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

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 13:10      13,220 subscribers                  May 16, 2013
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THE EDITOR'S DESK: A Mother's Gift, by Moira Allen 
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: My Point of View on Point of View 
(Part Two), by Victoria Grossack 
FEATURE: Stealing Ideas at Church & Selling Them Back, 
by S. R. Morris
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Get Back to Basics for Success, 
by Dawn Copeman   
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A Mother's Gift

I've written editorials around holidays before, but never on
Mother's Day.  Since I am not a parent, Mother's Day generally
means remembering to send a card and/or flowers to my
mother-in-law.  Rarely do I reflect upon what it means to me

This year, however, as my mother-in-law is turning 90, we began a
family discussion of her many contributions to her family over
almost a century.  One of the topics my husband raised was the ways
in which she encouraged his love of history and archaeology.  And
that got me thinking about what may have been one of the best gifts
my mother gave me: The love of reading.

In fact, my mother was the person who TAUGHT me how to read.  I'm
not sure why she decided that this shouldn't be left in the hands
of mere schools, but when I was about five, she set in with
flashcards and the first "Dick and Jane" book.  When I'd mastered
that, she was able to get two more "Dick and Jane" books from the
school, and from there... well, from there, I don't suppose I ever
looked back.

But my love of reading didn't come from flashcards.  (In fact, I
think I pretty much hated the flashcards!)  It came from being a
part of a family where books were considered not just a normal but
an indispensable part of life.  We had books everywhere, in every
room -- including the bathroom, where, perhaps unwisely, my father
actually installed a built-in bookshelf.  This was stocked with a
selection of lurid mysteries and even more lurid true-crime tales. 
I, of course, was forbidden to read such inappropriate material,
and of COURSE I obeyed...  (Actually, I soon learned to go in
clutching an "authorized" book, e.g., something like Dr. Dolittle,
which would quickly be set aside as I perused the more intriguing
fare on the shelves.  And I wonder why I gravitate toward shows
like "Forensic Files" today...)

Everyone in the family read, and read constantly.  As a child, my
greatest desire was to be initiated into this fellowship of
readers.  I knew what was IN books, because my mother read to me. 
That was nice, but I wanted to be able to read to myself, to follow
a tale at my own pace and not have to wait until someone was free
to read the next chapter.  

When I was four or so, I caused much amusement when I located a
discarded mystery novel in a box of books in the attic.  It caught
my eye because it had something on the cover that I recognized: A
rasp, a tool my father used often.  (The book was Philip
MacDonald's "The Rasp," which I managed to locate and actually READ
some 40 years later...)  This became "my" book, and I carried it
with me everywhere.  It was just the right size to fit in a
bathrobe pocket, this being the day when pocket books really did
fit into pockets.  Carrying a book around like everyone else truly
made me feel like one of the "big people."  

The point was, my family didn't turn me into a reader by insisting
that I read, or forcing books on me, or telling me what a good idea
it was to read or how much I'd enjoy it or that it was "good for
me."  My family turned me into a reader by, simply, reading.  I
watched the avidness with which everyone around me devoured books,
the joy they experienced in getting new books for Christmas and
birthdays, the pleasure they obviously took in being able to settle
down in a comfortable chair in the evening and read.  (We had a
weekend cabin with no TV, which may have helped...)  This was
clearly a major source of family fun, and I wanted to be able to
enjoy it too.

Today, we are given endless, gloomy statistics and factoids about
the decline of reading in children.  We are also given endless
explanations for why fewer and fewer children are interested in
reading, with television and video games generally topping the
list.  Meanwhile, child "experts" of every ilk weigh in on what
children ought to read, want to read, shouldn't read, won't read,
and so forth.  I can recall reading many "expert" articles in
writing magazines declaring that "today's" children (which,
admittedly, are yesterday's children now) were too "sophisticated"
for fantasy stories.  Today's children knew that magic wasn't real,
so of course they couldn't possibly be interested in reading about
something so "fanciful" -- give them stories of divorce and blended
families and diversity and bullies and all those other issues that
are so much more "relevant" than fairies and wizards.  Then "Harry
Potter" came along and... wow, suddenly children started reading
again!  (It must have been the dysfunctional families, diversity,
and bullies that did the trick...)

Well, I've already pointed out that I don't have children, so I do
not claim to be an expert of any sort.  But I DO remember my own
childhood, and I do have a theory.  I suspect that one reason
children's reading levels are declining is the same reason that ALL
reading levels are declining: More and more adults consider
themselves "too busy" to read.  Even adults who love reading may
feel that they don't have much time for it anymore.  Our time is
increasingly consumed by all the things we "must" do to keep up --
checking e-mail, surfing the web, catching up on the day's work
during the evening, getting ready for the next day's work.  I
suspect that, for many parents, "reading" is a luxury that they
feel they can no longer afford.

Perhaps it's time to take a step back and start asking, not why
kids "don't read," but why kids do ANYTHING.  One reason is to be
like Mom and Dad.  When I was four and carrying around "The Rasp"
in my bathrobe pocket, that was my goal -- to be like everyone else
in the family.  When I was five, my goal was to be able to share in
an activity that was clearly a major source of pleasure for
everyone else.  By the time I hit the teen rebellion and wanted to
be NOTHING like Mom or Dad, it was too late; I simply showed my
rebellion by choosing DIFFERENT BOOKS.

The gift my mother gave me wasn't simply teaching me how to read. 
A teacher would have done that, eventually.  Her gift was teaching
me WHY to read.  It was demonstrating that this was perhaps the
most wonderful way that one could spend one's time -- that I would
love reading because reading was something to be loved.  

Perhaps, if more parents recall this lesson from their own
childhood, they'll find that reading time isn't an unaffordable
luxury, but an indispensable necessity.  And, quite possibly, one
of the best gifts they can ever give. 

-- Moira Allen, Editor

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:

Read by over 1,000 children's book and magazine editors, this
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View (Part Two), by Victoria Grossack 


In the last column we began a discussion of point of view (POV). 
We covered its definitions and examined how a passage could be
written several different ways.  In this column we will continue
exploring POV -- mostly third person limited -- without going
through the definitions and examples from the last lesson, and
consider what it means for your storytelling.  

Implications of a Selected POV 
If you are in a character's POV, this LIMITS but also DIRECTS your
outlook and perception with respect to the events of the story. 
Limiting what the reader learns may seem fairly obvious; if you
don't have a POV character in a scene, then the readers won't be
able to 'experience' that scene first-hand.  For example, your
story might be more exciting if you can show a murder taking place.
 However, if your POV character is not at the murder scene --
either as perpetrator, victim or witness -- showing this scene to
the reader presents some difficulties. 

By DIRECTS, I mean that, given your POV character, there will be
some aspects that your story should not ignore, because they matter
to your character.  Let's say that your POV character is a young
woman who is supposed to get married the next day.  The trailer in
which she is sleeping catches fire.  She will be desperate, of
course, to get herself and her trailer-mates to safety.  She will
also -- if she is like most young women -- want to rescue her
wedding dress, and unless you mention this, you're not being true
to your character. (I didn't reach this point in the example in the
last lesson but the wedding dress would have become an object of
either rescue or regret had the passage continued.) 

Let's go through some aspects that should be limited or directed,
and therefore influence the shape of your story: 

EVENTS.  In your story, events happen.  A question each author must
answer is whether an event happens on-stage for the readers, or
whether readers will learn about this event second-hand, either in
a summary given by the author (reverting possibly to the omniscient
POV), or by another character speaking about it.  If you are using
the third person limited, and are sticking with a single character,
your choice is made clear.  If your character is not in that scene,
then you can't show it first-hand. 

INFORMATION.  The same restriction applies to the information which
is accessible to the reader.  If there has been no reason for a
piece of information to be introduced to the POV character, then
there's no reason to introduce it to the reader. 

One frequently employed technique is to slip in a piece of
information that seems innocuous to the POV character -- and
possibly the reader -- when it is introduced.  This is used
frequently in detective stories.  However, you still need to make
it plausible for POV character to encounter even the camouflaged

THOUGHTS.  Readers should only have access to the thought processes
of the POV character.  This means that your POV character does not
automatically know what other characters are thinking, unless your
POV character happens to be a mind-reader. 

Of course, sometimes the POV character and the readers need to know
what the other characters are thinking.  So, how is this done? 
Occasionally the POV character will guess (and what is even more
fun, occasionally the POV character guesses incorrectly).  However,
most likely the POV character will learn what another character is
thinking because that character makes it clear through deeds and

FEELINGS.  The POV character's feelings are generally available to
the reader.  Occasionally they are so strong that they overwhelm
everything else, and prevent the character from doing what he or
she ought to do.  Although this may hamper your storytelling, your
story may be more interesting if your POV character has strong

What about the feelings of other characters?  Even though your POV
character will not experience these feelings first-hand, you can
still make many of them clear to your POV character as well as to
your readers.  One way is to have another character simply state
these feelings.  This may seem like telling as opposed to showing,
but you can incorporate these feelings in a shouting match, a love
scene, or a whispered consultation between two thieves.  You can
also show what the other characters are feeling.  Consider the
emotions associated with the following activities: frowning,
smiling, winking, shouting, cursing, blushing, crying, giggling,
whispering, dancing, clapping hands, folding arms, stamping feet,
slamming doors, raising eyebrows, drumming fingers, slapping
someone on the back, and kissing.  Each activity gives clues as to
how non POV characters feel (these bits of body language can also
be incorporated with your POV character, too). 

ATTITUDE.  This will and should influence the POV character's
thoughts and feelings.  Is your character poor and uneducated?  
Rich and snooty?  These attributes will affect the POV character's
attitude toward whatever is happening in the scene.
Furthermore, coloring different events through the attitudes your
POV character helps entertain your reader by giving your character
a different perspective.  Consider du Maurier's "Rebecca," and how
the narrator's inferiority complex influences the storytelling. 
The attitude of your POV character helps make your story unique. 

PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE.  Your POV character should also physically
experience the scenes in which s/he participates, given his/her own
particular physical character.  For example, one of my characters
has an unusually sensitive sense of smell, which suits her
fastidiousness.  Another character, very musical, has a keen sense
of hearing. A character who is short and weak will experience a
crowd differently from a character who is tall and powerful.
Alternatives to Using the POV Character 
It may not be possible to tell everything that happens in a
particular story from one POV.  What, then, as an author, are your
options?  Here are a few, with examples from the Harry Potter books:
CHANGE POINT OF VIEW.  Something may be so important to your story
that you feel you need to show a part of the story from another
POV.  Rowling shows nearly all of her story from Harry's POV, but
there are exceptions at the beginning of a few of her books.  In
"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the book begins in the
omniscient POV, without a focus on any particular character.  In
"Goblet of Fire" and "Half-Blood Prince" we have similar
introductory chapters, also from the omniscient POV, without taking
the reader inside a particular character's head.  Only in the
second chapter of "Half-Blood Prince" does Rowling get inside the
head of another character -- the Muggle Prime Minister -- whose POV
is simply too much fun to resist! 

Changing the POV is always an option, although if the rest of your
story is supposed to be from the POV of your protagonist, you will
want to limit how and when you do this. 

bring information to the attention of your readers and your POV
character.  Some writers will do this at length, and another
character will take a long time telling his or her story.  Consider
how Hagrid, for example, tells about his visit to the giants in
"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." 

newspapers and books and diaries, or listen to the radio. 

MEMORIES, AND SO ON.  Occasionally a story lends itself to more
fanciful methods of presenting a scene.  The Harry Potter books
include a magical instrument known as a Pensieve, which allows
incidents to be 're-experienced' from the POV of the person who
originally experienced the event -- filtered, of course, by the POV
character who now swims in that second person's memory. 

EAVESDROPPING.  In the Harry Potter books, much of his
eavesdropping takes place when he is underneath his Invisibility
Cloak.  In this way he is able to overhear many conversations not
meant for him.  This is a way to convey information that can be
very shocking to the POV character.  It can also be a way to
mislead the reader and the POV character, for the POV character may
not understand the context of the conversation in full.
Choosing POV 
If you are writing a story in first-person, then your choice of POV
character is generally clear -- although even then you could have
your narrator listen raptly while another character relates some

Otherwise, you can choose the POV character for a particular scene.
 Which character should you choose?  There is no clear-cut,
one-size-fits-all answer -- for which I'm grateful, for this is
what shifts storytelling from formula to art!  However, there are,
as always, factors to consider. Here are a few: 

LIMITATIONS. If you are limiting yourself to one POV, then you may
want to consider continuing the limitation, even if it means
forgoing showing something entertaining and interesting. Breaking
the POV can weaken the connection you are making between the reader
and your story. Perhaps that entertaining bit belongs to another
and different story, instead of the one you are currently writing. 

NARRATIVE NECESSITIES. Occasionally the readers need to see
particular events take place.  What information does the reader
need to have for the story to continue to make sense -- or not to
make sense, if that is your intention at this point? 

INTENSITY. For which character is the event most devastating and
full of conflict?  The character with the most to gain or lose will
be most intensely involved in a particular scene -- and most
intensely involving for the reader. 

EMOTIONAL JOURNEY. Which character will help the reader best on his
or her emotional journey? How do you want your readers to feel at
this point of the story? 

READER RELEVANCE.  To which POV will your reader relate best?  If
you are writing for teenagers, for example, you may want to write
your scenes from the POV of a teenager.  If you are writing a
romance, you will want to focus mostly on the POVs of the lovers. 

AUTHOR EMPATHY.  For which POV do have you the most empathy?  As
the writer, you need to imagine and feel everything that happens in
your story, and you will do this better when you can empathize with
your character. 

Proper use of POV helps your readers be inside the story - and
contributes to creating the character-driven story.

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 the Coffeehouse for Writer's Fiction Fix.  

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

Link to this article here:

Read Part I here:

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Clippings.me adds Analytics and Custom Domains as Paid Option
Clippings.me was launched last year by a British freelancer as a
way for all freelancers and journalists to have a free way of
sharing their clippings with editors.  The site has now added a
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more information on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/bq2gxw8

James Salter Writes New Novel after 30 Year Gap
James Salter, the fighter pilot turned acclaimed American post-war
writer, has written his first novel for over 30 years.  The
87-year-old writer of The Hunters, Cassada and A Sport and A
Pastime has written a new novel, All That Is, which comes out this
month. For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/dx94n86

Fredrick L. Mckissack, Author Of Over 100 Children's Books, Has Died
Fredrick L. Mckissack started out his working life as a
construction engineer.  Together with his wife Patricia C.
McKissack he wrote over 100 books for children about
African-American history.  For more on this story visit: 


WRITING A MYSTERY OR CRIME STORY? Forensic Science for Writers: A
Reference Guide can help. Based on a long-running course offered
in colleges and universities, this survey shows you how to create
believable plot twists and enhance your stories with realistic
forensic details.  Available from Amazon and other bookstores.
For details visit http://forensics4writers.com/the-book


Writing Jobs and Opportunities

Orion Magazine Submission Window Opens June 1
Orion Magazine bills itself as "America's finest Environmental
Magazine" and is open to submissions only three times a year.  The
next submission window opens on June 1, so if you want to get your
article in, get working on it now. 

Orion accepts essays, narrative nonfiction, interviews, and short
fiction that are resonant with Orion's focus on nature, culture,
and place.  Do not submit queries, submit the entire piece, which
needs to be between 1,200 and 5000 words max. Note: Only one
submission per writer per submission period. 

Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine
If you are looking for a home for your environmental articles, you
could also try Resurgence and Ecologist Magazine - their current
issue features an article by HRH the Prince of Wales, so be sure
you know your stuff before submitting a query. 

The magazine has an archive online so you can see what has been
covered, and you can download a sample issue too. 

They prefer that you query and follow their guidelines for queries,
which you can find on their website.  You must state in your query
whether or not you want to be paid.  Payment rates are not stated
on the site. 

Rattle Magazine Seeking Love Poems
Rattle Magazine is seeking love poems for its Spring 2014 tribute
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issues.  All poems submitted are automatically considered for their
$500 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor.  Payment is a year's
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FEATURE:  Stealing Ideas at Church & Selling Them Back
By S. R. Morris
I steal ideas at church. It sounds sacrilegious, doesn't it? But
it's true. Many of the articles I write are found at church. After
writing the story or article, I sell them back to religious

In my experience, church is the best place to find ideas for
stories, especially for the ones that religious periodicals like to
publish. Years ago, it used to be said that anyone could write an
article for the religious market, but that's not true anymore.
Religious magazines, like many others, have become more
sophisticated and particular about what they publish. 

Still, I find the best ideas in church, and it doesn't matter which
church. These are the five types of articles that religious editors
like to see: 

1) Inspirational stories 
2) Children's or juvenile stories 
3) Interview articles  
4) News articles  
5) Devotional pieces  

Let me explain how I find these five types and how I turn them into

Inspirational Stories
What better place to be inspired than at church? I like to hear
unusual or miraculous stories, and so do editors and their readers.
Sometimes it's not what I hear in the sermon, it's what others say
when I'm in the lobby or foyer. When I hear something worth writing
about, I make a mental note and begin inquiring about it, or about
the person in question. Let me give you an example.

One day, I was at a spiritual resort in the mountains of Arizona.
While in the cafeteria waiting in line to be served lunch, I struck
up a conversation with the lady in front of me. When I asked if she
was involved with a church outreach, she said she was not part of a
church-sponsored ministry, but had a project of her own. When I
asked her to explain, she began to tell me about her water
ministry. She said she was known around downtown Phoenix as the
"water lady." Her ministry involved giving away cold bottles of
water to poor and thirsty people in the Arizona sun.
As I listened and asked questions, she told me about one incident
when she gave a bottle of water to an obviously homeless man. After
seeing his interest in spiritual things, she invited him to go to a
large church with her the next day. As a result, and after an
unusual series of events, the man was reunited with his mother at
that church. Both mother and son had been estranged for years and
neither knew where the other lived. 
The story I pitched to several editors could have been titled "The
Last Bottle of Water" because it was the last bottle of water she
gave away that day. But I've found that editors sometimes like to
put their own names on stories. I didn't mind it when the first
editor titled it "The Mean Streets," or when I sold the reprint
rights to another who called it "Offering the Water of Life." As a
result, I sold the story and I got a check in the mail each time.
Another time, I heard an inspirational story about how a man had
helped another man give up his alcohol addiction, and started
believing and trusting God with his life. I titled the story "Holy
Joe & the Religious Fanatic." By now, you can see I like to give my
stories outrageous titles, but I don't care if editors stay with my
title or choose their own. The titles I choose are to get an
editor's attention, which is the first step toward selling the
Recently, I heard a story about a Christian teacher (again through
an unusual series of events) who obtained a set of hand bells for
her school. Since I have rarely read about hand bells, I sat next
to the teacher at dinner after church, and asked for details.
Another time I heard about a man who sold a set of Christian books
to the wife of an atheist. The outcome was truly inspirational and
I got a check for that story, too. The secret is to ask questions.

Children's Stories
Out of all the stories I have sold to religious periodicals, I have
sold more children's stories than any other. Some of these stories
are simple lessons I've learned from children at church, and from
my own children and grandchildren. I've learned that children (and
editors) like stories in which they have pets or interact with

The title of one story I sold was titled "Vanessa, the Kitten, and
the Fire." A title like that will grab an editor the way "Abraham
Lincoln's Mother's Dog" might have 150 years ago. Of course, catchy
titles alone will not get you a check. The story must keep a
child's interest, so read stories written by others and discover
the words or series of events they use to capture a child's

Although the checks you'll get from editors at children's
periodicals are usually smaller, I've learned that you can pad
those checks a little by adding a puzzle or sidebar to the story.
Puzzles are easy to make and children and editors love them. In a
story I wrote about a boy and some ants, I also wrote a sidebar
with unusual facts about ants. Another I wrote was called "God's
Favorite Color." In it I included a word puzzle. Some of the clues
were color words they could find in the Bible, such as "color of
the pastures in Psalm 23:2" or "color of the horse in Revelation

In my experience, editors will pay the most for interviews with
religious people of interest. A few years ago I sold an interview
with the founder of the world's first food bank. He was involved
with a large church in Phoenix, and named the food bank after the
church that helped him get it started. I titled it "That Crazy Food
Bank Idea" and sent a small sidebar and photo with the article. In
return, I received the biggest check I had received to date.

Interviews are a little harder to come by, and you have to sell the
editor your idea with a query that will fit the editor and his
readers' interest. If you have a speaker at your church with a
widespread following, he or she might be the perfect choice for an
interview. Find someone to introduce you and suggest that you be
granted an interview. Be prepared, though, because some speakers
have a limited time in their tour of speaking appointments. Have a
notepad or a recorder to record the interview, and have some
interesting or unusual questions for your interview.

Currently, I'm pitching a second part of the food bank interview I
did years ago. I had too much material to put in one interview, so
I've written another I call "Ten Thousand Chickens and a Simple
Rule." Sometimes people will give you too much material, so why not
split the interview and get another check as well?

News Articles
Religious magazines usually can't compete on the same level with
newspapers, television, and the Internet. You must find widespread
interest in an event, or something not covered by the other media,
that will make your article worth reading. The result will be cash
for your wallet.         Years ago, I wrote a story about a homeless
ministry. In it a group of homeless men were painting a church
whose members were too old and feeble to paint it themselves. In
return, the members of the church, mostly women, cooked and baked a
feast of delicious food and served those men the best breakfast,
lunch and dinner they had probably eaten in years. A smaller
magazine in California wanted the story and published it.

Another story I wrote was about a Christian school located in a
remote area on an Indian reservation. This story also had some
unique events that led up to the building and start of the school.
In this case the largest daily newspaper was also interested and
wrote about it.  But even though it was written primarily for
Arizonians, I pitched it to a periodical with nationwide (even
worldwide) readership and received a nice check.

This is a type of writing that can pay well, depending on the
magazine. Some will pay for a series (enough for a week or month)
of short devotions of 150 to 350 words or more. Editors usually pay
less per devotion, but this can amount to some steady work. The
ones I have focused on are theme or seasonal devotions, which pay a
larger dividend.
One of my first devotion pieces was called "Why I Help the
Homeless," and I included a sidebar titled "Eight Biblical Promises
for Helping the Poor." I sold that piece and later sold it two more
times to denominations with non-competing magazines. Another
devotion I wrote was titled "Why Jesus Was Born in a Manger," which
was published just before Christmas of 2010. As with most seasonal
pieces, you must submit them to editors from six months to a year
or more in advance. 
Now you know the secret to my success in stealing from churches and
selling it back to religious periodicals. So keep your ears open to
inspirational or motivational stories the next time you're at a
church. You might be able to turn what you hear into an article or
story. The best part of it is that editors won't consider you a
thief and will even send you a check for your work.


S. R. Morris is a retired teacher and former reporter/editor/
publisher in the newspaper industry. Currently, he works as a
freelance writer and divides his time between his kids and
grandkids in Idaho, and his wife and adopted daughter in the
Philippines. Over the years, he has written scores of articles and
stories for religious publications, as well as several articles for
health/nutrition magazines. He is active in his own church, but
regularly visits other churches/denominations to gather material
for religious articles and/or inspirational stories. 
Copyright S.R. Morris 2013  

Link to this article here: 
For more advice on writing for religious publications check out
these articles: 

STUMPED BY YOUR PLOT?  Bored by your characters?  Wondering how to
craft a scene that sings?  "Fiction: From Writing to Publication"
offers a step-by-step guide to help you through all the perils and
pitfalls of writing a novel, drawn from the experience of the co-
authors of more than 40 published books. "The answer to a beginning
novelist's prayer, and a good refresher for others." Available on
Kindle (http://tinyurl.com/arfffct) and Smashwords

THE INQUIRING WRITER: Get Back to Basics for Success       
By Dawn Copeman

A common mistake made by writers is to assume that once they've had
their first few articles published, the writing life becomes
easier. Well, it does and it doesn't.  It becomes easier to
structure articles and to write queries.  Your skin becomes tougher
and you learn to shrug off rejections and resend your queries, and
you are more organised when it comes to finding the time to write. 
One area where it doesn't get easier, however, is in getting your
articles published.  We still have to come up with new and unique
twists on ideas and find markets for them.  This can come as a bit
of a shock to the system if you're not expecting it. 

Last month we had a plea for help from Wilma, who is currently
going through this phase.  She wrote: "I had some initial success
when I started writing two years ago.  I've had several articles
published on the topic of organic gardening, but now I seem to have
hit a brick wall.  Everything seems to have been covered already --
sometimes to death!  I just can't seem to come up with any new
article ideas and haven't had a positive response from any of my
queries for the past three months. Do I need to quit now?  Am I all
written out?  Any help or advice you can give me would be

As I've said, this is a common problem for writers, so
unsurprisingly, lots of you have been through something similar and
had lots of useful advice for Wilma.  Abby Williams wrote: "Like
Wilma, I had some initial writing success when I first started out.
Then suddenly I found my pen had run dry and I'd exhausted my
'write what you know' repertoire. Despite being a fairly solitary
person, I took the plunge and connected with other writers in my
area via Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/). 

"I met two lovely writers this way -- one a fiction writer, the
other mainly non-fiction. Both of them inspired and motivated me,
so much so that I even tried my hand at writing a short story,
something I would probably never have attempted without meeting

"I also booked myself on a writing workshop to get some feedback on
my writing skills and some ideas on how to pitch to the women's
magazine market. I started an 'ideas' file too. In it I put
snippets of interest that I collected from my local newspaper,
parish magazine, national newspapers, general magazines, online, in
leaflets and in conversation. Now when I feel uninspired I flick
through them and often come up with an idea for a query letter."

Claudette, who has a great tag line under her email signature
("Perseverance - another name for success"), suggests that Wilma
might need to rethink the style of her articles in order to get
into different markets.  She wrote: "Maybe think outside the box.
Have you thought about perhaps getting into DIY projects for the
organic gardener, e.g. How to make a rain barrel or where to buy
one? How to make homemade mulch for the garden. Attracting birds
and butterflies that will enhance the organic garden etc.

"How about starting a question and answer portion for your readers?
Trump up some questions to 'prime the pump' so-to-speak, and I bet
your readers will start to send you questions for their organic
gardening challenges. Alternatively, you could offer sidebars with
various types of resources that your readers can tap into, i.e.,
web links, magazines, local clubs, etc."
Christine Venzon, however, suggests that Wilma could sell her
articles to a whole new raft of magazines.  She wrote: "Have you
tried pitching a narrowly focused piece to appeal to a specific
range of markets? For example, organic farming with kids for a
parenting magazine; the 'is-organic-healthier-than-conventional'
debate for a health magazine; a look at local organic farmers for a
regional market; or even a piece on organic marketing in another
country, if you have the resources, for a national market." 

My advice, for what it's worth is not to give up!  You've proved
you can write by getting published already. All you need to do is
to re-charge your battery.  You don't need to find a whole new
range of topics to write about.  I know some very successful
freelancers who write entirely about gardening.
What you need to do is to take a step back and look again at all
the topics you know and put them together in a new way to attract
new markets or to write new articles for your 'old' markets.  

Whenever I get 'stuck' I go right back to basics.  I re-read "How
to Write for Magazines", "Starting your Career as a Freelance
Writer" and "The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals"
(all by Moira Allen) and I find myself re-charged with ideas and

I 'zoom' out to list all the things I feel I could write about,
then 'zoom' in on one or two of them and write down all the angles
I can think of.  Usually, then, I come up with some new article
ideas and then look around to find a market to query. 
Alternatively, I start with the market I want to break in to, read
several magazines in that area and then submit a query to a
magazine I would like to write for, using my 'zooming' technique to
pitch an article idea that I think they could run. 

Hang in there!  This is just a rocky patch.  With perseverance you
can get through it and see your by-line in many more publications. 

This month's question comes from Karen Snyder, who wrote: "Would
you please write something about voice-recognition software?  I
haven't tried any (the best-known is Dragon Naturally Speaking, I
think), and if you haven't either, perhaps you could ask your
readers.  Do voice-recognition programs work?  Do they speed up the
writing process?  Do they have any clear advantages? 

Do you use voice-recognitions software?  Have you tried it?  Do
please write and let us know.  Send me an email with the subject
"Inquiring Writer" to editorial at writing-world.com.  Also send me
an email if, like Karen, you have an urgent question to put to our
worldwide community of writers. 

Until next time, 



Copyright Dawn Copeman 2013
Dawn Copeman is a UK-based 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.  


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A site where you can find out all you need to know about literary
magazines: who edits them, what they publish, what they look for

This is another site where you can find out about literary
magazines, but also about independent publishers, alternative
periodicals and newspapers and writing programs.  This is worth a
look through when you're hunting down new markets.

PW.Org is the online presence of Poets & Writers Magazine and it
offers a lot to visitors of the site.  One of my favourite pages is
the Writing Prompts and Exercises page in the Tools for Writers
Section, which offers prompts and exercises for fiction, poetry and
nonfiction writers. This is well worth a visit. 


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: June 15, 2013
GENRE: Short Stories
DETAILS:  Quarterly contest for science fiction and fantasy
stories. 1000 - 5000 words long, previously unpublished stories
PRIZE:  50 and publication. 
URL:   http://dark-places.co.uk/writing-competition/  

DEADLINE:  June 30, 2013
GENRE:  Short stories
DETAILS: A two thousand word tale with crime at its heart.  
PRIZE:  100, 50, 25 and publication
URL:  http://gkbcinc.com/the-gkbcinc-short-story-competition/

DEADLINE: June 30, 2013
GENRE:   Short stories, 
DETAILS:  5000 word maximum apocalyptic/dystopian short story.  
PRIZE:  $100 and publication

DEADLINE: June 30, 2013
GENRE: Humour
DETAILS:  Write a bad opening line to a novel.  The sentence
shouldn't be longer than 50 - 60 words.  All genres accepted. 
Multiple entries accepted. All original and unpublished. 
PRIZES:  a pittance
URL:  http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/  

DEADLINE: June 30, 2013
GENRE: Short stories
OPEN TO: Those who have not had professionally published a novel or
short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short
stories, in any medium. Professional publication is deemed to be
payment, and at least 5,000 copies, or 5,000 hits for online
DETAILS:  Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Horror: All types of science fiction,
fantasy and horror with fantastic elements, are welcome. 17,000
words max.
PRIZES:  $1,000 first prize awarded each quarter, 2nd Prize $750,
3rd Prize $500. One of the quarter winners also receives the $5,000
annual "Gold Award" grand prize.
URL:  http://www.writersofthefuture.com/contest-rules

DEADLINE: July 1, 2013
GENRE:  Nonfiction
DETAILS:   Award for promising new journalist or essayist whose
work contains warmth, humor, wisdom and social justice.  Submit two
samples of your writing (published or unpublished) 30 pages max.
PRIZE: $5000 and one month residency at Blue Mountain Center. 
URL:  http://award.margolis.com/


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Fiction: From Writing to Publication, by Vickie Britton

Full Circle, by Saul Silas Fathi

Jewels of the Sky, by Catherine E. McLean
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Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com) 

Copyright 2013 Moira Allen

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