Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Apple's Leopard a Nasty Halloween Trick for Some...

Apple just screwed me. No, it's not my Steve Jobs fantasy again - I just upgraded to Leopard, Apple's new operating system, yet I'm typing this from a PC with Windows 98. I feel so dirty....

Apparently Leopard has a nasty side for some of us MAC users. When you upgrade, Leopard decides you shouldn't have access to your old files. As a matter of fact you can't even log into your MAC. I'm talking about a complete lock out here people. Your MAC give you a log in box with the only option of "Other." I said what the heck, I'll just type in my normal username and password - no good. NO GOOD!

I have deadlines swimming around me like sharks, which is why I'm upstairs on my husbands PC which has given me the "blue screen of death" twice. Normally I'd sit all smug when PC users would bemoan the Windows upgrades and the many, many kinks and bugs. Then Apple does this to me.

Last night I searched the net looking for any info somebody might have. As it trickled in I realized I am not the only one. The Apple discussion boards are alive with Leopard upgraders who are looking at an empty log in box. Some solutions are offered, including one from Apple, that has users restarting in single user mode and typing in commands. I'm sorry the last time I typed a command into a computer involved:
10 Run
20 Left
...or something to that affect. That was in second grade when you made the turtle make shapes. For those of you don't remember - too bad :-)

The upgrade isn't exactly cheap and now I'm being asked to reprogram my own system so that when I screw it up I'm even more screwed. Did I mention I've got deadlines? So I move a couple of posts down in which someone says that Apple has a patch available, which is great for those who have UPGRADED YET! WTF Apple!

Come on Steve, ya killin' me. I'm losing my edge and my sanity. Is this a Halloween Prank? Because I'd rather if you'd TP the house. So instead of wrapping up my DEADLINES and taking the girls out for a little candy huntin' I'll be hanging out at the Genius Bar with a few hundred of my fellow MAC users.

In the freelance world it's important to make sure you've got backups. Mine is an old computer with an obsolete operating system while my top of the line MACBook Pro sits on the sidelines with it's own version of the "blue screen of death."

Updates to follow...

Monday, October 29, 2007

All rejection is not the same...

For writers rejection is part of the job. Successful writers learn quickly that a tough skin is as important as a laptop and and wi-fi. However, it is important to note that all rejection is not the same.

The first rejection letter I got hit me hard. My feelings were hurt. I looked at that form letter with pure resentment and stuck my tongue out at the handwritten note the editor had included on the top of the letter.

"You got a added note?!" a writer friend asked. I had missed the lightbulb moment. The fact that the editor had included an extra little bit of information and encouragement was a sign she saw the potential of my writing, but the idea and the pitch wasn't quite right for her magazine. See, getting caught up in the rejection, I had missed a little golden nugget.

Another rejection letter I kept just because it was beautifully written and presented. I had pitched Conde' Nast's Bride Magazine and the rejection letter came on beautiful, heavy weight linen paper with an enchanting matching envelope. "Now that's a rejection letter," I thought out loud. I realized the style of rejection letter was a big indicator of how the magazine was run and more importantly how you should present your query. Bride's rejection was a reflection of the high caliber magazine. Any query of that publication needed to match that rejection letter.

Then there are the standard rejections: the rushed, crooked photocopy of a form letter in which the intern spells your name wrong. This letter lets you know the publication gets tons of queries and if yours doesn't stand out it's to the intern with you. (I love interns by the way, I was one and completely understand). The other kind of rejection letter is the one that comes via email. It's quick, simple and can sting, especially if it comes almost immediately after you send your query.

Here's the thing, it's not just the rejection letters, take heart if you actually receive one. Often you can query a publication and wait years without ever hearing anything back, even after several follow-ups. So if you get a rejection letter, count yourself lucky. If you receive one with an added note, consider yourself almost in there and if you receive one on beautiful paper put it in your scrapbook!

What's your best or worst rejection letter?

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Idea Factory...

You never know when a writing idea will pop up. I've gotten ideas from things I have read, people I've talked to, songs I've heard while driving and even while standing in line at the store. Then there's always the mad dash to write it down. I learned long ago that when a great idea comes to me I have to write it down or I'll forget. It could be the answer to world hunger, but by the time I get home to type it up, it'll be be gone or the details hazy: "What was that idea? Something about being hungry...Recipes for the rushed? No, that doesn't sound right..."

Every writer seems to have their own system for organizing ideas. Some use the pile method - each pile is it's own subject. Others use complex coding that only they know how to figure out. I use to use the "tons of scrap papers lying about" method. It's ingenious - I would write on everything about everything. At the end of the grocery list was an article idea. On the back of a receipt was a blog idea. Then when I got home I'd empty out my purse or diaper bag and drop it in a pile of "Do not touch!" The only problem - when you forget that you have something on the bottom of some random piece of paper and throw it out. Or your hubby or children think they're helping by throwing away piles of blog ideas/dry cleaning receipts. Genius down the drain.

Then I went to the notebook method. I carried around a small notebook and when an idea struck I wrote it down. All the ideas stayed in one nice, compact area. Unfortunately I'd forget about the idea notebook until I pulled it out again.

Now I'm trying a combo method - I write the ideas in a notebook then transfer them to a note card that I file away in an accordion folder labeled with general subjects. I've only been trying this method for two days, but so far it's working great!

What's your method?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Writing on the go...

Lately I've been working all over the city. I've been working in coffee shops, school rooms, libraries, doctor offices, etc. I've been working in the car so much I think I need to install a desk!

The kids' activities have increased, my workload has increased and I also work part-time as a tutor which takes me out of the house and into my local community college's library.

At first I lugged my laptop everywhere I went, slipping it out during dance class and tapping away in the park hoping to catch a signal so I can send an email. One thing I quickly learned is that the laptop and tap dancing three year-olds don't mix. Nothing like seeing an out of control preschooler sliding toward you and your mobile investment to make you think twice.

So lately I've been using the journalist's favorite - the pen and paper. I'm still experimenting with different techniques - notebooks, legal pads, index cards, etc. Writing is less conspicuous than typing. One of the hazards of writing in public is the inevitable questions on what you are writing, how often, etc. Then there's the techies who want to talk about the pros and cons of your laptop.

I'm now looking into the merits of a digital voice recorder. There are times when I'm cleaning the house and article ideas pop into my head or the latest blog and I can't stop to write it down. Or those times when my arms are full of squirming baby.

How do you write on the go? What do you use?

Jobs for Wednesday!

Got a chance to dig for some jobs for you!

Witty and inventive writers - Columbus Ohio
Writer for magazine articles - Columbus Ohio
Village Green Press looking for writers - Detroit MI
RetailFit.Com looking for freelancers
Wisconsin Law Journal looking for freelancers
Smart Brief Inc., looking for freelancers
The Real Deal Magazine

Blogger Jobs
HubPages looking for new bloggers
Skinny Moose looking for replacement bloggers
SimplyGood Media -Mens Shopping & Style Blogger
The Wordpress Magazine needs bloggers

Writer News for Wednesday

BC writer talks about 'Rough Business'
Cambridge Times - Cambridge,Ontario,Canada
Cambridge Centre's Book Express will host a book signing event tomorrow with the author of a new crime novel. Author Randall Sawka, from British Columbia, ...

Hawks' Martelli trades his whistle for a writer's pen

Philadelphia Inquirer - Philadelphia,PA,USA
By Joe Juliano Phil Martelli briskly strode in to an arena vastly different from ones he had visited in his 12 seasons as head basketball coach at St. ...

Toronto writer recounts Florida rescue tragedy

Globe and Mail - Canada
Toronto-based novelist Maureen Jennings, best known for her Detective William Murdoch mysteries, was rescued Monday by passersby when she was caught in an ...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rowling Outs Dumbledore...

The writing and blog worlds are blowing up with the news that Dumbledore, the mentor and awesome wizard in the smashingly successful Harry Potter films is - pause for the drama - gay.

The great thing about the Potter books is even though the series is "complete," Rowling still has the opportunity to reveal or add anything she wants to the lives of the characters without having to slog away at the computer for hours on end. Indeed, she appears to be quite pleased that she can share whatever Potter thought that comes to mind without worrying about revealing plots or giving too much away. But did she this time?

My thoughts went not to the character she outed, nor to looking through my collection for any indication of Dumbledore's orientation, but to the minority of Potter haters that have been looking for a reason to burn the Potter books.

The whole witchcraft and sorcery argument got old and even the Vatican weighed in with some saying the books are evil and others hold them up as an example of good versus evil. Now those who hate Potter and gays have an AHA! moment.

Why reveal it? I ask. Why hide it? I ask again. Why give the books more controversy or give people new reasons to attack one of the greatest fantasy series of our generation?

I guess part of the reason is that well it's the truth - duh. If that's Rowling's vision who am I to question it? I'm a fan & believe whole-heartedly in a writer's vision and maintaining the truth of that vision.

The crass commercial side of me also realizes this an awesome marketing opportunity. A whole target community for HP merchandise! The other good thing is in order to burn the books, someone has to buy them. Cha-Ching. I wish I owned stock in Scholastic...

Rowling maintains that her books are about tolerance. In her magical world, a boy of mixed parentage can be the savior of all that good and precious. In her world it matters not you're breeding but your heart, talent and skill. In her world black and white stand side by side, race noted only for description. In her world the greatest wizard of all time was known as the greatest wizard of all time, not the gay, greatest wizard of all time. Right on.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wow! It's been a while... How do you find time?

Well folks, I've been working my tail or should I say tale off this past week trying to juggle everything life has to offer. Unfortunately the blogs got neglected. That's the bad news.

The good news is that I am back and still have a great number of things to do: writing, parenting, wife-ing, all those "ings." I am amazed at all of the bloggers out there that hold it down, everyday, while working on so many other things.

I still want to get to the query letter do's and don'ts and I think that an expert should address that for me so next week I will have an expert guest blog on query letters. Today I'd like to seek help from you all out there: How do you find the time? To write, blog, whatever when you have other things on the plate - family, other full time jobs...

Post your tips and the best 3 tips win guest blog for the day! So that means more than 3 of you have to post :-) Come on - stop lurking and join this community!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Writer's Block, Real or B.S.?

I just read a fascinating column today on writer's block by Dan Brown of the London Free Press. He states that writer's block is basically a good excuse writer's get to use. Brown said that relying on inspiration instead of hard work is the issue behind writer's block.

Brown has a point. I have yet to find the "easy button" when it comes to writing. If I had my behind would be sitting in the Bahamas right now as I watched my bank account balance sail into the millions. Instead you find me tapping away working for a living.

Have I had writer's block, yes. Should it EVER be an excuse to miss a deadline? Absolutely not. What's your take? Writer's Block - Real or B.S.?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Writer's News for Wednesday Oct 3rd

Bloggers who risked all to reveal the junta’s brutal crackdown in ...
Times Online, UK - Oct 1, 2007
Even in normal times it was hard to be a blogger in Burma. With characteristic paranoia, the Government monitored and controlled every aspect of the process ...

Writer MN Vijayan dies at press meet
Hindu, India - 2 hours ago
Thrissur, Oct. 3 (PTI): Prof. MN Vijayan, who greatly influenced the contemporary Kerala culture as a radical thinker, literary critic, teacher and cultural ...

‘Frasier‘ writer wins literary award
Jordan Falls News, Canada - 12 hours ago
NEW YORK - Television writer-producer Joe Keenan, an Emmy winner a decade ago for his work on "Frasier," is this year‘s winner of the Thurber Prize for ...

The Insider: Amazon to pay writer $25000 in novel contest
Seattle Post Intelligencer - Oct 1, 2007
THE WRITE STUFF:, which got its start selling books online, wants to make an unknown writer a big-time author. The Seattle-based Internet ...

China Writer Faces Subversion Charge
The Associated Press - Oct 1, 2007
BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese dissident writer has been arrested for allegedly subverting state power, a watchdog organization said Monday. ...

Local Blogger On Her Way to Iraq’s ‘Red Zone’
Daily Californian, CA - 6 hours ago
BY Esther Kim Berkeley Blogger Jane Stillwater works on her computer in her Berkeley home. Next week she will be blogging from Iraq. ...

Monday, October 1, 2007

Researching Freelance Writing

Google "freelance writing" and you'll come up with over 2.5 million hits. Freelance writing is a hot topic. People want to know how do you get started, where are the jobs, how do you make it work, etc. My biggest piece of advice to any newbie and, actually to the established writer as well, is do your research and research often.

Newbie writers need to find out different perspectives on the freelance writing field, its lifestyle and job news and information. Vets should keep up on the latest news on the field and in media in general. Those who are genre specific - magazine writers, tech writers, book writers, etc., also need to keep up on their specific area. Shake ups in the industry can affect your work flow or open up new opportunties.

I mentioned WritersMarket.Com earlier. For magazine writers, keeping up on the latest in the industry is essential. One day your contact at the magazine may move to a new position or even a new magazine. Sending a query to the wrong editor is a sure way to sink.

What industry publications do you love?