Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: Checking In With Goals And Objectives

Creating goals and objectives for the year won't do you any good, if you forget about them. One of my objectives this year for my Community Building/General Marketing/Branding Goal is to check in with my goals and objectives quarterly. I want to make sure I'm spending my time the way I'd planned to and not on drifting around beginning and abandoning random projects. 

It's the end of the first quarter, and here I am, checking away. Additionally, I'm thinking about what I can do for these goals and objectives during the next quarter of the year.

Goal 1. Finish a draft of YA thriller that could become an adult thriller. It has a name this year, 143 Canterbury Road  I have been working on this, but it's going slowly. I wish I could remember how far along I was on this at the beginning of the year. I think I've done 3+ new chapters in 2021.


  • I haven't work on this for a few months, so I'll need to reread what I've done to bring myself back up to speed. Did that.
  • Go over the outline/blueprint. Did that, though it is an ongoing process. I'm always tinkering with the outline/blueprint.
  • Assign writing tasks to time frames each week. That's gone by the wayside
  • Just work on scenes. Don't worry about connecting things.Hmm. Perhaps things would go faster if I remembered to do this.
  • Read YA thrillers. I did read one, and I'm reading an adult thrillerish book now.
  • Read history, since that's a significant factor for a character and maybe in other ways. I finished two history books this winter that I started last year.

 Plan for next quarter:

I'm going to commit my May Days project to this goal. Additionally, I have a brand new copy of Jill Lepore's These Truths that I got for Christmas that I'll start dipping into. (It's a huge book.) In the meantime, I'll keep slugging away at this.

Goal 2. Concentrate on submissions and concentrate on increasing the number of submissions I make.  I've made 17 submissions so far this year, which is fantastic for me. I only did 50 all last year. I've had a humor piece accepted and published, and this weekend I got a fantastic rejection from a journal.


  • Submit book length projects to the agents I researched last month. Done
  • Spend more time with essay Facebook group and flash Facebook group. Those people are publishing and share their work, exposing me to new markets. Which is not stalking them. I have not done enough stalki--spending time with this group.
  • Use that agent Twitter list I made a while back. I have made an attempt at this.
  • Use that publications Twitter list I made a while back. I run my eyes over this occasionally.
  • Do a lot more reading of markets for short-form writing. I need to do a lot more of this.
  • Not to brag, but I got my first rejection of the year yesterday.Yeah, there's been a lot more of that. But as Gina Barreca says, "Finding your audience means being promiscuous with your work." So I view rejection as a good thing.

Plan for next quarter:

I dedicated January and February to submitting one project, March to another. April will go to a third one. The summer is going to be dedicated to submitting short-form work.

Goal 3. Work on short-form writing, essays and short stories. I think that humor piece I published was written this year. I've also stepped up coming up with daily ideas for writing projects, many of them short form. Otherwise, this first quarter has been spent primarily on Goals 1 and 2.


  • Commit a month or two to flash writing. I was happy with how that worked this past year. That has happened...yet.
  • Look for more on-line writing classes/workshops. I've taken two very good workshops.
  • Commit more time to reading essays and short stories. Have not done much of this.
  • Tinker with the 365 Story Project. Haven't touched it.

Plan for next quarter:

I'm planning to commit the summer, which starts in June, the third month of the next quarter, to short-form writing and submitting. The workshops I took were very generative, and during them I started revising old projects that I can continue in the summer.

Goal 4. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding

  • Provide social media support for writers/bloggers generating diversity material.They are part of the monthly new book posts I do.
  • Pay more attention to community events like Multi-Cultural Children's Book Day; plan ahead for reading to support these events. I started strong with this, but fell down on Women's History Month.
  • Continue the monthly childlit book release posts Doing that.
  • Attend virtual book launches and promote here. I have done that.
  • Continue with Original Content. You're seeing that.
  • Continue with promoting Original Content at Facebook communities, Goodreads' blog, and Twitter. Doing that.
  • Get into the habit of checking my monthly plans in my bullet journal. I actually am doing this. I'm surprised, too.
  • Check-in with goals and objectives quarterly. I'd say "monthly" but that was an objective for last year that I didn't touch. You're looking at it.

Okay, so now I know what I've done, and I know what I'm going to do. How about you?

Monday, March 29, 2021

March Childlit Book Releases

Here are the March childlit book releases I've seen here and there on social media these past few weeks.


March 1 Spi-ku, Leslie Bulion, Robert Meganck illustrations, Peachtree






 March 2 Codebreaker, Laurie Wallmark, Brooke Smart illustrations, Abrams





March 2, She Persisted: Sally Ride, Atia Abawi and Chelsea Clinton, Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint illustrations, Philomel/Penguin Random House






March 2, Red Rover, Christopher Krovatin, Scholastic






March 2, Monster Blood Is Back, R.L. Stine, Scholastic 







March 2, Wild River, Rodman Philbrick, Scholastic






March 2, Allergic, Megan Wagner Lloyd, Graphix/Scholastic

March 2, National Parks Maps, Abby Leighton, Gibbs Smith






March 2, Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Doom, Matthew Swanson, Robbi Behr illustrations, Knopf/Penguin Random House






March 3, Bear Outside, Jane Yolen, Jen Corace illustrations, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House






March 9 Violet and the Pie of Life, Debra Green, Holiday House






March 9 Amber and Clay, Laura Amy Schlitz, Julia Iredale, Candlewick






March 9 Amina's Song, Hena Khan, Simon & Schuster






March 9 The Wild Huntsboys, Martin Stewart, Viking/Penguin Random House

March 15 Carmen and the House that Gaudi Built, Susan Hughes, Marianne Ferrer illustrator, Owl Kids





March 15 Finish Strong: Seven Continents, Seven Marathons, Seven Days, Dave McGillivray, Nancy Feehrer, Hui Li illustrations, Nomad Press 






March 23 Rivals, Tommy Greenwald, Amulet/Abrams







March 23 The Little Library, Margaret McNamara, G. Brian Karas illustrations, Schwartz & Wade/Penguin Random House 






March 30 Watercress, Andrea Y. Yang, Jason Chin illustrations, Neal Porter/Holiday House

Friday, March 26, 2021

Dr. Soice

This morning I was looking for some information on The Cat in the Hat, when I came upon someone who claimed that Dr. Seuss's name is not pronounced Soose but Soice. So I did some googling, because that is how we learn the truth, and found a couple of articles that agreed with that, including this one at Slate.

Now, this story is particularly interesting to me, because my husband's grandmother grew up in the Springfield, Massachusetts area, as did Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss. Her family knew the Geisel family through, I believe, some sort of German community club. Namo didn't actually remember young Theodor, though she remembered his sister. 

My mother-in-law, her daughter, mentioned a couple of times that Seuss was pronounced Soice, not Soose, but I ignored her! Because what red-blooded woman doesn't ignore her mother-in-law?

Sorry, Ruthie. Easter flowers will be arriving next week.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

My Medium Year

Last year I got serious about humor, and I finally started experimenting with publishing at Medium

By humor I mean short, funny pieces that function as...humor. I'm not talking humorous short stories or humorous essays or humorous children's books. Or screenplays or plays or any other kind of humor. I'd been thinking about dipping into humor for a while. I was undeterred by the pandemic, which many people do not find funny at all, because I am very goal-oriented. While writing humor wasn't an actual goal or objective for 2020, short-form writing was. In fact, one of my humor pieces from last year came out of a flash fiction workshop I took last summer.

One of the issues with humor writing is where to publish it. Not every publication wants that sort of thing. In looking for places to publish, Medium, which I'd heard of before, kept coming up. 

Unfortunately, in the past I'd had trouble understanding what Medium is. So I combined my humor/short-form writing interest with experimenting with Medium.

What Is Medium?

When I first started hearing about Medium, I thought it was a publication, an on-line magazine. I understand publications/magazines/journals. I kept trying to think of it that way and wondered how writers would submit work to it.

However, Medium isn't one publication. Medium is a publishing platform where anyone can publish in a number of different ways. A medium is a method of dispersing information, which might explain the name. I find it helpful to think of Medium as a publishing world, the way there is a traditional New York City publishing world and an academic publishing world. Like publications, I understand those things. Medium's publishing world is just on-line. I may be totally wrong in that thinking, but I find it helpful, nonetheless.

The Most Basic Way Of Publishing On Medium

The simplest way to publish on Medium is to just write something and publish it there. That's how I began my Medium experiment.

  • I had to create an account, which was free.
  • You publish by placing your piece of writing into Medium's format/template. This took a little effort on my part, but many things in life are difficult until you know how to do them. 
  • I needed an illustration. Medium provides suggestions for places to go for free photos, but in this case, I took my own. I found fitting the photo in correctly difficult, but, as you all know, I have an in-house computer guy. He worked it out for me.
  • On May 25, 2020, I published Well, How Many Masks Have You Made? directly on the Medium platform. 

I would describe this level of publishing on Medium as the equivalent of self-publishing, and it has the same drawback that self-publishing is famous for--it's difficult to get attention for your work. There are supposed to be over a million new articles posted on Medium every month. That's a lot of competition. Publishing on Medium like this may mean that the only people who will know about this article are those I reached with Twitter and Facebook notifications or through this blog. 

Another Level of Publishing On Medium

Remember how I originally thought Medium was, itself, a publication? Instead it is a publishing world (platform) that contains many publications that individuals have started and maintained. In 2019 there were supposed to be over 8,000 of them. Some traditional publications have created an on-line presence on Medium. But so have individuals. I could have created a publication on Medium for my humor writing. Instead, I decided to submit to humor publications already existing on Medium. There are quite a few of them. 

  • My impression of the publications on Medium is that some are quite selective in what they accept and some may be less so. Some are very focused on one theme. Some seem to be interested in specific styles. As with any other kind of submission, you need to spend time reading publications before you spend time submitting. And there are a great many on Medium.
  • With most Medium publications I've dealt with, you submit by placing your writing in the Medium format/template (see above) and saving it as a draft. You send a link to the draft with your e-mail submission to the publication editors.
  • If your work is accepted, the editors will notify you and add you as a writer for their publication. You'll find that notification in a drop box on your draft page, and you can then publish directly to that publication. 
  • At the end of last year, a Medium humor publication accepted one of my pieces, and on Dec. 2, 2020, I published Dear Pastor Bill at The Haven. (Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels)

The benefit of publishing on a Medium publication is getting attention for your work. The publications already have a following, so your writing will be seen by more than just your own friends and followers. Additionally the publication will do some promotion at places like Twitter. And you now have another publication credit. For the immediate future, I don't plan to publish directly to Medium myself again but to submit to Medium publications.

The Payment Level

Yes, you can earn some money publishing on Medium. I shouldn't describe this as another level of publication there. I could have joined its payment system right away. However, as I said earlier, I found the Medium publishing world a bit complex, so I began by doing just one thing at a time. There's no reason anyone has to do that. You can sign up for the Medium Partner program immediately.

How you make money on Medium:

  • Anyone can read a limited number of Medium articles each month.
  • For $5 a month, you can become a member and have unlimited access to articles. By the way, if you're interested in publishing on Medium in some way, I'd suggest becoming a member so you can spend plenty of time checking out publications and see what other writers are dong there.
  • When  fee-paying members read your story, a tiny portion of their monthly fee goes to you, the writer. Payment is based on readership. You don't get a flat fee.
  • You need to join the Medium Partner program to generate these payments. If you just publish there, as I did with my first two humor pieces, you get no payment. You still gain the opportunity to put your writing out in front of people and try to generate an audience, but no money. 
  • It took me an hour or two to sign up for the Medium partner program, because I am slow. As part of joining, I also had to join Stripe, a company for processing payment on the Internet. It appears to be a middle man between Medium and its writer/partners. 
  • You will also need to give Stripe access to a bank account that it can deposit your payments into. This could be a source of anxiety for some people. It certainly would have been for me, except I happen to already have a dedicated account for receiving writing-related payments. Hurray! 
  • I was a member of Medium's partner program by the time I submitted my third humor piece to a publication. On Feb. 2, 2021, I published  My Child Doesn't Watch You Tube And Yours Shouldn't, Either at Frazzled. (Another one of my photos. Yeah, that's my living room.)
  • I also placed my two earlier pieces in the partner program.

Okay, admit it. You want to know how much money I've made, don't you? I believe it was $2.61! I don't know if that was all earned by the most recent published piece or from all of them. 

Is The Experiment Over?


No. Though I have read that there are writers making money on Medium, certainly more than $2.61, my interest in publishing there is to find and build an audience for my humor--and perhaps other kinds of adult--writing. I attended a virtual book launch recently for Fast Funny Women, edited by Gina Barreca. Barreca said, "Finding your audience means being promiscuous with your work." (I'm going to be repeating that quote regularly this year.) I'm going to try to do that on Medium.
So the next phase of my Medium experiment will involve finding and broadening my audience and then trying to move out beyond Medium with my work.
Initially, I will be:
  • Writing more humor that I can then submit
  • Researching humor sites and humor writers on Medium and following them in order to keep up on what's happening at the sites and with what the humor writers are doing with their work.
  • Researching other Medium publications where I might submit other kinds of short-form writing.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

It's International La Francophonie Day, Mes Amis

Oui, aujourd'hui c'est
International Francophonie Day, celebrating the French language. It does not appear to be a major event here in the U.S.. Ne vous inquietez pas! You can observe the day here at Original Content.

A French Language TV Show

Perhaps you are familiar with the French TV show Lupin, which is available in this country on Netflix in its original language with English subtitles? It's about a contemporary gentleman thief who was inspired to go into the business because as a child he was a fan of the early twentieth century books by Maurice Leblanc about  Arsene Lupin, a gentleman thief. So the main character in the TV show isn't actually Lupin, he is inspired by Lupin. He is Lupin-like.

My guess is that the character Lupin is so well known in France that using his name in the title of a TV show is meaningful for French viewers. Like using the name Sherlock (to whom I've seen him compared) in an English language show is meaningful to English and American viewers. I am patiently waiting for the second series to drop on Netflix. The first one ended on a major cliff-hanger.

A French Language Children's Book?

Snippets of Paris, a site about life in France, lists the Arsene Lupin series as one of the 12 Best French Children's Books to learn French. It describes them as being for school age children with an intermediate French vocabulary. I found French editions of the books (Not at the link included at Snippets of Paris, though. Those books are in English.), and a quick look into one of them indicates that my French is not on the level of a school age child with an intermediate French vocabulary. Not even close. I will have to stick to watching the series in French while reading the subtitles and patting myself on the back whenever I recognize something. 

Also, I suspect the Arsene Lupin books aren't actually children's books, but adult books that children read, similar to the Sherlock Holmes books. But since I haven't read them, that's just a guess.

More Books With French Language Connections

Last year I was more ambitious and celebrated La Francophonie Week with four posts.

A Break From Angst To Celebrate La Francophine Day

La Francophonie Day: Manon Gauthier 
La Francophinie Day: Who Left The Light On? 
La Francophonie Day: Dear Haiti, Love Alaine

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: Mom Writers

Since reading that Ursula LeGuin once referred to herself as a middle-aged Portland housewife, I've been thinking about housewife writers. I will need to think about that some

But today I stumbled upon something that got me thinking about mom writers, which is like a housewife writer but also different. Are You a Mom Writer Thinking of Quitting? Read This First at Jane Friedman was a bit of a blast from my past. Guest writer Denise Massar's description of what she went through getting published while working as a full-time mom was different from my experience in that I was submitting directly to editors instead of agents (this was a long time ago), but on the other hand, the whipping back and forth between jobs/lives is very much the same.

Massar says,"Mom writers are wired to succeed at writing (and querying) because we can multitask like no other. We can switch gears in an instant." I can't agree with her first line, since I don't believe multi-tasking is an actual thing. However, that switching gears business is a whiplash inducing reality.

It Doesn't Get Any Better After You Start Publishing

Massar's description of submitting to agents prior to publishing books is very accurate. It is a job all by itself. As I said, I wasn't doing that during my high mother years. That came much later, after my career took a hit with the 2008 economic crisis, at which point I was dealing with eldercare, not childcare. The point where I considered throwing in the towel with writing came earlier, after I'd had a couple of books published. That was when I had two children in elementary and then middle school and was writing draft after draft of new books, swinging from one kind of work situation to another, depending on whether I had publishing deadlines to meet or was struggling to come up with ways to promote a new book or the books I already had in print. I also had periods when I was working up school presentations, which functioned, in part, to promote my books, but which needed to be promoted themselves. With writing, everything, absolutely everything, has to be promoted. (I will be promoting this blog post.)

I believe I actually said out loud to my husband that I needed to quit writing, because I wasn't doing a good enough job with it or the kids. I wanted to be better than that. I didn't quit, however. I don't remember what actually happened, though I am pretty persistent and obsessive and that may have been all it was. Then, of course, the kids grew up. And then the deadlines and promotional concerns dried up. It all took care of itself!

How Different Is The Mom Writer's Situation From That Of Other Writers?

I am, and it sounds as if Denise Massar was, talking about those women writers whose day job is...ah...momming, I guess we'll call it. But a great many women writers are momming while holding down entirely different day jobs. They're doing three jobs. I can't even touch what that life must be like for them. Are they mom writers? Are they doctor writers? Are they professor writers? Shop keeper writers, librarian writers, farmer writers? If I was struggling to switch gears in an instant, what are they doing?

What about dad writers?  Are things that different for them? Arguably you could say they were in the past, because society expected more of mothers than it did of fathers. But I don't know if that's the case, anymore. I'm seeing dads at home with kids, dads taking kids to doctors, dads taking kids to activities, dads taking time off from income producing jobs to stay home with sick kids. 

Certainly it can't be much different for dad writers who are the primary caregiver in the home. How many writing men planning to write while they cared for children got the surprise of their lives when they found out how much of their time was going to go to childcare? 

For that matter, a lot of writing moms were surprised to learn that fact of life. 

What Does This Have To Do With Time Management, Gail?

It all gets back to how our life situations are constantly changing. How we use our time today is determined by what we need to do today, which may be different from what we need to do tomorrow or next week. And what we need to do today is determined by who are today, which may be different from who we are tomorrow or next week. Writer or tinker or tailor or soldier or spy. Or mom.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The Weekend Writer: Publishing Paths

I was inspired to start The Weekend Writer feature for this blog many years ago after a high school friend contacted me for advice regarding what she should do about publishing a story she had written. She had done a little research on-line and contacted someone about publishing her work. A man called her with some kind of plan that would require her to put up some cash. He would give her a deal, but she had to make the decision right away. She wanted to know what I thought, because in order to do this, she was going to have to borrow money.

I was horrified.

I think many people come to writing with very little knowledge of what publishing is about. In days of old, the rule of thumb was that a writer never pays to publish. A writer is paid to publish. That is not the case anymore, which makes the whole publishing situation more complex even for writers with a little experience. Writers without any are definitely at risk of being taken advantage of.

Thus I am sharing a chart called The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2021-2022 by Jane Friedman. If you're just getting started writing, you don't need to read this because you should be working on writing. Don't put the cart before the horse (or use cliches). But if you think you are getting close to the point of trying to publish, study this thing as if there's going to be a test. 

Metaphorically speaking, there is.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

A Stunning Writing Experience

The last couple of weeks I've been going through some torturous planning for a project I'm seven chapters into. I've 

  • Collected all the house descriptions I've used so far and put them in one place so I know what this place looks like. Plus I've drawn plans of both floors.
  • I've made a formal timeline of births and events that occur before the action of the book begins. As a result, I realized that someone had to be older than I'd originally planned, which required some changes to the text.
  • I'm working on a voice exercise for an extremely important secondary character and while I'm at it I'm having him explain--for me--the tragic construction disaster that triggered some other events.

It's been slow going, folks.

However, just now I whipped off an e-mail to someone I went to high school with that went on and on. I mean I could not stop writing. Told her what I wanted to tell her, elaborated on it, then told her some other unrelated stuff.

I'm feeling kind of stunned.

Every day should be like this. I should be stunned by the writing I'm doing. Absolutely stunned.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Time Management Tuesday: Working Like An Engineering Student

Yesterday I was doing some research on engineering students, because my most recent work-in-progress involves...yes, a main character who is an engineering student. I stumbled upon a site at which engineering students were writing about their recreational interests. Engineering is a demanding major and some of these people wrote about working intently during the week so they could have time off on the weekends. This didn't surprise me, because I married into an engineering family, and this is how those engineers talked about school. My father-in-law, for instance, described getting his undergraduate homework done during the day, and then walking up and down the hall in his dorm looking for someone to go to the movies with him in the evening. Evidently engineering students don't let work hang.

What did surprise me, though, was when I saw a couple of students at this site actually use the expression "time management." One of them quoted a professor who advised his students to treat studying engineering as an 8 to 5, Monday through Friday job.

Treating Writing As A ___ to ____ Job


Okay, not many writers have 8 to 5 Monday through Friday available for writing. But those of us who are able to keep any kind of regular writing hours at all, be they something like Ursula LeGuin's or an hour an evening four nights a week, which is something I did years go, can treat that time as a 8 to 1 job or a 4-hours a week job. A second job. A part-time job. A legitimate job. We can protect those hours for work, just as we have to protect hours at a traditional job for work. 
For those writers who have yet to be published or those who are in a long-dry spell without any publications, it's hard to think of what we do as a job, because there's no payoff either in material for a resume or financial pay. It's a mind game we play with ourselves, like the Sledding Method of Time Management
But if we play it well, we improve our chances of achieving a professional life. Like those engineering students are doing.


Friday, March 05, 2021

Replica--You Choose The Book's Structure

Replica by Lauren Oliver is one of those books I found on my Kindle--I bought it on sale, didn't read it right away, and didn't recall much about it when I finally began it. And I didn't understand the novelty of its structure. At the end of each chapter, I found instructions to follow a link to get to a chapter about another character. But only if I wanted to. I could choose to keep reading about the main character I started with, and then, presumably, read about the other character all at once. 

To more clearly explain this, here's the description from Oliver's website: "Replica is a “flip book” that contains two narratives in one. Turn the book one way and read Lyra’s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma’s story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters."

Point-of-View Switches

Though I'm always complaining about books with point-of-view switches, I chose to keep going back and forth between Lyra and Gemma's stories. Oddly enough, I thought that worked very well, especially when you consider that after reading a chapter from one character's point-of-view, I'd often read another chapter covering the same material, but from the other character's point-of-view. My complaint about point-of-view switches is that I feel they slow narrative drive. I didn't feel that was the case here, even though you'd think that covering the same material twice would do just that.

That Teen Girl-Boy Thing

Both Lyra and Gemma have romantic involvements. In fact, for one of them there is the possibility of a torn-between-two-lovers situation. Romance, romance everywhere is something, like point-of-view switches, that usually annoys me no end. Romance in books that are not actually romances usually strikes me as a gimmick, an awkward add-on, a distraction. Especially in thrillers or adventures where characters are in danger, the logic of dropping everything for a love scene is just lost on me.
In the case of Replica, though, the romance is less like romance and more like an attraction, a drive that the characters have no control over. That was particularly so in Lyra's case. A stage-of-life attraction to the opposite sex may be what's happening during adolescence. It makes more sense to me than sixteen-year-old romances.

 Are We Talking A Serial?

Replica leaves readers with the impression that there is more to come. And there is what's called a "companion novel," Ringer, that appears to involve the same characters after the events in Replica. But Replica has a satisfying ending. One phase of the story, at least, is ending. There isn't the feeling that this is a serial, that readers are left dangling and will have to buy another book to feel any kind of satisfaction.
I hate when that happens.
So Replica is both a good read and an interesting example of how a number of writing issues that I really dislike can be made to work.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

More Virtual Book Events

I'm registered to attend three virtual book events this month--a morning workshop, an adult author talk, and a childlit author talk--and I may add another. So this is a good time to post about some upcoming virtual events that may be of interest to readers. Remember...you can attend from anywhere, you just need to check out time differences between the event locations and yours.

For virtual book events in central Massachusetts check out the BosKidLit calendar. Author Amitha Jagannath Knight has been maintaining a childlit events calendar for central Massachusetts for many years (It was the inspiration for the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar, which is on hiatus), and she has gone virtual. Massachusetts is always very active with children's literature events.