Saturday, May 31, 2008

And on the 31st day

I went to the local bookstore today. I'm trying to come up with an idea for my book choice for my discussion group. I've got a while to go until it is my turn, but I'm always thinking about it. I'd really like to highlight a book by one of my writer friends, but they are tough books to find locally.

Any suggestions? We have a couple of rules in our group: no book over 400 pages (we all enjoy books, but not all of us are what you'd call fast readers), nothing overly depressing or involving really horrific events, nothing that requires too much brain power. They were all afraid of reading the uber-thick biographies and Victorian literature I have on my shelves and read for fun. And sure, I'd love to introduce my friends to the beauty of Sons and Lovers or Anna Karenina or, my favorite, David Copperfield, but that's not fair to the rest of the group.

So I'm trying to decide . . . I have no qualms of buying a new book, but part of me would like to pick a book I've already read and liked and wanted to talk about. On Tuesday we're talking about The Shipping News. Next up is The Giver. The last book was Water for Elephants.

What to pick . . . what to pick . . .

Friday, May 30, 2008

A new pet peeve

I grew up with some strange dialects. It started off pure coal cracker, then morphed with Pennsylvania Dutch when I hit middle school. A summer in Philly gave me a lifetime of "wudderice" and, of course, there is this mishmash of central PA whatever it is that I've picked up. Somewhere in high school I came to realize that this oddball language I spoke was going to cause me a lot of trouble in the writing world. I pretty much had to relearn a lot about basic grammar and such, and I'm far (very far) from perfect.

Mostly, then, I take a deep breath when I edit. I know that people tend to write the way they speak. But I had a long-standing pet peeve: writing loose when lose is meant. That extra O drives me bananas. And I don't like bananas.

I didn't think that anything else could bother me as much as loose/lose. I was wrong. There's a new one, one that, for some reason, I've been seeing a lot lately.

Could of.

As in, I could of had cake but I had ice cream.

What they mean, of course, is could have.

Don't people think that looks weird? Could of? But probably not. In my editing travels, it is obvious that the basics of writing have either been ignored or long forgotten. I'm not talking about the poor skills teenagers and young adults have now, thanks to texting and IMing, but adults who had to diagram sentences in the seventh grade.

There is a lot of fuss made over those who don't have strong math skills and the need to better understand science. Frankly, I think it is time to push for better writing skills. After all, if you aren't able to communicate, all those other skills are irrelevant.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rate per . . .

Over at Freelance Writing Gigs, a place where I have found some pretty decent jobs, there is always a discussion about rates. A lot of the people who hang out over there are people who are focused on the bird in hand school of thought. Better to have a job that pays $10 for a 500-word article and pays it quickly than wait a month or six for something that pays much, much more.

The argument is almost always, "These jobs don't take me long, so the per hour rate is great," with the corollary that $10/hour is a great income in parts of the country.

But I was thinking about this the other day. One of the discussions happening on the site involves a job posting for a one 500-word post a week, with a paycheck of $40 per month. Some people thought that was a rip off; others thought it was a great "per hour" rate.

Anyway, what got me thinking was this -- that's $40 for 4 hours of work (say) in a month. That's a pretty rotten "per month" rate when you think about it. It's a pretty rotten per day rate, too.

A "per hour" rate means nothing unless that per hour is over the course of a day, a week, a month.

Everybody looks at the way they earn money differently. I've said before, after years of working in a job where I got paid once a month, I'm more interested in seeing what my bottom line is on the 30th, and from there I can figure out how I'm doing per hour or per day.

Sure, it's important to consider what you are making per hour on a job. But it is also important to put it context with the big picture. That $10 per hour is $400 per work in a regular work week. But one $10 job a day is $50 a week.

But of course, only you can determine if that's the rate that works for you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What I See Out My Window

So yesterday I wrote how gazing out my window helps me think. With the new bird feeder, I now have sites to see, as well, beyond the wooden fence and the corner of the neighbor's roof.

This is what I saw yesterday when I came to work.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gazing out the window

On Saturday when we were in Ohio, we were sitting on my MIL's balcony before dinner. Her condo is in a high rise, sitting along Lake Erie with a magnificent view of the Cleveland skyline. I watched the boats out on the water and really drank in the view. I said to the husband as we drove home, I don't necessarily want to live on Lake Erie, but if the time does come that we decide to move away, I want to live near water. I want to be able to sit on my deck and see water.

I've said in past blog posts that I need music to write, and that is so true. The music I listen to can really help pull along the words.

But equally important to me is gazing. I'll write a sentence or two, then look out the window. I'm not really looking at too much. It's how I get my thoughts in order. Gazing out at water both relaxes me and energizes me. It makes me want to write for hours.

When I write at Panera's, I like to sit by a window so I can gaze out. People will think I'm staring at them, but I rarely notice the people in the cafe. I'm looking out the window, watching life move out there, completely connected, yet totally disconnected at the same time.

Yes, these are weird, polar effects, but writing does that to me. Writing can often be an etheral experience for me, especially if I'm writing essays or something creative. My husband once told me I'm not all there when I write, and it's true. I don't mean that in a negative way. My brain goes into another place and time. Gazing out the window keeps me in that place. I don't know how it works, but it works well for me.

Now I have my bird feeder outside my window, and it's begun to attract visitors. I looked out the window this morning to see a bright yellow bird and his girlfriend having breakfast. It excited me. It made me want to write even more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Waning Moments of a Long Weekend

This is the first holiday since I've started freelancing where I felt totally okay with putting my work on the back burner. Oh there was work I could have done, just like I'm sure lots of people had work on their desks. But the weather was fabulous, and I wanted to enjoy the time, not worrying about assignments coming in or phone calls to return. After all, it returns to normal tomorrow.

So today, we took a walk around the neighborhood, goofed around with my flower garden, planted sunflowers, and put up my bird feeder outside my office window. We cooked on the grill and watched baseball. And I've curled up with a book.

I'm kind of sad to see May coming to an end. It's been a re-energizing month.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lazy Sunday

I'm taking the weekend off. It was beautiful, so I hung my laundry out on the backyard line, and then sat on my lawn chair to read a book. Now the husband and I are enjoying adult beverages and watching a movie.

I really needed a weekend this low key.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


We drove to Ohio on Saturday to pick up some furniture. And put $110 worth of gas in the tank. Ouch.

It made me realize how happy I am to work from home and that we live so close to most of the things we do. We can ride our bikes lots of places. We can walk to church. Even when we do drive somewhere, it's rarely more than 5 miles round trip, sometimes 10 if we go out to the mall or bookstore. We can usually fill up the gas tank every 3-4 weeks, depending.

People used to poke fun at me for living here in the middle of nowhere and my ten-minute errands. They aren't poking fun now . . .

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Eclectic Self

One of the reasons I like hanging around with other writers is that they get me. (So do my artist friends and musician friends, for that matter.) We think a little differently than the rest of the world. We do things a little differently than the rest of the world.

I was thinking about that especially when I was at the gym tonight, and a Mannheim Steamroller Christmas song came on my mp3 player, followed by the Monkees, followed by Led Zepplin.

You mean you don't have Christmas songs on your mp3 player? In May?

When I'm at the gym, I look at the people working out and turn them into characters for a novel I'm not writing. But I guess I could. If I had the time. Then I came home to watch baseball -- because nothing is better than baseball.

If I wrote a novel, I'd somehow have baseball in it. Everytime I try to write fiction, baseball shows up somewhere.

So does a character with gray eyes.

I read an essay in More magazine while on the treadmill, written by a woman trying to get adjusted to life with her teenage son after her daughter, her pal, went to college. I pitied the woman. My teenage boy is one of my favorite people to hang with because we talk the same language -- baseball, hockey, football, and basketball.

And now a glass of wine is calling my name.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Writing for Free

This topic comes up every so often -- should you write for free?

While there are enough harden writers out there who say no way, never, I think it depends on the circumstance.

My church asked me to work on a writing project, and I said yes. It's a volunteer thing. Even though I might be the only professional within the publishing business who is volunteering for this project, I think it is important to lend your talents to causes that are important to you. Sure, I hope that others in our community take note of my work and give me a call about job opportunities down the road, but that would be nothing more than icing on top of the satisfaction of doing something for the good of the whole.

And I love to write essays and even some fiction every so often. I've sold my essays, but really, the writing is for my enjoyment first and foremost. Again, anything I sell is icing on the cake. The fiction? Hoo boy, let me tell you, that's all writing for free because nobody would ever pay me for that.

Oh and I don't mind blogging for free because I like having a soap box.

If a magazine said, "You're untested. So you write this article for free, and then we'll decide whether or not to give you a contract," that's a tough one if you are a new writer. That's on spec, and I've been down that road. I felt that flutter in my heart when I saw the phrase, "I'd like you to write this article," and I felt my heart sink like a stone when I read the rest, "on spec. If we decide to accept the article . . ."

But I'd let the flutter get the better of me. The first on spec piece I wrote sold straight off. The second, sent with more confidence than the first, turned out to be a spectacular waste of time. She put me through 3 rewrites and then turned it down. I wrote a spec piece for another magazine I wanted to break into -- turned down immediately, without rewrites. The last time I worked on spec was for a pretty glossy pub that I saw as my chance to break into a much-coveted genre. A friend warned me, "don't write on spec!" I had my own lessons of how it can bite you in the butt, but I REALLY wanted this opportunity.

I wrote the article. I rewrote the article. I agonized over it. I sent it. I never heard another word from the editor. Ever. Despite follow up messages and a phone call.

I did eventually sell a version of that piece, but it was extra work to do so.

I learned my lesson though. While I might volunteer my writing services for an organization I volunteer for otherwise, my business is a different story. It's my job to earn money by my writing, and when I'm working with a magazine from the get-go, it doesn't help me or my business to offer them my hard work for nothing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

What's in a name?

On Deb Ng's blog someone called me Susan, then quickly apologized (which I appreciated).

Susan is a perfectly good name -- if that's your name. But it isn't my name. I'm not overly fond of my real first name, so I only ever use it on formal documents that require my legal name, like W9s. The name I use in emails and on blog posts and as a by-line is the name I prefer to be called.

There seems to be a natural impulse among people to either lengthen a nickname or shorten a formal name, even with people we don't know. This is rude, no matter how you look at it. In a social setting, it might be easily brushed off. In a professional setting, it may cost you some work.

It's a matter of respect, really. When you decide to change the name of a person, it's a subtle sign that you don't respect them. You might think it is no big deal, but it is. Think about your own name -- why do you use it the way you do? Maybe another name has a bad memory, maybe you wanted to separate your adult self from your childhood self, maybe you just like the way your name sounds as is. Whatever it is, it is part of who you are. It's your identity.

As for me, my real name rhymed with my maiden name, which rhymed with way too many other words that led to a lot of childhood teasing. When people call me Susan, however, they don't realize the amount of pain that causes. It's why I cringe whenever someone calls me that.

Many years ago, I worked for a man named Don, who called me Susan two or three times before I summoned up the nerve to say, excuse me sir, but my name isn't Susan. He was pretty much a mean man, but for that moment he softened just a bit and said, "I know how you feel. My name isn't Donald. It's just plain old Don." About a week later, I saw plain old Don great a salesman who said, "Hello Donald, nice to meet you." Plain old Don said, "Meeting is over," and showed the salesman the door. As he returned to his office and looked at me and said, "If he can't get my name right, how can I expect him to get my order right."

If someone asked me for the best business advice I could give, it would be this: when someone introduces themself to you, call him or her by the name they give you. Always. It could be the difference between landing a great new client or having the door slammed in your face.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Four in One Blow

I felt kind of like that tailor who boasted that he killed 7 in one blow and embroidered his proclamation on his shirt. Of course, the kingdom didn't realize he meant flies. They thought he meant giants. And hence, he went off to kill the giants and win the hand of the princess.

That's how my day felt. I whipped off four articles this afternoon. I feel like strutting a bit. FOUR!

But realistically, I wrote less than 2000 words total. They were four short articles.

Even so, now they are done and I can now go accept the hand of my handsome prince.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What's Wrong with This Picture?

It is the 18th of May, a Sunday evening, and I'm in my library, preparing to work. I'm listening to MASH's last episode rather than watching it.

Why am I in the library rather than in the family room? So I can sit by the fire.

That's right. The fire. Because it is in the mid-40s, rainy and cold. It snowed on Monday. They are calling for snow flurries tonight.

Shouldn't I be sitting outside enjoying a cold beer instead of keeping toasty by a roaring fire?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Riddle Me This

Today we watched the Preakness. Well, we turned on the tv around 5:30 because we weren't sure of actual race time. We had to wait another half hour or so for a race that last less than 2 minutes.

I love sports. I'm pretty sure I love sports more than 99.9% of all Americans. In fact, as I write this, I'm watching tonight's Phillies game.

But I just don't get the obsession of pre-game analysis. A horse race lasting two minutes gets more than two hours of analysis. Super Bowl Sunday? If you only count actual game day coverage, you are getting six or eight or ten extra hours of coverage (depending on the station you watch). That doesn't count the non-stop ESPN coverage leading up to it.

I watch the game for the game. Fifteen minutes would have been enough to tell me what I needed to know about the horses and jockies. An hour would tell me what I need to know about the teams in the Super Bowl.

I love sports. I love reading about them and writing about them. But come on. Over two hours for a two minute race? That's overkill.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Empty Mailbox Syndrome

Is there anything sadder than logging into your email and not finding any new mail? Especially when you are expecting, hoping, praying to find mail?

Maybe it is because of the bleak weather -- it's been raining pretty steadily today -- but by the lack of email arriving, it seems like the whole world has taken a holiday and forgot to tell me.

If you asked me the most important tool for a 21st century writer, I'd say email. I can't imagine life without email to begin with, but it is how I communicate with editors and others I touch base with professionally about 95% of the time. While I do most of my interviews by phone, but I make initial contact by email.

An empty mailbox isn't bringing in assignments.

I sent out a request for comments with some press people this morning. No replies. Not one. Not even a note to say sorry, can't do it. It's frustrating.

Heck, even my husband hasn't answered the last email I sent him. Maybe he's already started happy hours. Which is sounding like a very good idea about now . . .

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ever have one of those days . . .

. . . when you have the attention span of a gnat?

My list of things to do today wasn't very long, but the work I had to do was lengthy and time consuming. But I'd focus for about five minutes, then I'd be off checking email and getting a cup of coffee then fussing with something on my desk.

I really hate days like this. It means I'm going to have to work a late night and probably this weekend.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some Days

Mostly I love working at home in my little office with all its comforts.

Today was not one of those days.

I should have high-tailed it out of here the moment it was obvious everything was going down hill. And that moment came when I called my 10 interview and they wanted a third person involved who wasn't available today. That's when I should have gotten dressed and bolted for Panera's.

My husband came home around the time I was on the phone. The furnace guy was coming today to do his annual furnace cleaning and general care thing. He was later than expected, so the husband was bopping around the house. I shut the door to my office to signal I was working and needed privacy. A shut door, as you probably guessed, is a clear invitation to "walk in, she must not be busy." I think that happened every time I was on the phone.

The furnace guy came. Luckily, my office is not directly above the furnace, but that didn't stop the oil fumes from permeating into the room. Did I mention that I am hypersensitive to fumes? I smell fumes that supposedly have no odor, so just imagine what oil fumes do to me. I would have left then, but now I was expecting some phone calls, so I just opened windows in my office.

It's not a warm day . . . but at least it wasn't snowing like it was on Monday. I put on a sweater, and I'm listening to the new baby birds chirping right outside my window.

My college-aged, home-for-the-summer son decided that this would be a good day to clean his bedroom. Next thing I hear is loud pounding. Did I mention his bedroom is right next door to my office? I call to him. He pops his head in my partially open door (I needed the ventillation) and says, "I'm hammering my bookshelves. Are you on the phone? If you are, I'll stop."

At that point, I decided that concentrating on any work was going to be difficult. I put my daily assignment to bed, took two aspirin, and now I'm going to watch mindless tv.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Chicken Factor

I took a major step on Monday.

I sent a query to one of my dream markets.

Will anything come out of it? Maybe. Maybe not. But I did it. Finally.

I'm not usually very intimidated by challenges. I'm one of those people who says, "yeah, let's do it."

But tackling a dream market? That's when I get a little star struck, wondering if I am really good enough for this.

Then I noticed that one of my blogs I write on another dream market site was excerpted in the print version. This was the second excerpt in a month. It was on a topic I am passionate about, something I toss up there as National Holiday status in my life.

So I knew I had to do this. The time had come. I had an idea. I took a deep breath. I wrote the query. And then came the most important part: I hit send.

Now I wait. Even if they say no, I jumped over the most difficult hurdle.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Post-Mother's Day Rant

I'm going to say this straight up: we don't celebrate Mother's Day at our house. I think it is a phony holiday, wraught with guilt, unrealistic expectations, anger, frustration. Heck, even the woman who started MD thought the original purpose was lost and she was angry about the way it was celebrated. And that was 75+ years ago!

But the one thing that bugs me more than anything is the number of people who insist on wishing me a happy mother's day. There are only two people from whom any sentiments about my motherhood count -- my daughter and my son. I don't really need or want other people wishing me such sentiments. Especially not strangers.

Being a parent is about as complex a job as one can have. It is also extremely personal. A simple well-meant mother's day greeting can cause intense pain for a mother who has lost her child or to an infertile woman.

I know this is a holiday that many women love and look forward to. If that's the case, good for you. I do believe in special days -- for me, it is my birthday. My kids know, if you want to pamper me, that's the day to do it, not some random day in May, a date picked to celebrate the life (and anniversary of her death) of someone else's mom.

That said, I always like getting gifts, and here is the best type of "mother's day" gift, in my opinion. On Friday night at the book sale, I was talking to one of the organizers, and she was asking about my son and his first year of college, etc. "He is such a wonderful young man," she said to me. "We all like him very much."

If you want to wish me a happy mother's day, that's the way to do it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Combatting Slow Down

For the first time this year, work has hit a slow down.

While I don't want many slow periods, I think it is healthy once and a while. Over the next week or two, I'll be able to take care of the kind of housekeeping things that get pushed aside, expand my marketing horizons, and take a step back to evaluate my business.

But mostly, I'll re-energize. It's been a very hectic winter and spring. Not only did I have a wonderfully busy workload, we had some personal things that added extra stress. I think everybody needs to take a step back every so often and take a deep breath. Freelancing is like any other job -- if it is go, go, go all the time, you risk burning out.

So I'm looking at the rest of this month to explore new horizions and think about what I can do to be a better writer. I'm very excited.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Sale Pictures

I'm not in any of them, but the paper always shows up to take pictures for move in weekend.

I got very few books yesterday. I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I got one biography on a first lady not in my collection, Nellie Taft, and some cute books for the grandbaby. It was weird. Nothing jumped out at me this year. And the book I was looking for for my book group -- nowhere to be seen, at least not where I looked. Figures. Any other year, I see 50 copies of this book.

I'm going up again today, so I'll look again today. By late afternoon, the used booksellers (who have been in line since last Friday) will have gone through, grabbed the best stuff, and it will be easier to go through things.

Friday, May 9, 2008

My Favorite Day of the Year, but . . .

This is the day I most look forward to all year -- it's book sale move in day!

My local AAUW branch, of which I am a 21-year member, holds a used book sale to raise money for various community organizations, from the women's resource center to Head Start programs. The book sale began in 1962, the same year (and I believe in the same month) I was born. I joke that I was born to volunteer for this event.

It is truly a community effort. The community donates books throughout the year, and the AAUW has to put a cap on the number of books it can receive, somewhere in the 100,000 range. Yes, our relatively small community regularly donates 100,000 books in about 7 months. That's a lot of books, folks.

Then dozens of volunteers show up to move the books from the warehouse to the arena where the sale is held. Volunteers unpack the books to tables (this is incredibly organized, no willy nilly books thrown on random tables), volunteers work the four days of the sale. Books not sold are sent for recycling to raise money for high school kids.

I am in charge of the biography table. I've worked that table for 15 years, all by myself. As a move-in volunteer, I can also buy a box worth of books that night, and I'll go back to the sale multiple times this week.

Book sale is the reason I have the library I do. I have a complete set of Dickens, Fitzgerald, Lawrence, Austin, and some other favorite authors thanks to book sale. Not matching sets, but all the books. I've been able to pick up out of print copies of some of my favorite books or upgraded books from paperback to hard cover of books I can't find in stores anymore. I have a book case of president and first lady biographies, most of which came from book sale finds. Heck, you should see my Bobbsey Twins and Five Little Peppers collections. I spend money at this thing, trust me.

But I find myself growing more uncomfortable with buying used books. No problem with used books by long-dead people, of course. But the tables are filled with books that are still relatively new -- people who read the book and didn't want to keep it, people who got the book as a gift and didn't want it, etc. The books have been bought already, but I feel like I'm hurting the author if this was a book I had wanted to buy otherwise.

So I made a rule for myself regarding newer used books. If it is a new-to-be author who has a ton of books already on the market, I'll buy used. If I like the author, I do end up buying his/her new books when they come out. If I don't like the author, well, I won't be buying any books anyway.

Mostly, though, I'll be going for older, harder to find books. Two years ago, I bought everyone in my book group a copy of Pride and Prejudice for their own as none had read the book and it was the book I had picked. Last year, they all got copies of The Great Gatsby. I didn't spend more than $10 total on all the books. That's what I love about book sale.

This year's mission? Books for the grandbaby!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lean to the Left, Lean to the Right

Even though I'm a writer, I've learned a long long time ago that a reader should never take anything at face value. Just because you read it doesn't mean it is the whole truth.

I read an article today about mothers who can't say no to their children and the consequences. The article used the age-old stereotype of moms who work don't have time for their children, so they give in to their child's every whim. It was the only premise offered in the article -- mothers who work and are "too busy" for their kids. Yeah, the article had some truth to it, but it missed a whole lot of other issues -- mothers who are trying to make up for an absent father, mothers who give in to peer pressure and think saying yes all the time will mean their kids will fit in with the crowd, mothers who want to be their child's best friend rather than a parent. It wasn't an untrue article, but the author created a slant and the readers will only come away with part of the story.

Writers aren't experts (although sometimes we forget that). It's our job to find enough information to present mulitple sides of the story that allow the reader to learn something new and to make his or her own opinion. Even so, there will always be some sort of slant. The writer gets to pick out the information that interests her most, sometimes she gets to pick the pros and cons, the slant.

As readers, we have to remember that one article's slant isn't the whole truth. As writers, we have to remember to present multiple points of view so the reader can make an informed opinion.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Avoiding Isolation

One thing I don't miss about working in an office with other people is, well, the other people. I didn't mind some banter and I made some good friends back in those days. But after a half hour, I craved privacy, which in a cubicle world, you rarely have. I'd put on my head phones whenever possible so I could shut out other people. If I had a door, I'd often push it shut. I'd cringe if someone came to see what I was doing. And nothing bothered me more than having my back toward someone. I had one job where I was at a desk closest to one door, so I could see who was coming in, but it meant my back was toward everyone else in the office. I got stuck there because I had the least seniority. I transferred out of there within five months.

So here I am in my own lovely office, in my own lovely house, and despite all the stressful things about the freelance business, I've never been less stressed. I attribute that to leaving my biggest stressor behind -- the regular 8-hour face time with lots of people.

But yesterday, because I was on a tight deadline, I knew I had to skip kickboxing class. I was going to go to the local writer's group meeting, but I was too worn down. I did make it to bell choir practice because if I'm not there, there isn't someone to cover me. When I got home and crashed on the couch, mentally exhausted from writing all day, I realized that I had been out of the house for a whole hour that day.

Granted, yesterday was unusual. A typical day sees me running off to one activity or another in the evening, often with the gym squeezed in there. I'm out among people while on my terms and for short periods of time that don't sap my energy. But still, yesterday was an eye opener for me on how easy it is to get sucked into being too isolated.

As summer approaches and all my school-year activities wind down (I don't know about other places, but everything here is pretty happens during the school year and goes on a three or four month break for summer), I'll need to find reasons to get out of the house more often. I'll pick up more gym hours, but I think it is time to plan more lunches with friends, especially writer friends, find someone to go walking with before I get too busy in my day. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Just a Tad Bit Busy

Feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I hope to write a real blog post soon. Otherwise, this will suffice for today.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Monday, Monday

Why is that Monday seems to be the craziest day of the week?

I'm swamped under with deadlines today and trying to get my head wrapped around the rest of this week, which is a little unusual, schedule-wise.

Taking a deep breath and plunging in to start my week.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

We take a break from writing for a moment

I was pushing to finish the project I was working on yesterday so I could grab a quick shower and be on my recliner sofa, remote control in hand by 7 pm. Because at 7, my sports world was exploding.

All with 7 pm start times were my favorite baseball team (the Phillies) on a local channel, my favorite hockey team (the Flyers) were on Versus, up 3-1 in their Eastern semi-finals, and then over on ESPN2, the Penn State men's volleyball team were playing for the national championship.

I curled up with dinner and the remote and mostly watched the Phillies, but kept checking on the other two games during the commercial breaks. My timing, though, seemed to be impeccible. I saw all but one of the Flyers goals, and the important moments of the volleyball game.


Penn State finished up first, winning the national championship. Penn State is at the top of collegiate volleyball; our women's team are the reigning national champions as well.

Moments later, Flyers came from behind to win 6-4, and make their way into the Eastern Finals.

The Phils went into extra innings, but came up on the losing end, 3-2. But the managed to hold on to first place.

I did take a 3 minute break in the middle of my work to come watch the Kentucky Derby. I'm not much of a horse racing fan, but I watch the Triple Crown. Sad story about the horse that had to be put down. Otherwise, it was a splendid sports day. If you were me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Working on the Weekend

No playing this Saturday. I've got to finish up one project and if I was smart, I'd use Sunday to get a little ahead for Monday's deadlines.

Friday, May 2, 2008

As if I didn't need more reasons to procrastinate

Yesterday afternoon, my husband showed me two nests in the bushes in front of our house. One is outside the library window. The other is outside my office window. It was hard to find, just looking out the window itself, but now that I know where to look, I see it perfectly. I don't have a clear shot of it, but enough that I'll be able to spend the spring watching for the baby cardinals. This is after I spent the past two months watching the love dance of the parents.

I'd never been much of a bird person until the summer I began freelancing (yesterday was my 3rd anniversary. I forgot to celebrate). That first summer, my office was in a state of dissarray. It was then mostly a place for me to hang out to get away from everybody. So instead, I worked in the family room or on the back porch. One day I noticed a cardinal would come to the slider door every day and just hang out there. He reminded me of college students who would stop by the department office just to say hello, like their day wouldn't be complete until they did so. The cardinal came to the slider every day and if it was the screen open, he would chirp once or twice to get my attention. If the slider door was shut, he would tap on it. I'd look up, say, "Hi Mr. Cardinal," and he'd fly away. I have a blurry picture of him standing there, taken because no one believed me.

And then he stopped showing up. I'd like to think he went on vacation, okay?

I moved into my office, and one window has a view of a fence. I looked up one day, and there was Mr. Cardinal, sitting on the fence post. Every day for a month I saw him. And then the squirrels decided to run the fence, and that was the end of Mr. Cardinal's visits . . . until this winter when I noticed he spent a lot of time inside the bush outside the other window.

And now? I waste way too much time watching him and his Mrs. I think it is time to either shut the blinds or work from a windowless cave.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

31 days of ME

A fellow writer who blogs at WordCount has set up a challenge to blog every day in May. So I thought, what the heck. Right now my May is looking weak, workwise. Maybe this will spice things up. You know, as soon as I think I have free time, it disappears.

This might be a good month to brush up on my query writing. I focus on trades, which I love writing for, but I rarely have to pitch ideas to them once I get past the LOI and the first article. But I'd like to focus on hitting some consumer magazines for a change of pace. When I write for someone who isn't a regular client of mine, it is like a bonus for me. I actually sent a few queries out this year and got three query-pitched assignments, including a short piece in The Writer.

Usually my dilemma with queries is coming up with ideas. Now I actually have ideas, thanks to a writing job I picked up a few months ago. And I know where to go to for great sources. So it is finding the time and finding the right markets (and people) to pitch.

And then, of course, there is the chicken factor. I have dream markets and I get cold feet about pitching them. Time to stop that.

The bottom line is I am learning that I'm a good writer, as good or better than anyone else out there writing for big name magazines. It's time I let them discover me.