Educational Testing Market January 18, 2016Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: education, poetry, tests, writing
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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.
I 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.
Alpha and Beta Males September 9, 2015Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: alpha male, beta male, romance writing
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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, 2015Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: reprints, writing for children
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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, 2015Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: inspiration, writing
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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:
OK, God, I got the message. I went home and started a short story.
Writing for the Inner Child February 7, 2015Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: write what you know, writing for children
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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.
On-the-Spot Research for Writing Historicals November 23, 2014Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
Tags: calling cards, historical fiction, Victorian era
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When I write historical fiction, I know any success I might have in recreating an era for my readers largely hinges on my getting the details right. I relied heavily on research when writing The Glass Inheritance, my mystery novel involving Depression era glassware, and found it invaluable to visit historically significant sites from the Great Depression and World War II era. I toured a Japanese internment camp in Wyoming, Pearl Harbor, two concentration camps in Germany, and three Holocaust museums, among other sites. Such travel isn’t always financially feasible, but I’ve discovered local sites offer a wealth of information and inspiration also.
Just this summer I toured a Victorian mansion here in the Midwest and was thrilled to see the museum had a bowl of calling cards near the door. Because I had read in Victorian era novels about characters dropping off their calling cards at one another’s houses, I recognized what the cards were. The tour guide allowed me to pick the cards up and look through them even though the cards were authentic, not reproductions.
Some of the cards clearly came from a printer as is, but others appeared to be homemade or had the owner’s name stenciled in after printing. They were all works of art compared with today’s business cards.
Holding these cards gave me insight and inspiration I doubt I would have drawn from just reading about them. I may choose to write a story involving calling cards and have more assurance now of getting the details right.