Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Walk in Hollywood

For those of you who have signed on today, I do realize it's only Sunday and Monday is actually the day for author interviews, but, my office will be no more as of tonight and I will not have computer access tomorrow while they're installing carpet in our house.

This is a good one though. Judy Artunian, co-author of "Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten" tells us about the painstaking research needed to find the former homes of the stars and the challenges of co-authoring.

Tell us about yourself. I’m a freelance writer in Southern California. I started freelancing in 1991 after about 12 years in corporate communications and public relations. I wrote about technology almost exclusively for several years, then branched out to cover everything from small-business issues to silent movie stars.

Tell us about your book. “Movie Star Homes: The Famous to the Forgotten,” which I co-wrote with Mike Oldham, shows you where movie stars have lived in the Los Angeles area dating back to the mid-1900s. The book features homes of 350 stars. All of the homes are still standing. One of our criteria was that the basic structure of the building had to be the same as it was when the actor lived there. We have a photo of each home, along with the address, a brief bio of the actor and an anecdote or two about the actor’s home life or the home itself.

How did you come to co-author such an interesting topic? Do you cover celebrities or have an expertise in their homes? I’ve been interested in old Hollywood since I was a child. But I was more interested in the actors and the movies than their homes. Then, in 2000, while looking in a 1916 Los Angeles City Directory for my maternal grandfather’s home address (as part of a genealogy project) I stumbled across the home address for Lillian Gish. She was—and still is—one of the most famous and respected silent film actresses. Back then, the city directories listed the householder’s profession. For Gish it said “photo player” which is what film actors were called in 1916. I checked directories for other years and found more home addresses of famous stars. One of those addresses was for the house that Buster Keaton bought in 1921. Mike and I are big fans of Keaton’s silent films so we decided to check out the house one day. It’s in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. As we stood in front of the charming, white, two-story house, Mike commented that it was interesting that one of Hollywood’s most innovative filmmakers lived here, but hardly anyone knows. We realized that there had to be other homes like this—homes where famous stars have lived; homes that aren’t featured in coffee table books about movie star homes, nor are they on the maps of movie star homes or on the star-home bus tours. We called them “lost homes.” We envisioned a book that would document as many lost homes as we could find.

How did you find your agent/publisher? We were familiar with Santa Monica Press and felt that they would appreciate the concept. It was the first publisher we queried. We didn’t seek out an agent because we didn’t think the book would be commercial enough to interest an agent. Jeffrey Goldman, the president of Santa Monica Press, did like the concept. But he did say that to make the book more marketable we’d have to include more recent stars, even if their homes were already known. Mike and I considered turning him down but we realized that Jeffrey was right. Not that many people today even know who Lillian Gish is.

What are some of the challenges of co-authoring a book? The biggest challenge is probably the division of labor. We had only about six months to get the manuscript and photos to the publisher so we just sort of fell into a routine. Our division of labor was probably too informal, at least at first. Mike shot all of the photos, which means he was on the road, often seven days a week, for about five months. When the sun went down he would research the actors and the homes at various libraries. He would tell me what he learned and I’d incorporate it into the manuscript. I would do library research on the weekends. After I finished the first draft of the manuscript, Mike edited it. We had a few differences of opinion about what should be included, but overall we were in synch.

How does a book make it into a second printing? Our first printing was for 5,000 books. When they were just about all sold, our publisher asked us to submit any updates we had so that he could print another 5,000.

What is your best writing time? Why? I’m at my most productive in the morning. I’m just a morning person.

How did you conduct your research? What were some of the challenges to doing that? We became library rats. We would comb city directories and actors’ memoirs and other relevant material at the Central Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, The Beverly Hills Public Library and The Santa Monica Public Library. We checked property records at the Los Angeles County Assessor’s office and consulted their online records. We also took advantage of the great resources at the Margaret Herrick Library, which is part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. One of the highlights of doing research there was looking through personal address books of people like Sam Peckinpah and Cary Grant, who had donated their personal papers to the library. Our greatest challenge was fighting fatigue because so much of our research had to be done after the business day was over, and on weekends. Mike has said that if he had to do his marathon photo shoots over again, he’d invest in a computerized map program to speed up the time it takes to find his way from one house to the next. Then there were the handful of actors whose personal lives were hard to crack. Mike had the biggest victory in that arena. We were determined to include in our book, all of the major players from The Wizard of Oz. Two homes that had belonged to Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch of the West, had been torn down. Out of desperation, Mike tracked down her son, Hamilton Meserve, who now lives on the east coast. He helped us locate the Hollywood apartment building where he and his mom lived in the late 1930s. Thankfully it’s still standing so it’s in our book.

Is there a celebrity home that didn't make it into the book that you thought should? There was a bungalow on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood where Rudolph Valentino lived with Natacha Rambova. We couldn’t confirm that he actually lived there until after the book came out. Sadly, it was torn down a few months ago.

Where can people find your book? The major bookstores carry it and if it’s not on the shelves they’ll order it for you. You can also find it on

Friday, April 27, 2007

Medical Writers Wanted No Experience or Disease Necessary

Marijke Durning responded to an ad seeking a medical writer. This is the response she received:

"I have several diseases that each require 5 articles of 600 words each:ARTICLES ARE:1. Overview and Facts regarding the disease2. Symptoms & Types3. Diagnosis & Tests4. Methods of Treatment5. Living & Managing with that particular diseaseTOTAL OF $15 FOR A COMPLETE DISEASE SET."

The scammer then went on to tell her that he had a deadline for that very evening and through the rest of the week. Oh, and he could provide links so the writer wouldn't have to do any research.

Oh, and you really don't get the whole $15 as this bozo wants to pay via paypal, I'm sure he doesn't cover the service fee.

I would really like to know what these medical articles are for, as I wrote for a legitimate disease specific website and was required to supply all my own research notes and journal references.
This is not only a low job payer, the advice he is giving through these articles could be scary.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Down Comes the Office

Today is the day I'm going to have to start tearing my office apart.
We've been working on our house for the past month, just trying to get it ready to put on the market. We've cleaned out the clutter, boxed up our most prized things, marking those boxes "Keep: __________." The rest have been marked with "Moving Sale."
We've moved furniture for the painters and the guys who laid the linoleum and then we moved it back again.
My last piece of normal was here in my office - that is until Saturday, when Spot, our fish, was taken from his tank to his new home at a friend's house. I no longer had the whir of the air filter behind my desk.
And I knew today would come when it would be time to clean out the filing cabinet and decide what I absolutely will need for my business for probably a good 6 months while we wait to sell this house and have our new house built in Arkansas. It's crucial now that everything must be out of this room to make way for the new carpet that's coming on Monday.
I've pictured how my new office will look. I plan on having plenty of shelving and bookcases built and I've been collecting news media memorabilia for a while now. I have a sheet of first issue postage stamps of the flag raising at the World Trade Center, signed by the photographer who shot it; a signed Women of the Media stamp series; a printers drawer from the University of Missouri's J-school; printers blocks from the old now closed newspaper in our new hometown in Arkansas; a newspaper from the day JFK was shot, given to me by my mother...and lots of other stuff I will use to surround myself for inspiration.
But this is the first time I've really thought about how different it will be for me working from a place easily attainable only by a 4-wheel drive. No more all-inclusive long distance (it isn't available) and no more running out for a coffee or beer if I'm starting to feel the effects of this sometimes lonely profession.
Not having the luxury of calling people all the time might be a good thing, I could get more done. I also won't have to worry about scheduling my interview and writing time around the mailman or school buses (drives the dogs crazy) or have distractions when our neighbors decide they're going to have their trees trimmed or put on a new roof (we don't have but one neighbor and they're at least 1/2 mile away). And if I get antsy, a nice walk on the country road or through the woods in the winter with the dogs will be better for me, the dogs and the environment than a coffee or beer run anyway.
"You know, life as we know it is gone, it will never be normal again," my husband said a couple of weeks ago.
I didn't know what to say to him then.
Today I would say, "No. But we'll have a new normal again someday soon. And it will be better than any normal we ever knew here."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No Pay - But a Great Opportunity

My writing buddy and blog reader, Heather Larson spotted this gem:

"No pay but great nationwide exposure opportunity. Let me know if you're interested in having your name on the homepage of a nationwide site. Information will only be forwarded to serious inquiries. Thanks :)"

This is just one of those things that make you go hmmm.....

First of all, aren't all websites "nationwide," so if I were going to write for my own enjoyment or exposure, why wouldn't I just buy a domain name and put a site up and advertise it? Why let someone else make ad revenue on my sweat?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Common Ties Looking for Essays

Common Ties ( is seeking essays on the following subjects:

under the influence (May 1)
mothers and motherhood (May 8 )
open themes (May 15)
confessions (May 22)
turning points (May 29)
fathers and fatherhood (June 12)

See the submission guidelines:

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Gift of Pearls

I'm really excited today to introduce the Q&A with Judith Bader Jones. This woman has such a wonderful writing talent and voice. And if you've never heard her give a reading before, you're missing out on something very special. I'm very proud to tell the rest of the world this morning that she has won the fiction award for the 2007 William Rockhill Nelson contest, a very prestigious literary award here in Kansas City. There's no one I can think of that's more deserving. As you might have guessed, I not only consider Judith a great writer, but a friend as well. And as for Delta Pearls, it truly is a a remarkable collection. I gave my mom the book last summer and she kept it on her side table and with her throughout her illness. She just loved the yarns told by Judith - and my mother consumed books like most people consume food. Anything she felt worth reading over and over again is worth the read. And in this Q&A, Judith teaches us as writers, that patience is worth the wait. It took her 20 years to accumulate and give us the gift of Pearls:

Tell us about yourself and describe your book:
Delta Pearls is a collection of short fiction set in the Missouri Bootheel. My formative years were spent on a farm near Caruthersville, Missouri, in the 1940’s. This land was settled by my pioneer great-grandfather, an immigrant from Germany, circa 1847. I often choose southeast Missouri along the Mississippi River for the setting in my fiction. I write to make sense of my world. The setting in these Delta Pearl stories becomes a character. The stories are sparse; the characters bring heart to the telling.

Why did you decide to take characters and some incidents from your past and write fictional short stories?
The characters are drawn from the blood and bones of people I knew and loved in childhood. Memory is not a neat package-deal. A writer takes the skeleton and fleshes out what the mind forgets. Some of the stories in this collection are memoir, some are fiction. .

How long did it take you to accumulate your short stories?
Twenty or more years. Many of these short pieces appeared in small press before they were put into the collection.

How did you find your publisher?
A writing colleague attended the Missouri Writers Guild conference and heard a speaker introduce Sweetgum Press of Warrensburg, Missouri. The publisher / editor Rose Marie Kinder was looking for a manuscript from a Missouri writer, or a writer with stories set in the Bootheel. My friend facilitated this connection. I put my stories together and submitted the manuscript within a few days. Delta Pearls was published in part because the editor believed my voice was authentic to this section of Missouri.

Your book is a 2007 William Rockhill Nelson fiction award finalist. Congratulations! Was this the first time you entered this contest?
Yes. This annual award is given by The Writers Place and The Kansas City Star and has been in existence for five years. It is given for literary excellence to Missouri and Kansas writers for book length works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction

What made you decide to enter?
Writer friends suggested that I enter this book. I spoke with my publisher. Three copies of the book were submitted. After a screening process, three finalists were selected in each category and sent to judges out of the Kansas City area. (Judith has since been named the winner)

How did you feel being named a finalist? Pleased and validated for years of writing. I hope my stories encourage others to write what they know, write stories from their own lives.

Describe a writing day for you.
I arise at seven, drink tea with my husband, eat fruit and toast and go to the computer. Emails get answered first. I write poetry when I feel passionate about something. I like to work off and on throughout the day, sandwich in household tasks and gardening with writing. I prefer reading and writing literary fiction, character driven stories. Poetry draws me because a good poem requires attention be given to each word choice. Closure / last lines are the most difficult for me. My grandmother used to tape a different word on our medicine cabinet each day during my teen years. She taught me the art of knitting, the art of story telling and the value and meaning of words.

Do you have any writing quirks?
I write alone, shut out the rest of the world. Writing on command with groups of people in class room settings proves to be difficult for me. The natural world with blue skies fuels my writing. At night my dream world often reflects a piece of fiction I am working on. I never plot my stories; they evolve at their own pace. Rewriting is a necessary requirement to refine anything I write. Poems get working titles, but at times I find the title slips away from my memory and I search through files to locate last weeks poem. One word titles appeal to my sense of exploration, can entice a reader.

Where can people find your book?
Borders, or through
My web site is

Friday, April 20, 2007

Responsible Writers Wanted for 5 Cents a Word

Another "publisher" who wants to have a publication that can't afford to pay his contributors - you know, the people who make a publication - a decent rate. It seems all these people have one thing in common though - they want dependable, quality writers who can meet deadlines. Sorry, buddy, we're all busier making more than 5 cents per word.

"Looking for women with a passion for writing for an oline publication. No experience needed, just a creative flair that can be responsible and meet deadlines. Looking for women that would be interested in writing about politics, current events, beauty, sex, and/or dating. Just simply tell me about yourself, why you enjoy writing, what you have written, and a sample of the field you would be interested in writing for.
Location: Nationwide
Compensation: around 5 cents per word"

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Never Late....Ever?

In doing a little research for an author Q&A for this blog, I checked out her website. "I've never been late with an assignment." I wrote her and told her she was my new hero. While it is something we writers should always aspire to, I don't know if I'll ever make it. The vast majority of assignments go in on time. Editors wouldn't want to use me if they didn't, but there's sometimes glitches that make getting an assignment in on time impossible. Most of the time, it is my fault for accepting assignments with too short of deadlines, knowing it was going to be tricky anyway.
Looking back on my assignments just for this year, about 30% have been past the original due date. That's way high for me, but I've had an unusal year with my mother being ill and then her passing (and even with that excuse, it almost cost me a relationship with a very good, long-term client).
Today, I had to ask for an extension because a company's CEO has been slow to return my phone calls. The PR guy promised me an interview today, but my deadline is tomorrow. And with painters invading our home for two days beginning tomorrow morning, I'm not sure how much work I will actually be able to accomplish.
The thing is that when I run into unforseen problems and I notify my editors right away, they usually give me an extra day or two. Communication is key, so I better get to writing that Dear Editor email.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Latte Money

Here's another from reader Carole Moore. She says: "I've written city travel guides...these people are totally nuts.)"

XX needs writers, seed info for new cities, send cv if interested.
Compensation: US$5 to write town's background for a travel website

Wohoo! We could get a grande latte at Starbuck's when we're done! Of course, the rest of our bills wouldn't be paid, but it's the exposure that counts!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Blogging for Dollars

Today is legitimate paying job day on the blog and I'll use this opportunity to say I'm not crazy about commission based writing gigs. However, after attending a seminar on blogging this past weekend, I'm inclined to think this set up in the world of blogging is more the norm than the exception - if you're paid at all. What I like about this ad is that they don't seem to have anything to hide. They list all their contact information. I checked out the website and it doesn't seem too bad - if you're already an expert and blogging for free anyway:

City Bloggers (Comp: Not stated) (Various cities) : 451 Press is looking for bloggers. If you have a passion for a subject and enjoy writing about it, we would love to hear from you. We are looking for creative people who really get blogging, enjoy sharing their opinions and want to be part of a growing community of like minded people. We are not looking for the next great American novelist, but we are looking for people who can put together interesting and engaging content. We are looking for bloggers in almost every subject. The follow is just a small sample of what we are looking for. We have an urgent need for the following City Bloggers: *New York, N.Y. *Los Angeles, Calif. *Chicago, Ill. *Houston, Tex. *Philadelphia, Pa. *Phoenix, Ariz. *San Antonio, Tex. *San Diego, Calif. *Dallas, Tex. *San Jose, Calif. *Detroit, Mich. *Indianapolis, Ind. *Jacksonville, Fla. *San Francisco, Calif. *Columbus, Ohio *Austin, Tex. *Memphis, Tenn. *Baltimore, Md. *Fort Worth, Tex. *Charlotte, N.C. *El Paso, Tex. *Milwaukee, Wis. *Seattle, Wash. *Boston, Mass. *Denver, Colo. *Louisville, Ky. *Washington, DC *Nashville, Tenn *Las Vegas, Nev. *Portland, Ore. *Oklahoma City, Okla. *Tucson, Ariz. *Albuquerque, N.M. *Long Beach, Calif. *Atlanta, Ga. *Fresno, Calif. *Sacramento, Calif. *New Orleans, La. *Cleveland, Ohio *Kansas City, Mo. *Mesa, Ariz. *Virginia Beach, Va. *Omaha, Nebr. *Oakland, Calif. *Miami, Fla. *Tulsa, Okla. *Honolulu, Hawaii *Minneapolis, Minn. *Colorado Springs, Colo. *Arlington, Tex. No topic listed for you? Suggest one! We have a spot on our apply page for you to suggest the topic that interests you the most. Please visit for details or to apply now. If you have questions you can contact us via email at or call (256) 534-5123.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Healthy Advice for Healthy Travelers and Writers

Today, I talked with Lisa Iannucci, author of several books, including her latest, "Healthy Travel: Don't Travel Without it." Lisa tells us how she successfully writes while being a single mother and shows us success can come from cold calling small publishers.

Tell us about yourself.
Since I could pick up a pencil, I knew I wanted to be a writer. My first-grade report on what I wanted to be when I grew up was "a freelance writer." Even my teacher didn't know what that was, but I've been freelancing since I was 19. I turned full-time freelance when I became a mom and haven't looked back since and hope I never have to. I've written hundreds of articles on topics such as health, real estate, remodeling/building/property management and celebrities that have appeared in many publications including Los Angeles Times Travel Section, Frequent Flyer, Shape, bp and more. I've also written five books and contributed to several more. I'm the founder of a celebrity do gooders blog which I absolutely LOVE to do. I also founded the site My latest book is Healthy Travel: Don't Travel Without It (Basic Health Publishing)
Tell us about your book.
Healthy Travel is everything you need to know that you don't want to think about when you travel. It tells you about immunizations you need depending on what country you are going to, how to travel with medications, how to travel if you have a specific preexisting condition, how to travel stress-free, how to stay safe while you travel, how to travel with kids, how to eat healthy and exercise, how to prevent blood clots, and more.
How did you come up with the subject to your book? What made you decide a book was needed to help people with healthy travel?
I have been writing articles for Frequent Flyer on Healthy Travel for quite some time. I was also starting to get more requests for these types of articles from other national magazines and newspapers and I started to realize there might be a market for it. I did my preliminary research and while other traveling books had chapters devoted to healthy travel, there wasn't one book that was entirely devoted to healthy travel. But since I'm not a doctor, I needed and wanted a specialist to work with me. I had interviewed Dr. Zimring, a travel medicine specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, for these other articles I wrote and he had such energy for the topic that I asked him to be my co-author and he agreed.
Who is your audience and how did you arrive at that?
Our audience for this book is the regular Joes and Janes who travel. It's not really for those who are extreme travelers, although they can gain information from this book as well, but there is so much more we could tell the extreme traveler that it might be another book in itself. In the meantime, we wanted as broad an audience as possible. Parents, seniors, first-time travelers, frequent business travelers, solo travelers, at-risk travelers can all gain something from this book - it might even save their life.
How did you find your agent?
I don't have an agent. I approached several about this book, but they felt it was a 'smaller' book and they all seemed to be looking for blockbuster books. So I did my research again and looked through Writer's Market and other resources looking for publishing companies. I finally found Basic Health and it was a fit. Actually, I didn't have an agent with any of my books.
How long had you been writing before getting your first book published?
This is actually my fifth book that I've completely written. I've written two "Unofficial Guides." one on Minding Your Money and one on Arthritis. I've also written a book on birth defects for Enslow Publishing and ghostwrote a book called "Spectacular Homes." I've contributed to several books, including ASJA's book on writing. My first book wasn't until about 8 years ago - until then, I focused on writing for magazines and newspapers.
What are your writing habits? When do you like to write?
Over the years, my writing habits have changed. When I started freelancing I was working during the day and going to school four nights a week, so it was limited to weekends and lunch hours (yup!). Then I worked for a few years in the corporate world, so it was at night after I'd get home, and on weekends. Then I had babies and I wrote around their nap schedules and then after my husband got home and took over parenting duties. Now all of my kids are in school fulltime so I can write all day while they are at school and anything I have left to do for the day that's important gets done after they go to bed at night. I'm trying hard to not have writing interfere with their time once they get home from school until bed, but not checking email during that time has been difficult to do. I do write on weekends depending on what I have due.
You are a single Mom, how do you juggle your parenting duties and hit deadlines?I'll let you know when I figure it out.LOL.The hardest part about being a single mom and juggling all of these deadlines is when there are unexpected snow days or sick days. For example, my 14 year old daughter is home today with the flu, so I go from checking an email to checking on her to making a call to checking on her and I really have to stay focused to accomplish things. As my kids have grown, they've actually learned that I need to do my job and even on snow days or sick days they keep themselves busy and I take breaks and do stuff with them. If I know a day off from school is coming up, I'll try to work harder so that I can take that day off too, but it doesn't always work that way. Summer vacation is very hard though because now I have to chauffer them from event to event and meet my deadlines at the same time, but they have to learn this is my job. My oldest daughter, the one home with the flu, is also an assistant in my job now. She's a great researcher and knows HTML coding so she helps me with my blog and does a lot of typing for me. My other two are now asking what their jobs are, so if you include them sometimes it makes it easier. Even little ones can help by making piles of things or giving them 'mock' jobs like writing stories or titles that looks like they are helping.
What is one writing quirk you have that no one knows about you?
Well, I play online billiards and bowling at least several times a day to give me a mental break from what I'm doing. I love listening to my iTunes music and especially to Taylor Hicks' CDs almost every day while I'm writing. I don't know if any of that is too exciting or quirky.
What's next and where can people find your book?
I am now contracted for a book on Rock and Politics that will come out in January with Omnibus Press. My one goal that has been elusive to me is writing/selling a screenplay - that's why I started writing to begin with and I really am working hard this year to find time to do that. People can order my book off of Amazon or from Barnes and Noble or Borders. Feel free to check out the website too at

Friday, April 13, 2007

If You're Late, You Pay!

This one was sent by Sue, one of our readers. Thanks, Sue:

"I need dependable writers for a long term writing job. Wrters must be able to commit to 50 articles per week. Articles are 400 words each and the pay per article is $3.75. Articles have one keyword and several secondary keywords.I pay weekly via paypal only.Only native english speakers please.Delivered as a word doc or rtf only.Partial assignments not accepted.Late fees are charged at a rate of $5.00 per day after an assignment is 24 hours late."

Wow. That's a worse rate than my credit card late fees!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bit Off More Than I Can Chew

As it usually works out, I (thankfully) received several new assignments this week.
Of course, it's the week I have a short one thanks to being invited to speak at SPJ's Region 7 Conference in St. Louis this weekend. I scheduled lunch with a friend on the way into the conference tomorrow, which means I have to leave early in the morning. Then I took on way too much work this week. I'll probably be up until midnight tonight working on my presentation for the conference.
Since many of the people I will be speaking to will be writers contemplating going into, or new to the freelance life, maybe my whole topic should center around time management.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Creative Thinkers Unite!

"Some people are capable of thinking creatively. Others generally have few if any creative thoughts. There are people who are innate creative thinkers and do not fully realize it. We have over one thousand interesting inventions. Many are for babies. They include baby toys, educational gadgets, and devices to improve the quality of their lives. We even have fun video games that teach a wide range of creative skills when they grow up..! We are actively seeking creative minds to look at these ideas in their present stages, and suggest improvements, changes, variations and/or other uses for the products. There are no gimmicks. Pay us nothing. We pay you what could possibly be lots of money, if your suggestion contributes to the eventual successful marketing of a new idea. A contract would spell out the details. It will assure you get credit for your input. More on that later."

Don't pay us, we'll pay you? Wow, what a creative concept for a job! Oh, wait, I only get paid if the untested product I'm testing on my baby makes it in the market place? Oh, well, more on that's only money to buy baby a new pair of shoes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Soup with a Side of...

I know, the Chicken Soup people lowered pay to a flat $200 (that's why Jack Canfield can live in that $4.5 million mansion he tells us about in "The Secret") and the contract and waiting process for writers is a nightmare. Still, it is a valid, paying market and if writers have a topic-related essay lying around with no home, it doesn't hurt to send it out:

STORY CALL-OUT for CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE DIVORCED SOULChicken Soup for the Soul is looking for inspirational, warm, heartfelt, and funny stories for our newest upcoming title "Chicken Soup for the Divorced Soul." THE SUBMISSION DEADLINE IS MAY 1, 2007. Publication is Spring 2008.

and their newest title:

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL INTRODUCES ITS FIRST BOOK ON NETWORK MARKETING Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield have joined forces with 29 year Network Marketing veteran Bill Hyman to co-author the first Chicken Soup for the Soul Book on Network Marketing.This will be a ground-breaking book in that it is not going to focus on stories of only financial success, but rather human successes.This book will focus on how Network Marketing, (Amway, Nu Skin, Herbalife, Discovery Toys, Princess House, Watkins etc) has influenced the people in the industry and those around them in a positive, often life altering way.

For a full list of titles or more information, go to

Monday, April 09, 2007

Today, I'm interviewing Ann Logue, author of "Hedge Funds for Dummies." Ann has a love for finances, but lacks a love for the traditional financial world, so she took what she knew and has made a successful writing career:

Tell us about yourself. I'm 41, I live in Chicago with my husband and son, and I love what I do. What else is there to say?

Tell us about your book. Hedge Funds for Dummies is a guide to this investment vehicle for people who need to know about them, probably for their jobs. It explains the jargon, the investment strategies, and the structure of these funds so that people who have to make decisions about investing can make better ones.

How did you develop a specialty in writing about finances? I worked in finance for many years, and I'm still fascinated with it. I was an analyst at a mutual fund company and then with two different investment banks, and I was burned out. I liked doing research and explaining complicated situations, I didn't like the travel, the long hours, and the early days. (I worked in San Francisco for a while, where the market opens at 6:30 pm, and there were days I was in the office at 5:00 am to get on conference calls that started at 8:00 am in New York.) I found that there's a huge demand for writers who care about business.

How did you pitch a book in the Dummie series, or how did the book deal happen? In general, Wiley determines what books the market will want, and then it works with agents to find writers who can handle those topics. The person who is now my agent first went to another writer who has done several successful Dummies small business books, and she sent them to me.

Do you have an agent, if so how did you find them? My agent found me! Not the typical story in publishing, I know.

Was there a particular challenge in writing a book for a series? For the most part, I like the Dummies voice, because it's slightly irreverent and not much different from my own. The challenge is the repetition. People generally use these like reference books. They buy them because they know a lot about a subject, but not enough. So they tend to skip around the book to find out what they need to know. This means that the writer can't use acronyms, has to define jargon each time it's used, and has to make references to other places in the book where there is more information. This means you can't write "SEC", you have to write out "Securities and Exchange Commission", every time you use it.

When is your best writing time? Why? I work more or less from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm Monday to Friday, and too often on Saturdays. I wouldn't say I have any special writing time, but I have found it easy to keep regular hours.

What advice would you give to any other writer wanting to pitch a book in the "Dummie" series? You have to remember that the readers are generally smart, they just don't know much about this topic. (For my book, I pictured a business person serving on a non-profit board who is being asked to make a decision about investing the endowment in a hedge fund.) You also have to be comfortable with the style, and you have to know that your work will be heavily edited to conform to the style. If you can reach the reader, explain the subject, and don't feel particularly proprietary about your writing, you'll be in good shape. The editors were great to deal with, by the way.

Tell us one writing quirk about you that no one else (yet) knows. Uh, hmmm. Okay, here's something that some people know, but not many. I have a portrait of my grandmother in my office, and I like the idea that she's looking over me when I work. The painting itself has an interesting story, and if David Remnick is reading this and is looking to add a new writer, here's the gist of it: the painter, Gerry Hopkins, was half of a pop group, Twinn Connexion, that had a hit, "Turn Down Day", in the late 1960s. His partner is my mother's cousin, and my grandmother visited them in New York shortly before she died in 1969. The painting was taken from a photograph, the last photograph of her, taken in her backyard to finish off the roll of film with her New York pictures.

Where can people find your book? It's at Amazon,, most larger bookstores, and some public libraries.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Writing Gone to the Dogs

This one was submittged by my writing goal buddy, Heather:

"Looking for contributors to write high quality dog news stories and articles on dog health, traveling with your dog, dog welfare (shelter-rescue issues), training (all), agility, dock dog and flying disc competitions. Clear, accurate and easy to read style a must. We only want responses from those willing to research and write real stories with outstanding journalistic skills. No re-writing press releases. You must be willing to call and interview primary sources and conduct yourself with journalistic integrity. Our goal is at least one, 175-200 word news item each business day. Dependability and timeliness are very important. If you want to build credits and tearsheets this is an outstanding opportunity. Digital photography and audio skills also desired (not required) as we offer audio features in the NPR tradition (with video on the way). No pay to start but we expect to see the position evolve into a paid staff spot."

Ok, let me get this straight. They want only responses from writers with outstanding journalistic skills, who also have the highest journalistic ethics. They want someone who knows digital audio and video. Sounds as if they are looking for a recent journalism school grad, who would already have the clips to find a paying job!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

An Ode to Writing Goal Buddies

I know I’ve written about the importance of having another writer in your life with which you can share your goals, accomplishments and rejections. It might be a whole community of writers on a forum, or better, one or two people who are in the same writing field.
I met my goal buddy, Heather, at a conference nearly two years ago. Like most of the friends I’ve met in the past few years, we had a shared interest – our dogs.
After a couple of drinks we realized we shared interest also in writing about animals and travel. I was on my first travel assignment at that conference – I had to find something new to write about in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Heather and I headed off together.
We spent quite a bit of time hanging out while in Chicago. She lives across the country, but we’ve spent nearly two years emailing and occasionally talking on the phone. We didn’t plan on becoming email buddies, but our easy friendship in Chicago translated into an easy business relationship too.
The secret to that success, I think, is like with most other business networking – we weren’t in search of a goal buddy per se, it just happened. The other thing to remember about finding a goal buddy is that you have to really like each other – in other words, you must be friends first.
That’s very important because if you see each other as friends first, you don’t view them as business competition. This is especially true if you write in the same field because if you aren’t friends, things might get a little competitive if your buddy breaks into your dream market first with an idea you had written down but had never acted upon. And yes, this did happen to us (she had no idea I had the same idea premise), but I chalked it up to great minds think alike and she’s quite a bit better (and faster) at querying than I.
Heather and I can email each other about anything we’re doing in the business and our conversational chatter about press trips, markets or whatever else we’re doing can also help one another as well. We don’t have to be knowingly giving advice.
We’ve held each other to query challenges, she even did some market research for me one day with some story nuggets I had. And I’ve helped her too by finding some networking opportunities for her with a professional organization in her area.
But at the end of the day, it comes down to us being friends first. When my mom was in the hospital, Heather sent her a beautiful card, designed by a friend of hers, of a ferry in Washington State where she lives.
My mom loved that card and kept it at eye level the whole time she was in the hospital. And we both appreciated the fact Heather thought of her, even though she had never met my mom in person.
So, a good goal buddy should be someone with whom you share business interests with, but most of all, they should be a friend. When you care about one another’s personal lives and have developed the trust of friendship, helping each other with business comes naturally.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Tie me up and Hold me Back

My mother could go through 3-4 books a week. I asked her once why she didn't reply to one of those ads (then in magazines) to read and review books. She told me it was because they would send her books she possibly wasn't interested in - she wanted to only read books for pleasure.
I'm of the same mindset. This ad is just an extension of those old ads in the classified sections of some magazines:

"Online venue looking for bloggers to write 200-300 word book reviews. Must be willing to review anything from westerns to erotica in both print and pdf format. You will receive a byline and may submit the review elsewhere after 30 days. We provide the books. In the event we do not have anything waiting for a review, you can then review books of your choice. Compensation is $10 per review. Commit to 1 to 2 reviews per month."

Gee, you get to read crap you're possibly not interested in, then spend the time crafting words about it for a whole possibly $20 a month!? Not even enough for a nice meal out.
Tie me up and hold me back.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

B2B Writing

B2B publishing company seeks freelance editor for monthly newsletter covering best practices and innovative approaches to warehouse and distribution center management. This is a unique link in the supply chain where managers grapple with human resources and cutting edge technology daily.

See the full ad at:

Monday, April 02, 2007

Plant Some Words and Writing Will Grow

Today, I interviewed Jodi Torpey, the author of "The Colorado Gardner's Companion." Many writers I know pen regional interest books. Jodi tells us how to do that successfully, as well as how to write a book on an activity that requires the writer to be outside, not inside all of the time in front of the computer:
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a creative, versatile writer and educator with a pretty good sense of humor. My career began a long, long time ago as a public relations and marketing professional. I’ve also done quite a bit of corporate training and instructional design. One day, while stressing out over a work problem, it occurred to me that I should be writing about what makes me the happiest—my garden. Since then my writing’s been published in national magazines, like Horticulture, American Gardener and Out Here, as well as in regional publications like The Denver Post newspaper. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of writing about plants, gardening and other gardeners.
I live in suburban Denver with my boyfriend, John, and our dog, Rufus T. Smudge. Rufus is part Brittany spaniel and Australian Shepherd. When he was a puppy I taught him to help me in the garden by digging on command.

Tell us about your book.
Colorado gardeners have to cope with a lot of challenges to get things to grow here. Our semi-arid climate, alkaline soil, and wild weather fluctuations can drive a gardener crazy. I wrote “The Colorado Gardener’s Companion” to help gardeners learn how to get more from their gardening experience. It includes practical information on dealing with soil conditions, selecting plants that suit our climate, and using water-wise gardening techniques. There are also chapters on planting trees and dealing with insects and other pests.

Are you from Colorado? How did you become an expert in gardening in that state? I’m a Colorado native and I’ve dabbled with planting since I was in college. I always had a container of tomato plants and a pot of flowers wherever I lived. With my first house came my first real garden and I haven’t stopped since then. A few years ago I realized a long-time goal to become a master gardener. But don’t let that title fool you. I don’t think I’ll ever master gardening; there will always be something for me to learn.

What were some of the challenges of writing a gardening book?
The biggest challenge was that the bulk of the writing had to take place last summer—during prime gardening season. It was a challenge to balance the demands of writing one chapter a week with the demands of planting, watering, weeding, and mowing. The actual writing was a lot of fun.

How do you do your research and how do you decide what to include/not include?
The publisher provided a basic outline of the topics that needed to be covered, such as soil, vegetable gardening, lawn care, invasive plants, etc. I limited the amount of information about each topic to what I thought gardeners needed to know—not what I wanted to tell them.
The research was also straightforward. I’d done quite a bit of garden writing already, so in addition to my own gardening experience, I tapped into some of my previous research, talked with experts from around the state, and used the Internet. My master gardener training also played a big part.

Do you have an agent, if so, how did you find them? If not, how did you find your publisher?
No, I don’t have an agent (yet). The book came about because I happened to be in the right place at the right time. The Globe Pequot editor saw a piece I wrote for Horticulture Magazine. She was looking for a Colorado garden writer who was also a master gardener and she tracked me down. The funny thing about this was I had been thinking that if I was serious about being a garden writer, I’d need to write a book. About two weeks later the e-mail arrived asking if I was interested in writing “The Colorado Gardener’s Companion.”

What are some of the challenges of marketing a book with a limited regional interest?
Actually, I think it’s easier to have a limited geographical area. I can target my efforts to the audiences I know will be interested in the topic. I hope to be able to travel throughout the state promoting the book, but more importantly, talking with other gardeners. Some of the best story ideas come from those conversations.

What is your best writing time and how do you mix research and writing?
I’m definitely a morning person. I try to get the as much writing completed as I can before afternoon fatigue sets in. When I was first starting out as a freelancer, many years ago, I used to work at night and on weekends. I just don’t have the stamina for that anymore, so I have to make the most of my morning hours. As for mixing research and writing—I have a hard time separating those two elements. They seem to fit seamlessly together for me.

What is one writing quirk of yours no one (yet) knows?
I have to have the lede sentence before I can start writing. Once I have that, the rest of the writing just flows. Many times the lede comes to me when I’m doing dishes, taking a shower or walking the dog and not sitting in front of the computer. 10). Where can people find your book?
The book is available at Colorado bookstores, online book sellers and through the publisher, Globe Pequot Press. My Web site,, also has ordering information and an excerpt from the book.