Uncategorized update

I bid on a writing assignment at (external link) and I got it. When the full details of the job were revealed, however, it was clear that I didn’t have the expertise to complete the work. By mutual agreement the employer and myself are going separate ways. There are details left with itself, our deal needs to be untangled, but all communications with my potential employer were cordial and professional.

Freelancer’s job descriptions tend to be too brief to accurately bid; I may put more time at (external link), which seems more detailed and more American-centric. I may also look at (external link), another source of freelance work. Each site requires building a profile page, which is tiresome, but each site presents another door, another path to possible assignments. Limiting myself to print magazines and newspapers is just that, limiting. I need to continue to explore the world of on-line work.

Note: charges an arrangement fee regardless if you complete a job or cancel it. Don’t accept work if you’re not sure you can finish it. Get as many details on the job as you can. Don’t bid if you don’t know!



Magazine Article Just Published

My article for Sierra Heritage has just been published. It is in the April, 2014 edition which will be on newsstands soon. Click here to visit the Sierra Heritage Magazine website. They’ve been publishing for 33 years, with some of the finest writing and photography in the West.

My article is about the beginnings of Highway 50, with an emphasis on the portion that crosses the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I will post a link to the article if and when it goes on-line. This article was enjoyable to write. Besides writing the text, I secured Permission to Use Forms and copyright releases for several of the photographs. And I took five of the photographs myself. There’s just one thing. My friend David Willmott took the picture of Horsetail Falls on page 48. As it sometimes happens, in the rush to put an entire magazine together, he was not credited for the image. Aside from that, the issue is quite fine; an entire edition devoted to Sierra Nevada history. Look for it at a newsstand near you!


Newspaper article

Another newspaper article published

My story on the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento has just been published by the West Sacramento News-Ledger. Photos were taken by the Editor, Steve Marschke. I enjoyed this assignment. Besides receiving a comprehensive tour, I was allowed to pilot a CHP vehicle around a flooded skid pad, which helps recruits practice their wet weather driving techniques. I will post the full text and photos once the article goes on-line, probably in a week or so.



Click here for a link to the article and my skid pad experience (internal link)

Update: I’ve written at least 15 articles for the News-Ledger since the CHP piece came out. Click here (internal link) for a list of articles.


Is a query letter a day possible?

Is a query letter a day possible? And, if so, at what cost?

I sent off a query letter yesterday that I wasn’t happy with. It needed more work, specifically, I should have interviewed an authority on the subject I was writing about. So why did I send it? I felt, given my high rejection rate lately, that spending a few more hours on the letter wouldn’t give me any more advantage than sending it off unpolished. No query letter is perfect, I reasoned, any more than any article is perfect. And I wanted to keep my recent streak of a query letter a day going. But is this the right approach?

One query a letter a day, five days a week, seems an ideal goal. Meeting that goal, however, is nearly impossible unless I send off queries that are not quite right, not researched or phrased as well as they could be. Quantity or quality? A wise man once said this: “Quality is very fine indeed. But quantity has a quality all its own.”

Update: 12/12/2016. I’ve soured on query letters altogether. Too much time writing, too many rejections. I now put my time into writing articles on spec (internal link). When you deliver a complete article, even if you are not under contract, you show what you can do. You offer an editor immediate filled up pages and photographs and that’s something hard to resist.

Time may also be better spent filling out employment applications for continuing work. (internal link) You need as many income streams as possible to continue the writing you really want to do.



New article coming out

I have an article coming out in the April/May issue of Sierra Heritage. I can’t say what it is just yet, but I can say it will be about history. And thanks to the editorial staff, it promises to be beautifully laid out. This was an enjoyable assignment. Not only did it include writing, but it required research and securing images and copyright releases. More when it comes out in hardcopy and then goes on line!



What should I charge an hour?

At you bid on writing assignments.  Knowing what to charge an hour might seem to make sense in developing a bid. And you’re encouraged to post on your profile that hourly amount. But how do you determine it? Every job is different, with each requiring new learning and often new research. You may want to charge less for interesting work, more for the stupefyingly dull. Does a project require travel? Interviews? Research pulling microfiche? How do you know how long these things will take? Not helping is the paucity of guidance by the job posters. What to do?

I think the better approach, rather than by simply guessing at the variables above, is to determine what you would like to get for the work. What do you need today? That’s how I would bid, not by the hour. With in mind, if I couldn’t get a certain minimum for a project then it would be better for me to write magazine query letters and work on my portfolio. What about my profile page? I put down $20 an hour. Not too expensive, not too cheap.  But it has nothing to do with how I would develop a bid. A last note. As yet I have not tried for any work from But I’ll share what I learn when I do.


Trying out

I’ve signed up for Freelancer tries to bring people seeking work with those looking for same. Graphic designers, software developers, IT people, and yes, of course, writers, all seem to come to the site. My first impression is that many illiterate people are looking for those who will write for very little money. But that makes sense, doesn’t it? If you wrote poorly, or if English were a second language, you might well hire out your writing. And everyone does look for a low cost. Does it work? Well, it is a market, a place to sell, and there is no cost to sign up for basic service. Might as well try.

Update: I scored only 90% on’s English test! What? There was no indication that I missed any question, although the on-line quiz seemed to stall out at the end. It repeated questions that I had already answered. Hmm. Perhaps I was timed and failed to respond quickly enough. Perhaps I differ with them on the placement of the semicolon. Regardless, I am chagrined.