Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Holy Cow

I noticed my Sporting News blog's latest post had gotten over 350 hits in less than 12 hours. I thought, cool, people are noticing my blog. Then, as I was reading the front page of the site, I saw I was a featured link again. Two weeks in a row. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of blogs out there to choose from, and they picked mine again.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Personal Day

Back when I worked an office job, I had one personal day each year as part of my benefits package (I also had 12 sick days and 24 vacation days per year -- I really miss those!). I always took my personal day on my birthday. What better personal holiday than your own birthday?

Some habits die hard, and frankly, I needed a day off from work. So once again, I cleared my calendar and took my personal day. My husband took the day off with me. We drank champagne at midnight and slept in late the next morning. I checked my email, but that was the only work I did all day. Otherwise I went shopping and checked out the new Staples, went out with friends, talked to my kids, and just had an enjoyable day. I felt refreshed.

Of course, it meant that all the work on my desk didn't get done. At midnight this morning, I was back on my computer, working on an editing project. I've been working since I got up this morning, and in a few minutes I'll go back to editing so I can finish that by 4:30. I'll probably have to do some work on Sunday during the football game. Days off aren't always luxuries -- the work has to get done sometimes.

But every so often, it is nice to have a day where you can be completely selfish.

Monday, October 22, 2007

One Step to That Dream

I think I mentioned my blog on the Sporting News site. (Used to do one on SI.com, but I didn't feel the sense of community there. I love TSN's interactive community.) I posted a blog yesterday on college football. I noticed this morning that I had a lot of hits. An unusual number of hits for someone who is really just hitting a stride at the site.

A few minutes ago, I went over to TSN and there was a link to my latest blog post, right there on the front page. That's my second appearance in two months. It doesn't mean anything. It's not like anyone has offered me a job. But people are reading my sports thoughts -- people like my sports thoughts -- and the TSN folks are reading and noticing too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Dream Job . . . and Why It Is an Uphill Battle

I have a ton of magazine subscriptions, but there are three I read religiously, cover to cover: Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and The Sporting News.

There are three websites I visit every time I log on to the computer: SI.com, ESPN.com, and Sportingnews.com

Sensing a theme?

My whole life, my dream has been to be a writer for one of those magazines. They are also about the toughest markets to break into. These days, what I'd like more than anything is to be a columnist for one of those magazines, but based on the many columns I read now, I would have to change one fundamental thing about myself and I couldn't do it.

There is no way in hell I'm becoming a Boston or New York sports fan. Sorry, ain't happening.

Okay, not everybody is from those two Northeast areas, but it sure seems like it sometimes. And I know that columns allow the writer to be subjective. But I don't get why readers or editors put up with some of the non-stop Boston/New York chatter. No wonder sports fans across the country complain about an eastern bias. Who would know in baseball season there are teams outside the Red Sox or Yankees? There's a guy who writes for ESPN. He's known as the Sports Guy. Except every column ends up being a love fest with the Sox/Pats/Celtics. His name is a misnomer. He's really the New England Guy.

Now see, I believe there should be some balance. First, the magazines need more female voices. Second, Pennsylvania sports need a fair representation in those magazines. Third, the National League and the NFC needs a fair representation in those magazines.

I mean really, wouldn't every sports fan want to know what it is like to experience Penn State football home games the way I do?

Monday, October 15, 2007

I've Been Interviewed

Check out Jen's Down the Shore blog. She's an expert on the Jersey Shore -- site of many of my happy memories -- and a fellow Phillies fan.

Why, I don't know, but I've decided to take the plunge into the November and NaNoWriMo. Yes, I should probably have my head examined. I have two ideas for books, actually. One is what I mentioned in my interview with Jen, how sports have shaped so many important relationships in my life. The other would be a novel that takes some of the conspiracy ideas I have about some real-life situations and let my evil brain work them out.

I should probably stick with the sports book. If I can't write for the sports mags, I could write sports books. Right? Although, shhh, don't tell anyone, but a couple of people over at my TSN sports blog have posted that I should be one of the mags paid writer/bloggers. Not that anything will come of it, but it is nice having someone say it -- and that someone isn't me!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Everything Is Research

My husband will tease me sometimes about wasting time when I should be working. What he doesn't know is that everything I do ends up helping me with my job. Even that game of spider solitaire that helps me clear my head from Project A to move on to Project B.

Or like yesterday. Frustrated over a search for sources, I decided to take a break and read CNN.com. Because lately I've been working on a lot of energy and green-related articles, a news item about clean power caught my attention. As I read it, I found it was in line with this article I'm working on -- cool! I wasn't wasting time any more. This was research! But even better, hidden deep in the article was a quote by a man who was touching on the exact thing I needed to know for my article.

A little copy and past into the Google search bar, and in a minute, I had his contact info. An hour later, I had an interview scheduled for this afternoon.

An article I'm working on now, coupled with the CNN article and another article I did last week, have given me an idea for a whole different article.

Heck, even writing this blog today has given me an idea to pitch to some of the writing magazines. Everything really is research for a writer.

P.S. The talk went okay. People showed up. I rambled a bit, even though I had notes. But the questions went on for a half hour. People were really interested -- but they also asked a lot of questions about general freelancing, as well. This was a crowd who want to be serious about writing but aren't sure how. I hope I was able to help them a little.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Last week was one of those times when personal outranked professional and fun. So I had to take care of the personal.

Now I have to go back to taking care of the professional, and ouch, my slate is full this week.

One of the items on my plate is giving a presentation for our local writer's group on writing for trade magazines. Thanks to the forementioned personal stuff and this week's full slate, I've had no time to even think about this. One of the reasons I'm blogging now is to help me think a little about what I'm going to say.

What am I going to say?

Speaking in front of people doesn't bother me in the least. I'm used to it. I've given one talk about writing -- I was asked to speak about writing essays to a women's group. One woman fell asleep (and I was told not to worry about it because she always fell asleep during the speaker).

I'm more worried that no one will show up. I mean, really, how much boring a topic can you get? Trade magazines? Lots of people don't even know what they are! I'll probably have a half hour to speak, then open it up for questions, and then move on to networking afterwards.

I guess I'll talk about the things people ask me about most: how I got started (boring), how I find the publications I write for (Google mostly), and how they find me (letters of introduction). I can talk about why I like writing for trades, what to expect, and what to do about that little thing called experience.

I've been doing this for a year and a half. I'm hardly an expert. But it is what I do.

If you came to hear me talk, what would you want to know about writing?

Monday, October 1, 2007

We Interrupt Writing for Baseball

I love baseball. I especially love Phillies baseball (so much so, I wrote a book). Anyone who knows me knows how much I love sports, but Phillies baseball is far and away my favorite, even more than my beloved Nittany Lions football.

The Phils are a tough team to follow. They break your heart (if it is still beating after all that down to the wire stuff) some years. Other years, they are so bad, they just pull your heart out and stomp on it and kick it around a little bit and have lesser fans pining for football season in May, hockey season by All-Star break. But I stuck by this team since 1974, when I first started watching baseball and decided to pick this team over my parents' favorite Yankees.

Since 1974, the Phils went to the playoffs in 76, 77, 78, and 81, won the World Series in 1980 -- their only WS win ever -- and lost WS in 1983 and 1993. (They were in the WS in 1915 and 1950, as well, in their only other playoff appearances. And yes, I really did know that off the top of my head . . . scary the weird things I remember.) All that for a team founded in 1883, has been in one city with one name since 1883 (no other professional team can say that), and was the first team to lose 10,000 games in its history. October baseball doesn't come our way very often.

The past few years have been especially tough, as the team lost out on the wild card on the last weekend of the season. Or mid-season meltdowns lost them first place. I sometimes don't know what is harder -- a bad season where you know it is over in June or one that takes you right to the brink.

But yesterday, thanks to the Mets doing their best Philadelphia choke imitation (obviously learned by Mr. September Choke himself, Billy Wagner, who pulled that stick in a Phillies uniform a few times), and thanks to a team that played like little kids who love the game and refuse to quit, the Phils are going to play another game. In October.

Game 2 of the World Series is on my birthday. This team, with no pitching and its 48 comeback wins, has a shot to be playing baseball on my birthday. But the real gift wouldn't just be playing on that day. It's that on October 1, I can still dream about it.