Skip to Content?

Freelance Writing

Reading a lot over the holidays? Do some meaningful networking

If you’re reading a terrific article or book, why not follow that writer on Twitter, or connect with that author via LinkedIn?

It’s a great way to let writers know you appreciate their work. And it’s a great way to build your own writing network.

Remember: Creative networking on social media isn’t about getting loads of followers or scoring high numbers of connections. Creative networking thrives when you build meaningful bonds.

Think “meeting talented writers” … not “getting my numbers up”.

I’ve met terrific writers this way. Try it.

My LinkedIn profile has never included the word “resilience.” I plan to add it now.

On June 22, my condo was destroyed by a building fire. My salvageable belongings were boxed into storage, and I moved into temporary housing. I remain in temporary housing.

That’s the short story.

The long story is that it’s been an eye-opener – and not a good eye-opener, I might add.

The disaster was started by a kitchen fire on a floor above me. Word went out, a cardboard pizza box had been placed on a stovetop. The rest is history.

A long, expensive, stressful, time-consuming, and frustrating history.

Resilience gets me through. Resilience – and a fair bit of stubbornness, I think.

I stood on the sidewalk, taking videos as I watched the smoke pour out. I thought my heart might break as I watched the scene unfold, but that did not stop me from documenting the scene.

As soon as firefighters let me back into my condo, I took videos of water streaming down the walls … photographed the buckled ceilings … recorded the sound of water raining from vents into buckets (honestly, when I closed my eyes, it sounded like a bucolic waterfall in some pleasant woods somewhere – except it wasn’t).

Disaster crews put an abatement process in place, knocking down walls to dry out the space. Much of my office was dumped into black garbage bags.

I’m monitoring the rebuild process. Smooth, it is not.

If you know me well (and many of you do), then you already know how the writer in me would research every stinking detail of the building fire that made my condo unlivable and turned my whole life upside down.

In the months since I was displaced from my home, I’ve researched residential fires. I’ve talked with insurance agents, real estate agents, fire fighters, safety professionals, public adjusters, physicians, and – most enlightening – other victims of residential fires.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Fires happen a lot. They happen far more than you might imagine.

Also, they’re pretty much needless. They never should have happened at all.

True, you’ll hear the occasional dramatic story about a lightning strike, but the culprits are more often mundane: smoking in bed, toasters gone awry, driers gone haywire. And, yes, insurance adjusters know all about pizza box stove fires.

Here’s what I want you to know about fires: They happen fast and move even faster. If you value your life, your family, your pets, your financial records, your medical records [go ahead, just try reconstructing your whole medical history!], your college memorabilia, your books, your grandmother’s portrait, the latest draft of your great American novel … you need a plan.

If you’re self-employed, you REALLY need to think about the consequences of a fire. Your livelihood depends on it.

  • Review your insurance and see if you need to upgrade your coverage.
  • Get referrals from friends/neighbors/relatives who needed to use their fire insurance. What advice can they give you?
  • Keep important documents in a safe. Buy multiple safes.
  • Organize client files. Keep them handy in case of a quick exit.
  • Backup. Backup.
  • And ask yourself, “If I lost my home to fire tomorrow, where EXACTLY would I go to live/work?” The time to identify options for good temporary housing is now – not when you’re forced to. It took me several tries until I could find a solution that worked.

Final thought:

My previous blog post talked about the injuries I sustained from a hit/run driver back in November 2017. At the time, many of you wrote to express your concern and to send good wishes. Thank you so much. Your caring words meant a lot. I am making a recovery, but the hit/run injuries were serious and still present complications.

Combine the November 2017 hit/run crash with the June 2018 building fire, and it’s accurate to say: Within the past year, I’ve paid a terrible price for actions that were entirely outside my control.

Resilience keeps me moving forward.

Writers must write, and speakers must speak. I’m taking a lot of notes, and I intend to do both.

Boost your clout as a writer or speaker: Develop strong research skills

September is Month. If you don’t already own a card for your local public library, get one now.

Then get cards for major libraries throughout the country.

You don’t have to be a resident of Philadelphia to apply for a card at Philly’s terrific Free Library. While you’re at it, follow @FreeLibrary to learn about all the digital resources available to you.

You don’t have to be a New York City resident to apply for a card at the NY Public Library. Getting your NYPL card this is easy – and so worth it.  Be sure to follow @nypl on Twitter to get up-to-date info on reference sources (from podcasts to lists to Ask The Librarian).

Check this blog space in the days ahead for more reference tools.

Remember: Your speeches and presentations can only be as strong as the research you put into them.

Become_a_Professional_Speaker

Speechwriters: Are you working on more than one speech at a time?

Since September 1st, I have accepted seven speechwriting assignments – most due in late September or October, with one due in November.

This is a demanding load. How do I juggle seven speechwriting assignments? I don’t. I set priorities and I only work on one speech at a time.

The other speeches? I never multitask with my speechwriting research, and I even keep hard-copy files of the other speechwriting assignments completely out of sight – no distractions. That’s what desk drawers were made for!

FYI: Since September 1st, I also received other requests to write speeches on a wide variety of topics: energy, motivation, China, etc. I declined those speechwriting assignments for a range of reasons, and instead I referred those leads to experienced freelance speechwriters whose work I know well.

Look for a blog post in the coming weeks on “why I have to decline certain speechwriting assignments”.

Joan-Detz_OPT2

Are you ready to take your speechwriting to a higher level? Consider one of my individual speechwriting tutorials: Basic, Advanced, and Master levels. I custom-design the course material to meet your specific speechwriting needs/goals.

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism: Nov 15 deadline for story grant proposals

Mark Your Calendar: Request for Proposals

SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism (FEJ) invests in public service reporting on environment and the journalists who produce it.

November 15, 2017 (midnight local time) is the next deadline for story grant proposals to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism. FEJ grants will provide up to $5,000 to underwrite stipend for freelancers and budget lines for direct expenses like travel, multi-media production, translation, data sets or document costs.

Calling all donors: Give now to seed more stories. Grants will be awarded in January 2018 to underwrite coverage projects in three categories:

  1. Open Topic: Environmental Issues Made possible by unrestricted gifts and grants to SEJ’s Fund for Environmental Journalism.
  2. Marine and coastal issues of the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans Made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
  3. Environmental issues of the Amazon and Andes Made possible by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Winning projects will be selected by an independent jury of editors. Preference will be given to projects that include an element of international partnership: journalists and news organizations in different countries working together to report an important story and expand its reach.

Grantees retain full editorial control of FEJ-funded coverage. Donors have no right of review and no influence on story plans made possible in part by their contributions. Binding agreements between donors and the Society of Environmental Journalists and between SEJ and grantees of its Fund for Environmental Journalism reinforce this policy of editorial independence.

SEJ maintains a strict policy of confidentiality with regard to story ideas submitted. The application portal for this FEJ Winter Round of competition is now open.  Applicants will be notified of results in January 2018.

Grantees will be paid and announcements made as soon as SEJ-FEJ Grantee agreements can be finalized. Want a head start on the process? Proposal requirements will include project title, 200-word summary of topic, media dissemination plan and partnership plan (if applicable) and amount requested.

To complete your application you’ll upload PDF documents to include narrative (up to 1,000 words), qualifications, letter of support from editor(s) to publish or broadcast finished work and detailed budget.

See the FEJ guidelines for more information. Then you can fill out an online form and upload your files. Note: SEJ members pay no application fee. Non-member journalists must qualify for SEJ membership and pay online entry fee ($40USD) to apply. Find full details on the Fund for Environmental Journalism here.

Copyright and democracy: a quote to remember

“Copyright protection is a linchpin of democracy. The Founders wrote copyright law into the Constitution because a democracy needs an informed citizenry.”

[from a January 15 2017 speech, given by the Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger]

I happened to reread this speech over the long July 4th weekend and the quote sticks with me. I’m hoping these lines about copyright and democracy resonate with you as much as they do with me.

We need every reminder we can get about the importance of “an informed citizenry”. Please spread the word:

Copyright matters.

Freelance speechwriters: Time to update your website?

Spanish cover Como escibir un discurso

If it’s time to update your website, make sure you cite comments/clients/recommendations from a wide geographical range.

Freelance speechwriting is a global business – if you market it globally.

A freelance speechwriter who attended 5 of my speechwriting seminars has turned a local speechwriting business into a global speechwriting business. I’m delighted to see this. If the entire world is filled with potential clients, why limit yourself to the companies in your hometown?

Essential: Update your website to include blurbs from international clients. Don’t have any international clients yet? Well, cite diverse forums, global topics, English-as-second-language executives.

Maybe you’ve written a speech about Brexit, or climate change, or multi-cultural workforces. Note this speechwriting experience. It all speaks to your broad worldview, and it increases your professional value.

(Yes, in case you’re wondering: Experienced international speechwriters earn higher rates.)

Japanese cover front

Help keep environmental journalism in the spotlight

Four days left to enter the Society of Environmental Journalists Awards for Reporting on the Environment …

Monday, April 3

SEJ offers $500 for first-place winners in seven categories.

But much more than that, SEJ shines a light on environmental reporting.

We live in a time when both journalism and environment are being attacked in the U.S. It’s unprecedented, and it’s more important than ever to recognize the great work being done by journalists who cover environmental issues.

Enter, or enter again, today. And please forward this message to colleagues. Help SEJ keep environmental journalism in the spotlight.

Deadline to enter:
April 3, 11:59PM your local time

I received this from the Authors Guild

UPDATE March 16, 2017:

Our fears have come to pass. You may have seen the news this morning that President Trump’s proposed budget, released earlier today, calls for the elimination of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. The budget—which must be passed by Congress—will be the subject of vigorous debate on Capitol Hill in the coming months.

Now is the time to act.

Why You Should Help

The NEA is the only U.S. federal agency that is dedicated to supporting the future of the arts, and especially literature, through its grants to upcoming writers and literary organizations. The NEA and NEH each account for only .003 percent of federal spending and are the only agencies that represent our thriving arts culture. These organizations support countless authors, literary organizations, and artistic endeavors, and are particularly important because they allow the arts to flourish in geographic and economic areas otherwise underserved by the arts.

How You Can Help

1. Sign the Authors Guild’s Letter

The Guild is sending letters to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and we hope to collect as many signatures from you as we can.

2. Contact your Representative

Speak to or write your Congressperson and let them know that cutting funding for the arts, and literature in particular, is not acceptable.

In approximate order of effectiveness, the best ways to make sure your representatives in Congress and the Senate hear you are to:

Meet with them in person. You can contact their office to set up a meeting or, if you are comfortable with doing so, attend a local event where they are speaking and raise your hand and make sure you are heard.
Mail a letter (they are less and less frequently received, so they actually get read!).
Call or write an e-mail.

You may want to mention projects in your state that are funded by the NEA and the NEH.

Feel free to use as much of the from the Authors Guild as you wish, keeping in mind that personalized letters tend to be more effective—but the quantity of letters received is also important.

Bottom line: make sure your voice is heard.

Conference update from the American Society of Journalists & Authors

No, you don’t have to be an ASJA member to benefit from ASJA’s terrific writing conferences. Read on ..

May 5 – 6, 2017

Annual Conference Update
By Estelle Erasmus, ASJA New York City 2017 Conference Chair

I’m excited to make two announcements: that the big reveal of our conference program will be up on the site on January 24th, and that we are extending our early bird rate until February 7th.

This year’s conference will have several tracks for both members day and nonmembers day. For members day, we will cover Books & Beyond, Work Life Pivot, Pro Tips and Tool Kit through our sessions, geared for the seasoned freelance writer. For nonmembers day we will have sessions, workshops and panels covering the first four aforementioned tracks, plus Pitching and ASJANext, geared to writers aspiring to join ASJA.

We have over forty sessions guaranteed to help you grow as a writer. On members day we have a mix of workshops, panels and sessions. Just a few include Negotiating for Writers: You Deserve It, Learn to Ask for It, a panel by Michelle Rafter, Mary-Kate Mackey’s session, When Deadlines Loom: Fast Fixes to Get Your Work out the Door, and a session by Lisa Sharkey, Senior Vice President Director of Creative Development at HarperCollins Publishers called Facebook Live and Beyond: The Future of Author Promotions. Lisa will also Facebook Live her session. Frieda Wiley will be teaching How to Give a Killer Presentation, and Milt Toby will be speaking on Emerging Contract Issues That Need to Be on Every Writer’s Radar (be prepared to bring questions).

Plus during the time we are running Client Connections, we will also be offering a Build Your Platform program, featuring Tim Harper’s panel, The Makings of a Bestseller, a session on How to Get Noticed on Social Media, by Nicole Feliciano of Momtrends, who was named one of top twenty-five twitter influencers by Cision, and the workshop, How are you dot.com doing? Is it Time for a Website Overhaul? With website builder, Eyal Solomon.

For nonmembers day we will have sessions with agents and editors from Dame, Atlantic’s City Lab, Parade, The Washington Post, Hearst Publications, Brain, Child, Narratively, AARP, Next Avenue/PBS, Rolling Stone, Writer’s Digest, with more added every week, plus panels, workshops and a fun pitching event.

So stay tuned…all will be revealed on January 24th.

Page 1 of 41234