jump to navigation

Inexpensive Professional Author Photos March 1, 2016

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Publishers recommend authors get a professionally taken photo for their Web site, but if you’re like most authors (or other starving artists), you may question how you can afford this. I’ve found a few options that work for me.

First, with the advent of PhotoShop, there are a lot of amateur photographers who can either match the skill of a professional photographer or come close to it. They are generally far less expensive also. I’ve paid college students who have a strong interest in photography to take photos for me.

Second, when I was promoting my books, I did many newspaper and magazine interviews, and these articles usually included a photo of me with my latest book. When I saw a photo I liked, I asked the reporter or photographer if I would be able to purchase it (and the copyright) to use in my publicity. Sometimes the photographer owns the rights, and sometimes the publication does, but either way, I’ve found most of them are willing to sell a photograph with copyright after they’re done with it.

Third, professional organizations like clubs, schools, employers, and churches often take photos of their members. Frequently, these are head-and-shoulder shots perfect for showing your readers who you are. The photographer may have a written agreement with the organization, releasing the copyright, but if not, be sure to ask for written permission to reprint your photo in other media.



Educational Testing Market January 18, 2016

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

A paying market that fiction and nonfiction writers might not think of is the educational testing market. Test makers often include a few paragraphs of text in their tests, and students read the text and answer questions based on it. This text can be fiction, nonfiction, or even poetry.

test imageI recently submitted a few poems and narratives to the Center for Education Testing and Evaluation at the University of Kansas (through its Web site at https://cete.submittable.com/submit). The center rejected my work, but since I submitted the work online, the process cost me nothing. Had the center accepted my work, I would have been paid $250 per piece. As any poet can tell you, $250 is good pay for a poem.

If you’re considering submitting work to a testing company, I’d recommend making sure your work has information in it that is educational and lends itself to the easy development of test questions.

Quotes About Writing, Part IV November 30, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

As a gift to my readers during the Christmas season, I typically share author quotes or quotes about writing. I collect these throughout the year for possible use in presentations or articles about writing. I find it handy to keep them in one spot. I was particularly gratified to find the Jack London quotation this year. I had heard it before but failed to take it down word-for-word at the time. I hope these quotes will serve you well, providing insight and inspiration for the new year.

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly–they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” — Aldous Huxley

“With educated people, I suppose, punctuation is a matter of style; with me, it is a matter of feeling. But I must say I have a great respect for the semicolon; it’s a useful little chap.” — Abraham Lincoln (attributed)

“Envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” — Ernest Hemingway

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” — Stephen King

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” — Maya Angelou

“The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life.” — Seamus Heaney, poet

“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.” — Jack London

Author Earnings Are Scary October 17, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Just in time for Halloween, the Authors Guild released the results of an income survey of its members, and the results are scary. Not only did the majority of authors report that they earn less than the Federal Poverty Level from their writing, their responses also indicated that author income has gone down since the last time the survey was taken, in 2009. You can read more about the survey findings here:


After reading this story, I am doubly glad to be able to make a living working in a writing-related field (as a proofreader/copy editor), but I feel for writers who are trying to make a living solely from their writing. I see only one appropriate response to such Halloween news:



Alpha and Beta Males September 9, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment
Lloyd and Ronica #1

Ronica Stromberg and her husband, Lloyd.

This month my husband and I will celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. You might think that since I’m a novelist and I’ve been married more than 20 years, I might try writing romance. The genre is perpetually in demand and sells well. I did try to break into the field a few years ago but discovered I didn’t enjoy reading romances much, less enough writing them. I learned some interesting things while studying the genre though. Probably the most interesting is the classification of males as alpha or beta.

The term alpha male comes from the study of wolves. The alpha male is the leader of the pack, the male wolf that dominates all other males in the pack as well as the females. In human terms, an alpha male is a leader, a man who takes charge and takes action. He is confident and tough and is often a loner. Because he dominates others and isn’t always attuned to others’ thoughts or feelings, he may come off as arrogant and needing to be taken down a notch. In romance novels, he usually falls in love with the heroine because she’s able to give back to him what he dishes out. She’s his equal and forces him to get in touch with his feelings and enter a relationship deeper than physical attraction.

The beta male is a wingman to the alpha, supporting him and the greater good of the pack. In human terms, he is less tough and more flexible than the alpha male. He’s more open about his feelings and easier for women to understand. He relates well to others and has many close relationships. He’s considered a family man. Outside the romance novel and in the real world, beta males often make better spouses because they are more sensitive and considerate of their spouse’s needs. They strive to please by doing more around the house (including the bedroom).

In the animal kingdom, the alpha male usually establishes his position through physical prowess, fighting or killing other males who might stand in his way. In romances, the alpha male establishes his position through social prowess. He has become the head of a corporation, a ruler, or a leader of men because of his mental toughness or sheer force of personality. A beta male can also be a leader, but he’s more likely to be in a caring profession (such as a doctor or teacher) than in one where he might be called upon to be ruthless and calculating.

Romances used to favor alpha males more but now are trending more toward beta males. Perhaps it is because most women work these days and can achieve position and power on their own so look more toward a man as a helpmate or partner (or at least like to read about that type of man in romance novels).

As for me, I’ve figured out that I live in a household of beta males. My husband, my two sons, and even our cat are all beta males. I wonder, does this make me an alpha female?

Naah . . .

Sold Another Piece I Didn’t Submit August 1, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far

This is almost getting funny. The other day I came home from work and found a contract in the mail from a children’s magazine. The editors wanted to reprint a Christmas story of mine. They had published it in 2009 and now were offering to pay me again for rights to reprint it this year. I didn’t even know they accepted reprints, less enough reprints from their own magazine. I had never thought of submitting the story to them again. It seems I have a better batting average when I am not actively pursuing publication than when I was!

God, what are you up to?

It’s a God Thing July 12, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Since childhood, I’ve felt that my purpose in life is to write. I believe God has called me and continues to call me to write. That doesn’t mean writing always comes easily to me or that I never procrastinate.

Just this last weekend I had a few hours to write and, instead, decided to go for a walk. I told myself that I needed exercise and that walking is far better for a person (me, specifically!) than sitting in a chair.

I told myself that I needed inspiration and that since I mainly write for children, maybe I would see something at the park or in the neighborhood that would inspire me.

So I went on about a mile walk. I didn’t see a single child in the park or in the neighborhood.

I was about a block from home when I spied chalk marks on a driveway ahead.

Evidence of children! I homed in on the chalk marks, hoping to use them as a window to their maker’s world, a glimpse of what occupies children’s thoughts. But as I approached the driveway, I saw there were only two words on the driveway:

      Write something!

OK, God, I got the message. I went home and started a short story.

Are Your Books in Libraries? May 3, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Today I have a time-saving tip for other authors and readers. If you’ve ever wondered whether any libraries are carrying a published book, you can easily find out through WorldCat on the Web. Just go to http://www.worldcat.org and, on the search bar, type in the name of the book. If the book has a common name or one that might easily be confused with others, you might also type “by [insert the author’s name].” WorldCat will show the number of copies in libraries and which libraries hold them. This gives authors a chance to see how well-placed their books are and helps readers easily find which libraries might be carrying a book they’ve wanted to read. Most libraries now have an interlibrary loan system, so even if there’s no nearby library carrying a specific book, readers can usually request them on loan.

I’ve searched for all four of my books using WorldCat and haven’t discovered a whole lot of copies in libraries. I’d love to get more in libraries. If you’ve ever wanted to read my books but prefer checking out library books rather than purchasing them, request a copy through your local library. They should be able to order it or get it through interlibrary loan.

WorldCat can also search for DVDs, CDs, and articles. Happy reading!

Writing for the Inner Child February 7, 2015

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Standard writing advice for would-be writers of children’s books and stories is to “spend time with children.” This falls in line with the “write what you know” advice. I think the idea behind the advice is that children may be different from what they were when the writer was a child or that the writer’s memory may be faulty. I tend to believe, though, that the key emotions and experiences of childhood aren’t all that different from one generation to the next and the writer who can tap into those has a good chance of being successful–even without a lot of contact with children. We all have an “inner child” to rely on.

Who can forget what it feels like to be left out? to learn to ride a bike or swim? to receive that favorite toy you still have tucked away in a closet somewhere? to scrape a knee? to lose a friend? to make a new one? to be chosen first . . . or last? to get out of school for a snow day? to have a favorite teacher? to get a sticker as a reward? to have a grownup give you an “airplane ride” or another child give you an “underdog” on the swings? to lose a tooth? to outgrow a favorite shirt? to have a pet die?

Some of the most successful children’s authors–Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Margaret Wise Brown, and Beatrice Potter among them–never had children. Perhaps they could have achieved greater success if they had spent more time with children, but I doubt it.

All writers draw from their own unique experiences when writing a story, but we’ve all experienced childhood. Those childhood experiences or emotions that rise to the top in our memories may be the strongest subject we could write about.

Quotes About Writing, Part III December 6, 2014

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

As a gift to other authors around Christmas, I like to print some of my favorite quotes about writing. This is the third grouping of quotes to make it on my blog. Enjoy!

“The fact is that almost everything that almost everyone has ever done to make money from the arts—including the old ways of making money from the arts—mostly didn’t work. We always look back on artistic incomes with what economists call survivor bias. We look at the people who succeeded and not the people who failed.” — Cory Doctorow

“What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” — Stephen King

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” — Mary Heaton Vorse

“I think the difficult thing with learning how to write is not learning the style or rules, but figuring out what story you want to tell.” — Ransom Riggs

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” — Agatha Christie

“Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out.” — Virginia Woolf

“We’ve all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know that’s not true.” — Professor Robert Wilensky

“Everywhere I go, I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. There’s many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” — Flannery O’Connor

“The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest people of past centuries.” — Descartes


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 33 other followers