Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I just thought I'd pop in quickly and update everyone on what's going on in my writing life. We're in the process of putting the January issue of Charlotte Parent to bed (tomorrow at 1 p.m., keep your fingers crossed!) and all my freelance articles due this month are off my plate. I hope to get caught up on some of those fun, business-related tasks like updating my blogs and Web site over the holiday break, as well as get my game plan going for 2009! I've got lots of article ideas I want to flesh out, as I'm hoping to begin making a name for myself in the health and wellness genre soon. And this is the year I'm finally going to begin work on my passion project, the currently untitled NOVEL, even if it just working on it 30 minutes a day!
In my personal life, I'm strongly considering tackling a half marathon in April. I've run two 10Ks in the past few months at just under an hour each, so I feel I'm halfway to my goal already. Of course, training will take some time away from my writing, but it doesn't look too daunting yet. The hardest part will be scheduling a one or two hour run every Saturday from January until race day.
So how is December treating you? Have you had more work than usual, or has your business been affected by the downturn? What are some of your goals for the new year?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Creatively Challenged

I'm afraid I'm rapidly reaching writer burn-out. I'm not sure what is going on lately, but I'm having the hardest time being creative. At work, I struggle to write catchy headlines and subheads. I can't seem to find a way to put a fresh angle on an "evergreen story." I'm starting to fear for my productivity in 2009 if I keep this up!

On the other hand, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with all my freelance assignments on it, broken out by month. I happened to start going over it the other day and was a little startled. Since January of this year, I've written:
  • So many blog posts in various places I've lost count
  • At least 24 parenting articles both online and print
  • About 4 pro bono articles for Little Blue World, including a celebrity interview with Perez Hilton where I got to talk to him on the phone!
So I guess I've been busy. And by the looks of it I won't be slowing down anytime soon. I just need to figure out how to take some kind of mental vacation (a physical one would be nice too) so I can recharge my creative batteries! How do you do it?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Free Verse

I'm tired and it's been a long day, so I think I'm just going to randomly scatter my thoughts into this post. Bear with me. I'll try to be grammatically correct but I just don't feel like worrying about what form this goes in right now! Maybe bullet points would make it easier to read:
  • Have you ever had a good idea for an article but didn't do anything about it? Then six months down the road, you see your article pop up in a national magazine with someone else's byline? It's happened to many times, most recently in the October issue of Self magazine. I thought of an article idea about how to unleash your creativity awhile back, and lo and behold, I came across it in last month's issue. It was a good read, and a good kick on the pants for me to get off my duff and start querying the nationals again!
  • I participated in the "Writer Mama Back-To-School Giveaway" in September, and Christina Katz recently named me one of the three most inspirational participants in the contest! She awarded us two signed copies of her books, and I'm chomping at the bit to begin reading her latest, "Get Known Before the Book Deal." I'll try and post a review of the book in the next few weeks!
  • I found a cool new blog over at called "Poked and Prodded." I especially love the posts written by parents of a child with a peanut allergy. I have a beautiful, completely huggable almost 3-year-old son with a peanut allergy and severe speech delay, and the author's words hit right home. I try to be positive for the most part, but having a son with such a serious food allergy who can't express it in potentially dangerous situations is enough to make my heart stop at times. It's something we battle daily, and I still marvel at the insensitivity other parents have towards it.

  • Looking for some new writing resources? I wrote a guest blog at Freelance Writing Jobs a few months ago as part of a contest, and while I didn't win, this post was a hit! Check it out when you get a chance.
  • It's been sort of a melancholy day. I plan to finish it up by doing a little yoga and strength training after the kids go to bed. Coldplay's "X&Y" album has been on repeat on the iPod today. Namaste!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

It's Been Too Long . . .

Since I last posted on this blog. I am ashamed. Things got unbelievably hectic starting in August, and my life has yet to slow down. Part of it is self-inflicted, as I am still training regularly and  competing in the occasional road race. After embarking on that journey this past May, I lost half of my body fat and now weigh 115 pounds, 93 of which are pure muscle. It's a great feeling to have the body of an athlete, but believe me, I have worked my tush off for it. It's had a tremendous effect on my mood  and energy levels, not to mention I don't run and scream from department store dressing room mirrors any more!
In August, I got a part-time job opportunity with a magazine I had been freelancing for over the past few years, and am excited to now be working as an associate editor at Charlotte Parent. It's hard work, but I am learning so much. After five years of sitting in a lonely home office, I enjoy socializing with my co-workers. And I still get to leave in time to pick up both my kids from school.
 I also still do some freelancing on the side, so life is good. And busy. My daughter started kindergarten this year and my son is at an in-home daycare, so juggling their demands, energy levels and working 25+ hours a week on my projects is definitely a balancing act. I'm going to sit down and work up a regular, weekly schedule for this blog, because I love blogging and enjoy the feedback I get from visitors. If I've learned anything over the past year, it is that we all learn tremendously from each other. I would not be where I am without the support and advice of fellow writers and mentors.
I'm interested to see how writers are faring in the freelance field during this time of economic crisis. Interestingly enough, I was approached for at least two other significant contract jobs right around the time I accepted my new job, which I found surprising given the state of our economy. But, I guess it makes sense. More and more companies are outsourcing their copywriting and reporting so they don't have the burden of full-time salaries and benefits for their staffs. Have you found yourself getting more and more work recently? Let me know how you're doing!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Elephant In The Room

I found an interesting post over by Tamara and Lorna over at Freelance Parent. They often field the question "how much money can you make as a freelance writer?" So, they decided to share their gross income for the past month. It made for an interesting discussion, because I know that's always the "elephant in the room" when the topic of what a writer does for a living comes up in a casual conversation.

Honestly, for me, it fluctuates. Certain times of the year are busier. I typically find that the fall is extremely busy for me, and things pipe down a little in the summertime. (Or it may be the for the past few summers, I've had both kids home a lot so I haven't had as much time to prospect for new leads). And it all depends on how much you work. For the past two years, I'd say I've probably averaged 20 hours a week working, and that includes the not-so-fun business aspects of the job like filing, invoicing, prospecting, etc. So, without further adieu, I share with you the fruits of my labor:
  • So far this year, my gross monthly income has averaged at about $750 dollars. That typically includes two to three regular clients. My largest client is an online Web site, and one or two regional magazine articles fill in the gaps.
  • My biggest month last year was November, where I was working a lot as a stringer for the local newspaper and picked up extra assignments from one online site. I grossed $1,600, and worked extremely hard that month for every penny!
Now I'm hoping to triple my current monthly income once school starts, as both my kids will be in school at least six hours a day this year. I'm already trying to get my work lined up so my plate will be nice and full next month.

If you're working a full-time job but want to quit to become a freelance writer, Deb Ng has some good tips for you over at Freelance Writing Jobs. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You're Only Human

I read an interesting post today by Jodee at Freelance Writing Jobs. She talks about the best way to handle a situation where you hand in work to a client that is less than stellar. I've had it happen. You've probably had it happen. We're all human. It's going to happen at one time or another. I used to take it really personal and feel like I let a client down in the worst way, which can be good and bad. Bad because it puts undue (and most of the time, unnecessary) stress on me. Good because it causes me to get my rear in gear and fix the problem, pronto! Most of the time, it turns out well. I've been fortunate and most of my editors have been really understanding and continue to send work my way. And those who don't? Well, maybe they aren't clients I want to work for if they are that inflexible and unforgiving of one honest mistake.

I think Jodee is right in her advice that you do the best job you can and handle the situation with grace. Turning in shoddy work and then disappearing off the face of the earth is probably not in your best interest. Do you agree or disagree, or does it depend on the circumstances? For me, I can't beat myself up too much if I don't turn in fantastic work in a two-day turnaround time, especially when interviewing sources is required!

Monday, July 28, 2008

She Makes It Look So Easy

I deliberately set aside the latest issue of Writer's Digest when it arrived in the mail a few weeks ago, as I wanted to have some reading material for the ride to the coast. Most importantly, I relished the thought of learning more about Diablo Cody, the featured WD interview of the month. I learned a few things I hadn't heard yet about Cody, such as how she started out her career typing copy at a Minnesota ad agency. I too started out in the biz humbly, I was an administrative assistant at a small ad agency in North Carolina right out of college. I did everything from make coffee to type up insertion orders to answer the phones. (I also met my hubby there, but I digress).

Fed up with not writing, Cody took a job as a stripper to have something to write about. Hey, whatever works, right? Now she's an Academy-award winning screenwriter with a plate full of projects. If only . . .

I like that Cody is so down-to-earth and matter of fact when she discusses writing. She basically looks at a blank page as the most fun in the world, because to her writing isn't work, but play. I'll have to remember that once I get back to writing my novel that always seems to get pushed aside.

Writer's Digest has also revamped their site, and I highly encourage you to take a new look at it. Honestly, I've been kind of afraid to because I already have way to many online diversions! But seriously, you can find writing prompts, blogs, informative articles, interviews, writing competitions, and even an online community. Very nice.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Back From Vacation . . .

And back to reality! We just returned from a nice, relaxing, sun-filled week at the North Carolina coast. It truly was wonderful, and I even finished two novels in one week, which is unheard of these days. I did have to log in a few days and check e-mail periodically, as the week before vacation found me turning in three different articles and I had to make sure my editors didn't have any burning questions. Hey -- I tried my best to be unavailable, but I just can't seem to do it!

The past few summers have found me scrambling to find reliable childcare so I could still get my regular work done without the help of of the wonderful preschool down the street. It's hard to toil away at the computer when I can hear the sounds of neighborhood kids splashing in in the pool down the street as I make my daily trek out to the mailbox to look for checks. I try to make it fun for the kids, because it is summer vacation after all, but inevitably, I find myself checking my e-mail every five minutes and frantically typing during my son's naptime.

I came across a great article on writing during the summer courtesy of the Writer Mama e-zine. You should really subscribe if you get a chance. I get excited when it hits my inbox, and they even gave this blog a shout-out recently (hi to all the new visitors who found Renee's Pages via the Writer Mama zine)!

Mary Andonian has been around the summertime block a few times, and I enjoyed her suggestions for "how to spend summer vacation." Just a few of the useful tips I gleaned from the article:

  • Organize your workspace and materials -- with your children by your side! I know my daughter loves playing the role of office "assistant" so I'll be sure to have her help me get my desk cleaned off later this week.
  • Arrange a child swap with a fellow writer mama. I have a few friends I need to call to arrange this very thing before summer's end.
  • Send your children to summer camp! My daughter has been enjoying several this summer. The problem? My son wasn't old enough to go yet, so I had to find additional childcare for him while she attended camp. End result? Drop in profits! Next summer they'll both be able to go!
  • My personal favorite: rejuvenate! I'm pleased with what I've been able to accomplish this year and look forward to planning the rest of the year out, when both kids will be in school and I'll have more time to block out strictly for work.
Hope you're enjoying your summer! I can't believe it's almost August already.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Exciting Times

I've spent the past few weeks trying to meet deadlines and taking on a rush job for a local business publication. I love the prospect of a new client, but I don't love how long it is taking for people to call me back. The clock is ticking and it looks like I'll be working at the eleventh hour to complete it . . . always fun.

One of my favorite Web sites, Freelance Writing Jobs, has decided to hold a contest modeled after "American Idol" to fill two new blogger positions. I went back and forth trying to decide if I should publicly submit my credentials for voting, and finally did. This paying position will require two blog posts per week on a writing specialty or niche. Visitors to the site voted on who the top twelve contestants should be, and I was disappointed not to get any votes. However, the two lovely ladies who run the site decided to make me the 13th "wild card" contestant. Yea me! From here on all contestants will submit posts anonymously for people to vote on. Wish me luck!

I've lost over ten pounds since I began eating better, strength training and running in April. I'm running my second 5K this weekend and am hoping to fly this time. I'm a few pounds lighter than my last race so maybe that will work in my favor.

Many thanks to my wonderful husband this week who has taken time off from work to help me juggle the kids, doctor's appointments and deadlines! Back to work now . . .

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Random E-mails and a Proposition

I don't get too many spam or strange e-mails, but a bizare one landed in my inbox the other day. It went something like this:

Hey There,

I am friends with Robby Blinder. He asked me to try and find an old friend of his named Renee Roberson. He told me she would be hard to find but to try Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

I googled that name and you came up??? He said that she would be around 35-40 years old. LOL!!! ARE YOU HER? If so, please write back. Also, if you are not can you help me? Here in the United States I would just look under the white pages, but I am not sure how  Australia does it . . . Heck are you even from Australia?

LOL!!! If your not her I am sorry about this . . .


Brian Rodrick
Phone number, state of residence

Hmm, rather bizarre, if you ask me. My first though was why this Robby person (names have been slightly changed, by the way) can't investigate this woman himself. Where is he exactly, and I'm assuming he doesn't have access to a computer? Anyway, I shot a quick e-mail back to this Brian character . . .

Sorry, I think you've got the wrong gal. I've never been to Australia and I'm from the States too. Best of luck with your search!

Renee Roberson

I thought dude would let it go, but alas, no.

Thanks for the reply. He said he met this girl in Bali, Indonesia . . . not you, huh?? Dang! 
Well, thank you for writing back.


Nope, definitely not me. Roberson is my married name, anyway.
Renee Roberson

Dang, so your married? That was the next thing I was going to do, start hitting on you.
But okay, LOL!!! I will leave you alone.

Thanks again, 

Okay. Interesting. Hopefully my husband won't read this post:) I never thought having my e-mail address published online would attract these sorts of people, but whatever. Maybe I have, perhaps, finally arrived.

Testimonials, anyone?

I've  been working on updating the Web site for my business, and hope to continue tweaking it here and there in the next few days. I added a new page for "testimonials," as I always enjoy reading these on other writer sites. I'm shamelessly asking for your help in this. If you are a reader of one of my blogs, an editor, expert, or public relations professional I've worked with in the past, I'd love a testimonial from you to include on the new page. It doesn't have to be long, just a few sentences on what it is like to work with me or why you like to read my work. It would be greatly appreciated! You can shoot me an e-mail at Renee(AT)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

When You're The Only Employee . . .

Well, I think I know now why I feel so overwhelmed most of the time. I recently sat down and broke down all the individual tasks involved with being a freelance writer. When I first started sending out queries a few years ago I never dreamed things would get this involved. It was definitely eye-opening, and a little scary to say the least. My desk is a mess right now, and at the bottom of it is my list. My goal in the next week is to set up some sort of organizational plan, even if it means outsourcing a few things. Here is what I've come up with that I have to set up a system for:

  • Manage e-mail (I am horrible at this)
  • Setting up phone and e-mail interviews
  • Writing articles/following up with sources
  • Read favorite blogs and e-zines
  • Update my blogs
  • Update website
  • Prospecting/self-promtion/marketing
  • Work on national magazine queries
  • Administrative (filing expenses, mileage, invoicing, back-up files)
My fellow writers, how do you handle your day-to-day tasks without allowing them all to suck the creativity out of you? I'd really love to hear some of your tips!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Late Night Thoughts

I've had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend, way too much coffee, and the pressure of looming deadlines to keep me awake. My first-born child graduated from preschool this past week, and now I've got a new summer schedule to try and make work. I already have some assignments booked through June, which is a nice feeling.  If you are reading this and had any crazy pregnancy symptoms you'd like to share for an upcoming article, drop me an e-mail or state your case in the comments.

I really wish I could get more organized, but there never seem to be enough hours in the day. I'm scrambling to get my copy together for the summer issue of Little Blue World, and a person I was supposed to interview for the past two issues has disappeared on me again. Instead, I've got a potentially exciting interview lined up for tomorrow (and no, it's not Tori Amos), which I'll share with you once all is said and done. Let's just say sometimes you have to just bite the bullet and follow your instincts. If I pull this one off I'll deserve a medal! (Or a bottle of nice red wine will do).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Helping Reporters Out

I'm always looking for good places to find sources, and a few months ago I read about Peter Shankman's "Help A Reporter Out" e-mail list. He's in touch with tons of PR contacts and sources constantly, so he's been putting together e-mails based on reporter needs and queries. I've used it twice so far, and it's been a tremendous help. Bookmark this page now!

How's This For Irony?

I work as a professional writer juggling query ideas, researching articles and meeting deadlines daily. But right now, I should be planning a birthday party for my daughter that is taking place on June 7 at Chuck E. Cheese. For some reason, I just can't bring myself to do it. For one thing, I hate to say this, but I don't think we're going to be able to invite every single one of my daughter's friends! And I'm not sure how many people to actually reserve seats for, because I haven't sent out invitations yet! And then how many extra seats am I going to need for the parents bringing their children? AAAGH!

I thought this would be so much easier than hosting at our house like we usually do, but this is ridiculous. What is wrong with me? Now my daughter's heart is set on having her party there so I must follow through. Or get Daddy to when he gets home tonight. There. How's that for delegating?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Aww, Thanks!

Recently, I got to interview Brad Powell with DadLabs, a father of two who works with a team of campadres in Texas to provide a wealth of information via video and the web for hip, in-the-know fathers all across the United States. It was nice chatting with a fellow Texan, and refreshing to meet a dad who is so firmly entrenched in the business of parenting that he turned it into a career. I was surprised (and honored!) to stumble across a link from DadLabs recognizing the article and thanking me personally. As I sit here hovering under a looming deadline it was nice to get some kudos. Check out the article on

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm celebrating my fourth year of being a mother this year. What a proud day for me! Becoming a mother gave me the courage I needed to jump start my career as a freelance writer so I could have the best of both worlds. Having them in my life and wanting to see my grandchildren grow up has given me the motivation to get in shape and change my health and fitness regimen for the better. I kicked off this weekend by running my first 5K in over thirteen years. It was a lot of fun, and having my family cheer me on at the finish line was the most motivating experience ever. For my Mother's Day gift, I'm having a new bookcase delivered here Tuesday for my home office, which is my haven. And an 80s Trivial Pursuit game, which I can't wait to challenge my husband on! Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow writer mamas. You're the best!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Choose Your Projects Wisely

In my last post I talked about trying something new with your writing to keep things interesting. I started thinking about that, and thought I'd share another piece of advice my non-writer husband is always throwing at me -- choose your projects wisely.

By this, I mean be selective in what you decide to work on, especially if you have a limited number of hours a week to work like I do. The thought of doing something you don't really love may cross your mind when you think of the extra money it could bring in, but don't do it! I've been in that same position before and it's always backfired in my face. A few examples of this:

  • I wanted to get more blogging experience, so around Christmas last year I decided to take a job with a blogging network to make extra cash. I really should have known better, because my application was accepted way too quickly. Not that I didn't have the experience for the job, but most legitimate gigs process a number of applications before making a final decision. I got offered a job within five minutes. So I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I took this job writing a 250-word post five times a week for 50 cents a post. That was supposed to be for the first three months, then the pay increased. That may sound easy to some people, but each post had to to have two links back to posts within that network. That's kind of hard when you're writing about a recording artist like I was. So I would spend a lot of time finding posts to link back to before I even started writing the darned things. Needless to say, I wasted a lot of time on that job, neglected my better paying clients and got a whopping $5 or so my first paycheck. I quickly burned out a few weeks later.
  • I also decided to do some public relations work for an agency once who only wanted me to call members of the media on every press release that was distributed, even if it only announced the slightest bit of news. I never even got to write any press releases, which is why I was originally hired. I ended up feeling like a sales person instead of a writer and both me and the client became pretty unhappy quickly.
I think I'll finally start following my husband's advice. I'm going to be more selective on what I work on and really think about if it's something I want to spend time on. I'm hoping it will make me a better quality writer in the long run, and help me focus more on the work I really, truly love doing.

Try Something New

As with everything else in life, writers frequently find themselves in ruts. You may have gotten your start writing for newspapers but would like to branch out into longer length feature pieces in magazines. Or, you may be tired of writing 2,000 plus word articles and looking for something with as much substance, just shorter.

I recently found myself in a rut all around. I wanted to lose weight but continued to eat too many calories, hoping my three 30-minute sessions at the gym each week would justify it. Boy, was I wrong! Now I'm working out much more than that and eating more whole foods and less saturated fat. While I was too terrified to try a cycling class before, now I'm in one once a week, and running more miles than I have in years. It was hard at first, and I won't lie and say there wasn't a fair amount of pain involved in stepping up my routine. But it didn't take long to start seeing the results, so I decided to apply some of my newfound wisdom to my writing.

I came across an opportunity to do some ghostwriting, and was a little nervous about it at first because it's something I've never done before. But after I had a few assignments under my belt, I began to feel more liberated. So someone doesn't like what I wrote? Oh well, my name isn't on it! Anonymity feels good every once in a while, especially if you are still receiving a reasonable paycheck from it.

So I urge you to try something new if you feel your writing and interests have gotten a little stale. Don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Start up a new blog. Query a publication you never thought of contacting before. Branch out into a little public relations writing. You'll feel much better mentally (and perhaps discover a new stream of income) once you do!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Challenge: Pass a Good Lead To Another Writer

A few days ago, a friend called for some advice. She's been freelancing for a trade magazine for about five years and they recently had some editorial staff changes that were making her nervous. I offered her some advice for picking up extra work, and later that day, I came across a lead that I thought was perfect for her.

I could have applied for this job myself. I had a little experience in that particular field and the credentials necessary. But then I thought of her, and how she was even more qualified, so I sent it to her instead. I just landed a pretty neat ghostwriting/blogging gig myself so my plate is getting full.

I firmly believe this is something we should all do when given the chance. If you see a gig you might not be the right fit for, but know someone who would, why not pass it on? You never know, that person might land their dream job and end up referring you to a future employer down the road.

So here's my Friday Challenge to you -- refer a lead to a fellow writer.  Here are a few of my favorite places to look for leads:

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How I Became an Undomestic Goddess

How's this for irony? A few years ago, after two years of being a stay-at-home other, I decided to venture into freelance writing. At the time, regional parenting magazine Charlotte Parent ran a guest column each month. Writers were welcome to submit their stories for possible publication, with no pay. One evening, I dashed off an essay about how becoming a mother made me learn how to cook and keep a clean house, and how much I enjoyed making chocolate chip cookies from scratch. I know, kind of sickening, and now that I look back upon it . . . just plain old funny.

A few months later, my mother-in-law called to rave about the essay I had written for a magazine. I didn't know what she was talking about, especially since she lived an hour and a half away. I realized she was talking about my Charlotte Parent submission, which my sister-in-law had heard about from a friend who lived in my town, etc. Imagine my surprise when I picked up a copy of the publication at my local grocery store and saw my essay -- and byline -- in print. It was called "How I Became a Domestic Goddess." The funny thing is that it apparently offended a few working moms who weren't able to be as domestic as I was for lack of time, and one even wrote a huffy letter to the editor the next month.

Fast forward three years and I am now a blogger for I write about the perils of being a work-at-home mother in the blog "Round the Clock." My house is anything but clean. Dinner is usually a thrown-together affair during the week. It's complete insanity, and completely opposite from when I first became a mother. Things change. Circumstances change. I love what I do. I love that I now have a beautiful home office. I don't love the fact that I have cobwebs in the corners because I rarely find the time to dust.

Read about how a typical day in my working goes in a recent post over at You'll see how much I've become an "undomestic goddess" in the process.

Want To Break Into a National Magazine? Think Outside The Box

I came across an interesting post over at About Freelance Writing recently. Guest columnist Melissa Walker gives solid advice on how to break into the nationals -- and included several tips that I hadn't heard of before. Among them:

  • Pitch to associate editors instead of sending your queries straight to the top with the senior editors. Apparently associate editors are always on look-out for new, reliable writers and are usually more willing to hear fresh pitches. They are also eager to impress their bosses, and talented writers with intriguing ideas can help them do that.
  • Flatter the editor with your love for her newly designed section of the magazine or a book she just published. I've never even thought of putting an editor's name into a Google search engine to see what else they've been up to. Where's my list again?
  • Don't forget to clip interesting stories you see in your local news. With a little extra legwork, you could take that story and pitch it nationally. An on-staff reporter for a newspaper usually doesn't have time or the energy (or even permission) to carry the story to further media outlets. I recently clipped out an interesting article with the intention of possibly using the story in a novel. Maybe I need to rethink that and use it now.
Check out more tips from Melissa Walker over at And thanks to Allena for finding such a qualified and helpful writer to give tips!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Never Underestimate the Power of Social Networking

So I was venting about not having any sources yet for an article due next week in a recent post. I made a last frantic attempt at posting threads on every online forum I belong to, and guess what? I got some very good leads in the past few days! I may be able to get this article done on time, after all. I have to say a big "thank you" to everyone who forwarded me possible sources and different avenues to explore. This is why I have to stress to any writer starting out (or even those already established) how important the power of social networking is. You never know who you might come across that could be an excellent source or know where to find the best sources. I even broke down recently and signed up on MySpace (which I said I would never do) but it has helped me reconnect with some old friends and even helped me get in touch with some much needed sources. On the flip side, if you happen to see a call for sources in your "travels" that you would be perfect for, get in touch with that writer! It's called karma, and it will only bring good things to you if all is handled in a timely and professional manner.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just Call Me Valerie Bertinelli

I remember reading something on the Writer Mama blog a few months ago about how being a writer sometimes equals weight gain. I could relate to that post, and I finally decided to do something about it. While I've had a blast working as a freelance writer, I've found myself in way too many coffee shops snacking on muffins and drinking lattes. Or working very late at night and drinking coffee, which is not exactly stellar for the metabolism.

I enlisted some professional help and am working on getting my nutrition and fitness back on track in hopes of losing the fifteen extra pounds I've picked up over the past year. It's the reason I haven't been posting on this blog very often, and one of the reasons I've taken on less work this month.

I want to find a way to balance it all -- working out five days a week, writing at least twenty hours a week, spending time with my family, etc. So far I've still got some balls hanging in the air, but hopefully everything will even out soon and these shin splints will go away.

It's been a great experience so far, and I really need to record the process because it would make, of course, a great article idea for one of the fitness or women's magazines! I'm already considering a subscription to Health magazine because the editorial is really in line with the changes I've made to my lifestyle (although the last thing we need around here is more magazines). I'll research the editorial well and let you know what sections are looking for freelance submissions soon. Wish me luck!

Sources, Where Are You?

Have you ever been given an assignment that didn't sound so bad at first, but after you dug in, left you hunting for sources under every rock you could think of?

That's where I'm at right now. The article is due Tuesday and so far I have one expert and no anecdotal sources. I'm trying hard not to go into panic mode yet. I'm not sure if I should go ahead and tell my editor that it seems to be a sensitive subject and I'm still searching high and low for one or two people to interview. Or should I just grit my teeth, forge ahead and get something turned in without complaining?

Because that's my problem. When it comes to writing, I'm a people pleaser. I don't like to tell editors I'm stumbling over road blocks. I don't want anyone to think I can't complete my assignments, tricky as they might turn out to be. Because then they may not want to work with me again. I'm kind of a wimp that way.

So what would you do? I typically start losing sleep when this occurs, which is never a good thing. And I'm so worried about it I'm procrastinating and not completing the work I do have sources for. It's a vicious cycle.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Weekend, Here I Come!

I am so proud of myself at the moment. It's 4:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon, and I am pleased to say all my work has been completed for this week. I had five assignments due this week, but instead of panicking like I usually do, I just lined up some extra childcare and got to work. I even had two articles that were due tomorrow, and I turned them both in a few minutes ago. A day early. That is pretty much unheard of in my world. Of course, I do have over two hundred e-mails in my inbox right now that either need to be filed, deleted or replied to, tax information to compile, and a website to update, but I'm trying not to think about that right now.

To tell you the truth, I didn't have high hopes for this week after getting pulled over by a policeman bright and early Monday morning. There have been a rash of break-ins in town recently, particularly in the neighborhood my babysitter lives in. Apparently the suspects often drive some sort of SUV, which I drive, as does half the town. So a patrol cop eyeballed me as I pulled up in front of the sitter's house. He studied my license tag before driving off. Then he followed me out of the neighborhood and finally pulled me over right past the elementary school. Lovely. My registration on my tag had expired in January and I SWEAR I was just about to renew it but . . . now I have a lovely court date in May. And I swear I've been followed by several different cops since then. Who knew a silver SUV would be so suspicious? I hope they catch these guys soon so I can get some peace.

I am ready to kick back and pour myself a glass of wine. Maybe I should wait until 5 p.m. Isn't that when "happy hour" typically begins?

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Kid in a Candy Store

Yesterday my family trekked into Charlotte to visit the local Apple Store. I swear I'm like a kid in a candy store in that place. I picked up software packages for both my kids (they are four and two, mind you) but they both are already hooked on our MAC. My daughter has been asking us for a software called Kid Pix for awhile so we finally gave in. While browsing the shelves, I finally made the decision to purchase a writer's software package called Writer's Dreamkit. I figured it might finally give me the kick in the pants I needed to get my novel out of my head and onto paper. It's funny though, because several people who saw me holding the box stopped me and asked me if I was a writer. I was happy to report that I was, although not making a ton of money yet, but it has been rewarding so far!

The employee who helped me actually has a manuscript with an agent but she said she was sure it wouldn't get picked up. She wanted me to call her and let her know how the software worked, because it was a lot cheaper than hiring a book coach.

I sat down last night with my new toy and got my entire plot outlined. Next, I start working on character development. It's very exciting to see it finally coming along. I'm getting ready to interview a sleep expert in a few minutes for a parenting article, and then I'll head out to find a place to feature in my dining column this week. Last week was extremely busy but I somehow got through it.

I wrote a parenting article, a newspaper column, two newspaper articles, a blog column, and something else, but I can't remember what that was right now. This week should be a tad slower with only two assignments due, but I'm working on two others for next week.

So, what are you up to this week?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Which Editor To Query?

One of the common complaints from magazine editors is that writers send out queries blindly without researching which editor is the appropriate one for your topic. It can be intimidating to open up a magazine masthead and stare at a fifty or so odd names that could possibly receive your query, but probably shouldn't. I found this article by Allena Tapia, the guide to Freelance Writing at, extremely helpful. I'm happy to say at least two of my magazine e-queries were sent to the right editors -- and got me quick (within a few hours) responses. No acceptance responses yet, but hopefully soon!

Holding Myself Accountable

A few weeks ago I was telling everyone I needed a slight break from work to avoid burn-out. Luckily, by chance, I got one, and my workload looks pretty light this month. My son, who will be two next month, has a slight speech delay so I've had to take some time off for evaluations and such. He'll probably have to undergo weekly therapy a few times a week after next month so that will cut into my free time a little.

So I'm gearing up to send out some new queries and finally start working on my novel. I thought maybe if I tracked my progress on it in this blog I might feel more motivation (and pressure) to actually get some chapters cranked out! Here are my goals for the next week. I'll try to do a weekly check-in on Sundays from here on out:

1. Write 20 pages of untitled novel
2. Research and send out two magazine queries
3. Finish up my newspaper columns (two) that are due Tuesday
4. Look for new freelance leads each morning. Check out Deb Ng's list of the best places to look for blogging and freelance jobs.

So . . . what's on your list this week?