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Accidental Author
by Marie E. Cecchini

I did not plan to be a writer. I never took a course in journalism. I did, however, love to write and I was a fanatical reader.

One day, while looking through books at the library, I came across an older book (whose title and author I do not remember as this was over fifteen years ago) about how easy it was to write and actually sell your work. Curiosity got the better of me. I brought the book home and read it cover to cover. I was hooked.

That author led me to resources I was never aware of, the best being the periodical guide. Using that, I gathered names and addresses for publications that printed what I might be interested in writing. I also found and read anything I could dealing with the submission process, queries, and writing the best articles. Basically, I did my homework.

My next step was to write to all appropriate publications and request guidelines. I found that every publication was different, some requiring more than others. I later learned that some editors guidelines were not exactly carved in stone.

I now felt ready to put something together to submit for possible publication. Since I'd been a teacher for over twenty years, I felt the children's market would be a good place to start. There are many children's magazines to choose from. I chose Highlights for Children because is was listed as "one of the best markets" for new writers. I decided to begin by designing a craft project and writing the instructions, basically a simple how-to article. I took great pains to prepare an impeccable craft, type simple, easy to follow instructions, and follow the submission guidelines to the letter. My work was in the mail within a week, and the wait began.

I'd so enjoyed putting that project together, that I immediately began researching other publications and mulling over new projects to begin. If nothing else, it made time seem to pass quickly.

It wasn't long before I received a letter from Highlights for Children. I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was prepared for rejection. Everything I'd read said to be prepared for plenty of rejection slips and warned that first attempts by new writers do not often sell. I took a deep breath and opened the letter. What I found was not a rejection slip, but a contract for the purchase of my article. I was stunned. They were actually going to pay me for doing something that seemed more like fun than work. This was something I definitely wanted more of.

I have continued to write ever since. I continue to design craft projects for children, many for a prominent family "glossy" publication. I also write children's poetry, articles for family magazines and educational publications, and I have published five teacher resource books. I am happy with what I do.

If I could pass along one thing to all aspiring writers, it would be to not give up. What one editor finds unsuitable, another will love. You never know until you try.

© Copyright 2006, Marie E. Cecchini

Marie is the author of five books and has created award-winning crafts for children. She also writes childrenÂ’s poetry as well as articles for parents, teachers, and writers. She can be contacted at MarieE2049@sbcglobal.net.

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