Archive for the ‘Organizing Your Writing Life’ Category

Manuscript Submission Tracking Template

February 12, 2009 1 comment

If you are like me, you will send out one inquiry or submission and think you will remember when you did it.  After all, it is only a handful.  How could you forget the details of something you are so passionate about?

It is easy.  Forgetting is easy.  So, to avoid having to perform agonizing mental gymnastics, I put together a template to track submissions or any other related task for that matter. 

It includes not only the date sent, but the response date.   Contact information comes in handy too.

I posted this as one of the pages on the right side of this blog, because I didn’t see a function that would permit me to link directly to the document…so, in order to view the manuscript submission template, look to the right of the screen under the category:  Template. 

Check it out. Hopefully, this will work for you.

Manuscript Submission Tracking Template

Writing Center

September 16, 2008 1 comment

fortune-cookieAbout 20 years ago, I was searching for a writing group.  I attended one after another, endured endless hours of self aggrandizing, poorly conceived material, and sometimes even worse readings.  Then, for awhile I hooked up with wonderful person, who was travelling down the same path.  We met monthly for about two years.  During that time, we should have, could have produced at least one marketable piece.  Neither one of us met with success. 

I have been keeping a journal.  In my journal amongst all my wishes for my family, I also dreamed  about starting a writing center.  My writing center will have a large fireplace, large leather chairs, the smell of coffee.  In the foyer will be mail cubbies.  The dining room will have a large round table with comfortable high back chairs.  There will be plenty of natural light.  People talking in small clusters.  A workshop is being held in one room upstairs.  Another room has a poetry reading.  In another I hear a writer sharing her life story with others.  There is a small reading room.  And there is a computer room for writing, although the house has wifi. 

The furniture is solid and attractive.  They all have been donated.  The center is open 7 days a week.  A friend has helped me with the interior decoration, which reminds me of Bloomingdale eclectic. I don’t know how I would ever get enough money to start a project this large.

Then, last week I learn that the Frederick Community College will open a new writing center in Fall 2009.  The location is in an old Victorian house.  I’m sure it will not be quite what I envisioned, but I was excited to hear that my vision was materializing.  But wait.  Is that my vision?  How could it  be if it is managed by an institution?

Am I supposed to get involved in the new writing center so that I know what to do to create my own?  Or is this my dream being realized?   Is this synchronicity?

6 Ways to Protect Your Writing and Other Personal Information

July 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Happy 4rth of July.

Yes, sadly I have been MIA from this blog for a few days.  Life gets busy when you least expect it.  However, we must look at these infusions of activity as blessings.  It provides us fuel for our writing, right?

Anyway, today I decided to just give you a few computer tips to minimize your computer disasters…you know when your whole life is locked up on a hard drive and then, the unspeakable happens…it crashes and data recovery is impossible.

Tip #1: Always back up your writing.  I know it is a pain, but you saw what happened to Carrie in Sex in the City when her apple crashed on her?  You don’t have to go through that angst if you back up regularly.  There are several ways to do this.  The easiest is to save it to a flash drive.  The second is a back up to a second installed drive and a CD.  You also have new cyber options, which are free.  One such cyber storage closet is  There are more out there, so google it and find out which one works best for you.

Tip #2:  Keep a flash drive handy anyway.  You may find yourself in the library, hotel or an Internet cafe.  You can save your information on the flash drive rather on the public desktop.

Tip #3: When you log on to a web browser, check the prompts and read the material around the login area.  Many times public computers are set to the default to remember passwords.  Make sure the boxes aren’t checked before you log into your email or other password-protected sites. 

Tip #4:  It is best not to do any online banking transactions or buying from a public computer.  You have no idea the computer’s level of security.  It just isn’t worth the risk.

Tip #5:  If you are on a public computer, or even if it is your personal computer, clearing the cache, browsing history, passwords and temp files before you log off is a good habit.

Tip #6:  Check to see that your computer network is secure.  Having a secure network means that you are less likely to intrusions into your system to take your information.  There is a small computer icon located at the bottom of the page to the right.  Click on the icon.  When you do, it will tell you whether your system is secured of not.  If it is not secured, you can go to the help section and find out how to secure the connection.

I hope that these few general computer tips helps keep you happy and typing away.

If you have any other suggestions, feel free to share. 

Stuff I Promised

June 3, 2008 Leave a comment

You should always keep your promises.  I heard it as a kid and when I went to sales training in my late 20’s, it was the mantra of customer service. 

So, I am keeping my promise.  Last week I promised to put together my time line to keep me from getting distracted and stay focused.  In the navigation bar to the right, I posted a page on Project Time Line

While there are many ways to construct a timeline, I just listed the tasks to be done in sequence and then set a reasonable due date.  This will hopefully keep me moving forward. 

Oh, another goal I accomplished was to hook up with a writing partner.  I did so on Saturday.  Nancy is a journalist for the local newspaper.  She has already self published a book on cooking.  Although I didn’t have a chance to read it, I did notice that her writing voice is light and humorous.  Well-done humor always adds to the book’s commercial success. Since our first meeting was to see if we both have enough interest to keep moving forward, no writing was discussed.  It was more a meeting to get re-acquainted. 

To my biggest surprise, she hails from State College, PA and we both earned degrees around the same time.  We decided to meet again the last Saturday in June.  I have been thinking we should have some structure, otherwise our meetings might disintegrate before they even get fully established. 

I also have been debating whether writing a blog contributes to my fiction delinquency.  I am still learning about what drives a website.  Reading about it is one thing.  Finding time to execute it is another.

As usual, it is late.  I want to read before I turn in.  In my last entry I reviewed some of my favorite books on writing.  If you have any books you particularly liked, please leave a comment and tell  me a little about the book and why you particularly liked it. 



How to Get Focused When You are Woefully Undisciplined

May 25, 2008 Leave a comment

When you think that almost everyone you know can write, you would think that it would be easy to find someone who shares similar writing goals.  For me, this hasn’t been easy.  I have found people with whom I’ve had exchanges over the years, but either the person has loses interest, gets discouraged, or our evaluative skills differ too widely, and we naturally drift apart. 

So, after awhile I decided to go it alone.  Months and months passed without a  body of work.  There have been lots of notes and first tries.  And from my posts you can tell that after months of dabbling, the end product were a lot of isolated paragraphs on various sizes of paper. 

Yes, I know, I could be more disciplined. So in light of my shortcomings, I am remedying it by setting some personal goals. 

My first goal was to find another writer who wants to write a novel or has written a novel.  I want to meet with that person at least once a month.  Goal: to share information, to make editing suggestions and for me, most importantly, make me accountable to my time schedule.  I decided I would meet with only one writer.  Call me selfish, but I am tired of critiquing endless pages of dribble.  While I like poetry, I don’t feel qualified to comment on it much beyond the cursory connections of symbolism and great word choice.

My second goal is to write, and I emphasize WRITE, a reasonable time table.  I spend so much time catering to family goals in addition to a full time job that my writing goals never bubble to the top of the To-Do list.  This needs modification, if I’m ever going to get beyond the initial attempts.  (I plan to add my time table to my blog to add more incentive to reach these goals.)

My third goal is to write a couple fiction pages a day in addition to this blog.  However, much to my surprise, this blog consumes more time than I ever thought it would.  So some days, when I am engaged in my fiction, this blog will no doubt be affected somehow.  I will have to figure out how I am going to make this work.   

My fourth goal is not to whine and make excuses for not adhering to my schedule. 

Okay, there are probably a half a dozen more goals I would like to share, but I think if the list is too long, it will be overwhelming and I will have difficulty staying on track. 

Goal one is in the works.  Next Saturday I plan to meet a long time local journalist.  Nan has written a novel.  It is still a bit rough she informs me and has been lying in her desk drawer for months.  This union has possibilities.  I don’t know Nan very well.  I don’t know how interested she is in sustaining our relationship.  Unlike the other writing workshops I have been in, I want this one to work.  I want this one to yield results.  I want someone to hold me accountable when I start to make those excuses.

Tomorrow I plan to tackle my second goal, so watch for my page entitled: Cori’s Writing Time Table.  If you would like to share your time table, email me


Five Good Sources for Starting Your Writing Business

May 20, 2008 Leave a comment

When someone gives me websites to visit, I tend to cringe because either the list is way too long and well, it seems more like a chore on my to-do list.  One suggestion I can handle, if I remember.   But much more than that, I get distracted.  However, here are five great sources for getting ideas on how to turn your writing into a business.

For writers seriously thinking about turning their writing into a business, I suggest a couple of things.  You should first check out your local small business development office to see what programs, grants, and free education classes are available.  Often times the small business development counselor can help you craft a business plan or give you ideas for marketing as well.

There are two general websites that cover the topic start up businesses thoroughly.  It might be well worth a peek. and  Use these sites as a reference or as a jumping off point for further research. 

Sometimes SCORE might be able to shed light on how to develop your business.  It used to be SCORE counselors were primarily composed of retired small business men, volunteering to give sage counsel to new businesses.  Now current business owners are participating as counselors.  While this doesn’t change the program, it adds a different dimension to the advice.  Current business owners may be more in tune to the trends, the current local economic conditions, and may be able to connect you with other networking contacts.  The downside is because they are running a business, they may not have as much time available.  SCORE retirees can also provide a long view of the whole business cycle.  They may be more experienced in the various business models and can provide a longer historical context.   In any case, having a “mentor” works well and keeps one on track.

One other great source is other writers who have made it their business.  It is great to ask questions about how people achieved what they did.  What was their best advice?  What were the defining moments for their business choices?  And if you are worried that other writers are too busy…well, maybe…but there are many out there that will feel flattered that you thought of them as successful.

None of the sources I listed are not knowledge specific about the writing industry.  The information is broad and can be applied to starting any business. 

ADVICE:  Figure out some kind of filing system that you will be able to keep track of your brilliant ideas, because if you are like me, they seem to disappear quite easily. 

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to comment. 


What a Good Writing Class Can Do for You (Part 3)

May 13, 2008 Leave a comment

In the last two posts I covered the pros and cons of  writing classes vs writing groups.  The big question:  Is it worth it?


The answer is: Yes.  I’ve had enough positive experiences, including what I learned from the one college professor whose syllabus was basically an analysis of the chapter of his book, to know that writing classes ultimately are a good thing, as long as your expectations and the class goals are in accord. 


A good professor can introduce you to new styles, techniques, voices and ideas.  He or she can motivate you and push you to write what you never thought you could.  A class can offer opinions and viewpoints that you would have never considered.


The only way to improve is to write.  Writing classes can do that.  They can force you to sit down and do the writing, so that you will improve, so that your thoughts will begin to flow.  And there is nothing more motivating than the proverbial deadline.


The bottom line is that you have to assess what do you expect this writing class will do for you.  Will it force you to finish that short story that has been sitting in a bottom drawer?  Will it inspire some new angle for your plotline?  Or will you learn some inside tricks of the trade from other successful writers?


When I was younger, I used to be totally embarrassed by how raw and disjointed my sentences and thoughts were.  How do other writers get these well-crafted prose from the brain to the page?  I came to learn that most people cannot write like Isaac Asimov, dictating six different plots for books to his assistants simultaneously and then only providing light editing before submission.  Many people rewrite their book 15 times to get their piece crafted the way they want.  My point is that the first draft isn’t perfection. 


Keep in mind it is a first draft.  That’s all that it is.  Be realistic.  How many people can write near perfect copy in the beginning.  I suspect most of you are like me.  We struggle to get what we write flawless, but for those who don’t know when to stop…they will be the ones that are always burdened by that starving artist image