Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Serial update

The Halloween serial written by five area writers, "A Waco Ghost Story," was published in full in today's edition of the Waco Tribune-Herald. It had been serialized in five parts on the newspaper's Web site, with the final installment appearing this morning, and the complete version is available on-line at:

http://www.wacotrib.com/featr/content/features/halloween_06/stories/complete.html

I wrote part 2.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Today's Mail

I received a contributor copy of a magazine that contains a story I wrote under a pseudonym.

Today's Mail

I received a contributor copy of a magazine that contains a story I wrote under a pseudonym.

Today's Mail

I received a contributor copy of a magazine that contains a story I wrote under a pseudonym.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cover!

My article "Trees for Texas" is the cover story in the November/December issue of Texas Gardener, which should be at newsstands around Texas any moment now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Halloween Serial Begins

Carl Hoover, the arts editor of my local newspaper, the Waco Tribune-Herald, wrote the first part of a five-part Halloween serial and asked four local writers to finish the story. I wrote part 2. Part 1 of the serial is now posted at http://www.wacotrib.com/featr/content/features/halloween_06/stories/part1.html and a new part will be posted each day through Sunday. On Sunday, all five parts are supposed to be printed in the newspaper.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Story Published

My short story "A Crime on Christmas" is the lead story in the Winter True Experience.

Essay Published

My essay "Where Evil Lurks" is the Manspeak column in the November True Confessions.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Organization

One of the most important things a writer can do is to establish and maintain an organized record-keeping system. While this is easy for someone who produces a single finished manuscript each year (a novelist, for example), it can be difficult for a writer that produces a large number of finished manuscripts each year (a prolific short story writer or a non-fiction writer).

There are multiple parts to organizing. At the one end of the writing process is developing a method to keep track of work-in-progress and assignments with deadlines. At the other end is developing a method to keep track of work submitted, accepted, paid for, and published.

Much of my work is written on spec, so I don't often deal with conflicting deadlines. During the past few years I've probably not had more than three deadline-driven assignments overlap. It isn't hard to stick a Post-It note to my computer monitor and jot a note in my Day Planner to remind me of these deadlines. I know writers who use spreadsheets and electronic calendars to keep track of multiple assignments.

The back end of the process is where I've put most of my organizational efforts. While some writers claim to keep all their records on a computer, I find it impossible to do that. There's just too much paperwork.

Every manuscript I finish gets its own folder. Into that folder goes a hardcopy of the ms. and copies of any research material I used; a record of where the piece has been submitted and the results (rejection, request for revision, acceptance, etc.); copies of all acceptance letters, contracts, check stubs, and etc.. That folder travels around my office through various file drawers depending on what stage the ms. is at.

Under submission? One drawer for that.

Accepted? One drawer for that.

Paid for/not published? Drawer for that.

Published/not paid for? Drawer for that.

Published and paid for? Nine drawers for that.

While not a perfect system, it's served me well since I started writing more than thirty years ago. And it would be bloody hard to change now.

The Mail

Today's mail brought a check for a short story. Friday and Saturday I received contributor copies of magazines containing my short stories.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Submit Until There Are No Markets Left

A story being published later this year was first written in early 1991 and received its first rejection March 31, 1991. It was rejected by 25 publications, finally finding a home earlier this year on its 26th submission.

That's 16 years from creation to publication...and it isn't the longest gap between creation and publication for one of my stories.

If there's a lesson here, it's that a writing career doesn't happen overnight. It takes hard work and a tenacity that most would-be writers don't have.

Oh, and a good filing system never hurts.

Streak Remains Unbroken

I was beginning to sweat.

I've had one or more pieces of fiction published every month* beginning August 2003 and continuing through December 2006...except I had nothing published yet this month.

Until a few minutes ago.

I received an e-mail from the editor of a weekly publication letting me know I had a story in this week's issue.

That's 41 consecutive months. Does Ed Hoch have a rearview mirror? Can he see me in it yet?

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*I use a publication's cover date, not its actual on-sale date to calculate this stuff.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006

Assignments galore

Although the day started poorly, around mid-day things picked up considerably. I've received three assignments--one expected and the other two out of the blue. The first is to write one installment of a five installment ghost story to be serialized by the local newspaper later this month. Other local writers will write the other four installments. The second is for an essay, and the third is for a magazine article.

Luckily, the deadlines are such that the assignments shouldn't confilict with each other.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Half A Sale

Tom Sweeney and I received a contract today from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine for "Snowbird," a private eye story we co-authored. It's the first sale to EQMM for either of us.

Expect the Unexpected

Yesterday's mail brought a check for a story for which I did not expect to be paid. It wasn't a large check, but I should be able to buy lunch at Wendy's.