June 2015 Brag Board

Time again for my favorite post of the month, the brag board!  Here I toot my own horn for all the cool things I did this month.  More importantly, though, I talk about all the cool things you did.

This month I didn’t hear from any of you, though.  So, I have to guess that you want to talk about it yourselves.  So go ahead, the comment section is wide open!  Tell us about how many contests you entered.  Tell us if you sold something, if you finished a piece.  How many literary agents did you submit to, because every time you do that it’s an accomplishment.  Tell us about it!

As for me, I sold a piece to an anthology!  That’s pretty big, because it’s the first time I’ve done that.  My previous credits have all been to online literary magazines.  An actual, honest to goodness book is a step up.  So, needless to say, I’m pumped.  I also submitted a flash piece to Imaginate.  I wish I had submitted more, but I also know I have to pace myself.

So, what did you do this month?

The Writing Life, June 30. Letting some things go

Eight Days Until The Big Announcement!

If you’re a long time reader of Paper Beats World, or if you’ve at least been reading since April, you know that I swear off all contests and anthology submissions while I’m working on a rough draft of a novel.  My theory is that I only ever want one rough draft at at time.  Rough drafts are tiring, creative wise for me.  They’re also time consuming.  When I’m working on a rough draft, I want that to be all that I’m working on, except for my weekly blog posts.

That’s fine and dandy when my rough draft takes six weeks to two months.  When it takes me six damn months to finish a rough draft, like the last one did, that grinds on me.  I find so many cool contests, and come up with so many awesome ideas for the site.  So the whole time I was rough drafting, I kept a list of project ideas.  And I kept my eyes open for contests with long off due dates.

When I finally finished my rough draft, I kind of exploded.  I found so many cool contests that I wanted to enter, and I had three pages in my bullet journal full of ideas for special PBW events.  I always think I’m a machine, so I was sure I could do all of the things that I wanted to do.

Then I got promoted in the day job.  Then reality happened, and I realized that there was no way, no way at all, that I can do all of the things that I want to.

That’s a hard thing to realize.  When I want to do a lot, and I just can’t find the time, I do three things; lie to myself, make up crazy schedules in my planners, and guilt myself when I can’t do it all.

Thankfully, though, I managed to stop this downward spiral before it got really started.  Here’s how.

  • I started by figuring out exactly how long I thought each of my projects would take.  Then, I doubled the time.  I took out my planner, and looked at each and every due date for my contests.  Then I blocked out time to write my stories.  This give me a realistic impression of where I am, and what I can do.  This also means that if I find a new super neat contest, I know if it’s doable or not.  If I want to pick up a new contest. then I might have to drop something else.
  • I dropped two of my contests because I liked others better.  I’d rather write three great short pieces than six decent ones.
  • I looked through short pieces that I’d written but hadn’t managed to place to see of any of them fit the contest qualifications.

Most importantly though, was this.  I’d been working on a short piece for about a week.  The story was solid, and the contest good.  But the draft was snagged.  I realized that it needed a complete overhaul, and I just didn’t have the time.

So I put it aside.  Crossed that contest off my list, and moved on to the next one.  Because there’s always a next one, that’s the beauty of this field.  The internet is full of contests.  I’ve found at least two companies that exist to do nothing more than publish anthologies, and I wasn’t looking that hard.

It is so easy to think that every opportunity could be ‘the one.’  That’s a lie.  There is no ‘the one.’  Once you get a published credit, then you need another, and another.  One sale isn’t an assurance of a second.  So if I’ve got to put one opportunity aside, then that’s okay.  There’s always a next one.

This week, I want to challenge you.  Take a look at your to do list, and cross one thing off of it.  I don’t know all of you as well as I’d like, but I’m willing to bet that if you fine tooth comb your list, you will fine at least one task that doesn’t need done.  At least, not this week.

Always remember, if we try to do too much, you will do nothing well.

What Rocked This Week-

  • I found out that one of my short stories, called Sticky Fingers, is going to be in an anthology called How to Trick The Devil!  I can’t wait to see the anthology put together.  They’re still looking for submissions, if you’re interested.
  • I sent out a piece to the Imaginate contest I told you about a few weeks ago.  It’s always a rush to send something new out.

What I’m Looking Forward to Next Week-

  • First off, fourth of July.  I love that holiday.  Blow things up, eat greasy food, and drink some cold ones.  That’s my kind of holiday.
  • Today is the end of the quarter, and I’m doing my big, ‘what have I done in the last three months,’ review.  Remember, being a freelance writer is being a small business owner.  Got to check in, look into where I’m spending my time well and where I’m wasting it.
  • As you might have guessed, I’ve got a really exciting announcement.  It’s something I’ve been working on for months, and I am jumping out of my skin wanting to tell you all!

Have you signed up for our newsletter yet?  I’m pretty excited about it.  It’s all about walking the path to full time writers together.  Click right here to sign up.

I’m looking forward to a great week.  I hope you are too.

Planning a Writing Trip with your Kids, Plus a Free Printable

Ten Days Until a Pretty Exciting Announcement.

This is probably the hardest thing for a writing parent. I face it all the time. You want to go out of the house to write, and drink coffee you didn’t make. You envy those writers who can just head off to the library, or small restaurant, or Starbucks, and just spend hours writing their stories. Just them, their laptops, and a big mug of Pike Roast.

That’s not a luxury you’ve got when you’ve got little ones in tow. Sitters are hard to come by. And if you’ve got a day job, it can be really hard to argue that you have to spend even more time away from your family. If nothing else, that’s a hard sell for your co parent.

The thing is, sometimes I need that time, especially in rough draft mode. There is a reason why coffee shops are such a popular place to write. Sometimes the dishes are too loud, and I can’t hear myself think. That’s when I pack my little monsters up, and take them on a writing trip with me. This was especially true when there was just one little monster, and I was a single mom with no co parent at all. After eleven years of trial and error, I’ve discovered the secrets to a successful writing trip with the kids. You’ve got to remember three basic rules.
1. Whatever you are doing, your younger kid wants to do too.
2. Your child will be hungry,thirsty, too cold, too hot, or whatever is least convenient at that time.
3. No matter what, kids get bored with anything.

So the problem becomes how to correct for those three rules. Here are my biggest weapons; a good location, a good time, and a well stocked bag.

Good Location

Some coffee shops are great for kids. The two in my town know my monsters by name, and are constantly telling them how big they’re getting. I even get a discount on cookies when I bring them in if this one nice barista is working.

This is not going to be the case for every coffee shop, especially if it’s near a college. Just like you’re there to work, others are there to do the same thing. Or to have a first date, (wanna make sure they use protection? Sit a screaming child in the next booth!), some are have a grown up play date. Some people are just trying to snag a quiet lunch hour. I know this might be hypocritical of me, but it really pisses me off when I get a chance to go somewhere without my monsters and there’s a kid throwing a fit. It’s that I just got some grown up time, now I’ve got to deal with someone else’s little monster.

If you’re wondering if your favorite haunt is a good place to bring the kids, consider these three things. (Yes, three is my number of the day.)
* Do you often see other kids there?
* Do they have a kids menu?
* Are there booster seats available?

If the answer is no to at least one of those, this is not a child friendly establishment.

Now, the library is great for a writing outing. There’s a children’s section that is often stocked with picture books and quiet toys. Some libraries have free wifi. And there’s some great writing resources right there.

The park is also a good place to settle on a nice day. Honestly, if you’re like me, you could use some sunshine.

The point is, be realistic.

Good Timing

This one might be a no brainer, but you’ve got to consider two things with your timing. What time of the day is your child most likely to tolerate playing by himself quietly for an extended period of time, and how long is that going to realistically be?

That’s fluctuated as my monsters have gotten older. When my one was a baby, and still fit in her car seat, oh that was a breeze. She’d play with her hanging toys, or I could rock her. If I was editing, I’d read my stories out loud to her.

Then she got a little older. The best I could hope for was forty minutes, at home or out and about.

Now that they’re older, I can get a good two hour writing session in. Any more than that, though, and I start hearing, “Are you almost done? We’ve been here all day!”

As for good timing, you know your kid. You know when they’re likely to be hyper, and when they’re fussy because they need to sleep. I even know that one of my kids is an introvert, like me, and gets worn out when she’s around people. She, and I, need time alone to charge our batteries. The point is, don’t ask more of your kids than they are capable of.

And Finally, a good stocked bag.

Two of them, actually. One for the kids and one for you.

Now, we’ve already discussed what should be in your writing bag, here. Let’s talk a little bit about what you should pack for the kids. This is the big thing that makes this possible, by the way. My monsters will tolerate any place so long as we’ve got our bag.
To make your very own writing bag, you will need-
* Anything that would normally go in a diaper bag, if your still in that stage.
* Some extra cash, because your kid will want the most expensive thing on the menu.
* Something for your child to pretend that she is ‘writing too,’ with. Pens, a notebook, a pretend computer. That sort of thing.
* A quiet, age appropriate toy. I like building sets for this. And here’s the secret. This is not an every day toy. Not something they can play with whenever. This is a ‘we only get this when we’re on a writing trip toy.’ That way they don’t get bored as fast. (Remember rule #1)
* If your kids are old enough, an MP3 player.
* Coloring books.
* A book that they can read themselves. Those interactive touch and feel books are great if you’re little one isn’t a reader yet.
* Snacks that do not require you to help open or consume them.
* Video games. The monsters outgrew their LeapFrog, and I gave them my old DS.
* A sweater. Remember, a lot of these places are air conditioned, and kids get cold if they’re sitting still.

To make it easy, I’ve even created a nifty printable for you! It’s designed so that your kid can help cross things off. You can laminate it, and use it every time, too. You know, environmentally sound and all.

Writing Trip CheckList!  Download.

If you’re interested in more tips on balancing being a parent and a writer, don’t forget to sign up for the Road to Full Time newsletter. Published about once a month, it’s all about taking real, measurable steps to becoming a full time writer.

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Writing Prompt Saturday, Writing As A Toy

What was your favorite toy as a kid?

I was not loyal, or consistent.  I had a different favorite every week.  One time it was a mermaid doll that was accidentally left in a restaurant forty five minutes away.  Once it was a building set that consisted of little circular things with three feet.  They looked just like those plastic things that hold pizza boxes up.  Once it was this stuffed cat that had two little cats inside it.  (Does anyone else remember those?  Do you remember the extra kittens you could buy?)

I still have toys.  I love stuffed animals still.  I buy art supplies, and stickers.  I have no less than three different pairs of scissors that put different edges on a piece of paper.

At its best, writing is a toy.  It’s a game.  The question is, what kind of toy is it?

For me, I think of writing as a big box of blocks.  You can give two kids the same box of blocks, and they will make totally different things.  My older monster will make a rocket, while the little one will make a house.  Or the Tardis.  It’s the same with writing.  Take a contest that has a specific idea you have to work off, for instance.  Mash is a good example, but it’s not the only one.  You look at all the different stories that come from that prompt, and it’s amazing how varied those stories will be.

So that’s your prompt for the day.  If writing were a toy, what would it be?

I’d also like to throw out a giant congratulations to all of the couples who can now get legally married in America.  For those of you who don’t live in America, we finally got around to making marriage legal for all couples, not just those who happen to have two different genders.  Marriage equality took way too long, but we’ve got it now.  My prayer for every single couple is that your wedding is as wonderful and significant as mine was, and not one bit less blessed.

Markets, Pantheon Issue #9, Hestia

Something that doesn’t come up much here on Paper Beats World, but does come up pretty often in my house is my love of mythology. Greek is my favorite, but I also love Egyptian, Norse and Roman. Even though everyone knows that Roman is just Greek with different titles. So when I found Pantheon, I was enchanted. They are a magazine dedicated to telling stories about mythology. The next issue is about Hestia, Goddess of Hearth and Home. My personal favorite goddess. (Aphrodite can suck it.) Needless to say, I am really excited about this one.

Genre- Mythology.
Word Count- Not listed.
Sub Date- November 30
Wait time- Unsure
Pay out- 1 cent per word.
Rights- First print and electronic rights, retained for three months.

Here’s a link to the full submission guidelines. best of luck, and if you have any luck, let me know so I can post it on the brag board, on the last day of every month.

Click here to sign up for our Road to Full Time Mailing List!

By the way, did you already sign up to get my monthly newsletter, Road To Full Time? If not, here’s a link right here. It’s pretty sweet, just saying.

Check This Out, Cozi

I really like planners. Like really like them. It’s a big thing for me, and I have tried every single planner you can talk about. I’m about to order the Cadillac of paper planners, the Erin Condron Planner. (Not an affiliate, just really love them.)

As much as I love paper planners, they have one fatal flaw. My husband is all digital. He does not want to look at a calendar on the fridge. He does not want to look at my planner, no matter how much it costs. He wants a digital planner, and he wants one without a lot of extra stuff. I want one that we can both update, both access on our pcs and tablets. I also wanted color coding, because I am a dork. One way or another, we needed a family planner, because we’ve got four lives to run here. Besides, we’re less likely to forget an appointment if we both actually know about it.

So we settled on Cozi. It really does have everything we both need.
* It’s free. I mean, there’s a for pay feature, but I don’t even know what that does. The free version is great, even with the ads.
* I was able to color code the thing, so I can tell at a glance who’s got an appointment. The colors do, by the way, match up with the colors in my paper planner.
* Every Sunday, which just happens to be the day I do my planning session for the week, I get an e-mail detailing all of our appointments, my work schedule, and all deadlines.
* Cozi does a cool thing called small win Fridays, where they encourage people to share a small win for the week on social media. Just saying, that’s huge. Not all weeks are going to have great big wins. Some weeks are just going to suck a whole lot. Small wins can help keep your chin up.
* The husband and I can update the calendar from our tablets, so as appointments are being made, usually while we’re at the current appointment.
* If I’m at work, and The Husband knows I’ll be stopping by the store on the way home, he can update a grocery list, if he’s realized we’re out of something he didn’t know about when I left.
* When the monsters are older, they can log into our account too, to update with their own stuff.
* It’s really easy to use and edit. My schedule changes quarterly, and I will often switch shifts with people. I don’t get frustrated making these changes.
* There’s also a shared to do list, and a journal. I actually use my bullet journal for this, as The Husband and I don’t need to share a to do list, but if you’re wanting to go digital, that’s the way to do it.

The only thing I don’t like is that there are no weekly and monthly views. But, as I still have a paper planner I don’t need it there.

So, if you’re looking for a way to get everyone on the same page, check out Cozi.

The Writing Life, June 23

I had a much better week this week guys, how about you? I’m fitting more into the grove of my new schedule, and back to my old self.

When you’re a creature of habit like me change can make for some unhappy days. I got through it eventually, though.

Things that rocked this week

* I finished the title story for my upcoming self published collection, called Days. I’m making a concious decision not to submit it anywhere, so that it can only be found in the book.
* I also wrote the rough draft of a new short story. I’ll be sending that one out when it’s ready. I don’t like to let a month go by when I don’t send something out. Unless I’m in novel rough draft mode.
Things that I’m looking forward to this week

* There are three contest deadlines in July. Two for Imaginate, which I covered here, and a Mash deadline. Assuming all goes well, I want to have all three rough drafts done this week. All will likely not go well, but I can dream.
So what are you excited about this week? Do you have anything you want to add to the brag board?

Happy Fathers Day, from a fatherless daughter

Fair warning, today’s post is not about writing. It’s about fathers.

First off, a little back ground from me. I was raised by a single mom. My dad wasn’t a deadbeat or anything, my mom just decided not to tell him she was pregnant. She’s like that. So growing up was sort of bent in a way that only other kids without dads will understand.

The first thing I want to tell you about growing up without a dad is that as a kid other people seemed more upset about my lack of dad than I ever was. One well meaning lady in my church offered to have her husband escort me to a father daughter event we were having. I really didn’t care that I didn’t have a dad, though. I had my mom, and that was all I thought I needed.

Two things changed my mind as I got older; Cathy and my husband.

You know Cathy, the comic strip? She’s got a complicated relationship with her friends, her husband, her boss, her mom, chocolate, salespeople, shoes and bathing suits. She doesn’t have a complicated relationship with her dad. They love each other unconditionally. When he says she’s beautiful, she believes him.

My husband is the best dad in the world. He has devoted himself to being a daddy and a step daddy. While I’ve got the day job, our daughters are his day job, and his night job too. When the kids get sick in the night, they come find him. When the neighborhood kids tease my kids, they come find him. When they want five bucks, they come find me.

I wish I’d had a dad like Cathy and my girls.

We are a non traditional family. And we’ve faced our fair share of persecution for that in our very traditional little town. It’s hell getting an apartment when the land lord doesn’t think a woman can make enough money to afford it. It’s humiliating when someone assumes that there has to be some good reason why your husband ‘doesn’t work’. I spent longer than I’m happy about making up explanations about why my husband didn’t have a job. I wouldn’t have expected to explain if I was the stay at home parent.

We do it because it works for us, but it doesn’t work for the people who see us and can’t understand what we’re doing. In our society, men are the providers, and women are the nurturers. That’s the sort of society that makes it okay for a woman to not tell the father of her child that he’s going to be a daddy.

So, I told you all of that to tell you this. You never appreciate something unless you don’t have it. Fathers are unappreciated. We hear a lot about the deadbeat dads, the abusive dads, the critical, domineering dads.

I mean, let’s just take a look at how we celebrate Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Mothers Day we moms are showered with love, as we should be. Being a mom is a hard job. Step moms get the love too, which I appreciate the hell out of. Being a step parent is a whole different kind of hard, let me tell you. If you went on tv on Mothers Day and talked about dead beat moms, or moms who drink, they would roast you alive on the evening news.  But we say those sorts of things about dads every Fathers Day.

There used to be a whole advertising campaign encouraging fathers to be there for their kids. Do you remember those? “Anyone can be a father, but it takes a man to be a dad.” What do you think would happen if there was and ad campaign like that for women? “Women, let’s stand up and take responsibility for the children we created.” Yeah, I don’t think that would fly. Yes, some men walk out on their kids, but some women do to.

It’s just sexist. And, as a handy tip, here’s how you know if something is sexist, because there is some confusion about this. If you can take any sentence, and switch the gender pronouns and have it be something you wouldn’t want to say in public, it wasn’t okay to begin with.

I couldn’t do what I do, be what I am, without my husband. He keeps the home in check while I write my stories and do my day job. I want to use this very public forum to thank him for that. There’s a couple other people I want to thank, too.
* To every gay couple fighting to be allowed to adopt, thank you.
* To every dad fighting for custody, fighting just to be part of their child’s life, thank you.
* To every dad suffering from Parental Alienation Syndrome, thank you. I know it’s hard.
* To every step dad stepping up and looking after a child by choice, thank you.
* To every coach and teacher who was ever a father figure to kids like me without one at home, let me give you a sincere and heartfelt thank you. It helps more than you know.

So today, thank your dad, your step dad, your uncle, your teacher. Thank anyone and everyone who’s been like a father to you. And if you really want to thank a dad, give them the same freedom we women have. Give them the freedom to be the nurturer.

Writing Prompt Saturday, Write a Sestina

We do love our poetry here at Paper Beats World, even if I can’t write it very well.

This week’s new form I bet you’ve never heard of is the sestina.  A sestina poem is a fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, normally followed by a three-line envoi. The words that end each line of the first stanza are used as line endings in each of the following stanzas, rotated in a set pattern. (Curtsey of Wikipedia.)  Since that didn’t mean a lot to me when I read it, here’s an example of what I mean.

This is by Elizabeth Bishop, and try as I might, I couldn’t find a title.

September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It’s time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle’s small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.

Market, Creepy Campfire Stories for Grownups

I know, I know, I promised I was going to give the horror sites a rest, but it’s really hard when I keep finding such awesome ones!  And I mean, really, what says summer more than a good campfire story?

Creepy Campfire stories for grownups is all about a good story.  Gore is fine, so long as it’s not gratuitous.

I also have to add, that I heard about this awhile ago, and wrote it off because it had a reading fee.  They took that away, so that’s a big plus.  Remember, I never post markets that are pay to play.

Genre- Horror

Word Count- 1,500 to 6,000

Sub Date- August 1

Wait time- September 20.

Payout- 4 cents a word.

Rights-Exclusive print and epublishing rights of selected work for six months from publication date.

Don’t forget to check out the full submission guidelines, which can be found here. Good luck.

Did you have luck with this, or any other market?  Let us know, and you’ll be listed on the Monthly Brag Board, published on the last day of each month!

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