Friday, January 25, 2013

Open Call for Fiction

Calling all writers!

Dust off that manuscript, finish it, and submit it. Don't bother me with any excuses. I've heard, or used, them all.

Carpinteria Magazine has a call for short stories. And, as always, never a submission fee.

Deadline is Feb. 28. As a writer, I always work backward from the deadline date. That's why I put it first. Maximum word count is 2,500. Send text-only (Word docs preferred) submissions to:

No fuss. No muss. Fingers to keyboard. Write that story. It's in you. Get it out.

Carpinteria Magazine is open to themes and subject matter. But, you'll find in past issues the selected short story is Carpinteria-related. Visit the Web site to read past selections. Begin with the Summer 2011 issue and work backward.

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Coupon Necessary

"You're so organized" is a compliment I hear every once in a while. It is flattering, but I'm not sure how well deserved it is. Basically, I'm running a one-woman operation at Orozco Ink so my organizational skills never have been put to a real test.

This is typical of me to downplay a compliment or to consider a skill of mine as nothing special. After all, I do manage multiple deadlines and tasks daily. And, missing a deadline is so out of character for me it would cause a client to check in on my well being.

One organizational thing I can't get my arms wrapped around is coupons. Yes, I'm talking about coupons of the grocery variety, the X-amount-of-dollars-off an item in exchange for a piece of paper.

After a while, I just swore off the Sunday paper coupon pages. Most of the stuff I don't buy anyway. Plus, if I figured the time and effort put into clipping and tracking them, it wasn't worth the 35 cents off -- even if it were to be doubled.

I must confess, I still fall prey to Costco coupons. And, I still mess up. I dutifully cut them out (even the "no coupon needed" ones just so I won't forget to buy the item) and put them in my wallet, next to my money so I can't forget them.

Well, forget them I do. I hate that. Three days after the Costco run I discover them in my wallet. I've tried clipping the coupons to the list and to my Costco card. Still doesn't work.

From now on, I think I'll just forego the Costco coupons. Organize them into the same category as the Sunday supplement coupons.

Monday, January 7, 2013

What’s in a Name?

I chose the name Orozco Ink for my business because I like the play on words between “ink” and “inc.” The “ink” part related well to the business of writing, and I thought the “inc.” gave it an official tone. Kind of, anyway.

I still really like the name.

Well, it is funny how confusing a name can be. I never considered the following: A call from a potential client looking for a calligrapher to do some menus. A very friendly man he was, by the way. We chatted a bit about mix-ups and how confusing the English language can be.

Another interesting call I received was someone looking for a tattoo artist. Of course, now that I think about it, “ink” is much better suited to a tattoo artist than to a writer who uses a laptop.

And, FYI, I don’t even have a tattoo.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Time's Up!

Nothing like New Year’s to remind you of time. The figure of Father Time – replete with an hourglass and scythe – is seen frequently in advertisements and political cartoons on this side of the holiday season, as are the flying pages of a calendar or a countdown clock.

Time is one of the most important tools of a writer’s trade. It’s up there with a keyboard and monitor or writing implement and paper. Or should I say “measured time” is one of the most important tools? If it was not for deadlines, I don’t think I would finish many projects. And by “finish,” I mean walk away from a project and turn to a different one.

That’s the beauty of a timed writing exercise. Set the timer for any amount of minutes (not sure I have ever used hours) and I’m guaranteed to get click-clacking away on the computer. Timed writing is wonderful for not only getting the job at hand to the finish line but also for brainstorming new projects and ideas to pitch.

Here's what I usually do: Make a reasonable estimate on how long a task should take. I try to break down an assignment into chunks, such as outline, research, quotes from sources, and the like. Then, I set the timer accordingly and away I go. Usually I finish before the timer goes off, but if I don't, that's OK. I either continue to the finish line without the timer, reset the timer, or schedule it for another day.

It’s such a simple and effective tool. This is my New Year’s resolution – do more timed writings.

At left is my trusty phone that has a convenient timer. I also use a kitchen timer sometimes. I prefer something with an audible alarm, unlike an hourglas, but nothing too jolting, like a fire alarm.