“I Like to Read”Guest Post by Kris D. Keith

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I like to read.

Obviously. I’m a writer. But up until recently, reading what other authors had to say just didn’t appeal to me. If they were successful I assumed they were just speaking with an air of entitlement: “I made it, so you should listen to what I have to say.” If they weren’t successful (yet) I assumed what they said was useless. These assumptions of course exclude “the greats” like Stephen King, Margaret Atwood etc. I think I’ve read On Writing by King three times now. But I am here today to admit, I was naive.

Other writers DO have something to say.

And I’m not just saying that so you will read my contribution on The Spinning Pen. If I were to fit into an assumption above it’d be the “not successful and has only useless things to say.” But if my mom taught me anything it’s that assumptions are stupid. Well, she might have said it a little differently with her southern drawl but that is neither here nor there. The point is (and there IS a point) is that I’m older now, wiser, and feel compelled to share my wisdom. Not because I think I’m all knowing and what I have to say will solve ALL your writerly problems. But because I’ve found a few places on the web that have helped me along the way and I think some readers might find them useful too. That’s all. No strings attached. Just simple sharing. Sharing is caring, right?

First of the three is the website Duotrope.

Established in 2005, I started using it around 2007. I was awash in the midst of my college experience, taking a fiction writing class at Augustana College. The professor urged us to submit to literary magazines. I did, but staying organized was painful. I found Duotrope and fell in love. It made searching for new literary magazines super easy, offering collected information on whether they were accepting, likelihood of acceptance, likelihood of receiving a response, whether that response may be personalized or not, etc. You even have a place to track your submissions. It’ll tell you how long they’ve been out for and allow you to edit the entry once you receive a response (thus adding more information to the pool making their statistics more accurate). The one downside is that while Duotrope was free when I first used it, it is now a subscription based service. I would still highly recommend paying for it if you are serious about submitting to literary magazines or you’re a short story writer.

duotrope

My second recommendation is Figment.

Aimed at more youthful writers, I still found a comfortable home there while I was in college. It was a nice place for inspiration. They hold contests with themes or offer parameters for a short story. One time they used a photograph, asking writers to submit a short story inspired by it. That short story turned into the prologue to my current work in progress, Book of Hearts. Since it is aimed at school age writers, adult writers wanting to use the site will have to keep their writing appropriate.

figment

My last stop is Jukepop, a serial publication website.

I stumbled upon Jukepop when it was just starting up, being one of the first fifty or so serials on the site. They actually pay you for the first few hundred words, then after that payment is based on popularity of your work on the site. At the time, I didn’t approve of their calculating system. The way the Top 30 was determined didn’t seem fair to me. It has since changed, and calculates its numbers daily, weekly and then monthly. I used Jukepop to further along Book of Hearts. It was great having the motivation of readers wanting a new chapter. Plus, other writers can offer editorial help if you are comfortable with that. I have since stopped using Jukepop, but last time I checked they only request six months inclusiveness for your work and then you are free to publish elsewhere.

jukepop

These websites are not the end all be all of writing sites, but each one has shaped my personal journey as a writer in some way in the past ten years. Frankly, some of you may take a gander at them and find them absolutely useless. And that’s okay. But maybe some of you will look at them and find them useful and find a home for yourself there where you can hunker down and learn a thing or two, and isn’t that the point of one’s writing journey anyway?

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Krystal Keith, signing off.

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