Five Blogs That Can Help Your Writing

It’s Sunday and I’ve been spending the afternoon reading blogs that other people write. A great way to spend Sunday afternoon.

Some were already my favorites that I’ve read for years. Others are new to me. All of them offer posts that can help you (and me) become better writers and to grow our freelance businesses.

I thought I’d choose five of the best that I read Sunday that you might want to read too. Here they are, along with their blog addresses. I’d really love to know which ones you like best.

One of my long-time favorite blogs is Kristen Kings InkThinker. Her post on “The Fine Line Between ‘Writing’ and ‘Being A Writer'” is a good one. One of her newest writing habits is to devote time each day to writing 2,000 words for herself before writing anything for anybody else. Kristen is a Virginia-based copywriter and consultant who offers tips, resources, advice humor and how-tos for freelancers and their clients.

Allison Winn Scotch’s Ask Allison is also a great blog. It’s said to help writers looking to break into the publishing world. Don’t fail to read “Talking Money: A Freelancer’s Salary.”

Liz Strauss Successful-Blog. In “26 Needle in the Haystack Blogging Topics,” you’ll find some great blogging information. What you won’t find is the author of the piece. I can’t tell if it was written by Liz Strauss or by Terez Howard, who Strauss thanks at the end of the post. But no matter the author, it’s a great piece. Don’t miss it.

A new one I’ve found is squarespace.com, the blog of R.M. Jacobsen. If you go there, you’ll come to “Agatha Christie and the Case of the Messy Notebooks,” a delightful little story about how Christie captured her notes in lowly notebooks. Lots of other clear and simple writing on this site.

I finished the day up at one of my favorite sites, The Urban Muse. This is the site for Susan Johnston. It has been twice named a Top 10 Blog for Writers, so you’ll know how valuable it is. One of the posts I read Sunday was “6 Ways to Liven up Your Copy.” I think you’ll agree that this is a valuable place to spend time on every week.

There you have my five Sunday afternoon blogs. I’d really love to know what you think about them. And I’d welcome comments from you about more blogs for me to explore.

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Six Magazines That Welcome New Writers

If you’re finding it hard to break into the magazine market, you might want to consider some of the magazines below — these publications all say they “welcome new writers.” It’s reasonable to expect that editors of these publications really want to read and consider your query or completed article. As with any publication, before querying or submitting, be sure to read a couple of issues of the magazine and follow the guidelines carefully. All of the information below appeared in the magazines’ guidelines.

Take special note of the quoted material in each listing below, too. Editors often reveal extra how-to-sell-to-us tips in their quotes.

Sky & Telescope is about the science and hobby of astronomy and is read by more than 200,000 amateur and professional astronomers worldwide. Feature articles cover important new advances or current problems in astronomy and planetary science; key figures and events in astronomical history; and new ground- and space-based observatories. Features run 1,500-2,000 words; other articles run between 1,000 and 1,500 words. Pays for most articles on publication. “Most authors write for us again and again, but we’re always looking for new writers eager to share their enthusiasm, talent, and expertise with our readers.” For complete guidelines, click here.

QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) is a trade journal serving franchisees and franchisors of quick service restaurants (fast-casual and fast food). It reports on news, products, trends and information the restaurants need to survive and prosper in a competitive industry. Departments include “Short Order,” 400-700 word profiles, interviews and reports; “Franchising,” 800-1100 word interviews, profiles, book reviews; “Tools,” 800-1100 word reports on ideas and actions that successfully put technology and other tools to work. For Features, 1800-3000 words, writers and editors work together on finding the best possible angle for a topic and the best industry sources and facts for the article.

QSR generally buys all rights and pays within 30 days of acceptance, “We prefer to work with writers who know the quick-service industry and can make timely, informed queries. If you feel you bring valuable experience and contacts to QSR, please submit a one- to two-page query.” Go here for complete guidelines.

Stop Watch is a trade journal for truckstop and travel plaza operators. Features typically run up to 2,000 words and shorter pieces average 800 words. Payment is made upon publication. Buys First North American Rights. Click here for guidelines.

“We welcome new writers to Stop Watch because we want to keep a fresh perspective. We especially welcome truckstop and travel plaza members and drivers to submit their ideas. They know this business and our writers should, too. The best way to familiarize yourself with our style and content is by reading past issues. Accuracy is crucial. Please be sure every date is accurate and every name is spelled correctly.” Submit story ideas or articles to Mindy Long at mlong@natso.com, or NATSO, Inc., 1737 King Street, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Paste Magazine is a monthly publication focusing on music, film, books and other forms of arts and entertainment. “We focus on Organic & Eclectic music, encompassing rock, singer/songwriters, alt. country, Americana, indie rock, world music and whatever else we think will grab music lovers seeking something a little deeper.” Paste hopes to cover the best music in the mix, devoting space to independent musicians alongside established artists. The magazine welcomes unsolicited articles from anyone who believes the piece is appropriate for Paste and its readers. (Hint: Best way to figure out what is appropriate is to read the magazine.)” The magazine is often available at Barnes & Noble. Check local your local newsstand for a copy.

Cover stories run 3000-4500 words; Features 1500-4000 words; Front of the book pieces 50-800 words; Film Reviews 200-500 words; Book Reviews 100-500 words; CD Reviews100-800 words. Pays on publication and retains the right to publish submissions on its website and other sites that use its content. Go here for complete guidelines.

Relix is another music publication looking for submissions. The present-day magazine is an outgrowth of the 1964 Dead Relix outlet for Grateful Dead tape traders. The emphasis has shifted away from the Greatful Dead over the years and now the coverage includes jambands and other non-mainstream types of music.

According to the guidelines, “We want to expand our coverage of new artists who might be of interest to our readers, so we are always looking for ideas. We also deal with environmental, cultural and lifestyle issues of concern to our audience. We are happy to welcome new contributors, so if you have story ideas, please feel free to drop us a note, preferably by email, to the appropriate editor.” Complete guidelines are here.

The magazine is looking for behind-the-scenes stories: “Straight-ahead interviews and live show reviews are fine (they’ve long been our stock in trade), but we’d like to see more intimate stories about the people who work out of sight, and the places in which they work.” Payment is made approximately four weeks after publication.

4WD Toyota Owner Magazine is an independent magazine for 4WD Toyota owners and enthusiasts worldwide. “It is a magazine that welcomes contributors of all styles, talents, and field. We welcome new writers, photographers, and yes, perspectives.” The magazine wants tech articles, trail run stories, cool rig features.

“Email us with your idea and we’ll give you a word count. 300 is typically the bare minimum.” Pays for submissions, with the rate depending on size of layout and amount of editing needed. Rates start at $50 and go up from there. Click here to read their entire submission requirements and information on how to email your story idea to editors.

Words into Print gives no warranty to completeness, accuracy or fitness of the above markets, although research was done to the best of our ability.

© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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Eight Magazines That Pay $1 a Word for Articles

NOTE: The information below was valid at the time it was posted. Magazines, however, go in and out of business all the time, so be sure to visit a publication’s website and check its guidelines before submitting anything to them. Also, check with sites like mr.magazine.com to find out about new start-up magazines).

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Beginning freelancers often sell to low-paying markets when trying to break into the field. Sooner or later, however, they begin to realize that more money can be made by sellling to higher-end publications. $1 a word is a good goal to have — sell a 1,000 word article and make $1,000. Surely beats writing for publications that pay a pittance — or sometimes nothing at all.

To start you on your way to selling to higher-paying markets, check out the following group of publications that pay at least $1 a word for articles. Some pay much more.

American Forests, which is produced by the nation’s oldest citizen conservation group, welcomes new writers. Looks for topics that profile the group’s work, including its Global ReLeaf Forest plantings, and examples of urban forestry, small community-based forestry projects that benefit local land and landowners. Writers are advised to study a few issues before submitting queries. Payment ranges from $100 for clipping items (to 300 words) to up to $2,000 for feature-length articles with photos supplied. Writers can also submit samples of their work and ask to be considered for assignment. Specify your specialty: (education topics, policy, science stories, etc.). Guidelines are online here.

Major articles for Boy’s Life run from 500 to 1,500 words and payment is $400 to $1,500. “We cover everything from professional sports to American history to how to pack a canoe,” according to their writer’s guidelines. Articles must interest and entertain boys ages 6 to 18. Editors want to see queries by mail (with SASE). Buys first-time rights. Click here for complete guidelines.

Scrap Magazine pays $800-1200 for articles ranging from 2000-3000 words in length. Pays $600-$1200 for photo shoots. Scrap is the preeminent magazine for the scrap recycling industry, which is NOT the same as curbside recycling. The magazine provides news and feature articles on topics to help scrap recyclers operate better, more profitable businesses. According to the writer’s guidelines, “The best way to understand the scrap industry is to visit our website and the site of our related trade association and review a sample copy of Scrap.” Buys all rights, including electronic. Guidelines are online here.

enRoute is Canada’s upscale, award-winning bilingual (English/French) inflight magazine for people who work and play on a global scale. It’s read by nearly 1 million passengers a month. The publication’s base rate if $1 a word Canadian upon acceptance. Short profiles, feature profiles, roundup service features, essays, cultural trend stories, short and long travel features and front-of-the-book roundup of short pieces on global travel/lifestyle trends. Read the guidelines for editorial requirements plus some back issues before you pitch the publication.

Coastal Living Magazine is a lifestyle publication that covers homes, destinations, activities and people along the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf Coast of North America, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as coastal Canada and Mexico and, from time to time, the Caribbean islands and the U.S. Great Lakes. Stories are planned a year in advance during editorial meetings from November through January, so you can research a story now to pitch for issues to be published in 2010. Pays $1 a word, plus reasonable expenses (such as transportation, lodging and dining for travel stories). Be sure to check out the extensive writer’s guidelines before approaching the publication.

The mission of EdTech: Focus on Higher Education is to help college and university IT managers, directors, practitioners, and others to better serve their institutions. The magazine uses features, best practices, case studies, reviews, columns and tech trends. 90% of the publication is written by freelancers. Payment is $1 a word for 500-1500 words. Currently the publication needs story pitches, including specific technologies and schools that would make a good fit for the story. You can request complete guidelines by email. Some advice from the guidelines: “Make sure stories include a technology angle and are relevant to higher education.”

Eating Well is a bimonthly national food magazine that focuses on eating healthfully. Readers are interested not only in cooking and nutrition, but also the origins of food and social issues related to food. The guidelines state: “We welcome ideas from new writers. If you haven’t worked with us before, it’s best to start off pitching front-of-the-book ideas, even if you’re an established writer. Consider it an audition for a longer piece.” The pay rate is up to $1 a word and the magazine purchases all rights, including Web rights. Check out the guidelines for freelance-friendly columns and tips to help you pitch to the publication.

Midwest Living is a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine that focuses on travel, food, home and garden. Most articles take a service approach and run between 300 and 1,000 words. They coverage area is Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesote, Iowa, Missouri, North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, and sometimes Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee. The guidelines detail what makes successful pitches to them, what they’re not interested in, and how to submit an idea. According to the guidelines: “Our rates vary depending on the article, the writer and the amount of research involved, but we are generally in the range of 80 cents to $1 a word, plus expenses.” Go here to read complete guidelines.

If you pitch one of these publications and receive a go-ahead, please come back here and share the news with everyone. And we’d be delighted to read your articles when they are published. Please let us know.

Use the listed information at your own risk. Words into Print gives no warranty to
completeness, accuracy, or fitness of the markets, although research is done to the best of our ability.

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© 2008 by Laverne Daley

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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
Use the listed information at your own risk. Words into Print gives no warranty to
completeness, accuracy, or fitness of the markets, although research is done to the best of our ability.

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Six Paying Magazine Markets for Short Articles

Short articles not only take less time to research and write than full-length articles, they also can help you break into new magazine markets. Many editors say that writers have the best chance of selling to their publications by submitting short pieces.

All of the following are paying publications. Some pay moderate rates, others are low-paying. If you need your first bylines, one of these magazines might fill that need.

Wooden Boat
Boat owners, builders and designers read the bi-monthly Wooden Boat magazine. The publication focuses on the “design, building, care, preservation and use of wooden boats, both commercial and pleasure, old and new, sail and power.”

The “Currents” column might be a good starting point here. The columns features short articles covering everything from straight news to news about museums, magazines, books, organizations, events, maritime preservation and politics, interesting products, tools and people.

Payment is on publication. You might even send a query for a longer piece. Short items pay $5-$25 and longer features bring $200 to $250. Click here for guidelines and specifics about what the magazine is looking for.

Lake Superior Magazine
This regional magazine with national distribution covers people, places and events in the Lake Superior region. Editors are interested in articles on specific topics like nature and wilderness living, and short articles and photos about boats, ships or watercraft of note and their crews, plus short pieces about individuals who work and play in the region and articles about homes and lifestyles. See complete guidelines here.

Short articles averaging 900 to 1,400 words usually pay from $65 to $125. Features run from 1,600 to 2,200 words and pay up to $600, according to length, importance of the story and writer’s experience. Payment is on publication.

Editors prefer completed manuscripts, although short queries naming possible sources are considered. Do not fax queries or unsolicited manuscripts and do not call. The publication buys First North American Serial Rights and electronic rights, and possibly second serial rights for reprints in its special publications.

Continental
Frequent travelers, both business and leisure, read Continental, the in-flight magazine of Continental Airlines. Business stories and shorter items are the best way for freelancers to break into this market.

Among the sections open for freelancers are “Go Explore,” a 400-word main story, and other items of 125-150 words on a unique and timeless place to visit — somewhere off the beaten path; “Art on the Road,” a 250 word art or architecture story on a destination or an art or architectural project worth seeing; “Go Eat,” a 350-word article about a chef and his or her restaurant in a city listed on the editorial calendar and “Go Home,” 350 words about a topic relevant to the home. Check the 2008 Editorial Guidelines for more areas open to freelancers.

Dog Fancy
Freelancers write most of the articles in Dog Fancy. Don’t send the magazine any tributes to dogs who have died or stories about beloved family pets. Do offer thoroughly researched articles about health, nutrition, care, grooming and training. Editors want roughly 850 to 1,200 words, accompanied by high-quality slides or photos, if possible. Dog Fancy pays on publication. Payment varies with the quality and length of the article and number and quality of photos the author supplies. Complete guidelines are here.

Cats and Kittens Magazine

(Notice: Please see the follow-up post on this market)
Freelancers also might consider submitting to Cats and Kittens Magazine. The magazine and its sister publications, Bird Times and Dog & Kennel, want human interest stories, columns dealing with training and other informative, authoritative and educational articles about the species and their care.

The pay is low, 10 cents a word on the final edited published word count, payable on publication. Short articles run 500 to 1,000 words, features run 1,200 to 2,000 words. Go here for complete guidelines.

Sierra Magazine
Finally, Sierra Magazine has four departments that are open to short freelance submissions. Sierra notes that its readers are environmentally concerned and politically diverse and that most are active outdoors. Editors are looking for writing that will provoke, entertain and enlighten that readership.

For “The Green Life,” they welcome ideas that incorporate lists, factoids, photos, how-tos, recipes, quotes, statistics, tips and other quick-hit presentations.” Generally these run 50 to 200 words, with payment depending on length and complexity.

“Good Going” in about 300 words describes a superlative place, including fascinating natural and cultural facts.

“Lay of the Land” focuses on environmental issues of national or international concern — tightly focused, provocative, well-researched investigations of environmental issues. These run 500 to 700 words, with payment varying according to length.

“One Small Step” features first-person accounts of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things. The magazine publishes a 100-to-150-word quotation from an interview that explains the person’s actions, motivations, and impact. For more information, read the magazine’s guidelines.

Please let me know if you find these market listings helpful. Your comments will determine if I continue posting them.

Use the listed information at your own risk. Words into Print gives no warranty to
completeness, accuracy, or fitness of the markets, although research is done to the best of our ability.
© 2008 by Laverne Daley
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Grammar, Humor and Dangling Participles

The notion of grammar and humor first struck me when I was writing an earlier post (Precision in Writing – Is That Word Necessary?) in which I mentioned dangling participles.

Now I admit that grammar and humor are an unlikely pairing, but put a dangling participle into the mix and you might encounter a bit of humor — not enough for guffaws or chuckles, but maybe enough for a quiet smile when you recognize the humor that is there — although probably not intended by the writer.

In that earlier post, I included two dangling participles that Evan Marshall mentioned in his book, The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing (Leaving the village, the mountains glowed red in the sun) and (Opening the closet door, the cat sprang from the shadows), along with Marshall’s comment, “These statements give the mountains and the cat undue credit.”

Numerous dangling participles turned up when I went searching for more. Some were on college web sites, in instructors’ classnotes advising students how to avoid the danglers, in Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, and on blogs and web sites pointing out how they can cause serious misunderstandings.

Some examples:

“Running through the neighborhood last Saturday afternoon, his nose detected the delectable aroma of barbecued steak on someone’s backyard grill.” (College of Siskiyous)

“Rushing to finish the paper, Bob’s printer broke.” (Guide to Grammar and Style, Jack Lynch).

“Driving home in yesterday’s storm, a tree fell on the back of my car.” (www.papersbyjoantaber.blogspot.com)

“Hanging by their tails from the branches, the children watched the monkeys.” (College of Siskiyous)

“I saw the trailer peeking through the window.” (Elements of Style)

“The man with the bushy mustache carrying a briefcase went into the police station.” (www.associatedcontent.com)

“Walking home last night, a banana fell on my head.” (ScribblesandWords.com)

It’s easy to see how dangling participles can distort your meaning and leave your reader wondering what you’re trying to say. Readers may not actually believe that somebody’s nose was running through the neighborhood or that a tree was driving a car during last night’s storm, but those thoughts will certainly divert them from what you really are trying to say.

Consider the words of Angela Harms, editor of “Don’t Dangle Your Participle.” (www.WritersResources.com)

Even when dangling participles don’t cause confusion, and they aren’t silly, these critters should be avoided. They are stumbling blocks. Your readers may understand well enough, but they will have to pause, if for only a fraction of a second, while their brains process the strange construction.”

Whatever humor we may find in the dangling participles of other writers, we certainly don’t want editors and readers to find them in our own work. To fix a dangling participle, move the offending participle so it follows what it actually describes (The children watched the monkeys hanging by their tails from the branches) (While peeking through the window, I saw the trailer).

Dangling participles happen because the first part of a sentence and the clause that follows don’t belong together and don’t make sense. When editing your work, watch for sentences containing —ing and especially watch for sentences beginning with When —ing. Then zap those dangling participles before they give readers and editors the giggles.

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© 2008 by Laverne Daley
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Seven Motivation Tips to Help You Write More, Sell More

Just in time for resolution-making, here are some motivation tips to help you write more and sell more. Most are not original with me. Some were picked up from books or the Internet, some from other writers and editors. Whenever possible, I’ve included sources for specific tips.

1. Keep a writing journal—that’s one of the top suggestions from many writers who think that journaling has a direct effect on motivation. They advise you to record what you’re already achieved and what you hope to achieve in the future, and to reread those entries when you need motivation. Journaling can lead to new ideas, new directions and renewed interest in your writing goals

2. Make use of writing prompts. A single word or phrase may give you an idea for a full-fledged article and may motivate you to write additional articles or stories. Author and speaker Susan Taylor Brown says you can gain motivation also by reading interviews with authors and watching movies about writers. Her site has writing prompts and exercises, links to hundreds of author interviews, quotes about writing, and a list of 200 movies about some aspect of writing or writers.

3. Find a writing partner. Two people writing in tandem may produce better results than two people writing separately, and talking with another writer can motivate both of you to be more productive. As a single writer, you may put off writing today. If both of you have made a pact to write for 30 minutes a day on a project, you’re likely to start writing and follow through so as not to disappoint your writing partner.

4. Go somewhere and do something different. The excitement of a new place or a new activity generates its own motivation. Back at your computer, use your five senses to recapture vivid details of your adventure.

5. Go back to school. A writing class at a local university or community college can be a powerful motivator. Look for workshop-type classes that will give you a chance to know other writers. Make it a point to discuss your writing with others who have writing goals similar to yours. Ask your instructor how you might become more motivated.

6. Make deadlines for yourself and stick to them (a great practice for when you actually have to meet editors’ deadlines later on). Write your deadlines down and post them in a prominent place near the computer where you must see them every day. The calendar (or a ticking clock) can be a great motivator.

7. Consider the words of motivational speaker, Kelly James-Enger, a freelance journalist, writing instructor and author (Six Figure Freelancing; Ready, Aim, Specialize! Create Your Own Writing Specialty and Make More Money). In her Writer’s Handbook article, “Freelancing 101,” she says the most effective way to stay motivated is to set two types of goals for your writing.

“Set an outcome goal and then design production goals to get you there. An outcome goal is often what you’re striving for in terms of publishing your work. It might be, ‘I’ll publish my work in a national magazine.’ A production goal, on the other hand, is a small, measureable, specific goal that will help you reach your outcome goal — like ‘I will send out three queries each month,’ or ‘I will write for 30 minutes every day.’

When you’re writing for publication, you need both. The production goals, although seemingly minor, will help keep you on target to reach your outcome goals. They also give you a way to track your progress. After six months of sending out queries, for example, you may not reach your goal of being published in a national magazine (yet), but you will have met your production goal of writing every day. That kind of success helps keep you on track — while making you a better writer and improving your chances of getting published in the process.”

All the tips are good ways to help keep your motivation high. They’d also make excellent writing resolutions. I plan to use some of them and I hope you will, too. Happy New Year and much success with your writing in 2008!

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©2007 by Laverne Daley
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