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.