Featured Posts from the RUBY blog
THE U IN JESUS Tags: Christian.



Before U were thought of or time had begun, 

God stuck U in the name of His Son.. 


And each time U pray, you'll see it's true, 

You can't spell out JesUs and not include U.  

You're a pretty big part of His wonderful name, 

For U, He was born; that's why He came. 


And His great love for U is the reason He died. 

It even takes U to spell crUcified. 


Isn't it thrilling and splendidly grand 

He rose from the dead, with U in His plan? 


The stones split away, the gold trUmpet blew, 

And this word resUrrection is spelled with a U.  


When JesUs left earth at His Upward ascension, 

He felt there was one thing He just had to mention. 


"Go into the world and tell them it's true 

That I love them all - Just like I love U." 


So many great people are spelled with a U, 

Don't they have a right to know JesUs too? 


It all depends now on what U will do, 

He'd like them to know, 

But it all starts with U. 


Kathy Lawrence Tender Loving Care photo image-ed381407fd02e2d8e804cedfdcbbd.jpg

I Know My Sheep.  Kathy Lawrence photo image-619a537b1d38f0f662a231664a606.jpg


“The Christmas Blessing” by Sharmelle Olson Tags: “The Christmas Blessing”

“The Christmas Blessing”

by Sharmelle Olson


As you get into the spirit of Christmas

what is it that you see off in a distance?

You may be able to praise God and witness

the good and  magnificent silence.


As we give our gifts here at Christmas time

it is the time to think of giving not receiving,

Yes, it’s a time to receive gift too but give time

to the Lord at the same time you are receiving.


The side of giving gifts is so miraculous

with the good and surprising facial expressions

on the faces of your family members,

 which are gracious

and leave you with a wonderful impression.


Sharmelle Olson is a graphic artist and designer, photographer and poet. She loves to share her poems in the RUBY magazine. Shar is also an administrator for RUBY community ministry and enjoys helping out around the community and making new friends there. She has been writing poetry and taking photographs since elementary school, and started doing graphic art and design work in the early 2000s. Shar has four children, two of whom are twins. Her first daughter is in her 20s, her son is 14, and her twin daughters will be 13 soon.


“The Blue Ornament” by Kim Kluxen Meredith Tags: “The Blue Ornament”

David, I know you are watching from Heaven. Please be with me during my surgery and help me not to be scared.

My half-opened eyes nervously squinted back in the mirror. That morning in the pre-dawn chill of my bathroom I felt an intense desire to talk with my late husband.

Perhaps God would let David hold my hand from afar.

During the past four weeks I had distracted myself with decorating the house for the holidays. I knew I would be off my feet for six weeks after my ankle operation. I needed to be organized.

Presents were purchased and wrapped. The outside lights strung. Multiple Santa figurines guarded the family room and a stately seven-foot spruce tree stood at attention in a nearby corner ready for tinsel and fancy balls.

When David and I married, the first ornament we put on our tree was his childhood slate-blue ball.

On one side, the large orb was inscribed with his name and the year of his birth in white flocking—David 1948.

Our children called it ‘Dad’s ball,’ and it has forever maintained its premier status.

Peeling back the yellowed tissue paper, I had plucked the fragile ball from its faded cardboard box.

I searched for a sturdy branch to support the weight of the ornament. I secured the metal clasp to the limb and stepped back to admire my work.

The familiar flocking of his name and year of birth faced towards the inside of the tree.

Worried if I removed the ball to switch it I might drop it in my haste, I left it in place and vowed to come back to fix it later.

Showered and dressed, I stumbled downstairs for a quick cup of coffee.

Oh darn, I forgot to check the tree’s water level last night!

How I hated to crawl on my stomach under the branches like a military soldier scooting under a line of barbed wire. But I filled the pitcher in resignation and headed into the family room.

When I turned on the wall switch to tend to my last Yuletide chore, the tiny colored lights on the tree flickered and I noticed the blue ornament facing me with its white lettering, David 1948.

You ARE here!

“Thank you God.”

I flicked off the switch and grabbed my purse. My ride was waiting to take me to the hospital.

Kim Kluxen Meredith is an award winning published author. Her book “Listen for the Whispers: Coping with Grief and Learning to Live Again” provides a platform for her national / international inspirational speaking engagements. More information about her message of hope and resilience can be found on her author web page at www.kimkluxenmeredith.com

“The Beauty in Trying” by Cassidy Burdge Tags: “The Beauty in Trying”

Sometimes I become overtaken by things. Whether that be the beautiful sun rising in the morning on my way to school or the paralyzing fears I have that seem to find me quite often.

Either way, I become overtaken by things. The first one is great and one that I love. The latter, however, is one that I’m not too fond of.

Despite the major differences between the two, I still make an effort to seek the moments in life where I am forced to hand it all over to God. This past week I was reading in Exodus about Moses and Aaron and the crazy amount of effort they put into carrying out God’s will.

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and told them exactly what his plan was and how the convincing process of having Pharaoh “let his people go” would take place. In Exodus 8:6, after the Lord explained how Aaron would stretch out his arm and frogs would appear, Aaron immediately did what the Lord commanded.

I can almost guarantee that after Aaron heard the Lord’s plan of making frogs appear out of nowhere, that Aaron was doubting and possibly thinking, “Oh my goodness, how stupid will I look if these frogs don’t appear?” But Aaron impressed me by the fact that he just stretched out his hand and did as the Lord commanded.

Imagine what would have happened if Aaron decided to sit this one out because of his fear of messing up?

Fortunately, I think Aaron knew of something that I tend to forget. The Lord has not called us to succeed; he has only called us to try and to make an effort to carry out God’s plan.

When the Lord calls us to crazy things outside of our capacity and we are overtaken by the fear of messing up, remember that the most beautiful thing to the Lord is to look down and see his children trying to follow his lead.

There is immense beauty in the effort and the thought of, “You know what, I’m just going to go for it and trust that the Lord takes over!”

XOXO, The Christian Prepster

Cassidy Burdge is the Christian Prepster, a high school student living the Christian lifestyle in a preppy state of mind. She has a deep love for sharing Christ through her writing and blogging, and she is excited to be part of Ruby Magazine. Cassidy blogs about anything from Biblical teachings to book reviews. You can connect with Cassidy on her blog, The Christian Prepster at https://thechristianprepster.wordpress.com/

Tips and Tricks for Hosting Holiday Guests

With the holidays in gear, it seems everyone is traveling to visit loved ones. For most of us, that means either staying with family or having family stay with us. For me, my in-laws come in from out of town and stay with us for the week of Christmas. Having a big family of our own, my husband and I take extra measures to make sure everyone is comfortable while there are an extra two people around. With kids in the house, it sometimes gets a little hectic, so we try to make sure my husband’s parents are as comfortable as possible. Here are a few of my tips to make sure your guests feel at home.


Clean, clean, clean

While some of you might be thinking this is an obvious tip, I still think it is super important to stress! I usually keep my bathrooms, guest room, and kitchen pretty clean and organized, but it is good to get a deep clean before overnight guests arrive. Make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies of your home including under the bed, behind the toilet, and deep in the tile grout. You’ll thank yourself when your guests feel welcome in your clean home. If you don’t have time for this, I would suggest hiring a one time cleaning service. I’ve done this before and my kitchen was the cleanest it’s ever been!


Comfy Bedding

We all know that it’s hard to get a good night’s rest when we’re away from home and our own beds, but there are ways to make your guests feel a little more comfortable in a guest room. Obviously keeping clean fresh bedding for your guests is a must, but I also try to accommodate to their sleeping needs. For example, my father-in-law likes to sleep with a more firm pillow, so I make sure he has a few different pillows to choose from, so he isn’t stuck with one that’s too soft.

Also, I suggest buying a good mattress in your guest room that you can see yourself sleeping on. Chances are if you won’t sleep on it, your guest won’t enjoy it either. There are many great mattresses stores to choose from, but it’s always easy to buy from an online mattress retailer like Leesa Mattress.



My next tip would be to make sure that there is enough food in your home. For this one I also like to do my research, especially if your guest is staying for more than one night. What type of coffee do they drink? Do they have any allergies? Are they diabetic and need certain snacks in the house? It’s always nice to call ahead and ask them if there is anything specific food wise they would like. If they are too polite to mention anything, call a family member of theirs to see if they have any suggestions for things they would like.


Expect the Unexpected

Make sure to always be ready for anything! Have extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. on hand! You never know what your guest is going to need, so be prepared to have extra. Nothing is worse than spending your Christmas Eve in the Rite Aid checkout line because someone forgot a toiletry! I always think it’s a good idea to have the extra travel size bottles on hand. That way you’re not buying full sized bottles for a few nights visit.

Going the extra mile will really show your guests you care. Whenever I do small gestures like these when my in-laws stay, they are extremely grateful. In doing this it will make your overnight visits run a little more smoothly with extra people in the house, too.

What are some ways you help make your guests feel welcome during holiday stays?

“Planning a Christmas Open House” by Beth Brubaker Tags: “Planning a Christmas Open House”


It’s that time of year – too many friends and family members want to come over and visit during the Christmas holidays, but you just don’t have the time to host that many dinners! But what can you do to stem the chaos, yet enjoy spending time with everyone?

Plan a Christmas Open House!

What exactly is a Christmas Open House, you ask? It may sound like you’re selling your home (some people have actually asked me this when I’ve invited them), but instead you’re hosting an all-day event where people can come visit when they want to and stay as long as they wish.

No big dinner parties, no head counts, no fancy tableware that has to be hand-washed every time you use it, no worries about Auntie Gertrude sitting next to someone she doesn’t like…it’s a casual, relaxing visit when everyone – family, friends, and neighbors can come to see you, as well as other friends and family that haven’t seen each other since last Christmas.

The best part is that people can come and go when they please, so they don’t feel guilty if they can only visit for a short time, or feel like they’re wearing out their welcome if they want to stay longer.

You plan a day (or two) with a certain range of hours for people to come visit. It can be all day, from lunch until dinner, mid-afternoon until late evening… whatever hours you’re most comfortable having company. Send out invitations at least two weeks in advance to give people time enough to plan on coming.

No R.S.V.P. is necessary!


Here’s how it works:

Serve simple foods buffet style. This allows you to enjoy your guests and not be in the kitchen all day long. Place tables in a way to allow flow-through for both those getting food, and those moving back into the main rooms to sit with their goodies. And don’t forget extra benches and chairs for people to sit!

You don’t need to provide enough seats for your entire guest list, because people will be moving in and out of your home throughout the established times. But make sure you have enough for at least one-third of the people you’re expecting.

If you’re doing a breakfast/brunch style Open House, there are many egg dishes that can be put into crock pots the night before or pre-prepped ready-to-bake pans of quiche or cinnamon buns (that you made ahead of time) that can be tucked into the oven as the breakfast trays empty. Don’t forget breakfast meats can also be piled into aluminum pans and kept warm in the oven!

Trays filled with deli meats and cheeses, cheese and sausages (or pepperoni), vegetables as well as rolls, crackers and dips do well for those coming in for a meal, or just to graze. Hot foods like sliced roast beef or turkey for sandwiches can be kept at safe food temperatures in crock pots, as can meatballs or soups.


Soups are especially popular when it’s cold out, and you don’t even need special dishes – just use hot/cold cups (like the ones you use for coffee) instead of bowls! This keeps the serving sizes down (sometimes people want to try more than one soup if you have a variety), and keep things neater – it’s a lot harder to spill soup in a tall cup than in a flimsy Styrofoam bowl!

Drinks can be as simple as buying soda, but if you want to have healthier choices, you can home-brew iced tea, have a variety of hot teas, coffees, and cocoas available (if you own a Keurig machine), offer juices, lemonade, or waters laced with freshly sliced fruit – anything that suits your fancy!

(Just remember the fruit waters will only last until the end of the day.)

Snacks can be candy and nuts, but you can also include chips and pretzels – they go with everything!

Desserts can be anything from cakes, pies, cookies, or puddings. Puddings can also be carried in a cup instead of a bowl, and if you want pie or cake a la mode, add the pie/cake to a cup, and top with a small scoop of ice cream. You can also have bowls of holiday candies or nuts out for people to nibble on as they mingle.

Plan enough food for about three-quarters of the guests you invite, because not everyone will be able to come.

As for how much food- figure a half-pound of food per person for main dishes (or two cups of soup per person) and one quarter-pound of food per person for side dishes. (*see below this first list for breakfast foods).

So if you’ve invited fifty people: expect about thirty-eight.

  • 1 twelve quart pot of soup (or two six to eight quart pots of two different kinds of soup) – If you’re not including soup, double the meat and cheeses (listed below).
  • At least ten pounds of lunch meats or hot foods (double these amounts if not having soup.) For lunch meats-two and-a-half pounds each of three different kinds of meats, and one and-a-half pounds of each kind of cheeses.
  • For hot foods- at least three and-a-half pounds of two kinds of meats, one and-a-half pounds of two kinds of cheeses.
  • Rolls/breads- 2x people expected (4x slices of bread)
  • One cheese tray
  • One veggie tray
  • One condiment tray (for the sandwiches, if having deli meats.) Condiment trays usually consist of lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and pickles.
  • One cookie tray
  • Two cups of dip
  • One box mixed party crackers (or four sleeves of other kinds of crackers)
  • At least three pies/cakes (cut into 12 or more pieces)
  • One large bottle each of mayonnaise, mustard, or preferred sandwich spreads
  • 1 pound butter, room temperature
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Two to three quarts of ice cream (optional)
  • Several bags of candies, nuts and/or trail mix
  • At least three bags of chips/pretzels
  • Plates, cups, and plastic utensils (3x the amount of guests expected)
  • Napkins (4x the amount of guests expected)
  • Ice- at least twenty to thirty pounds for drinking, twice that if using a cooler. Don’t use cooler ice for drinks!)
  • Clean rags (for spills and drips)


For a breakfast / brunch open house:

  • *Two eggs per person
  • Three strips of bacon
  • Two breakfast sausage links or patties
  • (The three items listed above are plenty if you’re serving eggs as a quiche.)
  • Assorted veggies for the eggs (spinach, green peppers, and tomato are popular)
  • Two to three bags of shredded cheddar or cheddar blended cheeses
  • (This breakfast list can be substituted for the soup in the above list)
  • One small bag per five people for Hash browns or tater tots

Set up your tables so the plates and utensils are near the sandwich foods, the cups and spoons are near the soups, and more cups with stirrers by the beverages. Keep the hot foods away from the cold foods.

From one end of the tables to the other:

  • Rolls / breads
  • Hot foods
  • Condiment tray
  • Cold foods
  • Spreads
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chips / snacks (not nuts and candies)
  • Soups
  • Cheese and veggie trays
  • Crackers and dip,
  • Desserts (except ice cream)
  • Cookie tray
  • Beverages


Tips and tricks:

Make dips a day ahead so they have time to thicken and ‘cure’ (so the flavors blend in well).

If you’re making your own trays, breakfast casseroles, and drinks, make them a day ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate.

Use aluminum pans instead of glassware for safe transfer from fridge to oven (some glassware will shatter from the extreme temperature change) and for easy clean up.

If you’re making fruit infused waters, make them two hours before the Open House and refrigerate.

To make tea concentrates- steep preferred tea bags in one quart of hot water instead of a gallon. After steeping, squeeze tea bags well, and add the sugar you normally would for a gallon into the concentrate. Then all you have to do party day is to pour the concentrate into a gallon jug, and add three quarts water!

If using crock pots or anything with plugs, make sure the wires are behind the tables against the walls, or taped down so people don’t trip over them.

Buy special liner bags for crock pots for quick and easy cleanup.

Cut rolls ahead of time so guests won’t be at risk of cutting themselves. No sharp knives on the buffet table-especially if there are children around!

Rolls are best cut with a serrated blade, not a smooth blade.

If you’re serving soup, make sure the crock pot is in ‘Warm’ mode, and stir every once in a while – especially if you have creamy soup.

Have several salt and pepper shakers on the available dining tables, as well as a set on the buffet table.

Butter sticks can be placed one each on small plates at each table (or on each end of each table.) Don’t forget to provide butter knives!

Use laundry baskets lined with trash bags for additional ice buckets or as extra trash cans. (I suggest double bagging for the ice!)

You can also have the kids walk around once in a while with a trash bag in hand, asking guests if they have any trash to deposit. Less clean-up for you and the kids get a chance to serve others!


Hosting Christmas Open Houses is the best way for our family to tone down the holiday chaos, enjoy our company, and even save money!

This allows us to spend more time together as a family, get the Christmas shopping done, and one surprise side benefit – we usually have enough leftover party foods the next day that we don’t have to cook!

If you decide to host a Christmas Open house, I’d love to hear about it! Please write to me at bethatruby@aol.com and tell me your story- and don’t forget to send some pictures!

Have a fantastic Christmas!

Beth Brubaker Photo

Beth Brubaker is the Assistant Editor of RUBY magazine, and a regular contributor to our monthly magazine. She blogs at Footprints in the Mud where you can read more of her inspirational, humorous, and home / family advice articles.

Last minute Everything!
Category: Member Blogs

Last Minute Everything!

I used to be one of those people you hate.

I used to have my tree up right after Thanksgiving, and had most of my shopping done by the first week of December because I'd been shopping all year long, stockpiling gifts and gifties for adults and kids alike. 

I was the one with dozens of cookies baked by mid-December (at least three kinds), along with banana breads, and jars homemade hot fudge, ready to put into adorable Christmas baskets for friends, family and guests.

I used to have everything wrapped at least a week early, because it was more fun wrapping closer to Christmas. Let's just say if I went by this particular mantra, I'd be ecstatic right now.


Nothing was done. Nothing. No buying. No baking. No decorations. No Christmas carols blaring from the speakers. No Christmas tree scented candles irritating our noses. Nada. There was no time, no money, no energy to do any of these things. These same things I'd done every year since the kiddos were small. The decorations are still up in the attic, and with my knee bugging me, they won't come down until someone comes home to fetch them.

Christmas came way too fast for my liking. Summer lasted forever, and Autumn was about three seconds- now it's Winter, the end of the year, and Christmas. I am so not ready for this!

At least until yesterday. Apparently everyone and their dog needed to get to the airport, stat, and I was the only driver available in the entire state of Pennsylvania. I had work, and lots of it, and most people were generous in the tip department. I had spending money for the first time in eons!

Not a ton of spending money, mind you, but enough so I could get a few things for my family. So yesterday I splurged on gifts for my husband and kids- and no, I won't say what I got- they might be reading this. (Nanny nanny boo-boo, hubby and kids!)

For the first time, I listened to Christmas music as I shopped. Oh how I missed this! Despite my stupid knee (which I admit, I was supposed to be elevating and icing instead of using it to shop), I came away from the stores with more than just purchases- I came away with blessings!

One store had everything 50% off- when the bill was rung up, I expected to pay the total price, thinking it was the actual price, and it was half instead! Apparently the register took it all off after the sales were totaled. If you heard someone cheer about 2:33 p.m. EST yesterday, that was me!

The second store I wanted to go to was way, way, way down from where I was. But when I checked my GPS, I thought it was a glitch- there was a new branch of that store open in the same mall! All I had to do was go down a few stores, and there it was- how awesome is that? 

I bought everything that I needed all in one place- and zip off towards home to rest my knee.

The house still isn't decorated, and the cookies aren't getting baked anytime soon (maybe Saturday), but at least I got a few things my family will love. Yes, I know it isn't all about the gifts, but I really do love seeing their faces when I give them something great (even if it's something they need, not want), and I found many unexpected great things for them this year!

Every year I get later and later getting ready for Christmas. I want back my time so I can bake all of those cookies, make hot fudge, and listen to carols on the radio. My kids won't be here forever (at least I hope not), but I want to cherish the moments I have with them as much as possible before colleges take them away. 

I hope next year I'll have the time to do everything at a slower pace. No more last minute Christmases, no more running around in a panic to get everything done in time. I don't want to be a grandmother before I get to spend time with my kids at Christmas!

I used to be one of those 'early bird' people you hated during the holiday rush. Now I can be the one that makes you feel better because at least you are closer to the finish line than I am- and that's okay! Just consider that good feeling a gift from me- because I didn't have time to buy you anything!
“Within the Shadows” by Beth Brubaker Tags: RUBY magazine Christian life Christian women bloggers Christian women Christian women online Christian women writers Christian women’s magazine

Santa, sleighs and colors bright,

illuminate the dark of night,

but do not glorify the plight

of the baby in the shadows.


Oh, the glitter- how it shines!

From sparkling gifts and glittered twine,

distracting us from the Divine

the toddler in the shadows.


Songs are sung of snowman’s tales

of reindeer’s nose and Grinchy fails,

but no one hears His love prevails

from the child within the shadows.


Fam’lies gathered, parties planned

for feast of food and music grand

how can we see the pleading hand

of the child within the shadows?


Did we forget what God did lose?

He spent His Son to pay our dues

and sent His Son as a babe imbued

within a manger’s shadows.


The child, when grown to man will give

His life for us so we may live

When we believe and then forgive

blessed by the Man in shadow.


The lights, the gifts lose their array

inane songs fade when He comes our way

and we can celebrate the day

He brought us from the shadows!


Beth Brubaker, Assistant Editor of RUBY magazine,is a humorist poet and songwriter, and her day jobs include homemaking, writing, and paper and fabric arts. Beth’s passion is the written word, and is developing ways of sharing her brand of humor with the world through poems, songs and stories. Don’t miss Beth’s columns and puzzles in every issue of Ruby for Women! You can read Beth’s posts on her blog Footprints in the Mud at http://footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com or email her at bethatruby@aol.com.

Christmas Nuts!
Category: Member Blogs

Christmas Nuts

There are some benefits for not having excessive funds for Christmas shopping.

I don't have to deal with the loonies out there trying to find a bargain.

For example, I went to a bulk store doing my regular 'chest freezer shopping' and saw people fighting over the last of the giant fluffy stuffed animals left on display. Apparently giant stuffed fuchsia unicorns are more rare than the actual beasts, and these people were almost at fisticuffs over it. A well-dressed lady in a fur coat won the battle, leaving unconscious bodies in her wake as she continued shopping. 

It was a stuffed animal, people. Seriously? Fight over something significant, like a foot massager or chocolates for heaven's sake! Oh wait- someone beat you to the punch. Medic on aisle three and seven please!

What is it about Christmas that turns people into frenzied maniacs? Even the Tasmanian Devil would be hard pressed to come out alive with a gift at this rate! As for me, all I wanted was a two-hundred pound pack of chicken breasts and a few gallons of milk. Oh, and those rotisserie chickens. Gotta get me at least one of those suckers.

I head for the roasted chicken section, only to find it was cleaned out 2.3 seconds before I arrived. The next batch would be ready in six hours. That's okay, I can wait. It would take me that long to get through the checkout anyway. So I do some more shopping while I wait. I consider getting a pallet truck instead of a cart when I hear the timer for the chicken go off, and I dash for the roasted chicken section once more- as does everyone else in the store.

I crash into the sausage display as I try to stop the momentum of my overladen cart, just as the guy starts putting the chickens on the shelves. People were taking them before the containers hit the sheet metal, but I waited my turn, since they were ahead of me. As I touched one of the last chickens to come out, this lady dressed to the nines with a fur coat snatches a chicken right from under my fingers, giving me a haughty and triumphant smile. Her cart is loaded with gifts for half the state; all expensive, and all fancy- including that giant fuchsia unicorn.

Oh no she didn't!

Have you ever daydreamed about what you'd like to have done instead of what you did? My imagination took over....

The fancy lady's smile faded as sparks emanated from my very being. How dare she snatch that chicken from me? She won that bout over the unicorn, but I willnot be thwarted from my rotisserie chicken! 

With a primal yell, I body slam the well-dressed lady like a rampaging Pokemon, and snatch the precious chicken from her hands before the momentum throws her back about three-hundred feet. 

Sometimes it pays to be a big gal and understand the laws of physics. 

I was surprised by cheers behind me and turn to see the rivals of this well- dressed lady applauding my reaction to her greediness. Apparently she had the last of everything in her cart, and fought everyone and their reindeer to get it. At first I was elated. I was a hero! I stood up to a shopping bully and won! 

Or did I?

No, I didn't- but it was nice thinking about it as she walked off with my chicken in hand. I believe God would've frowned on the body-slamming, Pokemon thing though. 

Christmas Madness had almost gotten the better of me. And there wasn't even a gift involved! I just wanted homemade chicken salad for lunch.

Lucky for me the guy saw what happened and told me more was coming in a few minutes. He brought out the chickens and let me pick the one I wanted before anyone else since I was the first in line at that point. All done without carnage and skid marks down the aisle from a greedy woman's fur coat. 

It's so easy to forget why we celebrate Christmas when advertisers make everything sound so awesome. We want to make others happy, but when we're willing to body-slam a stranger three hundred feet down the aisle to get it- well, let's just say that isn't the spirit of the season God intended.

Just remember when making your purchases, you'll find a lot of Christmas nuts- but please don't become one- just deal with the ones in the fancy boxes covered in chocolate!
Christmas. Tags: Christmas

“Writing Contests!” by Joan Leotta Tags: Writing Contests Joan Leotta Writing Contests joan Leotta


Ok, I admit it! The reason I get some much junk email is that I am a sucker for signing up to win a trip. I love travel! I don’t think the Lord has winning a trip in mind for me, but my travel self keeps putting in that email!

However, when it comes to writing, contests are a different thing altogether. They can definitely be a part of a strategic marketing plan for your writing—honoring to the Lord and a part of His plan for you and your writing.

In some ways every time you send a piece of writing to a publisher/magazine you are in a contest with the hundreds of others submitting for the prize of publication. I look at it that way, carefully crafting my work to meet the needs of the readers of that publication and the parameters set out by the editors. After all, if the editors don’t like it, the piece will never reach those readers.

Actual contests with a prize are much the same thing—on steroids. They often put your work in front of a celebrity judge. That increases the “name” value of your work. If you win, even place, you can post it and that puts your name out there again. Win or lose, send a note to the judges and editors thanking them for their time.

Soon you will have a community of writers who know you, who interact with you, who like your work. This is especially true in poetry. I reached the point where my first chapbook (small collection of poems, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon) was accepted for publication after a series of publications and contests. Contests give you a deadline and make you polish and polish before entering because you want the entry to win!

A couple of  the poems in Languid won (not first place) contests. Most have “won” publication. The collection itself placed in two different chapbook contests. That gave me the courage to keep sending it out. Finally, Finishing Line Press, (A publisher who knew my work from an anthology to which I contributed) accepted the work and Languid Lusciousness with Lemon will come out in January 2017, on the 13th, my Dad’s birthday!

This is significant since my Dad wrote poetry and was an encouragement to me to read the great poets. As a part of publishing this book I had to have two poets write blurbs for the back cover. Two I knew from sending my work out to contests they judged and then other interactions agreed to write the (very complimentary!) blurbs.

For example, Alice Osborn said, “Joan Leotta’s poems balance the sugar and salt of our existence with a dash of humor: “Life’s sweetness stands out, / oft best preserved / when accented with tart,” ever evoking food, family…”

When you win, and I have been fortunate enough to win first prize—in several poetry competitions and short story contests, the ultimate prize is polishing your work so that it serves the Lord and encourages the people who read it.

I also write and perform for children, am a journalist, and have written four books of women’s fiction! The advice on contests is the same for all of those types of writing as well. Right now I am in the process of preparing an entry for a children’s writing contest using the story I wrote for Ruby for Women—”The Red and Yellow Bracelet “(August 2016) as my entry!

Here is a buy link that will take you to all of my books except Languid and Red Apron:


The newest, Rosa’s Red Apron is not up yet…but it will be soon!

Check my blog, www.joanleotta.wordpress.com for the cover reveal and check out past blogs for a step by step on how to write a picture book!

Languid Lusciousness with Lemon is not on Amazon yet either. Here is the link for that:


Check out Ruby’s Reading Corner for news on all of my books!


Joan Leotta is a regular contributor to the RUBY magazine. She has been playing with words since childhood. She is a poet, essayist, journalist, playwright, and author of several books both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is also a performer and gives one-woman shows on historic figures and spoken word folklore shows as well as teaching writing and storytelling.

Joan lives in Calabash, NC where she walks the beach with husband, Joe.  You can connect with Joan on her blog at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com


Summer in a Bowl by Joan Leotta is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!



Rosa and the Red Apron by Joan Leotta is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!



Whoosh! by Joan Leotta is now available from RUBY’S Reading Corner!


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