April 21, 2004
Letters To The Editor For April 21st | printable version
~Got a Great Job From Listing in Writersweekly!~
I have been reading WritersWeekly.com since 1998 or 1999 -- I do not remember which. Over that time you have given me several solid leads, and a lot of good advice for a freelancer starting out.
In mid-2002, I got a new day job, which gave me less time to read WritersWeekly.com. Well, three weeks back, I struck gold. You had a bit about a publisher that was expanding into a new line. I dusted off an old manuscript that had been in my dormant file and sent it off. Within three days, I had an offer from that publisher.
It would not have happened if I had not seen the write-up in WritersWeekly.com. While the publisher is mentioned in Writer's Market, they had nothing about the product line expansion you mentioned -- the expansion that led to my dusting off a retired proposal.
But I did want to share my good fortune, and let you know how much I appreciate Writers' Weekly.
~Client From Hell? Five Warnings Signs~
You may recall I contacted you three months ago about the Client from Hell who was threatening to sue me. You were very supportive, held my hand, and encouraged me not to back down.
It wasn't a pleasant experience, but the lessons were good ones. Here's what I learned:
1. Always stick to your guns and refuse to start without a signed agreement (contract) and a deposit check. (Fortunately, I got a hefty deposit that mitigated my losses.)
2. When someone tells you not to wait for the agreement, to go ahead and get started, that it's been "delayed in the mail" or they're "sure they faxed it," take that as a red flag.
3. When the client begins demanding more and more work halfway through the project, but doesn't want to pay more, it's a red flag.
4. When the client begins complaining about prices he already agreed to, and says everyone else's prices are way lower, it's another red flag.
5. When the client consistently misses phone conferences that you scheduled at his insistence over the course of the three days before Christmas, it's yet another red flag.
6. Always include a clause in the contract saying that the client assumes liability for copyright issues if the new project is based on old company material. (Nowadays I make sure to include this in every agreement I make with a client.)
The next time those red flags start flying, I'll just pocket my deposit and fire the client without delay. I know this is long, Angela, but I wanted to let you know how it all turned out. Your support was invaluable. Thanks so much for your untiring advocacy.
Congratulations on your new life on the road! I know it takes a lot of nerve to go against the grain of society, because my husband and I did it, too. A year after we married (and we weren't young 20-somethings), when everyone thought we would buy a house, have a baby and settle into suburbia, we quit our jobs, sold our stuff and moved to Italy. We thought if we didn't seize the opportunity, we might never get another chance.
One of the best things from that experience was that I became a published writer. If you're interested in reading our story, I am pasting the link to one of the first articles I wrote which describes how we decided where to move, how we made the transition and how we financed it. It first ran in Transitions Abroad in Sept/Oct 2002 and I'm still receiving e-mails from people who have similar dreams. GoNomad.com contacted me and bought the piece, too - my first resale!
Thanks for helping a very sleepy writer sit up and take notice this morning. You've helped jumpstart my engine. Life doesn't have to be boring!! Enjoy, Enjoy Enjoy!
I read with excitement your article about making the decision to homeschool your children. I'm one of those strange people who made that decision a long time ago. Although I only homeschooled for three years (K through 2nd grade) I feel that I can talk positively and intelligently about it.
I did my homework (no pun intended) and researched and read up on homeschooling long before I actually did it. Mind you, this was 17 years ago when the 'movement' was in its infant stages and many parents were being persecuted and even put in jail for wanting to have a more personal hand in their children's education.
I homeschooled my youngest son. I was 35 when he was born, so I had the maturity and confidence to know I could do it, even when my mother-in-law and others were aghast and totally against it. (My mother, bless her, was supportive of everything I did.) When I told one of my ex-classmates at my class reunion I was homeschooling, she looked at me with shock and dismay and said, "Why would you do that?"
I had to make the decision to stop homeschooling only because my mother became too ill to live alone and moved in with us. Because I was working part time, caring for an invalid, and homeschooling, something had to go.
We chose to put our son into private school. He did well, and I've never regretted our homeschooling years. What a sense of accomplishment to know I taught him to read, write, spell, add, subtract, multiply and divide!
Most people don't have a clue that parents are the first and best teachers. We've been brainwashed for decades that public schooling is the only way to go. What people don't realize is most of our early presidents were homeschooled. Public schooling was unheard of for most children for many years after the birth of our nation. I so often hear the concern that children won't be socialized if they're not in school. What hogwash. There are dozens of ways to socialize children besides putting them in with twenty or thirty kids their age and submitting them to constant negative peer pressure.
Your decision to take your children all over the country will provide the best education they can ever have! They will experience firsthand the places they are reading about. With bright, literate, articulate parents like you and your husband, they can't help but do well. I applaud your decision and just know you and your children will have a ball growing and learning together.
Good for you Angela!
Columnist/The Guide, The Blue Review
Submissions Editor/The Blue Review--an e-zine for Children's Writers
Vice President/Exec. Board--Blue Oasis Online Support Teams (BOOST)
Hi Angela and Richard,
I don't usually respond to your editorials, as I know you're inundated with e-mails, but I must congratulate you on the homeschooling option! We are in our second year of homeschooling Elizabeth (grade 7 this year) and plan on bringing Jonathan home next year after he finishes fifth grade. It's the very best decision we've ever made and I wish I'd had the opportunity to do it when my three older kids were school aged.
We spend a month in Florida each winter now and travel whenever we have enough cash to do so. It is a far better education than sitting behind a desk and battling situations like bullying and ridiculous peer pressure. We truly enjoy the young lady Elizabeth is becoming, as opposed to what she might have become if we'd stuck with our public middle school.
If I can be of any help, please let me know. In addition to the research I did before we reached our decision to homeschool, I have written for several homeschooling publications in the past year.
Have fun with your new adventures!
FREELANCING LATER IN LIFE
It's Never Too Late to Become a Freelance Writer!
I just have to comment on your news! Although I don't think homeschooling is for me, congratulations on living life YOUR way, rather than following traditional paths. I think it's very important to live life the way you want, and too many people get trapped into "have tos" that they only force on themselves. I wish everyone realized that life can be what you make it! I wish you and your family the best with your new life.
All I can say is, congratulations on your decision to homeschool your kids! It's an adventure you and your kids will treasure always.
I had been an over-the-road truck driver since 1980 when there were NO other women drivers. Years later when my son was born and on the truck with me, I began my adventure "homeschooling." Only I didn't know that it had a name. I was just looking for interesting ways to entertain a toddler. He could name all the states and most of their capitals before he was three years old, and much better than most of the adults he met. Right after he turned four I bought a great book, "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons" and he was reading at four. (Keep it in mind for your youngest, it really works!)
When I got off of the road for a while, I decided to continue teaching him at home. The schools in this area leave quite a bit to be desired (especially their emphasis on sports above everything including academic standards). Instead, my son is an avid film maker and writer, having finished several screenplays and scripts by the time he was six.
We went back on the road last summer, (among other things, we move boats from Maine to Florida in the fall,and the reverse in the spring), with our Great Dane, Roadie. I know these are memories he will have a for a lifetime, and I feel fortunate to have been able to give them to him.
So I just want to say good luck, and safe travels!
Truckdriver and aspiring writer,
I just read your "News From the Home Office" column about your children attending a private school via distance education. Interesting! I think that with all of the problems some of your children have gone through in public school, it was a good idea for them to be schooled in this way. Don't let the naysayers get you down! You need to do what is best for your own family, and only you can know what is best.
As for me, I live in California, and I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Excelsior College in Albany, New York. (I've never even been to New York!) Also, I am currently in an online Master of Library Science program at Texas Woman's University (I've never been to Texas, either).
Distance education is exciting, and you can make of it what you want. I do feel isolated at times, but I currently work in a library, so I have the advantage of knowing librarians that I can go to for help with my studies.
I do hope that you keep all of us apprised as to the progress of your children in school.
Wow Angela, you're a riot! You've surely outdone yourself this time. What a brilliant way to have a great life, and give the kids a "real" education.
What can I say-- I'm totally jealous. In fact, after I'm done with my education, that's exactly what I'm planning to do-- take my work and hit the road. ;)
I think you've made a fantastic decision. You go girl!