Writer’s Getaway: Secret Garden, Santa Barbara, CA

santa-barbara2.jpg The charming cottages at Secret Garden are perfect for writers–and some even have their own private decks or patios. Choose one with a hot tub for unwinding after a long day of working on a manuscript or brainstorming article ideas. The breakfast buffet served each day features fresh scones, French recipe quiches, and that much-needed morning jolt of coffee or tea to get started. 

If you settle in and find yourself with writer’s block, schedule a relaxing massage or wander the grounds and take in the sights and scents of the lovely gardens. More likely, you’ll find that the peaceful atmosphere here will inspire you to get some good work done. A perfect spot for those who require solitude and quiet to do their best work. If you write better with your trusted canine companion along, ask for a pet friendly cottage–but there’s no breakfast buffet for Fido!

Oh–and did I mention that it’s a great place to get away from those long winter days once the glow of the holiday season has faded? Those fed up with the cold will find the warmth of California a great restorative.

On Tunnel Vision

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Tunnel vision. That mode you go into when you’ve got your head buried in five deadlines at once, money on the line and probably your professional reputation too if you don’t deliver the goods. It happens to all of us in one form or another and for me, it usually takes something awful to snap myself out of it. I got snapped out of mine in a major way by two big news stories this week. One made national headlines, the other is all over the news in Chicago.

The national one you already know; the death of Heath Ledger. Everybody was shocked over the passing of this talented 28-year old who seemed to have everything going for him. So shocked that some in our business couldn’t resist connecting the dots to the worst possible explanations with nothing more than a few scraps of information. No surprise there, really.

Folio blogger Dylan Stableford’s two cents on all this pretty much sum it up for me, and while I normally nod my head, agree quietly and let things go, another blog entry made me passionate enough to blog about the whole thing. Stableford laments the shoddy journalism connected to Ledger’s death, the haste which some in the media took rumor and partial information, tying them together however it seemed to fit best.

Continue reading On Tunnel Vision

Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer

jenna-glatzer-book1.jpgIf you want one good book on freelancing and you are just starting out, Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer by Jenna Glatzer is definitely it. Jenna walks through the query process, tells some juicy insider secrets and teaches those who are just starting out a ton about the business of writing. She has penned many an article including credits in Woman’s World, Woman’s Own, and Prevention. Glatzer is a contributing editor at Writer’s Digest and has written several books including an authorized biography of Celine Dion.

There is a lot of information out there for the new freelancer, but you have to dig around in writing forums, magazine articles and books to find it–and it’s very time consuming. It can be difficult at first to tell the good advice from the bad. Glatzer’s book is a good starter resource that can help answer those “newbie” questions all in one place. Jenna has eaned herself the moniker “The Writer’s Writer,” and one of her specialties is helping other writers learn the business. This book is the perfect example.

See Jenna Glatzer’s blog or take a look at her impressive list of titles at her official site

Quantaray Pro Photo/Laptop Backpack

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When you’re writing for a living, diversity is the name of the game. If you can add photography to the mix, you’re instantly more marketable in more ways than one. Since one of my main strengths is music and culture writing, I’d be a fool NOT to be a writer/photographer.

When I first started taking pictures for my pieces, I used any old bag for the gear, but after getting the Quantaray Pro as a gift, I am completely sold on a dedicated bag for all my gear. I carry my Zoom H4 recorder, mics, camera and lenses, plus my laptop in the Quantaray Pro and have used the same one for years without so much as a broken zipper. We do a lot of different types of gear reviews at Freelance-Zone, but this one ain’t based on specs alone–I am a huge fan of this backpack and will definitely buy another one just like it when I finally kill it years from now after one location shoot too many.

Buy the Quantaray Pro camera/laptop backpack for $79.00


FreelanceWritingGigs.com

Deborah Ng’s FreelanceWritingGigs.com is one of our favorite resource sites. There is a good mix of traditional gigs with blogger opportunities, and the presentation is top notch. One of my personal compaints about some writer’s sites with job listings is inherent user-unfriendliness. Not so with FreelanceWritingGigs.com.

For new writers, this site is a treasure trove. Jennifer Chait’s “So What” should be required reading for anyone who presumes to put up a blog about…anything. I am also a big fan of “writer beware” articles, and the piece warning about a content site called Giant Wow made me about as happy as I can get without a “paid on acceptance” check involved.

As a full-time writer, I find FreelanceWritingGigs.com quite useful in a number of areas. Anyone who doesn’t scour a fellow writer’s links section is cheating themselves out of gigs and networking opportunities. It’s also the chance to meet new people in the same boat–all still waiting for paychecks due two months ago, hunting high and low for another chance to throw some words together for money and make them stick. Your friends might not understand your job, and your family may still think you’re on some kind of extended vacation, but your fellow writers understand.

If you aren’t familiar with this excellent resource, hop on over and get acquainted with FreelanceWritingGigs.com. Highly recommended.

Confessions of a Street Addict

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At first glance, stock market genius Jim Cramer’s painfully frank biography Confessions Of A Street Addict might not seem like a writer’s cup of tea. What freelancer has the money to sink into stocks or the time to properly manage a portfolio?

  That’s what I though plowing into this, but I was quite surprised to read about Cramer’s horror stories as a writer–working as a broke, literally homeless crime writer for the LA Herald Examiner. It’s hard to complain about a little freelancer cabin-fever when reading about a writer who lived in the back seat of his car when he wasn’t out hanging out at murder scenes. Jim Cramer learned a great deal the hard way as a writer, including a much publicized scandal that nearly got him indicted for writing about stocks that he also happened to be invested in.

He nearly lost his entire career because of a simple editorial mistake. (He was cleared of any personal wrongdoing, and if the facts as presented in the book are true, he didn’t really deserve any of blame.) Cramer repeatedly tried to walk away from writing as his stock market career took him into millions of dollars in personal success, but his love of the craft brought him back for the creation of TheStreet.com, and the rest is history.

In short, this is an AMAZING book to read from a struggling writer’s standpoint. You can learn a lot from Jim Cramer’s mistakes and his successes in and out of the writing game. This is making the rounds at Freelance-Zone, and it’s kept at least one of us up at night, unable to put the damn thing down.

Buy for $10.20 

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