For a full decade, I enjoyed the success of selling essays, articles, stories, and poems to religious and secular magazines for both children and adults. During that time, I was also busy raising our two daughters with my husband Kurt. Life was free of stress until our older daughter turned 16 and our younger daughter 10.
All my energy poured into the girls, leaving me emotionally drained. My creativity and desire to write vanished. I stopped going to my writer’s and critique groups. I no longer attended writers’ conferences, and contest awards were now distant memories. I lost contact with my writer friends. My writing career came to a halt.
Writers understand each other’s struggles with writer’s block or rejections. We share a common ground and empathize with one another. But no one understood the difficulties Kurt and I were going through with our daughters. We felt alone.
After years of fruitless struggle, we did the only thing we could, do. We turned our troubles over to God. As our challenges gradually became more manageable, my ambition and desire to write returned only as a fleeting thought here and there.
While I was not moved to write, God’s plan moved in other ways. We relocated to a small town where I got a part-time job as a church secretary. There, I focused on my duties, while writing lay dormant deep in my mind—until Becky was hired as office manager. We were talking one day when the subject of writing came up. Becky aspired to being a published author. Hearing that I had published writings, Becky invited me to bring in some of the magazines for her to read. I enjoyed sharing one of my favorite children’s stories that had appeared in Spider magazine and seeing Becky’s enthusiastic reaction. Thereafter, we discussed seeking a writer’s group in our area. The thought of returning to writing excited me, but nothing ever came to fruition.
Eventually, we both left our church positions. We didn’t see each other again until long after that when we ran into each other at a store. Becky asked, “Have you been writing?”
“No, have you?”
Becky shook her head. “Remember when we used to talk about joining a writer’s group?”
I nodded. “I don’t really feel like seeking out a group, though.”
“Well, let’s form our own.”
The timing was right for both of us. We named our group “Write Away!” and that is what we did. She wrote. I wrote. Yes, I wrote! I was once again a writer. I immediately resumed selling essays, articles, children’s stories, and devotionals. Becky made her first sale and many others followed.
I firmly believe by releasing my struggles with my daughters to God, He restored my desire to write. That had always been His plan, even when I thought my writing career had ended. Since then, I have focused mainly on writing devotionals and Christ-centered essays and stories.
There have been even greater stressors in my life since then, but rather than allowing my writing to falter, I turn my life and my writing over to God. I continue to write and be published. God gave me this skill and I use it for His glory. I will always be a writer—with God’s help.
Sue Carloni has been published in more than 70 magazines in the religions and secular markets for both children and adults, including Guideposts, Woman’s World, and Mature Living.
‘Tis the season for office Christmas parties. I don’t know why business owners feel obliged to throw them. Bigger bonuses would be more appreciated. Call me Scrooge, but what’s wrong with breathlessly wishing everyone a happy holiday on December 24th (varied according to their personal observances) as we step on each other’s toes while trying to squeeze out the door before the phone rings yet again?
It’s not that I don’t like the people I work with. I adore them. But we already spend more awake-time in each other’s pockets than we do with the people named on our tax returns. How can a couple of alcohol-and-sugar-lubricated hours once a year improve on that?
And the small talk.
“What are you working on?”
I don’t know about you, but I hate it when another writer asks me that this time of year. How can I hold my head up and tell her I’m working on getting up enough energy to vacuum the dog hair off the living room rug in preparation for thinking about putting up the Christmas tree—the pre-lit, pre-decorated one I stashed in an upstairs closet last year?
And then there’s, “What are you reading?”
I just love telling some macho guy-writer whose based-on-a-real-life-tragedy story I shredded last week that I’m so stressed I’m downing Regency romances like a Russian downs Smirnoff. Hey! They’re my version of Xanax.
And best of all, someone asks, “What changes are in store for the new year?” That someone is invariably the nitwit you’ve decided not to fire until January 2nd just so you won’t spoil her New Year’s Eve party.
Yes, office Christmas parties are such fun. I’d call in sick that day…but I’m the boss.
Here it is the 12th of December and everyone I know is scurrying around to finish up the last details for their holiday celebrations. But wait! Kick back a minute with a relaxing beverage and catch your breath. Unwind. Read something special that reflects the season.
Christmas has given rise to a very special body of literature. Consider the differing tones of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carole, Clement Clarke Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas (also known as ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas) and the Christmas story as told by St. Luke in The Holy Bible.
I suspect everyone treasures at least one literary offering celebrating the spirit of the season. At Page & Spine, we’ve been lucky to attract entries from friends old and new, and that’s how our Christmas Contest winners shook out. Consider these selections our holiday gift to you, our readers. It’s our hope that you’ll add our winning entries to your list of Christmas favorites. In our opinion (which is never humble) they’re both worthy of the honor.
Without further ado, Page & Spine is proud to announce the winners of our 2014 Christmas Story and Poem Contests, each to receive a $100 prize and appear in the December 26th edition of Page & Spine--
Christmas Story Contest Winner--I Believe… by Ieva Karols
Christmas Poetry Contest Winner--The Shawl by Sandra Stoner-Mitchell
Congratulations, ladies. And thank you to everyone who entered contests. Our judges enjoyed your entries and appreciated your effort.
Wishing all our readers the Peace and Joy of the Season,
The Writers and Staff of Page & Spine
To Whom It May Concern…
…doesn’t work at Page & Spine.
“To whom it may concern” is how I address notes I leave for Ollie when I’m not speaking to him. It is never how I address a potential business contact.
Just thought you’d want to know I rejected another submission, unread, this week because the writer addressed me this way. He then responded that this is the greeting he was taught to use when he had yet to be introduced to the recipient. If true, he needs to find a new teacher. The impression he gives is he’s one of those writers who has picked up Page & Spine’s name from an online list of paying publishers and has never logged on to our site. Imagine! Wanting me to pay him when he can’t even be bothered to find out who might be signing his check! Why he thinks I’d publish his writing when he obviously hasn't troubled himself to lay eyes on my baby … humph!
We’ve all read writers’ magazines. We’ve read the submissions advice to authors in The Writers’ Market. Some of us have even taken writing courses which address marketing. They all say the same thing. RESEARCH. Find out the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your work. Check the submissions instructions. Check the masthead. Contact the publication and ask. (There’s an idea – human contact!) Believe this advice and follow it.
Submitting work for publication is about more than submitting work. It’s about building business relationships, one editor at a time. Your work may or may not be accepted, but you want to be welcome to submit again. So, never submit work without a personalized greeting. It’s unprofessional.
Worse, it’s lazy.
N.K. Wagner is publisher and executive editor of Page & Spine.