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Magazine Markets May 30, 2009

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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I don’t know if it’s due to the economy, the demise of print journalism, or what, but another children’s magazine let me know they are no longer taking submissions. InsideOut (formerly known as The Conqueror), a publication of the United Pentecostal Church International, sent me an e-mail saying:

Due to upcoming format changes and recent budget constraints we will be only publishing articles produced by our staff writers and will no longer accept freelance articles.

Magazines have gone in and out of business since I started writing in 1995, but the past couple of years seemed particularly hard for a lot of them.

Focus on the Family ran into financial difficulties and had to let go of three of its teen magazines.

Many smaller magazines such as Wee Ones ceased publication.

Ignite Your Faith (formerly Campus Life) is now an e-zine rather than a print magazine and doesn’t take unsolicited submissions.

The print magazines I’ve seen go to e-format typically end up out of business within a few years. I hate to see this.

I continue to give magazine subscriptions as gifts to children, and my children receive three magazines. One son reads mainly the jokes page from Boys’ Life, and my other son flips through the magazines, reading mainly photo captions. I don’t see a lot of in-depth reading. I limit their time spent on TV, electronic games, and computers, but I see the pull these have over magazines. Many of the kids the same age as my sons seem to get their reading time outside school only through texting or e-mailing.

What this means for writers in the long run, I don’t know yet, but I see the markets tightening now, which can make it more difficult for the new writer to break in.

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Brush with Greatness May 18, 2009

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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Not every writer has the chance to meet one of the great inspirations for his or her writing, especially not when that inspirational persona is known worldwide, by adults and children alike. I recently had the great fortune to meet two of my writing inspirations at a local grocery store. You fellow mystery writers might appreciate this brush with greatness more than others will, but here is my photo with–drumroll, please–Shaggy and Scooby!

Scooby, Ronica, and Shaggy

Scooby, Ronica Stromberg, and Shaggy

Despite rumors you may have heard, I did not push or shove or say, “Get out of my way, kid!” to get to the front of the line to meet Shag and Scoob. (We’re on a first name basis now.) Instead, I waited patiently at the end of the line for my turn. I was the tallest in line, so I could see over everyone else’s head. I told Shag and Scoob that I’m a children’s writer and they inspired me. I’m sure this is a story they will take back to Hollywood with them. 😉

Some writers might turn up their noses at claiming such commercial successes for inspiration, but I generally avoid the old literary versus commercial debate. (Commercial books are generally books like the ones written about Shaggy, Scooby, and other pop culture icons; books written in series; and books in genres like romance, mysteries, and westerns. Literary novels are generally known for the writing itself and may win awards but seldom sell well–unless Oprah picks them up.) I read both commercial and literary novels as a child and still do. When parents or teachers ask me what I would recommend their children read, I suggest letting children read what they’re interested in, whether it’s comic books or whatever.

My own writing style has been been termed “Southern fiction” by other writers. Southern fiction is a blend of literary fiction and commercial fiction. William Faulkner and Nicholas Sparks are both considered Southern fiction writers, to give you an idea of the range. I never studied Southern fiction writing, so I have no idea how I came to write it, especially since I’m a northerner!