Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Don't Ever Throw Away Your Writing

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--Don't ever throw away your writing, whether it's a full draft or something you just started or something you completed and nobody wanted. You never know when you'll be able to do something new with it. Throw away all your other stuff, but not your writing.

Remember last Friday when I announced I'd had two rejections the same day? Well, it's five days later, and Ellemeno, a new, for me, publication on the Medium platform, has published Their Times and Ours. This is a memoirish piece, not humor. 

Ellemeno is interested in articles that are about writers, not about writing craft. I like that, because absolutely everyone, whether knowledgeable about the subject or not, writes about craft. Whereas what goes on in writers' lives has the potential to be...well, not another rant about whether or not writers should write what they know, at least.

This Writer's Life With Their Times and Ours

According to my excellent filing/submission system:
  • I submitted an earlier version of Their Times and Ours to someone in 2015, about a half a year after I visited The Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. (I love traveling in the Midwest.) At that point, it only dealt with James Thurber...and me. 
  • A year later, it was still about James Thurber and me when I submitted it somewhere again.
  • Between 2016 and 2019, I took a nature writing workshop and met the man I describe in the essay, which is how Charles Dickens came into the picture. (I feel it goes without saying that the man was not Charles Dickens.) I added the workshop guy and Dickens to broaden the essay. 
  • Between 2019 and 2023, the pandemic came to visit, and I added a sentence about that, both to bring the essay up to date and to deal with the issue of change, which has a big part in the essay.

Two Reasons To Hold On To Your Writing

Two things happened with Their Times and Ours over the years:
  • I kept finding and adding new material
  • I found new places to submit it

Of course, I must also add that being able to rework old projects and hunt for new markets for them involves...time. Yes, a totally different subject.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Friday Done List For August 26


Long Story Short:

Goal 2 Work On Adult Short Stories, Essays, Humor
: Two rejections in one day! By the time I went to bed last night, I had a plan for submitting one of these pieces, and this morning I have a plan for submitting the other one. Because that is the job.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Some Annotated Reading

Because I am concentrating on short-form writing, I need to be looking for places that publish the same. The reading involved is time consuming, and I sometimes feel I should just sit down and do nothing but read for a month or two. 

Instead, what I've been reading this week includes:

In the Bird Cage: Finding Out What Funny Is by Steve Martin, New Yorker, October 22, 2007. This is an excerpt from Martin's book Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Very readable. The lesson learned? Martin dated some interesting women when he was young.

The Kid Is Alright: In Defense of Picky Eating by Irina Dumitrescu, Serious Eats Serious Eats publishes personal essays about food. I write personal essays about eating. Also, we have two generations of picky eaters in our family. Serious, serious picky eaters. The lesson learned after poking around Serious Eats? A lot of their essayists are award winning food writers. I must make of that what I will. 

The House With Feet: The Dire Importance of Ruth Stone's Bequest by Bianca Stone in Vida: Women in the Literary Arts. This piece has nothing to do with my market research and everything to do with the fact that I'm developing an obsession with Ruth Stone, just as I have one with Shirley Jackson. It appears that I have not mentioned here that I received The Essential Ruth Stone for Christmas last year and read it this spring.

Pretty Bad Middle Grade Novel--I wouldn't finish this, but I'm skimming now because I bought the thing. I will have more to say about this after I finish. 

Medium--I try to do some reading on Medium each week, sometimes to check out publications I might submit to, sometimes to try to support other writers. I'm hesitant to post Medium links, because it appears that my readers can't read a few piece per month there anymore. But, just in case, this was a pretty good poem.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Weekend Writer: Hybrid Publishing

First, A Brief Primer On Book Publishing Options

Traditional publishers: They accept manuscripts for publication that meet their standards (whatever they may be), provide authors with an advance against royalties (an advance against the author's take of sales), and provide all the work necessary to publish books. And there's a lot. The author takes no financial risk but receives a small percentage of the cover price of each book, since the traditional publisher needs to make back its investment...and presumably more. Many traditionally published books don't sell enough to cover the authors' advances.

Self-publishing: Authors publish their books themselves, doing...and paying for...all the work necessary to do so. And there's a lot. Over the years, I've read that it's not unusual for self-published writers to pay around $10,000 to publish a book of a quality to compete with traditional books. And then they may sink a lot more money into marketing. The authors are taking all the financial risk but receive all the money their books make. It's not unusual for self-published authors to not make enough money on book sales to cover their investments.

Hybrid publishers: Hybrid publishers are supposed to be somewhere between traditional publishers and self-publishing. They provide some of the work necessary to publish books but authors pay for a portion of it. I'm seeing figures of around $8,000 to $9,000, and while that does include distribution, which self-published writers struggle with, it often doesn't include developmental editing and marketing. Both can cost a lot. Authors are sharing the financial risk with the hybrid publisher but receive a bigger percentage of each book sold than traditionally published authors do.

Looking Further Into Hybrid Publishing

Jane Friedman takes a deep plunge into hybrid publishing with IMHO: A Nuanced Look at Hybrid Publishers at The Hot Sheet.  Read it carefully. Among other things, she talks about the percentage of authors publishing with She Writes Press, a well-known and reputable hybrid, who earn back their investment. I found it sobering.

A few years ago, I attended a women's writers group. A few women had books coming out with a hybrid publisher. A couple of them said they were going that route, because they were older writers and didn't want to spend the years it can take to find a traditional publisher. Yeah, that was sobering, too. 

These days, we think of traditional publishing as being the gold standard. That's where the quality is. But I wonder if a couple from now we won't be thinking in terms of quality, but social class. People with the means to do so, will publish rapidly with self-publishing or hybrid publishing. Poor writes will congregate with the traditional publishers because they don't have to put any money up front with them.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Friday Done List for August 18

Okay, this done list is making me feel, well, calmer, I guess, about getting some work done. My done lists relate to the year's goals and objectives.

Goal 2. Work On Adult Essays, Short Stories, And Humor.
  • Did a pretty big revision of the humor piece that was rejected last week.
  • Submitted that humor piece elsewhere.
  • Picked out an essay that hasn't been worked on since 2017 to revise.
  • Did some reading at the site I want to submit the above essay to.
  • Created a list of new publications to check out from someone else's X/Twitter post.
  • Read one essay at the site I'm considering submitting an eating article to.
Goal 4. Submit Adult Books To Agents
  • Submitted Good Women to two agents.
  • One of those two agents rejected Good Women the next day.
Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding
  • Read an article that will become a Weekend Writer post.
  • Made an effort to read a lot of short-form work.
  • Killed a half an hour looking over the Medium conference offerings, found two I was interested in, and found an article on one of the subjects I was interested in that I could read in less time than I would have had to spend attending a conference talk.
  • Saw on Twitter that the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference is under way, which led to a new blog post

Killed a half an hour going over the offerings for a Medium Day conference, chose two, realized I could find the info one was offering on-line and decided to bag the other one

Time To Push Some Old Essay/Memoirs Onto The Reading Public

Yes, I'm in this picture
While on X/Twitter today, I noticed that it is now Bread Loaf Writers' Conference time. What a great excuse to remind the world about my old memoirish essay My Bread Loaf published long ago at The
. It's about my even longer ago experience at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference where I...worked in the kitchen for three summers! At the time I wrote it, I thought my Bread Loaf experience was so unique and unusual because, as a general rule, when you hear about someone going there, they go on about how meaningful and literary and artie their experience there was. There are often pictures of the beautiful mountain scenery. I thought my kitchen pictures and experience were fascinating because they were so different.

I am alone in that, by the way. This memoir doesn't get a lot of attention when I toss it out into the world again.

These days, the incongruity factor of my Bread Loaf experience doesn't interest me as much as it used to. Now that I'm interested in writing about eating, the kitchen is far more meaningful to me. I was the pastry assistant to Aggie, the chain-smoking baker, and it was with her I learned about oatmeal bread. That was way too exotic for my family.

By the way, I'm working on a bread baking essay.

I used my Bread Loaf experience in another memoirish essay, not about bread baking, called Blackened Pans, published at The Bigger Picture. My time in the Bread Loaf kitchen has had a bigger impact on my writing than anything else I saw or did there.

Friday, August 11, 2023

What Did You Do This Week, Gail? Beginning The Friday Done List Again

From January 9, 2015 through May 21, 2018 I maintained a nearly every Friday feature in which I went over what I had done over the preceding week that related to my goals and objectives for the year. It was an on-line done list. Someone, I won't mention any names but it was my computer guy, found those posts boring. But this past year, while I've been shifting my work interests from children's writing to adult writing, I have sometimes felt that I was spinning my wheels or was adrift or some other cliched metaphor. Bringing back the Friday Done List could help:

  1. Make me realize how much I am doing so that I'll be delighted with myself.
  2. Force me to hustle a bit so I'll have something to report, which I do recall doing back in the day. No, I do not recall why I quit doing this five years ago.

So let's begin again

First off, I'd just like to point out that I have completed two of my goals for this year, 1 and 3. Not this past week, of course, but I'm claiming credit, anyway.

This week I have worked on:

Goal 2. Work On Adult Essays, Short Stories, And Humor.
  • I have started revising a blog post into an essay that I think I can submit a couple of places. 
  • I found a new site that I could submit it to.
  • I've been reading New Yorker humor.
  • I've been reading a book on storytelling.
  • Had a new humor piece published at Frazzled
  • Had a new humor piece rejected by Points in Case
  • Hunted for, and believe I've found, a way to share articles published on Medium so they can be read in their entirety. Which was happening in the past. This just came up this week, and I had to deal with it. Lost some time to that.
Goal 4. Submit Adult Books To Agents
  • Did a little research on additional agents to submit Good Women to.
  • Found a couple more agents to research when I'm ready to submit 143 Canterbury Road.
  • Yikes! An agent I've been waiting to reopen for submissions apparently has. A to-do for my bullet journal.
Goal 5. Community Building/General Marketing/Branding
  • Joined the Off Campus Writers' Workshop
  • Followed a few new people on X.
  • Accepted that Twitter is called X. 
  • Interacted with a few other writers on Medium
  • Am increasing work on Original Content 
Okay. It's not my best week ever. But it's not humiliating, either. I am encouraged to try to work harder or do more, in case that's not the same thing

Thursday, August 10, 2023

A Bizarre Experience Related To Eating And Tim Ferris

I ate this.
For years I've been interested in doing some short-form writing about eating. I'm not talking about food writing, because you need to know something to do that and it tends to be about kinds of food my people don't eat. I've been interested in writing about eating, the kind of eating my people do versus the kind of eating Food Network people and New York Times reading people do.

Eating had a significant role in my very first book, My Life Among the Aliens, and its follow-up, Club Earth. Eating and its connection to social class makes an appearance in The Hero of Ticonderoga. I've done a couple of real eating articles for a publication at Medium, Enough and Mac and Me, both in Kitchen Tales. And then there are some eating adjacent pieces, such as Blackened Pans at The Bigger Picture, which touches upon my time working in a professional, though not restaurant, kitchen.

So the whole eating writing business is a thing for me.

Enough Of The Eating. What About This Tim Ferris Person?

I've been thinking about writing about bread baking for a long time. Last week, while looking for one of my old blog posts to use in a new blog post, I came upon one about bread that I thought I could rework for a submission to one of the Medium publications. That led me to go looking around on my hard drive for bread material that I'd started. And that led me to a link I had kept to How to Become a Great (Food) Writer: The Big Secret even though, as I've already said, I'm not interested in being a food writer, great or otherwise, just an eating writer. 

I will admit I have not yet read every word in this article, because it's interesting and has links I want to follow. It looks good. I need some time. I also got distracted.

I got distracted because of the splendor of the website it was on, which belongs to the Tim Ferris you've been waiting for me to get to. It is difficult for me to be able to say who or what Tim Ferris is, because he's done and does a lot. He appears to be a productivity writer/speaker/podcaster/blogger/what have you, with his productivity interests spread over many things, like cooking, and his productivity ideas, perhaps, evolving. I was overwhelmed by his post on creating a viral book trailer. I was intimidated by his description of marketing for his book The 4 Hour Chef, which appears to be about more than cooking.

So What? There Is A So What, Right?

I have not done much about time management here for quite a while. I use "time management" as an umbrella term for all kinds of things that can impact time. That may be what I'll find at Tim Ferris's site. If so, I may be fired up about time management again.

In the meantime, I have to do some managing and find time to finishing reading his post on how to be a great (food) writer. 

Wednesday, August 09, 2023

Connecticut Literary News

I have barely been keeping up on what's going on in-state since the beginning of the year. That's an exaggeration. No, it's an outright lie. I haven't been keeping up at all. 

Here are a couple of items that turned up on my radar this morning.

The Big News... that the Connecticut Center for the Book, the state affiliate of the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is "on hiatus" and there will be no Connecticut Book Awards this year. I think the Connecticut Book Awards disappeared for a few years a while back and then returned, so maybe this is not as bad as I think it is. However, I can't help thinking this has the same feel as The Connecticut Children's Book Fair. That disappeared for a year or two in the teens, came back in an unenthusiastic manner for a while, and hasn't been held since 2018. That's pre-pandemic, people. I'm not accepting the Big P as a cause of that.

The Intriguing News... that the Connecticut Center for the Book, which I guess isn't all that on hiatus, has named two books as Library of Congress Reads From Great Places Selections. What is that? you may well ask. Well, the Library of Congress has a Roadmap to Reading Project at this Saturday's National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The books were chosen as being representative of Connecticut's literary heritage and they both won Connecticut Book Awards last year. You will recall, because I just told you, that there will be no Connecticut Book Awards this year.  Hmmm.

The Connecticut books selected for Read From Great Places are:

Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham with illustrations by C.G. Esperanza. A picture book! I was aware of this book, because it's a children's book and that has been my beat in Connecticut. And elsewhere.

Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi Science fiction set in Connecticut!!! This book I wasn't aware of, because last year, when I was covering the Connecticut Book Awards, I was only interested in the children's categories. This year, remember, I'm focusing on adult work, my own and everyone else's. The big draw for me with this book is that it is, as I've already said, science fiction set in Connecticut. Now, perhaps there is a subgenre of Connecticut-based science fiction that I don't know about, because I'm not that knowledgeable about scifi. But now I know there is this one.

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

More Parenting Humor From Gail

Photo by Helena Jakovicova Kovacova on Pexels
I had a new humor piece accepted for publication last week and published today at Frazzled. Job Specifications for Position As Our Child was inspired by two generations of children in our family.

We've found this morning that some family members who I've sent the link to were only able to read a portion of it before getting a message that only Medium (the platform on which Frazzled exists) members can read the rest of it. Usually readers get a few free reads on Medium each month, so I don't know what that's about. 

Since Medium allows me to share articles on Facebook and Twitter, I assume you can read the whole thing if you access it from my posts there. So if you're either a Facebook or Twitter person, you're welcome to look for me there, and welcome to friend or follow

UPDATE: Well, maybe you won't be able to read it by way of Facebook and Twitter. If that's the case, my apologies.

UPDATE2: By Twitter I do mean the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

UPDATE3: I have come up with a link that should make this story available. Living on Medium requires a lot of effort.

Friday, August 04, 2023

It Pays To Muse And Move

Yesterday afternoon, I took part in Musings & Movement With Gayle Brandeis and Rebecca Evans , a  Zoom gathering described as a "monthly mind and body connection to help inspire and care for the writer." I dabble in yoga. I dabble in meditation. Gayle Brandeis and Rebecca Evans write for adults, which is my focus this year. 

You can see the attraction for me.

This session involved some talk, some short exercises, some short writing prompts, all in thirty minutes. It also was designed around sport and sport as a metaphor for writing. Rebecca talked about cross training in sport and how it develops other parts of our bodies. She used the metaphor of cross training with writing. What are the things we do that can develop our writing that are not writing?

This led me to think of the multitude of cooking posts I've done here, and I was sure I had one about having to fix something I'd cooked and how that was similar to having to fix something I'd written. Couldn't find it. 

Instead, I found Cooking Isn't That Different From Writing, a little long on making spinach soup and connecting it to rough drafts.

But I also found some taekwondo posts, including the nice short one I'm republishing below. Since Gayle and Rebecca were talking about sport and writing connections, this seems more apt. 

June 4, 2019 A Taekwondo/Writing Analogy   

Box o' TKD belts
You haven't seen me write about taekwondo in...ah...maybe six years, which was when I quit training. But I'm still going through my old writers' journals and found a post about breaking boards.

Everybody loves breaking boards, by the way.

Back in 2008 I wrote:

"The point of breaking is to perfect your kicks, to land them more accurately, and you can be doing that without breaking the board. You can be getting what you're supposed to be getting from the experience without seeing the board break."

A Place to Perfect Writing. Yeah.

I don't know where I got that. Presumably I thought of it myself, because I'm pretty obsessive about keeping track of citations. But looking at it now, I realize there's an obvious connection to writing.

One of the points of writing is to perfect the writing. You can be doing that without getting published. You can be getting what you're supposed to be getting from the experience without seeing your work published.


Still More Thoughts Inspired by Muse & Movement

I also have a showshoeing/book writing analogy.

And while looking through old blog posts, I found one that I think I can modify for a Medium submission.

That was thirty minutes well spent yesterday. I can do it again the first Thursday of September. 

Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Time Management Tuesday: Time Management Humor


As I've mentioned earlier, I am suffering time management angst. For a couple of reasons. 

  • I see so many people writing about productivity issues from a position of...ignorance may be too harsh a word, since it appears they read an article on the subject before they wrote and published their own...that I've lost confidence in my own ability to address this issue in a meaningful and unique way. After all, I don't have any more qualifications to do this.
  • I'm not doing that great a job applying all I've learned about time management to my own life. Hmm. That just gave me an idea for a TMT blog post. Or a time management article to try to publish somewhere.

What Does The New Yorker Have To Do With This?

This summer I invested something like six dollars and ninety-nine cents in a three-month digital subscription to The New Yorker, so I could read some of the short humor they publish there. It is a potential market for a humor writer. 

This became another time management issue for me, because I found myself distracted by general, nonhumor articles. I had somehow signed up for a daily New Yorker newsletter with article suggestions. How did I deal with this issue? I cancelled the daily general subscription and signed up for the daily humor subscription! Problem kind of solved. 

I found a terrific humor piece there, published a couple of years ago, called I Thought I Would Have Accomplished A Lot More Today And Also By The Time I Was Thirty-five by Alex Baia. Definitely what I'd call time management humor. Also, Alex Baia is a name I'm familiar with, because he's one of the editors of Slackjaw.

So there you go, folks, a time management/New Yorker connection.