Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Making good use of great distractions

I’m use to distractions. Being a writing mom, it comes with the territory. Normally my distractions come in the form of my adorable daughter, handsome husband, troublesome dog and nagging housework. This week something glorious has happened. I’ve been dreaming in book scenes. Perfect, beautiful book scenes. So, why is this a distraction? These scenes have nothing to do with my current WIP.

Ugh!! I know, right—HUGE DISTRACTION.

So, like a good author, after each dream I wake to say the following phrase, “I will not write this amazing new story….yet.” Then I proceed to grab the trustee pen and paper on my nightstand and jot down as many notes and things I can remember. Throughout the day I keep that pad with me and continue to keep notes on this new developing project but I will not start writing it until my current fiction project is complete.

I have a rule that I stand by. I will not write more than one fiction and one non-fiction project at a time. Working on those two simultaneously is fine but I will not take on more. For me, I like being able to switch back and forth between a fiction and a non-fiction project. As I’ve said before, it is the cure to all writer’s block.

So, this is how I’m handling my big writing distraction at the moment. And it is serving as a great sense of motivation for me to move along on my current project. I do love my current project but these dreams really make me excited to finish and dive into some new work. I was discussing this very topic over on the #WeWrite community this week with author Anna DeStefano and I love something that she said. I often agree with what she says, but in this case she said that dreaming about a new story is THE BEST place in a story’s journey. This is so true. So, until I’m able to get to work on this new and exciting project I’m going to enjoy this part of the journey. I’m going to enjoy and record the dreams.

Have any of you experienced this? How have you handled it? Please share in a comment.


My new website is up and running www.NatalieCMarkey.com I recently added some new speaking engagements and courses. I invite you to take a look around.

I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research. Click here for more information.

I’m teaching a Write It Forward Workshop titled, ‘Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind’ online in October. Click here for more information and to sign-up.

If you are a writing mom I encourage you to visit the #WriteMom community of Twitter. Share your joys, successes and stress with others writing moms. Learn more here.

Blog Spotlights:

By author Keli Gwyn ‘How to Get Your Blog Post on Google’s First Page’

By author Susan Bischoff ‘Respect for the Gifts’

By author and publisher Bob Mayer ‘The Changing Landscape of Publishing for Writers’

By author Joy E. Held ‘Getting Lost in Your Own Mind’

Friday, August 26, 2011

The power of #WriteMom

If you haven’t read Kristen Lamb’s book, ‘We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media’ then please stop reading this and go read it now. The writing industry in particular is very overwhelming. As Kristen points out in her book, the writing community is alive and well online so use it. Learn from others, network and ask your questions. A fast, easy way to connect is on Twitter through the #MyWANA hashtag. That stands for “My We Are Not Alone” based off Kristen’s book. Here writers meet up and spread the love. Learn more here.

But you have a bubbly toddler and can barely make time for plotting your book during her nap times. How can you make time to chat with some people online? The question is; how can you afford not too?

I’ve been a freelance journalist for ten years. When I decided to add author to my writing credentials I knew that I was going to have to learn a lot. The most important thing I’ve learned in a little over a year is the value of discussion. Of course you must make time to write in order to be an author but you have to also understand what you are doing. Connections are important and it’s those connections that sometimes pull you through that troublesome scene.

You—with the bubbly toddler are not alone. I’m right there by you. I hold multiple National and local freelance contracts, promote my published book, research and write my next non-fiction, submit my young adult, write my middle grade, manage my speaking engagements and online course teaching schedule plus all the other things that come with the job title of “writer” all while caring for my thirteen-month-old daughter. I apologize for the insanely long run-on sentence and that didn’t even include Oscar, my special needs dog that is very high maintenance. The point is we all are busy and juggle a million things regardless what your day is like. As Kristen’s book stresses, you are not alone. This goes for writing moms as well as writers. This is why I’m launching #writemom on Twitter.

When you Tweet, add #writemom to your message. Make sure you do this when you are tweeting about writing progress good and bad. Soon we will have a community of writing moms. We can share the joys of publishing milestones, the stresses of deadlines and the frustrations that being a mom can add to all of this. After having a career in public relations and television prior to writing full-time, I’m convinced that this is the most difficult job. And when you add the pressure and duties of motherhood to your writing role—it can get very overwhelming.

When times are stressful remember that you are not alone. So many writing moms are making it work and look easy everyday. Share your success, advice and stories at #writemom. There is power and strength in community. Use #writemom to celebrate, vent, cry, laugh, rant, etc. Let #writemom refuel you for your next writing sprint and help you reach your goal. I’ll look forward to seeing you in the community. Happy Friday and to the power of #WriteMom!

I’m teaching a Write It Forward Workshop titled, ‘Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind’ online in October. Click here for more information and to sign-up.

I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research. Click here for more information.

I’ve been out of the loop this week. Please share some great blog posts that you’ve seen for this week’s blog mash-up.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Give me a break! And it’s good for my writing!

As a writer I can relate to that constant nagging pull to keep writing and meet that writing goal. However, sometimes the best thing for your writing is to just take a break. As I’ve said before, there is no such thing as writer’s block. When a scene proves to be a challenge, just walk away from it. Even if it is just a little while. Any break, no matter how short it may be can help the quality of your writing and manuscript.

For writing moms, this advice is very easy to follow. When I feel like I’ve hit a dead end or I’m struggling with a scene, I take a break and play with my daughter. This accomplishes two important things. First, I get to play with the most beautiful little girl in the world. Secondly, it gets my mind off that troublesome scene. There is such a thing as working too hard. It’s easy to get so focused in work but really a break can do wonders for your work and for your life.

Rewards are also a great way to celebrate reaching a goal. I love rewards! I rarely go over my writing goal because I don’t want to overwork myself. Instead, I treat myself to an hour of reading a book of my choice.

What do you do for a writing break? Do you give yourself a reward when you’ve reached a goal?


I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research. Click here for more information.

This October I’ll be teaching ‘Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind’ with Who Dares Wins Publishing’s Write It Forward Workshops. Click here to sign up or for more information.

Blog Mash-ups:

Author and social media expert Kristen Lamb’s “The WANA Theory of Book Economics: Why Traditional Marketing Doesn’t Sell Books.”

Pitch University’s Diane Holmes’ “Using Major Turning Points: Pacing Advice By Christopher Vogler” And FYI I’m currently reading his book, “The Writer’s Journey” and loving it!

Some motivation from author Candace Havens off author Anna DeStefano’s blog, How We Write Wednesdays.

Friday, August 19, 2011

From suits to burp rags: The life of a work-at-home mommy

I used put on a fancy business suit and heels to go to work on The Ave. of Americas in NYC or on Post Oak in Houston. Now I simply wear yoga pants/sweat pants, depending on the weather and a Baylor t-shirt to go to work in my at-home office in my house. Oh and don’t forget the burp rag that ordained my shoulder during the early days of being a writing mommy.

Time management can become a big struggle for any working-from-home mommy, especially since you cannot manage which you cannot control. As a mom, many factors control your day, none of which include you. Your baby always needs you and then there are the normal house cleaning, laundry, cooking needs. So, how do you work while getting all of that done while staying sane? Simple, you have to know yourself and control what you can.

By knowing yourself, you can identify what times of day you are most productive at various tasks. Use this knowledge to map out a day that will lead you to success.

Now flexibility is key. Many times that obligatory monkey wrench fins its way into our lives. That’s why you always need a back-up plan. Don’t stress over the things that don’t get done, celebrate the things that did get done. You can always make time for anything that is important to you. If writing is important, then you can make it work.

I’m teaching a month long Write It Forward Workshop, ‘Writing Moms: How to do it all without losing your mind!’ this October through Who Dares Wins Publishing. I hope that you will join the discussion and grow from it. Click here for more information and to sign up.

Are you a writing mommy or work-from-home mommy? What have you learned along the journey?

No announcements or blog shout-outs today as I’m out of town. Have a wonderful Friday y’all! I leave you with a great song by Bon Jovi, ‘Have a Nice Day.’

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What’s in your ‘Happy’ file?

This week I received my first rejection. It was for my young adult fantasy and yes; I know that this is part of this business. Honestly, the rejection is a good thing. I don’t want a literary agent who doesn’t love my book as much as I do. I want someone ready to work hard, just as I did while writing it. Someone who loves the characters, their troubles and victories and will not rest until the rest of the world is enjoying them. That is the acceptance I want. Until then, life goes on and writing goes on, but it never hurts to stop by the ‘Happy’ file.


What is a ‘happy’ file you ask? You may have read about authors that save their rejection letters as tools for motivation. That is a great tactic and let me tell you; since I received my rejection my writing has been on fire! But I still prefer a more positive solution. A ’happy’ file is where I keep copies or even notes of my successes. Some items towards the front is the beautiful book cover for my published non-fiction book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.’ It always makes me smile. I’m a published author in something that I am passionate about. And that cover is beautiful!

I have an email from a reader that said she was going to adopt a special needs dog because she’s seen the ease and rewards of saving one thanks to my book. This email still makes me cry.

I save emails from critique partners and beta readers that talk about how much they enjoy my story. I have thank you notes from fans of Cassandra Clare’s ‘The Mortal Instruments’ series thanking me for holding an essay contest. I report on her series as The Mortal Instruments Examiner. And your successes do not have to be “writing” related.

The number one item in my ‘happy’ file is a picture of my daughter. She is my biggest success and will continue to be long after I write a blog telling you that my fiction novels have hit the New York Times bestselling list. Having a baby is always a miracle. However, I was on bed rest and fed through IV’s the majority of my pregnancy. It was horrible and I know how lucky I am to have my blue-eyed beauty.

When I decided I was going to become an author I read all the articles and blogs on rejection. I knew I would not be the one person in the history of the craft to defy all odds. Instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. For each rejection, there are still many reasons to be happy and keep writing—and maybe with a renewed passion after a trip to your ‘happy’ file. What’s in your ‘happy’ file?

I LOVE listening to music. I must have it while I write and I always listen to a short clip to get pumped up before launching into my days writing goal. I’m currently obsessed with the song below. It is from the ‘Real Steel’ movie trailer and it almost makes me want to pay the extra money for a sitter to go see the movie. Enjoy!


I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research. Click here for more information.

Blog spotlights:

Author Katie Ganshert, ‘Three Criteria for a Killer Title.’

Literary Agent Donald Maass at Pitch University, ‘How to Be a Story Master.’

Author and social media guru Kristen Lamb’s, ‘Deadly Sin of Writing #4- Beware the Bog of Back Story.’

Friday, August 12, 2011

How outlining is like parenting

How do you outline? For my first YA I was in every sense of the word—a panster. For my freelance projects and my non-fiction, including my book ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ I use a very detailed outline. But I’m changing things up for my current work in progress. I’m using, what I call a working outline. With this outline, I stay at least ten scenes ahead of my writing. This way I have direction but still have freedom to be creative and let the characters speak for themselves.

Really, this is like parenthood. As a working-from-home mother to a one-year-old, I try my best to plan my day. Any mother will agree with me that such an idea is impossible. So, my new outline approach is like parenthood. I plan but I also leave room for the unpredictable.

I believe that writers have to experiment with various processes to find what works best for them. My YA came together finally but without following a plan it did make the revision process much longer and more of a challenge. That is why I decided to try something new this time around. Currently, I’m researching for my next non-fiction dog book. By the time I begin writing it, I will have every chapter and section fully outlined.

How do you outline? How did you come to find what works for you?


I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research I have found. Click here for more information.

Friday blog shout-outs to….

Author Susan Meier shared her plotting secrets on author Anna DeStefano’s blog. This is a not to miss read!

Author Jami Gold’s post ‘What Wrong Turns Have You Made?’ is so true and insightful.

Social Media expert, Kristen Lamb talks ‘Spam Toad vs. Author Brand’ in another fabulous and humorous article.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Do you work with time or against it?

Author Joy E. Held always brings excellent advice in her guest posts and today is no different. All writers, whether we are juggling another job or working as a writing mommy or both can benefit from time management advice.

Someday's do you just feel like pulling out your hair, or lose your stripes? The always-evolving need to manage my day efficiently reached a new level this week as my daughter is now walking! But maybe we are looking at this all from the wrong perspective? So without further adieu, I give you Joy Held.

There are five primary areas of practice to the Writer Wellness plan. Every other week I will post an idea at my blog http://www.writerwellness.wordpress.com for relaxation (Monday Meditation,) creative play (Tuesday Tickle,) fitness and exercise (Wednesday Workout,) journaling and misc. (Thursday Thought,) and nutrition (Friday Feast.)

“Time management” is an oxymoron. We can’t possibly manage time. It does what it wants regardless of our efforts to wrangle it into submission. It marches on no matter what. Trying to manage time is frustrating because it’s a little like herding cats or nailing Jello (trademark) to a tree. Time has a mind and a mission of its own. Time cannot be told what to do and it cannot be beat into submission. But time rules the world and we will continue to know frustration until we develop a different relationship with time.

We can either work with time or we can compete against it. The competition idea is largely responsible for our feelings of frustration. “There is never enough time to get everything done,” we say out of habit. “I make lists, but there isn’t enough time to get it all done in a day.” While lists are a proactive method for dealing with our frustrations about not enough time, they too can cause us to “grrrrrr” at the end of the day’s allotted time when we realize how much of the list did not get accomplished.

Try feeling time instead. It’s a practice born of meditation’s ultimate lesson in patience. Begin by, and I hesitate to say it, setting a stopwatch or timer when you practice meditation. Do not set the timer for ten minutes, close your eyes, and breathe until the timer goes off. With the timer at zero, first close your eyes, push the button, and breathe. Meditate until the feeling arises that the session has come to an end. Open your eyes and see how long you have practiced. Regardless of how many minutes have passed, end the session. Do this daily and the time you meditate will gradually increase on its own in a natural way. Putting a time limit on your daily meditation practice is contradictory to the purpose. The purpose is to love your time here, not manage your time here.

Meanwhile, remember to look for a digital or print copy of Writer Wellness, A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity at Who Dares Wins Publishing, http://whodareswinspublishing.com.


I will be hosting a live webinar on September 26 6:30-8 PDT with Farm Dogs USA titled ‘Caring for Special Needs Dogs.’ My lecture will be based off my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ along with new research I have found. Click here for more information.

Some great writing time management advice that I read this week came from author Kait Nolan. Check out her post, ‘It’s Easier to Maintain Than Rebuild/Redue.’

Don’t miss Bob Mayer’s insightful post, ‘Thriving in the Chaos of Publishing.’

I also loved Kristen Lamb's post (though I normally love her stuff!) , ‘The Devil in the Details- 3 Ways to Make Your Writing Shine.’

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Freelance Writing: A Gateway to “Authorhood?” Part 3

Thank you for sticking with me these last few days as I’ve attempted to share what knowledge I have gained as a freelance writer. Don’t miss part 1, where I discussed my personal journey as a freelance writer, plus to good and the ugly of the business. In part 2, I spoke with award-winning author Christie Craig on her personal journey from freelance writer to author. Today, I’m discussing the transition from freelance career to “authorhood” and when to say no to articles. I’ll also share some suggestions on how to get started if you want to freelance.

Christie Craig said yesterday that she no longer writes freelance since she is writing four books a year. I’m not there yet but I too am starting to feel the pressure of too much writing and not enough time. My solution? I prioritize based on contract obligations. I’ve been writing for local Houston magazine off and on for seven years. They have been good to me and I like loyalty, so they will be the last that I quit. I also, write many articles a week for Examiner.com but I have scaled back on local columns with them due to time constraints. I continue to write weekly for my Special Needs Dog Care Examiner column and my The Mortal Instruments Examiner column. You may see a pattern here. The first ties directly into my book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog.’ I count this as easy marketing that I can control. The second keeps me in the loop among the active young adult community, which is another genre that I write in.

Currently, I will not take on anymore contract writing assignments. Other than what I mentioned, I write to guest blog articles promoting my material and furthering my network. I also query topics related to what I’m writing to specific magazines, but these would all be the one time gig. It is easy to over commit yourself and lose sight of your real goal.

Do you want to be a freelance writer forever? I don’t but like Christie Craig, I appreciate what it is teaching me and using such skills to make me a stronger and more marketable author.

So how do you get started in freelance writing? In part 1 of this blog series you learned how I got started while still in school. I know some of us can’t go back and get that time but it’s never too late to set goals and strive to reach them. I recommend the following:

1. Write a letter with your qualifications and some topic ideas that you have for a local magazine. Be sure and write something that lets the editor know that you read the magazine. Off some suggestions to make it better and how you can help contribute to that.

2. Research local and National publications that cover topics you are interested in. Focus on publications that accept queries. A query is a letter suggesting a topic giving away some details but without writing the entire article. You will also share your credentials in such a letter. I am not a fan of publications that require a full article for consideration. This takes up a significant amount of your time and could be for nothing. I do understand the value in finishing a manuscript prior to querying but not with a feature article.

3. Be persistent, not annoying. There is one magazine that I’ve always wanted to be featured in (I’m not saying which one!) My topics have never matched up with their issue goals. I’ve had bad timing but I resend new ideas along with reminding them of my old ones twice a year. Maybe someday it will pay off and I’ll write a big blog post about it!

4. Set aside a certain amount of time for freelance research. I’m always looking for publications that would be a match for topics that I write on and speak on.

5. Never lose sight of your main goal. My main goal is to be an author. Long before my first book was published, I kept a sticky not by my workspace that said, “AUTHOR.” This way I always remembered the BIG picture and didn’t get lost among the articles.

I hope that this blog series was helpful for you. Next week I will return to my usual Wednesday and Friday posts. Since these posts were all closely related, I wanted them coming out back to back.

Do you write freelance? How did you land your first article?


Take a deep breath and remember your real writing goal. Many of us use stepping-stones to reach goals but don’t get lost among those steps. A fantastic read is “Warrior Writer: From Writer to Published Author” by Bob Mayer. I thought I was organized, but this book really shaped my writing process so that I keep things on track to reaching my big picture goals.

Freelance Writing: A Gateway to “Authorhood?” Part 2

Many writers find their path to being an author through the experiences of freelance writing. Yesterday, I discussed my path into the world of freelance writing, along with the good and the ugly of the business. Today, I’m sharing with you some great freelance writing insight from author Christie Craig. I first met romance and young adult author, Christie Craig through the West Houston RWA Chapter. She is hysterical and a wonderful writer that can have her readers perched on the end of their seats or rolling, laughing on the floor. She began her writing career as a freelance writer and believes what I do, that this path is greatly beneficial for aspiring authors. I asked her to share some insight on this topic and below is what she had to say.

From Christie Craig:

Freelance writing taught me so many things that prepared me for a career as a novelist.

It taught me to fit my idea, my voice, into someone's else's box. I think my ability to write in different genres is because of the lessons I learned doing freelance. I wrote for both the down-home country type of magazines and the fine art magazines.

Freelance writing helped me hone my marketing skills. By studying a magazine and trying to figure out what those editors wanted in articles, I taught myself to dissect articles, to look beyond the words to find similar themes and tones in the many articles published in a particular magazine. These skills continue to help me as I read several books in a genre and try to figure out what it is that makes these books fit that particular genre. I used this skill when I was asked to write a YA and I spend weeks studying and reading other YA books to figure out what went into the making of a good YA novel.

Income from freelance writing kept me from having to work outside the home, and it kept me writing and honing my craft, and it allowed me time to pursue my novel career.

Seeing my name in print gave me the inspiration I needed to believe in myself as the rejections for my novels kept piling up.

The years of writing short pieces really helped me when it came time to write blogs and promotion pieces. It taught me how to get a point across in a limited number of words. It taught me how to focus on what was important in the piece.

Writing short teaches you to make all the words count. To say the most, in the least amount of words.

Freelance writing prepared me for deadlines, it taught me how to work with editors, and it helped me grow a thick skin. Both from the rejections and from having my work rewritten by hands-on editors.

Writing freelance is often similar to going back to school. When I would get an assignment from an editor about something I knew nothing about, I would have to research the topic. You would be amazed how many things I now use in my novels that I researched for articles. My book Divorced, Desperate and Delicious had tons of high tech furniture: a talking refrigerator, a Lazy Boy chair with a built-in refrigerator, and a cat box that says, "Good Kitty" when the feline paws at the litter after making a “deposit.” These were some of the crazy things that I had to research for articles.

Thank you Christie for your insight. Christie currently does not freelance because she is writing four books a year! Learn more about award winning author Christie Craig at her website. Her new romance novel, ‘Shut Up and Kiss Me’ is now available and her anticipated romance, ‘Don’t Mess with Texas’ is available later this month. She also writes young adult paranormal, the Shadow Falls series, that still has her trademark wit along with mystery and intrigue.

One thing that I am currently struggling with in my freelance career is the ability to say “no.” I’m currently working on two books, with another out on submission so it is getting more difficult to manage my freelance and author careers. Balance and time management as a freelance writer/ novelist is what I will discuss tomorrow in the conclusion to this big freelance writing blog post series. I’ll also answer the frequent question, how to jump-start your freelance career.

Did you write freelance prior to becoming an author? What benefits did you see?


Don’t miss this great post, “I’m convinced fear is at the root of most bad writing.” Stephen King, from NY Times Bestselling author Bob Mayer.

This week, I was a guest at Joy Held’s Writer Wellness blog. Check out my “A-Musing” post and share what motivates you as a writer.

I have begun research and interviews for my next book in my non-fiction dog book series with Who Dares Wins Publishing. The topic is dogs and children and how to create introductions that will lead to positive and beneficial relationships for them both. Please email me at NatalieCMarkey.com if you feel you could contribute.

Check out ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ to learn easy, common sense ways to give your dog the best quality of life from the perspective of owners that are making it work. Your dog doesn’t have to have a disability to benefit from this book. Some dogs are “special” in many ways.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Freelance Writing: A Gateway to “Authorhood?” Part 1

Many of my Twitter followers read my tweets about meeting freelance deadlines and how happy I am to finish so I can return my focus to my WIP or research for my WIP. Such relief often can be misunderstood, even though it is always a wonderful feeling when I hit the ‘submit’ button and send an article to an editor, freelancing has made and continues to make me the writer that I am today. For that, I am grateful for the path I am on and because this is such a huge topic, I’m discussing it in a three part. Part two will be out tomorrow followed by part three on Sunday. But how did I get into freelance writing and what do I think?

I started freelance writing ten years ago during high school. I knew then, after too many injuries from my dance career, that I wanted to be a writer. The problem was that I wasn’t sure what kind of writer. At that time, I had recently won the National Scholastic Writing Competition with a short story but was told by teachers that I couldn’t make a living as a fiction writer (well, HA to that as now I’m sure trying!) I volunteered for free labor. I spoke to the local Chamber of Commerce and any small, local publications and wrote for free. It was a great experience and opportunity to have my writing seen by people outside of school.

I attended Baylor University, where I studied Journalism, Public Relations and Business Management; because remember, there is no money in fiction (a great example on how you shouldn’t always listen to your elders.) In one of my favorite PR courses, I was required to find a freelance position out in the community. Since, I use to dance and perform in theatre it was no surprise when I started working for a local and historically beautiful theatre house. And to make it better, they paid me to write for them! I would send articles to local publications about upcoming performances. I wrote press releases and held press conferences for the media. It was a wonderful experience.

After that job, finding work came easier. I began to write and get paid by several local publications. I queried a political PR topic to the Public Relations Society of America quarterly publication and was accepted. That was my first National published piece (and yes, I’m a dork it is framed.)

After graduation, I always continued to freelance part-time in addition to having “real jobs.” It did bring in money and I would use that for my “play” money. When my husband was transferred to Houston, I quit my job and had the luxury to be picky in my search. I didn’t find anything that I really wanted to do. I’ve always been the type that wants to love my work and nothing was standing out to me that was worth the pay. I decided to take my part-time freelance work and see how it would work as a full-time position. That’s when I began to write for Examiner.com and I still continue to write for local and National publications, as topics I query are accepted.

So here is the good and the ugly of the freelancing business!

The Ugly:

1. For most, it starts out as volunteer work or with very little pay. You have to prove yourself and pay your dues.

2. Querying and finding contracts can be very draining.

3. The pay is not consistent. I have good months and not so good months but I keep trucking along.

4. It takes a lot of discipline and dedication to meet the deadlines and still make time for any other writing projects that you have such as fiction writing. You are your own boss.

5. There are no traditional benefits. For me this isn’t s big issue since I was married and my husband had benefits when I took this full-time.

The Good:

1. I have the opportunity to cover topics and talk to amazing people that otherwise I wouldn’t have had the privilege to speak with.

2. I love the opportunity to learn about things. Having a curious nature, I believe is a must for a freelance writer.

3. It gives me the opportunity to see my work published. A thrill for any writer.

4. Through freelancing, I’m practicing my craft everyday and always learning and improving.

5. It gives me the flexible life that I love. I set my own hours, which is ideal for a working-from-home mom BUT this means that I must always stay on top of deadlines and writing goals.

For me, freelance writing has been an excellent step into becoming an author. For my debut book, ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ I was all ready accomplished as an interviewer and researcher that helped me greatly. My dog inspired that book, but I involved many families points-of-views, not wanting the book to be all about Oscar.

Freelancing introduces a writer to many different styles, which I’m finding is helping me with my fiction work. It also instill work ethic and proves to future editors and agents that you are capable of being professional and meeting deadlines. These are all great reasons why freelance writing can easily be a gateway to “authorhood” and other authors are experiencing success from the same path.

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking with award-winning author, Christie Craig who also followed a freelance writing path to “authorhood.” She writes sexy, suspenseful and seriously funny romantic fiction. Not that that was enough to keep her busy, she writes the YA paranormal Shadow Falls series and non-fiction for writers. Craig is funny and very insightful. She also, has a large and beloved family dog, Max so I can relate to her greatly! Check back tomorrow morning to read her thoughts on freelance writing.

Do you write freelance? How did you get started? Do you feel that this is helping or has helped your journey toward “authorhood,” if that is your goal?


This week, I was a guest at Joy Held’s Writer Wellness blog. Check out my “A-Musing” post and share what motivates you as a writer.

I have begun research and interviews for my next book in my non-fiction dog book series with Who Dares Wins Publishing. The topic is dogs and children and how to create introductions that will lead to positive and beneficial relationships for them both. Please email me at NatalieCMarkey.com if you feel you could contribute.

Check out ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ to learn easy, common sense ways to give your dog the best quality of life from the perspective of owners that are making it work. Your dog doesn’t have to have a disability to benefit from this book. Some dogs are “special” in many ways.

Some great blogs to follow:

http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/ Bob Mayer

http://jenniholbrooktalty.wordpress.com/ Jennifer Holbrook

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/ Kristen Lamb

http://inspiration4writers.blogspot.com/ Inspiration for Writers, Inc.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I wish I had done this sooner

Most writers have a story. Why are you a writer? When I was at the National RWA Conference in NYC I heard so many writers talk about how they wish they had started writing sooner. I do feel that there has been a shift in the attitude of the writing career. I remember being in high school and winning the Scholastic Writing Competition in the short story category. Of course, I was thrilled but I remember my teacher telling me to go into journalism because there is no money in fiction writing. I believed her.

Well, I’ve got news—there isn’t much money in journalism or public relations either. However, I’m glad that I went that route. I believe that every experience we have makes us better writers. I’ve read countless times from many successful authors, that you must write what you know. Now, in my young adult fantasy, Atlantis doesn’t really exist (at least it doesn’t to the best of my knowledge) but if you know me, then you know that I love the ocean so it is no surprise that I incorporate it into my fiction writing.

I also incorporate what is important to me in my non-fiction. I write about dogs from an owner’s perspective. In my freelance writing, I’ve literally covered any topic from how to create a brilliant dining room tablescape, to a National Alligator Festival, and aviation pollution studies. For me, being a professional writer is the ultimate cure to boredom. Even through my fiction research, I get to study and become an “expert” on so many topics. Even though the industry is tough and the work is not easy, this is by far my favorite job. To echo what many said at Nationals this year, I do wish I had taken the leap into professional writing sooner.

That leap doesn’t come lightly. It certainly didn’t for me. I like making money, who doesn’t? For me, I eased into a full-time writing career from years of part-time freelancing that just evolved. The big push for me came when I had my daughter and I wanted to work from home. Some writers are still writing well into the night and on breaks from other jobs. I salute you if you are one of these people.

How did you become to be a writer? What made you take that leap? I do think that we will see more young, out of school writers. As a speaker, one of my topics in schools is goal setting. I use to never hear anyone say that they wanted to be an author, now that career option is mentioned much more frequently.


I've noticed some outstanding blog posts this week. Check them out:

Where Do You Want Me? Choosing Narrative Distance in Multiple Third Person by Janice Hardy

Five More Mistakes That Will Expose You As a Rookie by Larry Brooks

Efficiency 101: The Power of “No” by Kait Nolan

Three Tricks to Keep Your Eyes Fresh When Revising by Jill Kemerer

On September 26 6:30-8PM PDT I will be hosting a webinar through Farm Dog USA on ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ based on my book by the same title. I will be posting sign-up information as soon as it becomes available.

This October I will be teaching an online workshop on the ‘Writing Mommy: Making it all work without losing your mind’ through Who Dares Wins Publishing's Write It Forward workshops. I will post a sign-up link when it’s available.