’ll see if I end up using them.

While putting this week’s pages into one file, I discovered that the background colors that I had put with each day did not come along when inserted into the file. All of the days would have to have the same background color, so I decided to leave that for now. I think I’ll play around with using my photography for backgrounds. I would have to choose one that works for an entire season, if I choose to use a background.

I also changed the layout of the magazine section a bit. I didn’t like how the space next to the image of the magazine looked, so I moved the web address below the image and added info about the reading dates, pay/fee and whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions.

Planner Pages Week Three

2019 Planner February Week Three

I hope you’ll click the link above and download the planner pages, so you can plan your week’s submissions along with me. I look forward to receiving your feedback and hearing about your journey to publication.

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

 

The Planner Experiment: Micro-fiction

Snowmaggedon

This planner project is already working for me. This week I received my second rejection. The sting only lasted a moment this time. The rejection letter even suggested that I submit something to their next reading period, so I’ll keep that in mind for my deadlines. I edited and submitted two other stories to different magazines the same day. Now that I’m becoming familiar with so many paying and interesting markets, I feel confident that I will eventually find the best fit for my work. The only way to do that is to keep submitting and collecting rejections. This new mind-set is helping my confidence and productivity.

Micro-fiction, Nano-fiction, and Very Short Stories

This week I discovered another group of magazines to add to my spreadsheet, the wonderful world of micro-fiction. I enjoy writing flash fiction. Flash is usually a story that is less than 1,000 words. There is a market for a sub-section of flash which consists of very very short stories. These magazines look for stories as short as a 140 character tweet, or specific word counts of 50, 66 or 100 words. The range is up to 500 words.

Most of these ezines aren’t paying markets, but are a great writing challenge. Telling a story with a beginning, middle and end with so few words trains you to edit for economy of word choice. I have had stories published in Speculative 66 and The Drabble.

There are some paying markets looking for micro (or nano) fiction. I found two lists: The short list from D. L. Shirey and a useful table from Erica Verillo.

Like I did with my poetry last week, I went through and collected all of my very short stories in one file. Unlike my poetry, I wasn’t enthralled with the very short stories I wrote here on Experience Writing, but that was exciting to me. I was able to find some magazines that would take poetry from my blog, but micro-fiction is another story. They are only interested in unpublished work. Thus, I plan to take only the very best ideas from my very short stories and completely re-write/ re-imagine them before submitting. I also have a list of story ideas that I think will work well as micro-fiction and plan to tackle some drafts in my morning pages.

Reading Everything

Another way the planner experiment is working, is by guiding my reading. I try to focus on reading some stories from the Literary Journal of the day and maybe one other. That way I’m not sampling from all over the place, but learning as much as I can about one journal at a time. Getting a feel for a journal isn’t easy and when I’m trying to learn about hundreds of journals at once, it can get overwhelming. Exploring one or two journals a day is a great way to get to know them and figure out if I have a story that is a good fit.

As you may have heard, the Seattle area had unusual snowfall last weekend. It was beautiful. Being snowed in is the perfect time to read, all snug under a pile of blankets. My sweetie and I have been reading to each other since the beginning of the year and we ramped that up during the snow. We lit a fire in the fireplace, drank tea and cocoa and read a bit of everything. That is one of the fun things about reading a lot of short story collections at once, you can read a story by one writer and then move to a completely different genre or style by another. We skipped around between The Lottery and Other Stories (FSG Classics) by Shirley Jackson, The Neon Wilderness by Nelson Algren, The Shell Collector: Stories by Anthony Doerr, and The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates interspersed with selections from The Pushcart Prize XLIII: Best of the Small Presses 2019 Edition (The Pushcart Prize). We ended up reading all of The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror and liking about half of it. She does tend to ramble and doesn’t seem to care about a satisfying ending, or that was our conclusion.

We also read Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence). I’ve had this book for years and kept picking it up and putting it down, so I was glad we read it together and finally finished it, but I had no idea it would be so pornographic. I was much more interested in the murder mystery and found the “sexual artistry” annoying. However, it had a brilliant ending; little clues that made me re-read the beginning (since it had been a long time since I started it) to confirm.

As for the other reading goals I put in my planner, I finished The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón. I enjoy her poems and liked the collection, but not as much as Bright Dead Things: Poems. I’m also reading a bunch of craft books. I’m especially enjoying The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby.

The Planner Pages

I’ve been frustrated with the tools available to me in open office, so I did some work this week improving my font selection and line and border possibilities along with experimenting with backgrounds and colors. I also realized that I needed to put some planning for my novel edits in the planner as well, so I’m playing around with that.

I noticed I had a repeat prompt on the thirteenth. I apologize. I wrote and saved over 100 writing prompts the other day, so even without the prompt inspiration I get from the literary journals themselves, we won’t be running out of writing prompts any time soon.

Look for the new pages some time tomorrow evening, so you can plan out your week along with me on Sunday.

Feedback

I would love to hear from you. Are you using the planner pages? Do you use them on the computer, or print them out? Are you submitting your work? How could the pages be more useful and motivational?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

Here Comes February – The first week of planner pages

Today’s the day! I organized all of the pages of my planner that I’ve created so far into one file and am actually posting it for you when I said I would. Yay! I find it fitting and poetic that I also received my first rejection of the year this morning! How great is that? Only ninety-nine more to go.

The rejection was disappointing, of course, but today it only stung for a second. I wanted to read the pieces that the guest editor accepted, so I would have a better idea what to send in the future. I think this project is working already.

So here they are, the daily planning pages for the first week of February. I set it up to look right in the book view in open office. I think I’ll try to print it as a little book for myself, since I like to reward myself with little stickers sometimes, but I set it up so you can fill it in on the computer. I’ll probably do both.

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2019plannerfebruaryweekone

I’m still trying to figure out if three submissions a day is a reasonable goal. I’ll probably start out with one a day and try to increase over time. The most important thing for me is to not get overwhelmed because then I won’t do it at all. I also need to make sure submissions and reading all these journals doesn’t take time away from writing and editing. I hope you’ll experiment with the pages and let me know what works for you.

Trying to consume more short stories and poems

I’m trying out using audio books and radio shows/podcasts to listen to short stories and poetry while I’m working on these pages. Using Overdrive I was able to check out some Joyce Carol Oates, since she appears to have a story in every literary journal. I’ve been listening to The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares: Novellas and Stories of Unspeakable Dread I also checked out some Ann Beattie. I have her book Park City: New and Selected Stories, but can’t seem to get through it, so I thought I’d try listening to her stories instead. I checked out The State We’re In: Maine Stories and The Accomplished Guest: Stories.

This morning, thanks to The Boynton Blog who brought this to my attention, I’m enjoying poetry read by poets in Spokane, Wa. on Spokane Public Radio.

Feedback

I hope you’ll download the planner pages and give feedback in the comments, so I can make changes for the second week’s pages. Each daily page includes a unique writing prompt (I’m making them up as I go), and an introduction to a literary magazine. I would like to know what type of information would be useful to you in the magazine descriptions. I included the editor’s name and the website address, but I think my descriptions could use some work.

I hope you’re enjoying the experiment and start getting some rejections soon. 😉

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!