[Writing Prompt] Date With Destiny

OK, so for most of this month I’ve been encouraging you to write, write, and nothing but write. No thoughts of publication or audience to scare you into writers’ block. But you’ve been at this for 24 days now. I think you’ve probably proved a thing or two to yourself (like a, you’re stubborn; b, not everything you write is garbage and c, you can do this!). So today, just for a moment, let’s remember that part of writing is a desire to connect with other people. We can do that by having our work published in magazines that already have a reading-audience built in.

The Prompt

Find a contest or submission deadline on a theme you like, and write a story as if you were going to submit to that market

Tips

  • You don’t have to submit the story in the end (and if you do, you probably shouldn’t submit the version you write today. Put it away for a couple of weeks, show it to writing-friends, revise it, format it according to the market’s guidelines and then send it).
  • You can find market and contest listings at Duotrope.com, WritersMarket.com (subscription), Poets & Writers and many, many other places online. I have subscription to Duotrope and find it to be the best managed market listings site I’ve come across in almost 20 years of using the things.
  • Go beyond the obvious ideas suggested by the theme or guidelines. Try out several different characters and scenarios. Push your ideas into the realms of the ridiculous and beyond, before you ever start writing one of them. Remember, editors are going for receive hundreds of entries for every publishing slot they have. Your best bet is to be original. Part of that is your voice, but part of it is your ability to push past the first, obvious idea you have.

Go!

How did writing to spec or with a deadline, feel? Did you find a market that seemed particularly promising? Did you choose a contest with an upcoming deadline? Share them (if you dare) in the comments or the community.

[Writing Prompt] Search The Markets

This prompt had a brief, premature debut last week. If you used it then, why not travel back and use one of these prompts from last week, today? Also, use some time today to pick a short story that you will use to guide your writing tomorrow. Pick one you really love. Need recommendations?

Maybe I crave approval or something, but I have always found that the prospect of being judged by someone else helps focus my mind.

Writing for publication is not something I usually suggest during StoryADay May. Worrying about whether or not a story will be published before you’ve even written it is a bit ‘cart before the horse’. However sometimes the thought of a competition deadline or submission to a themed anthology can provide a bit of inspiration and a dose of motivation that might otherwise be missing.

The Prompt

Write a story that fits the guidelines of a particular market, themed anthology or competition.

Tips

  • You don’t actually have to submit if the story doesn’t work out.
  • Choose a venue with a deadline date far enough away that you can revise this story after StoryADay May is over.
  • Resist the temptation to write the obvious story suggested by the theme, prompt or guidelines. Dig a little deeper until you find something you’re really passionate about.
  • Write your first draft with abandon, forgetting that you’re even thinking about submitting it anywhere.
  • Make a note in your calendar to look at it again some time in early June.

If you need a resource for finding contests and deadlines, you could do a lot worse than Duotrope.com . The full listings require an annual membership but it is a fabulous resource.
You can also try WritersMarket.com or pop down to your local library and look for the print edition of that tome if you’re saving your pennies or don’t think you’ll get the value from a subscription to Duotrope.com or WritersMarket.com.

[Monday Markets] Seedpod Publishing

Seedpod Publishing is a “micro-publishing cooperative” — which sounds to me like a collection of authors and publishing people banding together to distribute literary fiction, digitally.

They publish books and help with promotion and distribution – all digital and Digital Rights Management free, so your readers can read your book wherever they want, not linked to any particular device.

They also curate a Twitter stream of 140-character tiny tales at @seedpodpublishing . You can submit your Twitter stories here. (I particularly like their Publishing Rights section, written in Real English!)

From the Writers’ Guidelines page:

We believe that writers can and should be supported financially by the community. Because of this, the free versions of our books are made possible by donations as well as by advertising from organizations that are doing socially just work. Our aim is to nurture the work of writers and keep literature accessible for all.

It’s intriguing alternative to both traditional publishing and go-it-alone self-publishing. I’ll be watching with interest.

[Markets for Writers] Postcard Shorts

Inspired by a postcard-length short story by science fiction master Arthur C. Clarke, Postcard Shorts accepts stories that are, well, postcard length.
PostcardShorts.com screenshot

(That translates to about 250 words)

Pretty much anything goes, as long as it’s not completely devoid of merit (in the Editor’s opinion). The Editor’s decision is final.

The copyright for anything you submit is wholly yours. You own it. This site just displays your work.
– from Postcardshorts.com

This is not a paying market but it is bite-sized and very tempting.

[Markets for Writers] Six Sentences

Six Sentences is a place to publish just that: six sentence stories.

Six Sentences screenshot

It has been one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Sites For Writers and publishes a new six-sentence story every day. It’s a great (non-paying) market for flash fiction writers.

It offers readers the chance to vote the story “good”, or “spectacular” (a ratings system I love) and provides a link back to the author’s site.

Check out the writer’s guidlines here or read some recent six-sentence stories.

[Writers’ Markets] EveryDay Fiction

EverydayFiction.com sends short fiction to readers via email every day of the year.

Everyday Fiction screenshot

I was really excited when I read about this, because what are writers without readers? It’s all very well for someone to slap up a website and hope readers come, but this one has a built-in distribution system and it has over 2000 subscribers.

They pay $3 per story and take First Internet Rights and an option on First Anthology Rights. They have published two print anthologies so far.

They accept stories of up to 1,000 words and use the standards SFWA boilerplate contract (this is a Good Thing).

from EverydayFiction.com’s guidelines:

We believe in the importance of being paid for your writing, even if it’s only a token amount. At this time, we are able to offer three dollars for each published story, to be paid via PayPal, with the option to donate it back to Every Day Fiction if you are so inclined. In addition, if requested we will set up a free Author Forum for you right here at EDF where you will be able promote your own writing.

More importantly, publication also includes an opportunity to promote your writing beyond Every Day Fiction. We will gladly provide a link to your blog or website, and if you have a book on Amazon, we can link to that as well.

Finally, the author whose story is the most read in a given month will be featured in Every Day Fiction’s monthly Author Interview–a chance for our readers to get to know you, and a further opportunity for you to promote your blog or website and any books or other publications you may have out there.

How It Feels To Be Published

StoryADay alumnus Mart Pelrine-Bacon shares her submission success story: how she worked on the story, how she found the market and how it feels to be published.

StoryADay May alumnus Marta Pelrine-Bacon shared some fabulous news yesterday: one of her StoryADay stories has been accepted for the May 2011 issue of Cabinet Des Fees, a journal of Fairy Tales (and a paying market, at that).

I got in touch to ask Marta to tell us about how she worked on the story, how she found the market and how it feels to have a submission accepted — hint: there was a lot of ‘all-caps’ on Twitter yesterday 😉

Cabinet Des Fees banner

What is the story & when did you write it?

The story is titled The Fear of Apples and I wrote it fairly early during Story-A-Day May.

Have you written others like it?

I thought writing a story a day would be easier if I had a overall idea–in this case, fairy tales. Every story that month was a modern fairy tale.

Did you do much revision after StoryaDay?

That particular story I went over about three times–though I did not make any major changes. Most of my edits were attempts to fix an awkward sentence or add (or delete!) a detail for the plot.

Hw did you find the market?

I found the market when I friend told me about Duotrope. I’ve always been intimidated by figuring out the marketplace, and duotrope made the process seem manageable.

How did you feel when you heard?

Shocked–because I’d gotten so many rejections for other stories. And I almost cried I was so happy, and then I danced into work and told everybody. I am not a cool character.

Are you submitting more stories now?

I will be. This has certainly spurred me to realize publication can happen and not to give up.

Thanks for sharing Marta!

Have you had success submitting any stories the past year? Drop me a line: julie at storyaday dot org or leave a link to your ‘bragging page’ in the comments. Everybody loves to hear how other writers ‘just like us’ are making things happen!


If this has inspired you to write more, or maybe sign up for Story A Day May, take a look at my free, downloadable workbook The Creative Writing Challenge Handbook – 31 Days to A Writer’s Life. It’ll help prepare you for this year’s challenge.