I recently ran a flash fiction writing workshop for Lichfield & District Writers. As part of this, I prepared a handout on flash fiction markets and resources. This seemed to be well received, so I thought I'd adapt it and share it on this blog as well.
I should start by saying that the term flash fiction is generally used to describe short stories of under 1000 words (and sometimes much shorter). It's a form that is particularly suited to publication on the Internet, and there are ever-growing numbers of online flash fiction markets and contests.
Let's start with some online outlets for flash fiction then...
SLQ publishes flash fiction up to 1000 words. The name comes from the idea that you can read a piece of flash fiction in the time it takes to smoke a cigarette. This is a non-paying market, but one that encourages beginners to submit.
This is a competition for a one-page story that starts or ends with a cup of coffee. It's free to enter, and all 100 winning entries get a $25 voucher to use in their local coffee shop! Closing date is 1st May 2010.
This was a UK-based flash fiction project, which is now closed. You can still read many of the excellent short stories they published on this website. I highly recommend doing so, in order to see the sort of standard you should be aspiring to.
I must admit that one or two of these you may know already if you're a regular reader - but I'm willing to bet you won't know them all, unless you're a close relative or MI5 agent!
1. I have three sisters, one of whom is an ordained minister.
2. For ten years I was an active member of an amateur theatre company. I took part in many shows, including one - The Human Puppet Theatre - which was taken to the Edinburgh Festival.
3. I once had a small part in a cult horror film called Demagogue. I appeared in three scenes, in the last of which I was stabbed to death by a deranged gardener using a dibber!
4. And still on my acting 'career', I also took part in a fire safety film for British Gas employees. I played the good guy (type casting?) who left his desk as soon as the fire alarm sounded. My colleague Ted played the bad guy, who stayed at his desk to finish his work, and met an untimely end.
5. My last 'proper' job before I became a full-time freelance writer was as Information Officer for a small national charity based in Birmingham (UK).
6. My first published full-length book was How To Find Your Ideal Partner, a guide for singletons still seeking the love of their life.
7. I'm a keen amateur cook, and prepare most of the meals in our house. I often seek out new and interesting recipes on the Internet.
8. My favourite holiday destination is Greece.
9. I wrote (arguably) the first guide to the Internet specifically for writers, called - amazingly enough - The Internet for Writers. I also created (arguably) the first interactive writing tutorial for writers, Creative Writing 1.0, which was published on a 3.5 inch diskette by Way Ahead Electronic Publishing.
10. Among my more unusual writing assignments, I have been commissioned to write the scripts for the Cyberbabe and Cyberboyfriend CD-ROMs, descriptions of antique beds for the online auction site eBay, the scenario and rules for a board game called The Legend of Doom Island, and the (humorous) introductions to a series of novelty cookery books.
So that's my ten items - hopefully I may have surprised you with one or two of these!
I'm not tagging anyone specifically for this meme, but if you're a blogger yourself, you are very welcome to try it also. Once your post is up, please let me know the URL and I'll be delighted to add a link to it here.
I recently saw a call for submissions from LA Slugocki for Tales from the Velvet Chamber, a new anthology of "revisioned" fairy-tales and myths from a feminist perspective.
Ms Slugocki, who is both project editor and writer, is inviting other writers, male as well as female, to contribute stories for the anthology. I asked her to explain a little more about this unusual project. She wrote as follows...
The inspiration for this book comes from many different places. I’ll start with The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. For those who haven’t read the book, Ms. Zimmer took a classic text, the story of King Arthur and the Holy Grail, and foregrounded the women, the witches and the queens. Suddenly, Morgaine, who heretofore, had been a very, very bad girl, became luscious and powerful, dark and sexy.
More; I wanted more. But I couldn’t find anything. So I wrote a monologue about Mary Magdalene. Why not? If a text as stable and universal as King Arthur could be revisioned, why couldn't I re-write the most infamous whore in the Bible? My Mary was wise, strong, a cohort of Jesus Christ, and his lover. This was the start of The Erotica Project, co-authored with Erin Cressida Wilson, which mapped the subterranean depths of female sexuality and produced on WBAI (New York), and Off Broadway at The Public Theatre, the full text published by Cleis Press.
Along the way, I discovered The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels from Princeton University. Amazingly, the earliest version of Christianity agreed with my interpretation of Mary Magdalene. She is quoted as "one who knows the all" --- certainly not the penitent harlot in the Old Testament. Following this thread, as an MA student at New York University, I continued to investigate and interrogate feminine archetypes; the good, the bad and the ugly. I couldn’t ignore the idea that this work had to continue. Classical literature, myth and fairy-tale, needs to be re-written, so that there are many versions of the old stories, not just one monolithic version.
I welcome submissions from both established and emerging writers, young and old, male and female. Jezebel.com wrote a great article when I launched my blog, which serves as both the platform for book publishers, and a resource for potential writers. I’m thrilled that Marie Mutsuki Mockett, author of the acclaimed Picking Bones from Ash, is the latest contributor to the anthology.
Many thanks to LA Slugocki for providing this information on the project. For further details, including how to submit work, please visit her website. You will also find her own story, serialized, I am Snow White, as an example of the sort of thing she is looking for.
The deadline for submissions is late July/August 2010, and Ms Slugocki says she hopes to receive "many, many dark, funny, sexy stories" from writers wishing to contribute to the anthology.
* As I realize many readers of this blog will want to know, I asked Ms Slugocki whether contributors to the anthology will receive a fee. She replied, "Generally it's an honorarium for submissions that are accepted. For an independent press like Cleis it's $50.00, although it could be higher. Also, it's a non-exclusive contract, so writers are free to submit their story elsewhere."
Here's my question for today. If you have a writing homepage - and if you're a writer you almost certainly should have one - should you use Google AdSense to try to make money from it?
For those who don't know, Google Adsense is a program that allows anyone with a website (subject to Google's approval) to run small ads on it and get a share of the fees paid by advertisers when someone clicks on them.
Until recently, anyway, I would probably have answered no to the question in the title. For most writers, their homepage exists to help promote their services and/or sales of their books. If you put AdSense ads on it, they may distract or even deter potential clients. And if someone clicks on an ad, while it will earn you a small sum, that person will then no longer be viewing your page.
And, apart from that, some years ago I did try AdSense advertising on my homepage at www.nickdaws.co.uk, and was disappointed with the minuscule sums I was paid per click.
All things change, however. Inspired by this Problogger post, I recently decided to give AdSense another try on my homepage. A contributing factor was that at present I am not particularly trying to attract new writing clients - I'm rushed off my feet anyway - so I wasn't too worried about putting anybody off.
So I placed some AdSense ads across the top of my homepage. And this time I've been more impressed with the returns they are generating.
Google don't like publishers to reveal what they are being paid, but hopefully they won't mind me saying that I'm receiving between five and ten times more per click than I was a few years ago. It's still not a fortune, but it does mean that I'm getting a useful extra boost to my income every month, for no effort on my part.
As you probably know, Google AdSense displays ads related to the subject of the website in which they appear (writing, in my case). As I'm getting paid more now than I was, I'm assuming that there are more people nowadays wanting to advertise to writers, thus pushing prices up.
Anyway, all this means that my AdSense ads are staying for the moment, though if I'm running short of work I might remove them and smarten up my homepage a bit (and yes, I freely admit that it needs updating - the design stems from over ten years ago, and was originally created with something called CompuServe Homepage Maker - ah, those happy, innocent days before Web 2.0!).
If you have a writing homepage or blog and aren't currently using AdSense, my advice is that you might want to consider giving it a try. Just be careful that the ads don't detract from the main purpose of your site, if this is to promote your writing products or services. But if you're getting a reasonable amount of traffic, and aren't unduly worried about deterring potential clients, there is something to be said for using these familiar, unobtrusive 'ads by Google' to help monetize it.
* Are you using Google AdSense on your writing homepage, or firmly opposed to the idea? I'd be interested to hear your views. Please leave your comment below.
As the name indicates, Script Frenzy is aimed at scriptwriters. Participants commit to writing 100 pages of scripted material for any dramatic medium in the month of April.
As with NaNoWriMo, there is no fee to participate, and no prizes are awarded for the 'best' scripts. Every writer who achieves the goal of completing 100 pages gets a Script Frenzy Winner's Certificate and web icon proclaiming this fact. But really, the main aim is to challenge yourself to get a substantial script-writing project completed in 30 days, and have fun while doing so.
Incidentally, don't forget that my sponsors, WCCL, produce a CD called called Movie in a Month (see banner below), which could be an ideal resource if you want to complete a movie-writing project for Script Frenzy.
I am pleased to announce that the winner of themyWritersCircle Prize Flash Fiction Contest, announced in this blog post, was New Science by Two9a (real name Imran).
To remind you, entrants in this free contest had to write a short story in exactly 100 words with a beginning, middle and an end, and incorporating three specific words (portico, starfish and approbation).
Here is Imran's Winning Entry...
When approbation was finally given for the project, Ryan was immediately ready to put together the prototype. Just two weeks later, the team met in the portico of University College, to witness the results.
Ryan explained that, for testing purposes, the subject would be a starfish from the Bond Street aquarium. He wheeled the laser in, and fired; the starfish promptly vanished.
"I thought you were demonstrating levitation to six feet, Dr Ryan," said one of his assistants, as they gathered over a star-shaped hole in the pavement.
"The laser must be upside down; give me a minute," Ryan answered.
There were 25 entries in all, and the standard was generally very high. You can read all of the stories submitted in this forum topic. The two runners-up (and the winner) are in the topic itself, and all the others can be viewed in the attached Word document.
Thank you to everyone who supported this contest, including the moderator team who judged it, and commiserations to those who didn't win on this occasion.
Watch out for more prize contests on myWritersCircle, the web's friendliest writers forum, coming soon!
It's a few weeks now since my latest WCCL writers guide, The 10-Day E-Book, was launched.
I've been getting some great feedback from buyers of this course about e-book writing and selling - such as this blog comment, for example.
I've also been receiving lots of questions, however - so I thought to save everyone (including me) a little time and effort, I'd try to answer the most frequently asked questions below...
Will The 10-Day E-Book really show me how to write an e-book in just 10 days?
Certainly! In fact, if you follow my recommended schedule, you'll have finished your e-book sooner than this. The later days in the schedule concern setting up your e-book's sales page and marketing it.
On the other hand, nobody says you HAVE to stick to the ten-day schedule. It is really just a convenient device for breaking up the work involved in writing your e-book and bringing it to market.
If you want to take longer over the project - perhaps because you have a full-time day job as well - there is certainly no objection to this.
How Does The 10-Day E-Book differ from Write Any Book in Under 28 Days?
As the name suggests, Write Any Book in Under 28 Days is really intended for people who want to write a traditional, printed book. All the advice it contains is based on this assumption.
The 10-Day E-Book does borrow some techniques from Write Any Book in Under 28 Days, especially where writing and editing are concerned. As the old proverb goes, there's no point reinventing the wheel! However, the methods are adapted for e-books, which differ in some very important respects from printed books.
The advice in The 10-Day E-Book about setting up your sales page, choosing a publishing platform, marketing your e-book, recruiting affiliates to help sell it, and so on, is - of course - all completely new and original.
I have ordered The 10-Day E-Book but haven't received the download details. Help!
I've had a couple of queries along these lines. When you order an email should be automatically sent to you explaining how to access your purchase. Occasionally, however, these emails do appear to go astray.
Before anything else, therefore, you should check your Junk or Trash email folders, to ensure that the message (which will come from Myhelphub.com) has not been incorrectly diverted there by your email software.
Failing that, just go to my publisher's customer support website at www.myhelphub.com and raise a ticket there. One of their technicians will get back to you, normally within 24 hours, and arrange to resend the download details. Don't worry, you won't just be abandoned!
Incidentally, Myhelphub.com is also the place to go if you have any other technical problems, or questions you would like answered before or after buying. I'd like to help you myself, but for technical matters and ordering queries, you are really much better going direct to them!
Money is tight at the moment. Is there any way I can get a discount on The 10-Day E-Book?
I should clarify that as the author I have no control over the price which my publishers charge for The 10-Day E-Book.
However, I have been able to negotiate a $20 discount for people who buy via my website. Just click on any of the links to The 10-Day E-Book in this post for more details. I am also giving away three additional bonus reports to people buying via my website.
Do you run an affiliate program for The 10-Day E-Book?
I don't, but my publishers, The WCCL Network, certainly do!
If you have a blog or website, you can sign up as an affiliate with them and earn a generous commission on any sales made to people who have ordered via your links.
Note that, once you are a WCCL affiliate, you can promote any of their products. As well as writing courses like The 10-Day E-Book, these include self-development products, Internet privacy and security software, Windows utility programs, and so on.
I hope that answers these common questions at least, but feel free to post any other queries as comments below and I will do my very best to answer them!
As regular readers will know, The Festival on Lyris Five is my tongue-in-cheek science-fiction novella which has been getting great reviews from readers. You can read the start of the novella using the BookBuzzr widget below...
I'm delighted to share with you today a guest post by author Greg McQueen.
Greg is the co-ordinator (and originator) of 100 Stories for Haiti, a fundraising project I wrote about a few weeks ago in this post (and contributed to as a volunteer editor myself).
In his post today, Greg talks about the experience of soliciting short stories for the 100 Stories for Haiti book/ebook, and the insights this gave him into working on "the other side of the curtain".
Take it away, Greg...
* * *
Okay. Before I start today's post, let me warn you it might seem as though I am ranting. I'm not. In the spirit of sharing the whole experience of making 100 Stories for Haiti, I am about to tell you some of the negative things about the submissions process. Producing this book has been a wonderful experience. But like all wonderful experiences there's a flip side ...
Since starting the 100 Stories for Haiti project, I have had an unexpected peek behind that magical, and sometimes impenetrable, curtain between writers and publishers.
So what have I learned?
It's hard to quantify. The experience of producing a book, the responsibility of handling work by other writers, choosing who makes it to print and who doesn't ... I've enjoyed the challenge immensely. But the responsibility of making a book is tough.
It's certainly something I'll take with me when sending out my own work for submission. Often I hear writers say, "I sent my manuscript and they didn't get back to me for months!" Or, "They sent me this standard letter, nothing about my manuscript, just a bland brush-off." Or, as is usually the case, "I sent my story and never heard back from them."
If I had sent a personal email to the 320 authors who didn't make it into the anthology, I'd still be writing to them today. Instead, I chose to post a list of the authors who made it into the book on the project's website. Yet, I still get emails from writers asking whether they've made it into the book.
I am grateful that so many people sent their stories in such a short space of time. But I admit that I feel disappointed when I get emails asking, "When will I hear from you?" Frankly, I think it's impolite. Honestly, I expected writers to be more engaged with the project. Meaning that I expected them to check the website to see what was happening. Most do. But many don't, and I find that a bit ... I am not sure what word to use, but the first one that comes to mind is, careless.
If you send a story to a competition, magazine, or anthology, do so with care. Send it because you want to and because you have a keen interest in that particular project. Bookmark that website. Check it regularly. Heck, check it before sending an email asking whether they accepted your story. Chances are the information you want is there. Sending that email without checking wastes people's time and shows that you probably sent your story for the wrong reasons - more interested in simply being published than becoming part of what the publication stands for.
Another area where I found people a bit careless was with email attachments. Following that first announcement about the 100 Stories for Haiti project, I admit that the submissions guidelines were a little vague. But I believe they were clear enough for people to understand that they should send NO ATTACHMENTS. The amount of writers who ignored this simple instruction was quite astounding. The amount that ignored it after I'd posted the clear and precise submission guidelines on the website a few days later, utterly shocking.
Failing to obey submissions guidelines shows carelessness on the part of the writer. It also creates a lot of work for the people reading those submissions. For 100 Stories for Haiti we read every submission. In fact, I had to cut & paste each story into an online forum for the readers and editors. Having to deal with attachments I didn't ask for really slowed that process down.
Another thing that slowed us down was re-submissions. A couple of people sent their stories several times. I don't know why. I guess to make sure I got them. Other people sent different versions of the same story, "Oh, I am sending this again because I fiddled with the ending," or, "I found a typo, sorry, here it is again." I guess I can't accuse the several-times-writer of carelessness. Submissions with typos? Perhaps. I have sent stuff out that I later realised had typos. It happens. The thing to do is let it go. Writing an email to draw attention to the fact that you submitted a story with typos ... Let's just call it careless, shall we, and leave it at that.
As I said at the start of this post, I am not ranting. I am sharing a little bit of experience from the other side of the curtain. Submissions guidelines aren't posted because people are fussy. They're posted because they need writers to follow them. They want to read and consider a story thoroughly, under optimal conditions, and with a great deal of care. Of course, it becomes much harder to do that if the writer carelessly ignores them.
I want to thank Nick for allowing me to post on his site. And on a personal note, I also want to thank him for his valuable contribution to the editorial work on 100 Stories for Haiti - the book would not exist without the dozens of volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to help make the book happen!