A Tuesday Tip For the Organizationally Impaired

file0001285035054I consider myself a pretty organized individual.

Um…let me rephrase that. I used to consider myself a pretty organized individual. Then I became a writer who couldn’t pass up a good newsletter or blog. I mean, all that great information out there–for FREE!–well, my inbox runneth over.

But I was determined to tame the Inbox Beast and not pass up all that great info. 2015 was gonna be different. (There were emails from 2013 in my inbox. 2013, y’all.) So I’ve devised a new system, and so far, it’s working splendidly. Maybe it’ll work for you.

In the past, I’d bookmark interesting, fun, or timely writing sites that I would come across in a blog post or newsletter. Or I’d make a little note for myself, like “FF–15 punctuation marks.” But then I’d a. lose the notes or b. have to scroll down FOREVER to find the bookmarked site (which might say “Submission guidelines”. Oy. Do you know how many sites I bookmark that say “Submission Guidelines”? I don’t know, either, but it’s a lot.)

So I decided, whilst culling through the 331 emails (all the way from 2013) that I would open a Word Document. Any info that I would need in a timely manner, I copied and pasted there. Right now, for example, I have additional info re: two Chicken Soup call outs. I have the link to the Reader’s Digest Poetry Competition. I have the Highlights information for the annual Fiction Contest. And here’s what’s really worked for me: I keep the document open (though not on screen) all the time.

So if I have a thought about the contest, I insert a note on the document. If I have an idea about the essay, I do the same. And best of all, I don’t spend a ton of time, looking for links or notes jotted on paper. And every day, the little blue W on the bottom of my screen sort of reminds me: These projects are waiting for you!

It’s true, I’ve always had a calendar over my desk where I have deadlines and such. But having all the information about those deadlines, right at my fingertips, has been extremely helpful in the time-saving department. And time–and deadlines–wait for no writer.

(So how about you? Got a special time-saving tip? Let’s add it to the list!)

Science and Stories

So it’s January–or the month I like to call, “Hello, Highlights Fiction Contest. We meet again.”

But this year is going to be different. Because this year, I’m going about this whole thing scientifically.¬†

Yes, indeed. I’m using science all up in here. Well, technically, all up in my head. I read “7 Ways To Use Brain Science To Hook Readers and Reel Them In” and now I am in possession of seven super scientific tips. I believe, as we say in the business, I have an edge.

Of course, I suppose it’s possible that tons of other writers have read the same article. I mean, it’s a very good article. It’s possible that even now, these writers are coming up with scathingly brilliant stories with ridiculously brilliant hooks. All the more reason for me to get to work.

Time–and the Highlights Fiction Contest–wait for no man (or Cathy C. Hall).

And P.S. You could probably benefit from these seven ways in whatever you’re writing. Essays, novels, short stories, flash–it’s all about telling stories. And apparently, science.

Finding It’s That Time of Year Again (Or What? The Highlights Contest Already???)

As you may recall when I wrote about my mission to acquire Cheryl Klein’s SECOND SIGHT, I am not one to give up easily. And so once again, I shall be rolling up my sleeves, flexing the brain, and looking for an unusual newspaper¬†headline for my Highlights Fiction Contest story.

Yep, it’s that time of year again when hope springs eternal and visions of dollars dance in my head as I write up a scathingly brilliant kiddie story of 750 words or less (475 words if I think up something brilliant for the younger readers of Highlights). Although, I’m a little flummoxed at the moment by this part:


A funny story inspired by an unusual newspaper headline.

I mean, I can do funny, and I read all kinds of newspapers. But I may have to do some digging to come up with an unusual newspaper headline to write this story and send by January 31.

Not that I’m deterred. On the contrary. ‘Cause you know what? I finally won SECOND SIGHT. And Highlights Fiction Contest? You’re next.