Meet Ed Cal—The Writer’s Best Friend

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By Claudette Young

Who’s Ed? Why, your Editorial Calendar, that’s who.

Okay, so you write. Remember those “w’s” followed by the “h”? You know, Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

The answers to all of those questions resides on the pages of the writer’s editorial calendar. And if you’ve never used one or established a habit of formulating one at the end of the year for the next twelve months, stay put and I’ll explain why you might want to tackle this necessary writerly habit.

Who needs an editorial calendar?

  • Any writer who wants to keep a ready market to hand for their work
  • Any writer who freelances in any category
  • Any writer who works both as creator and editor
  • Any writer who works in multiple genres
  • Any writer

Why is a calendar necessary?

  • It allows a writer to anticipate possible markets months in advance
  • It allows a writer to track their progress on a daily, weekly, monthly basis
  • It provides guidance when the writer gets stuck on one project and needs to shift gears
  • It motivates the creative mind to keep creating
  • It stimulates the submission process by allowing for multiple markets for each project

How difficult is it to develop and maintain such a calendar?

  • Difficulty depends on the format used by the writer
  • Electronic (cloud-driven) editorial calendar systems are available for free online
  • MS Excel can be used for spreadsheet format planning and tracking
  • The writer decides on what is included (how detailed) on the calendar used
  • Some believe the more detail included on the calendar allows for less overall maintenance time needed by the user

What information goes onto the calendar?

Again, this depends entirely on the whim of the writer. For me, I’ve been excessively detailed and barely detailed. But then I use two different calendars. It’s every writer’s option as to how many calendars they need.

Let me explain. I write long and short. Short projects such as poetry, flash fiction, short stories, essays, etc. go on a specifically detailed calendar. Why?

I began my first calendars in cheap hardcopy ledger tablets. They had plenty of rows and columns for tilling with potential moneymakers. Now, I use Excel most of the time for my calendars. I have lots of boxes to play with for each project. That means whether I’ve begun a project or am just thinking about one. Here’s how it goes.

  1. Line one: Project name>Max length>Deadline due>Freelance/Assigned>Publication>DOS/Date of Submission>EDOR/Estimated Date of Response>Accepted/Rejected
  2. Line Two: Second Publication Choice>LDOSD/Latest Date of Submission Deadline>Rewrite from Different Angle Y/N>DOS>EDOR>Accepted/Rejected
  3. Line Three: Repeat of Line Two

As I said, this calendar style is for my freelance, short project side of things. I do hours of market research before beginning a calendar for the next year. I include contests, competitions of all sorts, anthologies, articles and as many diverse markets as possible. If I choose not to use some of them, no harm no foul.

My calendar is categorized by type of project, genre, audience, publication as indie or mass market.

For long projects, such as screenplays or novels, etc. I use a similar calendar style but without the same type of excess detail. For instance, if I want to begin a rapid-release series of novelettes/novellas on Kindle with a month/two-month release cycle, my calendar would look totally different and stand indecently of all others.

Why all emphasis on calendars?

The answer is simple. It’s how publication/publishers set up their coming year. Every publication, from major newsletters to international magazines, glossies or recycled paper, establish editorial calendars months in advance of a new year.

Themes for issues, special event issues, etc. are decided upon and carved in stone for the next twelve months. Guidelines are rewritten if necessary, whether agented-only submissions are allowed, and everything in-between is placed on the calendar used by that publication’s editors. It’s their publishing bible for those coming months.

If you freelance or simply work long projects, it’s always to your advantage to know what an editor is looking for as far in advance as possible. It allows you to plan, lets ideas percolate and put you in the driver’s seat.

So, how does a writer learn an editor’s expectations?

Simple, ask them. Go to the publications website or contact them directly. Introduce yourself and ask them if it’s possible to get a copy of their editorial calendar. Usually, the website has one ready for downloading or copying. Remember themes are established really early. You might as well get used to thinking ahead and plan accordingly.

If you have questions, ask them. You don’t have to go to the top for the answers. Find the name of an associate editor. They have much the same information. And they don’t always get lots of credit. It makes them feel good to have writers come to them as the expert. It could easily help later down the line, too, when you submit a piece for review. You have already established a minor relationship with one of the editors.

Takeaways

If you prepare even the most basic of editorial calendars, you’ll stay on track better, complete projects more often, and submit more often than without one. Think of it as your daily planner. Whether you freelance with small personal essays or big articles, poems or photos, Ed Cal can be the friend who smiles and says “Go for It” every week.

Editormial Calendars Available Online

 

December Book News

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Essex, Montana (goatlick.com)

Holiday train sets in northwest Montana!

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Cookie -- Alice BoatrightLESLIE BUDEWITZ: ‘Tis the season! I hear tell that it’s possible to celebrate Christmas and the other winter holidays in warm weather — sounds iffy to me! If you’re in NW Montana, I hope you’ll take part in the Kalispell Holiday Stroll on Friday, Dec 6 from 5-8, and visit me at Montana Marketplace (formerly Think Local) on Main St., where I’ll be signing books, including Chai Another Day, my newest release, and As the Christmas Cookie Crumbles, set in the village of Jewel Bay.

And online, join me on my Facebook Author page for the “Cozy Up to Christmas” celebration, running through December 15. Guests, giveaways, conversations, and more holiday fun!

Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, I hope this holiday season is filled with good food, good friends, and good books!

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Just in time for Holiday shopping, Plans Interrupted is now available in paperback at Amazon.com. plans book cover 2

Have you ever looked back and realized that your major plans have been interrupted? Have you ever willingly given up your plans for someone you loved? Have you ever wondered if it’s too late to revise your original plans?

Yeh, I have, too.

And here I am a sixty-something widow with only one plan left: a trip to Monaco so I could ride up the “To Catch a Thief” cliffside road wearing a long pink Grace Kelly-like scarf that catches the sunlight as it flies in the wind, and a visit to Princess Grace’s Palace. My last plan. What could possibly interrupt it? You’re not going to believe it. I wouldn’t either—except I lived it.

Enjoy and share the account of my adventure that took me from Marseilles, France, to Monte Carlo, Gibraltar, and through time. Would you risk your life and place in time to save an ancient civilization from extinction at the hands of marauders? Did I?

About the Author – Madge Wood:     I never thought about writing a book, but after what I lived through I just couldn’t contain myself. And once you read my story, you’ll know everything important about me and my life. (Can you keep a secret? I am the alter-ego of Janice McCaffrey)

Plans Interrupted is available in paperback and ebook at Amazon.com

Learn more about Madge at: madgewoodauthor.com  Face book/Madge Wood Author
Madge would love to hear from you, send a note:  madgewoodauthor@hotmail.com

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Worthy to be Remembered

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By Karen Wills

For many years, when our extended family gathered for Thanksgiving dinner, I elicited groans, especially from the younger crowd, by insisting no one eat until I read a section of William Bradford’s account of the Pilgrims’ first winter in what he called, “the desert wilderness.” I did so because I felt, and still do, that we should acknowledge not just the Puritans’ capacity to give thanks, but their character and endurance. 

     William Bradford, who sailed on the Mayflower and became the second governor of Plymouth Plantation, began a journal in 1620. He did much more than merely document events; he showed the fiber of his companions. Here, in part, is his account of the misery of their first winter in America.

     “So as there died sometimes two or three a day in the foresaid time, that of one hundred and odd persons, scarce fifty remained. And of these, in times of most distress, there was but six or seven sound persons who to their great commendations, be it spoken, spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard to their own health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them…all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, a rare example and worthy to be remembered. Two of these were Mister William Brewster…and Miles Standish, their captain and military commander… And what I have said of these I may say of many others who died in this general visitation, and others yet living, that whilst they had health, yea, or any strength continuing, they were not wanting to any that had need of them. And I doubt not but their recompense is with the Lord.”

Thank you, William Bradford.

     What historical figure or figures are you thankful for?

     

 

SLEEPING ROUGH

Diane

 

by Diane E Bokor

Flash nonfiction is creative nonfiction that usually comes in under 750 words.  It is a form that works well for writing memoir, essays and remembered events. There are many challenges to this genre.  You can learn more about writing “flash” in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction edited by Brevity Magazine’s editor, Dinty Moore.  What follows is a piece of my flash nonfiction.

Woke up… got out of bed… ran a comb across my head

It was predawn dark at 4AM when I turned on the radio, set perpetually to NPR.  At that hour, it’s always BBC World News. A guy with a very British accent was going on and on about the various ways social scientists try to measure the homeless population of San Francisco.  Over there, across the pond, they call it “sleeping rough.”

By mid-morning, I received the daily call from my bereft brother.  Except, this week he hasn’t called me for several days in a row. I took this as a good sign, as a new and improved phase since the death of our mother.  Upon her death, he was a howling animal, mad with grief. Each time we talk now, he tears up at some point in the conversation. During this conversation, I found out that he hadn’t been sleeping.  He lives alone now, in our mom’s condo, surrounded by all of her things, their things. He never goes outside, except maybe to check the mail. He tries to sleep. He went to his bed, then to hers, then to the recliner on the lanai, then to the recliner in front of the TV, then to the air-bed in the guest room, where I had been sleeping.  His voice was rough, his mood was rough and it occurred to me that he had found his own form of “sleeping rough.”

By afternoon, my dog needed a walk, so I pulled my SUV into the city park.  Unseasonably cold for early autumn, I was prepared with a cozy coat, a furry hat and a pair of gloves.  As I pulled the key out of the ignition, heavy fatigue hit me. It had been, after all, a very early rise this morning.  That, on top of the brother-worry I carried just below the surface. I explained to my dog (even though, he got the gist of my behavior before I did) that a little nap was in order before our walk.  I flattened the driver’s seat, balled my coat into a pillow, pulled the furry hat down over my weary eyes, curled into a fetal position and faded away. Eventually, I arose from a dream to the sound of lagoon geese honking.  And I thought, am I “sleeping rough?” 

Hours later, after multiple errands, I found myself again walking this patient little dog who seemed thrilled to spend the stop-and-go day with Mom.  It was a weird place for a dog walk. Evergreen is the low-rent end of town and we were behind an abandoned box-store near the grocery of my next errand.  Generally, I love exploring nooks and crannies with this guy, so we took off toward a wooded lot we had never seen (or sniffed) before. There was a fence with an open gate and a beckoning path lined with a jumble of weeds.  In the back of my head, I could hear my mom’s fearful rants to be careful “out there.” It’s a voice I fight with often – adventure and exploration versus safety and comfort. Off we went… There was no one else around, just a woman (me) with her little dog walking into a wooded lot in a sketchy part of town.  I’ve always been a sucker for a curving path in the woods. That’s why my mom was always ranting.

Not too far in, I saw it.  Stopped in my tracks. I squinted hard looking for movement.  Hard to say. Was there a guy in there, under the low-hanging boughs of the ginormous fir tree?  I saw tarps and cardboard boxes. Trash and clothing were strewn about. Was that lump somebody “sleeping rough?”

“Come on, puppy, we’ve got to go!”  I turned on my heels and said a little prayer for that guy, for my brother and for all those in the San Francisco headcount.

At bedtime, my feather pillow was calling my name.  I crawled under a heated blanket and on top of fresh percale.  The mattress was the perfect firmness. The room temperature was controlled.  One of those fake candles on a timer cast a soft golden glow. This was the exact opposite of “sleeping rough” and yet I tossed and turned for hours.  Then got up to put it all into words.                              

(Word count = 720)

 

 

LEAP INTO NANOWRIMO

By Marsha Nash Sultz

I’ve always loved to write. Aimlessly, gloriously, imaginatively. But not, unfortunately, with a lot of form or purpose. I had filing cabinet drawers full of half-finished drafts of stories, essays and one precious novel. For years I was a blitzkrieg writer.  If I had an idea, I’d attack it with vigor but not a lot of style. I had the desire, but not the foundation of good practice.

And then I heard about a class at FVCC taught by Kathy Dunnehoff on writing a novel in a month. 

What? 

I signed up immediately. NanoWrimo – National Novel Writing Month – is an interesting concept for writers. The goal is to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days. For a month, no editing, no fixing, no second-guessing. 

Just write, write, write. 

When embarking on a journey of fifty-thousand words, careful planning is required. Kathy encouraged us to fill out a calendar containing our word count per day, our days off for Thanksgiving, medical appointments and mental health days. 

Above all, Kathy told us to remember what Hemingway famously said about first drafts. “All first drafts are shit.” 

I kept that in mind when my eyes roamed over the scenes I had written the day before. I had to physically restrain myself, at first, from going back and fixing mistakes. Thankfully, Kathy reinforced our ‘rules’ each week in class and I muddled through a draft, knowing I had eleven months stretching before me to edit to my heart’s content.

I have participated in NanoWrimo six times. Twice I finished drafts of novels that I had started the year before. One year I wrote a novella. One year I started a novel and did a do-over two weeks into the month, so I only wrote about thirty thousand words that year.

NanoWrimo is a great way to jumpstart a novel and I’m grateful for the structure that it gave me. Now, three drafts of novels are on the shelf and I can choose whichever one calls to me. With experience, I realize that writing a first draft is merely the beginning of novel-writing. As I learn more about the craft of writing, more about the framework of scenes, plot and characters, I have those drafts in reserve to take out and refine.

If you are a beginning writer or a writer who struggles with how to dive into a new novel, give NanoWrimo a try. It’s a little like mind vomit, but the ideas you’ll come up with, unconstrained by trying to be perfect, will surprise you and lead to good content that can be corralled into form and structure as you edit after the month is over.

Remember: write, write, write!