Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Buh-bye! We're moving!

We decided to relocate our blog to a valuable piece of virtual real estate called TheRenegadeWriter. Please change your bookmarks and come on over! We were able to archive all of our old posts, and WordPress, which is Open Source blogware, gives us a lot of cool tools and more functionality.

We hope you'll join us for the fun!

Sunday, August 06, 2006


My New Business Cards

I was happy with my iPrint black-and-white specials...until I saw the funkalicious cards from the U.K. company StreetCards. So when I started running out of my old cards, I ordered 500 of these beauties, which are full-color and laminated. You can choose the background color on the back of the card; I thought this orange was a nice contrast, and the orange and blue match my website design and the cover of The Renegade Writer. The cards arrived in about two weeks, which is amazing considering they had to be printed and then shipped to the U.S. They were a bit pricy, but look at them! Just look!

You can't see this in the photo, but underneath my contact info it says, "My editors think I'm swell." Now we'll find out for real if editors have a sense of humor! I do have that phrase as part of my sig line, and it's gotten good reception from editors so far.

I used the new cards as an excuse to remind all my editors that I'm alive; instead of working on my assignments on Friday evening (three due on Monday, yikes), I sent the new card to about 40 editors I've worked with. The only thing that's actually different about the info on the cards is that I included my cell number, but I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to contact my editors!

Thursday, August 03, 2006


The Review Copy Helper is New and Improved...and Moved

As a freelance writer, you may have used my Review Copy Helper, which was hosted at my twowriters.net site until a few weeks ago. The Review Copy Helper makes it easier for magazine writers and book reviewers to request review copies of books from publishers -- and for publishers to get their review copies into the hands of writers who will give them publicity.

I just finished updating the publisher database and moved the whole thing over to my permanent site.

Updating the database took hours and hours -- and I hope to avoid having to do it again -- so this is going to have to be a collaborative effort. If you use and like the Review Copy Helper, please help me keep it up-to-date by e-mailing me with any changes or additions you run across.




A load off my inbox

Last night I was chatting with Linda on the phone. She mentioned she was feeling stressed because she had 30 e-mails in her inbox. I said, "Only 30?" I admitted I had 2,000 in mine. By comparison, I should be climbing the walls, screaming out jibberish only other lunatics can understand. "You should delete them," Linda said. "You're never going to read them all."

This morning, I took the plunge. I highlighted all the messages pre-January 1, 2006 and hit delete. Goodbye Clifton Kareem, messages asking me "R U 2 Small?," and press releases from companies announcing new vice presidents of human resources. Roughly 1,000 messages vaporized. And damn, it felt good. Tonight I'm going to do a couple hundred more. You know, a mini-high ... just a couple tokes to keep the edge off. Woo-hoo!!

P.S. Yes, I have filters. Spam filters, too. I'm just a big fat lazy piler.


I think the people who helped Bill Gates were paid from the start.

A "writers wanted" ad from the Philadelphia Craigslist:

New Magazine HIRING! -- Fri Jul 28
email: o.easter@devinevisionsent.com

Position Type Full-Time Employee or Part Time Company Name: Devine Visions Entertainment Location: Wilmington, Delaware but accepts applicants from all over. (you may work from home) Great Opportunity for College Students! At the moment there's no monetary compensation till we get up & running (start with a new and upcoming company and you can be making a lot of money soon.. how do you think people who helped Bill Gates feel now) Even if you have no experience but willing to learn we want you. We are an upcoming company that is in the process of developing a magazine for print.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Federal Freebies for Writers

From my 2003 article in The Writer - links updated 2006.

As a writer, you probably spend more time doing research for your articles and books than actually writing them. But in your pursuit of facts are you overlooking one of the largest, cheapest, and most accessible sources of information around -- the U.S. government?

Don't let your relationship with Uncle Sam be a one-way affair, with you doing all the giving and getting nothing in return. Just take a look at this sample of free or nearly-free government resources that writers can take advantage of to cut down on research time and cost.

The Bureau of the Census

The census is more than some guy who shows up on your doorstep every ten years asking how many kids you have. Every year the U.S. Bureau of the Census conducts nearly 100 surveys that supplement the decennial census, and much of this census information is available on the Internet or at depository libraries nationwide. Use free census data to liven up your queries and articles with facts and figures, or to add credibility to the market research section of your book proposals. For example, in your article on the economy, you can mention that according to the 2002 Census, the poverty rate is 10.8 percent. Add interest to your query about e-commerce by mentioning that U.S. retail e-commerce reached $34 billion in 2001 -- an increase of 22 percent over 2000.

Expert information is just a phone call away with a booklet called U.S. Census Bureau Contacts, which lists experts on any census topic you can imagine plus their phone numbers.

Press Office: 301-763-3030
U.S. Census Bureau Contacts

The Securities and Exchanges Commission

Business writers rejoice: If a company you're writing about is a publicly traded company, you can get information on the business, from how much profit it made last year to where its divisions are located, from the Securities and Exchanges Commission. Publicly traded companies must submit several filings annually to the SEC, which are then made available to the public at no charge.

To review a company's filings, go to the SEC's EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval) website, which provides free access to the SEC filings of thousands of public companies in the U.S. Or, for the Net-phobe, the Public Reference office will photocopy any documents you need for a mere $.26 per page.

Public Reference: 202-942-8090

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress serves as the research arm of Congress and is recognized as the national library of the United States. The Library, located in Washington, D.C., is open to everyone over high school age gratis.

But for writers who are too busy to trek to the Capitol to check out the Library's 20 million volumes and pamphlets, the Library offers an online "Ask a Librarian" service. Fill out the form with your question and a librarian will get back to you within five days. Some topics, such as business and science, even offer hours when you can "chat" with a librarian online.

The Library of Congress also has a photo-duplication service, which will search the Library to find what you need and send you photocopies. You pay for copying, copyright fees and postage ($12 minimum). Don't expect instant gratification, though; it can take from four to six weeks to get the information you need, though rush service (within 10 days) is available for a 100 percent mark-up.

Photoduplication Service: 202-707-5640 or photoduplication@loc.gov
Ask a Librarian

Federal Citizen Information Center

Need article ideas for a consumer pub? Or maybe you're researching an article on health, housing, money, or another consumer topic. At the Federal Citizen Information Center, writers can access hundreds of publications, information on the latest product recalls and scams, updates of consumer news from various Federal agencies, and a calendar of consumer-related events.


National Science Foundation

Here's a heads-up for all you science and technology writers out there: The National Science Foundation initiates and supports scientific research in several fields, including biology, information science/computers, social science, environmental science, and math. On the NSF website, each department offers a wealth of press releases that are ripe for the plucking by savvy writers. One recent release, for example, tells about how researchers used tiny, wireless sensors to test for stress along the famous crack in the Liberty Bell. What a cool article idea! Each press release includes contact information so you can call for additional info or set interviews.

SIDEBAR: How to Find Government Publications and Resources

The United States Government Manual

The United States Government Manual is a guide to the agencies and offices that make up the federal government.

Government Publications

The Government Publications database lets you retrieve catalogued records of government titles that are available through the Federal Depository Library Program. Once you find a record that interests you, the database will locate the nearest library that carries that item.

The Government Information Locator Service (GILS)

GILS helps you identify and reach publicly available Federal information resources, including both electronic and non-electronic sources.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Trolling, Trolling: Linda needs a mom of a kid who had transient tics.

I hate to ask here, but I'm desperate! For a national women's magazine, I'm looking to interview a U.S. mom of a kid who had transient tics. The tics need to have been completely resolved (so not chronic or recurring). If this is you, or you know someone who fits the bill, please e-mail me at linda-eric@lserv.com.

This is one case where all the usual tactics didn't work: I did a ProfNet query, posted to all the writers' boards, posted to Tourette's discussion lists, sent an e-mail to all my friends and family, sent an e-mail to all Eric's friends and family, asked the Tourette's Association, and asked every specialist I can think of. No luck! So, sometimes you just have to beg.


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