My tagline (I am a writer and a story performer) is, Encouraging Words through Pen and Performance. As a writer for RUBY magazine, I pray that what I write, no matter the topic, will honor God, and serve you, the readers. I also hope that my writing will encourage others to write. Recently, I recommended RUBY as a place for a friend of mine to send her work. Imagine my delight when she told me that Nina had accepted her piece! This is one of the great joys of life, knowing that you have served another.
Two problems that often plague new writers are what to write about, and where to find places to send the piece once it is written. These two questions are more easily answered than you might think.
Many people ask me, “Where do you get your ideas?” The answer to that question is “ideas are all around me!” (and you!). Since I employ the “what if” principle, looking at a situation or object and asking “what if?) to almost everything I encounter, I rarely have a shortage of ideas. However, I never spurn a good idea brought up by others in the form of a theme for a magazine’s next issue, a contest, or even a set of ideas generated by another writer to be used as starters.
So, when Nina challenged me to provide writing prompts for those of you out there who want to write, but in your juggling of family, work, and life’s other challenges, have the need of something to get you started…well, I accepted! These prompts are not part of any contest. They are not related officially in any way to the magazine’s editorial process. They are here for your enjoyment and edification only, to provide a start for you to practice your writing—poems and short stories. I am providing a prompt a month to Nina for the blog—it’s a way I can serve you.
I would encourage you to take the prompt and write on it for thirty minutes to one hour. Set that aside and go back after two days, read it aloud, and then revise it. Then wait another two days and revise it again. After that put it in a file and wait a week.
Finding a market for your work is easier than you think, too!
One of the first sources of outlets for your writing is the magazines you enjoy reading! After all, this magazine fills a need for you, you are in “synch” with its editorial goals so what you write is likely to please the editor. Beyond that, there are literally hundreds of resources.
Other great places to find potential markets (some paying and some nonpaying) are writing organizations’ free online listings of contests and book listings of markets. Obviously book listings might not be as up to date as others, but the books of market listings often contain articles that help hone your writing.
Ditto for writer organizations. Do what your budget allows. Start small and be very careful to follow all the directions in the “writer guidelines” when you submit. This means typing in the way they ask (single or double space), submitting on time, having the right number of words in the piece—not too many, not too few. Try to address the editors by name when you write a polite little note to accompany your entry.
Some listings specifically target Christian markets such as
Two very helpful books are The Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2017 which carries over 10 pages of contests in both inspirational and general markets, including poetry, articles, children’s books, novels, and nonfiction books and Writer’s Market 2017 which contains around 90 pages of contests for journalism, playwriting, songwriting, poetry, TV and movie scripts, novels and nonfiction books, and essays.
Some contests charge fees. Entering them can bring you great rewards. But the important thing is to measure what you think about the fee—will it be worth it to you to have entered even if you don’t win?
Also, before sending in any money, be sure the contests is legitimate. The website swfa.org, a free site, offers tips on how not to be cheated by scams. Start with http://www.jerryjenkins.com/writing-contests/ to find contests. You can also simply enter into a search engine the word “contest for” and the type of writing you do, essays, poetry, short stories, etc.
There are many more good resources out there (both the above books also list contests) but you don’t want to overwhelm yourself to start.
Next month I hope to tackle two more issues for beginning writers—Revision and Rejection
In part three of the series we will talk about Building on Your Success, the need to keep learning.
Joan Leotta’s latest picture book for children, Rosa’s Shell is coming out soon. If you would like more information, leave her at note on her Facebook page at Joan Leotta Author and Story Performer or follow her blog at joanleotta.wordpress.com
Joan Leotta has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling.
Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe. www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973
Joan’s latest books, Rosa and the Red Apron, Summer in a Bowl, and WHOOSH! are now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!
Read about Joan’s upcoming books and poetry publications on her blog at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com and connect with her on her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Joan-Leotta-Author-and-Story-Performer/188479350973
MARCH WRITING PROMPT FROM JOAN LEOTTA
March is when spring begins. Write about the first flower that comes up in your garden. How does it make you feel to see it. Use all five senses to describe it.
We would love to read what you come up with! Send your poem, story, or article based on the March writing prompt from Joan Leotta to us at firstname.lastname@example.org