Sunday, July 27, 2008

Useful Writers' Web Sites

I took a workshop on Flash Fiction yesterday with C.M. Mayo at the Writers Center in Bethesda. Two of the web sites she recommended were:

Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. Offers a directory of its members, which include quality lit journals, both in print and as a list of links: You can check the list for possible markets and verify legitimate/literary pubs.

Another page on the CLMP web site simply says "Links"--there you'll find four categories of links:
Get Indie Lit (123)
Publishers (192)
Resources for Publishers (225)
Resources for Writers (57)

• Mayo also recommended her own web site, of course: C.M. Mayo.

A useful resource on her web site is the "Workshop" page, which links to her Giant Golden Buddha page--365 days of 5-minute writing exercises. We did a few of these in class and they were fun and stimulated lots of ideas.

Workshop also includes Resources for Writers, which discusses the writing biz, writing workshops and editing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How Do Women Write?

As I said yesterday, I don't mean to make motherhood and writing, or mothers who write, the entire focus of this blog. There are already so many mother blogs out there, I don't feel I need to add my voice to them.

And though I love being a mother, it's not the entire focus of my life. In fact, when I write, and hit a groove when writing comes fast and easy,  I forget that I'm a mom or a wife. I forget social role and house and even body. Those grooves don't come so often now, with interruptions from children and necessary errands/chores to run off to, etc., but I know I crave those interactions too much to never want them. 

Anyway, wondering how women who write have dealt with being moms—or not—I tried to find a book or web page that has already delved into this topic. So far (admittedly mostly by using Google and looking at books in Amazon), I've found nothing specific to the topic. Biographies of female writers often answer this question, woman by woman, but I wanted to find something that looked at women writers historically, as a group.

So, I've started a web page on women writers and motherhood called How Do Women Write?

It's very sketchy at this point and I haven't put lots of energy into it yet because I'm still thinking I'm going to find a book or dissertation that has already examined this topic. 

If anyone knows of a book or web page that already answers this question, let me know. Otherwise, if you can think of a female writer I should add (especially if you have a lot of info on hand so I don't have to write  too much of it up!), let me know at: thebethblevins -at- Please put "Women Writers" in the subject line. I'm also interested in collaborators if anyone else wants to help me work on the page.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mea Culpa

So, I've been hearing how one should publicize one's blog by going to other people's blogs and leaving comments. Sounds easy, I thought. I found a blog about moms who write (not that I want to make this the entire focus of my own blog), specifically a posting titled "Does Motherhood Impact Women and Our Writing Careers? And If So, What About Women Writers Who Aren’t Mothers?” and left a comment describing my own recent post that asked: Do motherhood (parenthood) and creativity mix?.

And I left the link to my posting.

I felt hip and with it, thinking I'm now integrating myself into the blogosphere, until I saw my teenage son shake his head as he looked over my shoulder.

"You're not supposed to do that."

"What do you mean?"

"You're not supposed to mention your own blog posting on someone else's blog posting. You're only supposed to leave a link to your blog at the top of the comment and let people find it if they want to find it."

Apparently, this is considered shameless self-promotion. I want to apologize to the blogging community and all of cyberspace for my small act of chutzpah. I really only did it to get my site meter to maybe hit triple digits someday...

BTW, where are the rules of blogging etiquette and how do I find them? 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

How not to get published

I can write, I can edit, I can layout text and format text and illustrations into a magazine or government report. These things come naturally to me—even when challenging, I find them enjoyable or at least satisfying on some level.

But I seem to lack a corresponding gene for knowing how to get my stuff published by an outside source. I find the whole submissions process frustrating and excruciating, so most of the time I don’t even bother to attempt it. I have many pieces of writing that have been submitted to only one publication and, after receiving a polite refusal, now sit idly in my file cabinet.

(I have been a newspaper reporter, but that kind of writing wasn’t easy for me. I felt that I was emulating the style of a newspaper reporter—it never seemed like my own voice.)

Otherwise, the only way much of my writing has seen the light of day has been through vanity efforts like this blog and my earlier, paper efforts including “a very small magazine” and “another small magazine.”

Vanity efforts are easy, seductive, but they just don’t feel as legitimate to me as an outside editor/publisher reading over my stuff and accepting it. That filter/conduit is important and missing from too many things on the Web. I shudder to think of a world where everyone thinks he/she is a writer and there are no editors left—no print magazines, no newspapers. [I say this knowing I am part of what is killing print publications. Not just because I am posting to a blog, but because, just now, I looked up “conduit” on rather than getting up and looking it up in the dictionary.]

I still think print is important—and I would like my writing legitimized by being in print. What writer doesn’t? Therefore, I intend to use this blog partly to help me figure out how to go about the submission process in a more painless and fruitful manner. This is what I’m planning:

• I plan to ask writers how they have gotten their stuff in print and/or how they have made a career out of writing, in a feature tentatively called Making Writing Work.

• I’ll ask publishers and editors what they are looking for in submissions and what kinds of submissions stand out in a feature tentatively called What Editors Want.

I’m also attending a workshop next month on getting published for writers of fiction and poetry. I’ll share what I learn.

Granted, I am mostly doing this for my own benefit, but I’m hoping it will inspire other writers to get their work moving--and to let me know how they deal with the submissions process.