Publishing Short Stories Online – A Short Story-A-Thon

The idea came to me after talking to a few people who wanted to publish short stories online to Amazon but weren’t sure where to start or even what they wanted to write about.

Publish that short story online

So, I’ve come up with a way help everyone through the process with this Short Story-a-thon.

Here’s how it works:

Friday-Idea Creation

The idea of the event is to start off on Friday night and gather ideas for our stories. For that, I’ll be taking everyone to a few different locations in downtown to people watch and idea gather.

So Friday is all about movement, observation, and note-taking. Then we’ll come back to FatPipe ABQ to wrap up, have some snacks, and anyone can stay for a while to start writing.

Homework: Everyone has to come up with a paragraph about their story before Saturday morning. This is so you can either hire a graphic designer or have an idea what your book cover should look like. (more on that is below)

Saturday-Lot’s of Work

Saturday will be the long hard day it’s. It’s a lot of work to write and edit, plus you really need to get it input on your story from readers to become a better writer and to write a better story. So, Saturday will start off bright and early. We will write, edit, and review each other stories. I will also have a couple of editors on hand that I will hire to help edit grammar for the participants.

I’ll have coffee and snacks available during the whole event. And, lunch is on your own, but I’ll bring in a food truck, Cheesy Street, if there is enough interest.

To break up the day a little I will also address Cover art as well as share a list of graphic designers so you can hire and are willing to design a cover within 24 hours.

I will also talk a little bit about how to use Canva if you don’t want to hire someone for your cover.

Sunday-Publishing Your Short Story

Then Sunday is going to be the fun publishing day. We will eat cake while I show everyone how step-by-step we publish our short stories online to Amazon. I will also share a list of contests.

I’ll also share some template information to include in your short story for copywrite.

If you publish to Amazon you’ll not only get a chance to make money off your creativity, but you’ll also receive a fun ducky pen.

A Contest Too!

Plus I’m going to have a contest. The top stories (number to be determined later) will receive a stamp in their story that says they are plot duckies approved. And those stories will also be listed on the plot duckie’s website with a link to their respective Amazon pages.

Ready to sign up Albuquerque? Get your tickets here. FYI: $40 for all three days or you can sign up for an individual day.

Short Story-A-Thon ABQ

Short Story-A-Thon ABQ

More Happening!

If you bring a donation to this event on Friday night or Saturday morning for Albuquerque Reads, you’ll be entered to win a free cover design from Leslie Reilly! (Leslie designed the cover for my first novel – Toy of the gods)

The donation must be either funds ($5 or more per person) or new/gently used early elementary books!

Writers Forum

A new, unique opportunity to get help for writers with our new Writers Forum for Plot Duckies (aka Duckies Forum)! This will only be offered for the next 10 days (March 29, 2018) – otherwise, you have to be a Plot Box subscriber to get access.

I’m creating a forum where writers can connect online (not a group, not a facebook page).

How does the Duckies Writers Forum work?

1. Join Duckies Forum
2. Share a challenge, obstacle, question, or setback you’re facing in your writing
3. Answer someone else’s challenge, obstacle, question, or setback with ideas or feedback.
4. Get ideas and answers from me and other experienced writers.
5. Don’t waste time searching for an answer on Facebook or Google.

BTW: One of you lucky ducks will win a free Plot Box (first box). AND – as I build out the Plot Duckies platform, you’ll get the opportunity to tell me what you need help with the most. My goal is to be your most helpful source of ideas, inspiration, and motivation to keep writing creatively.

Ready to connect with like-minded writers who want to grow and learn? Then sign up here: http://eepurl.com/dos9hv

Next step? At the end of ten days, I’ll turn off the sign-up, and send you an email with more information. Connect with you soon!

Writing Box Subscription!

The Idea for the Writing Box

When I started Plot Duckies, I wanted to find a way to help as many creative writers as possible. Events are great, but I wanted to do more.

I was looking for help on running an idea hack session for my business. Turns out ABQID runs idea hack sessions! It’s like a brainstorming session only better. (I’ll create another post about how old fashion brainstorming isn’t the best way to come up with new ideas.)

For this session, it was TJ Cook, two target customers, and me. We ended up with some amazing ideas and two of those ideas came out on top.

One of those ideas, a writing box. A subscription box that would have helpful and fun things for creative writers. Wow, I love that idea!

The writer subscription box

Now I’m running with the box idea. What I’ve done so far:

  • I created a survey for input on what people might like, as well as what issues I could help them with.
  • I’ve created the first prototype of the box.
  • I’ve done a ton of work on costs and pricing.

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What Comes in the Box

This is what I’ve narrowed it down to:

Box 1:

  1. Chapter 1 of “Feed Your Creative Writer” A how-to on creativity,
  2. Welcome card with access to private Slack group and information on what to do with everything in the box.
  3. Fun 8 1/2 X 11 notebook,
  4. Dividers for your notebook,
  5. How-to outline your novel, and getting started
  6. A fun pen,
  7. A five-minute timer,
  8. and a plot duckie.
  9. There’s even a discount code for the writing platform Scrivener!

I’ll also use the pain points of the first five Beta testers to add additional items to the box so it’s as helpful as possible.

Future boxes all include a new chapter of how-to on creativity, a notebook (various sizes), a pen, a helpful outline or information on a writing topic like questions to ask your characters. I’ll also be on the lookout for coupons and great deals on things writers love.

Box 2 will specifically include a workbook on finding time to write. Members of the Slack group can let me know what they’d like to see in upcoming boxes.

The price will probably be $25 a month plus shipping.

What I learned creating the prototype

  • I really, really wanted to include a fun mug, but I found it would make the subscription too expensive (Darn it!) I might offer it as an add-in or a one-time order. Why? Because I love shopping and I’ve found some cool mugs.
  • That there are a few ways to set-up a subscription plan and some want more money than others to do all the hard work in the background.

Where I’m going

The best option I’ve found: Adding Woocommerce to my website and purchasing their subscription piece. Luckily, I’m familiar with WordPress and adding Woocommerce shouldn’t be too difficult. However, it means taking some time to learn, purchase an SSL certificate, etc.

So, as soon as I have everything set-up, I’ll have it connected to this website!

If you want a Writer Box Subscription

It’s all ready! I’m looking for 5 beta testers that will get the box at a discount. Send me a message through the website, and I’ll get back to you with the code. The box is live at yourstoryinabox.com

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Creative Thinking could be one Long Night Away

I love finding new research on creativity and creative thinking! There’s so much out there to know and I want to make sure to share it with you.

This latest from Scientific America suggests that we can be more creative when we’re tired. That might lend well to the whole idea of things like the National Novel in a Month, when writers take the month of November to write 50,000 words. Many of those writers are full-time workers and end up writing into the night or early morning, losing some sleep along the way.

But how does this help you? Working on that novel or short story? Schedule an early morning or late night, at a time you know you’ll be a little tired, and start writing. Give yourself a writing sprint for 5 or 10 minutes and go from there.

Did you try this? How did it work for you? I’d love to know! Please comment or email with your input!

Have a great creative writing day!

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Flash Fiction Alexandria and The Egg

My NYC Midnight Challenge #1 Flash Fiction (994 words/1000 word limit/written in 48 hours)

The following is pretty rough. I’ve left it in the form it was, having only 48 hours (minus all the hours I had to work those days).

Assignment- Genre: Fairy Tale; Location: Barn; Object: Crystal Ball

In the days now long departed lived a small community of part elves, part humans. They lived to help others by building homes, making clothes, and fighting for causes. When they came under attack by a ravenous horde of trolls, they found themselves without help. In the midst of a long siege, two young villagers mused over a mysterious object.

“What do you think it is?” Asked Len, his young voice cracking with puberty.

Alexandria shooed away a fly from her face. Of all the places this object had to show up, it had to be the horse barn. All the flies in the world seemed to find their way in here and it smelled. “What do you mean, what do I think it is?” Alexandria rolled her eyes but then tried to keep the annoyance out of her voice. “It’s obviously an egg.”

Len nodded and walked toward one of the horse stalls with a pitchfork in hand, seeming intent on doing his chores in spite of this strange appearance. “Not any kind of egg I’ve ever seen.”

She did have to admit it was pretty strange for an egg. And what could be in an egg that was the size of farmer Weir’s prize watermelon with skin predominately red, almost as red as her hair? There were also fine lines of gold intertwined, like a trellis.

She swatted at another fly hovering near the egg. In the process, she brushed against it. The red and gold surface swirled into bright multi-colors, but then it returned to its opaque state. The shape of the gold markings had changed. The top was a solid gold disk with gold lines trailing down.

The surface had felt extremely cold, but her hand was warm, almost hot. “Len, tell me if you think the egg feels cold?”

Len came back to the egg and gingerly touched the surface and shook his head. Nothing happened.

Alexandria’s shoulders sagged. This was not good. It was possible that this was what her fairy godmother had warned her about. “My dear,” She had said in that sweet voice, “You have magic in your blood. You’ll need to embrace who you really are someday.”

She wanted nothing to do with it. She was a fighter, not a magician. She stalked to the doors of the barn, intending to head for the blacksmiths to get her first sword and then find Derrick. Derrick was the adult of the fighting league and he could deal with this.

She stopped when she reached the door. Their town needed all the help they could get. The roaming band of trolls had been attacking with all their magic and swordplay. And no one wanted to help them. Even fairies dared not come around because there were so many pockets of unchecked magic. The last fairy who had bumped into one of the pockets had been turned into a firefly. She was currently working with the town’s doctor to overcome her fear she had every time her butt lit up.

She turned and faced the object. “Maybe this thing materialized due to all the magic being thrown around.”

Len nodded and touched the egg again. The absence of any change forced Alexandria to acknowledge what she needed to do. She walked up to the egg and touched it.

The surface changed immediately. The gold colors peeled away and climbed up her arm. The shape of the object became circular, then solidified into a crystal ball. The gold color felt warm on her arm and molded itself into images of flowers on her arm. She could also feel a new energy seeping into her.

Len stood quietly, watching with wide eyes.

Alex picked up the crystal ball with both hands, and spoke to it, “What can we do together to save my village?”

She looked into the ball, expecting a face, a voice, something to tell her exactly what to do. Instead, a scent arose from the cold ball.

She held the crystal ball towards Len. “Does that smell like vinegar to you?”

He sniffed the air, looking at her like she was crazy. “I don’t smell anything.”

Their village had been working on a few vats of apple cider vinegar to use as trade.

She tucked the ball into her knapsack and ran for the vinegar vats. The place was open and empty with all of the adults fighting at the wall. She could take a sample and throw it on a troll to see what would happen, but she didn’t feel as if she had time. She needed to take all of it with her, all four, two-story tall vats of it.

She glanced at her arm with the gold patterns and felt the energy inside her, but how to get it to work?

“Abracadabra!” She yelled. And nothing happened.

She thought back to what her fairy godmother had once said. She thought it was a terrible idea, but she imagined what she wanted to happen in her mind and said, “To thine ownself be true.”

The tattoos on her arm glowed brightly and the vats floated up in the air. She turned and ran, looking behind her only once to make sure the vats were following her.

She dashed up the stairs to the top of the wall. The fighting was still outside the village. The main work was keeping the trolls from attacking the wall itself.

From the top she pointed at the trolls below. “Go get them.” She yelled at the vats. They moved forward, tipping and pouring vinegar over trolls. The trolls looked dumbfounded for a moment until their dirty old coveralls fell off of their bodies. In embarrassment, they ran into the woods.

Not only was the village now free of its troll problem, the vinegar also cleared up all of those pesky magical balls floating around the village. Alexandria continued to use her powers and be true to herself.

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Keep Creative Writing!

I know you hear it from fellow writers that you should write every day. So you probably know that you should.

If I can do it, you can too

As a startup business owner, freelance technical writer, roller derby player, business mentor, etc. I have a hard time eeking out the minutes to write every day, but I do it anyway. Sure I lose some sleep, but we get better at something through practice, constructive feedback, and change. And my goal is to be a better creative writer.

Find a writing deadline

Even while in the depths of planning the first big writer’s event for Plot Duckies, I’m currently working on a novel re-write, a new ebook, and I joined a flash fiction writer’s challenge by NYC Midnight. By having a deadline, it pushes me to make sure I get the writing done.

It also helps if I consider myself my own client. How many times have you finished a project for your boss or a client? How many projects have you finished for yourself? So, just like a boss or client, give yourself a valid deadline and stick to it. Then give yourself a reward if it gets done.

Finding other Writing Options and Deadlines

If you are looking for a deadline and way to get your writing reviewed there will be a submission and review period as part of any of upcoming Plot Duckies events.

Or, if you are looking for different types of writing opportunities, I highly suggest signing up for C. Hope Clark’s Funds for Writers newsletter. You can get the free version with some super helpful writing contests and more, or you can go for the $15/year subscription that shares a lot more.

About NYC Midnight’s Challenge

The challenge is “a competition that challenges writers around the world to create short stories (1,000 words max.) based on genre, location, and object assignments.”

If you missed signing up for this one, their next challenge will be the Short Screenplay Challenge.

If you’d like to read my flash fiction submission for the challenge (under 1,000 words) that was written within 48 hours – it will be in the next blog post “Alexandria and The Egg“-that I’ll share on August 5. My assignment was: Genre: Fairy Tale, Object: Crystal Ball, Location: Barn. I’ll tell you now, it’s pretty rough, but in order to become better writers, we have to start sharing and getting feedback.

Get out there and get input

And that’s another thing. Share your writing and be willing to hear feedback. let’s all grow as writers. Feel free to leave comments for any feedback you have for my story!

If you’d like to keep up to date on Plot Duckie Events, sign up to our Duckiemail below.

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Decision Made! First Event at Hotel Parq Central

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I was reserving this next blog for my review of the Albuquerque Hyatt. However, after visiting I realized what a terrible idea that was. The whole reasoning behind the event is to get out of the norm of a conference, and the Hyatt, well, it’s pretty normal (as per that first picture on the left)

So, I’ve narrowed the event down to one place  – the Hotel Parq Central. Possibly haunted (although no official sightings), definitely comfortable, and definitely a little different. We’ll have our own building to start with (for the first nine who sign up).

I’m currently pricing out the four-day event, hiring on a couple of published authors, looking at pulling in some student ambassadors and using my skills as an instructional designer to pull together an educational, fun, and helpful writer’s event.

If you are a writer in the earlier stages of your writing (i.e. you want to get published but you don’t feel your work is there yet), or if you’re an established writer, but want to explore new ideas – Then consider marking off your calendar for Nov 9-13 and to making it to Albuquerque.

More to come soon!

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Checking Out Another Writing Conference Location

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Another hotel I wanted to check for my writing conference (aka Write. Learn. Play. event) in Albuquerque was Hotel Andaluz. It was built and opened by Conrad Hilton in 1939 as the first hotel in Albuquerque and was renovated in 2008.

Previous Experience

I had been here before for an event. This was back when I volunteered to do some writer work for the Creative Startups accelerator program. I liked working in this space and felt it might do well for creative writers.

The positives

I was greeted by Sheila who showed me around to talk about the hotel.  The mezzanine and their library are freely available for anyone to relax and work, the rooms are very nice, and it’s within walking distance to restaurants and downtown. I could easily imagine myself sitting in one of the big leather chairs, writing a short story.

The not so positives

The casitas here (the little rooms in the lobby) are so cool, but they use them as their bar area, as well as the outdoor space that’s available, so drink purchases would be required to work in either of those spaces. The music throughout the hotel open space was pretty loud, although I was told reluctantly that we could ask to have it turned down.

Also, I’ve worked with event planning and training events for many years, so having someone say to me in a serious manner, “Well, make sure you don’t schedule it over Thanksgiving” struck me as a bit condescending.

One more location to check

Hmmm… Well, I have one more place to check out. The Hyatt Albuquerque. I know, it’s just a Hyatt. It doesn’t have a historic or Albuquerque vibe, but I want to give the big place a chance. Soon I’ll make my decision!

If you want to keep up to date on upcoming events and creative ideas, feel free to sign up for duckiemail below.

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Finding the Best Location for a Writing Conference

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[/et_pb_image][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://www.plotduckies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/residence.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” animation=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” title_text=”The separate building at Hotel Parq Central that groups can reserve with its own library and more”]
[/et_pb_image][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://www.plotduckies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/breakfast-room.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” animation=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” title_text=”The breakfast room at Hotel Parq Central”]
[/et_pb_image][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://www.plotduckies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/porcharea.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” animation=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” title_text=”The outdoor space at Hotel Parq Central”]
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I’m sure you know that having the right ambiance for writing is important. If the space is too noisy it can be distracting and as a writer you’ve probably done your own search for the best place to write.

That’s why I decided to personally visit any hotels I book for events. I wanted to know that I could feel happy writing there, and hope that attendees would feel the same way.

The right choices

I first narrowed my choices down. I considered some of the iconic Route 66 motels in Albuquerque, but I found them too noisy and there were no great spaces to sit and write. Then I focused on hotels and narrowed the list down to places that have a presence/ambiance and were close to restaurants and downtown so we could access the train and other options.

Hotel with History

First up was Hotel Parq Central. This hotel was originally built in 1926 as a hospital to serve the people traveling and working on the Santa Fe Railroad. The facade is a beautiful Spanish Colonial and kept original while the interior was completely gutted and rebuilt in 2010.

The minute I walked in I loved it. Bright, clean, quiet and elegant.

I was greeted by the event coordinator, Noelle. Not only was she friendly, but being a creative writer she immediately understood what I was trying to achieve.

Great Spaces

She showed me around to the breakfast room. They have free continental breakfast and the room is left open all day. I’d love to spend some time in the center chair working on my novel!

They even have a separate building that was once the Head Physician’s residence with its own library and porch. In addition, there is a gorgeous lobby and a sunroom. There’s also a 24/7 hot tub, and an outdoor patio that will have heaters in October 2017 (luckily our weather in Albuquerque is pretty mild).

Next Up

I’m already in love, but I have to give the other two places a chance (I’ll be checking in on the Hotel Andaluz and the Hyatt Albuquerque)

I’ll have a decision on this soon. Personally, I can’t wait! This is going to be fun, exciting, and productive!

If you want to be kept up to date on the events as they unfold, sign up for Duckiemail.

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What to do about Boring Writing Conferences

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://plotduckies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/My-Writing-Notebook-1.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” text_font=”Raleway||||” text_font_size=”18″]

I was at a writers conference, my mind so numb from sitting down all day that I finally had to go for a walk. The inspirational muse had not bitten all day.

I came across a park where a gathering of neighbors was creating handmade ceramic leaves. The leaves were then affixed to the walls of their park. I was honored that they invited me to join them.

Creative Activity Breeds Creativity

The creative endeavor of designing my own leaf through a project I had never done before gave me new energy. Mid-activity I suddenly had an idea for a new story. A young girl on the search for a distant relative who might have secrets to reveal. A whoosh of dry leaves blowing around her as she walks down the New York city streets.

I stopped to take notes in my writer’s notebook that I carry with me everywhere. Then I finished up the ceramic leaf and made some new friends that day.

Inspiration

On my walk back to the conference, I realized that the experience was exactly what I needed; that and good instructors/facilitators for writing. And that’s when I decided to build a different kind of writer’s workshop.

An event where writers can have time to work on their projects, get feedback and instruction from published authors (who also know how to teach), and have fun activities that actually spur creative ideas. Since then, I’ve read a ton of scientific research about creativity and how to relearn to be creative.

I now have events coming up in Albuquerque throughout 2017 (and Santa Fe in 2018), and I would love your input on what you would like to see. Feel free to comment below or email me, what would you like to see in a creative writer event? Dream Big!

Thanks! Sonja

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