Creating Seasonal Articles*

Christmas sugar plumsby Jackie Houchin

Does reading all those December magazines with their holiday stories, recipes, tips, traditions, and inspirations make visions of sugar plums, er, I mean, ideas for articles to dance on your head?

“Oh dear! I so wanted to write an article about those fun games we play for identifying Grandma’s tag-less gifts under the tree!” (Family Circle Magazine?)

“And how I wished I’d shared my Mom’s Christmas fruitcake recipe from her recipe box (that I inherited this year when she died), and told all who read the article why they really should try fruitcake again.”  (Reminiscence Magazine?)

But, I forgot to write them.

And now it’s too late – WAY too late.

At least for this year.

But not for next year, if I plan ahead.  Many magazines need seasonal articles. But they need them long before the pub date. Articles with a “time-tag” are a good way for new writers to break into print (or seasoned writers to pick up some pocket money).

It’s all in the timing

Start by picking up Chase’s Calendar Of Events and look ahead to see what holidays will be celebrated in six months to a year. Or you can check the guidelines in the new The Writers Market Guide for specific publications you hope to write for.

Send a query letter with your idea ahead of the suggested time. If you get a go-ahead, be sure to deliver your article on time. And be patient. If it isn’t used in 2018, it may be held till 2019.

Low-profile holidays

Brain storm ideas for the less popular holidays, such as Arbor Day, Grandparents’ Day, Flag Day, Patriot Day, Friendship Day, Bastille Day, Poppy Day, or even…. Cookie Baking Day! (December 18)  Also think about back-to-school and summer vacation themes.

Your special “slant”

If those “sugar plum” ideas aren’t already dancing away up there, then:

  • Leaf through old magazines (yours or at the library).
  • Think about experiences you’ve had during holidays.
  • Write a short biography of a person linked to a holiday.
  • Research a holiday custom.
  • Remember anniversaries. (What happened 5, 10, 500 years ago?)
  • Interview a teacher, a parent, a coach, a Macy’s clerk.
  • Write a holiday short story or poem. (Some magazines are still open to them.)

Christmas funny poem

Before and After Tips

Start an idea folder with clipped articles from magazines or newspapers. Jot notes about ideas on each. Not all will be usable, but many will work. When you’re looking for a certain seasonal theme, these may trigger an idea.

After the original-rights sale, look for reprint markets for next season. Make a list of potential ones and their lead times, and keep your original article with them.

Open a new bank account!

Christmas bank accountJust kidding!  You won’t get rich from these sales, but you will get “writing clips.”  And when magazine editors discover your timely, well-written articles/stories etc., they will approach YOU with their needs.

Okay… do you need some ideas for NEXT Christmas?  Check out these:

  • Favorite Christmas books, movies, musicals/plays (pastiche or true likes)
  • Christmas mishaps (humorous, or coping skills)
  • Christmas trees: cutting your own, uniquely decorating (we knew friends who lit live candles on their tree!), a special nostalgia ornament
  • Family traditions (oldies, or how to start your own)
  • How to make homemade gifts (food, ornaments, clothes, home decor)
  • Holiday baking (how-to, tastes & smells, shipping)
  • Holiday traditions from other countries (foods, decorations, activities)
  • Or…. interview someone with over 3,500 Santa Claus decorations (Hint: I can give you her name.)

Take away

After all the gifts are opened, the holiday meal is eaten (and cleaned up), the kids are playing with new toys (or the boxes), and the older “boys” are watching football, go grab a piece of crumpled wrapping paper, smooth it out, flick open that new expensive gold-plated pen, and start writing up your holiday impressions, experiences, and ideas while they are still “dancing in your head.”

Christmas garland

Merry Christmas &  Happy New Year !


*Inspiration for this post came from Jewell Johnson’s article, Writing Seasonal Articles in the Christian Communicator, Nov-Dec, 2017.

Time Out – To Remember by Rosemary Lord

Rosemary wrote her first book when she was ten years old – for her little brother. She also illustrated it herself. It was later rejected by Random House! She has been writing ever since.

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born Rosemary Lord has lived in Hollywood for over 25 years. An actress, a former journalist (interviewing Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston amongst others) and a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures, she lectures on Hollywood history. Rosemary is currently writing the second in a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.

Don’t you sometimes wish you could stop the clocks – just for twenty-four hours – so you could catch up?

How do I get it all done?’ Is my constant cry lately. And most of all – when do I have time to write?

Maybe if I had a different schedule… “I write as soon as I get up and keep going until lunch-time…” I have oft heard from successful writers. But despite setting my alarm for an hour earlier, the early morning is so busy: overnight emails to answer, unexpected phone calls – always someone with an urgent question or a problem, another fire to put out – until I have to leave for the office, where my latest quest is saving and restoring a 110-year-old historic Hollywood, charitable organization that was almost felled by a predatory attempted real estate grab.

I’ll write in the lunch hour…. Who gets a lunch hour these days?

How does one make time to write, when the rest of your life is so distracting? I’m clearly not disciplined enough, as I snatch ten minutes here – a stolen fifteen minutes there and, occasionally a whole hour to write. Bliss!

As I drive to appointments or to the market I write in my head, make hurried notes at my destination. Then I question my intentions. Perhaps I am avoiding writing a Blog piece or completing my next novel. What if it’s not perfect? Not exactly the way I want it. If I don’t complete it – I’ll never know. “C’mon,” I tell myself, “writing has to be your priority. It’s what you love to most in the your life. It’s what you are meant to do…”

I look around for clues and for inspiration from other writers for ways to devote more time to write. I think so many of us these days are facing this same challenge in this busy world. Oh, the books I have in me that need to be written.

My best time to write is at the end of the day, when I’ve taken care of everything else, the phone won’t ring and it’s quiet. But lately, as I sit at the computer, I nod off – and come to about forty minutes later, hands poised over the computer keys. Bum! I’ve just lost most of the precious hour I had intended to use to write. 

That is, until last night, when I opened my bleary eyes from another unintended nap over my computer. I noticed the red poppy on my desk. The red poppy that I had brought back from England from the last “Poppy Day.”

I felt ashamed. I felt like a spoiled brat, bemoaning that I had no time to write, as I

remembered those brave men and women who had no time to think of anything, except their fight to save their country and our world from tyranny. All those ordinary – yet extraordinary – folk who have stood between us and harm’s way throughout the ages. They sacrificed their lives so that we could have the freedom to live on.

In England we call November 11th Remembrance Day, when we remember all those who lost their lives in various conflicts. The Remembrance Poppy was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” written in May 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, after he noticed all the red poppies that had grown over the graves where so many soldiers, nurses and others were buried in that far off Belgian field in the first World War.

Since 1919, our fallen ones have been commemorated in England with two minutes silence at the 11th hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. This marks the end of World War One, known as The Great War, in 1918.

Since then, time stands still in Britain for these two minutes. In London, as Big Ben rings the last stroke, traffic comes to a stand-still. Red London buses, black taxi-cabs and delivery vans come to a halt in central London and throughout the country. Pedestrians stop, many bow their heads as a sign of respect for all those who have fallen in conflicts since then. So much is said in that two minutes silence.

In their honor we wear artificial red poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance or Armistice Day – known as Veterans Day in America – as we all unite in paying our respects to those who sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.

And I am truly humbled and embarrassed that I was moaning about not having enough time to write. Those we remember on this day would love to have lived long enough to have such simple problems. We remember and honor the fallen today, as the tradition says, LEST WE FORGET.

Rosemary Lord 2015