Wednesday, May 20, 2009

These Things Are a Drag . . .

Remember Rocky Dennis from the movie "Mask?" I still have a hard time watching it, but in my mind, Rocky was one of the purest souls who ever walked this earth as well as one of the strongest. It's been a difficult day, but for some reason his "These Things Are a Drag" list popped into my head tonight:

"These things are good: ice cream and cake, a ride on a harley, seeing monkeys in the trees, the rain on my tongue, and the sun shining on my face. These things are a drag: dust in my hair, holes in my shoes, no money in my pocket, and the sun shining on my face. "

I have two freelance articles due in a few days, but I have to take a mental break for now. I'll make up my own list:

These Things are Good:
  • My wonderfully supportive husband
  • My beautiful, insanely intelligent daughter
  • My son, who is a very funny guy now that he's started talking
  • Starbucks
  • Good friends who let me sob my heart out over the phone when I need it
  • The roof over my head and food in my refrigerator
  • My one-eyed Chihuahua Odie who always gives me a snuggle when I need it
. . . and the sun shining on my face.

These Things are a Drag:
  • Watching my children experience physical or mental pain
  • Seeing my one-eyed Chihuahua run into furniture because he has no peripheral vision left
  • Being paralyzed by fear of the unknown and overhwelmed by anxiety
  • Not being able to let go of things I should
Anyone else?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's All Within My Reach

Just a few years ago I was sitting at home with my baby girl, dreaming of becoming a freelance writer but with no clue on how to start. I read all the "must-have" books on how to earn money by writing and could read more if I didn't now having paying assignments and a part-time job in the industry to try and keep up with. But there is still one non-fiction title I have yet to see on the shelves, and I've decided to bite the bullet (pun intended here) and start working on a proposal. I found a copy of Bulletproof Book Proposals at my local library and it's full of practical, tangible, step-by-step directions on how to land your idea directly into the hands of a literary agent. And, it has 12-real-life proposals that were actually accepted, which are great examples. So, hopefully I can complete this project and hope no other writer out there has a deal in the making. But time will only tell. I have to give it a shot, right?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Just Can't Stop Reading About This . . .

What is it about the Gosselin family that is like a train wreck you can't help but watch? I watch their reality show on TLC every once in a while, and I'm no expert, but I can already tell one of the twins, Madeline, has some serious issues with being one of two sets of multiples. But more and more, I'm feeling sorry for those kids, because it looks like neither parent ever has time to be home with all the book signings, carousing, TV appearances, more carousing . . . you get the idea. I know they have a right to their privacy, but I can't help myself. It's just like when I had to watch Elizabeth Edwards on Oprah last week even though I never watch that show normally. Train wreck again. Anyone else this shameless? Or is it just the wannabe entertainment reporter in me that can't look away?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Things That Get Published . . .

I'm a magazine junkie. If you know me at all, you know this. I'll look at any magazine that comes my way at least once, as I consider it all research for future article ideas and queries. But I recently received a local publication in my mailbox that stopped me in my tracks. First of all, I'll say the masthead font (and some of the title) is a complete rip-off of a very well-known national publication. But I'd really like to focus this rant on the editor's letter. Here are a few sentences that struck me in particular:
  • As the editor of [magazine to remain nameless], it is my hope that the articles, help full tips and vivid pictures in [magazine name] will inspire you to plant your own garden or tackle some of those home improvement projects you may have been putting off.
  • This months issue was a lot of fun.
  • The Historic Society is a tremendous resources; however, if you know of any hidden gems I'd love to hear about them.
There were a few more errors, but those are the main ones that caught my eye. I expect to see these types of mistakes in blogs or Web sites with self-publishing models, but a free publication that is mailed to local residents, and has the support of local advertisers? Someone needs a good copy editor.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Deadline Approaching!

Oh, wait a minute. Which deadline am I talking about? Is it the deadline of Charlotte Parent, where we go to press next week for the June issue? Or is it the deadline of another article I have due in a few weeks? No, actually, I'm talking about yet ANOTHER deadline I'm thinking about trying to squeak under. The Writer's Digest 78th Annual Writing Competition closes on May 15, and I'm thinking of submitting a magazine feature article and maybe an entry in the memoir/personal essay categories if I can get my act together. The competition will award more than $30,000 in cash and prizes, including a Grand Prize of $3,000 cash and a trip to the Big Apple to meet with agents. Exciting! Check out their Web site for an official list of categories, rules and regulations.
I got a nice mention on the Gwendolyn Strong blog, where I interviewed dad Bill Strong for an iParenting "Dad of the Month" feature article last month. Bill and wife Victoria are probably the most amazing parents I've ever had the pleasure of being acquainted with, and you'll fall in love with the photos of their daughter Gwendolyn, who received a diagnosis of Spinal Muscular Atrophy while still an infant. Check out their story, and if you get a chance, sign their petition to cure SMA.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I Have Been a Mom for Five Years . . .

And it's still hard to believe all the things I have accomplished, both personally and professionally, since Mia Isabel came into this world five and a half years ago. When she was about 2, I decided, what the heck? Why not give this freelance writing thing a go? I picked up a copy of "Writer Mama" by Christina Katz and a few trusted reference books on freelancing and I never looked back.
I can honestly say if it weren't for my kids, I never would have been so adventurous in my freelancing endeavors. I wouldn't have felt the need for an alternative 9 to 5 schedule so I could be with my kids during their most productive (and fun) hours of the day. I never would have earned the trust of respected editors and pitched and landed assignment after assignment. I am now a part-time editor in addition to a writer, and my copy editing skills have definitely benefited from this experience. All around me I see other parents succeeding in the same field and I am proud to be a part of this group of amazing people -- a group of people who need to support their families and make their own schedules at the same time. I hope this doesn't change anytime soon.
Oh, and the reason I haven't posted in MONTHS? I was training for that pesky half marathon. And I finally ran it last month, even with a painful shin injury. It was hard, and the second half of the race was completely grueling, but I finished it in a respectable amount of time. And I took the experience and pitched a story on it, because my new mantra is "Write What You Know." (See my Web site for further details). That article should be coming out in a local publication in July. Stay tuned.
I guess my husband thinks I'm pretty cool too -- just look what he gave me this morning in honor of Mother's Day! The iPod Touch I've been moping over for months.
Thanks to Mia and Noah too. Because of them I have the greatest job on earth. Being a mom.