Thursday, December 10, 2009

Boo! Calling all ghost writers

Hi all,

I've been asked to discuss ghost-writing a book on a particular business
subject about which I have some surface knowledge, but I'm not the
topic-expert - the "real author", however, is very much an expert in this
particular industry. He has asked me what/how I would charge to ghost-write
a 100-150 page book. I've ghost-written speeches, articles, etc., but never
an entire book. Any advice on questions I should ask, how to set parameters
for charging, etc.?



Learn to Twitter better

Twitter expert Allie Bell is speaker for Jan. 14 Press Women-SPJ event

"Better Twittering for the Mass Communicator,” co-sponsored by Arizona Press Women’s Central District and Valley of the Sun chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, open to the public, is the topic of a luncheon talk at 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, at the Doubletree Guest Suites, 320 N. 44th St., Phoenix.
The PowerPoint presentation presented by Allie Bell of Glendale focuses on techniques to make Twitter an ally in mass communicating for journalists, authors and marketing and public relations specialists. Bell is managing editor of AZRE (Arizona Commercial Real Estate Magazine) and six other AZ Big Media publications. She also manages the company's social media efforts and participates in multiple online social networks.
Reservations are requested by Jan. 12 to or 480-778-8776. APW and SPJ members will be admitted free; non-members pay $5 at the door. Those attending can order individually from the luncheon menu.
Arizona Press Women is an organization of women and men who work as editors, writers, photographers, teachers and public relations specialists. APW sponsors regular meetings and workshops in Phoenix, Tucson and Payson, and an annual spring conference. For more information, contact

Monday, November 30, 2009

Writing for web sites, blogs

One of our freelancers might have an opportunity to write for a clinical trials web site and do some blogging for them.

However, she isn't sure how much to charge and wants to ask the rest of us what we would suggest. She has checked Craigslist and says the rates are all over the place. Not surprising, because a lot of potential "employers" on Craigslist want to pay virtually nothing.

I understand that $50 to $100 an hour for web site copy is the going rate, depending on experience. I'm not sure about blogging for companies. She isn't sure whether it's standard to charge by the hour, page or project. I told her I charge by the hour for that type of thing, but I understand some clients might not go for that.

Can anyone weigh in on this?

Go see American Pastorela

Journalist and playwright James Garcia's annual holiday spoof, American Pastorela, runs Dec. 4-13 at Third Street Theatre, 1202 N. Third St. in downtown Phoenix.

If you've never seen it, please go this year -- it promises to be the best yet. It's always a funny, topical and local take on the Passion Play; last year it dealt with border crossing and Light Rail. This year it revolves around Sheriff Joe. Read more:

Now, taking on Joe is a harrowing prospect for anyone, let alone a man with the last name of Garcia. You have to give him credit for having some big cojones. That alone is worth buying a ticket.

James is an award-winning playwright, journalist and ASU instructor, and an all-around decent man with a wicked sense of humor. View his bio here: Follow him on Twitter at jgplaywright.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Question on copyrights

Paula wants to know if anyone else has had experience with getting works copyrighted...

"I’m fidgeting around w/getting some works copyrighted and wondered if others had done so (I’m SURE they have...) and if they did it themselves or used an attorney, agent, etc?"

Please use the comments field to respond. Thanks!

Education/features writers, $1 a word

Thanks to RuthAnn for passing this along!

Phoenix Focus magazine is seeking experienced journalists interested in taking on freelance assignments on a variety of topics outlined in its 2010 editorial calendar. The magazine is published monthly online and is aimed at University of Phoenix alumni and is operated by the university's alumni association.

Writers will need to demonstrate the ability to identify appropriate sources for each assignment by completing a brief query in the form of a bulleted list outlining how they would tackle the assignment and a list of who they plan to contact as sources.

Pay is $1 per word for news/feature stories ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 words each and shorter faculty and alumni stories about 500 words each. Assignments will be given with at least a month's lead time to allow sufficient time for research and reporting.

Topics for 2010 include:

Why is the U.S. education system in trouble?

Overview of University of Phoenix's annual academic report

Spotlight on the College of Education including what teaching models are trending now, etc.

Health and education

The environment and its impact on jobs and careers

Entrepreneurs (College of Business)

Information Technology

Community and Volunteers

Contact Jenifer Flatley at to apply.

(One 'n' is correct)

Betty Webb seminar

Joan send this along; APW is Arizona Press Women. I attended a Jana Bommersbach talk earlier this year and it was fantastic. This looks to be fun and informative, too.

Betty Webb Seminar -- from Facts to Novel
Date: November 19, 2009
Place: Doubletree Guest Suites, 320 N. 44th St., Phoenix
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Cost: Free to APW members. $5 for non-members.
Lunch: Dutch Treat off the restaurant menu.
RSVP: or 480-778-8776

Betty Webb is author of Desert Cut and other darkly popular Lena Jones mysteries—and the humorous zoo mystery The Anteater of Death. A new Lena Jones mystery, Desert Lost, is due out Dec. 1, 2009.
After her brief talk, Betty will lead luncheon attendees through the same steps she takes to turn factual articles into best-selling fiction novels. There will be handouts and some on-site writing, so be sure and bring pens and paper—and be prepared to be creative!
Betty has been a successful writer for 30 years, moving from advertising copywriting to journalism, book reviewing and writing mystery novels. She has also taught creative writing at Phoenix College. Before writing mysteries full time, Betty was a well-known local journalist. Writing articles ranging from hard news to features, she has interviewed everyone from U.S. presidents to astronauts who walked on the moon, as well as Nobel Prize winners, the homeless, the hopeless, the dying and polygamy runaways. Her Lena Jones mysteries are based on stories she covered as a reporter.
Betty is a member of the National Federation of Press Women and Arizona Press Women. Copies of her books will be available for purchase and signing at the meeting.
"If Betty Webb had gone undercover and written Desert Wives as a piece of investigative journalism, she'd probably be up for a Pulitzer... The factual details - supported by re-search cited in an Afterward - are eye-popping." — The New York Times

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Check out CityCircles

Phoenix Magazine managing editor Adam Klawonn and business partner Aleksandra Chojnacka have started up a phenomenally cool project called CityCircles.

Check it out:

He recently told me the Zonie Report is kind of on the back burner while they rev up this baby. From thousands of applicants for a Knight News Challenge grant, only nine received them, and Klawonn and Chojnacka nabbed $95,000 -- way to go!

The Knight News Challenge site reports they will use print, web and mobile technology to cater to people using the Phoenix Light Rail. mentions you could also be on bike or foot to get benefits from their service, too. They'll tell you about everything from news, discounts and promotions around the Light Rail to events going on in the area. See the "About" page on the site for more details.

Best of all, Klawonn said he plans to use paid (!) journalists to gather some of the info. Please do not flood the poor man right now with eager and/or desperate pleas for freelance work. I am sure he will get the word out when the time is right.

In the meantime, please visit and use, and tell your friends, family and even people you don't really like so much. Let's help make this a success.

Friday, November 13, 2009

PT graphic artist needed

Thanks to Joan for passing this along...



KTVK- 3TV, and KASW-CW6, Belo’s premier family of media brands in Phoenix, Arizona, seek a Part time Graphic Artist in the Creative Services Department in the 12th largest – and growing – television market. KTVK is a strong Indy with deep roots in the community and more local news than any station in the market. is the online leader in news and information, and Arizona’s most visited television website. KASW is a CW affiliate with #1 entertainment programs targeted to a younger audience.
The ideal candidate will design and create high definition animated and still graphics for KTVK’s #1 rated morning newscast, Good Morning Arizona. Other duties include producing graphics for daily newscasts, news stories, the internet, local programming and promotion, and produce off-air media designs and print materials for station and community initiatives. Candidate must possess a keen eye for brand consistency and marketing effectiveness.
It’s a high-energy, fast-paced work environment. Hours are 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday but candidate will also be asked to work other shifts when necessary. Weekends occasionally required.
Phoenix offers a great lifestyle with lots to do! Interested? We want to hear from you!
A minimum of three years as a designer and computer motion graphic artist preferred. Creative experience in a broadcast/production television environment required. Strong Macintosh, PC and server user. Must have technical and problem solving skills using these programs: After Effects, Adobe PhotoShop, Adobe Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, Curious Maps. Experience with Vizrt a plus.
Must be organized, a team player and have the ability to multi-task and meet deadlines. Must be able to take on highly involved motion graphics assignments with a creative flare and see through to completion with little supervision. Print layout and web material design experience a plus, In Design, Flash, HTML. A skills test may be required during interview.
Resume and Samples of Your Work:
If you qualify for the position, please submit resume and reel to: Creative Services Manager, 5555 North 7th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85013 or EOE.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Job openings at the Republic

From my sources deep within the workings of the Arizona Republic, I hear that the paper is looking to fill a few positions. I'm not sure if they are only looking to fill these internally; it didn't say. Can't hurt to check.

First, Alex Bloom is leaving, creating an opening for a Scottsdale education reporter covering Scottsdale, Cave Creek and Fountain Hills unified school districts, Scottsdale Community College, and the Maricopa County Community College District and its board. Deadline to apply is Nov. 20. This was posted by Cherrill Crosby; e-mail

Details: "Coverage generally involves education finance and overarching-policy issues that appeal to the older empty nesters that make up the bulk of our Scottsdale readers. This reporter regularly writes for a variety of platforms: the Scottsdale Republic, the Phoenix Republic (Northeast/Z7), Valley & State, A1 and the weekly Education page, as well as for and the education team blog -"

Also, Business needs a beat reporter:

"With Chad Graham’s promotion to social media editor, there is an opening in the business center for a reporter to cover jobs and workplace. This is a key beat in a state that has lost a larger percentage of jobs than Michigan in this recession. Here is the quick description. I’d be happy to answer any further questions.



The jobs reporter would cover issues related to jobs, employment and unemployment. The focus should be on news of interest to the job seeker, the displaced worker and the underemployed worker and (now and then) on those fully employed.

The beat is trend-oriented, news-oriented and tips-oriented. Trend stories should touch on major issues, from delivery of unemployment benefits to the evolution of job training to the state of workplace discrimination. News stories might touch on who’s hiring, and for what types of jobs. We also expect practical stories. These tips stories might cover everything from what careers are hot/cold, to how to deal with resume gaps, to maintaining work-life balance. These stories might run on A1, in the Business section or in the Sunday CareerBuilder package.

It’s a true multimedia beat. This reporter will host job chats and blog on azcentral and likely will appear on Channel 12 frequently to discuss jobs issues.

Good communication is essential, as is a willingness to work within a team. This reporter will work closely with Betty Beard, who covers the Arizona economy, and with Mel Melendez, CareerBuilder editor, and will report to Kathy Tulumello.

In business, reporters also are expected to take GA shifts 2-3 times a month, handling whatever stories and briefs may be assigned. Simple interest in business topics is necessary; we’ll provide on-the-job training.

If you are interested, please contact Kathy Tulumello by phone or e-mail by the end of the day Monday, Nov. 16."

Finally, Metromix has an opening:

"MMX Phoenix ( strives to be a planning/going out resource for the 21-39 person without children in the Valley. This means a primary focus on nightlife; we do an extensive job covering the scene in Metro Phoenix, and we want to do more. There is also music and dining content, and events coverage.

The MMX producer is a combination of content editor and content creator. Strong copy editing skills, coverage balance and news judgment are needed, and the role requires creativity to help plan for big events and come up with new content concepts. You will be asked to add to most content items and to create some from scratch.

Those interested should be familiar with working in a content management system (enigma, Wordpress, etc.) to ease the transition into the MMX content management system. Proficiency in HTML, Photoshop and basic online workflow are required. On the job training can be provided, but basic skills are necessary.

A candidate will be expected to maintain social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter. Knowledge of both products is a plus.

Nominees will also be expected to take a lead in being the liaison between MMX corporate and the local product. There are at least two weekly calls that must be handled. Facilitating requirements and requests from corporate and transmitting all news to fellow staffers is expected.

Anyone interested in this position should contact Royce Martin,, by Nov. 20. "

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Want to write a book?

Interested in a book deal? Joan sent along this RFP to write the life story of Burton Barr. It looks to me like the author might have to do some fundraising to pay his or her salary, and of course, you'd be expected to help promote it.

I've never done an RFP, so don't ask me for advice.

Has anyone else responded to an RFP for a book project? Would you be willing to share advice? Please respond via the comments field.

Request for Proposal
To Write the Burton Barr Book

Master of the House – The Remarkable Story of Burton Barr

World War II hero Burton Barr applied the same tactics employed in his successful war experiences to become the master of the Arizona House of Representatives. He served as the house majority leader from 1965 to 1986, and almost every legislative enactment during his 21year term carried his imprint. Among his many accomplishments was his influence in the modernization of state government.

The book envisioned by Jack Pfister and Brent Brown intended to review Representative Barr’s childhood history, his military and business careers, and his legislative accomplishments. In 1986 President Ronald Reagan urged Mr. Barr to run for governor of Arizona. Although he had resisted earlier pressures to run for higher office, Barr, still the consummate soldier, responded to his commander-in-chief. He was opposed in the primary by car dealer Evan Mecham, and in a bruising election, Mecham defeated him. Mecham went on to win a three-way general election race against Carolyn Warner and Bill Schultz.

The book also intended to review the primary election and Mr. Barr’s post-legislative activities. Burton Barr was the most influential member of the modern Arizona legislature and left an enduring mark on Arizona’s history.

Items that have been completed for the book include:
1. Book Chapter outline – Appendix A
2. Eight volumes of notes, oral histories, and detailed research – Appendix B outlines the contents of the notebooks
3. Numerous photos of Barr at different stages of his life
4. Oral histories (transcribed) from the following individuals:

Babbitt, Bruce DeBolski, Jack McCain, Senator John
Barr, Burton Fannin, Bob Pastor, Ed
Barr, Louise Goddard, Terry Shelp, Lawrence
Barr, Michael Gutierrez, Alfredo Skelly, Jim
Barr, Suzanne Hamilton, Art (2) Sossaman, James
Basha, Eddie Herstam, Chris Stevens, Charlie
Boyd, Mike Heller, Vic Strasser, Stephanie Barr
Brown, Jack Hull, Gov. Jane Dee West, Tony
Burns, Peter Isaacson, Don Pastor, Ed
Bush, Jim Kaplan, Richard
Clark, Lloyd Kolbe, John
Collins, Rick Kyl, Senator Jon
Cornell, Nikki Lane, Joe
Daley, Mike

Brent Brown passed away a few years ago, and Jack Pfister passed away suddenly in July 2009, and was unable to complete his dream of writing this important contribution to Arizona’s political history. Jack’s family and friends are interested in seeing this book completed. This RFP seeks to solicit proposals from interested authors who wish to finish the book using Jack’s research and generally follow his outline for the publication. All the papers and documents have been willed to the Arizona State University Library, but will be made available to the selected author exclusively in the Luhrs Reading Room in the Hayden Library until the project is completed.
A selection committee will review the RFPs and intends to help support the author with some fund raising and coordination as necessary.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal, please provide the following:

1. Resume of experience and any specific qualifications you have in writing books, monographs, and/or lengthy articles. Any experience related to writing biographies should be highlighted and full citations should be provided of work done.
2. Please answer the questions/statements:
a. What interests you about completing this project?
b. Why do you believe you would be qualified to write the book?
c. Describe any personal experiences you had with either Jack Pfister or Burton Barr.
d. What is your understanding of and connection to Arizona history, culture and politics?
3. Provide a brief budget to outline the costs you expect to incur and the fees you propose to charge.
4. Provide a timeframe indicating when you might be able to complete the project.

The Pfister family will provide some assistance to get the book published, and can assist with promotion as necessary. The family wants to reserve the foreword to describe Jack’s vision for the effort and passion behind it. In exchange, Jack Pfister’s contribution to the original research and publication outline must be acknowledged in the final publication. The family would like to stay as close to Jack’s outline of the book as possible, but understands that once the author has gone over the information and has begun writing that some modifications may be necessary to enhance the quality of the final product. A formal letter of agreement will be negotiated with the approved author, so expectations by all parties are clear.

Your responses should not exceed 8 double-spaced pages. The deadline for submission is January 15, 2010.

Responses should be sent to:
C/O Martin L Shultz
PO Box 53999
Phoenix, Arizona 85072 - 3999
Mail Station 9020
If you would like to review the source materials prior to submitting your proposal, the materials will be available for viewing at the Flinn Foundation Library, 1802 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. You can arrange a time to view the material by calling (602) 744-6800.

We look forward to your response.

1. Introduction
2. Barr’s entry into politics and confrontation with Senator Harold Giss
a. Giss – Barr confrontation
b. Barr’s election
c. First term
d. Rise to power
3. Early childhood and education – 1917 – 1940
a. Barr’s parents
b. Elementary school
c. High school
d. College
e. Interruption to earn money
f. Competition of College
ii. Jewish fraternity
4. Military – 1940 – 1946
a. Early assignments
b. North Africa campaign
c. European campaign
i. Italy
ii. Germany
d. Military honors
e. Wounds
f. Discharge
5. Early business – 1946 – 1951
6. Businesses
a. Parmenter – 1951 – 1969
b. Maverick – 1969-1985
7. Family
a. First marriage
b. Divorce
c. Second marriage
d. Children
e. Barr as a family man
8. Political
a. Rise to power
b. Reapportionment
c. Barr’s relationship with Arizona Governors
d. Role as House majority leader (could be a separate chapter)
e. Barr’s involvement in major policy issues
i. Health care
ii. Transportation
iii. Air quality
iv. Water quality
v. Water quantity
vi. Floods
vii. Tax policy
viii. Higher education
ix. Other
f. Why Barr was so effective
i. The importance of the era in Arizona history
9. Campaign for Governor in 1986
10. Post political activities
11. Conclusion
a. How Barr changed Arizona politics
b. His death
Volume I
• Research Outline
• Oral History Matrix
• Obituary
• Early Childhood
• Parents
• Home Photos
• Portland
Volume II
• Oral Histories
Volume III
• Oral Histories
• Business
• 1955 – 1970 Clips
• 1980s Clips
Volume IV
• 1986 Gubernatorial Election
o Pre-Mecham period
Volume V
• 1986 Gubernatorial Election
• Post Mecham Period
• Mecham Campaign Literature
• Beth Isaak Paper • Horizon Transcripts
• Sunday magazine pieces
o 1/3/82
o 1/12/86
• National Election Reports
• Dolphin Group

Volume VI
• Legislative Accomplishments
• 1987 Clips
• 1988 Clips
• 1989 Clips
Volume VII
o Misc. Resources
Volume VIII
• Military Record
• 3rd Infantry History
• Military Structure
• Reapportionment
• Correspondence
• Research Notes

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dan Poynter coming to town

Thank you to Alan Korwin for sharing this:
Arizona Book Publishing Association
presents Dan Poynter
Opportunities! Book Publishing: Past, Present and Future

November 19, 2009

Where is book publishing going and how did we get here?
What opportunities are emerging as the Book Trade evolves into new forms?

The large publishers are downsizing, the brick and mortar stores are closing, and readers are embracing eBooks. These and other changes are affecting literary agents, wholesalers, distributors, reviewers, printers, truckers and everyone in the book trade. The winners will be the authors and smaller publishers.

Everything you’ve heard about book writing, publishing, distributing, and promoting is obsolete.

Suddenly, research is faster and easier-if you know where to look.
Publishing is quicker and less expensive if you know where to go.
Distribution is simpler and more lucrative if you know the channels.
Book promotion is easier and more fun-if you know where to post information about your book.

With change comes opportunity. These are exciting times to be authors and publishers.

Dan will describe the changes in book publishing and share with us how to take advantage of them.

Dan Poynter is an author (100+ books), publisher (since 1969), and speaker (Certified Speaking Professional). His seminars have been featured on CNN, his books have been pictured in The Wall Street Journal and his story has been told in US News & World Report. The media come to Dan because he is the leading authority on book publishing. A professional speaker, he travels more than 6,000 miles each week to share his book plan. Dan is a past vice-president of the Publishers Marketing Association. He lives in Santa Barbara.

Join us for this powerful program!

Please join us at
Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport North
427 N. 44th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85008
Phone: 602-220-4400
For the the exact location, visit
North of Van Buren; south of 202

Program (includes dinner) 5:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m.
Early Registration (by Nov. 11): $25 members $35 non-members
Late Registration: $35 members $45 non-members
Advance payment is required for registration; no refunds after Nov. 11, 2009.

To register for the monthly meeting

or RSVP to the ABPA hotline (602) 274-6264.
Questions? Email

Friday, November 6, 2009

3 writers; 1 stop shopping

Hey everyone - check this out! Three of "us" are now big-time authors, and they're signing their travel books. Go support them, see the Visitor Center, and pick up some books with great ideas for your upcoming Arizona vacations.

First Author Book Signing at Downtown Visitor Center

Three Phoenix-based authors will sell and sign their Arizona guidebooks from 1-5 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 12, at the downtown Phoenix Visitor Information Center, located at 2nd Street and Monroe, across the street from the Hyatt Regency Phoenix hotel.

This is the first such event to take place at the visitor center, which is located on the west side of Convention Center West (look for the sign on the sidewalk out front).

The three first-time guidebook authors include:

ü Jackie Dishner, author of Backroads & Byways of Arizona

ü Christine Bailey, author of Great Destinations: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona & Central Arizona

ü Teresa Bitler, author of Great Escapes: Arizona

Aside from having the opportunity to meet the authors in person (cash-only purchases, please), a visit inside this unique tourist information center will bring you face-to-face with a floor-to-ceiling grid of nine 50-inch plasma screen TVs. They put the spotlight on Arizona’s desert landscapes and tourist hot spots—magnified and in color. The center also houses an interactive 43-inch iMap with touchscreen function to help you locate the nearest restaurants and nightlife venues. Additionally, you’ll find more than 500 state travel brochures and two computer workstations where you can check your e-mail—all of this for free.

If you’re planning your upcoming weekends or Arizona outings, you’ll find all the information you need here. The books make a great holiday gift, too!

For more information about the visitor center and the book signing, call 877-225-5749.

Do you know this company?

Does anyone know anything about Allison & Partners, a big PR firm with offices here?

Someone I know has applied for a job there, but wondered if anyone else has had dealings with them and could share any information.

Please post in the comments field. Thanks!

Paula poses a question

Paula Hubbs Cohen would like to ask the group for advice:

"What do you say to a publisher who asks you to edit a magazine, and after you find a ton of grammatical/punctuation errors, etc. in articles submitted by other writers/advertisers, tells you to only point out the “BIG” errors? I’m really flummoxed by this, because what a “BIG” error is to one person is not-so-big to another... Yes, there is a difference between an errant comma deep inside an article and a snarling typo/misspelled name on the cover, but if you find them both, why not fix them both?? What do others suggest one should say to a request like that? (and they defined a “BIG” error as something like a paragraph missing or something like that...)"

Hmm, sounds like the publisher doesn't want to pay for your time correcting "picky" details like spelling errors, etc. I'd have a reasonable chat with him or her and explain how even small errors can erode readers' confidence in the product and make advertisers look like morons. If the publisher doesn't care, and still doesn't want to shell out, you have a few options:

1. Decide you can live with the publisher's request;
2. Work out a deal where you can make corrections at what he or she deems a reasonable fee; or
3. Give up the job.

Everyone, please use the comments field to reply. Thanks!

We're back!

After a many-months hiatus, I'm going to revive the 60 Percenters. Please try to visit and post comments often so we can keep active.

As we all know, it can be frustrating to get frequent e-mails from the group, especially when you're on deadline. And it gets too time-consuming for me to act as the "hub" of the group, shooting e-mails back and forth between colleagues.

But I really want this to work. It's even more essential in this economy for us independent contractors to stay in touch and share information.

So let's use this as our forum. I'll start with the following post.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Random thoughts on San Francisco

OK, so this post is just peripherally related to freelancing, but I wanted to share.

I'm spending the week in San Francisco, as I do from time to time because I CAN, because I freelance; key word here being FREE. To do what I want. Any old time. So that's how it relates.

And there's so much to observe in this city.

1. The resurgence of a new kind of nerd glasses. Remember in the early 1990s when Lynda Barry comics were popular and those characters with vintage cats-eye glasses came to life at all the clubs and art galleries? Now the film Milk has inspired a new generation of young hipsters who have taken to wearing those comically gigantic plastic-rimmed glasses in an ironic homage to their favorite new movie and historical hero.

The odd thing is, it wasn't Milk sporting the doofus eyewear. It was Emile Hirsch as activist Cleve Jones, who also should have won the Oscar for Best White Guy Afro.

It's unnerving. Every five minutes in this town, I want to stop some art student and say, "Mr. Hirsch, can I have your autograph? Loved you in Milk!"

2. Amazingly bad apartments. People, especially those who live in San Francisco, have a romantic notion that San Francisco is the epicenter of all things cultural and fresh and edgy. There's an idealized version of the lifestyle here that includes a sleek Acura pulling up to Boulevard, or a Mini Cooper taking the hills and turns with panache and parking with ease along a curb in front of a bar that is so cool you need a password to enter. (In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making that up.)

The imagined epilogue to all this is that the casual but well-groomed inhabitants of those vehicles will eventually call it a night and turn in to small-ish but well-appointed high-rise condos filled with Bosch appliances and vintage modern furniture -- or at least something tasteful from Ikea. Truth is, many of the people here live in Early College Dorm facilities, sharing $2,000-a-month flats in run-down turn-of-the-century (meaning 20th) houses complete with bad pipes spewing rusty water and heaving, creaky floors that betray an upstairs neighbor's every move.

Yes, folks, I have been apartment hunting, and it's not pretty. One "furnished" two bedroom unit, huge by San Francisco standards at 1,100 square feet, could have been an elegant, mid-rise respite from the bustling city below. Instead, it was cluttered with stained Goodwill reject furniture, and the odiferous Russian occupant slept on one of those modular block sofas with a zebra-print bedspread thrown on top.

My favorite visit, though, was to a throwback 1970s-era swinging bachelor pad studio done up right in a sexy red-and-black color scheme with mirrors on every wall and a plasma TV almost as big as the apartment itself. The views from Nob Hill were stunning, but so was the ugly wallpaper in the lobby, in a totally different way.

The piece de resistance was the baby grand piano in lieu of a dining table. I could immediately see the owner plunking out some Burt Bacharach and pouring a couple of glasses of White Zinfandel before shagging his prey. Yeah, baby! Do I make you horny?

3. Us versus them. It's uncanny how the first question I always get here is, "Do you live here?" The locals in San Francisco are fiercely protective of their status as locals, probably because they have to justify the fact that the amount they pay to rent a one-bedroom apartment (see above, "Amazingly Bad Apartments") would buy them a virtual McMansion in Phoenix.

If you do not "live here," you are immediately seen as a tourist, even if you do know how to navigate the BART and have eaten at more of the city's best restaurants than any of the actual locals, most of whom can't afford to dine at the best places because they're too busy working to pay their $2,000-plus rent or they're broke because they just paid $2,000-plus in rent. And ask someone sometime when is the last time they visited Napa or Sonoma, or went to a museum or a play, or went to a farmers market. Chances are slim that you will find an average worker bee who takes advantage of even the tiniest amount of activities that make this city special.

True story: When having lunch with some of my husband's coworkers once, he mentioned I was a dining critic in Phoenix. One of them could not resist telling me about a fabulous local brewpub with excellent food called Gordon Biersch. OK, so the place did start here. But this person was blissfully unaware that it had entered the pantheon of generic chain "concepts," probably because a lot of Bay Area residents can't afford to leave the Bay Area (the bridge tolls alone are killer) and thus have no idea what other cities have to offer.

This in no way deters them from holding firm to the belief that any other city outside of San Francisco is woefully inferior.

4. Black is the new black. If I had a dollar for every black jacket seen on the sidewalks at rush hour, well, I could afford the $2,000-plus a month in rent to live here. 

Once in a while I spy someone with some funky purple or green shoes, or a jaunty yellow scarf. But even in the dead of summer, which, to be fair, is still sometimes bone-chillingly cold here, you mostly see a homogenous palette of black, with some grays and browns thrown in for a thrill.

All I can imagine is that black goes with everything, and getting back to the finance thing, it's easier to be stylish on a dime if nothing clashes. It is difficult to build a wardrobe around, say, chartreuse. In other cities, it's not difficult to own a coat or a pair of shoes that might go with just a couple of outfits. I have heard of some women in Phoenix, in fact, who have entire guest bedrooms to house their extensive costume collections. 

I am not saying that kind of gross overindulgence is right, but I do think it's nice to see color once in a while. Admission: I'm so intimidated by the legions of doom that I fall into line and have not one, but four black coats here for all weather and occasions. I do sometimes go nuts with my red ballet flats or my baby-blue Keen sneakers, though. Don't hold me back!

I still have a few more days in town, so perhaps I'll be inspired to collect some more observations as the days progress. I do believe they issue eco-friendly silver MacBooks to everyone who opens an electric account here and can prove they have at least one tattoo, and I am strongly suspicious that you can trade a certain number of bottle caps and stock in Google for a Prius, but I have more investigating to do before reporting on those.

With my musical comedy on Phoenix ("Strip Mall Blues: A Quest for Culture in Phoenix, Arizona") well on its way, I think I smell another "city spoof" project. Or maybe that's just the homeless man under my window. 

Don't get me wrong -- I love having "dual citizenship" here. This city is one of the world's major tourist attractions for a reason. There is no place like it, and there's plenty to adore and admire. I poke fun because it's my nature, and I wouldn't dream of doing it if I didn't think this place was special enough for its own brand of humor. I certainly wouldn't stay up until midnight writing about it unless it lit a creative spark in me, and that's saying something.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Freelancing and finances

I just heard from one of the 60 Percenters who said she was told that if you earn less than $200,000 a year, it's not worth it to set your business up as an S Corp.

I spoke to another colleague a couple weeks ago who did not know what a SEP IRA is, nor was she aware of many of the write-offs we can take for home offices.

I also admit I am guilty of not having the best system for accounting and invoicing. QuickBooks is supposed to be a good program, and I would love to have a demo before buying -- would you?

I'm beginning to think there's a huge need for a confab about freelancing and finances. For the record, my accountant says if your profits are at least about $20,000 a year, an S-Corp can save you THOUSANDS on taxes. And a SEP IRA is for self-employed people, like us, and contributing to one can also ease that tax burden while helping you plan a comfortable future.

Please respond here or e-mail me at if you would be interested in attending a panel discussion with a financial advisor, an accountant and freelancers who can share their best practices. Also include best days/times -- do weekends work or are weekday evenings better? -- and let me know if you'll be willing to pay a nominal fee if you aren't an SPJ member. I'll try to find a central location.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Debra Utacia Krol is the bomb

If you don't know Debra, you're missing out. She's one of the most inspiring people I know. And this is proof:

If you are an SPJ member, this article is also in this month's print Quill that hit mailboxes recently.

By the way, Debra is a tireless SPJ board member who is invaluable to our organization. If you get involved with SPJ, you'll meet folks like Debra and others who are not only good professional contacts, but also good souls who make the world a better place. Who doesn't need more of those people in their lives? Visit http://www.spjchapters.arizona. 

Our regional conference last weekend was the bomb, too, by the way. 

Job posting

(Thanks again to Joan for this:)

KTVK- 3TV is accepting applications for the position of News Producer.

Responsible for the hands-on production of Good Morning Arizona- select material, layout, writing and visualization.  Provide news research. Produce regular news inserts, live/location remotes and non-scheduled news bulletins.  Check wire stories and network feeds for up-to-date and breaking news.  Bring creative story ideas to the newsroom meetings on a regular basis.  Responsible for general content and flow of the daily newscast. 
Minimum one-year newsroom experience or related broadcasting degree required.  Strong writing abilities with excellent grammatical skills.  Proven news and production judgment required. Must be capable of writing news copy to synchronize with videotape, timing each segment and coordinating the activities of others assisting in production of the newscast. Ability to field produce preferred.  Must be familiar with live microwave and satellite technology.   Excellent verbal and written communication skills.  Ability to work well under pressure while meeting strong deadlines.  Ability to work well as a team, as well as independently.  Excellent computer and typing skills.  Basic journalistic skills and editorial judgement for writing scripts. 
Schedule may include early morning, nights and weekends. 
Resumes to: KTVK, Executive Producer, 5555 N. 7th Ave.PhoenixAZ 85013. or fax- (602) 207-3336.  EEO.
No Calls Please.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hear Jana's secrets

Hey everyone: Joan sent me this notice below about Jana Bommersbach speaking on her "secret writing tips" on April 18. I urge everyone to go and learn something.

If you aren't familiar with Bommersbach's work, you should be. Whether you agree with her politics and viewpoints or not, she is a valuable role model for any reporter in town, and particularly female reporters. She is strong, smart, savvy and infinitely talented. She has a monthly column in Phoenix Magazine, and her career spans decades in the Phoenix media. Over that time, she has collected a boatload of well-deserved awards. 

Read more at, including info on her book "Bones in the Desert," about the Loretta Bowersock murder.

Jana Bommersbach is speaker April 18
for Arizona Press Women meeting
            Arizona author and Phoenix Magazine columnist Jana Bommersbach will speak on “My Secret Writing Tips” from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, April 18, an event sponsored by Arizona Press Women and open to the public in the banquet room of the Doubletree Inn, 320 N. 44th St. (at Van Buren), Phoenix.
The event is free for members, $10 cash admission for non-members, and includes rolls and coffee or tea. To reserve a seat, call Brenda Warneka, 480-778-8776, or write to . After the talk, those attending may order independently from the lunch menu.  
Bommersbach will talk about how she deals with writer’s block, organizes research and makes complicated stories compelling.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Is it so bad to give 60 Percent?

Is it so bad to give 60 Percent? 

As I walked through Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport last time I flew to San Francisco, the Southwest Airlines credit card hawkers were there, as usual. 

I already have a Southwest card, but this one saleswoman was particularly persuasive. Not only was she going to let me sign up for a business card, but she assured me that my business name would appear on the card. (And I got a free T-shirt, X-large, which made a great pajama top for the hubby.) 
As a restaurant critic, I always hope the server is too rushed to notice the name on my credit card. I never looked at the names on cards when I waited tables. But it's always something that bugs me.
I dutifully filled out the application using "60 Percent Enterprises" as my business name. And I was disappointed but not terribly surprised to find that the business name doesn't actually appear on the card. 

Meanwhile, hubby was critical of my choice of business name. His take is that calling my business 60 Percent Enterprises makes me sound like a slacker. Um, guilty, to a certain extent.

On the other hand, is it so bad to give 60 percent? I give my all to every job I take. Everything I write has my 100 percent guarantee that I've given my best. It's just that I don't want work to get in the way of that precious other 40 percent of my life, which includes, yes, taking care of hubby and all the things he can't do because he's too busy with his job. 

Don't get me wrong -- that 40 percent also includes spa days, weekend trips, Tuesday night happy hours, Spanish lessons and long hikes. I'm not slaving away here. But I take care of the mail, the bills, the pool, the house, the shopping, the laundry, the yard, the cats and anything that must be contracted because it is outside my scope of work or skill level, including painting, heavy landscaping and car repair.

We came to an understanding on this. I agree that some people might misunderstand the concept of 60 Percenters, and he is OK with the fact that I probably don't want to work for anyone who would judge me harshly before hearing me out on it.

Any thoughts?

Free tips on finding work; also, the dreaded kill fee

We know times are rough, and not everyone can afford the fees for pay-to-play freelance job web sites. So thank you to Slim Smith, who passed along this FREE site:

Also, Ann Videan found a helpful site with writing tips, editing services and contests:; contact John Clausen, editor:

Some of us also use, and, but those all have annual fees.

FYI, I'm reading on FLX (Freelance Success for short) that many of the big-name mags are folding and thus not paying for work filed. 

And: One area freelancer recently signed a contract with a local magazine that stipulated it would "pay on publication" and got burned because the upcoming annual issue was scrapped. She was told they'll use the articles the next year, but thinks other writers might not be so lucky. That's a couple grand that she won't collect for another several months or year.

Many of us sign or have signed "pay on publication" contracts and haven't had a problem. The Arizona Republic, for instance, pays on publication, and always does (though it can be a little slow sometimes, as previous blog posts have noted). 

Most contracts include a "kill fee," but it's only 20 or 30 percent -- what's the point? Thankfully, this only happened to me once so far (besides the time West Valley Magazine just stiffed me). I wrote a profile of a high-ranking person and before it published, she left the state for another job. It wasn't anyone's fault, but a contract is a contract, and I lost out. It wasn't a huge article and I wasn't crying in my beer (or wine, as the case is with me), but if you're doing a major article with a lot of research and sources, be careful out there!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Next live meeting

The next real-life meeting of the 60 Percenters will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 1 (no joke!), at Crackers & Company Cafe in Tempe. 

It's on Elliott Road between Hardy and Priest. RSVPs are a MUST, as I need to make a reservation.

All are welcome, so if you're not a 60 Percenter now but would like to see what we're about, please e-mail me at to reserve a spot.

A few items of potential discussion:

Where's the work? The Arizona Republic, a mainstay for many of us, has seriously cut back. I've started doing some marketing work and LOVE it. I hope my client loves me back and will spread the word!

Who's working full time? Some of us have landed full-time gigs doing various things. Kudos to Candy Lesher, for one. (Shameless plug coming...)

She's directing the new Cooking Studio AZ at SunWest Appliance Distributing in Tempe, on Kyrene just south of Elliott. Go to for a list of upcoming classes. They have a special from May through August too: Buy four classes, get the fifth free, or buy one, get one half-off. Sign up with a friend!

Who's getting paid late? Word on the street is that Republic payments have been running a little late and some editors are not processing them at all, requiring several rounds of e-mails and bugging. The good news: They do eventually pay, unlike some publications out there.

As usual, I expect our usual round of gossip and innuendo as well.

And off topic but thought I'd mention it since many of us have aging cars and probably won't be getting new ones anytime soon: If you have small dings, dents and scratches on your vehicle that bug you, I highly recommend calling Mark Gilbertson at Dent Masseur: He lives around the corner from me in Ahwatukee and I saw his truck the other day and flagged him down. I took it over there this morning and he buffed, bumped and even did some touch-up painting for $30. Yes, $30, one zero at the end there, folks. It looks fantastic. 

Sorry to get all HARO on you there with the plugs, but in these times, I think it's nice to share info on great deals and great service.

Hope to see you on April 1!

Calling all environmental education reporters

Free Lancers Wanted To Write Popular EE Articles

> The Environmental Education and Training Partnership (EETAP) is seeking
> free lance writers with environmental education experience to write
> magazine style articles for publication on its web site. Each article
> will highlight an important area of EETAP's work and extend the
> storyline to similar efforts by other programs. The intent of the
> articles is to inform about trends in environmental education and their
> significance for the field and its practitioners. The audiences for the
> articles are formal and non-formal educators who are working to improve
> learning and increase the environmental literacy of their students and
> program participants. EETAP will accept proposals for writing one or
> more articles through April 24, 2009. It's anticipated that contracts
> will be signed in May 2009 with work to be completed within three-months
> of the signing date. For additional information please request a
> complete description from Sharon Courtney (

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I have several housekeeping items for this blog, so here's an index:

1. Next real-life meeting
2. Actors needed
3. Colleen Sparks wants a job
4. Great Washington Post article 

1. Next real-life meeting: How about 9 a.m. next Wednesday morning, Feb. 25, at Crackers & Company Cafe on Elliot Road in Tempe? A few of us last time were on board with it. If you haven't eaten at Crackers, you're in for a treat. It's basic breakfast and lunch comfort food done just right. Their carnitas huevos rancheros are dee-lish, the waffles are superb, the soups are to die for, the salads are out of this world. The list goes on. I've never had a bad meal there.
 It's just west of Hardy, in front of the Staples, where Island Roots Guamanian Restaurant used to be. (Curiously, Guamanian food didn't seem to take off in Tempe.) Still can't place it? OK, you know where Costco is? Go a little further east and it's in a small building in front of the strip mall right up next to Elliot. 

I was going to wait until March to schedule something, but I am going on a special diet for two weeks at the beginning of the month and want to avoid temptation. Yes, a food critic, on a diet. Go figure. But it's only for two weeks, and then I do shake supplements for a few more weeks, and then you will see the slim, trim, muscular physique that I have been developing emerge from under the layers of flab. And then I can eat anything I want, in smaller portions than I've been consuming.

2. Actors needed: I'm almost done with the first draft of my musical comedy stage play, Strip Mall Blues: The Quest for Culture in Phoenix, Arizona. I'm really close, so I want to line up a time next month to have five actors do a read-through so I can start the revisions. I need a 40-something white male, a 20-something female, a 20- or 30-something Latina, a 60- or 70-something white male and a 30- or 40-something female. Acting experience a MUST, but students welcome. Singing and dancing skills also are required, but not super-important just for the read-through. I will provide wine and snacks. 

3. Colleen Sparks wants a job: She is a former Arizona Republic reporter who is doing freelance writing and PR. If you hear of anything where she might fit, please contact her at Here is her info:

I wanted to see if you might be able to put out the word in one of your e-mail lists to fellow writers, etc., that I am looking for some kind of part-time job to supplement my income while I grow my business. I am pretty flexible, just looking for something that pays well and would be an interesting experience like working at a bookstore, working in an office or for a non-profit. Other than my 13 years of journalism and year and a half in public relations, I was also a dance minor in college and would love to teach children dance or do anything related to helping a dance studio or arts organization. I have waited tables before but to be honest that really wasn't my forte and I don't know much about alcohol so probably bartending wouldn't be a great option, either. 

4: Great Washington Post article: One of the other 60 Percenters sent this link today regarding newspaper revenues and the future of news. It is worth a read:

If the link doesn't work, e-mail me and I will send you the article.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The big event

I'm proud to announce one of the biggest journalism events of the year, the Society of Professional Journalists Region 11 Conference, will be held right here in downtown Phoenix April 3-4 at ASU.

Some of us tireless (OK, maybe tired) volunteers have been working on this for months, and it's going to be outstanding. I personally found the caterer and have been working with the chefs on the menu for Friday's opening reception at the uber-hip Hotel Clarendon, so you know the food will be good.

But of course you really will come for the stellar lineup of speakers, unlimited networking opportunities and spirit of camaraderie you will share with your peers from a five-state region. We also have a sweet after-party planned for Saturday night.

Please consider attending. Info:
Walter Cronkite School
of Journalism and
Mass Communication

Grab some certainty... during uncertain times for journalism at the Society of Professional Journalists Region 11 Conference.
The theme, "Journalism 2.0; Redefine '09," speaks to the sweeping changes in our profession and how journalists can meet them.
Co-sponsored by Valley of the Sun (Phoenix) SPJ professional chapter and Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Arizona State University, Phoenix.
 Andrew Leckey, Donald W. Reynolds Center for Business Journalism, on the biggest business story of our times: the current economic recession
Dan Gillmor, Knight Center for Online Media; Andrew Donohue, Voice of San Diego, on how online and nonprofit media are starting to take hold
Steve Doig, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist; Joe Russomanno, First Amendment issues expert; Steve Elliott, former Phoenix bureau chief, Associated Press; on the latest issues in public records access
David Dow, CBS News, retired, on the latest tensions regarding cameras in courtrooms, including new rules for 2009 in Arizona
 Editors from Arizona Highways magazine and Phoenix magazine
For students: Recent grads who turned their internships into full-time jobs, even while still in school.
 For professionals: The latest on how to cope with a layoff or buyout
 PLUS: Sign up for a separate Friday half-day boot camp that will familiarize novices and help deepen the knowledge of more experienced multi-media journalists (attendance limited to 20 participants)
Join us Friday evening, April 3, poolside at the historic Hotel Clarendon, site of the 1976 fatal car-bombing of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles, for appetizers and no-host drinks. Wander up the steps (or take the elevator) to the Top of the C, the rooftop (fifth-floor) deck of the hotel overlooking the Phoenix skyline and nearby mountains framing the Valley of the Sun.
Join us at the Cronkite Schoolâ*˙s First Amendment Forum for a reception early Saturday evening honoring the best in college journalism in Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
Then, head out into the nightlife of downtown Phoenix, on your own, or come with a contingent of your fellow conference-goers to Hanny's, the newest and hottest nightspot downtown.
Hanny's restaurant and bar is a renovated historic 1947 building that once housed a men's apparel shop by the same name. Its modern interior has a concrete-and-glass design with curved walls and trendy touches like a see-through upper floor, a "beauty hallway," a Berkel meat slicer behind the bar and mystery restrooms (you'll see if you go).
Rates include all conference workshops and breaks, Friday opening night reception, Saturday late-afternoon Mark of Excellence Awards Reception. Friday's multimedia boot camp and Saturday's Arizona Freedom of Information Awards Luncheon may be attended for an additional cost each.

Discounted early-bird registration
(remittances must be postmarked on or before March 4):
SPJ members $89, non-members $109, students $55
Regular registration
(remittances postmarked March 5-March 30):
SPJ members $109, non-members $129, students $65.
Walk-in registration
(at the site, April 3-4):
SPJ members $125, nonmembers $150, students $75.

Multi-media bootcamp,
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 3
(details at; limited to 20 participants):
$50 per person

Arizona Freedom of Information Awards Luncheon honoring the state's best of public records and open meetings journalism in 2008,
11:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Saturday, April 4 at Cronkite School's First Amendment Forum:
SPJ members $30, non-members $40, students $20
 Luncheon remittance must be received no later than April 1.

To register for the conference and-or make separate buy purchases, go to for a .pdf of the registration form you can download, print and send in with your remittance by check or money order.
Hotel Clarendon
Site of the 1976 car-bombing of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles (the car is in the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and location of our Friday night (April 3) opening night reception!
Rates are $129/night plus tax single/double per guest room.
For this rate, you must reserve on or before March 13. Call (602) 252-7363 or visit To get this rate, you must give this code number: AS-SPJ-1.
Hotel Clarendon
401 W. Clarendon Ave.
(Two miles north of Cronkite School, access by Central Avenue light-rail line.)

These two other hotels are also available:
Holiday Inn Express Phoenix Downtown
$129/night plus tax single/double per guest room or $139/night executive suite.
For this rate, you must reserve on or before March 16. Call (602) 452-2020. Be sure to mention the Society of Professional Journalists when making reservations.
Holiday Inn Express Phoenix Downtown
620 N. Sixth St.
(3 blocks west to Cronkite School)

Best Western Central Phoenix Inn & Suites
$99/night plus tax per guest room April 3, $129/night plus tax per guest room April 4.
For this rate you must reserve on or before March 3. Call (602) 252-2100. Be sure to mention the Society of Professional Journalists when making reservations.
Best Western Central Phoenix Inn & Suites
1100 N. Central Ave.
(5 blocks south to Cronkite School, access by light-rail line or free shuttle.)
FOR MORE INFORMATION       Contact Mark Scarp at