Category Archives: Writing

Creative Juice #264

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Creative Juice #264

Halloween is coming soon. . .

Creative Juice #263

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Creative Juice #263

Beautiful things to look at, and hints for the creative lifestyle.

Creative Juice #262

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Creative Juice #262

A lot of interesting articles this week.

  • Cats in stores.
  • I never really understood how vital the bison had been to the ecology of the prairies. Read how Native Americans are spearheading the effort to reintroduce bison to the wild.
  • Don’t you just hate it when you’re writing a scene in your novel and you get stuck? Here’s three ways to get unstuck.
  • Are you tempted to throw in the towel? Here’s why you should persevere.
  • Children’s book authors: when you submit a picture book manuscript, do you show where the page breaks are? It’s a controversy, but I like this approach.
  • A stroll through Jersey City, including a couple of awesome murals (be sure to scroll to the end).
  • Crap. I think I may be the friend that all my friends lovingly tolerate. I recognize myself in this poem.
  • The search for authenticity.
  • Oooo. More artistic people to follow on Instagram.
  • Yellow Submarine means different things to different people.
  • Connecting our Natural Worlds is an art quilt exhibition. In addition to photographs of the quilts, the website has links to videos of the artists talking about their creations.
  • How to write fiction about drug abuse when you have no clue.

Creative Juice #261

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Creative Juice #261

The best articles I’ve read this week.

Keeping Track of Submissions

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Keeping Track of Submissions

Writers, how do you keep track of your submissions?

In the 1990s, I used an Excel spreadsheet, but I never really grasped the functionality of the program. I constantly revised it, but it wouldn’t restructure itself the way I thought it should. It was tedious and unwieldy, altogether too much effort.

When I got serious about submitting my writing again after resigning from teaching, I started recording my submissions the low-tech way, in a steno notebook.

Around the same time I discovered Querytracker, which I use specifically for manuscripts that I submit to agents. (I’m still looking for a literary agent to represent me. Anybody out there interested?) Querytracker maintains a database of literary agencies and publishing houses and links to their websites so you can check out their submission guidelines and what they are looking for. At first I used the free option, and I liked it, but that only works well if you have a single project that you’re sending out. As soon as I had multiple projects, I invested in the subscription option. It’s well worth the $25 a year to keep track of all the places you’ve sent each manuscript and document when and how you sent it and what their response was.

I have lots of smaller projects that I submit to publications: articles and short stories and poems. I enter a lot of contests, and I submit to literary journals. All those I write down in my notebook. Some pages of my notebook are for miscellaneous submissions. I include the date of the submission, exactly which pieces I sent, the name of the publication, the name of the contest, when the deadline for submissions is, and when I can expect a response.

I go through these periodically and make sure that I’ve gotten a response for them. Usually, when I get an email about a piece, I’ll record the decision, and if it’s a rejection, I look over the piece again, see if there’s anything about it that I want to improve, and send it out to a different publication.

elements of fiction
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Poems are tricky. I usually send them out in bunches, and each publication has different guidelines and different fees. (Most contests have a fee; many literary journals also have a fee for non-contest submissions. This is customary, because they operate on a shoestring budget. Sometimes they’ll give you a subscription as well.) So sometimes I send one poem, sometimes three, or five, or ten, depending on the guidelines. Most publications will not accept poems that have been published before, even if it’s only on my own blog. So I’m constantly checking—have I sent this one (or this group of poems) to this magazine already, did I send it in a different grouping, did I post this one on my blog, etc.

For my larger projects (my poetry chapbook, for example) I have separate pages, so I can see at a glance all the contests I’ve already entered it in.

A lot of the contests and publications I submit to prefer to receive submissions through Submittable. I love that, because Submittable shows me everything I’ve submitted through their database, and what its current status is. Most of the time, the contest or publication will respond through email and also through Submittable, so if I miss the email (you know how emails accidentally get deleted or languish in your spam folder) I’ll eventually see the response in Submittable.

My system is not perfect. Sometimes I can’t locate what I’ve sent to a particular journal in the past, as happened just this past weekend.

Now it’s your turn. How do you keep track of your submissions? What features have you invented that work especially well for you? What tweaks would you recommend for me? Please share your experience and ideas in the comments below.

Monday Morning Wisdom #327

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Monday Morning Wisdom #327

Writing is hard for every last one of us… Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.

~Cheryl Strayed

Creative Juice #259

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Creative Juice #259

Pretty things and practical advice.

Monday Morning Wisdom #326

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Monday Morning Wisdom #326

Reading is my inhale, and writing is my exhale.

~Glennon Doyle Melton

Creative Juice #258

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Creative Juice #258

All sorts of info to inspire your artistic brain.

  • I know the common green mantises; I didn’t know they have diverse cousins.
  • Flip through Nathalie’s art journal.
  • How things get done in Mozambique.
  • Lovely photographs of ordinary objects.
  • Funny and amazing animal videos.
  • Natural poses to suggest when you’re taking photographs of groups of people.
  • Teeny tiny paintings.
  • This artist’s quilted portraits celebrate Black life. Be sure to click on the link at the end of the article to see more. (Actually, you have to click on the little box that appears when you click the link.)
  • For the writers: mining memories for your memoir.
  • Incredible photographs of endangered species.
  • For the artists: open calls, grants, residencies, and fellowships.
  • The Presto from the Summer concerto from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons played on a big honkin’ organ.

Creative Juice #257

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Creative Juice #257

Lots of artsy stuff this week.