Five Helpful Websites for Freelance Writers

It’s always good to find helpful websites for writers, especially for freelance writers. The annual listing of 101 Best Websites for Writers in Writer’s Digest is an excellent source for those sites. This year I took careful note of five sites that WD listed for freelancers. Here they are:

fundsforwriters.com. Grants for writers are the specialty of FundsforWriters, along with “contests and markets that only pay in cold hard cash,” according to their website. C. Hope Clark edits the site, which offers free and paid subscription newsletters as well as other resources to help writers make more money. Well worth your attention.

fwointl.com. I’ve been a subscriber for some time to this one, Freelance Writing Organization International. The site has a vast number and variety of writing resources inside a searchable database, including more than 4,400 free writing resources and links, writing job opportunities, free eBooks and software downloads.

At Susan Johnston’s site, theurbanmuse.blogspot.com, you’ll find a wealth of writing and marketing help. Don’t fail to read her post, “6 Things to Do Before You Send Your Query Letter.” Some good, down-to-earth help here.

worldwidefreelance.com/writing.htm. At Worldwide Freelance Writer, you can access writing markets from USA, Canada and around the world, books and other products for writers, directions to online resources, how-to articles from experts and much more. There’s a free market database (500+ less high-paying markets) plus a Markets Plus database (2,000+ markets), where access starts at $1.25 monthly.

writergazette.com. This site brings up a dazzling array of links and resources for writers: writer-related articles, calls for submissions, job postings, contests, tips and more to help promote your writing career. The Writer Gazette has made it to WD’s list of 101 Best Websites for Writers five times, so they must be doing something right.

It’s always fun to read the list of 101 sites in Writer’s Digest. It’s even more fun to realize how much the listings (all 101 of them) can help with our freelancing.

Do you know of other helpful sites for freelance writers? Please add yours here.

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© 2008 by Laverne Daley
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Writing with Precision: The Difference between the Right Word and the Almost Right Word

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

It’s not always easy choosing the right word to use in our writing. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find the precise word needed for a particular sentence. Here are some word choices that can be troublesome. (Sources: style books, internet, blogs, conversations).

Loath, Loathe

Loath means reluctant. (He was loath to enter the room).

Loathe means to detest, to abhor. (I loathe science fiction films).

Canon, Cannon

A canon is a rule, especially of a church. (The cardinal invoked canon law in the mattter).

A cannon is a weapon that fires explolsive projectiles. (The cannon was fired at sundown).

Its, It’s

Its is the possessive. (The dog wagged its tail).

It’s is the contraction for it is. (It’s the time of year for strong storms).

Ecology, Environment

The words are not synonymous.

Ecology is the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment. (There’s much interest in animal ecology these days).

Environment means all the conditions and circumstances that surround and influence life on earth. (He is working to solve problems in the environment, including air and water pollution).

Differ from, Differ with

Differ from. To differ from means to be unlike. (Styles today greatly differ from the last decade).

Differ with. To differ with means to disagree. (I differ with many people in that I enjoy solitude).

Dilemma

If you have a dilemma, that means more than just having a problem. Dilemma implies a choice between two unattractive alternatives. (My dilemma was having to choose between surgery or living with intense pain).

Disinterested, Uninterested

Disinterested means impartial. (Two disinterested judges will decide the winner of the match).

Uninterested. Means having a lack of interest. (She was uninterested in learning Latin).

Each other, One another

Each other involves only two individuals (The two friends looked at each other).

One another involves more than two individuals (Members of the Spanish class helped one another complete the assignments).

Emigrate, Immigrate

Emigrate. One who leaves a country emigrates from that country. (He decided to emigrate from Germany in 1900).

Immigrate. One who comes into a country immigrates to that country. (Many Irish people chose to immigrate to America during the potato famine).

(So, by extension, an emigrant is one who leaves a country and an immigrant is one who comes into a country).

Every day, Everyday

Every day (two words) is an adverb. (He carpools to work every day).

Everyday is an adjective (He wore his everyday clothing to the party).

Gourmet, Gourmand

A gourmet is one who appreciates fine food. (He is a gourmet of Greek cuisine).

A gourmand is one who likes fine food but tends to eat to excess. (He earned a gourmand reputation as a young man). (He may also be a glutton).

Paul Brians has collected thousands of other easily-mixed-up word choices and you can see his amazing collection here. He also offers them in his book, Common Errors in English Usage. Both are great resources for writers.

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© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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The Importance of Attitude

“Watch your attitude!”

When I was a sassy teenager many years ago, those three words from one of my parents always brought me up short, made me stop whatever I was intending to say and swallow words that would surely get me into trouble if I spoke them. They were a direct warning that I was on the wrong track and needed to make a change in my thinking. I did.

I remembered those warnings this week when I received an email from a writer I know. He had been asked to read a manuscript written by a friend’s daughter — a romance novel that had been rejected by a publisher. Her family was apparently upset that their child’s first venture into the publishing world had been rejected.

The manuscript was, according to my writer friend, full of grammatical, tense-shifting and spelling mistakes. His thinking was that if one doesn’t know or pay attention to the difference between “your” and “you’re” and “their” and “they are,” the writer is in trouble. When he pointed this out to the young lady author in an email, her reply was, “You may not know this, but that’s what editors are for.” My friend countered that editors are presented with an enormous number of manuscripts and they don’t have time to read error-laden ones.

Evidently the young lady knew little about the world of publishing and seemingly wasn’t inclined to find out. She could have learned that many publishing firms employ recent college grads as readers to separate unsuitable submisions from those to be passed along to an editor for evaluation. An error-ridden manuscript might get a very short reading, maybe less than one page. The young lady also could have learned that writers get used to rejections because all of us, published and unpublished, get them. We deal with them and move on.

Perhaps if the young romance writer were willing to change her attitude and seek help, she might move closer to publication in the future. Romance Writers of America, for instance, has scores of chapters around the country and members routinely help new writers in workshops, with critiques, and suggestions to make their works-in-progress publishable. In time, with a little help, the young writer might learn to take pride in having her name on an error-free manuscript.

Blogs are another great source of help. A world of writing information is out there, ours for the taking. We can learn a great deal from other writers, no matter what our status. And anyone can gain valuable writing help by reading writing magazines or checking out writing books from the public library.

Sometimes all it takes is a change in attitude to move us ahead.

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© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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Writing Home and Garden Articles for ‘Shelter’ Magazines

If you’d like to write home-and-garden articles, you might want to check out Kelly James-Enger’s piece in Writers Weekly this week (April 9, 2008). Kelly James-Enger is a speaker, consultant and author of books, including Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money and Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money.

In her Writer’s Weekly piece, “Writing about Home and Gardens: Paying ‘Shelter’ Markets,” Kelly gives a short but informative look at this specialized market and some of the topics in demand. She says that home improvement and maintenance topics are a lucrative area to specialize in.

You don’t have to be an expert to write on those topics, Kelly says, but you have to know enough about them to write about them accurately. Start with what you know, she says. And she says that it may be easier to break into the market with local publications before you tackle the national publications.

Along with lots of practical tips, Kelly also included links to five shelter magazines you might want to check out: Art & Antiques, Better Homes and Gardens, Cottage Life, Horticulture and Organic Gardening.

You can read Kelly’s entire article here.

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© 2008 by Laverne Daley
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Going for the Green

Although I know some freelancers who do green writing, I’ve not yet made the move into those markets. Despite that, I was very much interested in an article by Michelle Trehy, a Brookline, MA freelancer, in the March issue of The Writer. (I know it’s April already, but I just got around to reading the March issue last night).

In “‘Green’ Markets Need Fresh Ideas,” Trehy calls the green market one of the strongest markets today, covering as it does climate change, overuse of natural resources, pollution and other hot topics, as well as green vacations, hybrid cars, and organic foods. She says that many of the green publications are at least 50 percent freelance written. I’m always pleased when other writers point out a wide-open market for freelancers.

Trehy zeros in on ways to learn the scope of the market for green articles, not just for green publications, but also for home, design, architecture and parenting magazines and smaller, close-to-home publications. Increasingly, many publications are offering articles and even whole sections devoted to helping readers live in environmentally friendly ways.

She includes detailed market information for these publications: Conscious Choice, Dwell, E/The Environmental Magazine, Earth Island Journal, Eco-Structure and The Polishing Stone.

Inasmuch as today is April Fool’s Day, it occurred to me that I’d be foolish indeed to overlook such a growing market. So I’m going for the green. Michelle’s excellent article has given me the push I need to move out of the past and into the present. I’ll keep pitching to my favorite, dependable markets, of course, but I’ll also be on the lookout for green ideas and markets where I can pitch green articles.

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