Adventures in Creativity

The Bible says that “In the Beginning God created…” Because human beings were created in the image of God we have creative abilities as well. Just look around you at the beautiful creations in art, music, architecture, sculpture and literature. I especially love literature. I have been an avid reader since I first learned to read as a small child. I think I kept Scholastic Books in business in grade school and I’ve probably bought and sold enough books over my life to stock multiple bookstores. For that reason it’s not unusual that I became a writer and a publisher.

This summer I decided it was time to take the next step and open my own bookstore. I call my business Hat Rack Books, LLC and my first act as a new business owner is to host a Christian Author Fair that I call

Adventures in Creativity which is being held Saturday, November 15 from 9 am to 9 pm at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel at the I 270 and Roberts Rd exit in Hilliard, OH. There you will find 9 local Christian authors who will share information about their books, provide books for you to purchase and sign the ones you buy. Check out the Facebook event page https://www.facebook.com/events/753008828071239/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Be sure to like the page and sign up to let us know you’re coming. We look forward to seeing you there.


Domestic Violence, Writing

What Do I Write About

What Do I Write About

Every one asks a writer what they write about and how they come up with ideas. The answer to that question can be as varied as the writer. But we all started somewhere. The first things that I wrote were personal essays that I only had the courage to show to a few close friends. The first articles that I wrote that were published were about domestic violence, education and articles related to family concerns. The first article that I was paid to publish was about domestic violence and was published in The Evangel Magazine for the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee. That was in the year 2000, three months after I first became a grandmother and three months after my mother died. My one regret was that neither of my parents lived to see my publishing success.

In the years since then I have written many articles. I have been published in several newspapers and church magazines. Then, after years of research, college courses, interviews, and volunteer training all my notes and articles began to form a book. At first I didn’t have the courage to think I could actually publish a book. But, there was no denying that a book was coming together, whether I had the courage or not. As I seriously worked on a book project that would not allow itself to be denied I also began to study and learn how to submit book proposals and how to obtain endorsements. I studied publishers and the difference between traditional and self publishing. In the end I decided to self publish for a variety of reasons but mostly because I knew the material needed to be published and I wanted as much control over my book as possible.

I formally self published it in 2009 and finally self published it with the ISBN, etc in 2012. I knew God was in this book because of all the blessings he provided in the production of it. I was able to hire a good friend who is a professional writer and editor to edit the manuscript. One of my best friends and co-worker created the cover art. One of my newspaper editors referred me to his graphic designer who I hired to combine my cover layout with my friend’s cover art into a wonderful book cover that has been commented about repeatedly at book fairs. That same editor referred me to my first book packager to have the book printed. The last blessing came to me quite unexpectedly. One of the writers in my writers group offered to do the text formatting as her contribution to the book project because she supports domestic violence awareness. With everything else in place I finally purchased my ISBN number and went back to my graphic designer and had it incorporated into the book cover. Up to this point I have been selling my book personally to individuals, at book fairs in various communities, whenever I gave domestic violence awareness presentations and in my church’s bookstore, as well as on my website,.

Tonight I made the next step in my book project. I submitted my book, Home Should Be Safe: Hope and Help for Domestic Violence Victims, to the Writers Digest Self Published Book contest. Now I patiently wait until the contest is over and put myself into newer projects, new articles, new subjects, and new books.

What do you write about and what fuels your desire to write about it? Tell me about it here.


New Season – New Directions

Hello Readers,

As you know if you’ve been following me I haven’t posted a blog entry in quite a while. This last year has been a bit overwhelming for several reasons that I will not take the space here to rehearse. Recently I’ve been doing some re-evaluating what I want to do with my writing talents. After much time in Bible study, prayer and meditation I’ve decided to make some changes.

First, I have decided not to pursue business writing aside from writing speeches. I have also decided not to take on any new editing projects. Second, I am going to consolidate my blogging efforts to only my personal blog and not split my time between multiple subject specific blogs. Third, I’m going to resurrect the Bible study God gave me many years ago, “God’s Role for Women” and publish it on my blog site. And, last but certainly not least, I am going to stretch my wings and develop my fiction writing talents. I’ll also be developing an editorial calendar so that my readers can follow their favorite subjects and engage in discussions related to what is published.

My first regular entry will be published next Monday, September 9, 2013 along with the new editorial calendar. I invite you to visit, comment and follow me as I begin this new leg of my writing journey. I look forward to talking with you.

May God bless and keep you all and may all that I write be to the glory of God.




Writing for Specialty Publications – Parenting

Writing for specialty publications is a great way to develop your writing for a specific niche. The varieties are endless and the competition not a stiff as for a general news publication. Many communities have parenting magazines or newspapers, perfect if you love to write about children and family subjects. I wrote an article titled Children and the Arts: How to Light the Fire and Fan the Flame for the Columbus Parent Magazine. The editor responded to my letter of introduction. We spoke on the phone and after discussing the scope of the article she liked my title and assigned me the story. She sent me a list of local arts organizations and parents with children active in the arts to interview. I had so much fun interviewing parents and children as well as interviewing local arts organization and business owners. It was a joy to write such a positive article about encouraging children to develop their artistic talents whether for a career or just for pleasure. That article led to other writing assignments with other community newspapers owned by the same parent newspaper and lasted for about two years.


Freelance Writing for Community Newspapers

Being a full-time staff writer may or may not be your goal. Another option is to be a freelance writer for local papers. They may be called “Messenger” or “Community News” or some other variation of this. They only keep two or three full-time staffers and use freelance writers for the rest. Some pay by the word while some may pay by the article and they don’t usually pay extra for photos. One great thing about writing for small community newspapers is the variety of writing experience you will gain. You may write articles about community festivals or town meetings. You may pitch an article idea for something that interests you or you may be assigned articles. You will learn to write on deadline; you will learn how to find and interview sources and how to come up with catchy headlines. You will also learn how to let your work be edited and changed. If you’re smart you will learn from those edits how to craft a good article so that fewer edits will be needed in the future. But, you will also learn how to work with an editor because no two will be alike. One may love your writer’s style and voice while the next one may not like your writing at all. This happens with magazines sometimes also. But, as a writer, you learn from each experience and constantly strive to improve your craft and talent. Who knows? One day you may become the editor and have the opportunity to plan, organize and put out a community newspaper.


A Perfect Day to Sell Books

     The Farmers’ Market was already bustling with activity when my fellow author Carolyn Williams and I arrived. Vendors that included Four Sisters Farms, jewelry, fresh fruits and vegetables, and bath soaps gathered to sell their wares.  As we set up our table, our light spring jackets keeping off the morning chill, we prepared ourselves to sell our books to the early morning shoppers. The booth to our left drew a crowd with the owner’s beautiful German Shepard dog and The Four Sisters were really sisters.

      My friend’s husband is her best book promoter. He is from this town and knew a great many people we saw that day. He was constantly greeting someone he knew and bringing them over to hear about our books and hopefully buy a copy. We met so many people in just that one day as they walked up and down the aisle, some coming to hear our sales pitch and others staying in the center to avoid any sales pitch. There were men and women, couples and singles, young and old.

      As the morning passed I pulled out my tan, cotton, ball cap to shade my eyes and cast off my jacket that was so needed in the morning. The cool breeze combined with the rising sun did wonders for my mood. My daughter, who lives in another state, says she knows what the weather is like from the sound of my voice.

      We spent the time talking to customers about our books, sometimes taking turns pitching our own book or each pitching the other’s book. We also talked about future plans with our books and other activities we share. We talked with former acquaintances and made some new ones.

      As the time drew to an end the vendors began to pack up and leave. My friend and I vowed to take turns the next trip and walk around to check out other vendors’ products and meet more people. Between us that day my friend and I sold twenty-five books, not bad for three and half hours in a market designed to sell fresh fruits and vegetables.

      Moral of the story: You never know where you might sell your product, be it animal, mineral or vegetable. Just go where the people congregate to buy and sell and you are bound to sell something.

     For those not able to visit our local book signings in Ohio you can buy my book, Home Should Be Safe: Hope and Help for Domestic Violence Victims, from my website and Caroline’s book, Mystery in the Pines, which is available in hardback, paperback or Kindle.


Writing for Small Town Newspapers

     A new writer can find one of  the greatest learning experiences at a small town newspaper. That’s not to say a small town newspaper will tolerate a lesser quality writing. But, on a small town newspaper you can learn the ropes of newspaper writing while developing your writing style.

     When my daughter was in high school I wrote for a small Christian newspaper but didn’t receive any pay. But, I did receive experience pitching story ideas, researching topics, finding and interviewing sources and meeting deadlines. It was a great learning experience. During this time I continued to work an office job. At one point I changed jobs to try to improve our finances as we prepared to send her to college. After only a few weeks that job suddenly fizzled and there I was with a senior in high school and no job. While continuing to look for “regular jobs” I decided to create a writer’s resume, gathered some of my best clips and sent them out with a cover letter to several local newspapers hoping to find some freelance work.

     One day while pouring over job possibilities I received a phone call from one of the newspapers I had contacted. It was the managing editor who wanted to discuss my resume and clips. Then he asked me a defining question. “So, are you looking for full-time work?” After a heartbeat and a second to catch my breath I said, “Of course.” I met with him the next day and started to work as a full-time Education Reporter the following Monday. He knew I didn’t have a college degree in journalism and my published clips were written for religious publications. But, he was willing to give me an opportunity to learn from him and his editing staff writing for a subject he could tell I was passionate about, education.

     My writing responsibilities included writing about any education related subject from the local schools to state and national education subjects plus any general assignments I was given. Then, about three weeks after I began one of the most momentous events in United States history happened. I was working at my computer in the newsroom one day and suddenly everyone was rushing into the conference room. Someone asked me, “Did you hear what happened?” I had not. Then the editor called everyone into the conference room and I walked in just in time to see the second tower fall live on television on 09/11/2001.

     We all just stood there in shock for a minute. The editor shook us out of our frozen state of mind and asked, “What are you all standing around for? Get out there and get community reaction.” Over the next several months all the reporters for that newspaper wrote any story related to 9/11 that could have a home town connection.

     Over the next year I wrote stories about a wide variety of subjects, learned how to pitch specific stores, how to plan and paginate my Education page and even wrote a column and some important feature stories. More importantly I learned how to accept changes to my stories by the editors and how to take constructive criticism.

     At the end of that year, for several personal reasons, I moved away from my hometown area after my daughter went to college. My writing has been freelance rather than staff since that time but I learned many valuable lessons about newspaper writing. Be sure to check out your local papers for both staff and freelance writing opportunities.


Moving from Unpaid to Paid Writing Jobs

Previously I offered you some ways to gather those first published clips. Most of them were unpaid. Although it’s ok to start that way at some point I’m sure you want to get paid for all your hard work. I have to admit I started with many of those ways because I wasn’t sure anyone would pay me. Not only did I struggle with self-esteem issues but I had been taught my entire life up until then that anything artistic was a nice hobby but to earn a living you had to get a “real job”.

My first paid writing assignment came from the depth of my passion. I had been divorced many years previously due to domestic violence and went through several years of pain before I found healing through my faith in God. When you have survived a traumatic life experience and you come out on the other side victorious you find that you can’t wait to tell others how you overcame. Not only do you want them to celebrate with you but you want to help others to overcome too. After writing for a small Christian newspaper I was ready to expand my audience and help more people and hopefully get paid for my writing.

My denomination,Church of God out of  Cleveland, TN, has its own publishing company, Pathway Press. I began by calling them, not the suggested method of first contact with a magazine, but I didn’t know any better back then. Frankly I’ve done a lot of things that weren’t according to the book in my life because following the rule book tended to keep me in a place I knew I didn’t belong.

When I called the offices of Evangel Magazine, the general magazine of Pathway Press, I spoke with the person who answered the phone about the article I wanted to submit. I didn’t even know how to look up writer’s guidelines back then. We had a lengthy conversation; thankfully my employer didn’t mind. They were very interested in the article and advised me to just send the article. Soon after that my first article, “Domestic Violence, The Harsh Realities and Victorious Living” was published in October 2000 for their regular payment for feature articles. I included two sidebars, one with domestic violence statistics and one with a list of additional resources for readers. Since that time I have published several articles on a variety of subjects that includes not only domestic violence but education, parenting, summer camp and world missions.

So, if there is a subject you feel passionately about write about that. Your passion will resound to your readers if you write honestly. If there is a publication where you share a common connection, for me, my church, contact them. I still write for my church’s magazines on occasion. My pastor contacted me for my most recent article. Common connections and personal passion are great ways to break into both a subject matter and specific publications.


Tip of the Day May 26, 2012

Write for online sites like Examiner.com or Studio 101. They operate on a pay-per-click model so you have to build your site and draw advertising so writers here don’t necessarily make any money. It depends on how much effort the writer puts into their site. You have to apply to write about a specific subject and need some type of clips such as you could have gathered from your other writing. You also need to include a letter selling yourself as the best person to write for the subject you chose. I wrote about domestic violence for Examiner in my local area and about education for Suite 101 for a short time.