Tag Archives: essay

Good News x 2

In reading Christina Katz‘s second great writing resource, Get Known Before the Book Deal, I learned that writers should toot their own horn when they achieve little successes. How else would our readers/followers know what we’re up to?

So, taking Ms. Katz’s advice, I’d like to “toot” about my recent successes in publication and contest entries!

Underwired, a KY based women’s print magazine, just accepted my essay “Cravings” for publication in their upcoming June ’09 issue.  I wrote “Cravings” last September, with a different market in mind. I wrote the essay from my perspective on motherhood and our needs to give in to guilty little pleasures. I wrote, rewrote, sent to my writing buddies for critiques, rewrote again and finally submitted to skirt! magazine, who politely and promptly rejected my essay due to “no space.”

Of course it was a minor blow, equivalent to a small crescent shaped shiner under my right eye, but I went down my list of markets and sent the essay out again, this time to Imperfect Parent.  My essay seemed to fit their tongue-in-cheek humor and bold observations on being a parent without losing your identity. Weeks, then months went by with no reply and an updated message on their website stated they were “backlogged” and no longer accepting submissions.  So, I emailed the editor, again, and professionally stated I’d be pulling my essay from their consideration if I hadn’t heard back by a specific date. No reply and off to the market guidelines I returned.

So, you can imagine my elation when the editor of Underwired replied via email with a “Congratulations! We’ll see you in print…” Not to mention the attached contract that spelled out payment and rights for my publication of “Cravings.”

The lesson in this? Keep moving forward. Don’t lose momentum, don’t lose your faith or your focus. Your essay may be personal to you, but editors have a job to do and though they may appreciate your wit or tone, it may not fit for their publication.

My second “toot” is about another exciting email I received a few days ago, in regards to my fiction entry for the 100 Words or Fewer Writing Contest.  This email said I was at the top of the mountain where the air was thin. My entry “In Father Brannigan’s Room” had made it past two levels of judging and is now in the running for 1st, 2nd or 3rd place! 100 little words, crafted so carefully, rewritten about 20 times, paragraphs cut and pasted in different order to achieve the maximum effect of “wow” in such a small space.  And I deliriously wait,  with little oxygen.

Who thought after writing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where every word counts and even contractions are banished to maximize  number of words, I’d be able to cut out prepositions, articles and adverbs to ruthlessly minimize word count and tell a full story with less than 100 words. An achievement in itself. I’m proud to have even accepted the challenge.

And when the winners are announced in mid-June, I’ll be back to “toot” some more (hopefully!)

Keep writing and submitting my friends! And please share your successes here and EVERYWHERE!


Filed under Advice, Believe, contests, Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing

Heavy Heart

I was all set to post a  great quote and follow-up on pessimism today, but I’m not feeling it.

When you walk around with a positive attitude, hell-bent on being everyone’s cheerleader, including your own, the energy sometimes wanes.  Especially when your hit with a blow.

Someone close to me is ill.

After losing a breast to cancer, she was just told there are numerous tumors in her brain. To operate or not, is the question she and her family are struggling with this very moment. How do I go about my day with feeble decisions to make: will I finish my article for Writing Kid? When will I decide the dates of my young writers summer studio?

Seriously, I need to make the decision of where to go to come apart. As women, we are the pillars of strength for those who are weak. The open arms, the strong shoulders, the voice of reasoning. Where do we go when we need to cry? A locked bathroom, closet floor, parked car? Our blog?

I do know that writing about it makes it better. Somehow.

What is pressing heavily on your heart today? Write about it. Hopefully, you’ll reread the pasage in the future and feel lighter.


Filed under emotion, Perseverance, Rest

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation…”

“…you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.”

Rabbi Harold Kushner,  Author of When Bad Things Happen To Good People


Does your soul need nourishing?  Try this: write down 10 things you are grateful for, right now.  Reach deep, tap into that raw emotion that when brought to the surface makes your aura glow! It could be simple things, that go unnoticed if you don’t validate them. Then, of course, because we are writers, jot a few words next to each on how you can spin it into a story, article or essay!

I’m grateful for:

  1. Sammy’s sweet smile and attachment to me (mother-son relationships)
  2. David playing guitar on Rockband and struggling to complete the song “Battery” by Metallica – on Medium setting. (building confidence in middle schoolers)
  3. Silly inside jokes between my husband and me (marrying your BFF)
  4. Strong support group of writing friends (finding courage thru community)
  5. I have so many wishes and things to aspire to (goals/visualization)
  6. The sun is shining! (sunshine and the effects on my mood)
  7. My sister works at a bookstore! (bargain buddies)
  8. I have a day job. (make the most of 9-5)
  9. I’m attending a 2-day writer’s conference – AWP (benefits of writing conferences)
  10. My cuddly cockatiel, Comet (benefits of pets)


Now, what are you grateful for? And, more importantly, how can you validate your feelings  by writing about it?

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Creative Essays, emotion, goals, Inspiration, Perseverance, Rest, writers, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

“In order to write about life, first you must live it!” ~ Ernest Hemingway


A few blog posts ago, I shared a list of my crazy goals.  Though I am not currently in the position to take off on a zip-line through the Central American jungles, I will vow to do something a bit crazy this week.

OK, crazy to me may not be crazy to someone else.  Then again, my idea of crazy is probably considered borderline illegal to my mom, for instance. So, I will instead vow to do something I have never done before – by this time next week.

Because, if we don’t go out and experience new things, how can we fill our well of ideas?

Anyone else up for a fun game of “living?”

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Filed under Believe, Creative Essays, Deadlines, Fun Stuff, Inspiration, Rest, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts

Facebook for writing prompts

I’m Mary Jo Campbell, and I am a Facebookaholic.


Anyone else relate?  It first started as a way to view pics from a grade school friend who moved to LA and wouldn’t be at our reunion back in October. Well, unbeknowst to me, you need to create your own profile before you can “friend” someone, and then they need to “accept” your friend request before you can view their profile and their pictures.  So, after my friend Nicole from grade school, I begin by looking up my brothers and sister, then my sisters-in-law, then my co-workers, my cousins, my former co-workers, writing buddies, and so on.  Now I speak in the 3rd person even when I’m not updating my profile. (If you’re a facebooker, you get it.)

As one to never let a bad habit or addiction go to waste, I think Facebook offers plenty of writing prompts:

  1. Unusual flair on someone’s page can certainly give you a story idea or two (or at least a silly greeting card verse!)
  2. News that friends of friends post can alert you to the local happenings of their neighborhood – possibly giving you to a new angle on an old topic?
  3. Names and faces from your past could definitely conjure up an essay idea or two.
  4. Posting as your alter-ego is good practice for getting into your fictional characters’ minds…

What else can Facebook do you for you?


Filed under Advice, characters, Creative Essays, emotion, Fun Stuff, Inspiration, Non Fiction, writers, writers block, Writing prompts

Freelance Friday!

Instead of the usual “5 Prompt Friday,” I thought I’d change it up a bit.

As writers, we are always on the lookout for great tips on how to write better, get that coveted byline, connect with an editor and get past the “block.”

Well, I read a fantastic article in the Sept/October 2008 Wow! Women on Writing newsletter that answers all of these quandaries – and more! If you don’t already have a free monthly subscription coming to your inbox – SIGN UP! You’ll be brighter and sexier for it. (OK, you know the gig.)

Here is the summary on Krysten Lindsay Hager’s interview of author Susan Shapiro (Only As Good As Your Word: Writing Lessons From My Favorite Literary Gurus.)

  1. Find a Mentor
  2. Break into print with Essays (specifically humiliation essays. yep, get ready to duck and cover!)
  3. Don’t send a query if you don’t have clips – just send the article, essay, mss.
  4. Expect that your family and friends will cringe if you’re writing personal essays. But not to worry – they’re not your audience and this means you’ve found your authentic Voice.
  5. Do your Homework: read the publication you want to break into; know their audience; know their editor.
  6. Cover your inexperience: Craft your cover letter to give compliments to the magazine – not yourself! Don’t mention a laundry list of your accomplishments, give a genuine high-five to the editor for a great publication and say what specifically you love about it! Then mention, as a reader, you’re submitting an essay on the topic of xyz and why it’s a perfect fit for them.
  7. Work for FREE: OK, if you’re starting out and the publication has a good name and is respectable (i.e. no spelling or grammar errors.), but can only offer payment in contributor copies, go for it. Until you get a few clips under your belt.
  8. Best writing advice: Write about your obsessions! Is it shoes? (I know it’s shoes, right?) Or maybe the Twilight saga books *sigh*, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? Go Crazy! ALSO: from Susan Shapiro’s cousin, author Howard Fast,: “Plumbers don’t get plumbers block. Just get to work! A page a day is a book a year.”

Well said.

Well, what are you waiting for? Put some of these great tips to use!

Read the article in its entirety here.


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Filed under Advice, Believe, Education, emotion, Inspiration, Non Fiction, Perseverance, Queries, Voice, writers block, writing inspiration

“If you want to know your past – look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future – look into your present actions.” ~Chinese Proverb

I was so uneasy last night. Maybe not just uneasy, but irritated, aggravated, unsettled.  In the car on the way home, the radio news tells of a woman who posed as her 15 yr-old daughter to go back to high school and try out as a cheerleader! That is just absurd.  Then the news at home is hashing out the aftermath of two major banks going bankrupt. Not to mention news still trickling in from the weekend warpath of Hurricane Ike. Russia is building bombs, Israel wants us to give them some. What is going on?!

Does anyone else feel depleted from the news around us? The rising food and gas prices? The decreasing jobs?  All the while our presidential candidates are all but putting on costumes and dancing on Broadway, this damn election has become so dramatic. Who’s in charge here?

Well, enough of my rant. Has anyone seen “Into the Wild?”  That idea is looking better and better each day.  But, before I traipse my family through the country on God’s good graces and end up living in a bus on a tundra in Alaska (huh, Alaska!)  I decided: take deep breath, hum the “om” sound and release it all.

As the proverb above says, today’s actions will determine your future. It’s OK to get all freaked out from time to time, right? As long as we step back, look at the happenings right before us and start small. Baby steps. Little changes. Positve attitudes. Random acts of kindness. It may not solve the financial and global crisises, but it will solve a few bitter moods.

Now, use your own rants or beliefs and write an essay for “This I Believe.” They’re a paying market and they’re on my list to target!

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Filed under Advice, Believe, Inspiration, Markets, Non Fiction, Perseverance, Rest, writing inspiration, Writing prompts