Category Archives: how-to

High paying market for short stories, articles, & activities for kids 9-14


Odyssey is a mag for 9- to 14-year-olds; pays $.20/-$.25/word for fiction, articles, activities, etc; details HERE:

Paying market for fiction & kids stories


Catholic Forester pays for a variety of nonfiction articles, but also for light fiction or good stories for kids. Pays $.50/word and $50 for reprints. Read the guidelines HERE:

fantasy, sci fi, horror contest


L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest; deadline is June 30, 2011; open to short stories up to 17,000 words; cash prizes up to $5,000; details HERE: 

Paying market for women’s humor, essays & articles


Sasee buys essays, satire, humor, articles and personal experience pieces between 500 and 1,000 words; guidelines HERE:

Guest post by Sage Cohen, author of “The Productive Writer” & “Writing the Life Poetic”


Planning for the Future Starts with Celebrating the Past
A guest post from author Sage Cohen

Happy New Year, writers! I hope this finds you invigorated about the year ahead.

I believe that there is no better launching pad into the great, blank page of 2011 than a thorough inventory of all that went right in 2010. With this in mind, I’m going to ask a series questions to guide you in recounting your many successes this past year! I encourage you to take your time and be as thorough as you can in listing every, single thing you appreciate about yourself and what you’ve accomplished in each dimension of your writing life–even if the best you can do is admire that you stopped burning your rejection letters. Deal?

  • What was most fun, exhilarating or rewarding in your writing life this year?
  • What obstacles did you face and overcome?
  • What relationships did you build, repair or retire, and how has this contributed to your writing life?
  • What did you let go of (habits, relationships, attitudes, clutter) that was no longer serving you?
  • What did you read that taught you something about your craft, your platform or how to take your writing and publishing forward?
  • What did you earn or what opportunity did you land that felt prosperous?
  • How has your confidence and/or craft improved?
  • What have you learned about social media that is serving your writing life?
  • What strategies worked best for being effective with your time?
  • How did you nurture and sustain your well being–in mind, body, spirit?
  • Who has praised your writing or teaching or facilitating? What did they say and how did it give you a new sense of appreciation for yourself and your work?
  • What did you learn about your writing rhythms: time of day to write, managing procrastination, how and when to revise, making use of slim margins of time, etc.?
  • Who did you help, and who helped you?
  • What did you learn about yourself from rejection, and how has it helped your writing, your confidence or your submissions approach develop?
  • What did you do that terrified you–but you did it any way? And how did that benefit your life and your writing?
  • How were you patient?
  • When and how were you successful at juggling the competing demands of family, writing, work, and everything else in your full life?
  • Who did you forgive? Who forgave you?

Because it’s so easy to keep our minds trained to the loop of an unsolvable problem or two, you may be surprised at how many triumphs are revealed as you answer these questions. Every risk you took, skill you fortified and skin you shed in the service of your writing life is a foothold in the future you are aspiring to create. Nice work!

About Sage Cohen

Sage Cohen is the author of The Productive Writer (just released from Writer’s Digest Books); Writing the Life Poetic and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. She blogs about all that is possible in the writing life at, where you can: Download a FREE “Productivity Power Tools” workbook companion to The Productive Writer. Get the FREE, 10-week email series, “10 Ways to Boost Writing Productivity” when you sign up to receive email updates. Sign up for the FREE, Writing the Life Poetic e-zine. Plus, check out the events page for the latest free teleclasses, scholarships and more.

FREE query letter contest


Write On Online’s September Challenge: A Query Letter Contest!

Deadline is 9/30/2010; limit 1 page; 3 prizes; queries for short fiction, nonfiction and essays; Details about contest and how to submit are HERE:

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Kevin Coupe, “The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from the Movies”


Author interview with Kevin Coupe

Kevin Coupe has been a working writer all his professional life.  He is the co-author, with Michael Sansolo, of The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies, which uses movies to illustrate tenets of leadership, the importance of marketing and branding, and how to survive in the workplace.  For the past decade, he’s had his own website/blog – – providing what he calls “business news in context, and analysis with attitude.”  In addition to speaking at hundreds of conferences in the U.S. and abroad and reporting from 45 states and six continents, Kevin has worked as a daily newspaper reporter, video producer, bodyguard, clothing salesman, supervised a winery tasting room, run two marathons (slowly), drove a race car (badly), taken boxing lessons (painfully) and acted in a major (and obscure) motion picture.  He is married with three children, and lives in Connecticut.

1.  Tell us about your latest book.

The central premise of The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies is that it is much easier and more effective for a business leader to communicate his or her vision to co-workers, employees, business partners and even customers if the leader can create a narrative…in other words, tell a compelling and understandable story.  If you cannot tell your story in resonant terms, it is hard to get people to coalesce around your business vision.  For us, movies are a way of creating a common language, or a common mythology, that leaders can refer to in telling their story. 

Q: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

A.  Pretty much.  Both Michael and I started out as newspaper reporters and moved into business magazines, though I’ve stayed a working writer my entire adult life and Michael made a detour into the corporate world where he was in charge of education for a major trade association.  But even in that role, where he gave many speeches and planned educational events, the importance of a good story was always central to how he approached his job.  We’re storytellers.  Which is a cool gig, if you can figure out how to make a living from it.

Q: Tell us briefly about your book.

The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies looks at about 60 different movies from seven decades – encompassing comedies, musicals, dramas and action films, and including both legitimate classics and some that are a little less memorable – to create narratives through which business people can approach issues of leadership, branding, customer service, and even career development.  It really is very simple – we want people to read the book and say to themselves, “The situation I’m facing at work is a lot like the scenario in Jaws.”  Or in That Thing You Do.  Or The Godfather.  Or Bridge on the River Kwai. And when they do so, they may be able to find new ways to deal with whatever business issue they are facing, or at least see it in a different and broader context.

How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve always been a working writer.  I started out in daily newspaper journalism, did a short stint in PR, worked for some business magazines and then wrote and produced a series of videos about the business of global retailing.  For the past dozen years or so, I’ve written about retailing for a series of websites, including my own – – for the past eight years.  It is probably a good thing, since I’m not much good at anything else and being a writer has always served my need for some degree of personal autonomy.    That’s not to say that I don’t do other things.  My co-author, Michael Sansolo, and I spend a fair amount of time on the road giving speeches about the business of retailing…and that helps to pay the mortgage.  But basically, I’ve always been a writer.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Up by 5:30 am.  I skim the business sections of about 25 newspapers to find topics for my daily blog/column,  I let the dog out and drink the first of about six cups of black coffee.  At 6 am, I turn on “Morning Joe,” which plays in the background as I work – I find the political discussions to be energizing and thought provoking, and both passionate and civil, which is increasingly rare for discourse these days. At 6:30 am, I bring my wife a cup of coffee the way she likes it – with two Splendas and frothed light cream.  (She’s the person in the family with a steady income and medical benefits, so I like to keep her happy.) By 9 am, my wife and daughter are off to school (my wife is a third grade teacher, my daughter is a high school sophomore), MorningNewsBeat is done, and things get a little more relaxed.  Three days a week I go to the gym and work out.  In nice weather I jog the other three days…though I’m slower than I used to be after two knee surgeries.  After that, I spend the next three or four hours making calls, going through email, writing columns for some print publications, working on speeches (I do about 25 a year), and gathering stories for the next day’s MorningNewsBeat.  At 3:30 pm most days I pick up my daughter at school…and then the rest of the afternoon I try to spend writing whatever project I happen to have on the front burner, or do a little reading – rarely about business, since at that point my brain is a little fried.  (Sometimes, I’ll take a quick nap – I have the ability to fall asleep on a moment’s notice and wake up after 15 or 20 minutes completely refreshed.)  At around 6 pm I uncork a bottle of wine and make supper for everybody.  After dinner, I either watch a ballgame (during baseball season), maybe a TV series I like, or a movie…Michael Sansolo and I already are planning our sequel to The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.  There are so many movies and so little time.  If I can, I like to stay awake long enough to watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  But I don’t always make it…because at 5:30 in the morning, it starts all over again.

Describe your workspace.

It depends.   During much of the year, when my 20-year-old son is away at college, I commandeer his room and desk and work there – it has a couple of windows, and my dog, Buffett, likes to hang out with me there.  Plus, the kitchen is just a few feet away and it makes me easily available to my daughter when she’s home.  When my son wants his room back, I have a small office a few blocks away that I go to – it is over a pub, which I find pleasing.  A third of the time, I’m on the road…which means my workspace is wherever I happen to find myself – hotel rooms, airport lounges, restaurants, coffee shops, bars, or airplanes (which happens to be where I am responding to these questions).  One of the great pleasures of being a writer is that I can do it anywhere, anytime.

Favorite books (especially for writers)

A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill

Piecework by Pete Hamill

On Writing by Stephen King

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Early Autumn by Robert B. Parker

The Night of the Gun by David Carr

The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies by Michael Sansolo and Kevin Coupe

Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

A.  I once was a bodyguard for Farrah Fawcett.  Really.  I was 30 years younger and 30 pound lighter, but I actually had the job in late 1977 and early 1978.

B.  Some of the best hours of my week are spent in a local gym where I take boxing lessons and work out on the heavy bag.  It is a great stress-reducer, and it clears the mind.

C.  My co-author, Michael Sansolo, and I grew up in the same town.  His mom and my dad worked for the local school system.  Michael went to high school with the woman who later married me.  We worked for Gannett as newspaper reporters when we got out of college in offices just a few miles apart.  And yet we did not meet until the late eighties when we found ourselves working for the same magazine company, him as editor in chief of a print publication and me running the editorial side of the video division.  It was like meeting a brother I did not know I had… and it led to a fast friendship and constant telephone conversations that spawned a number of business projects and, now, this book, The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies.

Favorite quote

There are many…so many that it is hard for me to choose one. So I’ll go with this one:

“Indecision may or may not be my problem.”  – Jimmy Buffett

Best and worst part of being a writer

The hours and the money.  Not necessarily in that order.

Advice for other writers

Write.  And if you don’t understand why that’s the most important advice that can be given to a writer, find another line of work.

Tell us a story about your writing experience.

Woody Allen once said that the most important thing in life is showing up, and my career is proof positive of this, though I’ve also been exceedingly lucky.  Let me explain…

After I graduated from college, I was looking for a job as a writer, but couldn’t get one…I really wanted to work at a newspaper, but I’d never taken a journalism class, which was sort of a handicap.  So a friend of mine who was both the stunt coordinator and head of security for Farrah Fawcett’s first post-“Charlie’s Angels” movie, gave me a job on her security detail because I did know something about movie sets.  This was late 1977, early 1978.

Once the movie wrapped, I went back to looking for a writing job.  In February 1978, I managed to get an interview with the head of human resources for Gannett’s suburban New York newspaper group.  This was a big deal.  The interview was at 10 am, and when I woke up at six that morning, I discovered that we’d had more than a foot of snow overnight, which was going to make getting to the interview problematic.  So I woke up my two younger brothers – I was living at home – and got them to dig my car out of the driveway.  Then, I took them with me for what should have been a 15-minute drive to the interview, but instead took more than an hour because we kept getting caught in snow drifts…I made them come with me because I had a feeling this might happen and that I’d need their help.

When I got to the office – on time – the security guard looked at me like I had three heads and told me that the HR guy wasn’t there…he had not been able to get to the office because of the snowstorm.  I made sure that I left my resume on his desk with a note that said something along the lines of “I got here, sorry you were not able to,” and we headed home.

Now, this was completely deliberate on my part.  I knew that the odds were that the office would be closed because of snow, but I also knew that I needed to find a differential advantage to make my resume stand out from those of people far more qualified than I to work for a newspaper.  Which is what happened.  I got the reputation for being the guy who showed up in the snowstorm, and the HR guy promised to get me an interview with the first newspaper editor in the chain who had an opening.

About a month later, I got the call.  Bill Chanin of the Rockland Journal-News wanted to meet me.  I drove to the newspaper building and was ushered into his office…and there, on the wall, was the iconic Farrah Fawcett poster (which could never happen today, but remember, this was the seventies).  I instantly thought to myself, “I got this job.”   And I did.

I haven’t stopped writing for a living since.

Where can people buy your book?

The Big Picture:  Essential Business Lessons from the Movies is available from the publisher:

And from

To read our daily blog, go to:

To learn more about Michael Sansolo, go to:

To learn more about Kevin Coupe, go to:

10 Questions for Christy Strauch, “Passion, Plan, Profit”


Author interview with Christy Strauch

1. Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book (as compared to the first two I wrote which are still, blessedly, in my desk, never to see the light of day), is a business plan book for right-brained creative people who want to make money and have a prosperous business doing the work they love; but are afraid of the “business side” of business.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I have been writing on and off since I was twelve. I finally caught fire when I joined the Phoenix chapter of Romance Writers of America ten years ago (I was an avid romance reader at the time). Surrounded by people who actually finished and published books (whatever you think about romances and their writers, you can’t argue with the fact that they are prolific); I learned that the key to a completed book is the formula Ass+Chair (attributed to the film director Oliver Stone).

I wrote two novels (see the answer to number one above about where they ended up); then realized I wanted to write non-fiction. Specifically I wanted to share my experiences in my own businesses, and help other people succeed. I took what I learned about perseverance from my romance writer buddies and finished the business plan book, and am halfway through the next one: The “I Hate to Market” Book.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

Writing isn’t my only day job. I am also a business coach and workshop leader. The ideas for my books come from clients, so even though I love writing, I don’t think I’ll ever stop coaching and teaching to write full time.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I wage a weekly war with paper on my desk. Sometimes I win, sometimes not. I signal to myself when it is time to write by perching a painted wooden crab at the top of my laptop screen. This helps me ignore the paper if it won this week’s battle, and reminds me that I am now in writing time.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I love Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott; Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.

The Artist Way created the foundation for my writing; it taught me to think of myself as creative. Natalie Goldberg’s book is full of low-risk, no-judgment exercises that got me started writing regularly. Annie Lamott’s book helps me remember that all I have to write next is what’s in front of me; I don’t have to knock out War and Peace by 5pm today. I strongly recommend these books to anyone who wants to write (and to writers who might occasionally get stuck).

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I got (because I asked for) a ukulele for Christmas in 2008, and am teaching myself to play it. I used to own a computer company, and I have big, lovely feet.

7. Favorite quote

Besides the “Ass plus chair” quote attributed to Oliver Stone, I also like this one from Anne Lamott:

“For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

The best thing is about writing is the creating of something (a story, a how-to book like mine, a memoir, a poem or any other piece of writing) that didn’t exist before the writer wrote it. Writing is just like painting or dance or singing or even building construction; writers create something that didn’t exist before they put it on paper.

The worst part about writing is that the creation process is a bit mysterious and somewhat uncontrollable. My wooden crab and I show up to write regularly (that’s the part I can control), but there’s no guarantee that we’ll actually create anything worth reading. I show up to serve what needs to be written through me, and try not to get too freaked out if occasionally I can’t write anything, or I don’t like what I’m writing.

9. Advice for other writers

I have two pieces of advice. First; treat your writing as sacred. Give it regular time; don’t relegate it to the bottom of your to do list so that you only do it when absolutely everything else is done. It’s like exercise. If you only get out and walk or do your run once every other week, it never gets easier. Exercising and writing are most enjoyable when you make time for them almost every day.

The second piece of advice: give your unconscious mind time to work. My books explain (sometimes complex) concepts to my readers; many times when I start the first draft, I can’t figure out how to explain clearly what I want to say. So I go for a walk, read something that pertains to the work I’m doing, call someone, or work on something else for a few minutes. My unconscious almost always works out the problem on its own while I’m letting it alone to think.

I try to treat my writing gently. It’s a paradox: I have to be ruthless in setting aside time to write, and I have to be kind to myself as I’m doing it.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I really (really really) want my book to change the lives of people who are struggling to create prosperous businesses doing the work they love.

Right before the book was actually printed, I realized that I was terrified about it being published. What if it didn’t help people? What if they didn’t do the work in the book? What if it was a big failure? Part of me wanted to change my mind and not go through with publishing it.

At the same time I was struggling through my writerly angst, the printer was sending my publisher the proof of the book, and we absolutely couldn’t get a clean copy. It took six rounds of proofs to finally get one free of errors (free of at least the errors we knew about).

Two of my author friends, Sam Beasley and Suzanne Lorenz, who wrote a brilliant book called Wealth and Well-Being, talked me off the ledge. Theirs is also a workbook, and they’d already come to the realization that they couldn’t force people to do the work in their book either. They told me that I’d done my job; I’d written the book. I couldn’t control what happened to it after that.

My publisher got the clean proof the day after my friends helped me let go of worrying about the outcome of the book. It was as if my fear was participating with the printer in continuing to produce proofs with errors. Once I stopped worrying, we got the clean proof and published the book.

Where can people buy your book?

My book is for sale on Amazon. If you type “Passion Plan Profit” into the search box on the Amazon site, my book comes right up.

Christy Strauch is the author of Passion, Plan, Profit: 12 Simple Steps to Convert Your Passion into a Solid Business. In addition she is president of Clarity To Business and has worked with over 300 small business owners, from artists to real estate agents, helping them do what they are passionate about – and make a profit. Her book is available at at

10 QUESTIONS FOR…Darlene Dennis, “Host or Hostage?”


Author interview with Darlene Dennis

About Darlene: (Retired English teacher, consultant with Houghton Mifflin text book division, compulsive cook, hostess, rose gardener, aqua exerciser, traveler and mah jongg player)

1. Tell us about your latest book.

In the world of “how to” books, there has been a curious void on the subject of entertaining and managing house guest visits.  Here is a book that fills that vacuum. “Host or Hostage? A Guide for Surviving House Guests” defines the idiosyncratic world of entertaining house guests from beginning to end.  It is the first practical hands-on guide dealing with the nitty gritty of how to invite or avoid house guests, how to make them comfortable and how to manage their timely departure.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I entertained a bottom of the barrel house guest from hell and decided there were no books that dealt with this particular subject.  I started interviewing people anywhere and everywhere about their house guest experiences and learned that there are people with hellish house guest stories around the world.

3. Describe your usual day.

I begin the day at 6:30, take coffee and the newspaper to my husband in bed, feed and walk the dog and then work out at the YMCA from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM.  I write or market sporadically.  As an attention deficit person, I jump from task to task in a cycle that keeps me entertained, the house more or less in shape and our social life buzzing.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have a beautiful large office with two desks.  The bay window looks out on the mountains east of us in Encinitas.  Both desks, the round black marble table and the book case are usually a mess of papers.  I’m always in trouble for not being neat.

5. Favorite books

Ooooh!  As an English teacher, this is a tough question.  I especially love Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Lord of the Flies, The Odyssey, To Kill A Mockingbird, Silas Marner, Lorna Doone, All Quiet on The Western Front, Treasure Island, The Prince and the Pauper and everything by Pat Conroy.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

I’m a compulsive cook, baker, hostess, rose gardener and book collector.  I can walk into a thrift shop and decorate my house with amazing antique furniture and paintings, as well as fill my closets with upscale clothes, including furs; my jewelry box is filled with gold and diamonds from thrift shops.  Acknowledging people and talking to everyone I meet is one of my techniques for educating myself.

7. Favorite quote

“Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

I most enjoy interviewing people to access anecdotal material for my book.  I also enjoy finding appealing vocabulary in everything I read that I can use in another context in my writing. The worst part is being unsure of my own writing style and not knowing whether or not others would enjoy what I have written.  It took the kiss of approval from Joyce Wadler and her editor at The New York Times to lift my confidence.

9. Advice for other writers

Decide on your theme and your audience.  Put your nose to the grindstone and write.  Then find a great editor.  Beware of some self-publishing houses.  Do not give any money to the snake oil hucksters who offer to make you rich if you pay them a lot of money to show you how to access media attention or become a famous speaker. There are no road maps to publicity and publishing success.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

My story is one of, what I suspect, is destiny.  In my fury after entertaining Boorish Bob, I told everyone I was writing a book; never mind that the only thing I knew about writing was to explain the process to high school students and give them writing assignments..  I set about interviewing everyone everywhere.  I would conduct interviews at dinner parties (those discussions were hilarious),  the person sitting next to me at the doctor’s office, the dental hygienist while she cleaned my teeth, the person next to me in the aqua exercise class, the nurse who checked my breasts for cancer (She gave me a great story) and people who traveled with us abroad.   I simply couldn’t stop this obsession with writing about overstepping house guests who seemed to harbor a sense of entitlement.

After boring /irritating everyone for two and a half years, Dianne Kernell, whose locker is across from mine at the gym, said, “Darlene, bring me two of your chapters.”  Now Dianne’s husband is a top of the top academic author.  She is a professional editor and also edits for Sam.  With much trepidation, I gave her three chapters.  She came back to me and said, “I didn’t know what I was going to do if I didn’t like this, but here’s what you need to do . . .”

I was in my late sixties at the time and I decided that I didn’t have enough time left on the planet to wait for an agent to accept my manuscript and then wait for a publishing house to buy it.  I hauled out my “Little Red Hen” archetype and decided to do it myself.  It took one expensive wrong turn with a self-publishing house that I quickly learned was out to pick my pocket.  Dianne discovered that their business manager was one of three attorneys that had been disbarred in Minnesota the year before.  I threatened them with the Attorney Generals office in order to have my money returned.  Then, scrolling the internet, I found the perfect person/company to do the publishing.  Brett Burner of Lamp Post is honest, talented and inexpensive.  The result is a professional product that appeals to a broad range of people.

The point of this story is that everything including Boorish Bob, the clod who overstepped my household boundaries, fell into place, assuring that this book would be written and published.  In less than a year, five journalists, including Joyce Wadler of the New York Times have either used my book as a muse for an article or reviewed it.  I have also been interviewed by three radio personalities including Patt Morrison of NPR and then a television interview at KATU Portland.

I compare writing and publishing “Host or Hostage? A Guide for Surviving House Guests” to a three year pregnancy.  I dream that my baby will grow up to influence hosts and hostesses to establish boundaries so they are better able to enjoy entertaining  without stress.

Where can people buy your book?

Host or Hostage? A Guide for Surviving House Guests is available at Soft cover $14.99; Hard cover $25.99.

It is also available on, Barnes and and other internet sites.

This book is the perfect closing gift for Real estate companies.  House guests have a tendency to arrive at a new residence before the furniture is arranged.