Monday, December 31, 2007

Are You a Writer or a Writer With a Business?

I don't know about you, but I have had a pretty busy New Year's Eve so far -- all work related. I turned in two newspaper columns, finished up a parenting article and conducted a phone interview for another newspaper article I have due Wednesday. And the week's not over yet. I will be doing a little more work tomorrow, but I don't mind. My husband will be at work as well, but I will take it easy and enjoy most of the day with the kids hopefully. 

I just received Marcia Layton Turner's December "Become a Six Figure Writer" newsletter in my inbox, and it made me feel pretty darn good about myself. She posed the question, "Are You a Writer Or Do You Have a Writing Business?" Hmm . . . it appears I have a writing business, and that's good news as I'm setting goals for 2008. So, where do you fit in? According to Layton Turner, there are five steps you should take to becoming a business owner:

1. Get a separate business phone line. Err, I haven't done that one yet. I need to, but I've been trying to figure out if I should just use one of the separate voice mailboxes available with my phone service. I use my cell phone for business too, so I've got that to consider. It's just another expense and headache I've been putting off.

2. Set up a website. I did that, at the end of 2006, and let me tell you, it's the best decision I ever made. It is cost-efficient, easy to maintain, and gave me a place to showcase clips to prospective clients and editors. I have no doubt my website has helped me land many an assignment. Which leads to number three on Layton Turner's list . . .

3. Create a professional e-mail address. I was able to do this through my website, and I love having a business website all to myself. I think it sounds more professional than my RoadRunner address I had before, and it's easy to remember. 

4. Have business cards professionally designed. I sort of did this, and again, have been pleased with the results. My husband designed them, and we had them printed at a professional print shop. They have come in handy and they feature the same color scheme and design as my website, which has helped me create a "brand," as my husband the marketing guy says. I love being able to hand them out. Presto! Now prospective clients can have my website, e-mail, and contact information all packaged on a neat little business card.

5. Set up a separate business account. I've sort of done this. I have a separate account set up where I put money aside for tax purposes. I need to get serious and completely separate my work account this year so I can deduct business and childcare expenses directly from it. I'm happy to say I may actually be making enough to do that now!

So there's only one step I really haven't taken, and that's setting up a separate phone line. How are you doing? 

My fellow writing friends, I wish you all an upcoming prosperous and healthy New Year, in both your personal lives, and writing careers!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

This Writer's New Year's Resolutions

Okay, so I'm one of those people who comes up with general New Year's resolutions each year. Do I actually follow through with them? Heck, no. But right now I'm doing what many writers love to do (procrastinate) so I'm going to make my goals public. And you guys are responsible for helping me stay on track, and I'll do the same for you if you like. Several months ago I was telling my therapist (yes, I see one, and no, there's nothing wrong with it!) that I had a specific monthly income I wanted to start making. It was modest, but doable I thought, and now, I'm just a few hundred bucks shy of that goal. And I'm about to go insane. Probably because I can't afford full-time childcare yet, so I have to work around my children's schedules, which isn't always easy. And I'll be honest, my time management skills suck. Really bad. So that leads me to my number one writing goal:

1. Get more organized. As I write this, I am staring at my 2007 Day Planner. I have not yet purchased one for 2008. Do I have assignments lined up for 2008 yet? Yes. But I do not have them written down. I must work on this. It is a necessity because I need to find better ways to balance my work and family life.

2. I want to triple last year's income. This may seem grandiose, but I only really got serious about freelancing a few months ago. Before then, I had a few clients that I wrote for on a small scale every month. Now I've started applying for more assignments, and sometimes, get them. Ideally, I'd like to get three or four regular clients, or gigs, and focus all my time and energy on them instead of hunting for new leads every day. It would be nice if I got a magazine assignment every now and then to pad my expenses. Which leads me to number three on my list.

3. I hope to finally break into a national magazine this year. I feel I've come so close, and have even gotten positive feedback from editors via e-mail. I just need to put my head down and keep charging. It will happen.

4. I will start my novel. I've written about this before, but the time has come for me to get serious on a work in progress. My mind won't rest until the story is laid out on paper.

So what are your writing goals? I've put mine out here for all the world to see, so maybe that will light a fire under me. Please share! We all need to work together to become more productive (and happier) writers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Issue of Writer's Digest Focuses on Writing Novels

This couldn't have come at a better time. Remember when I discussed my "heart" project awhile back? You know, the novel that has been completely written in my head but not yet on paper? The editors at Writer's Digest couldn't have put this issue out at a better time, as I'm currently working on my 2008 writing goals. I was so excited to find it in my mailbox this afternoon. The February 2008 issue has four different articles about novel writing, including:
  • The Baby Steps Method
  • Architecture of a Novel
  • Create a Novel Group
  • Smart Revision Strategies
So if you've got a novel that's been simmering in your head for awhile, go pick up an issue as soon as you can! I can't wait to dive into mine. More on goal setting later.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Selling Personal Essays and Memoirs

Have you ever dreamed of writing a personal essay or memoir and have it appear in a national magazine, such as Family Circle or Reader's Digest? I'm sure at some point, most of us have, and there are writers out there who have developed a specialty writing these types of essays.

But what is the best way to go about being published? I was flipping through a copy of Ready, Aim, Specialize: Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money by Kelly James-Enger recently and came across a chapter on this topic. She interviewed a few writers who now make a living writing essays. Since I'm always looking for ways to make more money, I paid special attention to the chapter.

Before I share some of the tips I learned, I want to point something out. First, writing personal essays is one thing. Writing personal essays that other people connect to and want to read is another. If you've already been paid for this type of work, then obviously you're on the right track. If not, here are some ways to improve your work so you can sell it quicker:

1. Write about a universal topic. Sure, tales of how your son spilled juice on your computer and made you miss a deadline are one thing, but make sure you write about it for an audience that will appreciate it, such as a publication geared towards work-at-home parents. Start with a simple anecdote and work outward. My first personal essay was titled "How I Became a Domestic Goddess" and was published in Charlotte Parent. (No, I actually didn't get paid for it. It was one of those "Submit your article, and you may be published!" deals. Oh well, it was a good clip, even if it netted me zero dollars). So because it was published in a parenting publication, many parents related to the fact that I became a better cook and housekeeper after I had kids. It also sparked some strong feelings in a working mom, who wrote the magazine to say that I was criticizing women who had to work outside of the home. That wasn't my intent, even though I was a stay-at-home mom at the time, but whatever. At least people were reading it and forming opinions based on something I wrote.

2. When starting out, consider essays to be extra money, not your bread and butter. Sure, one day you may make a living out of writing essays or memoirs. But when you're first starting out, you might notice that most magazines have one essay per issue and a trillion articles. I wouldn't be interviewing people about baby monitors right now if I were an established essayist. Essays do not make up a major (or even minimal) portion of my income yet, but maybe they will someday.

3. Keep an idea journal with you at all times. As a writer, you should do that anyway, but this will help you keep track of essay ideas. Write down interesting people you meet, what they have to say, and life experiences that have impacted you. When it's time to write, you'll have plenty of material already there.

4. Write a book. This is sort of meant to be funny, but not entirely. I've noticed a lot of essays printed in national magazines are written by people who have just published a non-fiction or fiction book. Essays on topics related to the book are a good promotional pieces. Keep that in mind for when you publish your own completed manuscript one day!

5. Research your markets. A good place to start:
  • Women's magazines
  • Men's magazines
  • Parenting publications
  • General interest magazines
  • Regional and local publications
  • Inflight and travel magazines
  • Regional and local publications
  • Religious publications
  • Newspapers
  • Anthologies
  • Web sites
I have a few submissions I'm working on for the Chicken Soup for the Soul and Cup of Comfort anthologies. Go check them out and see if there are any topics that interest you. Then start writing and polishing those essays! Hopefully we'll all get published soon!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Query Questions: Ask and You Shall Receive

It gets a little intimidating when you're first starting out in this business and trying to draft that first query letter. How much research should you do up front? What if you're clips aren't that great yet? What if your best clip is from ten years ago? I'm always on the hunt for good query letters, so I was thrilled when I came across the From Ink to Ether blog and found that the writers of The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock are sending out query letter examples to anyone who sends them an e-mail. Completely free! Of course, Diana Burrell and Linda Formichelli would love for you to purchase their book, but you don't have to to get these free queries. They also have query letter examples on their Renegade Writer blog. Simply send a blank e-mail to queries(AT)renegadewriter(DOT)com and you'll receive twelve sample query letters within minutes. Start studying!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What Should You Write About?

I read an interesting article over at Write-From-Home by C. Hope Clark. She points out that a lot of writers have "day jobs" that they work in addition to building a freelance writing career. Ninety-nine percent of the time, these full-time jobs provide fodder for article ideas, so if you're currently in this type of situation, embrace the fact and use it to create a list of topic ideas you could research and write in the future. Hopefully, if you want to branch out into full-time writing, you'll be able to one day, but in the meantime take the opportunity to build up your portfolio. Here are some examples of what I'm talking about.

I've worked as a waitress, newspaper reporter, public relations consultant and assistant media planner. If I thought long and hard, I'm sure I could come up with a topic idea for each occupation. Such as:

Waitress - How wait staff and kitchen staff can peacefully co-exist.
Newspaper Reporter - How to conduct an insightful interview.
Public Relations Consultant - How to effectively pitch a great news story.
Assistant Media Planner (in an agency setting) - How to build good relationships with media reps.

And of course, being a mom. One of my first ideas that sold was an article about how to prepare your meals before bringing home a new baby. People may bring you loads of baby gifts and clothes after the birth, but they don't always remember that a home-cooked meal is always appreciated by the new parents. They are usually too tired and frazzled to properly shop for ingredients and cook dinner every night. This idea sold at least three times.

See? There's plenty of material out there, you just have to brainstorm it and put it together. Can you come up with your own list of topics based on the jobs you've worked before?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Call For Sources

I need some parents to interview for the following stories:

  • How was your first postpartum doctor's visit? Did you have different types of deliveries with your children, and therefore have different follow-ups? Did you have any complications that sent you back to the OB/GYN sooner than the standard six weeks? This article is targeted at new moms' so they'll know what to expect after the delivery.

  • Shopping for Baby Monitors: What types of baby monitors do you recommend for new parents? How much should they expect to spend? Do you think the standard monitor is best, or should parents splurge on one of those fancy video monitors? No brand names necessary, just trying to provide readers with general guidelines. Any funny stories stemming from baby monitor use? (For example, I once heard all about the sexual exploits of a male, teenaged neighbor on mine. Hey, it was a Saturday night and I was bored! That's my excuse, anyway).
  • Indoor Fun for Toddlers: The winter doldrums are almost here. How do you keep your toddler entertained when it's too cold outside? Do you take them to a music or play class, form playgroups, or do arts and crafts at home? Tell me all about it!

E-mail me at Renee(AT) with your anecdotes. These articles are for iParenting Media.

Should You Write on Spec?

For writers not familiar with this term, it basically means writing a piece for a publication without any guarantee of payment. Amy wrote an interesting post about this over at Write-From-Home, and I encourage you to take a look at it, particularly if you have ever been asked to write something in this manner.

I feel writers should ultimately be in control of the decision to write something on spec. I once queried a regional parenting publication about an article, and they responded that they liked the idea but weren't in position to pay freelancers yet. Most of the editorial was written by the editor and advertisers. She offered me the assignment if I wanted it but let me know up front that I wouldn't be paid for it. I was still trying to break into the business, so I offered to write it with the caveat that I would keep all rights to the piece, of course. She agreed.

I feel it was a wise move. I got a high-quality print clip, and sold the article at least two other times after that. Plus I felt I made a new contact in the industry. But to Amy's point, answering a blind ad that asks you to write articles that you'll be paid for, possibly, most likely won't help your career.

Use your judgment and instinct when writing something on spec. It's more important to maintain your integrity than spend a lot of time writing a piece that may or not get you a paycheck or even a usable clip.

Where To Start?

I told myself this weekend that I was going to start posting here at least once a day, but well, life and work kind of got in the way. It's Friday morning, and I should be diving into the stack of assignments on my desk, but I decided to add in a little more procrastination with my morning coffee.

I recently read a post over at Deb Ng's blog about how to break into freelancing. Wouldn't we all like to know? It's amazing how much the freelance writing industry has changed since I first jumped into it a little over two years ago. Or maybe I was just clueless and it's taken me this long to start putting the pieces together. Regardless, here are the first steps I think one needs to take before taking the plunge, so to speak:

1. Find your niche or specialty. Is there a particular topic or subject you want to write about? Does your educational or work background give you experience to help you land jobs? For me, I started out writing about parenting topics because my daughter was a toddler at the time. But I also had a background in newspaper journalism and that helped me land a position where I write about dining, traffic, profiles, and other news related events for the local newspaper. But it didn't all just fall into my lap. I had to turn in solid work, purchase a revised copy of The Associated Press Stylebook, and find good stories on my own at times. It helped me build up a reputation and it's required a consistent amount of dedication. Now I have have plenty of clips to back up my specialties whenever I apply for jobs.

2. A lot of writers are interested in blogging these days, including me. It's fun, for the most part, and it doesn't require a whole lot of time unless you're contributing to several different blogs. But before the jump into the arena, do your research. What kinds of blogs are out there? Are there any blogging jobs with that deal with your writing specialties? What are the pay ranges? But most of all, remember that the competition out there is tough and you can't expect to land the first blog gig you apply for. It might be worth a shot to create your own blog to help you build writing samples and help show you have expertise in that topic, so that you can include it in your resume and cover letters.

3.Don't get discouraged if you apply to three or four jobs or submit a few queries and don't get any bites. Like I said before, competition is fierce. I recently heard back from a few well-paying blogging jobs I applied for and found out I was number two or three on the final list. It was disheartening at first to realize I had come so close to being hired, but it's only given me more motivation to work harder. I only really started going after jobs about six months ago, and since then my workload has exploded. But I've put in the time, and other writers should expect to go through the same thing. Most of the time, writing success doesn't happen overnight.

That's all I have to say for now, but I have several new ideas for posts so I'll be back this weekend. If you have any recent success stories, I'd love to hear about them! I think it's so important to have a supportive community of writers to share successes, because there are too many snarky ones out there who can bring you down. Whatever you do, do not let one of these other writers discourage you. You could be talking virtually to a fifteen-year old teenager who knows nothing about writing and not even know it in this day and age of e-mail and instant messaging. So keep on, and persevere!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Schizophrenic Writer

I'm wondering if this happens to other writers. Right now I've got several different assignments due and they are all on different subject matters and will run in completely different publications. I find myself having a hard time switching from one project to the next without getting a little confused.

For example, tonight I had to work on an article for Little Blue World, the Tori Amos fan magazine. They have their own style guidelines so I had to make sure the document was formatted correctly before I sent it off. Then I had to switch gears from writing about fans meeting Tori to a woman who gave birth to a baby at 21 weeks of gestation. That one's for a parenting website that has a different set of guidelines. After that, on to potty training success stories.

As I bounce between articles, sometimes I'm supposed to say ," says Smith and other times I'm supposed to write ," said Smith and I'm getting very, very tired and confused about what goes where.

The difference in word length and style guidelines for different publications really came back and bit me in the you-know-where this past month. I got an assignment for a local business publication and they require their profiles to be about 2,000 words long. I'm used to writing 1,200 words maximum for online publications and between 500 to 900 words for the Charlotte Observer. Needless to say, I fell a little short on the business profile and was scrambling around trying to come up with more words on the day it was due. Lesson learned there.

Anyone else ever have this problem? Blogging is a completely different animal too because typically posts don't have to be more than 300 words or so for a paid gig -- but, you do have to add in images most of the time. I don't know how people keep everything straight, because I know I'm struggling. And now, off to bed so I can get up and start the whole process over again tomorrow. 'Night!

What's Your "Heart" Project?

Recently, Jenna Glatzer wrote a post about what she would do with an extra hour a day to write on whatever she wanted to. She coined the term "heart project" and I thought that was very fitting.

I too have a "heart project," a fictional novel I would be typing away on if I didn't have paying assignments to complete first, a household to run and two children to care for. It's a story inspired by a tragedy that happened in my hometown when I was in high school. I have the main characters developed in my head, as well as the beginning, middle and end of the novel. I have Hollywood actors picked out to star in the movie adaptation of it. I even have a playlist on my iPod called "Renee's Novel," and I listen to it when I'm at the gym and envision scenes from the book played back in my head.

It's sad really, that it consumes so much of my life and yet I can't seem to make the time to write it. I guess I'm afraid once I get started it will completely take over my time and I won't be able to get anything else done. I'll get to it one day, I promise! It's a story that begs to be told, really.

So what's your "heart project?" What would you write if you had extra hours in the day to work on it and you didn't have deadlines to meet? I'd love to hear about them!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Have You Ever Used a Virtual Assistant?

So recently I blogged about virtual assistants over at Charlotte Parent. I first came across the concept while reading The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. A lot of writers don't realize how time-consuming working for yourself can be, especially once your writing career takes off. I have a pile of expense receipts and pay stubs on my desk that I haven't filed. There are tons of markets I'd like to research for future queries and I just haven't had the time. I desperately need to build a good old Excel spreadsheet with a list of my sources and contact information, but I can't get to that either! Apparently there are legitimate people who will do this for you virtually for an hourly fee!

I'll admit I'm too scared to venture into this realm yet. Between my childcare expenses and coffee addiction, I'm trying my best to hold on to my earnings! I'm also afraid my stuff is so disorganized that it would take me days to sort it out enough to explain it all to an assistant! I'm interested to hear from other writers who have hired VA's. What was your experience? Would you recommend it? Was it worth the money?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Writing Something Nice

One of my new favorite writing blogs is Freelance Writing Jobs. Today, Deb Ng challenged everyone to say something nice this weekend. I think it's a great idea -- because too many times I come across writers being mean to each other in the blogosphere. What's up with that? I have a lot of nice things to say, and here's a few of them!

1. I've got a lot of great friends and acquaintances who always come through for me when I need sources. I swear my friend Christi needs to start up her own public relations firm in Lake Norman -- that woman knows everybody!

2. I've got a lot of great editors who toss fun assignments my way and then constructively critique me so I turn in my best work. I'm trying to improve my skills, really!

3. Lately I've been corresponding with a few other writers asking me for advice about the business. Really, little old me. It's very flattering and they probably didn't realize that when I start talking about writing, it's hard to get me to shut up. Thanks for listening, even when I probably gave you way too much information (is there such a thing)?

4. I'm always so impressed at how friendly the baristas over at Starbucks are. I once overheard one of them complaining because she had just made a drink for a guy who wouldn't get off his cellphone or acknowledge her during the entire transaction. Those people are my heroes. Ever since then I go out of my way to smile and be friendly. How much time does that really take? If I could do what they do I wouldn't be in there everyday. Give a little credit where credit is due. I know this isn't related to writing, really, but I wouldn't be able to write without coffee and I know I'm not alone in that!

Pay it forward. Say (or write) something nice this weekend. I dare you! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Introducing My Writing Space

It's actually more like a haven. This used to be a formal living room in our house that didn't have any french doors closing it off. I always envisioned turning it into our home office, but about six months ago I began imagining it as a writing study. After I started bringing in more work consistently, my dream was realized. My husband did some framing and drywalling, we had the doors hung and painted, we ordered the furniture, painted the room, and voila! Here you have it!

I think it's so important for writers (published or not) to have their own writing space. It doesn't have to be a home office, per se, but these days it's easy to be creative. You can work virtually from a coffee shop (free WiFi is always a necessity for me -- I promise I'll make up for it with the amount of coffee I consume) and I've also seen neat spaces that take up half a guest bedroom or a set-up in a butler's pantry. Whatever the case, I didn't feel like I was taken seriously until I had a honest to goodness desk that was all mine. It may sound silly, but that's me. I took these photos because I had just cleaned off my desk and moved the toys that had mysteriously appeared in front of my desk out of the room. I don't know when it will look this clean again anytime soon and I had to record the moment for posterity!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Start With the Locals

Publications, that is. I've received e-mails recently from women in my area who are hoping to break into freelancing. I could write a book on how to I guess, but a few other writers already have and they did a good job of it. Right off the bat I'd have to recommend "How To Make A Real Living As a Freelance Writer" by Jenna Glatzer and "Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids" by Christina Katz. I have an article that Christina wrote that I'd like to share with you:

Build Up Your Clips Writing For Local Publications
By Christina Katz

When I decided to start writing articles, all I had in my clip file was articles I’d published in student publications. So when a local writing teacher, who was also the editor of a local business journal, invited me to write for her publication, I jumped at the chance. The result was “Hollywood Rx for the Holidays,” an article I have reprinted several times and continue to submit today.

A common mistake beginning writers make is to overlook local markets as a source of publication. Maybe this is because we dream of seeing our byline in The New Yorker, Sports Illustrated or, one of my secret fantasies, O magazine. While there is nothing wrong with setting lofty goals, the path to getting from unpublished status to a glossy national publication is most often right in front of our very noses… in other words right where we live.

Writing for local publications is a good idea for several reasons:

1) It’s often easier to get an assignment from a local publication, than a national publication.

2) Contact with a local editor can lead to future writing assignments.

3) You can compile clips more quickly writing locally than you can pitching publications with larger audiences and longer lead times.

Well, that’s fine advice, you may be thinking, but how should I go about contacting local editors? The answer is the same way you contact any editor. First, familiarize yourself with their publication. Then generate a list of story ideas you can pitch. Then pick your best idea and write the actual article or draft a query letter to the appropriate editor.

If you are wondering if you should send your inquiry by mail or by email, I suggest you send it by mail with any clips you already have, as well as a resume, if you have a writing background. If you don’t have a writing background, skip the resume, unless your professional experience is pertinent to the idea you are proposing. Be sure to let the editor know that you are open for assignments, if that is the case.

An initial contact by “snail mail” will make a stronger impression than email, but email works well once the editor knows who you are. If you don’t hear back in two weeks, a polite phone follow-up is the logical next step. Don’t be too nervous, you’re simply letting this local editor know that you are available to serve them. Without groveling, this is pretty much the appropriate attitude, if you want to get an assignment.

When I assigned writers articles for American Northwest Vintage Homes online magazine, I was generally looking for a few important qualities. I want to know that the writer would work conscientiously, get the assignment done on time and write with enough of a unique style to set our magazine apart from competing publications. So don’t make the mistake of thinking that an article for a local publication will be any less work than an article for a national publication. Besides, you want to write an article strong enough to appeal to a national audience, so it will serve you well as a clip later.

Whether you are a beginning writer who needs to build up a portfolio of clips, or an experienced writer who wants to develop new clips in different genres – what are you waiting for? Contact those local editors and get writing!

Christina Katz is the author of Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (February, 2007, Writer’s Digest Books). She has been doing just that for the past five years and has published over 200 articles in magazines, newspapers, and online publications. She teaches eight nonfiction-writing classes a year and is publisher and editor of the online monthly zine, Writers On The Rise, voted by Writer’s Digest as one of the “101 Top Web Sites” for writers. Christina is a graduate of Dartmouth College and has an MFA in Fiction from Columbia College, Chicago. Visit or or for the latest about Christina.

Copyright © 2003 Christina Katz
Article originally appeared in Writers On The Rise.

I completely agree with Christina. I think a lot of times aspiring writers are quick to jump the gun and submit queries straight to national magazines. I have been guilty of that myself. But I can honestly say that while I have yet to have an idea accepted by a national publication, I write regularly for local publications that have become my "bread and butter" so to speak. I have a consistent stream of income from them and have the opportunity to write on a variety of topics, which I hope will one day catapult me into one of those women's service magazines. I'm very grateful for my local editors who are comfortable doling out big assignments to me, and I hope to maintain those relationships for a long time.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Call For Sources!

I'm swamped these days. And I need help! Would you like to see your name in an online article? I'm working on a few things for iParenting Media that I need sources for:

Pregnancy Doctor's Office Visit Primer:
The article will include a breakdown of all those darned office visits and why you have to submit a urine sample and have your blood pressure taken each time. What exactly are they looking for? At what point can you expect to be at the doctor's office once a week? When does the ultrasound and glucose testing occur? I'd love to include some anecdotes from some moms who remember those days, or who may be going through them right now! What was your least favorite part of the visits? Were any surprise medical conditions discovered during this time period?

Parents of Twins
The first year of a baby's life is a joyous and often harrowing experience for new parents. But what about the parents of multiples? Did you have the frightful experience of having two children on two different schedules during that first year? When did it happen and how did you get through it? Did you seek the help of your pediatrician?

Speech Development in Second, Third, Etc. Children
The idea for this article was inspired by my son's lack of speech development so far. His sister was talking non-stop at this age and he's very choosey about what he says. I've often heard second children (especially boys) begin talking later than their siblings. Have you had an experience like this? How did you deal with it? What kind of advice did your pediatrician or child care provider give you? I'd love to hear your stories!

If you can help me with any of these topics, please e-mail me by Nov. 25 at Include your full name and city and state of residence. Thank you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Persistence Pays Off

I knew the world of freelance was competitive, but I never fully understood to what extent until this past year. That's when I started realizing I could make a living doing this if I put my mind to it. I pestered my husband to let me convert our formal living room into a home office (I'll post pictures in a future post) and got some new computer equipment when a crash threatened to destroy hundreds of dollars of work in one day.

This past month, I started aggressively searching all the freelance job boards and applying to various positions. I kept track of my submissions on my assignments spreadsheet. For the month of October, I've applied for eleven different jobs on top of my existing clients. I got the job at 451 Press within twenty-four hours, made the finals (but wasn't hired) for another blogging job, had my application put on hold for possible hiring in early 2008 for a different blog, and today . . . landed an assignment with Greater Charlotte Biz magazine. So I guess persistence does pay off.

I need to keep up the persistence even more now because we finally got the family SUV of our dreams this past weekend. Every time I get behind the wheel, I tell myself the following: "Must make enough to pay for this. Must make enough to pay for this."

I'm tired. It's been a long and busy month. Take care!

Thanks for Stopping By!

Recently, I've had an epiphany. I *heart* blogging. I know it's a medium that's been around for awhile, but I never thought I was technically savvy enough to participate.

I guess I was wrong. A few months ago I worked out a deal to blog for, and last week I was hired to blog about Tori Amos at 451 Press. Learning the software has been surprisingly easy. Fun times!

With this blog, I decided to focus on my writing business, Finished Pages. My husband Daniel and I built up my website last fall and my business took off! But I kind of slacked on updating my website (because I don't get paid for it) and focused on my paying clients. I thought if I had a blog linked with Finished Pages, I would be sure to update friends, family and colleagues on my latest projects.

Here's what I'm working on currently:

  • I write the "On the Menu" column for the Lake Norman Neighbors section of The Charlotte Observer. Yum!
  • While the regular columnist is on maternity leave, I'm also writing the "Bumper to Bumper" traffic column every other week for LKN Neighbors.
  • Regular parenting and pregnancy articles for iParenting Media
  • Occasional articles for Charlotte Parent
  • Public relations consulting for a local communications agency

Occasionally I'll be posting a call for sources. Want to be featured in an online or print article? You can just e-mail me if you see a topic you have an opinion on. Gotta run now, I've got to prepare for a phone interview in thirty minutes. Please check back often!