Monday, July 29, 2013

For Writers - Quarterlies

This piece sold to Writing for Dollars last fall. For my writer friends it might be a useful read to start your week. And I hope you sell!

Have You Considered Quarterlies?
By Susan Sundwall

A couple of times a year I give my submissions spreadsheet a good going over, looking for reprint possibilities and pieces that haven’t sold but still have potential. In a recent such move I noticed the number of quarterlies I’ve sold to and there were quite a few.

Many writers won’t consider quarterlies – or put them at the bottom of their ‘possible market’ lists – for the following reasons.

1.      Trying to remember due dates for various publications is bothersome.
2.      Issues are themed and some writers don’t like to be restricted by them.
3.      Too many quarterlies are literary journals.
4.      Pay is non-existent or low.

That’s why I never wrote much for them either. Then I took the bull by the horns and got some re-prints out there and – sure enough – three of them sold to quarterlies. For instance, The Lutheran Digest takes, even prefers, reprints and I sold to them. The editor took my essay about the family recipe box and that sale was number five for that piece. Another publication for reprints is Valley Living. The editor frequently takes my stories and always tells me to go ahead and sub it elsewhere as other markets rarely cross hers. So I do and sell many of them.

Themes can be a bane or blessing. The bane part would come in the limitations set by an established topic not of one’s choosing. The blessing comes with having a topic to tackle from the get-go. It saves you from having to guess what to write about. Or worse, writing so far out of the publications parameters that you totally bomb.  But you might find that quite often the theme is broad. When you read the guidelines try to read between the lines a little to determine if your enchanting article about where best to invest your lottery winnings would fit into a broader theme of ‘family,’ or ‘finances.’ You might be surprised what an editor will consider. Since many writers have an aversion to quarterlies, your chances of being accepted are greater, too. You’ll never know unless you try.

Literary journals and magazines can be tough. Many of them pay in copies and if you only want the prestige of having your piece in one of them – well, okay then. But there are those that pay and I’ve listed a few of them at the end of this article. Study the tone of each publication – study the tone. Very important.

Now, as for those pesky deadlines. Simply make a log for them. Look at it in the first part of each new quarter to determine when you’ll need to get your work in for consideration. Note which ones take reprints and which tend to be themed. Try color coding. Add new markets as you find them.

So, are quarterlies worth it? I think so. Of course they’re in the mix with everything else you write and probably won’t yield you buckets of money. But here’s a little math. You set a goal of submitting three pieces a month to quarterlies. If your ratio of sales to subs is three to one then you’ve sold twelve pieces in a year. If each of those pieces garners $50 to $100 you’ve made anywhere from $600 - $1200 for that time span. Not a lot all by itself, but a nice little chunk of change to add to your other revenue streams. And if some of those are reprints, you’re that much further ahead in the game. Same goes for your evergreen pieces.

Take a look at these markets for starters.

West Virginia Family – Pays $25 per article

The Lutheran Digest – Pays $35

Valley Living – Pays $35 - $50

Range Magazine – Pays $50 - $400 per article

North Dakota Horizons – Payment averages $.20 per word

Image: Free Digital Photos

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Learning how and when to say Bra! was part of our lesson. Of course, as Americans, we all got a big kick out of repeating the word because it brings something else to mind. But our Swedish cousin and lovely new friend, Ulla (pronounced Oola) was giving it her all. Bra in Swedish means “good.” Ulla stood with the Karaoke mike in one hand and her flash cards in the other all full of enthusiasm and eager to share words and phrases with us. Please don’t ask this old lady to remember them all although kör som fan, “run like hell,” stuck in my mind as I imagined a bear rearing up in the blueberry patch. Okay, I confess, I had to Google Translate this one partly because we don’t have those two little dots over any letters in our alphabet and partly because I remembered the English but not the Swedish words.

Perfect weather, canoeing, hiking, golf, howlers (the little tykes) and growlers (brown jugs of beer for the big ones), cavernous houses, and crummy hair (me) were the order of the day. I was in charge of the cooking and my menus were well received though not perfectly executed. The kitchen was awesome however lacking in equipment and my assigned sous chefs were at the ready for each meal. After all the food was on the table and devoured, I walked away. Cooking and not having to clean up has always been a dream of mine. Am I a simpleton or what?

Now imagine staggering, cup of coffee in hand, to the big kitchen picture window in the early hours of the morning and having to look at this:

Or the joy of baking four pies with blueberries as big as this:

Or sharing the Karaoke mike with a crew like this:

My sisters: Shari, Wendy, Stephanie, Liz, Pam and me. Fun!

After supper one evening several of us sat on the plush chairs and sofas in the hub house great room and asked Ulla if her experiences with Americans met her expectations. She didn’t answer right away but you could see the wheels turning. “I was surprised at how gentle Americans are,” she said. “Not arrogant like some other countries.” She puffed out her chest in a slightly bullying fashion as she said it. She also said it seemed like the people were satisfied with their lives here. She and her family visited Manhattan before they flew on to Oregon and even in the city she said, “The workers at McDonald’s seemed happy with their lives.”  It was so nice to hear!

I’m not one to blather on and on about a good time I’ve had to people who weren’t there and don’t care. But you’ve had wonderful times like this haven’t you? Times when you really, really wished everyone you know and love could be there having just as much fun, sharing the crazy stories of their lives, yukking it up at the antics of the kids, and chowing down because the food always tastes so much better when the good times are a rollin’. Yeah, I know you have.

For the 35 Americans and 4 Swedes who gathered at the Sunriver Resort in Sun River, Oregon last week it was bra times all around. Next time why don’t you come along? 

The Wennmans: David, Ulla, Amanda, Fredrika

Monday, July 15, 2013

I'll Be Back

There comes a time every summer when I have to go a'visiting and this year it's a family reunion in Sun River, Oregon. So, I'll be not blogging this week, but gatthering stories so that when I do get back to my musings you'll be amazed and enlightened. I'm giggling.

But, I'll miss you. And maybe you'll go back a few months and read some of what I've already written. I'll be thinking of you while I'm gone. Really.

'Til then - enjoy the week!

Image: digitalart                                                                        Free Digital Photos

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Fun

It’s Friday and finally we have a little less heat and humidity. Makes me positively giddy. So – I thought you might enjoy reading and learning from some little tidbits I’ve discovered over the years. Oh and there’s a trivia quiz at the end.

1.      The smallest country in the world is Vatican City. It has 800 citizens and is a whooping .2 miles big. Who knew?
2.      Major League Baseball and the National Football League each have a team with the nicknames Cardinals and Giants. No wonder I get confused!
3.      A Barbie doll cost $6.99 when it was first introduced in 1959. Ten years later  you could get into Woodstock for $6.00 but I don’t think these two bits of info have anything to do with each other.
4.      The only letter not used in the spelling of any of our 50 states is “Q.” Interesting.
5.      There are more red stripes than white on Old Glory. Um, that’s our American flag if you didn’t know.
6.      Paul Revere’s horse was named Brown Beauty. Ha! Bet you didn’t know that.
7.      Chickens can fly but not very far. The record is 542 feet and record air time is 13 seconds. Gosh, I do better than that every time I see a mouse.
8.      Neither Bill Gates of Microsoft fame or Steve Jobs of Apple fame ever graduated from college. Gives people like me a boost. Sort of.
9.      Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest avocado eating day in America. Cinco de Mayo is the first. That last bit is a no brainer.
10.  The first U.S. born president was Martin Van Buren. His home is just down the road from us in Kinderhook, New York. But we don’t let it go to our heads.

Okay, Quiz Time (no peeking at the answers unless you’re totally stumped)

1.      What’s the name of the chicken on the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Box?
2.      What candy is named after a horse?
3.      What does the term GI stand for?
4.      Are there squirrels in Australia?
5.      What is a fear of ghosts called?

Answers (sorry, I can’t print them upside down)

1.      Cornelius
2.      Snickers
3.      Government Issue
4.      No
5.      Phasmaphobia

Have a great weekend my trivia loving friends!

Image: Salvatore Vuono                                                                      Free Digital Photos

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Things That Grow Us

Last night it was almost too hot to breathe. It’s been hot, humid, sticky and buggy for the last few weeks. I really hate it. I won’t go outside when it’s like this so I stay where it’s cool and try to be useful. I wander around in the few air conditioned rooms we have, check my e-mail every few minutes, play spider solitaire, and listen to some tunes on You Tube.

I found this  I think I was guided to it. I’ve never heard of this man, but I’ve heard of the hymn. I know the story behind it and thought I didn’t need to learn anything else. Wrong. By the time Wintley Phipps finished talking and singing I was in tears and there was Grinch-like moment where my heart grew a little. Please watch.

I read a lot and trust other veracious readers so when my friend, Beegee, recommended The Invisible Girls I bought the e-book. About halfway through I said to myself, “Don’t you EVER complain about another single ache or pain.” In this true story Sarah Thebarge intermingles her battle with breast cancer and the six Somalis (a mom and five little girls) God sent to help her see Him again. I was so moved I wrote a review on Amazon. It’s one of the newest and I post as Susanwords. I would highly recommend it to you especially if your faith is failing.

And then yesterday morning, along with family, friends and fans, I trundled off to the Little League baseball field to watch the Northern Columbia team battle the Saugerties team. Each had a win and this was the determining game. Now let me say this about baseball – I never got too excited about it. Throwing, hitting, running. Big Whoop. But stay with me here.

As a youngster I did baseball with the neighborhood kids. We played the old fashioned way. One ball, one bat, a few gloves, a few rules, and boys who were much more invested in the game than the girls. Okay, we girls played because the boys were there. When I got a little older our church youth group went to a L.A. Dodger’s game where Sandy Koufax pitched a no-hitter. I was only vaguely aware of how momentous an occasion that was and probably was more concerned about how my hair looked than anything else. Disgraceful – I know.

Then there was a lapse of many years until we had boys of our own. Our oldest played the game with the most fervor and then there was another lapse until . . .

Sam. Son of fervent son and our only grandson. NOW I have some skin in the game as they say. He just turned eleven and he has the fire. A Sandy Koufax in the making. Yesterday he pitched so well. The crowd was with him.

“Hey, Sunnywall.” The young boy sitting next to me shouted his encouragement. A bank of white/gray clouds hovered over the field providing relief from the hot July sun. About halfway through the game the score evens up. Saugerties to that point was way ahead of us. The crowd went wild as the scoreboard lit up 5/5. Moms paced near the dugout. Grandparents gripped cameras with monster lenses. Brothers and sisters super sucked ice pops. Oh, the glory.

They play six innings in this division of Little League. The unofficial score keeper, Sam’s grandpa, sits next to me with his Father’s Day gift real deal score pad. He’s laser focused on recording every move those kids make. I lean over at intervals to ask the score and shake my head as he yells over and over, “Rock and fire, Babe, rock and fire!” at the grandson who’s pitching a pretty darned good inning.

And yet, with all that, the cover of the clouds and support of the crowd, the wonder of getting this far in the tournament at all, the supreme effort and overwhelming desire to win – we lost. By one run – 5/6. Heart. Breaking. And as the players came out of the dugout we watched their faces, wanting to protect and coddle. Brave boys trying to hold it together. Some in tears and some punching air. Our sympathetic mumblings and false cheer did little to soothe them. Sometimes you just have to wallow in loss for a while.

John Newton, Sara Thebarge, and Sam Sundwall all have this in common with the rest of us - sometimes we’re losers. We just don’t make the grade despite our will, our prayers and our talents. You and I may never pen a hymn like Amazing Grace, or battle an epic disease at the tender age of twenty seven, or pitch a perfect inning. But without realizing it those who are blessed with loss and come up on the other side whole affect the rest of us in profound ways.

They grow us.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Thursday, July 4, 2013

We Celebrate!

I wrote this poem years ago for a children's holiday program book at Standard Publishing. I thought you might enjoy its simple message. Have a super Independence Day!

Grand Celebration

By Susan Sundwall

High waves the flag
Over people and nation
A red, white and blue
Grand celebration

Remembering the freedom
Hard fought for and won
By the valiant and brave
For each daughter and son

Sweet Liberty’s song
Rang joyous and clear
Defying oppressor
And beating back fear

Deep in the battle
From hillside to sea
They kept close to God
So we could be free

With each step you take
On the soil of our nation
Recall what it took
To secure it’s creation

Go—send up your rockets
And midst the red glare
Pray God that our freedom
Will always be there

Image: nirots                                                                     Free Digital Photos

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Oh Boy, Canning

Right after I write this post, well – really after lunch – I’m going to be in the kitchen canning. It’s that season again. I can’t even tell you why I do it. I mean beets aren’t that expensive and neither are frozen peas. But I was bit by the “putting food by” bug way back in the 70’s. We lived in New Jersey then. Our crops of tomatoes were phenomenal. They don’t (or didn’t) call it the garden state for nothing. That’s where I learned to make tomato ketchup. I’ve been hooked every since.

There’s something about having a store of food you’ve put up yourself that’s satisfying on the same level as having a safe full of jewelry or a cask of gold coins under the bed or a whole new box of crisp white envelopes in your desk. Uh – wait – scratch that last one. The office manager in me escapes every once in a while and it’s so embarrassing.

Anyway, this year I’ll have beets and green beans to put up along with pickles and any number of tomato-y things. Like Peruvian Sauce. Bet you don’t know what that is. I found it in an old Ball Blue Book of canning that I’ve had from the onset of my obsession. It’s a relish that uses tomatoes and apples. I know, I know. Yuck – right? But those blue book people wouldn’t have put it in there if it wasn’t good so I gave it a shot. There are spices and other things in the mix and the first time I made it my kitchen smelled like heaven. Oh yes it did. And the sauce is so good a recent visitor cleaned the bowl I’d put on the table for our supper. He piled the last two tablespoons onto my awesome garlic bread and wolfed it down. Made my heart glad.

I guess that’s why I do it. It happy’s up my heart to go down to the basement and see all those jars full of food beaming back at me. People who quilt, run, bird watch, whip out a camera every time they think they see Johnny Depp, or read long into the night will relate. We’re the glad-hearted ones who are out there doing it and loving life.

So, off I go. I’ll turn the radio on and listen to Rush – yes I listen to Rush, get over it – while I scrape and boil and fill those jars up with the garden. My Grandma Blaine would be so proud.   

See that picture up there? It's just a foretaste of the things to come. I may need stamina prayers.