Wednesday, January 21, 2015

For Writers: Less Is Sometimes More

Debby Giusti here.

We’re three weeks into the new year, and if you’re like most people, you’ve already discarded many of the resolutions that seemed so doable on New Year’s Eve. May I offer a suggestion that could provide an easy and workable goal for 2015? Consider adding a few short-term projects to your writing schedule.

We know too well that writing and revising a full-length manuscript takes time and effort. When the manuscript fails to come together, we get discourage and our enthusiasm wanes. Taking on a short-term project can stimulate our Muse and provide a refreshing change of pace that brings satisfaction upon the completion of the task. Spurred on by our success, we can return to the larger project renewed and ready to work.

Some years ago, I posted a blog about freelance writing for magazines called, "How to Get Your Name in Print Before Your Book Sells." (Click here to read the post.)  Prior to publication I wrote for a number of magazines,which is covered in that early blog. Seeing my name in print, having a byline and accruing credits for my cover letters was a productive use of my time.

The first piece I ever published was a filler
about being an Army brat for Army Magazine.
I can hear your objections: “Courting a magazine editor can be as challenging as finding a fiction editor for our full-length work.” Of course, that’s true, which is why less is sometimes more. Start by writing something short, such as a human interest story for your local newspaper.

My son's middle school project turned
into an article for Woman's World.
Is your church involved in outreach that would be of interest to your community? Is your child’s sports team or scout group working on a neighborhood betterment project? Consider writing a news release for your local rag. Adding a photo with caption can catch the eye of a newspaper editor looking for stories. The human interest angle will not only acknowledge the good work being done in your local area, but will also get your name in print, which is always a reason to celebrate.

Short write-ups usually provide more personal satisfaction than monetary reward, but starting small can eventually lead to a paying assignment. While working in the clinical laboratory prior to publication, I mailed a short article about how my lab was celebrating National Laboratory Week to a trade magazine for medical technologists. That news release caught the eye of the editor of ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory, a slick publication with a great distribution.

The short news release that caught the attention of the
ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory editor.
The editor contacted me and asked if I would write an article for ADVANCE. I eagerly accepted her offer and wrote my first story about flex time opportunities in the laboratory. Because I was writing what I knew, the project was fairly easy to pull together and led to a long relationship with ADVANCE. I wrote for their print publication as well as their online e-zine and ended up serving on their editorial advisory board for over twelve years.

My cover article "Atlanta Labs Go For the Glory" about
how Atlanta hospitals were preparing for
the Summer Olympics and the huge influx of
tourists who could bring new diseases to our country.
Writing short doesn’t mean that the work goes unnoticed or isn’t well received. One of the first short pieces I published years and years ago was a brief essay about being an Army wife, entitled Sisterhood. Since then, I have sold thousands of copies of the essay done in calligraphy and suitable for framing to military folks around the world. Sisterhood has been featured in a number of magazines, it’s often included in military wife publications and has even been performed to musical accompaniment at the White House.

Sisterhood has been featured in
military publications for over 40 years.
Another short piece that has been successful is The Writer’s Prayer that God inspired me to create soon after I got “The Call.” I penned the prayer for my own use, then had copies printed for the ACFW and RWA National Conferences. The positive reception the prayer received surprised me, and ten years later, I continue to be touched when writers mention that they start their workday reciting that little prayer.

The Writer's Prayer
On a more personal level, notes of encouragement or affirmation—especially if hand-written—can impact folks in very positive ways. While the notes won’t receive public recognition, they may bring joy to a person struggling with illness or loss. Knowing we’ve reached out to someone in need can lift our own spirits as well as the person on the receiving end.

Some years ago the Lord opened my heart to an elderly woman who lived alone in Florida and had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her daughter was a friend of mine and a strong Christian, but my friend's mother had closed God out of her life. I had only met the mom once, but I knew she could use a pen pal so I wrote her weekly. With each note, I added a few lines about God’s love and that he was walking with her though her battle with cancer. Before she died, the elderly woman accepted the Lord back into her life. My notes weren't the reason she placed her faith in God again, but they may have encouraged her, in some small way, to crack open a door she had closed long ago.

Hand-written notes can uplift and encourage.

Writing an outline for a speech even before we’ve been asked to give a presentation is another good exercise. I have two basic forms that include turning points in my own life. One focuses on my spiritual journey, which I use for church retreats or when speaking to religious groups. The other is for a more secular audience and highlights my road to publication and beyond. Having talking points from which I can pick and choose speeds the process when I’m working on a new presentation. An added plus is that when we look back on our lives, often we can more clearly see the way God has directed our steps. Hindsight offers a good perspective from which to evaluate our progress and growth both spiritually and professionally.

Writing short provides a refreshing break when we’re stalled on a larger project. Seeing our name in print, knowing we’ve reached out to someone in need, or merely completing a project in a limited amount of time can get us back on track and eager to return to our manuscripts. Don’t let your writing life become stagnant. Mix it up at times by remembering that writing less is sometimes more.

Share the ways you write short and any success you’ve had with small writing projects. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for an advanced copy of my March Love Inspired Suspense, STRANDED. I'll also give away five copies of The Writer's Prayer. Let me know if you'd like to be in that drawing as well.

The coffee’s hot. Tea is available, and the breakfast bar is stocked with pastries, bagels and muffins. Now, let’s chat about the writing we do outside of our fiction, when sometimes less is more.

Happy writing!

Abundant blessings!

Debby Giusti


Colleen Brennan has one goal—take down her sister’s killer.  But chasing after evidence leaves her in the path of a tornado and stranded in an Amish community. With the killer nearby, Colleen must depend on the kindness of Special Agent Frank Gallagher. Although the army officer is recuperating from a battlefield injury, he wants to help the beautiful woman he rescued from the tornado’s fury. He can tell she’s hiding something important. But getting her to reveal her secrets may be his most dangerous mission ever.

Order your copy in digital or print format at


Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Great idea, Debby! What an awesome example you are! I have your prayer on my desk and I recite it often! Thank you again for it!

Arlene said...

You wrote the Writer's Prayer? I have a copy of that in my purse right now. Got it at a NARWA meeting years ago.

Carol Garvin said...

I started my writing with devotionals and book reviews for our national church magazine, then branched out to RV and dog-related magazines. When I began my first novel I put everything else aside and haven't looked back. With me it seems to be one or the other, but I like your idea that short pieces can infuse us with the inspiration we need to continue the longer projects.

I wonder if that concept is related to the saying, "A change is as good as a rest." :)

Mary Preston said...

I'm not a writer, but I can see how all of the above is so worthwhile.

Cindy W. said...

What a great post Debby! Many years ago I was on the high schools newspaper staff as the feature editor. It was a great outlet for me as I was quite shy back then. The local newspaper wanted to hire me but circumstances made me turn the job down. I could kick myself but what is in the past stays in the past. I now live in a small town in Indiana and I have been kicking around the idea of submitting to the local newspaper. I think you have just inspired me to go out and do it. Thank you Debby!

Cindy W.

Tina Radcliffe said...

This short story and essay writer agrees with you.

I think you should give away copies of the The Writers Prayer today too. AMAZING post, Debby!

Janet Dean said...

Debby, I didn't know or perhaps remember that you've been published in shorts this often. I'm impressed. But, I do know The Writer's Prayer has been a blessing for many, including me.

Love how you impacted the woman with cancer. God used your desire to take time for others. A handwritten note is a gift.

Thanks for this post!


Janet Dean said...

By the way, I love the photo, Debby!


Jackie said...

Hi Debby,

Thanks for the great ideas. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn't really considered writing smaller. You've given us some great ideas.

One thing I've discovered with my blog is when I tweet about a post, if I use the right hashtags, I get more comments. This week my DIL appeared and talked about running a half-marathon at Disney World. I tweeted using #RunDisney and got comments on Twitter from strangers, and one online newspaper shared my post. So I got Amanda's name out more than mine, it was a ton of fun.

I have the Writer's prayer on my desk. Thank you. It's so much nicer to pray that instead of just, "Help!"

Have a great day!

Debby Giusti said...

Morning All!

Thanks, Eva! Glad you keep The Writer's Prayer close at hand. :)

Debby Giusti said...

It's in your purse? That's interesting! LOL!

Glad it made it way to your part of the country. Hugs!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Debby, what a wonderful post and the background in articles and short-writing is so impressive. That's an art unto itself, and you brought that talent and the great, scientific head for detail to life in your suspense stories. It's marvelous, really!

And The Writer's Prayer.... "Sisterhood".... beauty in each and every word.

Bless you!!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Carol, I love your comment: "A change is as good as a rest."

So true.

Even writing a blog for Seekerville is a nice, short exercise that changes it up for me a bit.

I would love to find out more about the Devotionals you wrote. Was that enjoyable? Productive? Was it a stepping stone to your fiction?

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Mary Preston! Always good to see you on Seekerville! We love readers!

Debby Giusti said...

Cindy, I may have written this blog post just for you! Go for it! And keep us posted!

Debby Giusti said...

Tina, I thought of you as I wrote this. You always have more than one iron in the fire! So to speak. And you've had amazing success with Woman's World, which is a hard magazine to crack! Of course they love your work. Why wouldn't they. I always enjoy a Tina Radcliffe story!!! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Janet!

Glad you like The Writer's Prayer. The success of both the prayer and Sisterhood has always amazed me. A God thing, for sure!

Debby Giusti said...

Jackie, interesting about the hashtags and what draws readers. Mentioning Disney was brilliant! By the way, my SIL and daughter ran a full Disney last Jan. Quite an experience.

I wrote a blog for Seekerville entitled "Gone Fishing" that had more pageviews than usual. I always wondered if fishermen had logged on expecting something a bit different than a motivational post on writing! LOL!

Rose said...


Terrific advice and falls into my one word for 2015: Diversify.

I had much success writing short pieces before I moved to books and I haven't given it up entirely. I have several publishers who assign me short stories throughout the year. They are a great diversion when the book is 'resting' between revisions.

Audra Harders said...

Debby, you are a super-star. It's apparent writing is second nature to you, much like breathing.

God poured a lot of knowledge and compassion into that noggin of yours. I'm thankful He brought you into my life.

The Writer's Prayer is tacked to the board right behind my computer monitor. The bright stained glass background catches my eye and reminds me Who to look towards for help with messy scenes : ) It's encouragement never fails to amaze me. I pass out copies of the prayer whenever I can : )

Keep on being you!!!

Marianne Barkman said...

Good morning, Debby. I love your books. I love how Seekerville posts are interesting to non-writers as well!

Cindy Regnier said...

Thank you for the Writer's Prayer! I often hope my writing will encourage someone but don't remember to pray it often enough. I love writing short. Not too good at it but I keep trying.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

That saying "A change is as good as a rest" is something Aunt Isabelle said to my father when I was a little girl. He was so mad because she bought him paint for the house and he thought his week off should be spent at the local "establishment" with his cronies... but everyone listened to Aunt Isabelle! And that woman was such a wonderful, hard-working person, even my father couldn't diss her.

I made that one of my personal mantras... along with "Plenty of time for rest in the grave" from Ben Franklin because Martha-types are worker bees. We're happiest when we're busy!

Keli Gwyn said...

Great post, Debby! I'm another who's been uplifted by your wonderful Writer's Prayer.

For years I wrote long letters to friends the old-fashioned way, putting pen to paper. I was often told I should be a writer. That encouragement meant a great deal to me. I still correspond via snail mail with a few long-time friends and send handwritten notes to folks from time to time.

When I dusted off my life-long dream of being a published author back in 2006, I started by writing articles for our church newsletter about our various ministries and events. Doing so helped tone my writing muscles and gave me courage to submit a piece about my daughter's high school band to our local paper. They published it! I didn't earn a dime, but seeing my name in the byline was a thrill.

That small success gave me the confidence to submit articles for a regional magazine. They published some of my pieces--for pay! Although it was a pittance, I didn't care. I was a professional writer!

My next step was to dust off my dream of being a published author with a novel on the shelves. In 2006 I started my first (long and lousy) story. I soon learned I had a lot to learn. Much of my early instruction in the writing craft came after my first appearance right here on the Seekerville blog.

Dreams of being a published author can come true. As Debby said so well, small steps can be a great starting point.

Kav said...

Oy -- short writing and me don't mess. I tend to be long winded and take too long to get to the point when I try to write something shorter. I need to develop discipline, I guess.

Hmmmm...I suppose my book reviews could be considered short writing. Mind you, I tend to write longer reviews than normal, so I wonder if it does count after all? LOL

Debby Giusti said...

Rose, love your one word! Diversify! Perfect, especially for today's blog.

How nice to have assignments when your full-length fiction is "resting," as you mentioned. Great concept. Congrats on the short story writing gigs.

I accepted an assignment to write an article on summer beach reads for a regional magazine last spring. I enjoyed pulling the story together, but it took far too long. I said no to the next invitation to write for them.

But...I do like pulling smaller pieces together occasionally. They satisfy my need to come to completion on a project and see how the beginning, middle and end fit together to drive home a certain point.

I just have to ensure the project isn't too involved and doesn't require too much time.

Debby Giusti said...

Audra, you sweet thing! :)

Thanks for spreading The Writer's Prayer around your area of the country and for keeping it close at hand. I like the stained glass border too.

Debby Giusti said...

I'm so glad you enjoy the posts, Marianne!

Debby Giusti said...

Tina mentioned that I should give away copies of The Writer's Prayer today.

If you don't have the printed copy, let me know. I'll add your name to a special drawing for the prayer and pick five winners.

Debby Giusti said...

I'm with you, Cindy. I love writing short. In fact, I didn't know if I could write a full-length manuscript when I started out.

I imagined each chapter as a short story and then lumped them together into a 400 page manuscript. Breaking down the process helped me move forward on that first story so long ago.

Debby Giusti said...

Ruthy, you are so a Martha! I'm one too, although I've added more Mary traits over the years.

I'm a speaker at a woman's Christian retreat on Jan 31. Prayers appreciated! The entire day focuses on Martha and Mary, so your comment is timely!

Debby Giusti said...

Keli, hugging you across the miles. We seem to have made the same journey to publication!

Thanks for affirming that the process of writing less can turn into something more, even a successful writing career!

Love how God works, don't you?

Debby Giusti said...

Oh, Kav, book reviews are so difficult to write, IMHO. Yet they're a wonderful way to hone your craft. Good for you!

You know who else did a lot of book reviews prior to publication?

Mary Connealy.

Good footsteps to follow.

I'd say you're doing everything right!


Susan Anne Mason said...

Good morning, Debby! Such a lovely post and so encouraging!
I love the part about writing to cheer people up. I just finished posting a copy of my LI book to a great-aunt who is 95 in a nursing home quite a distance away, but who has been so excited about my writing! I'm hoping my note and gift will give her a nice surprise.

From dealing with my mom and my mother in law, I see how hard winter is for the elderly when they can't get out. A visit or a card will do wonders for their spirits!
And thanks for reminding about your lovely writers' prayer. Such appropriate wording!


Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh, Debby, you are amazing!!! You have such a sweet spirit. It is always wonderful to be around you!

I wish I could find my copy of your writer's prayer! I've misplaced it, but I need to start my writing day with that! I need God to give me FOCUS! Is it on your website, by chance, so I can print it?

Hope you have a WONDERFUL day, Debby!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Found it!!!

kaybee said...

Debby, this is great. I have The Writers Prayer, you sent it to me when I Won A Book! I agree. Doing newspaper work doesn't do it for me because That's My Day Job, but once in a while I'll write a feature that will help someone raise money for their disease or whatever, and then it's worth it. I like magazine work when I can get it. Agree with you about the difficulty of "courting" an editor, but smaller and trade publications are still open to new writers and hey, it's a byline. I love bylines!

kaybee said...

Enter me in drawing for "Stranded," print please.

kaybee said...

I used to write for Sunday School papers, remember them? And for my denomination's devotional magazine. It was a thrill to share my faith this way and a real treasure when someone responded and said it helped them. I also did a personal experience newspaper column for a while and that was gratifying, esp. when a woman read one of my columns at her mother's funeral. We need to not put God in a box, if he can use us with a shorter piece and lays it on our heart, we should write it. Essays are great, short stories are great, newspaper features are great, anything that gives us a byline and makes the world better. AND that we have time for.

CatMom said...

What a wonderful post, Debby.
You've given some great suggestions here (this is going into my Keeper File). :)

I love that you became a pen-pal to the woman with the terminal illness---I feel sure you impacted her even more than you know.

And on a personal note, *YOU* helped make my weeks (and months) of recovery following spinal surgeries so much better---your words always gave me that much-needed lift at just the right time. The Lord undoubtedly used you in my life.

I had no idea you'd had SO many other publications in addition to your amazing books---WOW!

Like many others, I love my Writer's Prayer you wrote, and keep it in my writing area on my desk. :)

Thanks SO much for sharing with us, and please enjoy the peach muffins, peach cobbler, and pecan pie I'm setting out on the food table. ;)
Hugs, Patti Jo

p.s. No need to enter me in your book drawing---I'll be purchasing your book! :)

kaybee said...

I also liked the part about working on a speech or talk. That's something we need as writers to be prepared to do. I am working on one to go with "Trail" which involves forgiveness. It's in the index-card stage right now.
AND DON'T FORGET...journaling, poetry (be careful here, sometimes it's for your eyes only and that's okay), church skits, letters to the editor! SO many ways to make a difference! In the wonderful world of words!

Deanna Stevens said...

Would enjoy reading more of your books..
please enter me..

Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Debby! Please enter me in both drawings. So much truth in your post! I've had a few pieces published in small magazines. Most recently, a quiz I wrote was published in the December issue of Clubhouse Magazine from Focus on the Family. What a thrill to see it come out, and the children were beyond delighted to see their mother's name in their favorite magazine. Alas, I wrote and sold that piece over a year ago and haven't done anything short since.

What a tremendous list of publications you have! Thank you so much for another wonderfully encouraging post.

Pam Hillman said...

Debby, you're amazing... of course I already knew that! :)

But I didn't know that Sisterhood had been sung at the White House. Cool!!! :)

Jeanne T said...

What a great post, Debby. I loved reading how God has really extended your reach with things you've written. How fun!

Early in my writing "career" I tried to submit a couple articles to a magazine. They were both rejected. And I'm sure for good reason. :)

I love the idea of adding to our resumés by writing articles. Though these don't necessarily have a wide reach, writing cards of encouragement and writing in my journal refresh my heart toward working on my manuscript.

You are always such an encourager!

Naomi Rawlings said...

Hi Debby, my trouble is the ability to think of anything short to write. Non fiction just doesn't interest me. Writing that feels too much like work. And how can you tell a story if it's only 3 pages? Tina's figured it out, but as for me . . . yeah. I'm a novelist through and through. Why write something that's 1,200 words when you can write something that's 80,000?

Myra Johnson said...

Great post, Debby! I am a huge proponent of honing your skills with magazine writing! That's how I got my start back in the '80s, and having that file drawer full of acceptance letters and published clips has always been a great reminder that--YES!--I am a real writer!!!

But it does take a little work to study magazine markets and find the best fit for your subject matter and style. That's why it can be good to start with publications you read regularly and are already familiar with--especially the smaller ones where freelance work is more likely to be in demand.

BTW, I love your Writer's Prayer, Deb! I keep it right by my computer!

Debby Giusti said...

Susan, what a lovely gift! Your book and a sweet, uplifting card! No doubt, your thoughtfulness will bring joy to your great-aunt. Such a perfect way to show your love.

I know God's smiling. I am too!


Julie Lessman said...


I got goosebumps when I read about the woman in Florida who died of cancer! Bottom line -- that's one of the most critical things we can do as Christians ... give someone a "hug" from God through a note or a prayer or a kind word, etc. Talk about bringing a smile to God's face and unleashing a party among the angels in heaven -- you go, girl!!

And I have ALWAYS loved your writer's prayer, Deb -- again, one of the most important things for a writer to have.


Debby Giusti said...

Mel, I'll put you in the drawing for a print copy of The Writer's Prayer. Glad you found it on my website!!!

You're so sweet!

Hugs and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Kaybee, love your comment: "We need to not put God in a box, if he can use us with a shorter piece and lays it on our heart, we should write it."

So true! That's how I feel about the notes of encouragement. If he places a need on my heart, then I have to respond.

Love how you're using your gift of writing for good! Perfect!

Debby Giusti said...

Kaybee, you're in the drawing for STRANDED.

Thanks for adding more "less is more" ideas to the mix! They're all so good.

Debby Giusti said...

Patti Jo, thanks for your sweet words.

For those who might not know, the Lord brought Patti Jo into my life a couple years before her major surgeries. He knew she would need a prayer warrior during that time, which was an honor and joy for me.

God is good. He brings people into our lives when we need them. Now Patti Jo covers me with prayer as I write my stories.

Be sure you all get prayer coverage when you work on your various projects or start a new manuscript. You'll be able to feel the prayer support...perhaps a theme for a future blog. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Deanna. You're in the drawing.

Mark Abel said...

Great message of encouragement Debby, Thanks!

I'm working on my first book which has become epic in complexity and length. I've thought about taking a break to write something short for exactly the reasons you suggest. I so blog weekly with two other aspiring writers which is a form of what you are describing. I have also thought about dusting off a short story I wrote a few years ago which was inspired by God's calling on me to serve as an elder in my church. That story needs some work but I have thought about trying to get it published in a 'Guidepost' type publication. Maybe I should take a break and give it a try.

Thanks again for your encouraging post it was a blessing to me and many!

Debby Giusti said...

Meghan, congrats on your publication in Clubhouse Magazine! Good for you! You've opened that door. Bet they'ld like another submission.

I know your children were excited and proud of you! They should be. You're working hard to achieve your goal and setting a wonderful example for them.

I always felt that my three benefited, even from my rejections. They learned that some things require hard work and years of determination to achieve.

That's an important lesson for all of us to learn!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Pam! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks for mentioning your daily journal. Another way to refresh the Muse!

Did you ever do Morning Pages? Julia Cameron talks about them in her book, THE ARTIST'S WAY? Three pages of long-hand each morning to rid ourselves of the clutter that sometimes discourages us and keeps us from moving forward. A good exercise too!

I'm sure your notes have touched many folks over the years. Bless you!


Debby Giusti said...

I'm laughing, Naomi! Evidently you know your strength...and it's not writing short! :)

Hope you and baby are doing well. Praying for a stop to your morning sickness that lingers throughout the day. Such a long nine months, no doubt.

Sending hugs and baby love!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Myra, for sharing how your journey included shorter writing credits. You're so right about focusing on publications we know and love. An easier fit, for sure!

Thanks for your mention of The Writer's Prayer!


Debby Giusti said...

Enjoyed your mention of a note or card being a "hug" from God. Lovely.

Elizabeth Van Tassel said...

Thank you for your uplifting writing, Debby. I received your Writer's Prayer at ACFW this year. So pretty and uplifting, too. Thank you for your vision of God's moments whether something is published in large distribution or to one poignant opportunity placed in our paths! When I get comments from my kid reviewers of my WIP, and they say it's changed their lives or is helping them listen more to God than negative thoughts, it's like time stands still for a moment and all the angst and hard work is so worth it all!

Bless you in your writing!

Debby Giusti said...

Mark, love the stained glass!

Hope today's post spurs you on. Good luck on your short story and blog posts. Seeing your name in print is always a great motivator!

Keep us posted.

Debby Giusti said...

Elizabeth, sounds as if your writing is blessing so many! How lovely to be touching children in a very positive way. Such a wonderful gift that you're using in such a special way! That's the type of success we all hope to achieve. Congrats!!!

Becky Dempsey said...

I am a "contributing writer" for an online home and school magazine. I also wrote a couple of flash fictions were were a lot of fun to do.

Vince said...

Hi Debby:

I have your "Writer’s Prayer", displayed between my inspirational photo of Linda and myself (at the top of the world in Machu Picchu) and the wall clock. Since I check the time over 100 times a day, I am always re-experiencing the warm devotional feelings that come from seeing the prayer displayed. I find these 'instant devotionals' to be very calming.


P.S. Linda did all my office wall coverings.

Debby Giusti said...

Yay, Becky. Congrats on your success! We're proud of you.

Debby Giusti said...

Thank you, Vince, for hanging the prayer on your office wall and for your kind words.

Love the southwest painting. Who's the artist?

Mary Connealy said...

I love this, Debby. I knew some of this but lots was news to me.

Thank you. Great advice. While you struggle to get a book published build writer's credits with shorter works.

There are lots of smaller publications that are eager for material. If you live in a small town especially, contact your local newspaper about writing a column, either regularly or a one time article. (not that you shouldn't aim for larger one's too!)

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, didn't you publish book reviews in your local paper prior to publication?

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

I started writing a long time ago with inspirational short stories and articles for magazines with some success.
Late in 2013 discouraged from lack of interest in my first novel and trying to finish writing another historical, I went back to writing short romantiic stories intended for Woman's World. Well, that didn't happen. But all four stories written last year were accepted by print magazines. Such a boost to my sagging morale. Learned last week that those stories will appear in two fiction anthology this year.
I'm back working on that second novel and making progress. I encourage anyone who feels stuck on those larger projects to follow Debbie's proven advice. It worked for me.
Would appreciate having a copy of Debbie's The Writer's Prayer.

Debby Giusti said...

Pat, loved reading about your success. How wonderful to have your short stories accepted for publication in magazines and then picked up for two fiction anthologies as well! Congrats!

So glad the "less is more" strategy worked for you. Plus you made a number of sales, which is always good. I'm so proud of you!

Thanks for sharing your journey with us today!

You're in the drawing for The Writer's Prayer, Pat!

Lyndee H said...

HI Debby,
Loved learning about your Sisterhood piece and your Writer's Prayer which I picked up at an RWA conference many years ago and use. A wonderful gift.

Thank you for your insights. Over the years I've written for numerous newspapers, magazines and professional journals. I'm happy to have a break from those days. My outlet tends to be emails and letters to friends.

HUGS and blessings!

Valri said...

Great post, Debby! I have always been a writer! Guess that's why I majored in English in college! I got that from my mom, who is a teacher! I've always loved writing - although not writing, as in a BOOK! I enjoy writing to people, like letters, notes, emails, etc. - always have! I grew up with a mom who wrote to everyone! She's 80 yrs. old but she still writes to people constantly! What an example! I love to write letters to people too. I've always enjoyed writing AND me they go hand in hand! :)

Debby Giusti said...


Congrats on all your writing success! Didn't you get your degree in journalism, or am I wrong? What a great platform on which to build!

Debby Giusti said...

Valri, I'm sure your notes, cards and letters have uplifted many folks over the years. And God bless your Mama for spreading joy too!

Thanks for sharing how you've both touched others through the written word!

Mary Curry said...

Hi Debby,

It's been a long day but I just saw a reminder about this post on FB.
The post itself is a lovely reminder of the power of our words - long or short. Thank you.

DebH said...

Great post Debby. Very encouraging. I'm the opposite of Naomi. I do better writing short. I'm hoping to take the concept of writing short segments and putting them together to get to the longer word count I need.

I have your writer's prayer you sent with the first book I won from you. It's next to my "writing chair". All your ideas are good for me to consider.

I always appreciate your uplifting words and thoughts.

Jackie Smith said...

Debby, I wish you would write a devotional book! You are so inspiring, and I would be the first to buy it!
I have loved doing things for shut-ins, lonely, sick. One lady I visited for months in nursing home (taking things she needed) had no local family. When she died, it was not possible to find out anything about funeral, etc. That was hard for me. Then about 9 months later, I was at a family birthday party in another town and some long time friends of the honoree, were invited. Imagine my delight when one of them was a cousin to that lady I had helped and told me all the details of her funeral. Closure! God is good!
Please count me in for your book!

Debby Giusti said...

I know you've had a long day, Mary Curry. Thanks for stopping by to say hello!

Relax and enjoy your evening!


Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, DebH! Glad you like The Writer's Prayer. Perhaps you don't need to veer off course. Your fiction is doing so well. Keep it up!

Debby Giusti said...

What a lovely God-incident, Jackie! Write it up and submit it to one of the Chicken Soup books. Others will be touched, just as I have been.

How blessed the lady was to have you as a friend!

Sandy Smith said...

Debby, writing short is what I have done so far, although I haven't had as much success lately. I have had several stories published in the children's publication POCKETS as well as several other children's Christian publications. Unfortunately, most of those publications are no longer around. POCKETS is still around, but I haven't had anything accepted lately. Right now I am trying to work on a story for them and I just keep feeling stuck because I feel like what I'm writing isn't going to be good enough this time either.

I have also had many short stories published in small Christian publications.

I've written devotional type pieces and other short nonfiction pieces as well.

I used local connections when I wrote an article about the inventor of Kool-Aid, Edwin Perkins, who was from the town in which I grew up (Hastings, NE). I was able to interview one of his wife's relatives and talk to the expert at the museum, which has an exhibit on Kool-Aid. The article was accepted by Highlights for Children magazine. Unfortunately, that was ten years ago and it has never been published. I am pretty frustrated about that because when I e-mail the editor to ask about it, I get the same form reply that they hold pieces until they are ready to use them. I really want to see this article in print.

Debby, you sent me the Writer's Prayer in my prize package from New Year's Eve. I plan to frame it to hang in my office at home. But you can enter me for Stranded.

Debby Giusti said...

Sandy, how terrible that they've kept your article for ten years without publishing it. Were you paid? Did you sign a contract? The rights should have reversed back to you by now. Check the fine print. If you weren't paid and didn't sign a contract, you should be able to cancel your agreement with them and try to place the story elsewhere.

I'd love to read about the inventor of Kool-Aid. Never thought there was someone...but of course, there would be. Fascinating!

Congrats on all your writing credits! Congrats!

So glad you like The Writer's Prayer. :)

Don't get discouraged. God has a story in mind for you to write. I'm sure of it!

Mary Connealy said...

Kav I did do a lot of reviewing. I was even a reviewer for Romantic Times Magazine at one point! But I got the worst books! I just didn't like reading what someone else told me to read.

But there were several places that would let me read whatever I wanted then sub reviews.

Mary Connealy said...

Debbie I did a weekly book review column for a long time. At least two years but maybe longer. Wow, weird that I can't remember anymore!

Chill N said...

I love magazine writing, Debby! I had no idea about all of your non-fiction writing. It's certainly a good way to learn about word counts and deadlines, isn't it?

A wonderfully encouraging post. Thank you!

Nancy C

Sandra Leesmith said...

HI Debby, Great post on writing short. Good advice for getting your name out there.

I wrote a series of self-help books for teens for Rosen Publishing. I published 17 books with them using my real name. They provided income for writing when I needed it. Some are still out there. smile

Sandy Smith said...

Debby, I did get paid. I had heard that Highlights didn't do well with publishing, but took my chances anyway. I don't think they have any promises about when they publish. I have been thinking about trying to call someone at Highlights and talk to them about it personally. Do you think that would be appropriate?

And I know somebody who said her accepted article was never published by them to her knowledge.

Debby Giusti said...

Mary, I didn't know you wrote reviews for RT. You need to share more information.

Debby Giusti said...

Nancy, freelancing was a good thing for me. I learned the process of putting a story together from start to finish, including taking photos and writing captions. Plus, I learned that each magazine has a certain slant. I needed to write to their audience, which is what we do with our fiction as well. We have to give the editors a story they know their readers will love.

Another plus with freelancing was that as my list of credits grew, so did my confidence. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Sandra, you never talk about those non-fiction books. How wonderful to help young teens through those difficult years.

Debby Giusti said...

Sandy, did you sign a contract? If so, see what it says about rights. You may have signed everything over to them. If not, call. After ten years, what can it hurt?

Natalie Monk said...

Debby, this is an inspiration!
I just met my word count goal for my WIP, and I'm wanting a short break before diving headfirst into revisions. Recently my mom and I were both asked to speak/teach at a Christian women's conference in Louisiana, so outlining my notes for that presentation will be a perfect short project.

I sold a humorous piece to Woman's World in the "Was My Face Red" section a little over ten years ago. I may try that again, if they still have that section. Plenty of embarrassing things have happened to me since then. :)

Whenever I get discouraged in my writing, The Writer's Prayer always lifts me up and reminds me it's God, not me, who started this whole writing thing, so He'll be faithful to finish it. Thanks for sharing that prayer that God gave you and letting it be an encouragement to so many others.

jubileewriter said...

I found your words inspiring. I often do shorter projects. My debut novel is with editors the wait time between their comments for rewrite at times are lengthy. And my other WIPs can find my muse ignoring them. I have often written articles. Recently,I wrote for a dog magazine about why you need a groomer and how to find one.Two of my children are dog groomers.
I love doing book reviews. I read a lot. When I am done I sit down and write a review.My next review will be my 100th for Amazon. Its a great way to get my muse moving. Devotionals do the same.
I find writing flash fiction a wonderful exercise in writing tight. All of these areas of writing have given me by-lines. Don't forget writing blog posts, whether for your own blog or as a guest blogger. Again by-lines and exposure. Yours might even go viral.
Thanks for the great article. Enter me in the contest.
Cindy Huff

jubileewriter said...

I found your words inspiring. I often do shorter projects. My debut novel is with editors the wait time between their comments for rewrite at times are lengthy. And my other WIPs can find my muse ignoring them. I have often written articles. Recently,I wrote for a dog magazine about why you need a groomer and how to find one.Two of my children are dog groomers.
I love doing book reviews. I read a lot. When I am done I sit down and write a review.My next review will be my 100th for Amazon. Its a great way to get my muse moving. Devotionals do the same.
I find writing flash fiction a wonderful exercise in writing tight. All of these areas of writing have given me by-lines. Don't forget writing blog posts, whether for your own blog or as a guest blogger. Again by-lines and exposure. Yours might even go viral.
Thanks for the great article. Enter me in the contest.
Cindy Huff

kaisquared said...

Thank you for your inspirational post. Diversity in writing is important, and writing smaller can sometimes kickstart bigger projects.I will have to find a copy of Sisterhood and the Writer's Prayer. Thank you!

Hope Dougherty said...

Debby, what a great post. I love that you write real mail. No matter how quick or convenient email is, people still love real letters. I know because for years I've sent note cards with handwritten Bible verses included to people struggling with all sorts of trials. I can't count how many times I've heard, "thank you" and "the note came at the perfect time." God's love and His word are powerful.

I have your Writer's Prayer on my desk, too!

Peace, Hope

Jill Weatherholt said...

Fantastic advice, Debby! I have copies of your Writer's Prayer at all of my writing stations in the house. :) I sent a copy to my twelve year old goddaughter, who wants to be a writer.

Deanna Stevens said...

That was so wonderful how inspirational notes could bring such a change in her life. I enjoyed the post today... please enter me into the dish :)

Debby Giusti said...

Waving to all who stopped by late last night. Thanks for your kind comments...and your great suggestions of other ways to write short!

Be sure to check out the Weekend Edition when winners are announced!

Edwina said...

I have your Writer's Prayer on the board in my office and read it often!
I take a break from working on my nonfiction by writing blogs, book reviews and devotions. I also enjoy selecting special cards and sending them to people who need encouragement.

Please put my name in the drawing for a copy of your new book!