Steve Carter - Writer's Journal

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Writer's Journal


The Duck Lake Journal

Two of my poems, “Entrance” and “Mountain Music,” were recently published in the first issue of The Duck Lake Journal. Print and digital versions of the journal can be purchased here


Books on Writing Updated

My updated list of books on writing is here. When time allows, I’ll update it and add comments and recommendations.


Fourth & Sycamore

Today two of my poems, “Distant Music” and “Moment’s Dance,” appeared in the online literary magazine Fourth & Sycamore, the literary journal of the Greenville Public Library located in Greenville, Ohio. From their website: Fourth & Sycamore provides book reviews, author interviews, other thoughtful book-related content, and original creative writing for our readers. The name Fourth & Sycamore refers to the street corner on which our 110-year-old library building resides. We chose the name to emphasize that while the books we discuss here allow our minds to explore the world, we are here to serve the local community in which we live. The knowledge contained within the walls of our building explores every continent of the earth and even the oceans and outer space, but that building itself sits in the small town of Greenville that gives our institution its name, and our library is here to provide reading and resources for that town.

I wrote “Distant Music” in 1984, and over the past 31 years it was rejected by 17 magazines. I wrote “Moment’s Dance” in 1988, and over the past 35 years it has been rejected by 33 magazines.
Sometimes it takes a while to find a poem a befitting home.

You can read the poems here.


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - July 2018 - Summary

The WPM event for July featured Jeff Deck on writing, Mac Smith on publishing, and Steve Carter on marketing.

Here’s the podcast:


Jeff Deck - starts at 2:10 - main topic: what inspired his new book

Mac Smith - starts at 6:10 - main topic: how he got his first book published

Steve Carter - starts at 11:15 - main topic: how to develop your marketing materials

The PDF for Steve’s presentation is here

Q&A starts at 32:02


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - January 2018 - Summary

The WPM event for January featured Butch Heilshorn on writing, Steve Carter on publishing, and K. M. Doherty on marketing.

Here’s the podcast:


Butch Heilshorn - starts at - main topic: from idea to published book
- getting started on the book 9:52
- writing process 12:30
- writing journey 15:06

Steve Carter - starts at 16:57 - main topic: book production process
- how he got his book accepted by a publisher 8:15
- process PDF available 20:04

K. M. Doherty - starts at 28:15 - main topic: what works and what doesn’t work in marketing
- who is your target audience? 32:24
- hone your categories on Amazon 40:52
- luck vs hard work 47:11

Q&A starts 48:18


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - December 2017 - Summary

For the holiday season, we decided to forego the usual panel discussion and instead have the First Annual WPM Holiday Hangout.

Marilynn made some delectable dishes and set up a festive spread.

Unfortunately, the weather was icy and the turnout small. But a splendid time was had by the few of us who braved the ice.


Rejection Slip

My poem “Rejection Slip” was just published in PPP Ezine: Poetrypoeticspleasure Ezine.

This poem has been rejected by 18 magazines over the past 33 years:

Nice to have “Rejection Slip” accepted!

(Speaking of rejections, see also this post.)


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - November 2017 - Summary

The WPM event for November featured Shelby June on writing, Alex Case on publishing, and Steve Carter on marketing.

Here’s the podcast:


Shelby June - starts at 3:00 - main topic writing novels and short stories
- writing process 4:36
- writing and music 5:10
- hardest part of writing 5:35

Alex Case - starts at 6:26 - main topic traditional (academic) publishing
- how he got his book accepted by a publisher 8:15
- publishing online content 11:06
- in-person contacts opening opportunities 12:06

Steve Carter - starts at 12:50 - main topics
- press release, blurb, PR materials 13:35
- join organizations related to the topic of your book 18:18
- book release party 20:31
Click here to download the outline of my marketing presentation

Q&A starts 26:43


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - October 2017 - Summary

The WPM event for October featured James Patrick Kelly on writing, Jeff Deck on publishing, and Dan Szczesny on marketing.

Here’s the podcast:


James Patrick Kelly - starts at 1:60 - main topic the first 250 words of your piece
- why the first 250 words are important 2:00
- 5 questions and editor is thinking about 3:54
- goals of the first 250 words 5:45

Jeff Deck - starts at 15:58 - main topic is traditional publishing vs. self-publishing
- it’s a long road either way 18:09
- what to watch out for in self-publishing 22:17
- disdain for self-publishing 22:50

Dan Szczesny - starts at 31:02 - main topics
- things to do before marketing 34:07
- platform 34:48
- the brand you are building is you 40:06

Q&A starts 44:53


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - September 2017 - Summary

The WPM event for September featured E. Christopher Clark on writing, myself on publishing, and Amy Ray on marketing.

Here’s the podcast:

(There was a technical glitch during the live recording, so we had to re-record Chris Clark’s presentation, and do some audio cutting and pasting. But I think you’ll find the podcast is worthwhile in spite of the glitches.)


E. Christopher Clark - starts at 0:60 - main topic is revision
- two kinds of revision 2:20
- revisions Chris made himself 3:20
- revision based on outside perspective 9:30

Steve Carter - starts at 14:00 - main topic is software tools for writers
- writing tools 14:27
- research tools 18:43
- production tools 20:21

Amy Ray - starts at 23:02 - main topics are what marketing worked and what didn’t
- professional reviews 24:04
- blog tours 25:48
- personal appearances 28:12

Q&A starts 39:40

swc note: Ask a Book Editor group on Facebook: They have a list of editors, and the services they provide, in the files section.


WPM - Writing, Publishing, Marketing - August 2017 - Summary

The WPM event for August featured Katherine Mayfield on writing, myself on publishing, and Beth Boynton on marketing.

Here’s the live recording of the event:

Here’s the structure of the event (with times indicated if you want to scroll within the recording):

High points:

Katherine Mayfield

Steve Carter

Beth Boynton



Maat Meets Gibson’s

Concord’s indie bookstore since 1898 John LeDonne, Jr.

We placed two Maat Publishing titles on consignment at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord today. The process was easy. Marilynn had called and asked who to talk to about book placement, and they said we could see John LeDonne. We walked into the store with a few copies of our books, and twenty minutes later the books were on the shelves. John is a real gentleman, a pleasure to work with. We had placed the first edition of our cookbook with him several years ago. As he was cataloging our new books, he noticed that in the database and asked if Gibson’s was up to date with their payments for those books. We said we thought so (as it turns out, they were). Nice to see such integrity and considerate business practices.


Aeon Timeline Testimonial

Take a look at Aeon Timeline.


RiverSea Gallery

The RiverSea Gallery in Dover, NH is now featuring three Maat Publishing books – No Fret Cooking, Experience the Wisdom Light Love of Reiki, and Intermodulations – as well as my CDs, Act One and Touching Light.


Reiki Book

We published Marilynn’s Experience the Love Light Wisdom of Reiki, with a very successful release party, on November 26. Learn more about the book here.


Pool Shark

My poem “Pool Shark” appeared in Pure Slush Magazine, which comes out of Australia. I wrote the poem more than twenty years ago, and it had been rejected by about 24 magazines over the years. I submitted to Pure Slush recently and the editor suggested a minor edit to the poem – he was right. His suggestion tightened up the poem. The magazine is available as eBook and in print, so please check it out: .


Negative Capability

Gold Dust Magazine just published my poem “Negative Capability” in their Summer 2016 online edition, and in the print edition. Click here to read the poem.



Fermata Publishing Online recently published my poem “Alphaville.” You can click here to see how my poem looks in the journal. The layout – including putting the poem entirely in upper case – was the editor’s decision. I guess it works in the context of that issue, but I prefer my original formatting, which you can view here.

I wrote the poem in about 1987. I came home late from a gig and watched the movie on our tiny black-and-white rabbit-eared TV. The movie was so bad I had to write about it. Years later I read online that it had become a cult classic. Sometimes bad is good.


Writing To Learn

View Writing to LearnWriting_to_Learn_cover

I just got up to mix myself another gin-and-tonic. As I returned to my rocking chair, my eye fell upon the spine of a book in the orange bookcase next to my rocker: Writing to Learn, by William Zinsser. I first read the book when I was teaching English at Berklee. Since then, the scourge of Writing Across the Curriculum has devastated the lands of higher education. And since then Willam Zinsser has passed away. But his observations were correct, his examples exquisite, and if his principles had been adequately understood and enthusiastically applied much miseducation might have been fended off.


Writing Workflow

The week of November 9th through the 15th was New Hampshire Writer’s Week. In recognition of that, the NH Writers’ Project sponsored a series of panel discussions, one each night of the week, on “The Writer’s Journey.” I was invited to be part of the panel on Monday night, when the topic was “The One Thing You Need to Finish Your First Draft.” I was honored to share the stage with four outstanding New Hampshire writers: Lea Page, Richard Adams Carey, Rob Greene, and James Patrick Kelly.

My notes on my presentation.


Cortland Review Publication

View PoemCortland_Review_The_Singer

My poem “The Singer” was recently published in the online journal The Cortland Review. You can read the poem online, and click on the blue circle with the arrow, to hear a recording of me reading the poem. Click here.

I wrote the poem in 1984, and submitted it to 26 magazines before it was accepted by The Cortland Review.


Productivity Reports

Scrivener shows total word count for your manuscript, and word count for the current session – useful information. Some users have posted requests on the forum requesting word counts broken out various ways. One user wanted a report to show on which days he was most productive. The makers of Scrivener responded that this was out of scope for the product – which seems right.

That got me to thinking about my own productivity. I’ve kept a time sheet database for years. When I was working as a contract programmer, I used it to track my hours for billing. A couple of years ago, when I began working in earnest on my novel, I started logging those hours, adding a word count field to the database, so I could examine my productivity in more detail.

Sometimes I write at home, often I write in bars and coffee shops. So I wonder: in which locations have I been most productive? I wrote a report showing location, total hours, total words, and words-per-hour. I can sort it to get different views: where did I write the most words? Where did I spend the most time? Where did I produce the most words-per-hour, and how does that sit in the overall time-spent span?

After perusing the data, sorted various ways, and mentally eliminating outliers, the only thing I can see is that location has some impact on my productivity, but not much. Even so, some of the data merits a closer look.

Productivity Reports Analysis

Here are some of my thoughts on the reports.

Total Hours

I’ve written the most words for my novel at home (HO=Home Office). The words-per-hour figure is a bit misleading, because much of my time working at home was spent on research, building the novel timeline, and other activities that don’t contribute to the word count, but do move the writing project forward. That said, the low words-per-hour figure reminds me that at home there are many distractions: floors that need to be swept,grass that needs to be mowed, guitars and basses around my home office that beg to be played, and so forth. Lately I’ve been more productive, in a pure word-count sense, away from home.

Noreen’s refers to a friend’s house where Marilynn takes classes and I am offered a room of my own, to write. The isolation aids productivity.

Wolfe’s Tavern is a place I’ve gone to work while Marilynn was in classes. I’ve been going there for years. For the first year or so, I was composing and arranging the music for No Fret Cooking, using Notion. I found that having music notation on my laptop screen discouraged the regulars from asking what I was working on. A screen full of words does not offer the same deterrent, and all too often the bar denizens feel no compunction about talking to me while I’m trying to write. In fact, one night – while I sat alone at a table, earbuds in, typing – a woman who had sampled a goodly amount of the tavern’s liquid offerings came over to me and said, “I have one question for you: Are you Ben Franklin?” Languidly I removed my earbuds, lowered my head a bit to stare over the top of my reading glasses, and said, “Yes, I am.”

Wendy’s refers to our daughter’s apartment in Pennsylvania. We often visit her for extended periods, and while she is at work I get time to write. A productive setting.

Flat Street is a brew pub in Brattleboro, VT, where I go while Marilynn is in classes nearby – a recurring theme. We will be going to Brattleboro for a few days next month, and I’m looking forward to some productive writing time – and some tasty brews.

Book & Bar, as the name implies, is a bookstore with a bar, in Portsmouth, NH. It sells only used books, so has a historical mustiness that stimulates the writing sense. It also features tasty brews. Marilynn and I are there now, as I write this. She has a Chai and is writing on papers in a Manila folder balanced on her lap; I have a Founder’s Scotch Ale and am typing on my laptop, balanced on my lap.

Castaways is a bar in Dover, NH, that has a deck overlooking the Cocheco River. We often go there on sunny afternoons, chat for a while, maybe have an appetizer, and then write. We’ve been doing this for a couple of summers. The sun is too bright for me to use my laptop, so I would write in my Moleskine pocket journal. Recently I was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st Century when our daughters insisted we get smart phones, so this summer I intend to write there on my Galaxy S6, which is usable in bright light. Typing on it is slower than on my laptop, but probably comparable to printing in my Moleskine (my cursive, when I am in the heat of creation, is illegible, even to me). This summer I will be diligent in determining the productivity quotient at Castaways. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that they have great happy hour prices.

I see that I have 7th Settlement – a bar in Dover, NH – entered twice, once as “Seventh Settlement.” At some point I’ll fix the data a re-run the reports.

Total Words

Sorting by hours doesn’t reveal much, except that I spend more time writing in bars than in coffee shops. The Barley Pub entry is strange: over eight hours and no words. I’ll have to drill down into that. The Barley Pub was for years my favorite pub in Dover. I played dozens of gigs there, and often went there to write or compose. I composed and arranged much of Touching Light there, high-definition earbuds in, Notion on screen. I suspect that the word count has to do with the sad demise of the Barley Pub – a story for another day.

Words Per Hour

The words-per-hour for Sonny’s Tavern is impressive. But it was less than an hour. Maybe I copied in some text and reworked it. Sonny’s is in the location of the old Barley Pub. Curious. Ogunquit looks pretty good in terms of words-per-hour, but the data point is just a half hour on a summer evening, sitting on a bench at Perkin’s Cove, writing in my pocket journal, while Mal was going from store to store. Maybe the secret for writing productivity, for me, is to take my wife shopping more often. I remember [William G. Leavitt] telling me that he wrote many of his guitar arrangements sitting in his car in the parking lot of Shoppers World in Framingham (strangely enough, right down the street from where Marilynn grew up). I suspect that Marilynn’s interpretation of the data would be: The Universe is trying to tell you to take me shopping more often.


One Cannot Read a Book

Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. A good reader, a major reader, an active reader is a rereader. And I shall tell you why. When we read a book for the first time the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation. When we look at painting we do not have to move our eyes in a special way even if, as in a book, the picture contains elements of depth and development. We have no physical organ (as we have the eye in regard to painting) that takes in the whole picture and then can enjoy its details. But at a second, or third, or fourth reading we do, in a sense, behave towards a book as we do towards a painting.

Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature


Self-Publishing Workshop Video

The video of my Self-Publishing Workshop is now avaialbe. To view it, click here.


Authors at the Inn

Maat Publishing co-hosted its first author event at the Victoria Inn in Hampton, NH, on May 6. There was a lot of interest from local writers to participate and we had 13 authors displaying their books, 7 that read exerpts from their books, while Loris Burbine came dressed as Edgar Allan Poe to read one of his poems, and Steve Carter presented an introductory workshop on the art of self publishing. The inn provided a beautiful picturesque setting for this event and their chef set up a delicious display of hot and cold appetizers. This was the inn’s first author event, that was so successful it promises to be a yearly happening. Thanks everyone for helping to make this an enjoyable and successful event!!

Authors interested in participating at the inn or another event, please contact Marilynn and Steve through Maat Publishing at


Self-Publishing Workshop

Tomorrow we offer the first Maat Publishing event for authors: [Authors at the Inn][AuthorsAtTheInnFlyer]. As part of the event, I’ll be running a brief Self-Publishing Workshop.


Poetry Authors Tea

View Flyer IntermodulationsIntermodulations_Cover_thumb_36

On Sunday, April 26,2015, I’ll be taking part in the Poetry Authors Tea at the Silver Fountain Inn in Dover, NH. I’ll be reading from Intermodulations.

At the NH Writers Project Writer’s Day, during a panel discussion entitled THE TRUTH ABOUT PUBLISHING REVEALED! ALL YOUR PUBLISHING QUESTIONS ANSWERED, publisher Ib Bellew of Bunker Hill Publishing said, “Everybody’s writing, but no one’s reading.”


Book Production Workflow

Here’s a quick overview of the workflow for the production of Intemodulations print and ebook versions.

Each poem was stored in a separate RTF file. I created a folder in Scrivener, and imported the RTF files, which created documents under the folder, one for each poem, named from the title of the poem. I knew I wanted to do the final formatting for the print version in Scribus, and Scribus imports ODT files but not RTF files, so I compiled to ODT. I opened the ODT file, and did the formatting: setting the fonts, styles, indenting, and so forth. I imported the ODT file into Scribus, and did some tweaking to make sure the layout was correct.


My February Second Tradition

On February 2nd, James Joyce’s birthday, I have a standing tradition – actually, a sitting tradition. I pour a glass of Guinness, or other suitable libation, sit in my rocking chair, and read a chapter of Ulysses. I first read the novel in college, almost a half century ago. I still have my copy from those days, heavily annotated, the pages yellowed. This year I read from The Corrected Text edition. I chose the Scylla and Charybis episode, mainly because it takes place in a library, and I have a scene in All Cars Run to Park Street that takes place in a library. A few of my favorite lines from Joyce’s episode:

Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.

. . .

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.

. . .

See this. Remember.

. . .



Birthday, Blizzard, Books

My 69th birthday. Marilynn made me a great birthday card. Mother Nature gave me the gift of a blizzard of historic proportions. I’ve set up Birthday-Blizzard-Central in the livingroom. Today’s books:

The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Steven Pinker.

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Simon Winchester

Writing to Learn: How to Write and Think Clearly About Any Subject at All. William Zinsser

Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar

As my grandfather used to say: That’s my idea of a good time!


Intermodulations Released

I’m proud to announce the publication of my first book of poetry, Intemodulations, published by Maat Publishing.

Some of the poems in this volume date back as far as 1968. Many were previously published in literary magazines.

A good number of the poems are impressions of our two children, Sheri Santo and Wendy Carter. This photo was taken today by Sheri, just after I presented her with a signed copy of the book. She inspired some of the poems in this volume, and many others. This photo shows the graphic arts magic she can work with simple materials: a book, two glasses of craft beer, a kitchen counter-top, and an iPhone.

The blurb on the back cover was written by our daughter Wendy. She, too, inspired many of my poems, and captured the spirit of the work in a few words.

My beloved wife, Marilynn, also inspired many of these poems. She encouraged me to publish this book under our new publishing company, Maat Publishing.

The book is dedicated, with much love, to Marilynn, Sheri, and Wendy.

I hope my readers find it enjoyable.


Rejected, Not Dejected

At a recent writers meeting, I mentioned that over the years I’d received over 600 rejections for my poetry. Several of the writers were aghast at that figure. Actually, that figure is misleadingly low. The figure I cited was roughly the number of poetry submissions for which I’d received rejections, but, since each submission contains anywhere from one to five poems, the number of poem rejections is much higher. Two thousand three hundred and thirty-three, to be exact. Well, it’s not all that exact. I got that number by running a query on my submissions database, but that only includes submissions since 1984, when I started keeping track on the computer. Before that – 1968 to 1983 – there were hundreds of other submissions; I long ago threw out the notebooks in which I kept track of those.


Books on Writing

The other night at the NH Writers’ Project Writers’ Night Out, someone asked me about a list of books about writing. My first pass at a list is here. When time allows, I’ll update it and add comments.


Submissions Manager

I wrote my own Submissions Manager program, for managing my poetry, fiction, and non-fiction submissions and queries. I’ve written a quick overview of the poetry submissions section of the program. It might give you some ideas about how you can better manage your own submissions. You can download the PDF here.


Tools of the Trade

I started taking notes for All Cars Run to Park Street more than forty years ago. One of my first tasks when I picked up the project again a couple of years ago was to organize those notes. I used Scrivener and FreePlane. I’ve posted a video explaining this process here. I’ll be writing more about these tools in this joiurnal.


New Writer’s Journal

I’ve been writing for about fifty years. My first publication was in 1969–a poem called “Merry-Go-Round” published in Hanging Loose magazine. Since then I’ve published poetry in many literary magazines, and non-fiction in some music magazines.

Recently, I’ve resumed work on a novel that I started more than forty years ago, All Cars Run to Park Street. In this Writer’s Journal I’ll be writing about my progress on that novel.