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  Issue #16

Free Writers' Newsletter

   June 26, 2004  

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International Short Story Contest launched

As a result of the ongoing success of the International Poetry Competition (now in its third year), firstwriter.com has now launched its First International Short Story Contest. The contest is open to writers all over the world and is looking for quality fiction in any style or genre, and on any subject, up to 3000 words. There is a first prize of 200 (over $300) for the winner, and ten special commendations will also win an annual subscription to firstwriter.com, granting unrestricted access to our databases of literary agents, writing contests, magazine publishers, and all other areas of the site for up to a year.

We asked Managing Editor, J. Paul Dyson, what the judges would be looking for:

"I know it seems like an obvious thing to say, but "good writing". We're really not concerned with genre – we're happy to consider straight literary fiction, romance, science fiction, magic realism, surrealism, horror, ghost stories – anything. We're not literary snobs – we know that genre pieces can be written every bit as well as traditional 'literary' pieces – but your writing does have to be good. Whatever it is you've written about, you have to make us want to read it. We have to believe in your settings, your characters, and your voices; and the story has to live with us after we put it down. There are short stories I read years ago that I still think about occasionally. It can be funny, sad, or just plain puzzling, but it has to have that impact."

If you think you have or could write a short story that could impress the judges you can enter online in seconds by visiting https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/short_story_contest. You can enter stories for as little as $4 / 2.70 each, and because you enter and pay online by credit card there's no need to mess around with manuscripts, envelopes, and SAEs.

The firstwriter.com Third International Poetry Competition is also currently underway; you can enter your poems at https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/poetry_competition.shtml. You can also find the details of over 150 other competitions by searching our database at https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions

 

No more excuses!
By Pamela S. Thibodeaux

Excuses, excuses, excuses. We've heard them all, used a few. Well, it's time to stop and get a revelation: you can't find time to write – you have to make time to write!

There are numerous opportunities afforded to us in any given day, we just have to know what they are. One of the best things a busy wife, mother, employee, writer, etc. can invest in is a lesson on time management. You don't need to read a book or take a course, just sit down and examine your day. Evaluate how you spend your time, where you can shave off a few minutes (or couple of hours) and use that time to write. Budget your time just like you budget your money.

Another thing to keep in mind is this: writing doesn't always mean sitting in front of the computer and pounding away on the keys. Writing is a state of mind. Even in the midst of mundane, everyday challenges, writers are writing; storing up information for future use.

For years (11 to be exact) I wrote in five subject notebooks. I always had a notebook handy or used a cassette recorder to keep track of my ideas. Here are a few other tricks-of-the-trade I've learned during my twenty-plus years as a housewife, mother, bookkeeper and writer:

  •  Washing dishes while you cook instead of letting them pile up until afterwards will create more free time when your meal is over.
  • Take care of laundry while cooking supper (the experts call this multi-tasking). Doing the laundry daily or every other day (instead of letting it accumulate until you have to spend hours or a whole day catching up) will save you loads of time. Wash items that don't need hanging or ironing, that way you can write while waiting for the washer or dryer to go off and you can always fold them later – like tomorrow while you're cooking supper, watching that favourite TV show, or helping the children with their homework.
  •  Write, edit or do research while sitting with the children when they do homework. You're there if they need help and they are more likely to sit still and get it done without goofing off as much, again saving you time by not having to fuss at them.

Oh, by the way, don't think that when the kids are all grown and gone you'll have more time. It just doesn't work that way, something will always come up if you let it. Believe me, I know!

Once again: evaluate your day and see when you can squeeze in time to write. Do you watch TV? Listen to the radio? Exercise? We all need recreation, but can you set aside some of that time to write or combine those activities with writing? Here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

  • Exercise for 20 or 30 minutes on six days instead of one to two hours on three days, or carry a tape recorder while walking. People rightly put a lot of store in exercising, but it's been proven that frequent ten minute walks are just as beneficial physically as longer walks two or three times a week. In the same way, frequent ten minute writing sprees can be just as beneficial as longer blocks of time two or three days a week.
  • Write or edit during commercials. Some people can't focus on two things at a time, but you would be amazed at how easy it becomes once you get used to it. I usually watch only three hours of TV a week. On those days, I allow myself the privilege of taking a break. The other evenings and during re-runs I'm either writing, revising, editing or reading.

Have small children?

  • Squeeze in a sentence or two or a scene or chapter during their nap and/or play time.
  • Hire a babysitter or swap babysitting with another stay-home mom one or two days a week.
  • Have older children do the dishes or laundry and help clean the house so that you will have time to write.
  • Ask your spouse or other family members to take the children out for pizza or a movie one or two evenings a week so you can write.
  •  Some of these suggestions may require spending a little money, but if you can afford to, it will allow you hours of writing time.

Many of us spend our hard-earned-cash on various forms of entertainment, why not invest it in your writing career instead?
 
Have children, husband, and a job?

  • Carry around a notepad and pencil, a pack of index cards, a tape recorder or one of those new-fangled word processors that are designed to save up to 100 pages of text and work with your computer; that way you can jot down thoughts, ideas or a scene that's giving you trouble. You never know when time will present you with a few moments; waiting in line at the bank or the grocery store, waiting at a doctor or dentist office, waiting at the car wash or mechanic for your car to be ready, or at a ball game waiting for your child to come up to bat or dance or perform with the band.
  • Consider your lunch hour. Do you really need an hour to eat?
  • Combine activities that will allow time to write like grocery shopping or getting your oil changed or hair cut. Again, think: multi-tasking.
  • Eat at your desk while writing or how about noontime exercise followed by yoghurt and fruit instead of that huge sit-down lunch? Think about it, a slimmer waistline (or hips) and a finished chapter or two!

Have two jobs? Do shift-work or graveyards?

  • Write during slow times or during your 15 minutes and/or lunch breaks. Again, this is where the notebook, tape recorder, index cards or portable word processor comes in handy.

Go to church 2 or 3 times a week?

  • Will your relationship with God really suffer if you spend some of that time writing? After all, writing is a talent, a gift from Him. Don't you think He wants you to develop that talent and use that gift? Now don't go getting judgmental, it's just a suggestion.

A writer friend of mine made the comment "even if you write one or two sentences, or a paragraph each day, it all adds up." Not only did that make sense but her words inspired me to give it a try. By adhering to this advice I wrote an entire 70,000-word novel in four months. Not a big deal, you say? Try this one on for size: I did it while working two part time jobs (averaging 48 hrs per week) and right smack-dab in the middle of tax season! (Remember, I'm a bookkeeper.) Of course, during that last month other things went by the wayside – like exercising and sleep – but the book got finished.

Another idea would be to figure out how many pages a day you need to write and then figure out how/where/when you can do it. For example, let's say you want to write a 100,000-word novel. How much time do you need or how many pages a day do you need to accomplish your goal?

Let's find out. Be reasonable and be realistic. Give yourself ample time (say six months). Okay: 100,000 words divided by six months = 16,670 words per month. Divide that by 24 days (six days x four wks) = 694 words per day. Divide that by 250 (average words per page) and you have 2.75 pages per day.

Now that you have a word count or page goal in mind, think: how long does it take you to write 2–3 pages? Are there times when you can write more to compensate for those days when you can't write at all?

Again, be reasonable and be realistic. So what if it ends up taking nine months instead of six? At least you're writing! And remember, just one page per day equals a 365 page (or 91,250 word) novel at the end of a year!

One more thing I've found that helped immensely was to stop spending so much time on the Internet. Online lists and groups, Instant Messengers, etc. are wonderful, but just plain take up too much time.

My point is, you have to make the time to write. Write whenever, wherever, and however you can. It takes discipline, dedication and hard work. I'm sure you exhibit these attributes in other areas of your life, why not in your writing?

My husband's favourite saying is "depends on how bad you want it."

How bad do you want it?

Me too, so c'mon: quit making excuses (or using the same old, tired, worn-out ones) and start writing!

Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the co-founder and a member of the Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana and ACRW (American Christian Romance Writers). Multi-published in fiction and creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as "Inspirational with an Edge!" Author's Website: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com  Author's Email: pthib-7@centurytel.net

    

Resources for writers at firstwriter.com

Visit firstwriter.com for the following invaluable resources for writers:

To advertise on this newsletter for as little as $30 / 20 click here

 
In this issue:

News:

Ambitions submissions lost
Ambitions magazine recently suffered a technical problem resulting in the loss of some of their electronic submissions.

If you recently submitted material to Ambitions by email please submit your work again to ambitions
@rembrandtand
company.com

ePublisher invites submissions
New, short fiction ePublisher is looking for quality submissions now.

Deadline is 21st of each month.

Crime fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, articles, reviews, interviews, puzzles and art wanted.

Check the submission guidelines page at www.Seismicfish.com.

Christian articles sought
The Dabbling Mum is currently seeking articles
dealing with Christianity.  Articles are sought that have a conversational tone, share insight through anecdotes and scripture references, and teach a life lesson without the reader realising that they have been taught something.

Payment will be $15–$20 per original article.

For complete writers' guidelines and needs please visit: thedabblingmum.com.

Make money from your website
If you're one of the increasing numbers of writers with their own website you can now use it to not only promote your writing but also make money.

The affiliate program at firstwriter.com has already been running for several years, allowing website owners to earn money simply by placing links to our poetry competition on their website, but has recently been expanded to include the literary agents section of the site.

Affiliates can now put literary agent links, banners, and even search boxes on their websites. This offers their users a great feature and also offers them a commission whenever anyone subscribes.

To apply to join the affiliate program (it's free) click here

"The way the world is now" submissions
The Mississippi Review is inviting submissions for a special Fall issue on "the way the world is now".

Essays, asides, remarks, poems, or any written form up to 1000 words are invited to contribute to this "time capsule of this political moment". Submissions not only from the American perspective, but also from other nations looking in, are welcomed.

Send submissions, by July 1, to Gary Percesepe, Guest Editor, at gpercesepe@aol.com

  
firstwriter.com 2004
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