As you may know, I have made a goal for 2021 to enter contests, submit articles to magazines and stories to anthologies. This seemed an easy process until I began to look at all the paperwork accumulating. For each submission there is of course, rules, guidelines, email address and accounts to create. On top of that, I have author interviews for this blog to monitor as well as a novel writing workshop with four other authors. Not to mention my freelance writing projects and my current work in progress.
So how should I organize it all?
Each ‘task’ has its own specific process, so I needed to come up with a way to keep track. Firstly, I printed out the relevant contest, magazine and anthology links and highlighted the deadlines for each one. Noted passwords required and any dates submissions were sent.
Now to catalogue them in separate folders. (And yes I use actual physical folders! I’m a hands on type of girl)
Green folder: Anthologies
Purple folder: Contests
Orange folder: Magazines
White Folder: WordPress Interviews
Orange folder : Presentations I will host
White folder: Novel Workshop
Black folder (not shown) Freelance Projects
Then I separated the relevant information for each in date order with the submission dates – first to last. I printed a calendar for the blog interviews so I can mark each one down, so there is no duplication. I have also bought a large desk calendar to mark submission deadlines, writing events, presentation dates, freelance projects, conferences, interviews etc. Having everything there in front of me lessens the panic that I have forgotten something.
The idea for The Inquirer came to me in line at the grocery store where the tabloids and gossip magazines are on display. I wondered what the featured celebrities thought of the headlines. What would my neighbors and I think if our local newspaper was publishing sensationalized articles about our love lives, blunders, and appearances? In The Inquirer, a mysterious tabloid starts airing the dirty laundry of a small town here in Alberta, and Amiah Williams becomes an unsuspecting feature.
How did you come up with the title?
The Inquirer struck me as the perfect title. It brings to mind the National Enquirer, which is the type of newspaper I want readers to imagine. And it represents Amiah, the protagonist, who is forced to dig into the twisted truth behind the tabloid and her past.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope The Inquirer entertains readers. On a deeper level, it explores different types and levels of stereotyping and gossip. Perhaps some readers will question what happens behind closed doors or think twice about when to speak up and when best to be quiet.
How much of the book is realistic?
It hasn’t happened, but it could, if that’s what you mean. I was surprised by how often I would come up with what I thought was an outrageous headline for the fictional tabloid and then something similar would happen in real life! Most often, I would then change the headline for fear that people would think it was based on them.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The Inquirer is fiction, but I feel like the characters are familiar and I have had readers say they have known similar sets of characters in their lives.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Readers can connect with me on Twitter (@readjaclyndawn), on Facebook (@authorjaclyndawn), and at jaclyndawn.com.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I recently started putting on paper an idea for another stand-alone, fiction novel that has been percolating for some time. I don’t have an elevator speech quite ready yet, though.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
I really like Ray Williams, Amiah’s dad in The Inquirer. He doesn’t fit his stereotype, buy into stereotypes, or give stereotypes all that much thought. I has a quirky sense of humour, and I wish I could feel as comfortable in my own skin as he does his.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I dabble in many genres as a writer and a reader. NeWest has called The Inquirer genre-bending but primarily markets it as literary fiction; it is located in the general fiction section of the library. I enjoy writing children’s stories, but so far that has been reserved for entertaining my son.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
My story ideas have to percolate for a while. If I try to write or discuss them too early, the ideas fall flat. I have a general idea of what will happen before I start writing and will jot down notes I don’t want to forget, but the characters tend to take over and connect the dots from there.
What is your best marketing tip?
Embrace the digital age, including finding social media that suits you and your readers, connecting with fellow writers online, and participating in blog interviews like this!
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social media can help you reach a lot of potential readers and connect with fellow writers, but it can also be distracting and disheartening.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
For me, writing is cathartic and entertaining. It is a way to explore topics. I find myself asking the same two questions in most of my writing: Why do people do what they do? And, what if?
What age did you start writing stories/poems?
I have been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and telling them even longer according to my parents. You would probably be rich if you got paid a dollar for every time you’ve gotten a variation of that answer!
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
I consider myself lucky that this is a difficult question to answer. However, to keep it brief, I will just mention the two I live with: my husband and son. Logan makes sure when I get too grounded that I get my head back in the clouds and write. And Seth’s teachers and coaches knew about The Inquirer before the publisher’s catalogue even came out.
Where is your favorite writing space?
The space in our house that the previous owners called a dining room is my library, with shelves of books and memorabilia that has more personal than monetary value and the writing desk my husband refinished for me for one of my birthdays. I call this my writing hub because I come and go with my notebooks, scraps of paper used when inspiration hits at inopportune times, and laptop. I find myself writing for snippets of time everywhere I go. If I was limited to a traditional work space, my creativity, efficiency, health (migraines), and – I admit it – mood would all suffer.
Do you see writing as a career?
With a Bachelor of Applied Communications from MacEwan University and a Master of Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University, I have made a career of a combination of writing. I taught at MacEwan and NAIT, work with my Scriptorium team, and am now also fulfilling my childhood dream of seeing a book of my own in the bookstore and library.
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one?
The Inquirer was originally my MA dissertation, and involved being part of a writing group. Otherwise, I am not part of a formal group but have a growing and much appreciated network of fellow writers.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
My writing times and locations vary, but I will never turn down popcorn.
Jaclyn Dawn grew up in a tabloid-free small town in Alberta. With a communications degree and creative writing masters, she works as a freelance writer and instructor. She now lives somewhere between city and country outside Edmonton with her husband and son. The Inquirer is her debut novel.
As you can see from this article another stalwart, The Capilano Review is fighting to stay afloat with a kickstarter campaign. Finances are the death toll for many literary organizations struggling in this society we live in, which wants everything ‘instantaneously’. There is no patience nowadays, all too clear with the ‘we want it and we want it now‘ slogans bantered throughout the media. Gone are the weeks and months of waiting and saving for a particular item or placing it on our wish list.
We need to protect the ability to imagine, to create and share the plethora of arts with the world. Fight for your local literary journals, magazines, organizations and groups.
Keep the magic of creativity alive.
It’s in literature that true life can be found. It’s under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth. Gao Xingjian
Every man’s work, whether it be literature, or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself. Samuel Butler
Share something you created as a child with a simple object, such as a cardboard box.
I occasionally glance through magazines when visiting the hairdressers but find most are so full of adverts that I put them back. I prefer something with more substance, such as National Geographic and Writer’s Digest. In reality the magazine company’s require the revenue from the advertisements but surely not so many! Do you find it annoying?
In my current research into freelancing, I have found many magazines, who welcome articles from freelance writers. I have compiled a long list and will create specific articles for them in the coming months.
Do you write for magazines?
What is your experience? Any tips?
Quotes: I love magazines. It’s such a McNugget kind of information. Scott Adams
When I was 16, I started publishing all kinds of things in school magazines. Margaret Attwood
“It’s so important to have a genuine curiosity not just about magazines, but the world around you.”—Anne Fulenwider,Editor in Chief, Marie Claire
Write in the style of a magazine or newspaper article of a everyday mundane event to make it ‘exciting and newsworthy’.
Impenetrable – definition: incapable of being penetrated, pierced, breached or broken into
When we think about new directions in our life, there is a tendency to fill our minds with ‘what if’ and ‘should I’ thoughts. Fear of the unknown is nothing to be ashamed of, embrace it. Consider the rock face. Solid and seemingly impenetrable but over time tiny pebbles moved with the force of water, can wear that rock down. At first it is only a shallow dip but then it becomes deeper and deeper until eventually a hole through that rock face appears.
Whatever goals you want to achieve, they can be realized with thorough research and planning. The trick is to make small steps towards it instead of trying to get there in one fell swoop. ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ – yes, it is an old saying but nevertheless true. Take time to contemplate what you really want and visualize it. Once you have the goal clearly defined work your way backwards.
What do you need to do now to get there?
Use a graph or a timeline for your goal. Once it is set out visually it is easier to focus and plot your progress. Each step takes you nearer to your ultimate goal and that is encouragement we all need.
My goal for 2014 is to develop my freelance writing business. I have some doubts – time management, bidding on jobs, building a portfolio – to name a few. I have begun researching other freelancers and gaining knowledge from their expertise and experiences. I have already created a freelance binder where I am filing useful articles, blogs, and any information that is useful. My aim is to be as confident as possible before embarking on this venture. Plunging in blindly will result in failure, so time taken to prepare is an investment. To date, I have collaborated in creating a Vision Statement for the local Council and written articles on a wide variety of subjects on Strathcona Connect, an internet magazine. My blog post per day for 2013 has also given me valuable experience in creating interesting articles from just one word! I don’t expect to be able to leave full time work for quite some time but gradually I will build my business to the point that I will be able to.
Do you have goals for 2014?
Did you achieve your goals for 2013?
How did you plan for them? Care to share your technique?