Writing for Magazines

By Harriet Michael

When I was a little girl, I loved fishing with my dad. We lived in Nigeria then, so we didn’t have access to many of the fun things people in America had. We didn’t even have swimming pools without traveling at least an hour’s drive from my home. But we had a man-made water reservoir where I could fish. I learned to cast my line out into murky waters, wait in anticipation to feel that tug on my line and then try and reel it in without letting the fish get away.

girls fishing

Maybe that’s why I like freelance writing. I cast pieces—articles, devotions, short stories—out into the murky waters of cyberspace and wait hopefully. Sometimes I feel that tug and sometimes I even reel in a great catch in the form of a contract for a submitted piece.

Of all the publications for which I write, magazines are among my favorite. I get to write on topics of interest to me because I choose the type of magazine I wish to submit to, they pay (some better than others) so I have a flow of cash coming in all year long, and they help build my platform because they are viewed by people I otherwise would not be able to reach.

Here are some tips for anyone hoping to break into the magazine-writing market:

  • Search engines are your best friends. You can find any magazine you think you might like to write for by searching that magazine’s name and the words, “writers’ guidelines.” Ex: “The War Cry writers’ guidelines” You can search types of magazines this way too. Ex: “parenting magazines writers’ guidelines” or “cooking magazines writers’ guidelines” Any magazine that takes freelance submissions will show up if you search by topic.
  • Read the writers’ guidelines, taking note of a few things:

a] What rights do they buy? I avoid magazines that buy all rights or exclusive rights. See the article on this blog about a writer’s rights if you do not understand this.

b] How much and when do they pay? Do they pay on acceptance of your submitted piece or when the article is published? This is merely a guide to me so I will know when to expect a payment, but both are fine.

c] What word count do they want? Stick to their requested word count to the best of your ability. Usually, it’s okay to be over or under by less than 10 words but some online submission sites will cut you off at their maximum count, so I prefer to err on the “under” side of things.

d] Do they have a theme list? Do they want a particular type of article?

  • Write and submit according to the guidelines. Follow the guidelines as closely as you can … and then wait to feel that tug on your line.

A question I often get when teaching workshops on freelancing or magazine writing, is should a person write from inspiration or according to a theme requested by the magazine.

My answer: “Both.”

Writing according to the magazines’ wishes, whether that is a theme or a type of article (like a “how-to”, essay, or story) brings greater success. If they are looking for something specific and you give them what they are looking for, they are more likely to buy it. However, there have been times when something has happened in my life that I simply wanted to write down. This happens often but sometimes these pieces sit on my computer for a long time until a theme or magazine where the piece might fit pops up.

One example of this is an article I had published in a gardening magazine last spring about a humorous experience that occurred many years ago. When it happened, my youngest son was in elementary school. I laughed about what happened all day at the time, so knew I wanted to write it before I forgot, but I had nowhere to send it. When I finally found a magazine where this piece fit, my son was in college. Still, they did take it, people enjoyed reading it, and I received a check for it, even though it was more than a dozen years from the time I wrote it to the time it was published.

Click-to-Tweet:  You’ll never catch a fish if you don’t throw a line in the water and you’ll never have an article published in a magazine if you don’t try your hand at writing and submitting one.

magazines

Writing Prompt / Exercise: Look up the writers’ guidelines for a magazine that you enjoy reading and begin writing an article for submission to that magazine. *Hint: Christian magazines get fewer submissions than secular ones, so the chances of getting published in them are higher.

Writing a Bible Study

by Shirley Crowder

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

I love studying the Bible as well as helping others study the Bible. I hope the following will not only help those who want to write Bible studies, but that it will give a grid through which those who desire to delve into personal Bible studies can study the Bible.

I usually have an idea of what type Bible study I want to write/do: topical or book/passage. Sometimes as I study passages, it becomes clear that the other type study is what would best cover the things I want to include. Both types of studies are valuable in helping Christ-followers grow in our knowledge and understanding of the Bible and how to apply its commands and principles in our daily lives.

There are three basic steps:

  1. Study the Scripture passage.
  2.  Make notes as you study.
  3.  Organize your notes and write the Bible study.

I recently had the opportunity while traveling home from a conference to ask my dear brother in Christ, Dr. Howard Eyrich, “What makes a good Bible study?” I love his three points because they provided the structure for the things I consider as I develop a Bible study.

The most important thing to do when you want to start writing a Bible study is to pray! Ask the Lord to lead you as you study and determine the shape of your Bible study.

As you are reading, studying, contemplating, and meditating on the Scripture passage, make notes of important truths, themes, and words. I usually make bullet point notes of things that I can ask questions about.

Dr. Eyrich’s three points:

  1. Don’t start with a premise and determination to prove your premise.
  2. Inductively study the passage.
  3. Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.

Don’t start with a premise and then set out with determination to prove your premise.

I have been in and read so many Bible studies where it is obvious that the leader/writer began with a premise and set out with determination to prove that premise. They have everything in the Bible study “prove” their premise—often by using poor Bible study techniques. These studies often do not teach the verse or passage in the context of the chapter, book, and testament in which it appears.

Inductively study the passage.

Inductively studying the passage means the Bible is your source or textbook so that every session focuses on reading and understanding the Word of God. Asking questions leads you and others to discover the answers from the Bible.

I suggest staying away from “What do you think this means?” or “What does this mean to you?” questions. Always point people to study the passage for what it says in its context and the biblical principles you can extrapolate. I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?”

Inductively studying the passage leads you to study carefully as you: Observe, Interpret, and Apply the Word to your life.

  • Observation is asking, “What does the passage say?”
  • Interpretation is asking, “What does the passage mean?”
  • Application is asking, “Based on what the passage says and means, how do I apply it to my life?

Theologically evaluate the deductive conclusions.

Once you have the results of your inductive study, you need to look at each result and evaluate it theologically or biblically through the lens of Scripture, making sure your results are biblically/theologically accurate.

Dr. Eyrich encourages us to not be satisfied with just the application—how to apply the Scripture or biblical principle in my life. He encourages us to consider the implication—if I apply these principles in my life, what things would follow or what affect would that have on me and my life.

Check other Scripture passages that pertain to your topic and make note of the cross-references you can use throughout your Bible study.

Decide how many chapters the Bible study will contain. How many days or weeks will the study last? At this point, you decide whether to have one lesson for the week or divide each lesson into daily portions to be studied.

For topical studies, your topic will help you determine what to cover each week. For instance, if you do a study on “The Fruit of the Spirit” you may decide to have eleven chapters:

Chapter 1: Overview/Introduction to “The Fruit of the Spirit”
Chapters 2 – 10: Each chapter covers one of the Fruit of the Spirit.
Chapter 11: Wrap-up

Read through the book or passage numerous times to find the important topics for each chapter. If you choose Psalm 1 for your Bible study, you could compare or contrast the way of the righteous man and the way of the unrighteous man.

Start writing and organizing.

As you write, you will also need to take the role of teacher/leader, making certain you supply background, definitions of words and phrases, and the context of the passage.

Many folks will have thirty questions for the week—six questions per day. However, instead of staying to a formulaic approach, I prefer to have a mix of quick short-answer questions and some that take more research, study, and contemplation to answer, so my Bible studies have varying numbers of questions per day/week.

Review, Rewrite, Refine

In this step you want to make sure the questions make sense and actually ask what you thought you were asking.

This is a good time to ask a friend or two to work through the study and help you identify anything that needs clarifying or that needs to be rewritten.

Writing Prompt: For a topical Bible study on “Trusting God,” what Scripture passages would you use and what questions would you ask?

Click to Tweet: I suggest reading Scripture with this question in mind, “What does this passage say about WHO God is?” Then ponder, “Based on what this passage says about WHO God is, what am I required to do in response?” https://ctt.ec/yb94L+ #WritingBibleStudies

3 Questions Wednesday with Betty Thomason Owens

Betty Thomason Owens

It is my pleasure to be back on 3 Questions Wednesday for three very good reasons.

  1. I’m celebrating the release of another book.
  2. I’m a co-founder of the Inspired Prompt blog.
  3. I helped come up with the three questions.

Okay, maybe those are more like confessions. Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to this day for several months, mainly because I wanted to answer the questions. So, here goes.

First question: Who is your favorite author?

I’m going to veer away from my usual answer of one of the classic authors. When I read historical fiction, my absolute favorite is fellow Kentucky author,  Ann Gabhart. Her stories are rich with history and heart. You can’t help getting all wrapped up them.

Yes, I am also a fan of Ann Gabhart. Mom has a bookshelf full of her books as well, and no, I am not trying to win brownie points with Mrs. Gabhart. 🙂

Let’s move on to the next question–

You’ve been chosen to write a biography about your favorite historical person. Who would that be?

It may surprise you to know that at one time, Amelia Earhart was my favorite historical person. I read everything I could get my hands on about her life. I watched the movies, and used to fantasize that she had somehow survived her flight into the Bermuda Triangle, and was still alive somewhere. Possibly on a deserted isle, happily hidden from the newshounds.

I’m not surprised by your answer. I remember all those biographies gleaned from the school libraries over the years. I believe we wrote a report once and made an A+ on it. So, next question: If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Oh, I would definitely spend a sunny day with Annabelle, working in her garden, listening to her sing as we work. She’d bake my favorite cookies and tell wonderful stories about her growing up years in Trenton, Tennessee. I fashioned her character after my grandma and her sister-in-law, Lona Wade, so I know her rather well. Sometimes, I long to hear their voices again. They echo in my mind and bring me great joy that I knew them and was loved by them.

I love Annabelle. She’s my favorite character in the Kinsman Redeemer series. Thanks for the interview, Betty. Anything else you’d like to say?

Yes! Join me tonight (6 – 8 pm EDT) for a Facebook Launch Party! If you don’t have time or you’re busy tonight, you can pop in at any time over the next week. There are prizes to win (no purchase necessary). Just click on “Going” to let me know you were there. Thanks so much! Here’s the link to the Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2872476632767489/ If you’re not on Facebook, you can still enter to win prizes via the “Contact Me” tab on my website. You’ll find it here: https://bettythomasonowens.com/contact/


A 1950’s Clean & Wholesome Romance! – Annabelle’s Joy

She’s waited too long.

When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn’t ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle’s heart is ready to love again?

Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate.

Drift back into the simple, country life of Tennessee in 1957 with this sequel to award-winning ANNABELLE’S RUTH.


Betty Thomason Owens loves being outdoors. Her favorite season is spring, when she can work in the yard or take long walks while thinking through a troublesome scene in one of her stories. She considers herself a word-weaver, writing stories that touch the heart. She leads the Louisville Area ACFW group, serves on the board of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and is a co-founder of the multi-author Inspired Prompt blog. Married forty-four years, she’s a mother of three, and a grandmother of eight. A part-time bookkeeper at her day-job, she writes for Write Integrity Press, and has eight novels in publication. You can learn more about her at BettyThomasonOwens.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at Inspired Prompt.

Our Children Need Good Writers

By Tammy Trail

My contribution to the blog this month is writing for children and teens. Now, I have never considered writing for this genre. I’m a historical fiction gal. I purposely pick a subject matter that I know nothing about in order to learn something new. Well, this topic did not fail in that regard. As I do my research, I am finding that my assumption that writing for children must be easier than writing for adults is proven wrong.

Depending on the age group of the children, you may develop a strong idea for a board book for infants. Picture books with a simplistic story are great as easy readers targeted at ages from 3-6 years old. Chapter books for the grade school years. Then young teens for ages 12-16.  From there on it’s considered a young adult market.

Books are not the only venue for writing for children, there are magazines, comics, curriculum, and devotionals. I think retired educators would be perfect at writing for children’s magazines like Highlights, and Ladybug. These are directed towards getting children excited about learning at an early age.

morgue file

With a full novel the story premise is still the same. Strong, likable characters who are flawed and must overcome an obstacle. A plot driven story can be just as important for children and teens as it is for adult fiction writing. The difference is that with children, you can have a mouse be the main character. Our favorite was “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” His objective was of course to get a cookie, and in the process one event leads to another in this funny, engaging story.

With teens, it becomes a little more involved. A story starts out with the character following their ordinary day, and the teen is put into a new situation, or meets someone who is very different from themselves. Most of the antagonists are adults, who will stand in the way of teenage goals. The teen is faced with an overwhelming obstacle that he/she must overcome on their own or with the help of friends.

Think of “Harry Potter.” Although his life was not ordinary at all, he was mistreated by the people he lived with for years. Once he became a certain age, his life took a turn, with a new school, friends, enemies, and a huge obstacle with multiple quests he had to accomplish until the final showdown. This is the formula for most teen series publications.

When researching this topic, I used “Writing Children’s Books for Dummies.” It has an exhaustive amount of information on how to begin your journey. The other was, “Getting Started in Writing for Children.”

There are many magazines that publish for the Christian Children’s market as well.  Focus on the Family has several. And there are writer’s guides and directories available to help a novice writer.  For online guides and directories, there are:

  • Children’s Book Council (www.cbcbooks.org).
  • Literary Market Place (www.literarymarketplace,com)
  • Publishers Marketplace (www.publishersmarketplace.com)
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.abwi.org)

I shared just a few of the resources available. I hope you will learn as much as I did on this topic when you delve into the research. It’s a hard market, but publishers are always looking for fresh ideas, and you just might have one.

Click to tweet: A Child’s Tale: Writing for Children. #amwriting #children’sbooks

Writing prompt: Research one children’s magazine. Write for them and submit.

The Fabric of Love by Cara Lynn James

IMG_1306-2 copyGood morning! It is my pleasure to welcome author Cara Lynn James to the Inspired Prompt.

Hi, Cara. So glad you could join us. First question:

Tell us a little about yourself?

Cara:  I was born in Hamden, Connecticut where I spent the first 23 years of my life. My parents split when I was just a baby, but I have younger siblings (3 sisters and a brother) from blended family situations. I don’t pay attention to adjectives like “step” or “half” when it comes to my siblings. They’re my siblings, and I love them.

Thanks to visiting my dad on the weekends, I was in church every Sunday and grew up learning the Bible. I also started going to a Christian school in the fourth grade. But while I professed Christ at 9 years old, I pulled away from my faith in my teens and early twenties and made a few bad decisions. Once I hit what I considered bottom, my best buddy Chris invited me to come to live with him in New Hampshire and get back on my feet. It ended up being a great decision as God used the experience to draw me back to him and I rediscovered the faith I’d discarded. I’d been writing all along, and now my faith influenced the things that came out in my work.

New Hampshire has certainly had its ups and downs for me, but the one constant has been God, and He has been absolutely faithful through it all. I’m thankful for a God I can completely surrender to, and I’m thankful for the gracious blessings He grants me in this life. He just keeps giving, though I never could deserve it, and I’m now a published author.

What do you love most about the writing process?

Cara:  Once I finish the rough draft, I love editing because I enjoy finding just the right words. Editing seems so much more manageable than actually writing the first draft. That’s a sprawling, messy process. But I also like that, too, because it’s very creative and I’m never quite sure where the story is going. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes not.

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 How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Cara: I’m embarrassed to say I have six half-finished books resting in my computer. My only excuse (and it’s not a good one) is I often get bogged down in the middle and tired of the story. If only I could go from the beginning, skip the sagging middle and sprint to the end. I’m half-plotter and half-panster, although I’m trying hard to plan ahead and avoid tumbling down rabbit holes. So far I’m partially successful.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

Cara:   I’d have a serious talk with myself about how wonderful writing can be as long as I keep learning the craft and practice what I learn. I’d always accept criticism graciously, and develop the discipline to finish a project. My advice would be to steel myself against rejection, rejoice with every success, large or small, and never compare myself to others. Be as happy for my friends as for myself when good things happen. (Actually, I am and I think that’s very important.) There’s no room for envy. I’d try to make a lot of writer friends because they’re the ones who understand me and listen enthusiastically to my chatter about characters, plot, edits, etc. They understand the joys of writing and commiserate about the inevitable disappointments along the way. They ‘get it.’ And lastly, be generous and helpful with other writers.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Cara:  One common trap is publishing a book before it’s ready for prime time. With self-publishing so easy, aspiring authors have to be sure to study their craft and have patience while they’re learning. Be grateful others will critique your story and don’t be defensive if you disagree with their comments. They’re trying to help. Try to stay focused and not let yourself get overwhelmed or discouraged.

What does literary success look like to you?

Cara: Success means writing what God wants me to write, enjoying the process, having readers and interacting with them. Making a little money along the way never hurts either.

Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

Cara:  I’m contracted for three inspirational novellas, two historical romances and one contemporary. 

The first novella is The Fabric of Love, a story set in a small Connecticut town around the turn-of-the-century. It’s about a young widow who struggles to support her mother and three kids. Against her will, Eliza Baldwin and Clark Henderson, the town’s new storekeeper, quickly fall in love. Eliza needs a job so she’ll be able to send her son to a private school, her late husband’s dearest wish. But the headmaster’s wife doesn’t believe in women working outside the home. Should Eliza confront society’s conventions and work in Clark’s store anyway? She’d risk her son’s acceptance at the school and the possibility of an academic scholarship. But more importantly, should she shed the familiarity of widowhood and move forward into a new life with Clark?

The other historical romance is The Innkeeper’s Promise which, not surprisingly, is about an innkeeper who tries to convince her business partner stay and help her manage the inn when he’s anxious to expand his horizons and move on. Despite their conflicting goals, they fall in love. Can they compromise and reconcile their differences?

The third novella is my first contemporary story set in New England. A young home stager snags a job to freshen up a kids’ summer camp so the owner can sell the property and make a good profit. The owner’s grandson hires her and they quickly fall for each other. But can their romance continue when he’s offered the presidency of his grandfather’s company in Arizona? They both have life-altering decisions to make and despite their growing love, it’s not easy.

Thanks so much for joining us!

Click to tweet: Cara Lynn James talks about the writing journey and her latest book, The Fabric of Love #amreading #CaraLynnJames #writingsucess


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Cara Lynn James writes historical romance often with a twist of mystery and occasionally contemporary romance. She is an award-winning, multi-published author of four Gilded Age romances, Love on a Dime, Love on Assignment, Love by the Book and A Path toward Love. Her first novella, The Fabric of Love, will be published September 31, 2019, on Amazon, and will soon be followed by The Innkeeper’s Promise and Staging a Romance, her only contemporary novella to date.

She’s been a finalist in many writing contests including Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Contest which led to publication. She won the American Christian Fiction Writers Noble Theme award in the historical fiction category.

You can find her on Facebook and at her website caralynnjames.net


The Fabric of Love

Eliza Baldwin, a young, bereaved widow, and mother of three struggles to support her family and save enough money for her son’s private school tuition. 

She’d like to take a job, but in her small Connecticut town in 1900, working outside the home is not acceptable for the widow of a once prosperous attorney.

Loyal to the memory of her late husband, she wants to fulfill his fondest wish to send their son to Whitfield Academy. But that’s out the question unless she can find the tuition money. Her best option is to rent a room in her spacious home to a respectable, god-fearing woman. But when Eliza advertises the room, the only person interested is a handsome male stranger.

Reluctantly, she rents the renovated space over the stable to Clark Henderson, the new owner of the Whitfield General Store. Right from their first meeting, Eliza and Clark feel a strong attraction toward each other. Yet, despite their growing feelings, Eliza believes any romantic relationship would show disloyalty to her late husband.

When Clark asks her to accept a position in his store, the headmaster’s wife makes it perfectly clear that working will jeopardize the boy’s acceptance at school.

Clark offers Eliza love and a chance to shed her widow’s weeds and genteel poverty, but she’s unsure about what the Lord has in mind for her. Will she reject Clark’s love and his kindness and hold fast to her old, familiar life? Or will she defy the headmaster’s wife and take a step forward into the future with Clark?