Monday, April 30, 2012


How I wish I had Treasure Trove when I was first starting out writing articles for children's magazines. Ms. Abramovitz guides the novice writer through the basics, then hones in on the practical details from idea to publication and the numerous steps in-between for the remainder of the book. She gives examples and anecdotes from her own work and various other children's authors to make the process transparent. I will be recommending this to all my students who are interested in writing nonfiction.

So many of us start out writing the Great American Novel. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I know authors who've sold their first ever novel. But for the vast majority, it is good to learn the elements of good writing by writing short stories and articles. And if you peruse magazines you will find that 80% of the content is nonfiction. What editors receive 80% of the time is fiction, though. I know we all yearn to write our own stories, but if you have a special interest in science or languages or math, try writing a well focused piece on it for children. I am so glad that the ICL course makes the students work on at least one nonfiction piece, and by far, these are the ones that my students sell. And many of my students who professed they did not like to write nonfiction get a bug for it. Give it a whirl. You will not be disappointed. And Treasure Trove will be a perfect companion for you as you navigate the world of children's magazines.

I cut my writing teeth on magazines and will forever be grateful for the opportunity to learn how to write clean and tight prose on deadline. I pretty much learned on the job, from the editors of Ladybug, Highlights, Odyssey, and many others. And I still write for magazines, though not as much because writing time is limited and I want to focus on my bigger books, but ideas hit me all the time, and all of them are not necessarily book worthy, so it's fun to explore these ideas for a magazine.

Healing Water: A Hawaiian Story by Joyce Moyer Hostetter is something I picked up for myself at the Write 2 Ignite conference. I love historical fiction and had already read Blue and Comfort, so I was intrigued by this story of a boy who had been banished to Molokai when he showed the signs of leprosy. What a story! Of love and betrayal, of separation and loss, of a boy turning to crime, hardening his heart, and then finding a way to forgive with the help of one of my favorite saints -- Father Damien. I had read a biography of Fr. Damien when I was about eight or nine years old, and have learned a fair bit about leprosy in my medical microbiology book, but I had no idea how lawless this place was, and how incredibly difficult it must have been to go there as a child, knowing that you are to live and to die there. Ms. Hostetter weaves a beautiful story of healing love. God's love.

It was such a pleasure to talk to her, and she was incredibly gracious, reading many pages of my current manuscript and offering advice. Thank you, Joyce, and God bless.

Pax Christi


Mirka Breen said...

Evelyn Christensen new E-zine about writing for magazines has an article from you. Well done, as always. Glad to read the review of Melissa Abramowitz’ book here.

Vijaya said...

Thanks Mirka. I'm so happy Ev took on the task of keeping the magazine directory uptodate. And Melissa's book is so good, a perfect companion for the NF writer.

Marcia said...

Yay for NF! It just opens so many doors for writers that they may have never considered.

Molly/Cece said...

I wonder if I will ever learn how to write clean tight prose.

I have never been able to crack the magazine market. I admire those who do.

Vijaya said...

Molly, I know you can write clean, tight prose because you do this with your WFH books :) I will always love writing for the magazines -- with too many ideas, it's win-win.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

A Treasure Trove of Opportunity sounds like a great book. Thanks so much for the review.