Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Fives- Top Internet Distractions (via Paper Hangover)

Song of the Day: Distractions by Paul McCartney

The blog Paper Hangover hosts its weekly Friday Fives! This week's question is: What are FIVE of your most distracting (procrastination-worthy) things (habits, websites, etc.) on the Internet?

1. Twitter

This site is the NUMBER ONE distraction for me. My two adopted sisters Pam and Quita got me hooked on Twitter. Now, I can't stop! I used to be addicted to Facebook, but I've been cheating on Facebook with Twitter, and well, now we're involved! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Twitter.

2. Facebook

Okay, though I'm in love with Twitter, Facebook and I are still friends. The thing about Facebook is that most of my friends from college and high school are on there. I use Twitter more to connect with writers. On Facebook I often get distracted by pictures, events, and catching up with friends.

3. Any Literary Magazine Website

As you all know, I have a literary magazine with Pam and Quita called Black Fox Literary Magazine. I am constantly searching for other literary magazines for various purposes. One, to see how they run their magazines so that I can improve upon mine. Two, to connect in the magazine world. Three, I'm always looking to submit or even post about them in my Monday Opportunities blog posts. Four, I often read the content if it's available for free. So many good writers in those magazines!

4. Blogger

I follow A LOT of blogs. All the writers on blogspot are so friendly and so talented. The blog topics are always interesting too. I crave connection with writers, and blogspot is another way of doing just that. I also enjoy reading about what writers are up to. If I'm not careful, I could spend all day reading blog posts and commenting.

5. Good Reads

I love Good Reads because I love reading the reviews, seeing what everyone else is reading and discovering new books. I get lost in time so easily when I'm on good reads and it's because of my unhealthy obsession with books. But hey, what book lover wouldn't love Good Reads?

What about you? What are some Internet distractions that make you procrastinate?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- May 23, 2011

Song of the Day: Success by Duran Duran

Hello all! Hope the weekend was phenomenal! It's safe for me to say that I had a rather literary kind of weekend. On Saturday I went to a spoken word event, and it was fantastic! It's amazing how many talented poets and writers there are in your backyard and you wouldn't even know it! Last year I joined a Writers association called the Florida Writer's Association (FWA) and I finally went to my first meeting! It was inspirational (I'll be blogging more about that later this week.) After the meeting I just wanted to get home and write! Sunday I spent the day reading, editing and writing a flash piece. It has been one of the most productive weekends I've had in a long time, as far as my work goes anyway. I've gone on enough. I hope you all are finding the time to write. Here are the opportunities for this week.


1. 19th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards

The grand prize winner will be awarded $3,000 cash and a trip to the Writer's Digest Conference in New York City. The editors of Writer's Digest will endorse and submit 10 copies of the Grand Prize-Winning book to major review houses. Brian Jud & Book Marketing Works, LLC will provide a one-year membership in Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), guaranteed acceptance in a special-sales catalog giving you national representation through 1800 salespeople selling to non-bookstore markets, guaranteed acceptance by Atlas Books, a top distributor to wholesalers, chains, independents, and online retailers, six hours of book shepherding from Poynter Book Shepherd Ellen Reid and a guaranteed review in Midwest Book Review. There will also be ten additional first place winners, and honorable mentions announced. I haven't even listed the full extent of the prizes for the grand prize winner and the first place winners. Writer's Digest will give away over $17,000 in prizes. Entry fee is $100 and the deadline is June 3, 2011.

2. Rosebud Magazine's Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction

Rosebud Magazine hosts the fourth annual Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award. The contest is for short stories in the genres of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or horror. The judges are also interested in stories that reach beyond the the boundaries of those genres, take a variety of literary and creative risks, and tell a good story. Ideally, stories should be between 1000 and 3500 words (though they will consider stories of up to 4500 words.) First place will win $1,000 and Publication in Rosebud. Four runners up will receive $100 and publication in Rosebud. Entry fee is $10 and the contest closes September 1, 2011. (Mark your calendars because you've got plenty of time!)

Calls for Submissions:

1. Prime Number Magazine

Currently accepting works of fiction, non-fiction, poerty, book reviews, interviews, and essays on craft.

2. Cooper Dillon Books

Currently accepting submissions for chapbooks and full-length poetry manuscripts.


1. Denton County Writer's Workshop

If you live in Denton County Texas, then here's a free all day workshop for you. It will be held at the North Branch Library. According to the site:

"Laurie Williamson, freelance writer and owner of RareType, LLC, will provide insights on time management, how to get freelance work, and how to make the most of your creative output.  Bruce Bond, University of North Texas Regents Professor of Poetry, will offer a lecture on the craft of poetry writing.  Roni Loren, author, will talk on Hooks and High Concepts. Kristen Lamb social media guru and bestselling author of We Are Not Alone, will speak on the importance of using social media to build writer’s platform, gain exposure and get published."

The workshop is free, but registration is required. For more information visit the website below.

A brief announcement. Last week I said that Black Fox Literary Magazine would close submissions for consideration in the summer on June 1, 2011. I had the wrong date. We actually will close submissions for that issue on June 3, 2011. We would love to see your short stories or poetry. Our 100 Twitter follower contest is also still going on. Since there seems to be some confusion we will make it a little easier to enter. You will be able to find the details on how to enter on Thursday over at Pam and Marquita's blog, Y(A)? Cuz We Write! Be on the look out! Happy Writing! :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Fives- What I Can't Live Without When I Write (via Paper Hangover)

Song of the Day: Can't Live Without You by Charlie Wilson

   Hello all! It's time for Friday Fives again. This week the blog, Paper Hangover poses the question: What are five things you can't live without when you're writing or revising?

When I'm writing I can't live without...

1. Music or sometimes TV.

There are some writers that need complete silence, but I'm definitely not one of them. I need some kind of background noise like music or the TV.

2. The Internet.

Yes the Internet can be a distraction, but I actually use it to research something I'm writing, or to look up a word (I use on online dictionary or thesaurus.)

3. My Flash Drive.

I ALWAYS back my work up on a flash drive...or two. During NanoWriMo I was traumatized and I lost a huge chunk of my work because my computer fell and landed on the flash drive (while the flash dive was still plugged in.) I'll never forget the feeling of seeing so much hard work go down the drain. These days I back up my work on two flash drives and I email myself. (Yes, I'm paranoid.)

4. A snack of some sort.

After I've been sitting and writing for hours, I like to take mini breaks which involve eating. The snack is almost always never good for me. My favorite things are chocolate, ice cream, cake, or cashews.

5. A pen and paper.

I usually get other ideas when I write, so I keep this notebook (that I also take EVERYWHERE) with me and I jot down ideas. Sometimes I see something in the story that I want to fix later, so I'll take a note of that kind of thing as well.

Those are the things I can't live without! What are some things you can't live without when you write or revise?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- May 16, 2011

Song of the Day: More by Usher

    Hello all! It's a  busy day today! How was the weekend? Mine was great. I was able to get a good amount of editing done on my novel. Though editing this novel is my most important task at hand, I have all these story ideas in my head plus two ideas for novels. It's SO hard to concentrate! I'm hoping after this week I'll get some time to sit down and start fleshing them out. Today, one of the items on my very long to-do list is to mark off on my calendar the deadlines of a couple contests. Have you done this for the month? Have you at least submitted your work at least once this month? The month is not over, don't let May get away without submitting something! Here are the opportunities for this week.


1. Wow (Women on Writing) Spring Flash Fiction Contest

A quarterly contest open to writers globally. The first place winner will receive a cash prize of $300, $25 Amazon gift card, an e-book pack, an interview with WOW and publication on the WOW website. Second place will receive a prize of $200, a $25 Amazon gift card, an e-book pack, an interview with WOW and publication on the WOW website. Third place receives $100, a $25 Amazon gift card, an e-book pack, an interview with WOW and publication on the WOW website. Seven runners up will also each win $25 Amazon gift card, an e-book pack, entry published on WOW website, and an interview with WOW. Ten honorable mentions will win a $20 Amazon gift card, an e-book pack, and their name, state and the title of their story published to the WOW website. (Tons of prizes!) I had to mention this contest because my big sis Pam Harris' agent Sarah Lapolla of Curtis Brown, LTD is guest judging! The entry fee is $10 and the contest deadline is May 31, 2011.

2. Lori M. Lee's 100 Followers Contest

There is an awesome contest happening over at Lori M. Lee's blog. The first place winner will be able to choose one of three prizes: a bust sketch, ten page critique or $30 Borders gift card. The Second place winner will be able choose one of two prizes: a five page critique and a $15 Borders gift card. For details visit her blog.

3. Twin Feather Publishing- Soaring Above Essay Contest

According to the contest site:

"Have you dreamed of being a published writer? Do you have an inspiring story of recovery or overcoming obstacles to share? We want to hear your story! The first prize winner will receive a hot air balloon ride for two, as well as publication in Twin Feather’s upcoming book. All entries will be considered for publication."

Entries should be between 1,000 and 5,000 words. There is no entry fee and the contest closes on May 31, 2011.

Call for Submissions:

1. Heavy Feather Review

A new literary magazine seeks short fiction, poetry, original photography/art, short comics, creative non-fiction, and hybrid for their first issue. They are also looking for people willing to write reviews and conduct interviews.

2. NthWord Magazine

Nth Word is an online magazine currently accepting original interviews, articles on culture, social media and entertainment, flash fiction, short stories and visual art.

As always don't forget about Black Fox Literary Magazine's Fiction Contest! We are also accepting submissions for our inaugural issue. Submit by June 1, 2011. Happy Writing! :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finding the Time: Ways You can Squeeze in Writing Time (Part 2)

Song of the Day: Clocks by Coldplay

    Hello all! A week ago I wrote part one to this post. It was called, "Finding the Time: How to Balance WIP + Submissions + Life." I thought it would be beneficial if I also posted a part two about actually finding the time to write. With all of life's distractions, I'm sometimes left without a chance to sit down and write. I'm a huge believer of the saying, "You make time for what you want to make time for." If you want to be a serious writer, then you must make time. A few quick suggestions. I'm sure you've heard this before, but ALWAYS keep a notebook with you. It doesn't matter the kind. Some people like moleskins, others prefer spiral. The point is to always have paper if an idea or inspiration strikes. Second, invest in a netbook. My parents bought me a netbook for Christmas a little over a year ago, and it's very convenient. It's much lighter, can be tossed in your bag, and has a longer battery life than a laptop (my battery lasted the entire way of a four hour drive to Miami, and still had power left over.) Now, here are ways you can get some writing in.

1. While you're waiting at the doctor's office, the mechanic shop, the nail shop, etc.

You know how sometimes (despite making an appointment) you have to wait in the waiting room to see the doctor? Instead of grabbing that magazine, grab a pen and your notebook. Or, if you carry it around, your laptop/netbook. Do you know how much writing I've done waiting at the hair salon? (Both in the waiting room and under the dryer!) Even if you are only waiting for five minutes, you can get a lot in. Something is better than nothing.

2. If you use public transportation, write on the bus or train.

Unfortunately, I don't live in a place where transportation is at its best. In Florida, you pretty much NEED to have a car. But those of you who are lucky enough to be able to ride a train or bus somewhere, should take advantage of that time. You really have no excuse!

3. Have you ever been a couple minutes early for work? Use that as writing time.

I'm a little crazy when it comes to this one. I'm paranoid about time whenever I have to be somewhere important, so I'm always 30 minutes early for work. I sometimes use the time to read, but during National Novel Writing Month, I wrote large chunks of my novel in the car before work. Many times I would end up writing at least half of my daily word count goal.

4. Write on your lunch break.

I get an hour for lunch so it's actually very beneficial for me to write on my break. On average people get at least thirty minutes for lunch. Lots of words can be written in thirty minutes. If you don't want to get too involved in your story, why not use the time to make outlines of novels or short stories?

5. At your kid's soccer match.

My boss attends every one of her children's soccer games. She once joked about the other moms making fun of her because she was always working on her cases. Some of you might say, that you don't want to miss a big moment, but there are always breaks in sports. You can at least write on the breaks. And I'm not just talking soccer. You can write during basketball, football, lacrosse, track. You get the picture.

Writing should never be about quantity and it's not a race. You can progress your WIP in small amounts of time. What  about you? When do you find the time to write?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- May 9, 2011

Song of the Day: Move Along by The All American Rejects

    Hello all! How was the weekend? I hope all the mothers out there had an awesome Mother's Day! I know my mother did. My sister and I bought her jewelry and a specialty cake, (raspberry with white chocolate--her favorite) both of which she loved! I did get a chance to sneak in some editing for my thesis and do a little planning for submissions. I haven't really asked in a couple weeks, but are you submitting your work? It's important to hang in there. I wrote a post last week on how you can find the time to submit your work. You can find that here. Even if you only submit something once a month, it's better than nothing. I already do the hard work for you, all you have to do is pick one and submit. Easy as Pie.


1. Query Tracker Blog May Contest: Young Adult Novels

Agent Roseanne Wells from Maryanne Strong Literary Agency will judge the next contest. The contest will open today (May 9th) at 9 am and will run for 24 hours (closing at 9 am on Tuesday.) Agent Roseanne Wells would like to see the first page  of COMPLETED Young Adult Novels. You can submit your manuscript via their submission form. Online entries only. For more information visit the Query Tracker Blog. Act Fast!

2. Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

An Award for short story collections by emerging writers. Manuscripts submitted must be between 40,000 to 75,000 words. Authors of winning manuscripts will receive a prize of $1,000 and their collections will be subsequently published by University of Georgia Press under a standard book contract. The contest closes May 31, 2011. Entry fee is $25.

3. Boston Review Poetry Contest

An annual prize of $1,500 and publication in Boston Review is given to one poem or group of poems. All entries will be considered for publication. Poets should submit up to five poems totaling no more than ten pages. Entry fee is $10 and contest deadline is June 1, 2011.

4. Jamie Manning's Blogoversary Contest

Jamie Manning is celebrating the one year anniversary of his blog! All you have to do is leave a comment on the post found here. It would also be nice if you could tweet about the contest too. For more information visit Jamie's blog.

Call for Submissions:

1. Flywheel Magazine

Flywheel is currently accepting submissions. They are looking for fiction, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry.

***Black Fox Literary Magazine's 100 Twitter Follower Contest***

Details can be found on our Facebook page found here.

As always don't forget about the Black Fox Fiction Contest. Deadline has been extended to June 1, 2011. We are also accepting general submissions of fiction and poetry. Happy Writing!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Fives- 5 Pieces of Useful Advice I've Received (via Paper Hangover)

Song of the Day: Express Yourself by Charles Wright

   Hello all! It's time for Friday Fives again. This week the blog, Paper Hangover poses the question: What are five pieces of useful advice you have received as an aspiring writer? (in quotes, blog posts, websites, etc.)

1. Write everyday

This is something I still struggle with, but it's the best piece of advice I've ever been given. I'll never forget the first time it actually resonated with me. It was in Carolyn See's book, Making a Literary Life. She said that in order to become a serious writer, you must write at least 1,000 words a day. I understand now what that means. You have to practice your craft.

2. It's okay if the first draft to sucks.

I learned this during National Novel Writing Month. I kept trying to get everything right the first time around. It only held me back. I would get so frustrated that I'd stop working on something. I've learned to let it all hang out and then go back and fix things later. Which leads me to my next point.

3. You must edit.

Editing is absolutely essential. It's one of the hardest things about being a writer. I think this is where the the work really comes in. It's when you test your dedication to being a writer. You sharpen your skills when you edit, but you must put in the time.

4. Read everything you can get your hands on.

Reading was something I've always done anyway, (since the age of 3) but it's still one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received. I'm a huge advocate of reading, and there's no doubt that it has made an impact on my writing. Reading not only makes you smarter, but if you read like a writer, you subconsciously develop the skills you need to be successful.

5. Just write.

Don't try to be like anyone else. Don't try to write anything that's not true to yourself. Be original and just write what you want to write.

What about you? What's the best writing advice you've ever received?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finding the Time: How to Balance Your WIP + Submissions + Life (Part 1)

Song of the Day: Busy by Lyfe Jennings

   Hello all! I've been noticing that a lot of writers seem to be having trouble with finding the time to submit their work to contests and literary magazines. As writers our schedules may be tight, but submitting our work is absolutely essential. Being published in a magazine or even winning a contest or award can not only make us more credible in the eyes of non-writers, but it's also a way to get our names out there. Suppose you finally get that book deal and your novel is published. The more people recognize your name, the more they may be willing to buy your book. Your writing has the potential to make a lasting impression. It can even build your self esteem. After all the beatings we writers take with critiques and rejections, a small victory can give us the boost we need to keep up with our long term writing goals. Today, I'm sharing a few tips that have helped me juggle life, submissions, and my WIP. I've been promising this post for a while now, and here it is, finally.

Plan, plan, plan! Did I mention plan?

You know the saying, "those who fail to plan, plan to fail?" Well, it's true. My first suggestion is to sit down with a calendar. You can use an actual calendar, planner, or your smart phone if you prefer. Set aside time once a month to plan which contests you want to enter or where you want to submit your work. It's up to you to determine how many you can handle applying to or how many you can afford (they're not always cheap or free.)

A calendar will be your best friend.

I'm finding that a lot of bloggers plan their posts and write them ahead of time. This is something I'm going to start doing because I always seem to have trouble keeping up. The same goes for submitting your work. You should use a calendar to remind you of all the deadlines, then plan to follow that schedule. Treat those dates you mark off as actual deadlines.

Don't bite off more than you can chew.

It's a total cliche, but a fact it is indeed. I think part of the reason writers find it hard to submit their work and balance it with working on a WIP, plus daily life is because they think submitting requires so much effort. If you plan, then it's much easier to balance both. Wouldn't it be better to submit one thing a month as opposed to nothing? Why not zero in on one contest or one magazine in which you'd like your work to appear? You can start small. There really are no rules.

Make Time to Work on things to submit.

Here's where it gets hard. You're working on your WIP, you've got the day job, you have to make dinner, clean the house, and your "to be read" pile is out of control. With all that life throws at us, we barely have time to write at all. But you know those moments when you get stuck on your WIP? The moments when you just need a break or need to step away from your manuscript? Why not work on something else, like a piece you can submit. Another good idea might be to pick one day of the week when you work on pieces you can eventually submit. Or, you can dedicate your lunch hour to working on a submission.

Save time by submitting the same story.

One other suggestion is that you write one really good story and submit it multiple places. This will also save a little time. You can try submitting the story until it is accepted. If it's just not accepted then maybe during your monthly planning, you could re-evaluate it, and fix any problems and submit it again. Don't let this particular piece of advice limit you, though. This is just a way for the very busy to focus on one thing at a time. My suggestion is to submit as many stories as you can.

Setting aside a little time each month can go a long way. With just a little planning, you can find the time to work on your WIP, do the laundry, wash the dishes, take care of the kids AND submit your work.

Can you think of any other suggestions for balancing life with your WIP and submissions? Was this post helpful?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Opportunities in the Great Big Literary World- May 2, 2011

Song of the Day: Shine by Laura Izibor

   Hello all! Hope the weekend was fantastic for you all. I ended up having another busy weekend, though it didn't start off that way. I had never intended my weekend to be so jammed packed. In fact, I re-arranged my schedule at work so that I could have Thursday through Monday (today) off. I was going to use that huge block of time to work on my thesis. Slowly, thing after thing kept coming up. I even tweeted that sometimes I feel like people demand too much of my time. It's true. I can't say no to people. If someone asks for my help, or asks me to be somewhere, I can't help but oblige. It's a strength and a weakness. I've been thinking about using some of the money in my savings to go on a writers retreat. I'd like to get away from the stresses of my life and just write. No Distractions. During my writing retreat, if someone asks me to show up somewhere, I'll have no choice but to tell them, "Sorry, I'm out of town." Do you ever feel like your being pulled in a billion directions? How does that affect your time to write? Take a look at the opportunities for this week.


1. Spring Blog Carnival- Books, Books, and MORE Books!

This contest involves a huge book giveaway! Over 170 blogs are giving away free books! Instead of listing all the blogs, I'll just give a link to Julie A. Lindsay's blog and you can find the list there. Each blogger may require something different, but I did visit a few where all you have to do is leave your name and contact info and you're entered. What could be easier?

2. Cheerios New Author Contest

Cheerios is hosting a contest open to new writers only. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000 and a possible publishing deal with Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, in addition to having their book featured in Cheerios cereal boxes nationwide. Entrants must write an original story in English or Spanish, suitable for children ages 3-8 years old. Contest Deadline is July 15, 2011. I didn't see an entry fee so I'm assuming it's free to enter.

3. Lost Horse Press- Idaho Prize for Poetry

A prize of $1,000 and publication by Lost Horse Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. poet. Manuscripts should be at least 48 pages. Entry fee is $25 and the contest deadline is May 15, 2011.

Calls for Submissions:

1. 34th Parallel is accepting submissions of stories (fiction and documentary), poems, photographs, and art.

2. 5x5 is accepting submissions for their "Visitors" issue until August 1, 2011. The magazine accepts fiction, poetry, non-fiction, visual arts, and comics.

***The Black Fox 100 Follower Twitter Contest!***

My literary magazine has reached over 100 followers on Twitter! In order to celebrate Pam, Quita and I will be hosting a contest. To enter you must do two things:

  • Tweet about the contest and "@" Black Fox in your tweet (Our twitter: @blackfoxlit)
  • Go to our Facebook Page and tell us your favorite book, short story, or poem (brownie points if you like us too!)

This contest is only open to Black Fox Twitter Followers. If you're not a follower, you can follow at any time in order to enter. ;)

We will give away 3 prize packs which will include:

A Black Fox T-shirt, pen, notebook, and a print copy of  the First Issue of Black Fox!

Our Facebook page can be found here:

Open the whole month of May!

Our fiction contest has also been extended until June 1, 2011! Enter your best fiction now! Happy Writing!