Carina Press is looking for your story

Carina Press has made two big calls for submissions recently. Carina is the digital first imprint from Harlequin. They publish books in a wide variety of fiction genres including contemporary romance, steampunk, erotic romance, gay/lesbian fiction, mystery, science-fiction, and fantasy, among others.

In the past, Carina has required a completed manuscript and a detailed synopsis for submission. Recently, Carina announced their first-ever call for proposals. If your book meets a few important criteria, you could be in luck, but hurry! The deadline is July 13th and there are a few conditions:

That’s it, so what are you waiting for? Submit your proposal today!

New Anthologies from Carina in 2017

Carina has also announced a call for submissions for 5 anthologies to be released in 2017 both as anthologies and as novellas. The requested word count is 25,000 to 40,000  and genres:

  • A Jewel Thief, Capers and Heists Anthology
  • Alien Love: A Romance Anthology
  • Sexy Shifters: A Male/Male Romance Anthology.
  • Sexy Shifter A Het Romance Anthology
  • Too Taboo: A Forbidden Erotic Romance Anthology

Submission dates vary by anthology but start August 1st with Too Taboo and end October 4th with the Capers and Heists anthology. Decisions are offered approximately 3 weeks after submission.

Details can be found on the Carina Press website.

Good luck and make sure you let us know Carina accepts your work!

What are you working on this summer?

A Few Freelance Writing Job Resources

Here are a few writing-related sites you can check into for freelance or contract gigs. Most of them offer a lot more than jobs, too.

Freelance Writing Gigs:  “Whether you’re a seasoned writer or a beginner, the information you need to be a successful writer is at your fingertips here at Freelance Writing Jobs!” (check out the Resources for Writers tab off the main page; business tips, job hunting tips, writing tips, and a lot more)

Make a Living Writing:  “I’m Carol Tice, an award-winning, fun-loving freelance writer living in the Seattle area. I’m obsessed with helping writers earn more from their work.” (a lot of free resources; podcasts; downloads; monthly membership-fee community; and a lot more)

If you’re looking for work in New Hampshire, I recommend the NHJobsList Yahoo Group:  “NH Jobs List is a mailing list focused solely on jobs in New Hampshire.” (If you sign up, you will be on the e-mail list for any NH job; several technical writing-related jobs come through each month. At the least, you may learn about a company in an industry you are interested in.)

Freelance Writing:  “Helping freelance writers to succeed since 1997.” (e-mail list with helpful articles, tutorials, jobs, and links to writing contests).

This is one of several free infographics for writers from the site – a mind map for how a writer finds freelance work:

Click to enlarge

The infographic includes several URLs to other sites for writing jobs.

Do you have a resource for finding writing jobs to share with us? Please include a link in the comments and tell us about it.

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Telling Stories Through Case Studies

If you enjoy helping people tell their stories, case studies might be a good fit for your writing business.

Companies seek professional writers (and pay well) for these effective marketing tools known as case studies.

Basically, case studies tell the story of how a customer decided on, purchased, and is using a particular product (or service) to improve their business.

Case studies can be as short as a few paragraphs (but the shortest I’ve done is 1,200 words), to four or more pages. 

Tasks involved in writing case studies include:

  1. Choosing a niche (medical, manufacturing, and so on), doing some research, and finding a company to work with. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding companies and contacts within those companies. Start with a keyword and then fine-tune the results until you have some companies you are interested in working with and reach out with a letter of introduction.
  2. Getting the details of the assignment. Once you land the job, know the length of the case study, ask for details on the product so you can become familiar with it, and ask for samples of past case studies so you can understand the tone the company strives for.
  3. Taking time to prepare. Whether the company gives you some questions to ask, or you have to create them yourself, be ready. You don’t want the customer to feel interrogated, you want to be professional, yet conversational and intelligent. This is usually a one-shot interview by phone, so it’s important to know what you need before the call begins. (Tip: Sometimes questions are submitted to the customer before the interview, but that doesn’t mean the customer will prepare ahead of time. And many times, great sound bites come from a simple “tell me more” during the conversation.)
  4. Conducting the interview. The most critical part of creating a case study is interviewing the key people involved in making the purchase decision as well as those who are actively using the product (or service). Even though time is precious during this interview, relax and build rapport. Let the interviewee(s) know you’re there to help them tell their story. Start off with confirming the spelling of their name(s), title(s), and roles(s) in the project. Move into the interview questions and end with an open-ended query, such as: “Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you feel is important to your story?” (Tip: Record the call so you can review answers later on — it’s a great time saver for all parties involved.)
  5. Writing. I find it best to write the case study immediately after the interview while the conversation and notes are fresh. Then revisiting the paper the next day for flow, first edits, and identifying holes; listening to the recording and filling in more information; and polishing until the case study is in the best shape possible.
  6. Submitting. The company will submit the case study to the customer for approval (but sometimes the writer is asked to work with the customer for fine tuning) and may come back to you for final edits, if any.

Case studies do include technical jargon, but it’s your job as the writer to make the story flow, no matter what the subject is.

What do you think? Do case studies sound interesting to you?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She’s wearing green today, not because she’s Irish or particularly celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but because she needs color while the ‘long white winter’ continues in New Hampshire. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Live Free or Ride! – Try Your Hand at the Next Installment of the New Hampshire Pulp Fiction

The New Yorker not returning your calls? Likewise The Paris Review? Don’t despair; New Hampshire Pulp Fiction might just be your ticket to fame if not fortune. Okay, when it comes to fame, make that at least a few, local minutes of it.

The brainchild of Rick Broussard, editor of New Hampshire Magazine and George Geers, owner of Plaidswede Publishing, three volumes of NH Pulp Fiction have already been published. Another is due out in February. Their goal is to produce enjoyable, highly readable collections of short stories while providing a publishing opportunity for both established and new writers. All stories take place, at least in part, in New Hampshire.

Having stories in two of the books, Live Free or Die, Die, Die and Live Free or Sci FiLFDDD_02I can testify that the project has been both a lot of fun and personally rewarding. While I had published numerous magazine articles, Murder on the Mountain was my first foray into fiction. It was a thrill to get the thumbs up from Rick and then see the book with my story in the library and bookstores. (The books make great Christmas presents!) The public readings have provided a nice opportunity to get out of my home office and meet other writers. Not to mention, the friends and family I brought along treated me to dinner afterwards to celebrate the achievement.

The next edition of New Hampshire Pulp Fiction was recently announced and Rick is eagerly awaiting submissions. After zombies, detectives, science fiction and romance, it was time to give western pulp fiction a turn. However, it’s hard to ride the range in a state with few, if any, cowboys and tall pines instead of tumbleweeds. Instead of importing Tex and Rowdy to the Granite State, Live Free or Ride only asks that writers include that quintessential vehicle of the Wild West, the Concord Coach, among their cast of characters

For lots more information and Submission Specs, visit the New Hampshire Pulp Fiction blog.

Good luck!

Susan Nye is a corporate dropout turned writer, blogger and teacher. She is a regular contributor to a variety of New England magazines and author of two the NH Pulp Fiction short stories. Feel free to visit her blog Susan Nye – Around the Table for seasonal stories and recipes.  

© Susan W. Nye, 2013

3 fantastic online writing classes with Odyssey


Odyssey, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the mission of helping writers improve their work, is offering three exciting, new online courses this winter. 

All Odyssey Online courses involve live online class meetings, so students can ask questions and participate in the class.  Each course is designed to provide intensive focus on a particular aspect of fiction writing and challenging homework assignments to help students improve their skills.  Feedback from the instructor and from classmates allows students to make strong improvements.  Each student also has an individual meeting with the instructor.  Courses provide a supportive yet challenging, energizing atmosphere, with class size limited to fourteen students.  While courses are designed for adult writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, interested writers of all genres are welcome to apply. 

Last winter, a total of 42 hard-working writers from the US, Canada, India, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, participated in Odyssey’s three online courses.  One student, a lawyer and published writer from Indiana, commented, “Although I have taken online classes and workshops before, I have not worked so hard on class assignments since I was in college.”  Odyssey instructors pack as much useful content into each course as possible, and with our live class sessions, instructors can reach across the miles to students, fostering energetic discussions and making strong connections. 

Odyssey’s winter 2014 courses focus on key issues for writers – dialogue, emotions, and the short story: 

Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction

Course Meets:  January 2 – 30, 2014
Instructor:  Jeanne Cavelos
Application Deadline:  December 7, 2013

Graduates of Jeanne Cavelos’s previous Odyssey Online courses have been clamoring for her to offer a new subject, and they’ve also been requesting a course on dialogue, so Odyssey is excited to offer Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction.  Dialogue is one of the major components of most works of fiction, yet few writers give it much thought beyond trying to make it sound realistic and trying to make each character have a distinct manner of speaking.  But a writer needs to do much more than that to create powerful dialogue.

Powerful dialogue can leave readers hanging on every word. It can delight and surprise readers. It can resonate long after the book is closed. It can drive the story forward, reveal character, show the nuances in relationships, develop internal or external conflict, provide a powerful contrast with action, convey subtext, alter pace, build atmosphere, carry cultural or educational differences, increase tension, and reveal setting and other information.  This course will help students to write layered, powerful dialogue that accomplishes multiple goals and resonates with readers long after they finish the story.

The Heart of the Matter:  Bringing Emotional Resonance to Your Storytelling

Course Meets:  January 6 – February 3, 2014
Instructor:  Barbara Ashford
Application Deadline:  December 10, 2013

Barbara Ashford’s online class last year was one of the most popular we’ve ever had; every student who filled out an evaluation rated it “excellent”! So we asked Barbara to teach again this year. Her new course deals with one of the issues writers struggle with most: evoking strong emotions in the reader.  This course will offer breakthrough insights to students.

Award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford believes in storytelling that takes readers on a journey that satisfies their hearts as well as their minds.  Readers love stories that force characters to confront their darkest fears, expose their shameful secrets, survive their most wrenching confrontations. But just having your character cry or laugh or scream will never get readers to share the emotions behind those actions.  It requires careful crafting–from conception to execution–to achieve that.  This course will take you from “setting the stage”–exploring and understanding the emotions inherent in a story idea–to “getting it on the page” by showing complex emotions through your writing.

The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story

Course Meets:  January 23 – February 20, 2014
Instructor:  Nancy Holder
Application Deadline:  December 27, 2013

At last summer’s Odyssey Writing Workshop, Nancy Holder spent a week with students as writer-in-residence. Students were so thrilled with that week–with the one-on-one work Nancy did with them, the critiques she provided, and the insights they received–that we asked Nancy to teach an online class. She’s adapting and radically expanding one of her Odyssey lectures to create The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story.

The short story is a very demanding form, and it provides no margin for error. Many writers don’t understand the bedrock principles that make for a successful short story.  They write without a clear sense of what they want to achieve, and without sufficiently developing the key ingredients that will help them achieve it.  This course will start by discussing Edgar Allan Poe’s criteria for a short story, which offer powerful, clarifying principles.  We’ll then explore the key concepts of idea, premise, and plot, and how to make sure you aren’t writing from an idea but have made the journey from idea to premise to plot.  We’ll study how the beginning of the story leads to the surprising but inevitable end.  We’ll discuss why weak endings are the most common problem among writers and how to make your ending strong. We’ll work on connecting internal and external conflicts; developing your conflicts through cause and effect; distinguishing between presenting and representing; identifying and remaining focused on your story; and revising your work.

More information about Odyssey’s online classes can be found here: or by emailing

PLEASE NOTE:  Those application deadlines are coming up soon!  If you would like to apply for more than one course, you must apply separately for each one.

Odyssey’s Online Classes provide the tools you need to improve your writing, along with feedback on your work that reveals whether you are successfully using those tools.  If you’re ready to hear about the weaknesses in your writing and ready to work to overcome them, you’d be welcome to apply to our online classes.

In addition, the Odyssey site,, offers many resources for writers, including free podcasts, writing and publishing tips, a writing blog, a critique service, and information about the six-week in-person workshop.

Spend the winter taking your writing to the next level!


I received this notice in my e-mail this week and find the courses compelling and interesting. I can’t fit any of them into my schedule, however! I’ve heard wonderful things about Odyssey courses (have never taken any myself), so wanted to share and hope someone can take advantage of one of the classes. If you do, I’d love to hear your experience with it!

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn. – A Review is website that aggregates freelance, and remote job opportunities from around The Internet. Jobs can be full or part-time, temporary or permanent and opportunities are available in a variety of fields. Unlike, Flexjobs does not manage there relationship between client and provider. Once you’ve Flexjobs is more like a job board that focuses on jobs that are flexible in duration or location. The cost is $14.95 for one month, $29.95 for three months or $49.95 for the year.

Before signing up, you can preview the kind of jobs they list in your area of focus to see if a) they are jobs you might be interested in and b) they have a robust selection in your field of choice. A quick search for Freelance Writer turned up this list.


If you are not a member, clicking on a specific job will show you everything but the company information. Once you become a member, you can learn how to apply for a job.

FJ Specific Job Description

The jobs listed in the search results are real time results. This isn’t just a stock list they keep for marketing purposes.

The sign-up and profile creation process is pretty straight forward and if you are already in a marketing mind-set the things you need should be at your ready (i.e. work experience, a résumé etc.). First you are prompted to choose up to five categories of work (i.e. accounting, healthcare, marketing, then you choose the kind of work you are looking for (e.g. part-time or full time, on-site or telecommuting). From there, you are promoted to input information about your skills and experience. You can upload your résumé or create one using their tools. Once you make your profile public, you are ready to start searching for jobs. I have my notification settings set so that I am notified via email and I also subscribe to certain categories via a Twitter feed.

I did some research before signing up and in general FlexJobs got positive reviews. The biggest gripe seemed to be that you were paying for listings that were available for free on other sites. FlexJobs does seem to have a few exclusive jobs, but many of the leads I’ve followed have come from other sources. I don’t have a problem with this. I readily admit to paying for convenience of one-stop shopping.

I’ve only been using FlexJobs for a few weeks. I’ve found the listings to be high quality as in work for which I’d actually WANT to apply. On average, I’ve found at least 3 a day that catch my interest, but I’ve had to filter more closely for location etc. I’ve applied for a few listings, but haven’t heard on any of the opportunities yet. Even landing one job would cover the cost of my three month membership.

I like that FlexJobs doesn’t micromanage the relationship between contractor and employer. There appears to be a broad scope of fields represented and the pay rates appear to be decent. It’s a good place to start especially if you are new to freelancing or are looking for a flexible job.

Have you tried What was your experience?

All opinions are my own and offered voluntarily, without compensation. This post may not reflect the thoughts or experiences of other NHWN members.

Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Her words have appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe.

How to brainstorm and write a story in 24 hours (or less)

I’m adding another ‘thank you‘ to Jamie’s to those of you who participated in the recent NHWN poll. Great feedback.

Onward! In April, I wrote about a 24-hour short story contest I find to be fun, stressful, inspiring, challenging, entertaining, and a great exercise for my muse. Do you see the ups and downs in that last sentence? I have a lot of emotions when writing for a contest, assignment, or a client. And I like that. If I didn’t have a mix of emotions, then I’d take that as a sign I’m too comfortable. Growth comes from pushing into the ‘uncomfy zone,’ not from the same ol’ same ol’.

With the next rendition of the contest coming this Saturday, and based on survey feedback, I thought I’d delve into some tips for writing a story or article with a deadline of a day or less.

These tips can also be applied to blog posts, interviews, and more.

  1. Know the assignment. If it’s a contest, be familiar with the rules. If it’s a client project, make sure you’re clear on the deliverable. If it’s an article, blog post, or interview, know the key points to be covered.

    Brainstorm on the screen or on paper

    Brainstorm on the screen or on paper

  2. Write out initial thoughts – brainstorm. Turn off your internal editor (easier said than done sometimes, I know) and start freewriting ideas. Make lists, mindmap, scribble, draw, whatever it takes to get initial ideas downloaded from your brain. Use a timer, or write until you run dry, whatever works best. For me, a timer keeps the internal editor from speaking too loudly.
  3. Step away. Turn the paper over, minimize the window, close the laptop, walk away from your desk, or close your eyes. I find it helpful to change gears completely and go for a walk, have a snack, listen to music, read e-mail, or anything that doesn’t relate to the project. The mind is still turning ideas over, and likes to do so when you aren’t paying close attention.
  4. Come back with fresh eyes. Read through your notes. Highlight the items from your brainstorming that catch your eye and cross off the ideas that are too typical. What else leaps to mind now? What strikes you as interesting, original, or fun? Shift perspectives — if you’re the reader, which of the items, which focus/approach, would be most interesting or refreshing?
  5. Pick one idea. Yes, just one. Which one floats to the top of the list? Start with that one. (You can always go back to the list later if you need to.)
  6. Free write.  Write on that one topic you’ve just chosen without worrying about what you don’t have. Assignments can need research, quotes, pictures, or other background material. Don’t worry about that now. Write your story/article/blog post with what you know at the moment. You’ll know where you need to insert details later. Leave a blank line, capital letters (XXX), or symbols (???), if you need to. Most important, is that you write without worrying about spelling or word count.
  7. Repeat step 3.
  8. Write your second draft. You know the topic now; your muse is partnering with you to get the story written. Fill in the blanks.
  9. Repeat step 3. A great time for a treat because you’re almost done.

    Deliciously cool key lime pie

    A treat — Deliciously cool key lime pie

  10. Read with an editor’s eye. Clean up the grammar and punctuation. Get within your word count. Give your story / article / assignment a nice polish.
  11. Sleep on it. Similar to step 3, but, it’s the final stretch. The words are on the page and fulfill the guidelines. You have time to relax and let the piece simmer.
  12. Make final revisions and submit before your deadline.

And my favorite step — 13. Celebrate the milestone. I do the “whoot whoot” and fist pump the air and/or do a happy dance. It’s a great feeling knowing a task / assignment / contest entry / what-have-you has been completed and submitted.

It’s like using the fine china or crystal today instead of waiting for “a special event”. Celebrate the moment, the accomplishment. The piece didn’t exist in any form 24 hours (or less) ago, and now it’s done, dusted, and submitted.

Now for the next project!

If you have specific questions, please ask.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is a self-employed writer and editor. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on Facebook, TwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

Some places to find writing jobs

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday if you celebrated it last week, and that you survived shopping if you were brave enough to go out this weekend!

There are so many writing job resources and so many niches, that a comprehensive list is rare. We build our resources based on what we need to have and know. This list is a good start, at least, if you’re in need of some places to start looking for writing opportunities.

  • Dan Case‘s Writing for Dollars – a weekly e-newsletter jammed with legit paying markets
  • Angela Hoy‘s Writers Weekly – resources for writers, including paying markets – and a quarterly 24-hour short story contest that is a lot of fun and offers numerous prizes.
  • – related to Writer’s Digest Magazine (which also has job opportunities), this online database has a lot of up-to-date markets. Subscription fee.

PayingWriterJobs– this Yahoo group has its worldwide subscribers posting the job opportunities, it’s a community effort. From the site:

This is a mailing list for PAYING writer and editor jobs. It can be Freelance, Staff, Contract, or Permanent, but must PAY. No work for free or chit-chat allowed. This is primarily a network for writers and editors who are looking for work and editors who are looking for professional writers. This is a moderated list, which means the owner approves of all postings.
  • On Twitter, you can find various job listing folks to follow such as @writersjobs, @writingjobs @writing_jobs, @dnzwritingjobs, @writethismoment, @dnzcontentwrite, @freelanceWJ, @UOPX (University of Pheonix), @AnneWayman
  • Also on Twitter for writers and others: @workfreelancer, freelancejobz4u, @theonlinejobs, @careerbuilder, @AlisonDoyle

Craigslist – Free listings for just about anything you can imagine. But for writers, you can search in your area, or anywhere in the world, under Gigs, Jobs, and Services. It isn’t the best place to find decent writing jobs, but it’s a great place to get new keyword search ideas. Postings that list rates and company names are more trustworthy than anonymous posts that require samples be submitted before payment is discussed.

When looking for writing work, search by area of interest, company you’d love to write for, your location, state/location, editor name, publication name, etc.

You can find writing jobs on LinkedIn, too, by doing keyword searches or even searching by a particular company to see the openings.

The above are some resources I use and think they can get you jump started if you’re looking for writing gigs.

Please add your go-to resources to help our writing community.

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. As Lisa Haselton, she writes fiction, co-blogs about mystery-related writing topics at Pen, Ink, and Crimes, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is a chat moderator at The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

How to Endow a Story with Compelling Form

Today’s post is from guest writer Dr. John Yeoman.

To succeed in a major writing contest – or even get published – you must give your story a strong sense of form. But why? After all, our everyday lives often have no obvious form or shape – and we want our stories to seem ‘true to life’, don’t we?

Yet, even if we’re writing a facumentary – a blend of fact and fiction – a story must show a powerful sense of direction and unity, simply to be readable. A wholly authentic story, told true to life, would be a ragbag of odd incidents going nowhere.

The hunger for form seems to be imbedded in our DNA. The first time we look up at the sky, as a naive child, we see stars as random dots. But we soon learn to connect the dots to make the Plough, Hercules, Cancer the Crab, and other patterns. And we give them names.

Perhaps the appeal of a good story is that it shows form at work in the world. We hunger for form to make the chaos of our lives meaningful. We want closure in a story, whether the end is happy or sad.

We know that life does not really have neat closures. As the old joke has it, a classical comedy ends with a wedding – but a tragedy immediately begins with one. Life goes on.

Total finality is not necessary in a great story.

Some fine tales end without any clear closure. John Fowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman ‘ends’ by asking the reader to decide how the tale should continue. But do note: Fowles asks this question at the end of the story. An ending, of some sort, is still implied.

What’s the easiest way to achieve a strong sense of closure in a story? Try the Book End.

In the first section, you use a vivid incident, theme or phrase. The story then wanders down various byways. But at the end, it returns to that same incident, theme or phrase.

The ‘book end’ can even be an object.

For example, imagine that a story starts with a man climbing a mountain in winter snow. He has a big problem with his girl friend. He makes much use of his ice ax. The reader notes that it’s cold, ugly and hard – like the man himself. He drops his ice ax in a crevasse by accident and leaves it there.

More than a year later, the story ends with the man climbing the same mountain. But this time it’s spring. The ice has thawed. A lot has happened in his life in the past 15 months. He’s a changed man, more mature, more humane. He has become reconciled with his girl.

He sees his ice ax under the melted snow. He retrieves it. It’s cold, hard, ugly – just like he once was but now isn’t. He smiles. He throws the ax back into the crevasse.

With that symbolic gesture, the story closes. The Book End formula has given it a satisfying unity. That formula is a tested way to gain a prize in a story writing contest. It’s also a great way to overcome writer’s block.

Write the first paragraph then, at once, the last paragraph of your story. The last section can be very similar to the first, but give it a significant twist. The paragraphs don’t even have to be good. All can be tidied up later. The mind then persuades itself that the story has already been ‘written’. All that’s needed now, it tells itself, is to complete that trifling gap in the middle.

The Book End maybe a formula, but many of the novels in The New York Times bestseller list are based on shameless formulae. Try it! It’s a lot easier to complete a story that appears to be already half finished and well structured, with two strongly defined Book Ends, than to stare at a blank sheet of paper.

Dr. John YeomanDr. John Yeoman, PhD Creative Writing, has 42 years experience as a commercial author, is a former newspaper editor, and one-time chairman of a major PR consultancy. He has published eight works of humor, some of them intended to be humorous.

John judges the Writers’ Village story competition and is a tutor in creative writing at a UK university. He has a free 14-part course in writing stories and novels for the commercial market.

A Tool for Setting & Meeting Goals

I long ago gave up making New Year’s resolutions, but ever since discovering Bylines: The Essential Weekly Planner for Writers, I’ve been setting clear, measurable, and achievable goals every day, week, month and year. Bylines is a Writer’s Desk Calendar with 53 stories for inspiration and encouragement, and some nifty pages to help a writer set clear goals – and meet them.

I discovered the calendar through the Creative Writers Opportunities List back in 2006. When my 200-word story about the writing life was accepted, I not only scored a publication, but I was paid  – five dollars and a complimentary copy of the calendar in which my work appeared. The five dollars was quickly spent, but the calendar has been invaluable.

            The calendar is a spiral bound book with a week-by-week layout. Each week includes a very short essay about the writing life. The 2012 edition includes 53 essays by writers of all ages and stages of development from 25 states plus Ireland and the UK. These pieces run the gamut from funny to poignant. When the challenges of loneliness or rejection or motivation strike, these essays can boost me back to my desk and help me remember that my voice is important.

But Bylines is not just about inspiration. It includes some tools that helped me develop steady work habits as I’ve transitioned to writing full-time with regular gigs and a developing audience. The goals pages are the most critical of these tools. There’s a short preface about how and why to set goals, and then there’s a page for setting a goal for the year. The goal can be anything, from developing a daily writing practice by next December to drafting an entire book.

The first step is to articulate the goal; the next step is to break it down to manageable tasks. Pages for setting month-by-month goals follow with two checklists for each month: one for goals and one for tasks. The goals list is a place to commit to the small steps that will help writers advance to the larger goal, like completing a chapter or writing three poems, or sending out three queries. I’ve found that setting monthly goals has helped me both keep focused and achieve a sense of accomplishment, creating a loop of positive re-enforcement that keeps me writing more and more.

The task list includes items like Set Goals for Month, Pay quarterly estimated taxes, Back up computer files, and – my personal favorite – Clean desktop last work day of month. I confess that I don’t always complete this last item, but at least I’m reminded to. This task list has helped me become more aware of what I need to do to develop my professional, organizational muscles – because as I achieve more success with publication and reach a wider audience, I have a growing need to be able to keep track of the business side of this writing life. Using Bylines has certainly helped me work more consistently, which in turn has helped me achieve new and bigger goals.

Each year, Bylines features a different writer’s desk, a brief biography of that writer, and encouraging quotations. The 2012 calendar features American Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. In addition, literary birthdays are noted each day of the year, and there’s a month-by-month list of literary holidays, which I’ve found useful both as prompts for timely essays and for chuckles. (June is National Bathroom Reading Month.) Other extras include pages at the back for tracking submissions, tracking business expenses and miles, space for Conference Notes and contact info. I’ve been using Bylines for several years now, and have discovered that each volume serves as a valuable record of my year’s work.

Bylines is edited by Sylvia Forbes, herself a successful freelance writer out of Missouri. She’s the author of over six hundred magazine articles in the past ten years, and is active in writer’s organizations throughout the mid-west. While family health issues have stymied her intention of publishing Bylines in June, she still makes that her yearly goal. To that end, she’s accepting 200-word stories about the writing life now through March first, for the 2013 edition.

To make it into the book, Sylvia passes on the best advice an editor ever gave her: “Just write the story.” She says it can be quirky, funny, inspiring – anything but an expanded biography of yourself as a writer. In addition to the payment (five dollars, a copy of the book and a discount to purchase more), publication in Bylines offers terrific, year-long exposure to a wide-spread audience of writers. Submission guidelines can be found at

My goal for 2012 is to complete a draft of a new novel, tentatively titled Ellen. What’s yours?

Deborah Lee Luskin often writes about Vermont, where she has lived since 1984. She is a commentator for Vermont Public Radio, a Visiting Scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council and the author of the award winning novel, Into The Wilderness. For more information, visit her website at