Tag Archives: self promotion

List Your Way to a Better (Writing) You

My least favorite part of the process is…? Copyediting. Spelling has never been my strongpoint. I particularly have problems with homophones and compound words. Trying to catch all those little flubs is no fun at all.

But copyediting is important. It’s what elevates a manuscript from armature to pro. It makes the story clean and accessible.

So, today I made two lists–one for each of my problem areas. Neither is complete, and I assume that years from now I’ll still be adding to them. The most difficult thing about making the lists was realizing that there are homophones and compound words out there that I’ve used incorrectly because I had no idea a correct version existed. What do you mean there are two spellings of compliment (complement)? Supersensitive is a word (synonym of hypersensitive)?

Making these lists has reinforced for me the importance of continuous learning. I will always have weaknesses, which means I will always be able to improve. I can get better. I can level up.

I highly suggest doing the same for yourself. Maybe your weakness isn’t homophones, but incorrect word usage, or comma placement. Maybe it isn’t prose related–maybe you’ve had trouble with time management. Whatever it is, make yourself some kind of guide, something that shows you the correct or most effective way to overcome your weakness. Even if it’s just a start, it can be a great tool to add to your growing box of tricks.

Always strive to improve. Never give up. Never surrender.

What are your tips and tricks for improving problem areas? Let me know!

~Marina

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WotF Awards Vid

Hi all!

Below is a video clip from the Vol. 29 Writers and Illustrators of the Future awards ceremony. It contains an introduction to my story, the wonderfully quirky dance choreographed for it, my thank you speech and Tiffany England’s thank you speech. Enjoy, get inspired, and enter the contest!

~Marina

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Good News!

Part two of the WotF workshop overview will be up next week.

This week I wanted to crow a little, if you’ll indulge me.

First off, I sold a story to Mike Resnick over at Galaxy’s Edge after a minor (but really needed) rewrite.  I’m super excited about this, as it’s my fourth professional-rate sale.

Secondly, my story “Sojourn for Ephah” won second place in the InterGalactic Medicine Show readers’ poll!  To get positive feedback from editors is great, but this is the first time I’ve been able to see what kind of an impact my work has had on readers.  I’m extremely pleased that the story was so well received.

Well, that’s it, just a batch of good news.  All in all, April’s been a pretty good month.

~Marina

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Penumbra Lost Issue Out Today

The April issue of Penumbra is out.  It contains my humor-flash piece entitled: Ol’ Soapy’s Revenge.  Here’s a sample:

End-of-timers flocked to the streets, sure the anomaly would pass over the Earth and send us all to Hell.  Some said it was an alien creation meant to take us out before we could take them out.  Others said it was an alien, pure and simple.

The inception of the Church of Star Trek: Doomsday Machine was an especially low point, in my opinion.

Check it out!

Penumbra Lost Cover

http://penumbra.musapublishing.com/

~Marina

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Being SMART With Your Goals

Ok, I might be a little late here.  A goal-oriented post usually belongs at the beginning of January, not at the end.  But…

I want to discuss setting real goals vs. setting non-goals.  You’d be amazed (or, perhaps not) at how many writers I’ve seen this month declare non-goals for 2013.  Non-goals don’t help anyone, least of all the person who sets them.

Non-goals are more easily defined as dreams–something you wish would happen, but don’t actually have any control over.

A real goal is entirely self contained and under your control.

Example of a non-goal: Qualify for SFWA.

Example of a real goal: Write ten short stories and submit them to SFWA qualifying venues.

See the difference?  Some people don’t.  At least, not right away.

There’s a well known model for goal setting that has circulated widely in the business world.  Which, naturally, means that writers are the last to hear about it  (I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but if you want to SELL something you’re in a BUSINESS, so we artsy types can all stop acting like ‘business’ is the eight-letter ‘b’ word).

This model is called SMART.  It’s an acronym that stands for Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound (actual words may vary depending on who you’re talking to, but the system remains the same).

Specific.  This one’s easy.  It’s the What, Where, Why and Who portion.  What are the requirements and restrictions? Where do I have to go/send/be in order to accomplish this?  Why is it important that this goal be accomplished?  Who is involved in making this goal happen (hint: if the goal requires someone in addition to yourself they have to be working towards the exact same goal.  Most editors are not working towards the same goal as you are, neither are agents or publishers.  They do not count as goal partners)?

Measureable.  This means you must have a concrete way of assessing your progress towards the goal and the goal’s completion.   You are looking for quantitative, not qualitative criteria.  How questions prominently figure in here.  For example:  I must write X number of stories and submit them.  Not: I must write a bunch of good stories and submit them.

Actionable.  This means the goal can be implemented and attained through your direct action only.  Which means it must be within your power to attain.  It is not a goal so lofty that you cannot reach it.  Nor is it only attainable if outside forces or circumstances happen to aid you.

Relevant.  Is there a point to this goal?  Will your career suffer should you fail?  Will it be aided should you accomplish it?  If the answer is no, it’s not really a relevant or worthwhile goal.  Is the goal of stamping and addressing twenty envelopes in a row relevant to your career as a writer?  The action might be necessary at some point, but it should not be a focal point.

Time-bound.  This one is especially important, I think, to writers.  It’s all about When.  How many people do you know who say, “I’m going to write a novel one day”?  I’m guessing a lot.  Most likely those people will never write that novel (they might never even start it, let alone complete it), because they have not deemed it important enough to put a time frame on.  A worthwhile goal must be constrained by time.  I will write ten stories someday will most likely leave you feeling unaccomplished come 2014 when you’ve failed to meet that non-goal.  Whereas if you say, I will write ten stories by June first, you have given yourself a time limit, an area of temporal space in which to work, and most importantly, complete your task.

So, it might be time to reevaluate your most recent goals.  You’ve lived with them near a month by now, how far along are you?  How close are you to completion?  When will you finish?  What is there still to complete?  If you have no way of concretely answering such questions, you might want to scrap your non-goals and set some real ones.

Non-goals only leave you with heartache when they are left incomplete.  We all want to have real goals that pull our dreams down to Earth and help make them our reality.  Otherwise, what’s the point of setting them?

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Was this post helpful?  Did you reexamine your goals?  Were your goals solid the first time around, or did you need to change a few things?  I’d love to know!  Leave me a comment.

~Marina

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Duotrope meets Submitomancy meets the Submissions Grinder

Alrighty, for all of you waiting for a system to essentially fill the void Duotrope left, I know of two.  One is still in the works, and one made its début in beta-mode this week.

First we have Submitomancy, and it’s an interesting option.  It will charge fees like Duotrope, but unlike Duotrope will have a lot of free features.  Its Indiegogo page (which is like Kickstarter, for those who don’t know), states that its submission tracker will be free, and that “Premium users will gain the advantage of full library features, power searches and social interactions.”  So it’s aiming to be a Duotrope replacement and social-networking site all in one.

The main differences between the free services and those behind the pay-wall are:

Free gets a manuscript database, CSV import, their basic search function, submissions tracking, average response times per market, and their newsletter.

If you pay their annual premium fee, you get access to the above, plus their ‘expanded databases,’ a ‘power search,’ detailed market response data, personalized notifications and reports, a profile page, status updates, skins, and anything else they might think to add between here and there.

If this sounds like a site you want available, visit their Indiegogo page and consider contributing to their startup costs: http://www.indiegogo.com/submitomancy

The Submissions Grinder is another option that launched this week.  Remember that backup file you downloaded from Duotrope, that has all of your data but in a rather unusable form?  No need to reformat the spreadsheet, just upload it now into the Submissions Grinder.  This system’s creators (It’s brought to your by Diabolical Plots) intend to keep it free, and it currently offers just about every feature Duotrope does, with a few minor exceptions (that I think will get filled in as they go along).

Right now, though you can import, you can’t export your data again, but they have stated they’re working on that.  And when viewing your submissions history you can’t narrow down your submissions by year.

The system is in its rough beta mode right now.  Errors pop up frequently, but let’s face it, they’ve only been up for three days.  The pending responses data is already beginning to rival Duotrope’s pre-paywall era on some markets (after only three days!), though their market database isn’t yet fully formed.

I’ve already made myself an account, uploaded my data, and made a few mistakes as a user–the proprietors are extremely helpful and ready to jump on any problems you might have, no matter if you or the site are at fault.

If you’d like to test out the Submissions Grinder, you can find it here (and if the page gives you an error, just try again later): http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/

The real key to any of these sites are the users.  The fewer people who use them, the less valuable they become to some people.  What’s really great about these new venues, compared to Duotrope, is that they have options that are free.  Sumbitomancy is going to charge service fees, but they know that to attract new users you have to let them try out the system.  I have no idea why all of Duotrope’s services are behind a pay-wall, as there’s no way for new customers to test the waters–so there’s no justification for them to pay for the service.  You’d think DT would at least offer a trial period for new accounts or something.

Anyway, what we have now are tiered options, in my opinion.

On the high end:  (price-wise, not necessarily service-wise.  I’ll wait to make that judgment once all three are up and running), we have tried and true Duotrope.  Nothing is free, in my opinion it’s overpriced, but it’s aesthetically pleasing, it works, it currently has the largest database as far as markets go, and it’s practically bug-less.

Next we have Submitomancy, which has free subscriptions and pay-to-play subscriptions, leaving things like its sub-tracker free to the public, and with extra features Duotrope does not offer in its pay brackets, but it’s not up yet, so we don’t know if its virtues are all that its proprietors hope them to be.

Lastly we have the fully-free Submissions Grinder, which gives you nearly all the same features as Duotrope at this point, plus the ability to import the data you saved from Duotrope, but is probably going to be buggy for a while and it’s a bit hard on the eyes.

So there you have it: options.  Choices!

If you do use one of these new systems, let me know in the comments how you think it stacks up!

~Marina

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Duotrope and Alternatives

By now, if you’re at all involved in the short story community, you’ve heard that Duotrope is going paid.

That’s fantastic.  Nothing wrong with someone who provides a service getting paid for said service.  Everyone’s got mouths to feed and bills to pay, and no one should be expected to provide a service at a loss simply because others would prefer it to be free.

That said, anyone who charges for a service really needs to price it practically.  You’ve got to understand what your business is worth to consumers.   No one’s going to pay $35 for a glass of lemonade or $65 for a loaf of bread.

And on that note, I won’t be paying Duotrope’s exorbitant yearly subscription price of $50.  Why?  Because it’s not worth that to me.  And I’d be hard pressed to believe it’s worth that to anyone else, save in entertainment value.  (I also need to point out that you can subscribe on a monthly basis for $5–but who would really use it only a couple of months a year?)

Duotrope is a wonderful convenience to me.  It takes all the things I have at various places (market lists, submission tracker, response times) and puts them all together in one convenient, user-friendly space.

But that’s just it: it doesn’t give me anything I can’t get elsewhere.  Its entire worth to me is based on two-to-ten minutes worth of time saving per submission.  Course, it probably costs me more than that in the time I spend procrastinating using the site to check response times (which does nothing for my own submissions–I’ll hear when I hear).

The convenience of using Duotrope is not worth $50 of my hard earned money.  I would have to sell one flash piece a year just to cover it as an expense, and since it does not make me money (it does no marketing, it does not put me in touch with editors, it does not get a single story of mine in front of anyone who can buy it.  I have to do all that leg work myself), I can’t really justify spending my entire income from one story on the privilege of using it.

It was absolutely worth the $5 they claimed every user needed to pay a year in order to cover their expenses.  I’d hazard it would even be worth $10 or $15 to me.  I know it’s worth $20 to $30 to other people, as that’s what they’ve donated in the past.  I haven’t met anyone who claims to have donated anywhere near $50, so where that price tag comes from, it’s hard saying.  And the anonymous Duotrope staff have been less than transparent about their financial goals.

I think their misguided pricing is based largely on a belief that those who have donated regularly in the past will be more than happy to subscribe now.  Unless they already had a ton of people donating more than $50, they’re going to lose more by charging more. I think they don’t quite understand how differently people perceive a charitable organization vs. a private business.

When it’s on pure charity, people are willing to pay the way of others as well as themselves: “They need $5 per person? Alright, how about I pay for myself and three others who can’t afford it? Spread the love.”

When it becomes a business, the consumer has to go into business mode as well: “How much am I getting out of this service? Is it worth to me what they’re charging?”

Basically, I think they’re over estimating what their product is actually worth. And I think it will be worth even less now, because they’re driving away the source of their worth, which is the large data pool they draw from

I don’t want to see a site like Duotrope disappear. And I’m complaining about the price because I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot. I think they’ll find their business model not only ineffective, but damaging. I can only hope the staff can change directions quickly enough to avoid disaster. I want them to stick around, because I appreciate what they’ve created and the time I’ve spent using their service.

But, at the same time, I can’t justify telling poor writers to spend $5 a month or $50 a year on a service they don’t need.

So, here are a few alternatives to the services provided by Duotrope, should you be unable or unwilling to subscribe come January:

Market lists:

http://ralan.com/

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~mslee/mag.html

http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/

http://www.speculativeliterature.org/Writing/mktlists.php   (This one is a list of market lists.  I have not explored it yet.)

Submission tracking:

www.writersdb.com

http://writersplanner.com/

ETA: http://www.spacejock.com/Sonar3.html (Suggested by J. Deery Wray)

Submission response times:

http://www.critters.org/blackholes/index.ht

http://ra-log.livejournal.com/

It’s also very easy to create an Excel sheet that tracks your subs and also doubles as a market list.  I also have a separate file that matches editors to their market and the market’s physical or digital address–a service which Duotrope does not provide.

If you are part of a large on line writing community, you could also start tracking your response times as a group.

I’ll be leaving this post up on the front page the whole week–so no Wednesday post.  I feel it’s important.

If you’ve got any other link suggestions, or just want to discuss Duotrope’s decision, feel free to comment!

~Marina

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‘Mirror Shards Vol. 2’ Released

The anthology is out!  I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to read it in its final form.  Here’s the cover and the blurb:

BEWARE! Between these pages, thirteen tales about augmented reality lie in wait to steal away your senses. Go on the hunt for poachers in a dangerous mist. Use your powers of reality-shaping to steal eternal life. Create a piece of art that embodies the soul of its muse. Find love in the data-memories of a ghost. Attend to your spiritual mind while your mortal body is in danger. Follow alien ley lines on another planet searching for the truth. Remember, when you step inside these pages, use all your senses, because you never know what lurks beneath…

Inside you’ll find stories by Alex J. Kane, Annie Bellet, Terry Edge, Daniel Sawyer, Michele Lang, Tomar Volk, Tomas K. Carpenter, Bogi Takács, Robert T. Jeschonek, Samantha Murray, William T. Vandermark, Louise Herring-Jones, and – of course – myself.

The e-book is available through Amazon, Barns and Noble, and Smashwords. (Links take you directly to the product page.)

And the hardcopy is available through Amazon as well.

Also, I have a new home page!  Lostetter.net.  I may change my blog or my portfolio service at some point in the future, but I should maintain this homepage forevermore.  So, bookmark it if you want to make sure you won’t lose me in the future.  😉

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Best Submissions Week Ever! P2

So, did you figure it out?  Two SFWA qualifying sales in one week!  Yahoo!  Still living off the high.

Getting to some copyedits for my Mirror Shards sale now.  Belive it or not, that’s pretty exciting for me, too.

And I hear finalist calls have already gone out for WotF q2!  Congrats, all!

Had any excitement recently?  Tell me about it.  🙂

~Marina

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