Two More Promising Freelance Sites

Through (internal link) I found out about two sites promising to freelance writers. I was unable to complete the application process for either of them for different reasons, never-the-less, I think they are both worth checking out:

Ellipsis (external link) seeks writers to be the written and social media voice of a company. Having a varied and published writing background seems important to them. Hours vary, depending on what client you wind up representing. They seem apologetic about the time it takes to respond to an application but I did not find the waiting time unreasonable. Unfortunately, due to a momentary crush of work from my main employer, I was unable to complete the application process for Ellipsis. I regret that inability but my loyalty has to be first and foremost to current clients. Do look into Ellipsis if you are searching for a creative and intriguing job opportunity.

Ask Wonder (external link) is another site I found through At Ask Wonder, you are assigned questions to research for clients. Those questions could be on almost anything. Perhaps someone needs to know how many cat sitters are in New York City. Or how rainfall affects construction sites in Patagonia. Whatever. I found, though, that their sample writing test would take me much longer than the suggested 90 minutes. For me, probably 2 1/2 hours. I’m a careful researcher but I am also slow. Taking that long to answer a question would probably have me working for less than $10 an hour, although, to be truthful, I do not know what they pay. Knowing how poke-slow I am with original research, I respectfully bailed out of the hiring process. But, again, I would urge you to check them out if you are interested in varied and flexible work.


Magazine article

Background on My Second Rock&Gem Article

In mid-February 2016 I visited the once roaring town of Goldfield, Nevada. An old set of gem claims had come under new ownership and new direction. I was eager to find out what that meant for rockhounds.

You can read about what I found by getting the May, 2016 issue of Rock&Gem magazine. (external link) It’s available at Barnes&Noble as well as larger bookstores. You can also download the Rock&Gem app for your mobile device to purchase an e-version of the article. Look below for photographs not found in the article.

Here is the beginning of the article:

A venerable Nevada collecting site has changed ownership and is now open under new management. The current operators wish to say you are welcome to visit. Very welcome, indeed.

Sharon Artlip and Nadiah Beekum now own and run the Goldfield Gemfield Gem claims outside of Goldfield, Nevada. The site is about 25 miles south of Tonopah and 190 miles north of Las Vegas. Only four miles from Highway 95, the site is accessible without four-wheel drive or a high clearance vehicle. Collecting is on the honor system, with rocks going for a dollar a pound.

Five non-patented lode claims make up the site. Chalcedony (Cal-said-a-knee) is the main draw, in many forms. Dendritic agate, bulls eye agate, and rainbow agate, all chalcedony variations, have been collected at Gemfield over the years. Many times the chalcedony can’t be broken out into a category. It appears simply as rocks with tints of red, pink, yellow, and lavender, often with bands and swirls of color. . . .

01/04/2019: Website for the Gemfield Gem Claims:

12/28/18: Visited Goldfield last month. Couldn’t connect with Bryan or Sharon. Bryan looks like he is adding onto his business. Sharon no longer operates Goldfield Art & Business Services out of the store on I-95. The present owners of the new store at that location, however, will accept your registration and rock fees. Stop in and check out a new business.

05/13/2017 update: Visited Goldfield again. Possible future article discussed.

10/ 30/2016 update: I visited Goldfield, Sharon Artlip, Byran Smalley, and the claims this week and all are doing well. The road to the claims has had further work and is still passable by most vehicles.

6/7/2015 update: The issue in hardcopy sold out almost immediately.

About 25 miles south of Tonopah, Nevada sits Goldfield in Esmeralda County. The Gemfield Gem claims are a few miles out of town.


Chalcedony is the draw here; agate in many forms. Cut as a slab and then polished, this stone would appear quite dramatic.


A Gully at the site, showing typical terrain.


Chalcedony boulder, a confusion of swirls and bulls eyes.


A Closeup of a typical rock. Imagine a pair of highly polished bookends made from this material.


Hidden Treasures Trading Post in Goldfield. Make sure to stop by Bryan Smalley’s shop. 489 S. Bellevue Ave Goldfield, NV (775) 485-3761. His Facebook page was at this link:, however, it now appears inactive. Try searching for Bryan Smalley by his name on Facebook.


Look for this storefront right on Highway 95. It’s Sharon Artlip’s store, Goldfield Art & Business Services. She’s one of the claim owners. (775) 485-3789.


Magazine article

My Second Rock&Gem Magazine Article Has Been Published

My second article for Rock&Gem (external link) has been published. Look for the May issue in larger book stores like Barnes&Noble. At some time soon, the electronic version of the May issue will be viewable as an e-magazine over mobile devices.  Also coming soon, I will write another post on the background to my current article, entitled Goldfield’s Gems.

April 27, 2016. The Rock&Gem website has not yet been updated to reflect the current issue. I am sure they are working on it. Check back in a few days.


Newspaper article

Making Pitches to Community Newspapers

Community newspapers are weekly publications covering the neighborhoods of a larger town. In Sacramento, California, for example, community newspapers cover the Pocket Area, Carmichael, East Sacramento, and Arden Arcade. Among others.

Community newspapers can be independent or affiliated with the main daily newspaper. They are often free and usually very upbeat in tone. They’re a good place to target if you want to write locally, build your resume, or get paid a little money.

Pitching a community editor is simple: an idea, and then two or three sentences about the idea. Send in at least ten pitches and then wait for a response before sending more. The hardest part is coming up with an idea the paper hasn’t covered before and something they think will appeal to their readers. Make sure to link to any of your writing that is relevant.

Here’s a list of pitches I sent in last year to a local paper affiliated with the Las Vegas Review Journal. Alas, the paper had enough freelancers already. But I am now on friendly terms with some of their people; perhaps something will work out later.

1. Moving to the western side of Las Vegas: a newcomer’s guide to the Summerlin area. How to navigate everything from utilities to schools to Nevada’s DMV.

2. The outdoors next door: what’s new and noteworthy at Red Rock Canyon. I wrote a similar piece for the West Sacramento News Ledger. I could do something like it on Red Rock.

3. Volunteering in the Summerlin area: what’s available and where. A talk with the people at

4. What’s happening at Palo Verde High School? A look ahead to 2016. A school piece I wrote is here.

5. The Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center. Upcoming workshops, lectures, and events.

6. Public art around town. Reviewing three or four art installations. What that plop of steel I-beams in front of the local library is supposed to represent.

7. Water Wise in Summerlin. Tips and techniques for making outdoor watering more efficient. I have a background in commercial irrigation and could interview with authority the folks at SNWA.

8. Firefighters for You. This would be an intermittent series, with the idea of profiling each local firehouse. They all have a different personality. Photos of crews with their equipment might be compelling.

9. CERT: Community Emergency Response Team. An area wide program that acts as a sort of firefighter’s auxiliary in emergencies. They also educate and help prepare citizens for dealing with same. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about the West Sacramento CERT team.

10. Thrift stores and more: our area’s best shops for variety and value.



A Creative Nonfiction Course

I’ve found an online course I think I can complete and enjoy. It’s offered by UC Berkeley Extension. The full title is English X482 – 015 Creative Nonfiction Workshop. It runs from mid-May into August. 

Doesn’t this course description sound interesting?

“Learn to apply the techniques of storytelling to nonfiction prose pieces, including personal essays, features, commentaries, reviews, reports, journal entries and memoirs. Together, the instructor and other participants form your audience, offering support and critical feedback about your pieces. Weekly class discussions and writing assignments focus on story principles—such as plot, tension, scene and dialogue—that increase the readability of your work and form your material into publishable pieces.”

This course may help me write better and perhaps not feel so alone. Nearly all of the on-line and in person writer groups I’ve read about focus on fiction or on writing the Great American Novel. I’m not interested in either, I live in a world of non-fiction articles from 500 to 5,000 words. Although I’m fairly happy with my magazine and newspaper writing style, I look forward to being challenged and helped by other writers.

Perhaps you can find something you like in their catalog:

Update: The course is actually called a workshop. That may explain the light work load.


Magazine article

My Unorthodox Query Letter is Rejected. But I Wouldn’t Have Changed it.

My query letter to National Geographic’s Traveler was just rejected. But I think I did the best I could. Here are the details. Perhaps you will be inspired to put your own off-the-wall query letter into the mail.

I proposed a travelogue to central Nevada, participatory tourism to discover turquoise at the Royal Royston claim outside of Tonopah. That was what my Rock&Gem (internal link) article was all about and I thought I might interest Nat Geo in a piece tailored toward their audience.

Since my article and query letter revolved around turquoise, I decided to confort the query letter editor with the real thing: real turquoise. I bundled up two samples, one rough, one finished, and sent them off. I included my magazine article and a photo of Kate Blanchett at the Academy Awards wearing a turquoise necklace. Just to show turquoise is in style. (See the image below.)

Alas, my approach did not work. According to the one sentence rejection notice, my article did not fit with their editorial needs. Sigh. Still, I think I did all I could to grab their attention. Perhaps this approach would work with a smaller magazine; getting anything published in a Nat Geo title would be like winning the lottery.

The query letter I sent is below these two images. Read it, and tell me what you think. To all of you trying to get into national magazines, keep trying, and let me know if you have any crazy schemes of your own.




January 15, 2016

Query Editor
National Geographic Traveler
1145 17th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036

A Turquoise Tale: Collecting Stones and Stories From Nevada’s Distant Hills

Can you put adventure in the palm of your hand? Can you touch and feel it? You can near Tonopah, Nevada. Under brilliant blue skies, in hills covered by low sagebrush, you can search for and collect turquoise at the Royston Turquoise Mine, two hundred miles north of Las Vegas. You can take your discoveries home, to be worked into jewelry, or simply keep and admire them for the beautiful rocks they are. This high desert quest for turquoise is a quintessential Nevada adventure, fresh with new countryside and populated by the colorful characters that inhabit them.

My feature article would revolve around the participatory travel experience that the Ottesons provide with their Royston Turquoise mine tour and dig. Why now? Turquoise is riding a new wave of popularity, perhaps its greatest since the 1970s. Why Traveler? Because this rural Nevada adventure hasn’t been featured before; it’s a novel journey for any traveler who thinks of sage country as only home for cattle, wild burros, and ghost towns. Family mines still exists. And this is one of the last in America. More?

A dozen Ottesons have claims in the Royston Hills. Dean Otteson, the patriarch, carries on the work his father started. Brothers and wives and children are involved, from operating the mine to making jewelry. The clan has been pitched with a reality show. Their Royston turquoise is featured in high end jewelry throughout the United States. Rockhounds come from all over the West to collect on the property. It’s a tale worth telling.

I’ve included a copy of my recent Rock&Gem article on turquoise and Tonopah. For Traveler I would visit the mine again and write a shorter, all new piece with less mineralogical musings and an emphasis on the storytelling of the people I meet along the way. My writing credits include two American Heritage Invention and Technology pieces. See the attached sheet. In years past I’ve had a good relation with Edwin Grosvenor. I’d carefully follow your guidance, word count, and deadline. Open the box I’ve included. And put adventure in your hand.

Thanks in advance,

Thomas Farley


Thoughts on Dropbox

Do you use Dropbox? (external link) It’s a file storage service that lets you share your digital life. I use it principally to access a file I may be working on from different computers. By keeping a single file at Dropbox, and working on it from either my laptop or desktop, I don’t have to worry if a document is the latest version. With the file stored at Dropbox, I know that I am always working on the current iteration. And I don’t have to network the two computers on my own. Which is nice.

I’ve lately seen some glitches. Sharing entire folders is not quite straightforward. And sometimes Dropbox doesn’t recognize the latest saved version of a file for a moment or two. Make sure you’re not working on an older file when you open it up. Most importantly, close the document you are working on each time you leave or shutdown your computer. If you leave a file open on one computer, Dropbox may create a “conflicted file” when you open the file with your other machine. Again, close that file.

Another nice things is that Dropbox doesn’t paw through your content, looking to place ads. Your content is not scanned, which makes it, to me, preferable to Google’s storage option.