Thursday, April 29, 2010

Story eighteen

I completed and submitted by 18th story of the year this evening, a 4,700-word confession that I started writing on the 24th.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Published

My short romance "All-In for Love" was published today at The Long and Short of It, where it will be available for a week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Disappearing act

I'm a strong advocate of record-keeping, something not enough writers seem to do. I believe writers should know exactly where they've submitted a manuscript, what the response to it was, and, if accepted for publication, what rights they licensed to the publisher and for how long.

I've met too many writers over the years who didn't and don't keep good records. They resubmit stories to publications that have already rejected the stories, submit a manuscript to multiple publications at the same time without realizing they've done so, and don't know what rights they've licensed and so have no idea which rights they still control.

So, I have a copy of every contract I've ever signed.

Sort of.

I became a professional writer back when we all used typewriters. Photocopiers were expensive machines owned by businesses, not by part-time writers working in their spare bedrooms. To make a copy meant sneaking copies on the copier owned by our employers or driving into town with a pocketful of change to use the over-priced and poorly maintained copier at the grocery store.

The same went for faxes. Fax machines were office machines and, on the rare occasion when a writer needed to fax something--publishing moved much slower then and most business was done through the U.S. Postal Service--the fax was sent surreptitiously from work or from the local print shop.

I was ahead of the curve.

I owned a fax machine.

And my fax machine had the ability to copy.

So I copied all of my contracts, using my fax machine, before returning the originals to publishers. Without leaving home! Without having to look over my shoulder at work!

On thermal paper.

Guess what.

Thermal paper fades.

And I now have several blank sheets of thermal paper in my files where once I had copies of my contracts.

Sigh.

24

I received another acceptance this afternoon, my 24th of the year. This time it's for a 5,100-word confession I submitted March 27.

22, 23

I woke this morning to find two acceptances waiting in my e-mail, this time for a pair of confessions I submitted on Monday.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What happens when you die?

After my death, I won't care what happens to my writing. But I'm not dead yet, and I do worry.

My will--such as it is--doesn't designate anyone to care for my literary estate. Who in my family comprehends copyright law well enough to understand the 1,000+ contracts, letters of agreement, acceptance letters, and other correspondence related to the assignment of various rights that I'll leave behind? Who in my family comprehends publishing well enough to seek publication or republication of existing manuscripts? Will they see my bulging filing cabinets as a potential--albeit small--income source into the future, or will they simply see a room full of paper and old magazines and books no one has read that must be discarded before my home can be sold?

And how often do the files of workaday writers--those who publish regularly but lack the fame of a bestselling writer or the renown of a multiple-award-winning writer--disappear when the writers die? How much literary trash and literary treasure has been lost because writers like me failed to find someone--anyone--willing and able to care for their literary estates?

And why do I even care? After all, I'll be dead.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Character ethnicity and why some of my characters are indeterminate

Years ago, when I started writing confessions, there were a dozen or more confession magazines, just as there were several mystery magazines and several science fiction/fantasy magazines.

Confession magazines--women's magazines featuring a specific genre of women's fiction known as "confessions"--served two distinct readerships. Many of the confession magazines featured white characters for a white readership; the rest of the confession magazines featured black characters for a black readership.

The best paying confession magazine--then, as now--was True Story, a few confession magazines were on the second tier of payment rates, and the rest were grouped in the third tier. I came from the science fiction genre where the mantra was to submit to the best paying publication first and work down until the story sells. Which I did.

But there was a problem with this. If I wrote a story intended for one ethnicity, I had to revise the manuscript before I could submit the story to a magazine serving the other ethnicity. In those days I was fortunate that I used a correcting Selectric, the top-of-the-line, every-other-writer-envied-me typewriter.

Typewriter. Not computer. A revision meant retyping an entire manuscript.

This was not time- or cost-effective.

I discovered a trick to avoid having to retype manuscripts. I stopped giving my characters physical features that were associated with one ethnicity or another.

I made them fat and skinny, tall and short, big-hipped and small-hipped, large-breasted and small-breasted. I gave most of them dark hair--black, brown, auburn--and dark eyes--brown, hazel.

Then I could send the manuscripts to any of the confession magazines without revision. This was much more time- and cost-effective, and for several years I sold every confession I wrote.

(For a few years I even wrote confessions on assignment, creating 5,000-word stories based on one-paragraph descriptions sent me by an editor.)

The publishing world has changed over the years. There are only five confession magazine still being published--and they promote themselves now as romance magazines--so I no longer need to use this trick.

But I still do.

Not always, but frequently.

It's no longer a trick; it's a habit.

Friday, April 16, 2010

20, 21

While I was away from the computer yesterday evening, two more acceptances--my 20th and 21st of the year--arrived via e-mail. The first is a short romance I submitted March 10. The second--a confession submitted on April 8--is the one I mentioned in my "Always be kind to editors" post on April 9.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Virgins and veterans

I currently have 62 manuscripts in editors' hands (or buried in their slush piles) awaiting decisions.

Some of these manuscripts are virgins, out for the first time, eager and ready to impress editors; others are jaded old veterans, having been out and back a dozen times or so, hoping for nothing more than to be in the right place at the right time when an editor has a hole to fill.

One file drawer contains an uncounted number of manuscripts that aren't currently in the hands of any editor. They are retired from travel--some temporarily; some permanently. But each one remains eager to go out again, eager to please a new editor, and every time an anthology's call for submissions crosses my desk or a new publication announces its submission guidelines, these manuscripts vie for my attention. "Send me," they all say. "Send me."

I would send them all, if I could, but only a few are chosen.

And maybe, just maybe, this time they'll catch an editor's eye.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Kindle update

I sold my first copy of Unbridled Love today. I'm now well on my way to becoming another Kindle millionaire.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Story seventeen

I finished and submitted my 17th short story of the year this evening. This time it's a 2,100-word ghost story I started writing last week. All I had was a call for submissions from an anthology editor, a vague idea, and a couple of random sentences. After a long discussion with Plot Monkey this weekend, I realized I was trying to tell the story from the wrong character's POV. Once I changed the POV, the entire story fell into place. I wrote most of it yesterday and spent a few hours today revising the draft until I felt everything flowed. Then off it went.

19

I received my 19th acceptance of the year today, this time for a 5,700-word confession I submitted April 3.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kindling

My romance novella Unbridled Love is now available for Kindle at Amazon.com. This is a story that was too long for the confession magazines and too short to be a novel. It joins my young adult novel Just in Time for Love and my private eye novel All White Girls in Kindle format.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Always be kind to editors

Last night I submitted a story to a market to which I've never previously submitted and received an e-mail in return asking how I'd learned about it.

I replied that two former editors--editors of now-defunct magazines that had published several of my stories--had mentioned the publisher and that both of the former editors had since had work released by that publisher.

This morning I woke to an e-mail that said, in part, "I'll read it and let you know the outcome..but [editor's name redacted] already gave you a thumbs up!!!"

Maybe this story will sell. Even if it doesn't, a door has been opened into a new market, and I owe the opportunity to former editors.

And any editor that gives me a three-exclamation-point thumbs-up to another editor is aces in my book.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Story sixteen

I finished and submitted my 16th short story of the year today, a 2,700-word romance I started writing on April 3. This one was a bit of a challenge, and I actually had to print out and read/edit several drafts on paper before I felt I had written the story I wanted to tell.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

17, 18

Two acceptances today, my 17th and 18th acceptances of the year. Accepted were the story I queried yesterday and the story I submitted on April 2. Both sold to anthologies.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Story fifteen

I completed my 15th story of the year earlier this evening, this time for an anthology seeking stories about rock 'n' roll relationships. It's a 2,300-word story that I started writing last night and finished a few minutes ago. This particular editor wants to see queries rather than complete manuscripts, so the query left here a few minutes ago.

Story fourteen

I completed and submitted my 14th short story of the year this morning. This time it's a 5,700-word confession that takes place during one fateful summer. I started writing this one on March 23, finished it last night, and proofread/edited it this morning.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Story thirteen

I finished and submitted my 13th story of the year this afternoon, a 1,050-word bit of erotica that I started yesterday.