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Freelance Writing

If you care about newspapers

Many hotels offer free digital access to newspapers during your stay. (Good example: Modus Hotels offer Philadelphia guests access to both the New York Times and the Financial Times of London.) Other hotels across the USA offer print copies of local newspapers, and/or maybe the Wall Street Journal, or USA Today.

Don’t take any of this for granted.

Let your hotels know you value free/easy access to newspapers.

In particular, let hotels know you value local newspapers. Speak up for local journalism while it’s still here. 

I always like seeing the print edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer offered to guests in Philly.

Local journalism matters – everywhere.

Philadelphia’s “Cellicon Valley”

Monday, June 3 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Philadelphia has become an epicenter of novel medical research, and it is now known as “Cellicon Valley” based on its historic and innovative R&D activities and milestones.

The Monday June 3 tour will visit some of the leading R&D-focused organizations in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood, located just 15 minutes from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Explore Pennovation Center, Schuylkill Yards, and the uCity Square: University City Science Center, CIC & BioLabs@CIC. Pennovation .

Science, bio, and tech writers: Learn about “Cellicon Valley”  – and keep on top of new developments in your own city, as well.

Writers write

Quote from poet Donna Hilbert:

“One of the most annoying questions I field from non-writers is ‘Are you still writing?’ Might as well ask if I’m still breathing.”

Writers write. That’s what we do. And many of us pretty much want to do it forever.

It’s who we are.

Do not bother people on Mondays

Joan’s Tech Tips: an occasional series of quirky tips for anyone who has to communicate

Mondays are not a good day to bother people. Monday mornings are the worst. People feel overwhelmed with the tasks already in front of them. Many wonder how they’ll manage the week’s deadlines. Some wonder how they’ll make it through the day.

It doesn’t  matter what technology you use to communicate – the “Avoid-Monday-hassles” principle stays the same. Before you reach out to colleagues with a text, an email, a tweet, a request, a demand, a long report, a phone call, an impromptu “drop by”, or a paper airplane with coded messaging, think. Ask yourself, “Does this person want/need this message [read: “intrusion”] right now? Could it wait a few hours? Would I get a better response if I waited until tomorrow?” The answer is probably yes.

Whatever you do, don’t initiate networking suggestions on a rushed Monday morning. (“Hi, I’m looking for a job in your field, and I thought it might be great to get together for coffee an hour  this week.”) Bad timing. Don’t initiate philanthropy requests on Monday morning. Bad timing. Don’t ask someone to make a two-year commitment to chair a big committee on a Monday morning. Bad timing.

What works best on a Monday? A short bit of one-way communication (text, email, vmail) that gives the recipient some good news and doesn’t require a lengthy reply.  Acceptable examples: Your proposal  was accepted … Your grant has been approved … Your new desk will arrive on Thursday … Your department will get a summer Friday schedule, with work ending at 1pm.

Communication works better when you think about the other person’s needs/wants. Timing matters.

Joan’s tech tips

An occasional series of quirky tech tips for writers, speakers, teachers, entrepreneurs, execs … and pretty much anybody who has to communicate for a living (which is to say, almost all of us)

This, from author Anne Lamott:

“Almost anything will work better if you unplug it for a few moments … including you.”

Consider this a reminder to unplug yourself sometime today. Even a few minutes without sitting in front of a screen or squinting down at your cell will refresh you. (Honestly, do you have any idea how much a bent neck can hurt posture?)

PS … Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. I buy all her books. Read one sometime.

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.

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