Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shameless Self Promotion

In Rolland Love's Q&A the other day, he talked about shameless self promotion. I think a lot of new writers, especially, have it in their heads that they can sell their writing while sitting within their introverted shells most of us writers share.
That all they have to do is sit in their offices plunking out literary masterpieces on their computers and their agents or editors will lead them to published glory.
When the surprising reality of the writing life is revealed, their dreams are shattered because they are writers, not marketers!
I really liked Rolland's story of how his book found its way to Hollywood, because it is an example of how you can market just doing normal things, such as getting your haircut.
I thought about all the unique ways I've marketed my writing without even trying:

  • When I found out a person I know was flying to Hawaii, I reminded her it would be a long flight and she should read my book (she hadn't yet) while on the plane. When she did, several people asked her about it.
  • I've sold numerous books at my favorite sushi bar. Conversations with other customers and the wait staff have led to "What do you do?" When I tell them I'm a writer, I always include the bit about my book. Of course, I always have copies in my car.
  • I choose to join professional organizations now based on how much I believe in their mission, which makes me want to give back by volunteering. The more I volunteer, the more work that seems to come to me through that six degree connection people talk about now. I call it creating good mojo for my writing.
  • When sending out my book launch party announcements to other writers in a professional organization, I inadvertantly wrote one out to someone in California. Turns out, this guy is a screenwriter. He asked for a copy of the book, and while he said he couldn't use it for anything he was working on, it's out there. And when your work is out there, you never know what will happen to it.
  • My writing and blog postings have re-connected me with people who I'm sorry I lost contact with in the first place. While it might not net me work, you never know. But this one is mostly about the good mojo it's brought into my life.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

We Interrupt This Program...

My mother is being admitted to a nursing home today, so please excuse the lack of a daily post.

Hopefully, I'll return tomorrow.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Big Bucks

My mom always says that people usually aren't really broke when they say they are. "They have the money for what they want."
That appears to be the story in Philly this morning. It wasn’t long before a story appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday at about a new slick start up magazine that writer’s boards across the country were being filled with WTF(?) postings. Evidentially, this guy, Andrew Cantor, has a history with writers and it isn’t a good one. Cantor, who publishes under Bucks Magazine, has had to be sued in order to get him to pay his writers.
This new magazine, Mainline, is described as an art, culture and lifestyle magazine for the people of Mainline. See the warnings on Writers Weekly about his pay habits: and this isn’t the only complaint I’ve seen on writer’s boards about this publisher and Bucks. So, writer beware.
Seems although he is pleading financial hardship on behalf of his company, they still have the bucks to launch a new magazine.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rolland Loves the Ozarks

I have a guest on the blog today. My friend and author, Rolland Love. He shares some of his insights on writing about a specific geographic region and how selling books anywhere and everywhere could get you a movie deal!

Tell us about yourself, Rolland: I grew up in the Ozark Mountains and spent summers swimming and guiding fishermen down a spring fed river paddling wooden johnboats. This environment ultimately motivated me to share my experiences through writing.

Rolland's the author of award winning short stories and three novels.

What kinds of things did you write before starting your book series on the Ozarks? With the exception of a novel called Toe Tags and TNT, which is set to become a movie later this year.
I have always written stories set in the Ozark Mountains.

How did the movie deal happen? The novel is based on an experience I had where a business partner and I were abducted and held captive in an RV – motor home, for two days and one night during a 1,000 journey from Las Vegas to Kansas City. I self published the book because I felt so strongly about the story. One day I was at my barbers getting a haircut and told him about the scary event and he said his son was an actor in LA and would like to read the book. After he read it he fell in love with the strange story and said he would write the script for a chance to play one of the bizarre characters. He wrote the script and rounded up the production money and the rest is history.

What made you decide to concentrate on such a regional niche? I grew up in the Ozark Mountains. The attached short story First Camping Trip tells where and why. The photo on my website of the kid jumping off the rock bluff is a picture of my backyard when I lived on the river. Here is where I grew up

Which one is your favorite and why? The Blue Hole, it is a story based on my boyhood when I lived on the Jacks Fork river and fished and floated the river and hunted squirrels and explored caves and dived off tall limestone bluffs. This was my backyard

Which one was the most challenging to write and why? The sequel to the Blue Hole, a novel called An Ozark Mountains River’s Edge Murder Mystery, which has been released by It was harder because I aged the two boys in the Blue Hole by 50 years, making them grandfathers. Then I injected my 9 and 12 year old grandsons into the story and took them back to the Blue Hole where a murder was committed the last time I was there as a 15year old boy. During the course of the tale, which becomes more supernatural as the story progresses, in the final pages I solve a 50-year-old murder that occurred the last time I was at the Blue Hole. Attached is a typical dialogue with my grandsons, Jake the youngest, a nine year old, ask if music other than church music is the work of the devil. One of his friends whose mother is very religious said it was. It was a fun vicarious writing experience that took 3 years to complete working off and on, but steady.

What are the advantages of writing on one particular area? Need to spend less time doing research.

What are the challenges? Writing a story about a remote area of the country that readers in the city can relate to. I Look at the attached Modern Day Mark Twain Author for the answer, which is, make the story so interesting the reader doesn’t want to put it down and wish they had grown up there and experienced diverse happenings.

How did you develop your platform? It was easy because it was based on my life The Ozark Stories website provides a good overview.
Is the website the only way you market your stories? No, I talk with and send information to anyone and everyone I think may be interested in my work. It’s called Shameless Self Promotion. The biggest problem with the majority of writers is that my have wonderful work, but they don’t promote what they have enough. Market. Market. Market. It’s okay for writers to blow there own horn, if their work is good, people will be glad they did.

What advice would you give writers who want to focus a book series on a particular area of expertise? Write what you know. Why? The facts are easier to get straight, the story flows better, and the writer knows the audience.

What’s next? A cookbook that Mary-Lane Kamberg and I have worked on for the past two years. I wrote about 30 Ozarks short stories dealing with foods that are all Ozark Mountain recipes. We have a publisher and expect the book to be on the market this fall.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Remove me from your list!

That was the subject line I used yesterday when I wrote the editor of Worldwide Freelance. The e-letter had been coming to my inbox for quite awhile and like most of these newsletters aimed at writers (with the exception of writersweekly, freelancedaily and fundsforwriters) that are more about the ads then what writers can take away, I usually skimmed it and deleted. Yesterday, however, I was cleaning out my email box while on hold for a source and something about the first ad caught my eye. My scam alert awakened and I clicked on the link. Sure enough, it was an ad for a get rick quick copywriting scheme. Quit your job in a week! - and other related non-sense. So, without further thought, I wrote the following to the editor of the newsletter:

I'm not sure how I got on your email list, but given that your newsletter starts with a paid advertisement from a get rich quick scheme whose website says:

"You Don’t Need to Be a Writer to Be Successful,"

I can't take the rest of your newsletter very seriously. But that's coming from a writer who believes you do need to be a writer to be successful as one.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

In This Corner!

Gotta love these job ads:
Featuring only professional, elite fighters from around the globe, "King of the Cage" is a competitive event pitting warrior against warrior in hand-to-hand battles of skill, honor and art.
From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to wrestling, Muay Thai to boxing, all styles are encouraged. But, in order to consistently win, participants must be well versed in every aspect of the fighting game.
"King of the Cage" . . . It's about punches, kicks, elbows, knees, big knockouts, technical submissions, take-downs, and strategy. It's like no other sport you've ever seen!
REQUIREMENTS: The ideal candidate will possess people skills and excellent interviewing abilities. They must own a recording device, be skilled typists and have an Internet connection in order to deliver all finished articles in a timely fashion.
APPLICATION: Please send a resume and two writing clips. Include a phone number with any correspondence.
HOURS: We're asking the candidate to post at least 2 articles a week, with three to four preferred.
COMPENSATION: Free entrance into MMA events and free clothing

But at least this ad gave me an idea! I think instead of just working for free or for t-shirts, we should organize events where these job scammers get together to find out who is King of the Cage! That's right, imagine this guy getting together with the term paper mill scammer - who would win! Or, how about that scammer in Arkansas who wanted writers for $3 an article who promised to remember my name vs. the guy who said I was a money-hungry writer because I wanted pay for my work!
Imagine knees, elbows, kick boxing - and the prize? Lots of exposure for their scams and our undying appreciation for their hard work.
Oh, and we might give them a t-shirt that could read: "I got the crap kicked out of me for expecting people to work for nothing, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Out of Stress into Writing

My challenge this morning is getting myself awake after a short six hours of restless sleep and back into my writing.
This, following a stressful day of first convincing my mother that she needed to see a doctor for breathing problems that went on for five days, and then convincing her the doctor knows best when he put her in the hospital.
As mentioned last week, the best part of my job are the hours, which I can pretty much set. I left yesterday afternoon to tend to my mother and didn't return home till well after 9 last night. The only thing I had energy for at that point was checking my emails.
The stress I'm feeling this morning is my own fault. A procrastinator by nature, I held off on doing some reporting for an article that was actually due by the end of the day yesterday.
Today, I'm going to pass along some tips on avoiding stress. These hints should also allow you to stick to the schedule that works best for you. If I had followed them, I would still be trying to sleep off some of my own stress:
* When you get an assignment, schedule the calls and interviews you need to make immediately.
* After doing the reporting for the story (research and interviews), schedule time in 1-hour blocks to write your story. My goal buddy recently recommended this to me on several stories I have that have no deadlines. The key is working stories into your schedule before deadline day.
* Finish your story at least 3 days before your actual deadline. If you have to trick yourself, list the deadline on your planner earlier than what the editor has given you.
* If you have gaps in your schedule where you don't seemingly have anything to do, make sure your follow ups and research is done on queries you want to send out.
* Cut time wasters out of your schedule. Allow yourself "rewards" of checking emails and browsing blogs and forums only after a specific task is complete and you're able to move to the next step of a project.

Any more ideas out there?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Soldiers of Unknown Wars

Upon the request of some readers a couple of months ago, I checked out Common Ties, a blog launched by a couple of journalists, that publishes personal stories and essays. As far as I could tell, the website is a legitimate and paying venue for writers.
This week, they're publishing war themed stories. My first essay on Common Ties appears at this URL today:

I appreciate you reading and commenting.

Give Yourself a Challenge

My writing goal buddy and I decided to jump start a query challenge amongst ourselves this morning. Last summer, I participated in a query challenge on a writer's forum to which I belonged and it really made me think outside the box. I sent queries to publications I had never thought about before, I thought about resales and more importantly, it made me actually sit down and write them out, not just think about them.
I don't know why putting ourselves in a contest helps jump start so many of us, but giving ourselves goals, or competing with other writers seems to do the trick for most of us.
I know I'm a little competitive - not the I'm-going-to-rip-your-head-off type, but I like a good challenge. I think that's the reason I made it when I was in the corporate world. I worked in collections where the people who got the most money in on their accounts each month won bonuses. I wasn't The Top Collector every month, but I was always in the Top Ten. I can say with certainty too that I wooed my customers with honey. I wasn't nasty or mean with them or my co-workers.
The weather is cold and dreary (for most of us), but sales this month and next will keep us busy through the spring. So, challenge yourself. Tally the number of queries you actaully write and send out. Count LOI's (letters of introduction) as lesser points. If you make a resale, then count that too.
If you want some live competition, Another blogger/writer, Kristen King at is hosting a query challenge too.
Query today, write tomorrow!

Friday, January 19, 2007

It's a Dog's Life

When I left the corporate world almost nine years ago, I didn't know of anyone, with the exception of small business owners, who took their dogs to work. Now it is a perk in a few companies.
It is one I enjoy everyday. And I don't have to worry about transporting them or if they'll get along with other people's dogs. And having three of them, I don't have to worry about the 1-dog limit.
When I worked away from home, we just had Hershey. We adopted her when she was nearly 7 years old and she was definitely a 2-people dog. If I could've taken her to work, she probably would have been banned for not being able to play well with others. She was one tempermental weiner dog.
But she was used to staying by herself and while she didn't like it, she went to the kitchen every morning when I got ready to leave. There, with a hard floor and some papers, her toys, food and water, she would wait until one of us came home. When a series of daytime home invasions shook our neighborhood, we worried not for our house and belongings, but what they might do to Hershey should they choose our house. We installed an alarm system.
When I started working at home, Hershey was thrilled, I could tell. I moved her bed beside me and she laid there all day when I worked. There was one thing, although she exhibited no signs of separation anxiety when I had to leave her all day before, she behaved very badly when we left her for even short periods after I started working at home.
As old age crept in, I was able to care for her on the bad days and watch her sleep on her good ones. When her kidneys failed her and she left us, I didn't have to try to explain to a boss why I couldn't go to work that day - or the rest of that week.
My dogs are my work companions, they comfort me and inspire me. I've learned to work around the times the school bus, trash man and mailman sends them into barking fits. They alert me when it's time for a break (crackers for me and a bone for them) and tell me when the FedX man is here with a package - or better yet, a check.
Emma, Molly and Dakota - the Terrible Trio - are three more reasons its great to be a stay-at-home writer.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Hours

"The hours are hell, but the cash is starting to tumble in."
-Bud Fox, from the movie, "Wall Street."

I'll agree with the fictional Bud Fox on one front, the hours I work would be hell if it wasn't something I love doing (unfortunately, the cash isn't tumbling in to the tune of being able to buy a condo on the upper East side). On average, I put in at least 50-60 hours a week writing or managing the business of writing. But I wouldn't trade that in for a 40 hour work week in corporate hell anyday.
When I was in the corporate world, I worked 40 hours a week and commuted at least another five, which meant I was devoting at least 45 hours a week to a job I hated that for me, served no purpose other than making money to pay our bills and have nice things. Sure, I could stop at a travel agency on a whim on the way home for a spontaneous trip to California for a weekend, but even that signaled my need to get away. I rarely have that need now.
In the corporate world, we had schedules. I'm a morning person, most of my creative brain is alive first thing. But if you didn't have seniority in a department, you had to wait for the early morning shift to become available. And when I did get to work, we had this horrible computer demon called TACT that registered when you signed onto your computer. If you were more than two minutes early, you sat around tapping your toes until the system allowed you to time in. If you were more than two minutes late, well, three of those guaranteed you a meeting with your line supervisor. And it didn't matter if you stayed over to make up your 3-5 minute transgression, or was first in your department making your quota. Enough three minute tardies would very well get you fired.
Makes me shudder just thinking about it.
As a small business owner, my performance is truly based on what I get done during the day, no matter what time I get it done. If my husband works crazy hours and I want to spend 2 hours in the middle of the day cooking a meal and then sitting down with him before he leaves, I can do it. If my mother is ill or one of my animal kids need to see a doctor, I can leave. As long as my assignments get done, my editors are happy. They don't care when I do them.
I once caved into an editor who begged me to come to work for him. I tried to explain that I do my best work early in the morning, that I needed to have the earliest shift available so I could come home and spend a couple hours with my husband. He said he understood and he didn't care when or where I worked, as long as my beat was covered and my stories were done.
It wasn't true. Most newspapers are held hostage by the corporate environment other companies bow to. Long gone are the 2-drink lunches with sources and reporters absent from their desks until they begin writing on deadline. There were timecards (at least in this newsroom), that made reporters sign out and then back in, no matter how many times you had to leave the office for meetings, interviews, fires, murders or going home to finish work while spending quality time with family. I couldn't do it, it reminded me too much of TACT.
So, today, I'm in my office by 7. I'll leave to fix dinner and go and see my mother and with any luck, be back to work until 8-9 tonight.
But damn, I love these hours.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ooh, Please....Can I Pay You For Work?!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for an important announcement!

A magazine called "Grand," a publication aimed at grandparents and their lifestyles, requires a $10 registration fee for all writers wanting to submit queries. kidding. They're charging a reading fee to be placed on their approved list of writers.
The benefits are truly amazing:
When you register with GRAND, you will receive:

Timely review and consideration of your submission or query
An automated response letting you know that your submission, query or registration have been processed
Personal password for submitting future articles or queries
Unlimited submissions after registering
Listing in our writers database with all specialty areas of writing for future writing assignments

This brings me to why it is great to be a writer, especially in this technology age. In pre-computer era if a magazine had snail mailed this to legitimate writers, it would have taken at least 30 days for the word to get out through writers organization newsletters.
Today, we can immediately expose these idiots for what they are: two-bit scammers no better than their muck wallowing kin, the reading fee agents, who tell writers reading their work is all in the cost of doing business.
Hey, Grand Editors: If you don't want to accept work from quality writers, why bother chasing us away with such a scam, just say "we don't accept submissions from legitimate writers, but if you're desperate enough for work, pay us and then we'll consider giving you an assignment."
Geez, this is worse than the "type-at-home" scams."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The short Commute

On Friday, my husband popped his head into my office and said, “Are you going to take off early today?”
It took me a second or two to get my mind out of the story I was writing. I turned around and faced the doorway, more than a little annoyed. (Has he not been listening to my Jack Nicholson-like rant in ‘The Shining?’ “When I’m in here typing, I’m working!”)
“What are you talking about?”
He smiled, “Aren’t you going to take off early and try to beat the storm?”
I smiled back. My husband just reminded me of one of the very best things about being a writer who works from home.
No traffic. No rush hours, no worrying about winter weather and unless I trip on a dog walking from the bedroom to my office, no accidents.
Coincidentally, a friendly waitress at my favorite sushi bar got me to thinking about this a couple of nights before. When she found out I worked from home, she touted the benefits of not having to drive to or from work.
I didn’t have to walk 10 miles in the snow as our parents told us they did trekking to school each morning, but back in the dark ages of my corporate days (and when I say dark, I mean that quite literally), I was on my usual 30-minute drive to work when, in the downtown loop, I became preoccupied with a small plane coming in for a landing at the downtown airport.
“He’s flying awfully low,” I thought just before I looked back to the traffic suddenly stopped. I slammed on my breaks and swerved to the shoulder. By the time I came to a stop, I was looking at the person who was directly in front of me (and now beside me) through her driver’s side window. We both breathed a sigh of relief and she smiled and shook her head and did the “Whew” thing with her hand. Commuters are either very friendly and understanding or the road rage type.
Or the morning I suddenly stopped with traffic, but it was the guy behind me who was preoccupied with something. A traffic cop who happened to be sitting in a nearby parking lot, clocked him doing 40 mph when he slammed into the back of my 1988 Chevy Blazer and pushed me into the car stopped in front of me. I only suffered whiplash and a few cuts and bruises, but was badly shaken. I drove my Blazer away from the scene. An hour later, I walked into a national conference at the company for which I worked to give a presentation to managers who flew in that morning from all over the country. The other two cars were totaled and towed away and I still have back problems from that wreck to this day.
Or the morning an axle on my Blazer suddenly broke, leaving me to fight for control over the vehicle while going 70 mph. I did get it to the side of the highway safely, but it was a harrowing few minutes for me - and I’m sure for everyone around me who realized I had lost control.
And who could forget all of those days just like we had on Friday? Knowing snow and sometimes ice was bearing down on the city and dreading the commute to or from work. Oy.
These days, I avoid early morning or late afternoon meetings and interviews if possible. When a winter storm approaches, we stock up on food and necessities and I hunker down in the house for a few days – I haven’t left the house yet.
My short commute is another reason it is great to be a writer.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Their Stories Live On Through Our Writing

When I opened my morning paper on Saturday, I was saddened to see on the front page that Kansas City’s Secret Santa had died. Secret Santa, who started his life financially poor, later went around our city and then others, handing out $100 bills to people he thought could use some extra cash during the holidays.
For years, the general public didn’t know his identity. Donna McGuire, a fellow journalist who is with The Kansas City Star, started writing about him in 1995. She, nor any of the other journalists who knew this man’s identity ever revealed it until he gave them permission this past Christmas.
Donna recently wrote a book about Secret Santa, or Larry Stewart. By this past Christmas, we all knew that the man the area admired probably wouldn’t live to give away money next year. Most of us didn’t know him personally as Donna did, but she brought him to life for those of us who did not. For years, we didn’t need to know his real name to be touched by his generosity towards others, and that was because of stories Donna and then others wrote about him.
On Saturday, I read Larry’s story one last time and then Donna’s tribute to him. When I got to the obituary section of the paper, I then found a tribute to a person whom I did a story on a couple of years ago (our paper writes tributes on one “average” citizen per day who has recently passed).
I looked at the photo and immediately recognized her as Helen Hummel, a 91-year-old woman who spent 70 years of her life devoted to her churches and through her organ music, the hymns congregations sang each Sunday. I had written a feature on her two years before.
I only spent an afternoon with Helen, interviewing her, the pastor of her church and a couple of her friends, but I immediately liked her. Helen told me about her special gold slippers she kept under the organ at her church that she only put on when she played. The petite woman also told me about her huge 1957 Chevy she sat on phone books to drive. And she told me about her favorite outings with her friends – to the Olive Garden restaurant.
Helen touched a lot of people in her life, including me. And that’s one great thing about writing. We writers get to see and do things most people do not. We then have the amazing opportunity to bring those events to life for others.
One of the most unforgettable hands-on interviews I ever did was donning a paper hospital gown, hat and booties to watch a fertility doctor create the beginnings of life in a petri dish.
But there have been so many other memorable people profiles. How could I ever forget Bill Wedekind, the blind double amputee Vietnam veteran who became a potter? I keep his photo above my desk to remind myself if he can get through the hardships of life, any of us can. There was the man who volunteered for the Red Cross for 50 years. He helped people through disaster such as the great flood of 1951 here in Kansas City to giving food to rescue workers at the World Trade Center. Musicians, teachers, mentors…I may not remember all of their names, but I remember their stories.
And I remember Helen Hummel, a humble little woman who sat at a large organ every Sunday and played. She touched everyone she met in big ways. I was glad I was able to bring her story to life before she passed.
When I get complacent or regard any of the profiles I’m writing as “average,” Helen, Larry and Bill’s stories can remind me that through writing, we make sure their lives are not regarded as such.
And that’s one of the great things about being a writer.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The unseasonable 60 degree days are gone for most of the country and we can go back to burying our collective heads over global warming.
The gray and cold, not to mention the ice and snow, made me draw the conclusion that looking at the scamming job ads is just too depressing this time of year.
So, starting on Monday, the 12th, I will bring you 5 days of SAD therapy with five essays on why it is great to be a writer.
Add this blog to your favorites. Sign on often and make comments or add your own reasons.
And oh, don't forget to tell your writer friends.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Learning to be Rich and Hunting

One of the lessons learned of responding to job ads are not to respond to ones that do not name the company so you can check them out. Well, even then you have to be careful. Take this one:

"The, Inc Content Writer position is for those that love to write.
This job can be done from virtually anywhere in the World where the Content Writer has access to the internet. Work hours are flexible. You can work this position full or part time."

The problem is that takes you to an "under construction" header for, a website promoting hunting attire for women.

Go figure.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Two Informative Writer Sites

Today, I'm posting the URL's of two other informative writer blogs:
From independent journalist Jade Walker. Writer's We've Lost honors writers, editors and journalist who die in 2007.

The other is The Independent Journalist, a blog I manage for the Society of Professional Journalists. The site isn't limited to members only. A member usually asks a question and me or a guest blogger will answer the question. Today, a member asked a good question about approacing editors at conferences.
See my response at:

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Most Writers Screw up by not Following up

Two writers yesterday brought up following up to queries. One hates marketing herself and feels lucky just to have gotten her query out. The other wanted to know how much is too much and wondered when she should call it quits and move on to another market.
There's no hard and fast rules in writing, this I learned early and like other writers, I developed my own follow up.
I've talked to writers who think mine goes on too long. But again, these are just general rules:
*If the market is a dream market, something I really, really want to break into and the query is not very time sensitive, I wait 2 weeks after sending the query and forward the original email with the query in the body of the letter and a note explaining that I'm following up the query. If I still don't hear anything, I will usually place a call to the editor at 3 weeks. If this doesn't yield results (I usually get voice mail), I forward the 2 week follow up to the editor with a note saying I'm going to start shopping the query elsewhere if I don't hear back in 2 or 3 days. Keep in mind that I hardly ever get past the 2 week follow up without an answer and rarely go beyond 3 weeks.
*If the query isn't going to a dream market, I move on after the 2 week follow up, letting them know then I'm going to start shopping it someplace else.
*If the query is time sensitive (particularly to newspapers) I follow up with an email in 2-3 days and a call by 5 days.

And whatever you do, if you receive a rejection, thank the editor and try to get another quality query out to them soon. And make sure to get the rejected query out to the next market on your list immediately.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I'm in the Money Now

If you look at Craig's List, have you ever noticed that the scammers pretty much stay away from the postings in the largest cities? They usually go toward the rural states and smaller, Midwestern cities. I guess we're more stupid out here in the sticks.
It doesn't take long to find one if you go to the Kansas City site on a daily basis. I did that this morning and after clicking on the link to the following post, it finally hit me - what I had been doing wrong all of these years of freelancing - I wasn't paying a work-at-home scammer $50 for information on how to get bogus type-at-home jobs. Hit myself upside the head! And all this time I could have been earning a fortune answering ads such as this:

"Are you searching for a job that makes you happy, and one that you can make plenty of money doing? I think I have the job for you. All you need to do is display your skills as a writer/editor with forms of data, and then watch the response overflow...
Pleased to have you on board.
You’re in the money now."

I clicked on the site and this scammer tells the story (posted with a January 9 date) of how just a few weeks ago, his neighbor, Sarah, came over to his house, upset over her family's financial position. She demanded from the scammer to know how he stays at home and affords his lifestyle.
Typing and entering data at home, of course!
But shhhhh....he's never shared this information with anyone before. And for just $49.95, you too can know the secrets of living the life of ease and just like both he and Sarah, gets to take dream vacations and have expensive cars in the drive.
If you haven't caught the scam just yet, pay attention to the several holes in his story. First, this is dated with today's date, in the dead of winter. He tells his readers several times this was only a "few weeks ago," but then says it was "last summer." Next, if this was only several weeks ago, how in the world could Sarah already be taking dream vacations and living the life of ease, working only a few minutes a day for a grand lifestyle?
Come on, people.
Type at Home scams are supposed to be banned from Craig's List, so I took pleasure in flagging the ad.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Business of Freelance Writing

When I was in my first two years of college working toward a business degree, a professor once told our class that entrepreneurs should have at least three years of living expenses saved up before they start a business.
As a young student still earning minimum wage on two retail jobs I wondered how in the world anyone could ever save up enough money to start a business and have living expenses too? Still, that professor's advice, as well as other advice, mentoring and experience in the corporate world came in handy when I wanted to start my freelance business. I may not have had 3 years of living expenses saved up, but I had a reserve, which every entrepreneur needs.
And I had a jump on many other writers who come into freelancing with English, journalism or communications degrees. All fine background for writing, but it provides little experience on actually how to run a business. This is where many freelancers are doomed.
I'm no numbers wizard, but I had that leg up - and I still made a lot of business errors. It took me about 6 years of freelancing to get all of my home-based business ducks in a row.
That's why I developed my Business of Freelance Writing online course for beginners who don't want to waste years trying to figure it all out.
Here's a description of the course, which starts on January 15:
The Business of Freelance Writing:

You’re ready to make the leap into freelancing. You have the talent and you think you have the tenacity, but do you have know how to run a business? The ‘free’ in freelancing doesn’t mean that you give your writing away for free. Unfortunately, many writers only want to be creative and don’t want to deal with the business end of freelancing. Have you thought about how you will market yourself? Where is your office going to be? Have you written a business plan that outlines your short and long term goals? How will you track your queries? Do you have a plan as to how you’ll get through the dry times financially? How will you invoice for your services? What will you do if you’re not paid? Do you need an accountant? This 4-week class helps you establish your business so you can concentrate on writing and achieve your goals.

See more at or email me at

Friday, January 05, 2007

15 Things Writers Can Learn From A Dog

This is one of those emails that circulates the Internet, so my thanks to the author of the original, titled: "Things People Can Learn From Dogs,"

I took a couple of things out and modified it to fit our writing lives:

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride, especially if you can get a story out of it. I did this today, but it was a ride in a small commuter plane and I’ve been known to get sick! That kind of story I don't need.

2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. The more you experience and enjoy life, the better your writing is.

3. When it's in your best interest, always practice obedience. Being right, especially with editors, doesn't net you future assignments. The customer (your editors and clients) are always right.

4. Let others know when they've invaded your territory, but try to do it tactfully.

5. Take naps and always stretch before rising. Naps, or meditation in the middle of my day brings me terrific ledes and refreshed ideas.

6. Run, romp, and play daily…after deadlines, of course.

7. Be loyal. Editors and clients will remember you for this.

8. Never pretend to be something you're not - it will always catch up to you.

9. If your story lies buried, dig until you find it.

10. When fellow writers are having a bad day, be silent and listen, sit close by and nuzzle them gently by sending encouraging notes or making a phone call or taking them out for coffee.

11. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk, exercise is the best medicine and releases negative energy.

12. Thrive on attention and let people touch you (through their words and actions).

13. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

14. When you are happy, dance around and wag your entire body…we call this the happy dance in my house. I do it whenever I get an acceptance – or a rejection – at least the editor acknowledged my efforts.

15. No matter how often you are criticized, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout. Run right back and make friends.

What You Write in Vegas....

will probably stay there if you decide to take on this writing gig:

"Seeking local "experts" to author sections of Las Vegas travel guide. Looking for experts in: gaming, entertainment, events, attractions, shopping, golf, restaurants, spas and weddings.
Location: Vegas
Compensation: 2 cents per word + regular updates"
A whole 2 cents per word!? I made more than $10 gambling on our one and only trip to Sin City - the one we considered our Family Trip From Hell that about every family endures sometime in their lives!
First, a hotel staffer at The Excalibur (the newest hotel at the time) told us the Hard Rock Cafe was within walking distance on a 110 degree day. After starting to see mirages in the desert, we stopped at a liquor store midway and hailed a cab.
My mother was mugged in a downtown casino, we all got sick from one of those famous cheap buffets and our tour bus broke down in the middle of the desert on the way to see the damn dam. Finally, our flight out was experiencing engine problems, which is just lovely for me and my mother, who both have a fear of flying. We finally arrived home at 1 a.m, tired and broke because Mom lost nearly everything in the robbery and everyone else had lost their gambling limit.
Still, I would rather repeat that trip 100 times than write a 500 word article for 2 cents a word, or a whole ten bucks.
At least its a sure bet I would have a memorable experience.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Wanted: Volunteer Writers

One of my elists this morning had a job posting for volunteer writers. Volunteers usually means no pay, so I went to the website to check it out. This is a new ezine directed at men and their "girl of the month" for their first edition is an ex porn star.
They have a "write for us" tab at the bottom of their page. They outline their submissions guidelines and never talk about pay. They do say, however, "You do not have to be a professional writer." Sounds like a site I would want to visit again and again - just for the great articles, of course.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Career Lows

Everyone has them, no matter what career path you've chosen, and whenever you're in them, it is hard to see the good things about your career or remember that this too, shall pass. I really haven't got a lot to complain about (with the exception of huge monies owed to me that wasn't in my week's worth of mail when I got around to checking it yesterday), but I just feel a little lost in space right now.
I told my goal buddy it is like I'm just floating around in a black hole, not really sure of my destination or how I will get to where I want to be. Every once in awhile I bump into an asteroid (work), some are bigger than others, but I eventually bounce off and go gack to wandering the universe. What I'm looking for, of that, I'm sure. Enough of those asteroids to keep us comfortable, build up my cash reserves again and pay off some debt. It seems, though, when clients do pay on time, it is just enough to hold the line. It is this that is hindering me even in writing my 2007 goals and business plan.
It didn't help when I decided to take a peek at my local Craig's List yesterday. I know I shouldn't do this when I'm in a mood, but here's what I found:

CELEBRITY GOSSIP REPORTER We’re looking for soulless people with a passion for writing and a willingness to report on the latest celebrity muckity muck. It helps if you’re not ashamed to write about Angelina Jolie’s affinity for foreign babies. I know I would be.
To apply, send us an e-mail telling us about yourself, along with some relevant writing samples. Applications without writing samples will not be considered.

Baseball bloggers
We work on an ad revenue share, meaning you will split ad revenue with the other 29 writers on the site. It'll take a while for cash to come in, so we're really looking for someone who wants to write because they enjoy it, the money, however large or small it is, should kind of be a bonus."

In an article in Writers Weekly last week, writer Katharine Swan says that she was tempted to goad a scammer in emails (I've been there, done that) but she allowed her senses to rule her fingers on the keyboard. Katharine comes to the conclusion that society supports low paying writing jobs. There's limitless scammers who demand writers for $5 an article and sadly, there seems to be a limitless supply of writers who will do it.
See the full article here:

Incidentally, after being accused of unprofessional behavior and "goading" the last scammer into a confrontation by people who read my blog entries on the term paper miller, my email to the above simply read: "I would like to understand the business model you are using that asks writers to use their talents for you for free."

I didn't get a response.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Like the Diet I Blew My Goals

No deadlines, no clients calling me asking for revisions or rush assignments. I was totally isolated in our cabin in the Ozark Mountains last week and with cold weather and no plans for boating, fishing or anything but a couple of hikes a day with the hubby and dogs, I planned to hunker down. I wanted to catch up on my market research and line out my 2007 business plan. What did I accomplish? Eating, sleeping and watching a lot of bad television. We did get the hikes with the dogs in, out of necessity. On Saturday, the usual pangs of guilt came flooding at me. I almost got up off of the sofa to get my bag of work which had been shoved under my nearly unused computer desk since our arrival. But another television show drew me in. Afterward, I decided to take the rest of the weekend (some of which had to be devoted to my semi-annual deep cleaning of the cabin) and relax and continue not thinking about work. Afterall, it's about all I do think about when I'm here in KC, so I decided to give myself a real break. And I think I am better for least I hope so. I feel relaxed and ready to hit it hard today. Anyway, there's no sense in feeling guilty, a wasted emotion that has you looking back instead of forward. And isn't that what a New Year is all about!? Now, on to that business plan.
Happy 2007!