Writing World Newsletter Archive
Return to Newsletter Index · Home


                    W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 13:16          13,253 subscribers           August 15, 2013
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
details on how to subscribe, unsubscribe, or contact the editors.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE: No material published in this newsletter may be
reprinted or posted without the consent of the author unless
otherwise noted.  Unauthorized use is a copyright infringement.


THE NEWSLETTER EDITOR'S DESK: When Life Gets in the Way, 
by Dawn Copeman 
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Tell, Don't Show, by Victoria Grossack 
FEATURE:  Get Your Writing Life on Track with To-Do Lists!
by Moira Allen 
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Running a Book Club, by Dawn Copeman
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf   
Novel, Too!  What if this year you could honestly call yourself 
an author because you could support yourself and your family?
Details Here: http://www.awaionline.com/go/index.php?ad=592721
A rare line-by-line look at how 20 successful children's authors
revised their own stories using the Nine Essential Questions that
editors use to evaluate manuscripts every day. 30-day free exam.
* FEEDBACK. Get feedback for every poem and story that you write.
* CONTESTS. Over 50 contests are always open and free to enter.
* FUN! Get feedback, enter writing contests, and learn.
DON'T GET SCAMMED!  Choose the right Self Publishing Company for
your book. What you need to know before choosing a self publishing
company and the questions you should ask.
WRITERSCOLLEGE.COM has over 60 online courses. Prices are low. If
you can reach our web site, you can take our courses. 


Hello again!  

It's been a long time since I last wrote an editorial.  Some of you
have been kind enough to email me and ask me where I've been. I've
been here, but over the past year, life has, well, gotten in the

As you might recall, I recently went back into supply teaching.
[Editor's note: "Substitute" teaching in America.] When some of my
friends and family found out about this, their reaction was,
"You're finally giving up on that writing thing then and getting a
proper job." 

Firstly, writing IS a proper job, although some people have
difficulty accepting this and think I'm home at all times for phone
calls, coffee and running errands for them.  I've been doing this
'writing thing' for nine years now; it's not a phase I'm going
through and it's not something I'm giving up! 

However, having said that, I have recently felt the need to get a
so-called proper job again. Let me explain why. 

Firstly, my daughter, whom I had home-educated for six years,
decided she would like to return to school.  Having written
alongside her for so long, I found it really hard to write without
her near me. 

Then my father's health deteriorated rapidly. In January, he was a
fit, healthy and able 76 year-old. In February I had to sell his
car as he was told he couldn't drive anymore.  In March he started
to fall over frequently.  In April he was confirmed as suffering
from dementia.  Now he can hardly walk and hardly knows where he is
or when it is.  For him it is usually sometime in the mid 50's and
he has always just been on military maneuvers on Salisbury Plain. 

My mother, herself in her late seventies, is struggling to care for
him.  They live 70 miles away.  I suddenly couldn't commit the time
I needed to my commercial clients.  I couldn't project-manage
website development projects, and I couldn't commit to client
meetings or phone calls or Skype chats as I never knew when I'd be
on the phone with my mum or needed to go up there at short notice. 
Finally, two of my long-standing clients suddenly stopped paying
me.  This came as a shock.  I'd been working for them for a long
time and they provided a huge amount of my income.  But there is a
recession going on and the sad fact is that large companies don't
pay medium-size companies and these companies then can't afford to
pay me.  Suddenly two of my clients went bankrupt and I suddenly
had a huge hole in my finances. 

This is when I decided I needed to take a break from writing.  I
needed time and space to clear my head, to get a new perspective,
to regroup and come back stronger. 

I found it easier to go back into teaching than to start hunting
new clients.  I needed income, I needed it now and I also needed
flexibility to be there for my parents.  

Some writer friends of mine thought it strange that I found it
easier to teach than to write; isn't writing, after all, the
ultimate career for flexibility?   

Yes, it is, but it also requires a lot from us. It requires
imagination, dedication and concentration, and for a while this
year, I didn't have anything left to give.  I could have struggled
on but I knew I wouldn't be doing my best work.  I had to take a

Moira understood immediately where I was and that I needed space to
rework my writing life.  I also contacted my remaining clients and
told them I couldn't work for them for a while. Luckily for me, now
that I'm in a position to write again, many of my clients have got
work for me. 

Writing is a huge part of me.  It is what I love to do, but for a
huge part of this year, it was something I just couldn't do.  I
wanted to share this with you because I know that many of us
sometimes find it too hard to write.  We can't find the ideas, we
can't get started and we find it hard to do the basics.  When that
happens, we need to take a break.  

It doesn't mean we are 'giving up' on writing; it means that we
recognize when too much is just too much and that we need to give
ourselves a break.  Sometimes we need to take a step back to make a
leap forward. 

Coming back to writing after a break has allowed me to rethink my
writing priorities, to recharge my writing batteries and to come
back with a ton of fresh article ideas. 

We still have four months left in 2013.  Reinvigorated after a
break and by following Moira's advice in her article below, I know
I can achieve what I want to this year. 

Yeah, life got in the way, but I'm not giving up on this 'writing
thing', are you?  

-- Dawn Copeman, Newsletter Editor


Over 400 editors contribute their unique news and views each year.
That's news and views to improve your chances to get published.
Monthly newsletter. Get an issue for FREE.  


On August 28, 9 pm Eastern Time, you can join VICTORIA GROSSACK in
a "Tour of the Levels of Structure in Fiction: from words and
phrases through scenes, chapters, series and more." The twitter
party is being hosted by yalitchat (young adult literary chat) and
can be followed by using #yalitchat. More information is available
at http://yalitchat.ning.com/


by Victoria Grossack 

You may be wondering if you have read the title of this article
correctly. Usually writers are advised to show, not to tell, so you
may think I got it backwards. But occasionally authors should tell
instead of show. 

The Difference Between Showing and Telling 
For those who are not familiar with the "show, don't tell" maxim,
or who occasionally have difficulty with it, here is an

TELLING means writing in a way that explains, for the reader,
exactly what is going on. The author's voice dominates, even
intrudes, instead of allowing the characters to act for themselves
in the reader's imagination. The reader is told what to think and
to feel, instead of being allowed to draw her own conclusions

SHOWING is usually recommended because it is more engaging for the
reader. If you show properly, you will put the reader right there
with the action, the thoughts and feelings of your characters. This
is obviously a very desirable goal. 

Here's an example: 

TELLING: Jake angrily and insultingly told the waiter to bring him
a cup of hot coffee. 

SHOWING: Jake slammed his fist on the counter. "Hey, jerk! Where's
my coffee!" 

The second instance has far more life to it, and is why showing is
generally preferred to telling. 

When to Tell Instead of Show 
You may still be wondering if I miswrote the title of this article,
because I am still extolling the advantages of showing over
telling. So, when is it appropriate to tell? Below I make some
suggestions. Remember that they are only suggestions, not commands;
you should adjust them to suit your own writing, and either speed
up or slow down the pace. 

IN CONVERSATION. When people speak, they say many more things than
would interest the reader. A lot of conversation is simply boring.
Here is an example: 

"Hello, Mary." 

"Hello, Bill." 

"How are you?" 

"Fine. It's cold out there." 

"Let me take your coat." 

This is dull stuff, probably not worth the space the paragraphs
take up on the page. Instead you could write: 

After Bill let Mary into the house and took her coat, they settled
in the living room with a couple of mugs of hot chocolate. 

Note that this recommendation may not always hold true. Imagine
that Bill and Mary are colleagues and Mary is coming over to work
on a project. There is, essentially, no emotional significance to
the entrance of Mary into Bill's house and so you might as well
tell it as show it. However, imagine that you are near the end of
the book, which is about the relationship between Bill and Mary.
Mary, Bill's erstwhile fiancée, broke off the engagement a year ago
and never explained why. Now she is coming over to explain and
there is the possibility of a rapprochement. In this case you would
want to show the actual conversation above, for two possible
reasons. The first reason is to prolong the moment, because this
moment is important, either pivotal to the story or because it is
even part of the climax. The second reason is because this bit of
conversation is actually not dull; Mary's comment on the weather
can be seen as a comment on the cold bleakness of her life without
Bill, while Bill's offer to take her coat is a prelude to offering
her warmth, shelter and forgiveness. In fact, you might want to
enrich this section by showing even more. Here is a possibility,
shown from Bill's point of view: 

Bill, puzzled, switched on the porch light. In the lamp's glow he
saw swirling snowflakes and a familiar figure. His heart pounding,
he opened the door. "Hello, Mary," he said. 

"Hello, Bill," she said, wiping her boots on the mat and stepping

There were a million different things he could say to her,
expressing anger, jealousy, relief, love, desire. He selected the
most innocuous: "How are you?" 

"Fine. It's cold out there." 

"Let me take your coat," he said, as she unbuttoned her jacket. As
he hung it in the closet, he wondered what she was doing here. Did
she want to come back? Or was she finally returning his ring? 

In this case, the passage is worth showing instead of telling
because it is interlaced with emotional moments that are
significant to the story.

TRAVEL AND TRANSITIONS. Between the exciting scenes of your story
there are the rather dull bits: when characters journey from point
A to point B, when time passes, when scenes change. These
transitions may be sections where you should choose to tell instead
of show. After all, is there really a reason to go through every
detail of your characters putting on their coats, opening the door,
walking down the icy path and backing the car out of the driveway
simply to pick up a package at the post office? Don't get me wrong;
perhaps there is. You may be writing a mystery and during a
seemingly innocent and innocuous drive to the post office your
character sees something that will turn out to be of significance
to the murder that occurs the next day. But if there isn't -- if
you are merely writing what comes next, instead of editing the
story on behalf of the reader -- the chances are that you are
suffering from one or more of the following problems: 

* It has not occurred to you that you will bore your readers and
that you don't need to show these bits.

* You don't know how to write a transition such as: Sheila drove to
the post office to pick up the package. After she brought it home...

* You are stalling in your storytelling because you don't know what
is supposed to happen next. In this case you may choose to write on
and hope that inspiration strikes (and delete the dull passage
later). A better alternative is to take a writing time-out and
figure out where your story has to go next. A third alternative is
to skip to the next exciting bit that you do know about, write it
and create the transition later.
Using narrative summary to guide the reader through the slower
parts of your story is when telling rather than showing is most
useful. You may still want to mix in bits of showing with your
telling to make sure your flow does not slow down too much. In my
novel "Jocasta," I have a transition chapter in which I cover a
period of twenty years. For the most part I used the technique of
telling, as I summarized marriages and deaths and other important
events among my characters. Still, I kept the pace brisk and
readers engaged in the story by showing a few gripping scenes --
including one where a character's eyes were put out. 

UNIMPORTANT CHARACTERS. Why spend unnecessary time on insignificant
characters? Some may be so negligible that they won't even get
names: the servant brought the drinks; the hotel maids cleaned the
room, the policeman blew the whistle, and so on. Tell what your
readers need to know in order to remain properly oriented, and then
move on. 

EARLY DRAFTS. Sometimes your creativity flags, and although you
know you should be showing Jake's anger rather than telling about
it, you don't feel inspired to write it just then. Instead, you're
keen on writing the next bit, when Lisa confronts Jake about his
frequent tantrums. Rather than slowing down to think about what
does not interest you at the moment, tell that bit, write the next
scene, and then come back and revise later. I do this all the time
and it saves a lot of effort while taking advantage of writing the
scenes that inspire me when they inspire me. In my opinion this is
not being lazy but efficient. 

But if you do this, don't neglect to go back and revise. You need
to keep a sharp lookout for where you are telling instead of
showing and rewrite so that your scenes come to life. As you
improve and as your story develops you will get a better sense of
the pace which you need to best tell it. 

TELLING WITH A VOICE.  So far most of the reasons for telling
instead of showing have been to skip over dull and boring bits.
Still, there are times when telling can be magical, when it
elevates the writing to a new and unusual level. If you tell your
story in the first person, or when a character within your story
recounts an event, you have the opportunity to develop an original

Some of the world's most memorable books have been written in the
first person, with voices unique and wonderful: "Jane Eyre," "Moby
Dick," "Rebecca" and "Huckleberry Finn." A recent example is Mark
Haddon's novel, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the
Night-Time," which relates an engaging story from the point of view
of an adolescent boy with autism. At one point Christopher Swindon
recounts Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskervilles," but because
everything is filtered through his unique perspective -- and
because many readers are familiar with Baskervilles anyway --
nothing is lost; in fact, much is gained by young Christopher's

In general, you want to show instead of to tell, but telling still
has its place. After all, often the goal is to tell a good story:
how wrong can the occasional telling mode be?


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
publications such as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
Victoria is co-author with Alice Underwood of the Tapestry of
Bronze series (Jocasta; Children of Tantalus; The Road to Thebes;
Arrow of Artemis), based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze
Age. On her own she has written The Highbury Murders, in which she
did her best to channel the spirits and styles of Jane Austen and
Agatha Christie. Besides all this, Victoria is married with kids,
and (though American) spends much of her time in Europe. Her
hobbies include gardening, hiking, bird-watching and tutoring
mathematics. Visit her website at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com,
or contact her at tapestry (at) tapestryofbronze (dot) com.
Copyright 2013 Victoria Grossack. A version of this article
appeared in Fiction Fix.  

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author.

Link to this article here:

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Victoria now
offers one-on-one writing classes; find out more at

Enroll FREE in a 14-part 'mini course' in short-story writing
success. This highly acclaimed Writers' Village 'Master Class'
shows you how to get published - profitably - and win cash prizes
in fiction contests. Discover how to open a chapter with 'wow'
impact, add new energy to a scene, build a character in moments,
sustain page-turning suspense even through long passages of
exposition... plus 97 additional powerful ideas you can use at
once. Enjoy the course without charge now at:


13 Year Old Gets 2 Book Deal with Penguin
It was announced this week that Jake Marcionette has been given a
two-book deal with Penguin for his books about a middle grade boy
called Jake.  The author is also a member of the Penguin Young
Readers Group.  For more on this story visit: 

Sales in US Bookstores Fell in June
Sales of books in physical bookstores fell by 9.5% in June compared
to June 2012, the U.S Census Bureau reports.  Sales were down $87m
on last year.  For more on this story visit: 

21 Year Old Gets 6-Book Deal
Over in England, 21-year-old Samantha Shannon is not only
celebrating graduating from Oxford university with a degree in
English, she is also celebrating a six-book deal from Bloomsbury. 
For more on this amazing story visit: http://tinyurl.com/m3kqkpk

FREELANCE WRITER. A complete manual on how to sell your articles
to magazines, newspapers, in-flights, websites. I've sold more
than 800 articles globally in six years using this innovative
system. Freelancing success all comes down to sales and marketing
because selling your stories is just as important as writing well.
My marketing system will help you sell more articles than you can
write! For more information please go to:


Writing Jobs and Opportunities
300 Days of Sun Open to Submissions
300 Days of Sun is a student-run literary journal sponsored by the
Nevada State College Humanities Department. It is a print journal
featuring poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and visual art. 
It is open to original, unpublished work in English, from authors
and artists living in the Southwest (Nevada, California, Arizona,
New Mexico & Utah). They are open to submissions of poetry,
fiction, flash fiction, nonfiction and hybrid forms. 

For more details visit: https://300daysofsun.submittable.com/submit

DoubleDragon Publishers Open to Science Fiction Novel Submissions
DoubleDragon is an ebook publisher currently seeking science
fiction novels including Hard (Science) SF, Space Fiction, Sci Fi,
Future Fiction, Lost Civilizations, Utopias, Distopias, Disaster
Novels, Alternate Histories, Time Travel, Parallel Worlds, etc.,
and FANTASY, including Myth, Legend, Fairy Tales, Traditional
Fantasy, Magic Realism, Sword and Sorcery, Epic Fantasy, Horror,
Gothic, etc.

They pay royalties of 30%.  For more details visit: 

Newsmodo.com - a new way for reporters and freelancers to work?
This is a site where freelancers can pitch completed articles to
newspapers and magazines and where, increasingly, publishers pitch
stories they would like written and invite freelancers to bid to
write them. It looks intriguing. 


A publishing revolution is sweeping the industry. We explain what
is happening and show you how to self-publish your own eBooks.


FEATURE: Get Your Writing Life on Track with To-Do Lists!
By Moira Allen

For the past couple of weeks, I'd found myself adrift.  I'd pick up
a project, work on it for a couple of hours, then put it aside and
tackle another. I lacked focus.  I felt confused.

Then I realized that when I'd cleaned my desk, I'd stuffed my to-do
list out of sight.  No wonder I didn't know "what to do" -- I
couldn't see my list!  I hadn't even updated it in weeks!

I've become a huge fan of to-do lists.  I'd resisted this step for
years, despite the urgings of my husband, who not only drafts
multi-page weekly lists but archives them for years.  Deep down, I
never wanted to think of myself as the sort of person whose life
was driven by LISTS.  But now that I've taken the plunge, I've
found that to-do lists are a powerful way to become a more
organized, efficient writer.  

The Value of the List
To-do lists can help a writer in many ways.  Here are just a few:

1) They help one PRIORITIZE.  When you're juggling half-a-dozen
tasks (or more) in your head, it's difficult to determine which
should come first.   They spin through your mind like a school of
fish; first this one looks more enticing, then that one.  The
simple act of writing down one's list of tasks enables one to view
them from a different perspective.  Once they are on paper, it's
much easier to see that A is more important than C, while D should
move to second place, F has been dragging on far too long, and B --
well, B could certainly wait until another day.

"Prioritizing" can involve many factors.  One, of course, is
deadlines.  If one of your tasks is due in two weeks, it's likely
to move to the top of your list.  However, deadlines aren't the
only priority.  Perhaps you've been meaning to research a topic
you'd like to query to a new, high-paying market.  The task has no
deadline, but every week that you put it off is a week that puts
you farther from achieving an important career move.  Finally,
to-do lists can help you identify tasks that you've been
procrastinating over, and enable you to boost them to the top of
the list so that they get done once and for all.

2) They help one ORGANIZE.  My to-do list doesn't just include
business tasks; it includes key tasks in every area of my life. 
For example, if I'm planning a dinner party, knowing that a good
part of my week will be spent cleaning and running errands will
help ensure that I don't also try to load that week's list with six
new query letters, a batch of interviews, and a book chapter.

To-do lists also enable one to look at a set of tasks and assign
time-values to each.  Once you've written your list, you'll
probably immediately note which tasks are going to require a lot of
time, and which can be done in a snap.  I often find, for example,
that I have a number of small "follow-up" tasks on my list -- phone
calls for information, e-mails to follow up on a contract or
inquiry, and so forth.  Most of these tasks take no more than five
minutes of my time, but they're the most likely to be postponed. 
Moving quick-response tasks to the top of my list encourages me to
get them done and crossed off, adding to my week's accomplishments
without cutting significantly into my schedule.

That doesn't mean that one should ALWAYS move "quick" tasks to the
top of the list.  Some quick tasks are important; others are more
trivial.  It's always tempting to go for the "shortest job first,"
but this can defeat the purpose of your list by preventing you from
tackling longer, more important tasks.

3) They help one IDENTIFY PROBLEMS.  When you start maintaining
to-do lists, you're likely to notice that some tasks keep "sliding"
from one week to the next.  When that happens, it's a warning flag
that you need to take a closer look at the project.

There can be many reasons for procrastination.  One is that a task
isn't really that important to you.  It may seem like something you
SHOULD do, or something you might LIKE to do -- but it never
achieves top priority.  If that's why it keeps sliding, you may
wish to drop it from the list altogether, or postpone it to a later
time -- because right now, it isn't really worth doing.

Conversely, you may keep nudging an item to the next week simply
because it IS important.  Quite often, the tasks we put off the
longest are the ones that are most important to us.  Important
tasks can be intimidating; if you feel unready or unwilling to
tackle something of major significance, it's likely to keep sliding
until you've identified, and dealt with, the fears and concerns
that keep you from taking it on.

Finally, you may nudge a task from one week to the next because it
isn't actually a manageable TASK at all.  As I'll discuss below,
there's a difference between "tasks" and "projects."  For example,
if you've put "write Article X" on your list, and it never gets
done, it may be too large a "task."  Perhaps it needs to be broken
into smaller chunks: research the topic, conduct an interview,
prepare an outline, write a first draft.  There's no point in
cluttering your to-do list with things you can't actually do!

4) They help one RECOGNIZE ACHIEVEMENTS.  To me, this is the most
powerful benefit of a to-do list: Eventually, it becomes a "done"
list.  If you're like me, you may go through a day or week when you
feel as if you've never stood still, yet you can't quite grasp
what, if anything, you've actually accomplished.  A to-do list not
only helps bring order to your schedule, but helps you identify
exactly what you HAVE done with your time.  It also helps you
identify the fact that you've achieved many, or even most, of your
goals -- rather than berating yourself for what you imagine you
haven't done.

Managing the List
To achieve the benefits I've described, it's important to manage a
to-do list effectively.  Different people may have very different
ideas about what makes an "effective" to-do list, but here are some
tips that can be applied to just about any type of list:

1) It must be reasonable.  A list that reads something like "write
my novel, clean the garage, develop lesson plans to home-school my
daughter, work on world peace" won't actually help you accomplish
anything.  It will simply lead to frustration.  A list should
contain only those tasks that you can genuinely hope to achieve
within the timeframe of the list.

This means learning to distinguish between "tasks" and "projects." 
A "project" is the big picture: The desired end goal.  Writing a
novel is a project.  Writing a chapter is a task.  Some projects
("clean my desk"; "write editorial") are small enough to count as
stand-alone tasks.  Others need to be broken down into more
manageable chunks.

Take a project like "write an article."  While 2000 words may not
seem like a lot, unless you can write them off the top of your
head, chances are that you'll need to break the project into
smaller tasks.  These might include interviews (each one a separate
task), conducting online or library research, writing a query
letter, drafting an outline, writing a first draft, editing your
draft, and so on.  Each one of these tasks should go onto your
to-do list as a separate item.

2) It must be in line with your longer-term goals.  Creating a
to-do list isn't as simple as jotting down a bunch of tasks for the
day, or for the week.  A to-do list works best when combined with a
longer-term vision -- a set of goals and achievements that you wish
to accomplish.  For example, let's say that one of your goals is to
set up your author website.  A project like this involves a number
of steps, some of which need to be taken sequentially, some of
which can be handled simultaneously.  By adding these tasks to your
daily or weekly to-do lists, you remind yourself of where you are
in the project and what needs to be done next, which keeps you on
track toward your long-term goal while keeping individual tasks
bite-size and manageable.

3) It must have a well-defined time-frame.  I prefer weekly to-do
lists, because my schedule on any given day can be quite varied. 
It's easier for me to aim to achieve a list of task by the end of a
week than to attempt to assign tasks to specific days.  Many
people, however, prefer daily to-do lists, while others prefer to
write out lists for an entire month.

Some people keep separate lists for tasks and for projects.  Hence,
one's monthly list might have projects like "write travel article"
and "organize photo files," while the weekly list covers tasks like
"conduct interviews" or "obtain photos from travel bureau."  Some
writers even maintain yearly lists, though I tend to think that
items of that duration tend to be more along the lines of "goals
and objectives" rather than "tasks."

4) It must be visible.  Again, different folks have different
definitions of "visible."  My husband keeps his list on his
computer.  I've tried that, and I found that I never looked at it. 
The only thing that works for me is to have my list on paper, in a
location where I can see it at a glance.

The simplest way to keep a list is to keep a notepad on your desk,
where you can jot down tasks as they occur to you, and cross them
off when they are complete.  The size of the pad depends on the
size of your list.  I keep a small, lined notepad that has its own
mini-clipboard.  This helps me keep my weekly list to a reasonable
size, and also gives me a way to manage longer-term lists, which I
clip underneath the pad to refer to as needed.  

5) It must be flexible.  Keep in mind when you prepare a to-do list
that it is written on paper, NOT graven in stone.  No matter how
well you plan, there's always a chance that something will come up
that's more important, or more urgent, than the tasks on your list.
 When that happens, simply jot down the new task or priority, and
don't be surprised if older items slide to the next week.

Some folks laugh at the notion of writing something on your list
simply so that you can cross it off again, but I don't.  Making a
note of something I've DONE, even if it wasn't on the original
list, helps me track my achievements and reminds me of where my
time was actually spent.  If I wasn't able to complete my original
list, see the items that I added just to cross off helps me
understand why.

Finally, remember that no matter how carefully you plan, life gets
in the way.  Regardless of your intentions, something may come up
that makes it impossible to complete the tasks on your list.  When
that happens, simply accept the inevitable -- and bump the tasks to
the next week.

Tracking Achievements
To-do lists are great, but what happens when they're "done" lists? 
My husband archives his on his computer, but since mine are
handwritten, that's not an option.  Nor do I want a drawer full of
crossed-out lists.  To track what I've accomplished, therefore, I
have set up yet another list: My "achievements" list.  This tracks
what I've done each day, whether it was on my to-do list or not.

For example, I'll note whether it was an "errand" day (which
generally takes up one or two hours), or whether I've had a phone
call from my sister (guaranteed to take up one or two hours).  I'll
note which projects I've worked on, and whether they are still in
progress or completed.  I'll note anything out of the ordinary that
affected my schedule.

At the end of the month, I transfer this information into an annual
"achievements" list.  At that point I don't bother with the phone
calls and errands and housekeeping chores; instead, I list
"personal achievements" and "business achievements."  If I took a
week's vacation, or entertained a house guest, or took a weaving
class, that goes under "personal."  If I wrote an article, scanned
illustrations for my clip-art project, or handled the biweekly
newsletter editing, that goes under "business."  Under business, I
also note which long-term projects got completed in any given month.

Then, at the end of the year, I no longer have to wonder where my
time went, or what I did all year.  I know -- and I can
congratulate myself on jobs well done and a year well spent. 
Because the best thing about to-do lists is not just that they tell
you what you ought to do this week.  It's that they enable you to
say, "Ta-da!  I've DONE it!" 


Copyright 2013 Moira Allen

Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written
nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor
for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer's Digest,
and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight
books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The
Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to
Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to
Writing-World.com, Allen hosts Mostly-Victorian.com, a growing
archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss
Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in
Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer's cat. She can
be contacted at editors "at" writing-world.com.

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained.  (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here: 

For more advice on setting goals to keep your writing career on
track check out these articles in our archive:


author of the award-winning Forensic Science for Writers can help.
Take a look at Criminal Investigators, Villains, and Tricksters: A
Trip Through History. Available from Amazon and other bookstores.
For details, visit http://forensics4writers.com.



By Dawn Copeman

Last month our question came from John Conclive.  He wrote: "I've
been asked to help launch a book club here in Nigeria.  I have many
questions for the Writing-World community such as: How is a book
discussed in a meeting? Does everyone just start saying what he
feels about the book? Do people raise questions for members to
answer? If so what is the sequence of answering the questions? I
just want to have a clue as to the working of a book group."

Sadly, no-one had any advice for John so I did some digging around
for him. 

Setting Up a Book Club
The first thing to decide when running a book club is what sort of
book club do you want?  Will it be a novels-only club?  Will you
read only romantic fiction or science fiction?  You need to decide
right at the start what types of books you want to read or if you
will be open to all genres.

You also need to work out where the book club will meet.  Will you
hire a public venue, meet in someone's home or meet in a local
cafe?  If you are using a public venue such as cafe, you need to
ensure that the owners would be happy with you meeting there and
whether they would require everyone to purchase food or drink to a
minimum spending amount.  If you want to hire a room, then you need
to ensure that there are enough members of the book club willing to
pay a membership fee to cover the hire costs. 

Then you need to work out when you will meet, how frequently and
for how long.  Are you going to meet monthly, fortnightly or
weekly?  You need to allow long enough for each meeting to be able
to discuss the book, choose a book for the next meeting and to
socialise too. Most successful book clubs run meetings that last
two hours. 

At the first meeting
Be there early to greet everyone.  Give everyone a name tag so you
can all get to know each other quickly.  Provide refreshments. 

At your first meeting you will need to set group rules.  Do you
want to set rules about what books should be chosen - i.e. do you
want to set a price limit, length limit, etc.?  Can members bring
guests?  Can children come along?  How often should you meet? What
is the maximum group size you want?  Most book clubs suggest a
group of no more than ten people to allow everyone a chance to
contribute in each meeting.  Finally, before the meeting ends you
need to come up with a name for your book club. 

Choosing Books
You need to decide as a group how you will choose books.  Will you
all put suggestions into a hat?  Will you as a group draw up a list
of books and have members vote which one they want to read first?  

One book club simply sent around a clipboard for members to sign in
with their name and contact details and to suggest a book.  They
used these suggestions to draw up a poll and people voted on the
books in the order they would like to read them.  That gave them
the first books for the first few months of the club. 

Alternatively, you can use the selections of established book clubs
such as Ophrah's Book Club, (
or Richard and Judy's Book Club - this site also has questions for
your book club to use, at http://richardandjudy.whsmith.co.uk/. 

You can either have one person responsible for choosing the books
for the club to read, or you can rotate it around the club members.

At Subsequent Meetings
It is often a good idea to have the person who suggested the book
be the first person to discuss it.  Let them present what they
thought, how it made them feel, what they liked or disliked about
it and then open the floor to others. Make sure you ask everyone
their opinion and that everyone gets a chance to talk about each

Many books come with book club questions in the back of them, but
if not you can find a list of general questions you can use at book
clubs here: 

Finally, this site is really handy for setting up and running book
clubs, for dealing with difficult meetings and coming up with
questions to discuss: http://www.bookbrowse.com/bookclubs/

I hope that helps. 

This month our question comes from Eileen in Vermont, who wants to
know "When self publishing a poetry book HOW does the poet apply
for an ISBN please?"

Can you help Eileen?  Send your replies with the Subject Line
'Inquiring Writer' to editorial@writing-world.com, and use the same
subject line if you have a question to put to our community too. 

Until next time, 


Copyright Dawn Copeman 2013

Dawn Copeman is a British freelance writer, copywriter and eBook
ghost-writer who has published over 300 articles on the topics of
travel, cookery, history, health and writing. An experienced
commercial freelancer, Dawn contributed several chapters on
commercial writing to Moira Allen's Starting Your Career as a
Freelance Writer (2nd Edition). She edits the Writing World
newsletter and can be contacted at editorial "at" writing-world.com
and at http://www.linkedin.com/in/dawncopeman
This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained.  

SERIOUS ABOUT WRITING? Join the National Association of Independent
Writers and Editors, the professional association with a
career-building difference. We partner with you to create a
strategic online presence with genuine credibility. You get a free
NAIWE-linked website (and more) so you'll be where people come to
find writers. Join us today at http://naiwe.com!


Written Kitten
Do you need something to get your writing started or to help you
reach your daily word count?  If so, then Written Kitten could be
just what you've been looking for.  For every 100 words you write
you get a cute picture of a kitten.  Be sure to copy and paste your
work into your regular word processor and to save it regularly as
written kitten doesn't save your work. 

Writing Career.com
I've only just come across this site, which lists calls for
submissions and writing jobs.  This is a site worth bookmarking and
visiting on a regular basis. 

Romance University
This is a great site for romance writers and would-be romance
writers. This site has three 'lectures' a week, delivered to your
inbox.  Subscription and tuition is free.  


To Win" features over 1600 contest listings for writers worldwide. 
The current edition has more than 450 NEW listings.  You won't find
a more comprehensive guide to writing contests anywhere.  Available 
in print and Kindle editions.
Print: https://www.createspace.com/3778183
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B007C98OUA/peregrine



This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 
For a guide to nearly 1600 writing contests throughout the 
world, see Moira Allen's book, "Writing to Win: The Colossal 
Guide to Writing Contests"
DEADLINE: September 30, 2013
GENRE:  Nonfiction, short stories
DETAILS:  One story or essay 10,000 words maximum. 
PRIZE: $250, both categories compete together. 
URL: http://www.hofferaward.com/ 

DEADLINE: September 30, 2013
GENRE: Short stories
OPEN TO: Previously unpublished fiction writers. 
DETAILS:  17,000 words max science-fiction, horror or fantasy
PRIZES:  $1,000 first prize awarded each quarter; one of those
winners also receives the $5,000 annual "Gold Award" grand prize.
Each quarter, 2nd Prize $750, 3rd Prize $500
URL:  http://www.writersofthefuture.com/contest-rules

DEADLINE:  October 1, 2013
GENRE:  Short Stories
DETAILS: Food and drink has to be at the heart of the tale. The
story could, for instance, be fiction or fact about a chance
meeting over a drink, a life-changing conversation over dinner, or
a relationship explored through food or drink. It could be crime or
intrigue; in fact, any subject you like as long as it involves food
and/or drink in some way. Submit one unpublished story, 2,500 words
PRIZE:  £7,500  
URL:  mogfordprize@oxfordliteraryfestival.org
DEADLINE: October 1, 2013
GENRE: Books
DETAILS: Any genre of novel is accepted, as long as it includes a
love story. "Boy meets girl, girl meets girl, girl meets shark,
shark meets pirate -- anything goes." Previously unpublished novel,
50,000 words minimum, no maximum.  
PRIZE:  $10,000 and publication by Quirk Books. 
URL: http://quirkbooks.com/lovestories  
DEADLINE: October 31, 2013
OPEN TO:  Writers aged 18 to 25 only. 
GENRE:   Nonfiction
DETAILS: Theme for the essay is: ""Dost thou love life? Then do not
squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." 1000 - 1500
PRIZES: £750, £500 and publication. 

DEADLINE: November 30, 2013
GENRE: Poetry
DETAILS: 2013 theme is Search Engines. "The judges will favour
poems that utilise the terminology of search/search engines/seo in
an innovative way. We want something fresh and unique. It will help
your efforts to do a little bit of research if you don't already
know some of these words. We will also be judging the form of your
poem -- how it looks on a computer screen. Remember your poem is
for digital publication, NOT for print (hint: have you ever
right-clicked a web page and clicked 'view page source' in a PC?
The HTML source code of a website often has beautiful form).
Finally, we will be judging how your poem sounds when read aloud --
does it have rhythm, flow etc." One poem per person/email address,
maximum 1,000 KB file size.
PRIZES: NZ$300 and publication at http://ititch.com and 
URL:   https://ititch.com/poetry-contest/

AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

I Have to Get It Off My Chest - I Have to Tell My Truth, 
by Inguna Brazil 

Find these and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know: 
just click on the link below to list your book.


on how to reach more than 140,000 writers a month with your 
product, service or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Readers are welcome to forward this newsletter by e-mail IN ITS
ENTIRETY.  This newsletter may not be reposted or republished in
any form, online or in print, nor may individual articles be 
published or posted without the written permission of the author
unless otherwise indicated.

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com) 

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2013 Moira Allen

Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
and may not be reprinted without the author's written permission,
unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor