Job Opportunity

The Creative Writers Opportunities List is a good way to find out about contests, anthologies and various jobs in the writing field.  Following is one for my stomping grounds in the St. Louis area:
Position: Managing Editor ­ Part Time
River Styx, one of the nation’s premier independent literary magazines, invites applications for the part-time position of Managing Editor. The areas of primary responsibility include general editorial, event coordination, volunteer management, grant writing, and data base management. Candidates must have a minimum of a BA, with experience in literary publishing and computer literacy in both MAC and PC environments. Attention to detail, creativity, self-initiative and a passion for literature are critical to success in this position. Experience with nonprofit management is highly desirable. Please send application letter, resume, and writing samples by  July 6 to: Richard Newman, Editor, River Styx, 3547 Olive St., Suite 107, St. Louis, MO  63103 or email to <richard.newman(at)> (replace (at) with @).
Good luck!

Interview with Missouri author Louise Jackson

Check out this great interview with my friend and writing colleague Louise Jackson. 

Louise is primarilly an author of historical fiction, but even if that’s not what you write, she’s an author you need to know.  Louise is a dynamo at self promotion, an expert researcher and one of the best public speakers I’ve ever heard.

Check out the interview and start getting to know this wonderful Missouri writer.


Test Issue Away!

celebrateYesterday I finished editing the last article for the first issue of 21st Century Family!   Hip hip hooray! 

(Those of you who have submitted and not heard from me, know that I’ll be catching up on my slush.)

How did I celebrate?  Not dinner.  Not a movie.  Not even dancing.

Instead, my husband and son came home from Scout camp, bringing . . . the flu with at least the shorter of the pair.  Yes, another Scout swabbed positive so we’re 98% certain that’s what we’re dealing with and all the symptoms are consistent.

Do we know how to celebrate or what?

If I disappear for a few days, now you know why.   But I will keep everyone posted re: the magazine.


Working Small

post itSometimes I think we get blocked because we are hung up on the big picture.  “I have to have this manuscript done in only a month!”  Or you look at the blank computer screen and know it will never be filled.  There’s always a blank page after the one you’ve just written.

Maybe the solution is to think small, to focus on filling one wee square.  I got this idea looking at Scott E. Franson‘s post it note art.   Check this out and see what this man can do with a pen and a post-it note. 

I’ve actually roughed picture books out on post-it notes before.  Its amazing how the words flow when you have only one little square of yellow paper. 


Magazines On-line

Trying to write for a new magazine is a hassle when you can’t find copies at the local bookstore or library.  The cost of those sample copies adds up fast.  So I love it when I find magazines online and I’ll share that information with my readers as I make new discoveries.

To get you started, click herefor PDF back issues of The Friend and herefor a copy of their guidelines.  This LDS publication is for children up to 12 years old and is looking for true stories, photo stories and activities.



parkWhen you’re doing research on a particular location, don’t forget to do an image search online.  You may be surprised what you turn up.

Fellow history buff and friend Renee Witte pointed me in the direction of Edward Crim and his site Forest Park 365 .  Crim posts a daily photograph from the park along with his accompanying message.  What a rich resource! 

Here’s hope that someone will do something similar for the location you are researching.  



Incongruity between what is expected and what occurs.

postThe other day I stood at a table in the post office, sticking stamps on newsletters.  I actually laughed out loud, and got glares from several postal workers, when a figure clad in brown strode by.  The UPS delivery driver had a package for the Post Master.

I don’t know.   If I worked at a full service restaurant, I would not have a pizza delivered unless I wanted the customers to wonder.



help“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.
–Mother Theresa

I’ve asked numerous children’s writers why they avoid the CBI Boards, Verla’s Boards and those hosted by SCBWI.  Many of them mention time as a factor, but many other writers mention not wanting to deal with the questions newbies always ask.  Is this a good query letter?  Should I tell the editor that another author suggested I send her this?  How do I know when I’ve done enough research?

It is amazing just how often the very same questions crop up.  Children’s writers are some of the most generous people I know, giving of their time and expertise to help other writers grow.  Still, the task can seem daunting when there are always more new writers and they are always asking the exact same questions.  How can you help them all?

Not surprisingly, Mother Theresa had a clue.  Most of us aren’t in a position to help everyone, but I’d like to challenge the professional writers I know.  Volunteer to mentor.  Help someone improve their craft, approach publishers as a professional, and/or gain in confidence.   

You might not be able to help them all, but I bet you have what it takes to help at least one.


The Danger of Knowing a Topic Too Well

Sometimes you are just too familiar with something to immediately understand how other people will see it.
The other day my sister asked if I had any chocolate handy.  She knew the answer would be yes.  She just wanted to know where it was.  I sent her into my office for the box of kisses that are on the desk.  In a moment she was back.   “Very funny.  Where on all that acreage would I find them?”  I had forgotten just how big the desk is  (see the three photos below).  I had to stand in the closet to take the three photos necessary to show you the giant “U” that skirts the room.  My section is on the far left.  The chocolate was next to the horse (white) and the dragon (blue) on the left end of the desk.   
The Left Part of the DeskThe Center of the DeskThe Right Side of the Desk
What does this have to do with writing? 
The first time an editor asked me to do a piece on archaeology for an upper elementary audience, I wrote what I thought was  an excellent article and submitted it expecting only a few comments.  What I got back was peppered with comments.  Why?
I had done a good job of avoiding jargon — that was like sending them to the right room.  But in many places, I had also assumed a knowledge base that a grade schooler wouldn’t have — I hadn’t told them where to go once they got in the room.    I nailed it in the rewrite, but I needed my editor to point out where I’d gone wrong.  I was simply too familiar with the topic to remember what the average person doesn’t know.
Write what you know is good advice.  You start with a knowledge base instead of having to build one from scratch.  But be careful.  Frame things so that your audience will know where they are in the world of your topic.  Otherwise, you’ll either get a rejection or, if you’re lucky, you’ll have to do a massive rewrite.