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!