Friday, August 31, 2007

The Definition

When one experiences changes in their lives I guess it's normal to question the meaning of life.
I've been having such questions run through my head, particularly with my business.
These days I'm writing a lot for pay, rather than writing my passion - the things that really get my blood flowing, the ideas that keeps a writer at the computer until the wee hours.
I began thinking, what is the point of it all anyway?
And while I wasn't to the point of doing the unthinkable and applying for a full-time job to find my inner-writer again (although I did see an ad for a full-time reporter at my new hometown paper), I felt lost.
Then, a writer asked on a professional forum yesterday, "How do you define success?" This is the question I've been asking myself for a few months, so I decided yesterday was going to be the day I answered.
Is it paying the bills? If so, why isn't the money enough to motivate me now? Is it bylines in "big" publications? Is that why I don't feel the 'umph' I used to when I sit at the computer, because I'm not striving for the byline anymore?
And then the answers came to me - via my email box.
I had sent a friend a job listing I found yesterday morning because I thought it might interest her. She wrote me back and told me that she had met someone who sits on the board of a large animal shelter in Kansas City. My friend's first clip was the result of my urging her to send it in when she was a student of mine at the community college and somehow, my name came up in the conversation with this animal lover. The woman told my friend that she got involved with this shelter as a result of a story I had written on abuse some years ago following the "Scruffy" trial (See my website and look for the article, "Disposable Pets).
It's always good to know your articles touch people, but when you know it's made an impact, not just in their life, but for them to help others, that's an overwhelming tribute.
Later in the evening, I received another big surprise. Tina, an exchange student who lived with my sister's family 20 years ago emailed me. She said she had been googling all of us, trying to re-establish contact, when she came across my Daughter Track blog about my last months with Mom. Tina had been close to my mother during her year here and was quite saddened to read her American grandmother had passed. She said she spent the entire day reading my entries and while English is not her first language, my writings made the memories come flooding back and she was so touched, it brought her to tears. She thanked me for the experience.
Now I start this beautiful day in the Ozark Mountains with a new sense of purpose. I realize everything I write serves someone. The projects I complete to pay the bills makes my editors happy and in turn, maybe makes the day for a subject of a a result, they might be reconnected with lost friends and loved ones who read about them or maybe it will bring them the new business they needed to help them achieve their dreams.
I may not be able to write the things I "love" to write everyday, but the things I write to pay the bills serves a purpose for me too - it allows me to spend the rest of the time writing my passions, and when we're given a chance to do that, we're always serving the greater good.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Early to Bed

When I did the cops and courts beat, I was a night person - almost had to be to cover the numerous murders in my hometown. I would write late into the night, sometimes be awakened to be on the scene of a crime, go in to monitor the phones in the newsroom and come home by 2 p.m. after deadline. Even then, though, I was a slave to someone else's schedule. And when the new publishing company installed timeclocks?
Well, for-get-about-it.
Now, I like to get up early, get my writing done while my mind is still fresh. I place calls and do administrative work in the afternoon.
I got up this morning at 4:30, read my newly adopted small-town paper (tomorrow I will get two, since the weekly comes out as well!) I will now finish my emails, read some more papers online, take the dogs for their walk and settle in to finish two deadlines - all by 11 a.m.
I don't have a timeclock to punch, if I get tired, I can take a meditative nap (and usually do at 11) and awaken refreshed for the afternoon work.
I don't have to adopt anyone else's schedule.
That's what I love about the freelance writing life this week.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And the Winner is...

When students come to me asking about writing contests, I usually discourage paying to enter an obscure contest that will do nothing for their writing careers. However, if you want to enter a contest that has something to offer - or even just for the fun of it (I wish I had time to write just for fun anymore), then here's a couple you might consider:

The Missouri Review Editors' Prize: Sponsored by the University of Missouri (Columbia). Contest in essay, fiction and poetry. Past winners have been printed in Best American series. Entry fee $20 for each entry. Deadline October 1. See for more details.

Springfield Writer's Guild contest. I post this one because the entry fees are so low. $2 for poetry, fiction and non-fiction, with a $100 grand prize. $1 entry fee for several other categories. Deadline October 1. See for more details.

Things Mother Taught Me Contest. I'm not endorsing this one, as I don't know a thing about it. However, there is a $100 prize advertised, with no entry fee and you have the opportunity to be published in an anthology. See for more information.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Journalism to Fiction - The Work of Angels?

Today, I interview Lynn Voedisch, who started her career in journalism and who now writes both fiction and non-fiction. She talks about the pitfalls of writing a book agents and editors considered a fad - and of the joys - and not of marketing her own work.

Tell us about yourself.
I am a long-time journalist who worked for many years at metropolitan dailies. My last job was at the Chicago Sun-Times, where I worked for 17 years. However, during my 20+ years of reporting and editing, I really wanted to write fiction. Since I was a single mother for most of my time at the Sun-Times, there simply was no way I had any spare time for fiction writing. When I re-married, my husband said it would be fine if I quit and freelanced (which I did successfully for several years). Then, freed from a "real job," I wrote several novel manuscripts. I was making up for lost time. I studied at the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Festival and also with a professor at Northwestern University. My experience with my first literary agent didn't go too well, so my first novel, "Excited Light" didn't sell. I now have a new agent who is shopping around one of my later manuscripts. It's a long, exhausting process and you have to learn to deal with rejection letters. But I simply won't give up and I hope to get a traditional New York publisher soon.

Tell us about your new book, "Excited Light."
It was written ten years ago when I first left my newspaper job. I had wanted to write something about the single-parent experience, both from the parent's and child's perspecitive. I decided to make the mother an alcoholic to add to the crisis. One thing led to another and I had the whole novel mapped out in my head. When I finally had the chance to write, the novel poured out of me in nine months. Then I went back over it for a year to refine and re-write parts of it. It has an angels them, since the young boy seems to commune with the divine realm (I leave that up to the reader to decide) , and it definitely is a magical realism or contemporary fantasy book. All of my work has magic in it.
At the time I wrote it, angels were a big fad. By the time my agent submitted it to publishers, they said "the angel fad is over!" So, we never got anywhere with it. It sat in mothballs (on my hard drive) for a long time, until I had the chance to publish it with ASJA Press (American Society of Journalists and Authors) via iUniverse. I decided to publish it as a test to see what it's like to market a book. I also felt I still had something to say with that book, and the response has shown that it's been inspirational to many people. However, marketing has turned out to be a much harder job that I expected and it's been cutting into my writing time quite a bit. Sometimes you have to make the choice if you are going to write or work on selling. You can buy "Excited Light" at or any online bookstore or by visiting my web site: .

You began your career as a journalist and now do both fiction and non-fiction. How do you switch from one to the other.
I thought that was going to be the easy part. Not true! Although I have always written clean copy and have a straight-forward expository style, I tended to skip descriptions and long bits of backstory. This was because I had been trained to leave that sort of "extra" material out of my copy. Copy editors would always aim straight for the description and cut it out. So, I figured that's what fiction writers would do also. And I must admit that I do tend to skip over long descriptive passages when I read, so I was guilty of thinking none of it mattered.
I found out it matters quite a bit. All my critiquers would say, "Where did so-and-so come from? What does the town look like? Tell me more, more, more." One writer, who has gone on to find success told me "You're writing a novel, not a news report. You can take your time."
So, that's when I took the classes and started to change the way I wrote. I also learned that passive voice, which is quite fine for journalism, is a huge no-no in literature. I just hadn't paid attention. So, I purged that.

After a few years of rewriting things four or five times, I started writing like a novelist instead of a panicky reporter. But it's no problem for me to switch back to journalism. I can do that in a heartbeat. You really never forget.

You told me you had to basically relearn the writing process for fiction. Tell us how you do that?
I should add that going from the AP Stylebook to the Chicago Manual of Style still remains an editing conundrum for me. I was weaned on the AP Stylebook and there are certain things in the CMP that I just can't seem to get down. This is why I have my work looked at by a professional editor (and, thankfully, I know a lot of them).

How is researching a fictional account different from non-fiction?
Actually, research is research and I don't see much difference. You don't have to get exact quotations from authorities, but you still have to get the facts correct, otherwise you end up looking silly to the reader. Right now, I am doing a book on an elite group of women who lived in ancient Egypt. This is a subject that most Egyptologists don't know a lot about. I interviewed a professor at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (one of the country's leading Egyptology schools) and gained a lot of insight, plus I've read everything I can get my hands on about the subject. What's interesting is that so much is not known about this group of women that I had the professor's blessing to just use creative license when I came up against an area that is not well documented. Talk about a gift!
Still, that makes me nervous to write blindly. Even though I am 14 chapters into the book, I'm still looking every day for more information on this subject. I just joined two new Egyptology mailing lists for more information.
Actually, I can get so caught up in the research process that I'll put off writing, and I have to watch that. I recently finished a book about the real-life search for Atlantis (which is tied thematically to another story line) and I must have joined every Atlantis mailing list in existence, and read every Atlantis book published. There's an incredible amount of rubbish on the Internet and whenever aliens came up, I'd ignore it. However, there are some intensely serious people out there right now, searching the coasts of several continents, looking for remains of an ancient civilization. I could have researched this for years.
7). What is your best writing time and do you need to be in a specific place?
I'm not a morning writer and I keep wondering about all those people who say you have to get up at dawn to do this. My best writing time is the afternoon, although I've been known to write until late at night. I admit to being a night person who is allergic to mornings. I actually don't need to be in a specific place, but I prefer to be alone. I was invited to a place here in Chicago that gives space to writers and I couldn't imagine working there with all those other writers around. I also can't do it in the library. However, for some odd reason, if I take notebook or laptop out to a cafe, I'm fine. Plus, I worked around other writers for years in the newsroom. But there just is something different about fiction and I need to be in a another mindset. I just have my quirks. Another quirk is that I do my first draft by hand.

You worked for 17 years at the Chicago Sun Times, what was it about being a staff writer that you liked and what is it that you like about the freelance life?
We had about five different owners when I was there and things changed dramatically with each one. It may sound incredible, but when Rupert Murdoch owned the paper, those of us who worked in the entertainment department were delighted. He had deep pockets and we were flying all over the country for interviews with top movie stars. I even interviewed one of my heroes, Leonard Nimoy of "Star Trek" fame. i interviewed him twice, as a matter of fact. So, those were heady times. Cher, Nick Nolte, Rodney Dangerfield, Mikhail Baryshnikov...the list goes on and on. As the money dwindled and the bean counters had more influence, the job became more of a daily grind. I could see the handwriting on the wall when I started getting the same old assignments at the same time of the year. "Not this again!" I'd think. I truly loved all the reviewing I did, even when it took me to scary neighborhoods, and I loved doing the Sunday features. However, repetitive interviews with the same old people bored me to tears. Plus, I didn't see a column in my future, and I didn't want to be relegated to the same old thing until I retired.
I was able to escape for one year to our brand-new Internet division and was part of the team that helped create the online version of the paper. However, they tossed me back into my old job and I couldn't see anything good happening from there.
Freelancing has one huge advantage: you can wake up late in the morning and realize you don't have to commute anywhere. It's incredibly freeing. I'm not the write-in-your-pajamas type of person, but I loved the flexibility of the hours. It was fantastic when my son was in middle school and was too old for day care and too young to be left alone. I'd just get my work done by 3 p.m. and pick him up.
The down side of freelancing is losing editors (which happened all too often as they found new jobs). Then you have to try to cozy up to a whole new bunch of them, and finding new work can be utterly exhausting and depressing.

Is there a quirky writing habit that people don't know about you?
I spend a lot of time just thinking out my work and I never outline. It all is stored in my brain. Then, when the mood is right, I slam out a 2,000-word chapter in a short amount of time. I've never been a 500-words-a-day person. I think my newspaper experience, with all the deadlines, taught me all the discipline I needed.
So, when I'm watering the flowers, I'm often working. You just can't see that.

What's next for you?
As I explained, I'm deep into the first draft of the Egyptian novel, which I hope would have the same appeal as "The Red Tent." Women love to read about influential women of the past, and this could be big if my agent sells it the right way. Then again...well, I won't think about the negatives.
After that, I'd like to do some short stories. I'm not a natural short story writer, because I like to imagine a huge complex world when I write. But I'd like to master this form of fiction. I've had one short story published and I'd like to add more to my CV.
As far as non-fiction goes, I may teach and I may even ghost write. I'm in a bit of a transition period on that, but it's nice to have the freedom to keep my options open

Monday, August 27, 2007

Risky Business

The other night, I had a dream that I had some sort of a mental breakdown and moved all of our belongings back into the house we called home for 17 years.
I told the buyers that my mental state made me so confused as to where “home” was, that I simply forgot we sold the house.
I believe in the power of symbolism in dreams and this one most likely was the result of a conversation I had with Karen, a new friend I met here who owns an antique store. Karen is a transplant as well and she was empathizing with my feelings about moving to such a small town.
“I know how you feel,” she said. “You don’t feel like you belong here, yet you don’t feel like you belong at the place you called home either.”
My husband is interviewing with what we’ve been told is the best paying company in this town. However, good pay in one part of the country doesn’t always have the same meaning in another. And while we knew that the wages would be lower here, we just didn’t know how low they could go.
As a result, the outlook for our future changes daily, if not hourly. We know if we stay, we will have to downsize our dreams of building a new home and live with building on to our cabin.
However, if my husband stays at his current job, his dream of being in a happier place in his career will surely be squashed.
Either way, it’s risky business.
My mom always told me life was a risk and now I know what she meant. We take risks in our personal lives and we take risks in our businesses.
I need challenges, I need assignments that burn my passion for my writing, ones that keep me writing until the wee hours – as did my courts and cops beat and writing my book – but we all weigh the ‘fun writing’ vs. the writing that will pay our bills.
One way to increase my income and my fun writing time, says my current business teacher, is to just say ‘no.’ No to low-paying assignments that don’t net me what I need to be making per hour; no to PITA editors who make unreasonable demands – no matter what the pay is. No to any assignment that doesn’t move me forward.
But like my current personal situation where we are weighing just how much to risk, I don’t know how to weed those assignments out. The current need to just meet my income goals each month always outweighs the quest for better paying ones.
I started with a few “small” clients. Ones who didn’t pay enough, as well as being PITA’s, but this still doesn’t leave me the time to find a new higher paying niche and the better paying clients that follow.
This is one of life’s business mysteries, and I guess if we all had the answers, we would all be making the six-figure incomes. And in life’s personal decisions, if we all made the best financial choices, no one would have to worry when they would retire.
The answer is to find the balance between sound decisions and leading a happy life, and if we can have both, it’s icing on the cake.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Winds of Change

Monday was like a breath of fresh air - literally.
The morning was gray and misty and there was a slight cool breeze blowing. After 2 weeks of near or 100 degree heat, it was a fantastic change.
It told me that fall is not far behind.
A signal in the beginning of a change in the season, as it turned out, was all it took to shake me from my summer doldrums and get me back on my schedule.
Although the heat started climbing again on Tuesday, I had a very productive week working on current assignments and looking forward to new assignments and planning for fall deadlines.
Right now, I'm busy taking a photo class and a business class and finishing deadlines before the end of the month.
How many deadlines do you have planned for fall? Maybe it's time to get out those queries!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Yesterday, I wasn't so linked in - to my work that is - so I decided to do some research on the professional networking site, LinkedIn. Mainly because I kept getting invitations for me to join from fellow writers.
If you've read my blog for anytime at all, you know my marketing mantra has always been about networking. Being an old fashioned networking gal, I join organizations, go to meetings, get involved on boards. However, now that I'm way out in the woods, those opportunities will come few and far between.
My Internet networking had been limited to forums, but with the popularity of social networking sites growing (at least for those under 40), I thought I better check this out.
I did research on the writing forums I frequent. Some people said it to be a waste of time, others said they had found sources and other useful people there. One person even said she received a job offer from her profile. I also found this article giving 10 ways journalists can use the site to their advantage:
When I went to I also did a search of the most respected writers in my world - and they were there - all linked in.
So, I decided to give it a shot. It's free, you don't get spammed (at least that's what they say) and I have the opportunity to maybe meet some new people - and you just never know where that will lead. I suspect, though, it might be like anything else - you get out of it what you put into it. Like with professional organizations, I don't think you can just add your profile and walk away from it expecting things to drift to you.
This week, that's what I love about the freelance writing life. I can think I'm screwing off for an entire afternoon, but hey, you just never know what that afternoon might net me later.
Oh, and if you want to be my friend on LinkedIn, just send me an invitation.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

It Makes Me Hungry

Sorry for the delay, folks, but there were problems with blogger this morning. Today, I'm posting a class opportunity for all of you who would like to specialize in food writing. Monica Bhide is a great writer and I'm sure her class will be excellent. Her class begins January 21, 2008 and it is part of the Renegade Writers pool of classes:

This comprehensive six-week course will enable you to combine your love of food and your passion for writing into a marketable skill. You’ll learn about the different kinds of food writing: service articles, recipe development, cookbook writing, blogging, memoirs, essays, restaurant reviews and more. I will teach you how to find hidden markets for your ideas, how to track down the correct editors at publications, and how to make your food writing really shine. This course , presented along with skill-building assignments, will give you an in-depth understanding of the food writing profession. Whether you wish to develop recipes, write a family cookbook, break into a national food magazine, or write food essays, this course will provide you with a solid foundation from which to build on.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Monica Bhide has: discussed truffles with the grand-old Chef extraordinaire Imtiaz Querishi in Mumbai; sampled hamur on dhows in Dubai; sipped camel’s milk in Bahrain; followed a superstar food critic around Mumbai and an anonymous one in DC; presented Spices and Rices at the French Embassy in DC and gotten lost on the backstreets of Delhi searching for the perfect paratha; tapaoed in DC with Chef Jose Andres and sampled the amazing cuisine of Chef Ananda Solomon; taught cooking on-line (yes it can be done) and in her cooking school; sampled flights of honey and hosted colorful henna parties each spring.
Monica has written on food for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Bon Appetit, Town and Country Travel, Food and Wine, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, Health, and Better Nutrition. Her highly praised first cookbook, The Spice Is Right: Easy Indian Cooking for Today (Callawind Publications, 2001) is a collection of mouth-watering menus tempered with her up-to-date touches on classic Indian recipes. Monica’s newest cookbook, The Everything Indian Cookbook: 300 Tantalizing Recipes–From Sizzling Tandoori Chicken to Fiery Lamb Vindaloo (Everything Series) was released in May 2004. Monica was also the recipient of the Susan B. Langhorne Scholarship for Food Writers at the Symposium for Professional Food Writers in 2004 and the runner up for the 2005 award.
Download Monica’s E-course FAQ (PDF format)COST: $500 for the Gold version, which includes six weeks of phone support (1/2 hour per week, by appointment) and e-mail support.$250 for the Premium version with e-mail support only.$125 for the Basic version with no phone or e-mail support.
To register go to --

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Through Time and Space

Today, I intereview Anne Hart, an amazing writer who churns out 4-5 books a year. Anne's been an accomplished writer for decades and I'm honored to have her on the blog today. Read about her life journey writing and why she chooses now to publish most of her books through ASJA Press (the iUniverse imprint of ASJA) Print on Demand (POD) publishing.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Since June 17, 1959, I have been writing freelance full time—mostly books and magazine articles. My Web site is at where you’ll be able to see the links to my Blogs and articles or book excerpts. I’ve written 79 paperback books, mostly published by ASJA Press ( and one book published by Career Press ( that will be available in July 2007.
Those are the books currently in print and recent. During the 1980s decade to 1998 I wrote an additional 11 books published by Barron’s Education Series, Simon & Schuster, Tab Books, Mills & Sanderson, VGM Books, and other mainstream publishers that are out of print. I’ve been writing one or more books per years for what will be my 50th anniversary in 2009 of writing books. I love writing books and magazine articles. I design most of my own book covers. One of my minors in college was illustration. I use original artwork of my acrylic paintings with collages of digital art software, and work online.
On a part time temporary basis, I taught 3-credit/unit creative writing and journalism courses at the university level until I retired from teaching online in 2004 to resume full-time writing again. Half of my writing are multicultural ethnographic, historical, time-travel, or contemporary mainstream and suspense or adventure novels and the occasional play, and the other half are how-to non-fiction books and magazine articles, specializing in personal history, DNA-driven genealogy, and books on nutrition, behavioral science, or how to write, finance, and produce documentaries.

Tell us about your latest book.
I’ve recently written three published paperback novels –one set in ancient Rome, 150 BCE, one contemporary humorous mystery/suspense novel, and one medieval novel set in 10th century Kiev.
1. My latest published paperback historical novel is titled, Proper Parenting in Ancient Rome: A Time- Travel Novel of Love as Growth of Consciousness & Peace in the Home. ISBN-978-0595429776 and/or ISBN: 0-595-42977-7. This ancient Roman family time travels to study the human condition and world peace. They recommend finding inner peace in art galleries in order to find peace in the home.
2. My next ethnographic medieval time-travel novel set in Kiev and where the Volga flows into the Caspian Sea is titled, A Perfect Mitzvah Gift Book: Time Travel with the Kagan's Kids to 10th Century Kiev, When Jews of Eastern Europe Had No Hope Other Than the Grace of the Almighty or the Coming of the Khazars.
My 396-page contemporary, humorous suspense thriller (novel) titled, How to Start Engaging Conversations on Women’s, Men’s, or Family Studies with Wealthy Strangers, A Thriller, features the American-Sicilian-Greek heroine psychoanalyst detective character, who directs the Women’s Studies Department of a small liberal arts college.
You've written everything from "how to" books for writers and authors to fiction. What drives you to swing the spectrum from genre to genre?
I cover the various genres for the purpose of achieving five objectives: primum non nocere; (first do no harm), primum non tacere; first, do not be silent; tikkun olam (repairing the world); namaste (I bow to pay homage and respect to the inner light of life in every part of all universes,and Bodhi (बोधि) (to awaken to ‘knowing’ or enlightenment and to notice or observe—from the Sanskrit verbs, bodhati or budhyate). My how-to genres represent the worldly selves of all creatures, vegetables, and minerals. My novels and plays represent the higher, spiritual nature.
By combining the two genres—fiction and nonfiction, the writing rises above the genre’s differences and connects each genre (and each book) to the readers I bow to, respecting the symbolic of joy and efforts for those who read all books and for writers who create wombs in world—caverns of deep physical thinking. Some books also reflect my 50 years of being vegetarian.
My how-to books present a practical, useful, instructional way to show people how to solve problems, obtain measurable results, and follow guidelines or techniques step-by-step in plain language so that the complex becomes easy to understand and holds attention and interest. For example, my latest how-to book is titled, How to Open DNA-Driven Genealogy Reporting & Interpreting Businesses: Applying Your Communications Skills to Popular Health or Ancestry Issues in the News. At the same time, my other how-to book was published this month, titled, How to Launch a Genealogy TV Business Online: Start Family History/Ancestry Shows Globally, Produce Videos & Publish Hobby Learning Materials or Life Stories. In July 2007, my how-to book from ASJA Press will be published titled, How to Video Record Your Dog’s Life Story: Writing, Financing, & Producing Pet Documentaries, Drama, or News.
Most of the how-to books are written so I can earn some money. I’m a very low income senior citizen living in a tiny space and a non-driver, of low mobility with no day job or income. The non-fiction how-to books bring in a bit of royalty now and then that I can use for a bus pass, a lunch out, or a pair of walking shoes, and hopefully, a new computer. I don’t promote my books by doing speaking events, and so far, no bookstore has asked me to do a book signing, probably because I’m a white-haired older person leaning on a walker who speaks slowly, and very softly. So I rely on my Web site to let people know the books are in print just in case someone wants to buy a book. I love fan letters that praise my books, though. As a hobby, I play the organ, write poetry and plays, and do most of my own sewing and illustrating or photography for those book covers.
How do you come up with your ideas and then how do you know which ideas on which to focus?
The ideas arise when I’m meditating, relaxing, or in the shower, or in day dreams, when listening to classical music of the 16th and 17th century, harp music for healing, or new age music for relaxation and while listening to music from faraway places and distant times. I enjoy early music and ethnic music from all over the world. Sometimes I compose music for my own listening.
Many of your books have been POD published through iuniverse, with the ASJA imprint. Why do you choose to go this route?
Seventy-Eight+ of my books are POD published through ASJA Press imprint, but not all.
I chose to go the ASJA Press imprint route and be included in the ASJA Bookstore online because I can write a book on any subject that I want to research as well as find out whether or not there is a market for such a book title before I begin my research and writing. When anyone writes a POD published book—print on demand—you are free to determine the length of the book. You know pretty much what the price of the book will be for the readers, and you can write and revise the way your readers, audience, marketing, and bookseller’s feedback reveals to you.
Boiling it all down to a few words: I’m publishing my books POD because I can control the subject matter of the books. I can write the genre of novel I want, design the book cover, or write a nonfiction, how-to instructional book. I’ve written many how-to books on creative writing techniques. With POD, I can write good books on the topics I have researched for marketing potential and buzz appeal, edit in a way that gets feedback from my audience, make revisions, and email the manuscript. Within a month to six weeks, the book is ready to be purchased online by anyone, anywhere in the world. Also with POD, the book can be in languages other than English, if I want to have the book translated. I get 20 percent royalty on each book. With mainstream publishers, I got only 5% percent royalty. There’s no way I’m going to waste precious time for a mainstream book that takes more than a year to become available when a POD book is ready for the market in five or six weeks.
I recommend POD for anyone over age 65 or 70 who wants a novel or nonfiction book available right now, not next year.
What is the greatest number of books you've written in a year - and how do you do it so quickly?
Six books a year. I’ve written 5 books for Simon & Schuster in 1984. And one book for Tab books in 1984. That’s six books in one year. The books all were published in 1985. I had 2 ½ months to write each of the 5 books, same for the 6th book. All the books were done on time with a month to spare. I write about one book every 4 months now when I am inspired and motivated to do so, and that’s what I have been doing for the last several years. I can write fewer books and play more now, and that makes me joyful. After this last book, I’m going to write less books per year and focus more on spinning yarn, that is writing a timeless, ageless type of novel of universal issues or I may write more about topics with a great need for information on in society. What I’d like to do next is write magazine articles. They are shorter to finish. I don’t like to write the long POD published novels that I used to write in the past. Shorter novels sell better.
Do you hire an editor for your POD published books?
Since I trained in graduate school to be an editor, hold a masters degree in editing, fiction writing, and professional writing emphasis and English, have taught editing and writing at the university level, and am a winner of the editing and essay writing national competition scholarship awarded to me by Mensa in 1979, I edit all my own POD published books and have edited my own books since 1998.
How do you market your work?
My Web site is the only way I have marketed my work. Anyone is welcome to interview me by email and offer free publicity. I am always available to write magazine articles or newspaper columns if anyone wants to hire me on a part-time basis to write freelance. When I write a magazine article, I try to market my books by mentioning the title of one book that’s relevant in subject content to the article topic.
When is your best writing time?
I write from 10 in the morning to 6 in the evening. When I don’t have a tight due date, I’ll write for four hours a day and take a walk or bus ride to the zoo or park where I can see tall redwoods or pine trees and meditate in the fresh air, although the California city I’m in has close to the worst air in the country. I wished I lived near water, but I don’t. But I can’t dwell on that when my day is spent savoring the joy of life. My writing most often is about living in the moment and the joy of life or in the celebration of people’s lives. I’m a “celebration-of-life” book lady.
So I try to find even a creek to look at and if I can sit there, write or jot down key words. Most of the time I’m on my computer all day at home and listening to music without lyrics which helps me to write more fluidly. I like to write in the mid-morning ‘brunch hours’ best—from 10 to 2 pm.
Give us website information where your books can be found.
Home Page Web Site
Articles by Anne Hart

Monday, August 20, 2007

Marketing Myself Harder Than Helping Others

I picked a bad day to start my new routine - it's only 6:50 and I'm already behind. My husband got off for his long, 6 hour commute to work at midnight and I had a really hard time falling asleep afterward.
This is especially bad since I'm behind in an online photo class and starting a new marketing class today (as a student).
And it didn't help that the first question in that class had me stumped.
What are the basic principles of marketing?
I'll let you know when I reach deep into the cracks of my mind and take myself back to business school.
A nice long walk along the country road usually helps me focus and the dogs await.
I'll let you know the answer on Friday.

Friday, August 17, 2007

How Time Flies When You're Having Fun

It seems I've only just planned my week when I get up and it is Friday already!
I used to think that time only went so fast here at the cabin because we were on vacation - and you know how time flies when you're on vacation.
However, since we moved here approximately two months ago, it hasn't slowed down - and it seems there is always something to distract me.
I think, "I'll take the dogs for their walk and come home and get right to work," and then I come home and see the flowers need water. Then I need to eat breakfast and answer emails, write the blog and then it's time for the dogs morning treat. At this point, I want to come in and spend some time on the writing forums.
By the time I sit down to actually work, it's almost time for my afternoon nap, uh, I mean, meditation.
Unfortunately, not being able to get myself on a routine has not went well for my business.
Back in the city, I had my cues, I knew if I wasn't working by the time the neighbor across the street got his lawn crew off, I was running late.
So, far, I haven't figured out how to make any of the wildlife here act as my timeclock.
So, I'll have to take some lessons from others by scheduling my day out. I usually am at my desk with a cup of coffee reading newspapers online, cruising job and writing boards and writing my blog between 5-7. I walk the dogs between 7-8 and I'll make sure to make time for watering flowers then too.

  • Sitting at my desk by 8 a.m.
  • I will check my emails and do all of my Internet surfing/research for writing by 9 a.m.
  • I'll set the alarm clock and write until noon, at which time I can "reward" my hard work by checking emails again and going to the forums.
  • I'll make all my calls between 12-1 and then take an hour lunch
  • Return to work at 2 and do research, finish calls until 4.

I'll let you know next Friday how this goes.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lounging on The Couch

I was asked to participate on a teleconference about freelancing yesterday.
It was great and what I love about the freelance life this week. I didn't have to find a pet sitter and drive two hours to an airport to fly to some big city for a conference. I sat with my feet up on the couch, with one of the dogs draped across my lap, resting my notes on her back.
The only challenge was not allowing the view of the mountains and trees distract me from the conversation!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Freelance Wages to Start?

I'm not sure what this person means by "freelance wages to start," but I have a pretty good idea. Do these people attend a school where they're taught to literally put the "free" into freelance? And believe me, experienced pros who are transitioning into the online world need not lower their pay standards.

Part-Time Freelance Writers-Reporters-Editors-Bloggers (Comp: Freelance wages to start) A new website for people passionate about television and movies needs freelance writers/reporters/editors/bloggers -- in other words, ambitious multimedia jacks-of-all-trades -- to create, report, aggregate and analyze the latest news, events, people, and headlines related to TV, film, and the people involved in them. We aren't covering Lindsay, Britney and Paris. Others already do that, and we love them for it. We can link to them. Why will they link to us? That's what you're going to help create. It's a terrific opportunity for both writers and multimedia journalists starting out and experienced pros looking to transition into the online world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Book Publicity 101

Today, I interviewed Sandra Beckwith, a self-described recovering publicist. She tells us about Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz:

Please tell me about yourself.
I’m a recovering publicist. I spent most of my career creating and executing award-winning publicity campaigns but I don’t want to do that anymore. So I write about publicity instead – I’ve written a publicity book for small businesses and another for nonprofits – and teach others how to generate their own media exposure. I especially enjoying teaching my online book publicity course for authors called “Book Publicity 101: How to Build Book Buzz” ( because the students are always so smart, motivated and curious.

I don’t have a lot of time for book publicity. How can I make sure I’m putting my effort where it will do me the most good?
The smartest thing you can do is to get a handle on your target customer. Get as specific as you can. Don’t say “it’s everyone who’s in a relationship” – narrow it down. Is it women? What’s the age and income range? Are they urban, suburban or rural or all three, and are you pretty sure about that? You want to have a profile of your best customer in mind so that you do the best job possible of reaching others just like her. Let’s say you’re doing podcasts but frustrated by the results – the effort doesn’t seem to be selling books. I have to wonder if your target customer listens to podcasts. You’ve got to reach them where they’re at – don’t expect them to come looking for you.

What’s the most common mistake authors make when promoting their books?
Too many fiction and nonfiction authors alike forget that they are experts on the topic they’ve written about and can be quoted in the press on that subject for months and years to come. I am always working to get authors to look beyond the book launch and leverage their expert status for long-term success.

I didn’t get a large enough advance for my book to spend a lot on publicity. What are the some of the most cost-effective things I can do myself to help get the word out?
Generating great book buzz is surprisingly affordable and it’s something authors can do for themselves because most of the tools used require solid writing and communication skills, so authors have a head start with that. Here are just a few specific things you can do for yourself – and there are so many:
· Identify the media outlets that are most important to you and start developing relationships with the appropriate journalists at each.
· Develop a list of story ideas and angles from your book to pitch. This is an especially creative exercise for fiction writers, but it can be done.
· Distribute to the media a tip sheet offering tips or advice on a problem related to your areas of expertise. (For tip sheet writing instructions, go to
· Ask bloggers who reach your target audience to do a Q&A with you.
· If you’re blogging, link your blog to the AmazonConnect program so you expand your reach where people are making purchasing decisions. If you’re not blogging yet, consider starting with AmazonConnect (

I hear conflicting information about the impact of different types of media outlets – radio, newspaper, etc. Do you think one type is more valuable for book publicity than another?
It all depends on what your target customer reads, watches and listens to. Online exposure is great because it’s often linked to a purchase page at an Internet retailer, but if your customer isn’t online, that won’t help you much. The same goes with radio interviews – they’re fun to do but if your target customer never listens to the radio, what’s the point?

My book didn’t get many book reviews. Is it hopeless?
No! So many books don’t get any reviews and still sell well. Building book buzz is about far more than generating book reviews. It’s about getting the book titled mentioned in the right places over and over and over.

Does a bad review turn people off?
It often depends on how well the reader knows the patterns of the reviewer. I know, for example, that the movie reviewer at The Wall Street Journal doesn’t like much of anything. I’ve also noticed that I often dislike those few movies that he raves about. So a bad review by him might encourage me to see the movie! I think that reviews, whether they’re good or bad, shine a spotlight on a new title. We consumers then use that spotlight to notice the book and make our own decisions about whether it’s worth buying and reading.

Monday, August 13, 2007

You Can't Go Home

Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t go Home Again,” and this weekend, I finally found my personal meaning to that.

I traveled back to Kansas City and one of the things I was very much looking forward to was going to my regular “sushi night” with a friend of mine and meeting some of the people who had also become Friday night steadys in the 7 years since I discovered my love for Japanese fish.

As a matter of fact, I had met this good friend of mine there a little over 2 years ago on the Friday night after my Dacshund, Hershey, died. We talked about our dogs, our love for sushi and we both discovered we are creatives. We’ve been friends since.

But sushi night just wasn’t the same. The crowd we knew wasn't there. It had only been 2 months, but we recognized not one patron (my friend had stopped going after I moved) and while the waitresses all seemed happy to see me, the sushi chefs didn’t seem to give us the same “regulars treatment.”

And so the first night set the tone for most of the rest of the weekend. I had no desire to drive by our old family homes, nor did I have any feelings at all entering our old neighborhood and seeing the house we had called home for 17 years; shopping was a let down, the mall was too noisy and crowded – and my Starbucks didn’t even taste the same!

While everything looked familiar, I just couldn’t make it be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved visiting with my friends and our old neighbors. But nothing held the same meaning and I was probably setting myself up for disappointment in expecting it to.

In my personal life, I thought about my disappointments with the move (and there have been several). At the beginning of my weekend, I was even toying with the idea of moving back - or maybe finding another town in another state.

Our trip to Germany opened up the explorer in me. Maybe we could take some of our gains from the sell of our house and travel the country a little – see if there is someplace else that felt more like home. Montana is beautiful, I hear.

At the same time, I thought about my recent disappointment with the Society of Professional Journalists decision to file an amicus brief in support of a publisher in a freelancer vs. publisher contract dispute. I volunteered with the organization, but along with the majority of freelancers with whom I've spoken, felt that even kicking legalities aside, this was the wrong position for a journalism advocacy organization to be taking.

As I was talking with my business friend who is going to help me refocus my professional goals, we talked about my former role with SPJ. He reminded me that you could only be disappointed if you have expectations. Most importantly, so many factors that are out of our control can play into the failure for those expectations to become fulfilled. So the burden of lifting that disappointment falls squarely back on us.

As all of this was bouncing around in my mind, I received word that SPJ would not be filing the amicus brief.

I was still examining the feelings about my weekend “home,” and where and what that meant to me. I momentarily thought that maybe I still had a place within SPJ. My purpose with SPJ had always been clear, I wanted freelancers of all levels to feel they belonged to an organization that supported the ideals of journalism for everyone. In my years of involvement with SPJ, I met a lot of journalists and many of them became my friends. I felt a lot of support both before and after last week.

Maybe I could continue as a member, I thought.

In that instant, I suddenly found myself driving by the hospital where my mother died nearly 6 months ago. It might be one of life’s clichés, but the moment she took her last breath, releasing her from illness and pain to a higher existance, I felt a sense of personal release as well.

I realized then that I was trying to hold on to things that I have grown out of
– in my personal life it was the place I called home.

In SPJ's case, the death of the organization in my mind certainly didn't mean it was released to a higher plane. In any case, in my business life, at least in part, I know I'm holding on to an organization that doesn't have the same value as it did two weeks ago. I say in part, because I have a lot of examination and learning to do about my new goals and what it will take to get there. I have yet to know where else that will lead.

I’ll let Erik Sherman examine the finer points of SPJ’s most recent turnabout (, and I will only say that I agree with him completely.

For my personal life, I know it will take some redefinition too. I will have to change the picture of what I thought our new home should be - to what it is - in order to let go of some of the disappointment I've felt since I arrived.

Last night, I finally made it back to the cabin in the woods that held so much promise of a new life for us. When it felt good to be home, I knew that it still does hold that promise.

My trip this weekend helped me move forward. Today, I’ll be assisting my husband in finding a job so he can finalize his move. His completing this life-change we decided upon will also move us from the purgatory we’ve been living in within our minds to our new heaven, our home. At the same time, I'll be working on my own business goals.

This doesn’t mean I’ll be leaving my friends in Kansas City or SPJ behind.

I’ll still be here, but “home” no longer means the same thing for me as it does for you.

I hope you’ll visit me on my new personal and professional turfs soon and maybe pull up a chair and stick around for a spell.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Best Laid Plans

As far as my business goes, I've had a pretty unproductive week - hell, as far as business goes, I feel I've had a pretty unproductive year!
We all have them, those days or sometimes weeks, months or even a year we would rather forget.
I came into January, all relaxed from a vacation here at the cabin (I love it here at Christmas!) and ready to hit my 2007 business plan running, but as they say, "the best laid plans."
By the time my mom passed away in February, 2 months of the year were gone. By the time we got our house ready for the market, 5 months were gone....then there was the move, the trip to Germany (the very next day) and then adjusting to this new life.
Every business move I make is usually calculated to my business plan - right down to the organizations I choose to be a part of to the continuing education classes I take.
I chucked the 2007 business plan a long time ago, and coasted on my wits and instincts this year. I thought, I'll just make up for it when I start drawing up my 2008 plan in October.
Yesterday I had quite a surprise. After being told I was undermarketing my skills (yes, this friend did ask if they could be blunt), it was like the light came on. I am! My marketing plan hasn't changed in 3 years and I've really aimed no higher for income.
It's August and the unbearable heat doesn't lend itself to thinking forward to the cold of January after the New Year when everything seems to start fresh. But the good thing is that this friend had more than a blunt statement, but also offered solutions to help me reach new goals.
I'm taking a weekend off of work (although I am researching a fun story on a new doggy daycare) and away from the 4 hounds to join my pals and my husband in the city.
When I come back, I'll be relaxed and refreshed and ready to start a new plan.
It's never to early - or too late - to start a new year.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A Worthy Cause Needs Help

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA's) Writers Emergency Assistance Fund (WEAF) needs help. WEAF helps professional writers who are suffering financial hardship due to illness, disability, natural disaster or an extraordinary crisis.
This is a very worthy cause - applicants need not even be ASJA members.
Just since I've been a member of ASJA, I've seen the emergency assistance fund help so many writers who have suffered major (and financially devastating) illnesses, or who have been the victims of disasters.
If you're in a position to make a tax-deductible contribution to WEAF, please either send a check made out to "The ASJA Charitable Trust" to:
1501 Broadway
Suite 302
New York, NY 10036
or use the online donation form at
Remember, writers, you never know when you or a friend just might need their help one day. This is what I love about being a freelancer today -
Writers are such a generous and giving bunch willing to help each other!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Supportive Freelancers

I didn't want to steal Erik Sherman's scoop, but he learned this morning that SPJ's law firm, which initially brought this case to SPJ's attention, does indeed still represent National Geographic. See his full post here:

Also, that of SPJ Member, Kay Day:

SPJ - Who Do They Represent?

Sorry, folks, but I'm going off the jobs and scams track this morning to blog about an issue that is the utmost importance to freelancers - copyrights and the ability to negotiate our contracts. For 7 years, I worked both on the local level with my former local press club and the national level, hoping that freelancers would have a place within the Society of Professional Journalists. Four years ago, the then 90+ year old organization finally put into place a freelance committee. I was asked last year to chair that committee when the founder, Wendy Hoke, went to work part time in SPJ's office to help reinvigerate SPJ's membership.
I resigned as chair this morning and renounced my membership. What could be so important as to basically throw 7 years of my volunteer life down the tubes?
A case known in the biz as Faulkner vs. National Geographic in which a photographer sued the publisher for further compensation for repackaging his work. Other photographers and writers later joined the suit. The lower court in NY ruled against the freelancers while a lower court in Florida ruled in favor of them in a twin suit known as Greenberg vs. National Geographic.
For reasons still unclear to me, SPJ sided with the publisher and voted in favor (not once, but twice) of supporting the publisher.
My letter to SPJ's executive committee explains the position I took on behalf of SPJ's freelance committee and members:

"Dear Executive Committee,

In my role as chair of the Freelance Committee, I urge you to reconsider the decision to file a brief in support of the publication in the In the case of Faulkner vs. National Geographic.

As I’ve discussed with you in my past communication, this case is important to SPJ and its future. SPJ stands to lose a lot, if not all of the goodwill it has worked so hard to build with independent journalists. I have no doubt that many of our freelance members will leave us and opt instead to find organizations they feel are in support of their rights. There is nothing freelancers take more seriously than copyright litigation and how it affects us now and in the future. We can only earn a living by insisting that we are paid fairly for our work. As well, freelancers take very seriously their Return on Investment (ROI) because we’re running businesses. In our decision to join professional organizations, we usually choose those that not only offer benefits, but advocates for our rights.
I believe SPJ has taken the wrong position on several levels. I’ve researched this issue with many freelancers and people who deal in media law/copyright law for independent journalists. They overwhelmingly feel this case is comparable to The New York Times vs. Tasini, in which the court ruled in 1999 that freelancers had the right for further compensation for articles that were later sold by the original publishers to online archives. The contracts did not allow for future use of the works by the publishers.
In my research of Faulkner vs. National Geographic, I learned that the original case was filed first in Florida as by a photographer named Greenberg in Greenberg vs. National Geographic. Faulkner then filed his case in New York. The argument was the same in both cases. In both the Florida and New York cases casesNational Geographic compiled an anniversary CD ROM of its past issues, using photographs and articles that NG was said licensed to National Geographic via a one-time use rights contract. NG and its lawyers argued that because the works were presented in the same layout as they were in the original use, that it constituted the same use.
Interestingly, the Florida Court of Appeals ruled against National Geographic in the Greenberg case, citing that the freelancers had a right to further compensation for further use of their works.
However, the New York Court of appeals ruled against Faulkner in the same argument.
Now we have two courts of appeals with differing opinions on the same issue.
The American Society of Media Photographers, who are backing the freelancers in Faulkner, sums it up best: “If the NY decision becomes law, it means that publishers can make, publish, and sell digital versions of print versions of collective works without having to pay any additional licensing fees to the photographers, writers and illustrators who created the content. In a nutshell, those creators would be cut out of the loop for any part of the additional revenues that the publishers will be collecting for their digital versions.”
In addition, it is the opinion of the contract and legal experts that I’ve discussed this with that National Geographic does indeed owe the freelancers further compensation. They cite contract law that states that all uses have to be spelled out clearly by the entity creating the contract. The burden of allowing for future use did not rest on the shoulders of the freelancers who signed the contract, but with publishers making the contract.
I’ve been told SPJ took the position against the freelancers because they were advised by their legal counsel that “it would make the law more clear.”
But the law is clear. A contract is technically a form of private law intended to enforce a business arrangement. If NG only requested first North American serial rights, then it was saying that it only wanted to be the first on the continent to print the photos in a paper magazine – the definition of the term. That is clear. What the magazine wants to do is change the definition of the law – to make cloudy now what had been clear – because it sees additional revenue opportunities years after the original arrangement. You can understand why it wants to make more money, but to claim that it has an ongoing right to continue to use the material in any form is disingenuous.
Reprinting a magazine in any form at all would be just that – reprinting, and not something that was part of the original publication. It’s a reproduction after the fact. To want to do that in an electronic form is even more removed from the rights they originally wanted and paid for. As Christine (SPJ's president) said to me, freelancers must be adult and not squawk about the contractual arrangements they made. If that applies to freelance writers and photographers, then it certainly applies to corporations that want to ignore the previous agreements they made. Just because they didn’t envision how they might make money decades later doesn’t mean that the copyright owners should subsidize, out of their own pockets, those endeavors.
So we’re not talking about clarity, but about new definitions and new approaches to law. Now we have to ask whom these changes benefit? The argument could well be made that if the Supreme Court hears this case and rules in favor of the independent photographers and writers, that the law will certainly be clearer in that publishers need to spell out their contracts to include all future uses (which most contracts do today anyway).
Since 1909 SPJ has been viewed as an organization for and about newspaper staff writers. Independent journalists who have been members of SPJ have worked hard behind the scenes to change this perception. Still, it exists in the minds of many independent journalists and SPJ is very vulnerable to a misstep such as this. There is nothing freelancers take more seriously than copyright litigation and how it affects us now and in the future. I cannot stress enough that this is a case about big publishers vs. freelancers and if SPJ remains on the side of the publisher, it will be viewed within the freelance community that SPJ is trying to stand with publishers and “score points” with them. They will point to the fact that SPJ’s top leadership are all staff editors and writers. In addition, I believe that if SPJ continues with this stand, they we will be the only journalism advocacy organization to back the publisher. ASJA and NWU stood with freelancers in the Tasini case and earned a lot of loyalty for that with independent professionals. As the case becomes more widely publicized, it is highly unlikely they will take a different position in this case.
Unless you’ve worked as a fulltime freelancer, it’s hard to explain just how much of a flash point rights become. Photographers and writers look at the material as their property – which it is according to law. Now, changing the definition of rights may not be important to staff journalists, who are all doing work made for hire because they are employees. They don’t benefit, no matter how the case turns out. But the freelancers can potentially lose a great deal. So you have a situation where the majority of your members are untouched and a minority could be adversely affected. To publicly side with the publisher is effectively asking these freelancers to leave SPJ and find other organizations they feel are more welcoming and more willing to represent all of their paying members.
As well, I’m still deeply concerned that the original release presented on SPJ’s website said we were “among several journalism advocacy organizations” to support NG in this case. In reality, we were the only journalism advocacy organization known to support the publisher among a list of some of the biggest media companies and publishers in the business. That was clearly a misrepresentation and I’m not sure how that could have happened – especially in an organization run by journalists.
Lastly, I’m still very very troubled by at the appearance of a conflict of interest with (SPJ's legal counsel) regarding National Geographic. I understand media law and I understand that most of the law firms, whether locally or nationally, represent media companies as well as journalism advocacy organizations. However, I keep going back to my Ethics 101 professor, who on the first day of class asked us what the difference was with a conflict of interest and the appearance of one. Of course, as professionals we all know the answer: there is none. And the fact that (SPJ's legal counsel) still lists National Geographic as one of its clients, or former clients, smacks of the appearance of a conflict. As a leader in the industry with regards to ethical standards, this is bad form.
It is for all of these reasons, that as the National Chair of SPJ’s Freelance Committee, I ask you to reconsider your decision in filing this amicus brief on behalf of National Geographic. "

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Building Brand You

Today, I interviewed Rachel Weingarten, author of the new book, "Career and Corporate Cool," who talks about how she's created her own brand by helping others build Brand You in their careers.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Must I? teasing. I'm a Brooklyn based marketing strategist and president of GTK Marketing Group we create and implement marketing strategies, promotions and launches for beauty/fashion and entertainment related brands- lately we've been doing a lot with the publishing industry as well. I'm also a freelance writer and author who doesn't sleep much apparently!

Tell us about your new book, "Career and Corporate Cool(TM)."
I like to describe CAREER AND CORPORATE COOL™ as being a hybrid business/style guide. It's also been described as a business memoir which makes sense to me as well. It goes through many different career stages and situations in which you might find yourself, and tries to help you develop your own brand and style, and by style I don't mean simply the kind of shoes that you wear or designers that you do or do not favor, but rather how to integrate all of your own personal quirks from the way you dress to the way you sign off your email to build Brand You.

How did you develop the idea for this book?
It's been percolating for quite some time. I did my time in the corporate world, and let's just say that both the corporate world and I decided that it wasn't a great fit for the long haul. I've dabbled in many diverse industries- everything from being a celebrity makeup artist, to running a web shop in the early days of the internet, to owning a muffin business. Over the years I came to realize three things (well, more like 3,000 but these are the ones that led to the book.) 1. Over the course of a lifetime you go through many different jobs, industries and careers and you have to try on many different personalities and work styles. While there were books about cookie cutter rules for success, there weren't any that really encouraged you to discover and define your own while your career evolved. 2. Business books take themselves very seriously,and work can frequently border on the ridiculous. I wanted to make this book fun to read while also imparting valuable information that was culled the hard way which leads me to 3. It isn't easy to make your name in business if you're not connected. I did not go to the right schools, I do not come from a connected or rarified family, I didn't go to business school, but I did learn a lot on my own. I'm by nature someone who notices things, pays close attention and works to improve my personal and professional self. I've also been incredibly blessed to have met great mentors over the years who seem to have seen something in me. In many ways I wanted to act the mentor for women (and men) who didn't have the drive or opportunities that I have and to share some of the things that I learned along the way. I wanted to encourage people not to conform, but to figure out what makes them unique, marketable and a business commodity. Oh, and to make them laugh.

How did you find your agent/publisher?
I don't have an agent. I did have one briefly but for many reasons it seemed like a better idea for me to try to sell my books on my own. I'm extremely passionate about what I do, and felt uncomfortable with the notion of someone suggesting that I settle for less on all counts simply because it might make for an easy sell. I wanted the best publisher possible and am thrilled that my dream publisher believed in my book as much as I do. As for my publisher I did a lot of research on business books that I loved and kept coming back to Wiley. I then tried to craft a proposal that would make them realize why my book was perfect for them, and thankfully they agreed.

How long did it take you to research and write the book?
Well, I'm a student of life, so I'd been observing different work styles from the minute I entered the workforce. As for research and writing it was a grueling process. I couldn't take off much time from my day job, so I gave myself four months for the researching and writing. I got sick in the middle and was basically bed-ridden for about six weeks- the pressure was intense. I would never advise anyone taking that little time to write a book with that much, intense research in it. I interviewed over 100 people- everyone from Craig from Craig's List to Cindy Crawford to amazing business owners you've likely never heard of. I'd also like to state that I barely slept for the entire time, snapped at anyone I encountered and had no social life. Then there were revisions and the marketing madness began so start to finish I'd say it was about 7 months from germ to finished, polished product.

You talk about gender differences in the workplace in this book. What is an example of that from the book?
I think that there are so many tiny and subtle differences that it can be hard to narrow it down. Two come to mind immediately. A friend is in development for a tv series and has been talking about issues with his co-creator from as long as I know him. I advised numerous intricate ways in which he could approach said partner to talk about the issues, analyze comfort levels, etc. He basically just called, told him that they had to figure out the problems ASAP and that he was going to be calling in his own legal counsel. Both were fine with it and moved on quickly while I was still wondering if they should have tried to finesse it!

What percentage of your business is freelance writing for magazines, etc. vs. writing books?
I've written two books in just under 17 months, so it's been mostly books! That said, I've written some articles for my favorite magazines/newspapers along the way. I'd say that it was 80% books 20% magazines/newspaper/web for the past two years.

How do you develop your business plan and stay on course with your goals throughout the year?
Okay, that was just plain evil of you. See, here's the thing I am not good with external structure- even when self imposed. I am a free spirit and freelancer, albeit one who is vigilant about sticking to the paramaters of projects, so if I take on a client or project I can clearly define the relationship based on my proposals to them and subsequent contract. Being a mostly word of mouth business though, I have to always take into account that I will be approached with projects that are too good to turn down. I'm trying to find balance in my life though, so I suppose that a goal for me for this year would be adding relaxation to the mix!

What's next for you?
Promoting my book. It's a double edged sword being a marketer and author, because there's the added expectation and anticipation. I'm thrilled with what I'm putting together for the book launch, but frustrated because I don't have the leisure of making this my sole priority for now. After the hubbub dies down a bit, I'm going to be changing my business model slightly and hope to take a vacation- imagine that!

Give us your website and where else can we find your book? The book will be available at bookstores/website nationwide and internationally.

Monday, August 06, 2007


We now live in an area that is home to many weekenders. The twin-lakes of Table Rock and Bull Shoals, as well as the nearby world-renowned trout fishing at the White River make this a desirable holiday and vacation spot.
We were weekenders for four years, using our cabin for most weekends from Saturday morning until Monday morning – and every vacation in between. We would arrive and after completing any small home maintenance tasks that needed to be done; we crammed as much fun and relaxation into the days we had been given.
Now, I’m a full-timer, but my husband remains a weekender, working in Kansas City and staying with his sister’s family while coming home every other weekend to me and the 4 dogs.
Such is the consequence of selling our house in the city within five days, when we didn’t even know if it would sell within five months.
It’s not what I want to do, but it is what we have to do right now to see our dreams through in building a new house. We could just add on to this one, but we want our friends and family to feel the joy of being weekenders too. We want our cabin in the paradise of the Ozark Mountains to be for them.
Last night, as I was walking down our country road, looking at the beautiful setting sun over a calm blue-green lake, a feeling settled over me. The houses between our house and the lake were empty but for my aunt’s – the weekenders who had come down on Thursday and Friday night already gone. Their homes, now just silent, empty shells.
Mom used to call it the “let down,” that feeling that comes at the end of a fun vacation you’ve planned for, or the day after Christmas when the wrapping paper is strewn about, the turkey is all but bones and everyone has left you to the remains.
As a writer, I get this feeling every once in awhile when I’m sequestered in my house alone for too long. Many writers, I know feel the same thing at times.
Now that my husband is a weekender, he likes to nap on Sunday evening and leave at midnight, driving all night, getting to Kansas City just in time to punch in at 6 a.m.
It’s a schedule I of which I don’t approve because it not only interferes with my own sleep (who could sleep soundly knowing their husband was on the highway all night?) but allows the letdown to follow me into my Monday.
As a weekender, I used to get the feeling when we all pulled the truck away from our little cabin. Me and my husband, and the dogs too, I suppose, watching the house disappear into the woods as we drove up our winding driveway back to our life in the city.
We knew then we never wanted to leave. The writer in me craved a quiet inspirational place of beauty for my muse. My husband’s spirit craved a quieter life in a new profession that no longer required the agility of a young man.
As a full timer, I hate seeing my husband’s taillights winding their way up our drive into the blackness to a life we no longer share.
And he hates seeing the lights of our house disappear into the dark as he pulls away from a life he only shares with us part time.
As a family, we just want to be full timers again.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Live a Litte, Learn A Lot

Well, the editor was telling the truth this time. The company I've been trying to collect money from did send my check on July 18 - although they sent it to the old address when I specifically asked him if he had my new one. The check finally arrived as forwarded mail on Tuesday afternoon.
Still, two instances of lost payments is enough for me. The check was due by July 1 and like the first one, I didn't receive it until almost a month later. Like everyone else, we who are self-employed have bills due - usually at the first of the month and I was really hoping for that check before our trip to Germany, not a month later. Pay on publication is bad enough, but when there's a clause that it will be "within 30 days of first publication" and it shows up in 60, that doesn't bode well for the company. Unfortunately, they will owe me one more check and the clock started ticking on Wednesday.
Thank goodness for new clients who all start with a clean slate. Of the three new ones I got this month, I'm hoping for a long, harmonious relationship - and as long as my checks are on time, there will be no problem!
Sadie, the rescued pit bull will be home from the vets this afternoon from her spay surgery and the husband will be home from his two weeks working in the city. We're looking forward to a nice, relaxing weekend of home cooked meals (I fix one and he grills one), movies from Netflix and soaking up the air. It is hot and hazy here and I think the dog days of summer have finally arrived in the mountains.
After a nice weekend of doing pretty much nothing, I should be ready to tackle a new project for my third new editor next week.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Our Winding Country Road

The thing I love about the freelance life this morning is being able to take the dogs on a walk along our winding country road. The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountains and a summer mist hung over the tips of them.
What could be better than that?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ask Men

I don't know if this market accepts reprints, but at $50 an article, that's all I would be willing to sell them: is currently accepting applications from freelance writers for our Dating channel. WHAT TO SUBMIT A complete application for the position must include the information listed below (incomplete applications will not be considered). An original sample article (not previously published) between 800-1,200 words, written to match the tone and structure of articles currently published on's Dating channel.

Find more info here: