Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Still Writing (Almost) Every Day

Yes, I'm still writing (mostly) every day. But, for the moment at least, this is the final blog post for the Write Every Day blog.

This blog, an adjunct to my main blog, was launched earlier this year to be a supplement to my book "Write Every Day: Hints and Tips Towards a Daily Writing Routine." I've enjoyed talking to the people who have read that book. Hearing that what I've presented has helped inspire other people to have a regular writing routine is very gratifying.

My original idea of producing new content on this blog every day was ultimately too ambitious; even with some rather simple things like writing prompts two days per week I found myself struggling to keep up. Cutting back to one post per week helped on that front, but as I've mentioned in posts on my main blog, I'm looking to decrease the amount of time I spent on blogging in general in 2013. Part of that decrease involves no longer producing new content for the Write Every Day blog.

The existing posts will remain here and I may decide to add something new to this site from time to time. And while I haven't released official plans for a new schedule for my main blog, I can tell you that I absolutely will be continuing to blog there regularly. If you're not already following me there, I would invite you to do so. I'll continue to talk there about topics relating to writing, including the psychology of writing, and about my own goals and news about fiction I have published.

I'd like to thank everyone who has purchased Write Every Day. If you've come to this site after purchasing this book and would like to reach out to me, please feel free to leave a comment here or contact me using my contact form.

Best of luck to you all in your writing endeavors!

-Michael Haynes

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Link(s) of the Month: Submissions Without Duotrope

Well, last month's "Link of the Month" post went well...

I've still got mixed feelings about the Duotrope situation. I can see ways in which their site can be useful and provide enough value to be worth $5 per month. But I've gotten such a negative sense from how the folks behind Duotrope have handled the transition that I'm really disinclined to be a part of funding the site going forward.

So I've been working in recent days on doing my submissions without using Duotrope. For the most part, it's been going fine. With that in mind, here are some links that other folks might want to keep in mind if they aren't going to use Duotrope. - If you're writing speculative fiction (SF, fantasy, horror) then you should be able to get nearly as much market information by going to Ralan as you could get at Duotrope.

Dark Markets - For horror-specific information, this site looks to be very useful.

Google Drive - If you're going to be tracking your own submission information manually, you'll most likely want some form of spreadsheet. You could certainly use Excel or another PC-based program, but if you don't already own software like that, Google Drive is a free alternative. (If you do use a PC-based program and want an easy way to have access to it on multiple computers, Dropbox is a good alternative.)

Sarah Hans' Blog - One of the things I liked on Duotrope was its calendar of upcoming submission calls. A decent percentage of the information from my Upcoming Deadlines posts was drawn from that calendar. Sarah puts up monthly posts with quite a few submission calls.

Hopefully, if you decide to go Duotrope-free, some of those links will help out. If you have other links you'd like to recommend, please feel free to note them in the comments!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Upcoming Deadlines: Black Apples, Sword and Mythos, Spellbound

One of the tools I've used sometimes to help myself get started on writing is writing towards prompts or themes for upcoming publications, either anthologies or themed issues of periodicals. Below you will find information about three such calls for submissions.

First up is an anthology from Belladonna Publishing. "Black Apples" is looking for "gothic fairytales starring the classic fairytale princess – but her ending is maybe not so happy, her quest is perhaps more grim and the darkness of the tale might just come from within." This anthology is not restricted to classic princess characters nor is there a restriction that the stories can't be set in the future as long as the core fairytale princess element is present. This submission call runs through January 15th, 2013. They pay a flat rate of $120 for stories of 3,000-10,000 words.

The people who run Innsmouth Free Press are working on an anthology called "Sword and Mythos." The theme here is a combination of Cthulhu Mythos and Sword-and-Sorcery elements. Submissions for this project are open from January 15th-February 15th, 2013. Do NOT send stories before January 15th as they will not be considered. The pay rate is 5 cents per words for stories of up to 5,000 words.

Finally, the Summer 2013 issue of Spellbound, a fantasy magazine aimed at 8-12 year old readers, will focus on the theme of "Dragons." The reading period for this theme runs from January 1st-March 31st, 2013. Payment is 2.5 cent per word for stories of up to 2,500 words.

As always, please make sure to read the linked guidelines pages closely to ensure that you understand details of the submission guidelines, terms, payment information, etc.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Interview Today & More On Duotrope

I don't have an interview or guest post lined up for today, so I'll be skipping that for this month unless someone is anxious to be interviewed yet in December. If so, feel free to contact me.

The other thing I wanted to touch on today was another follow-up on Duotrope.

After having promoted the site late last month and then written a follow-up post on it last weekend, I felt that I should continue to keep folks aware of my thoughts on the topic as they develop.

Having watched things play out over the past few days, particularly the tone of communications sent to Duotrope users, I've come to the conclusion that I am going to try working without Duotrope. $50-60 a year isn't a huge amount for me to spend in the abstract, but it's more than I spend on any other writing service. I'd contributed (at above the recommended amount) multiple times in the past but the new price is more than I spend on any other writing service and if I'm going to increase my outlay to that extent there are other ways I'd prefer to direct that money.

I've already transitioned back to using a spreadsheet for my submission tracking. By using Dropbox I'll have access to this spreadsheet virtually as readily as I had access to Duotrope. If I find down the road that I feel like I'm truly missing something, I'll check back in to Duotrope and see if I want to subscribe at that time.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Duotrope Is Going To a Paid Subscription Model

EDITED to add a link to my December 5, 2012 blog post about my decision to leave Duotrope.

Just about ten days ago I promoted Duotrope as my "Link of the Month."

Today they announced that they are going to a paid-subscription model. This has been the topic of quite a few discussions today in various places online. Since I had so recently called them out as being a site worth exploring, I felt it appropriate to put in my two cents on the changes.

From reading their statement on the changes, it sounds like the site will be pretty much of very little use for non-subscribers after the 1st of January. Pretty much everything I listed as being a worthwhile feature of the site will require payment starting 1/1/2013. The payment is $5 month and they offer a $10 discount when paying for the whole year, making the yearly rate $50.

That's a non-trivial amount of money, relative to my writing income. And while I've donated to Duotrope in the past, it had not been at anything even close to that level.

To be honest, when I first heard the rate and it was quoted as $50 per year, my first reaction was "No way!" At $5 a month, I suspect I'll hang around for at least a few months to see how things go and give myself time for a graceful exit strategy from the site if I decide it's not worth the new expense. Yes, if I end up sticking around throughout the whole year I'll end up paying $60 for 2013 instead of $50. But I'll have the freedom to stop whenever I find the site no longer worthwhile for me and I won't have to pony up all the cash at once.

The ultimate question will be: Is Duotrope worth $4-5 a month to me? Financially  probably not. Ultimately, there are very few paying markets which I've recently heard about only via Duotrope. For the most part, news of new markets spreads rather quickly. I do, however, like the ability to access the response time information which they compile. But there's the rub -- if too many people drop Duotrope altogether, the number of responses coming in will drop, thereby degrading the value of that data. That's where being able to go month-to-month will help; I can specifically watch and see how much impact the change has on the utility of those stats.

For me, at the moment, it will be worth paying the $5 per month because I've been lazy about maintaining a separate spreadsheet of submissions. That's totally my fault and I specifically suggested that people NOT be wholly dependent on Duotrope in that way in Write Every Day. This is a time I wish I'd heeded my own advice since I figure it will take me a couple of hours to get everything back up to date. Every month I pay Duotrope $5 I put off that task. Of course, every month I pay Duotrope $5 and don't work on that task I only make it more onerous. The smart thing to do, assuming I decide I want to disconnect from Duotrope at some point in the future, is to start slowly updating my old personal spreadsheet a bit at a time until I get to the point where I could make the switch whenever I felt Duotrope was no longer worth it to me. That will also protect me if this switch to a paid model is an utter failure and the site goes dark sometime down the road.

What would I suggest to someone who had not used Duotrope yet? If you can, take it for a "test drive" in December and see if you find it worth $5 a month. Make a point to NOT make yourself, in any way, dependent on their service during that month. If you don't think it's worth it, then you can let it go at the end of the month. If you do find it worthwhile, then you can decide if you want to go monthly or annual.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Three Things I Learned From Attending Philcon

Philcon was, in many ways, my first "real" science fiction convention as a writer. (I wrote up a brief trip report on my main blog.) I attended Context earlier this year and had a very good time but was only there for one day and wasn't a participant on any panels, so it was a different type of experience from Philcon. Being in the Philadelphia area for all three days of Philcon, staying in the convention hotel, and being on my first panel all made for a very different type of experience. Here are three things which I took from that trip:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Link of the Month: Duotrope

EDITED to add a link to my December 1, 2012 post on Duotrope's move to a paid subscription model.
EDITED a second time to add a link to my December 5, 2012 post on deciding to leave Duotrope.

Duotrope is likely best known for its extensive database of markets for short fiction and poetry. While that's certainly the core feature of the site, there are a number of ways which writers can use the site to their benefit.

  • The Theme Calendar is one of the major sources which I use for generating the monthly Upcoming Deadlines posts. Currently there are over 200 listings in the calendar, primarily for short fiction submission calls.
  • The Interview page has a collection of over 500 interviews with editors of various periodicals. For publications you are not familiar with, this can be an additional way of learning about the preferences of the people who will be reviewing your submission.
  • The Market News and Updates page is a very quick way to see what entries have been added to the market database in the past week.
  • Finally, the Submission Tracker allows you to easily stay on top of your current and historical submissions. If you've got a lot of stories or poems out at market, this can be extremely useful.
If you haven't already used Duotrope, it's definitely worth your time to check it out. Are there any features of Duotrope which aren't mentioned above which you have found useful? If so, please mention them in the comments.