Apr 072015
 

Package-in-the-mailPublishers send lots of cookbooks to food bloggers, hoping for publicity. If you choose to write about a book, they might supply images and recipes. If you’re not going to write about it, they might say: how about a shoutout on social media?

Do you owe them something in exchange for this free book? If so, what?

This is an area of confusion for many food bloggers. You want to be nice and do the right thing. But understand that, first of all, you owe them nothing.

Even if you requested a book, you are entitled to read it and decide not to Continue reading »

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Mar 312015
 
Kathleen-Flinn-head-shot

Kathleen Flinn has published three acclaimed food memoirs.

A guest post by Kathleen Flinn 

Who writes three food memoirs? Before they’re 50 years old, no less? There’s me, Ruth Reichl, Nigel Slater… it’s not a long list. Food memoirs are tricky, though. Here are some things I’ve learned along the way:

1. Conflict drives narrative.

Your grandmother might have made beautiful dumplings. You may be obsessed with kumquats. But does your story pass what my journalism mentor called the “Who Cares” test?

Ultimately, readers keep turning pages because they want to find out Continue reading »

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Mar 242015
 
Sunrise

Some writers write at sunrise. I’m fast asleep. When I get to my desk, I tackle email first.

You’ve read a million times that writers need to write as soon as they get up or as soon as they get to their desks. It’s the conventional wisdom passed down by writing teachers and experts everywhere.

Here’s my dirty little secret: I don’t write first thing.

Why not? I have a different process for shallow work and deep work. Here’s my reasoning:

1. I need to warm up.

I’m not ready for intense concentration first thing. Shallow stuff like Continue reading »

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Feb 102015
 
Thriving

I feel grateful to be alive when I imagine myself here. Wouldn’t it be nice to have this sensation more often?

Don’t you love the word “thrive?” It’s not about just getting through the day, making lists, or driving yourself to do more more more. It’s about a healthy, beaming, happy you, satisfied with your life and filled with gratitude.

Doesn’t that sound incredible? Who doesn’t want to be that kind of person?

As writers, we need constant reminders to stay positive. Otherwise we get distracted by what we’re not doing (not enough pitching, social media, awards, contracts, published work, classes, blog readers), versus what we thrive on (writing!).

Here are five ways to keep writing and moving forward:

1. Believe that you have something to say and people want to read it. Otherwise, when you doubt yourself, you create roadblocks that crush productivity. Manage your internal critic. Learn to recognize Continue reading »

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Oct 072014
 

PaulaPanichA guest post by Paula Panich

Fueled by frustration and a manuscript of unpublished culinary essays with recipes, I spent two years writing letters to agents.

Silence.

Only one wrote back with regrets: She hadn’t heard of M.F.K. Fisher.

Fit to be tied, I swore I’d never write again. Then I thought: The literary magazines! Why not make a game of getting published?

Hundreds of small magazines buzz under our radar. These publications—some print, some online, are known as literary magazines and journals. They’ve been quietly present since Continue reading »

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Sep 302014
 
John Kessler 1

John Kessler explains how he gets repeat assignments.

Freelance writers like John Kessler are rare — the kind of writer editors can count on, who  can tackle just about any story and come through at the last minute.

John is the full-time dining columnist at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. On the side, he freelances for Garden & Gun, Food Arts (recently deceased), GQ, and has written for Cooking Light and Every Day with Rachael Ray.

What does it take to be the writer editors call upon? Kessler has ideas:

Q. Do you pitch new publications or do editors come to you?

A. My best work always comes from magazines where I’ve Continue reading »

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Jul 292014
 
Stressed.Writer

Do you keep up with your writing projects? Do you hand in your work on time? And how much drama do you like in your life?

Are you a drama queen? I was. I realized years ago that I liked excitement, and I created too much of it, especially when I procrastinated and then went crazy as deadlines loomed. Does this sound familiar?

You can learn good work habits, but doing so means giving up the adrenaline rush. Instead, you become a planner. It might sound boring, but these techniques have helped me avoid all-nighters.

1. Take Small Steps

Years ago I was driving to an appointment with my boss when I confessed, tearfully, that I felt overwhelmed by my workload. He gave me advice that was just right at the time: “Break it down into small steps. Otherwise you’re too overwhelmed to move forward. Just put one foot in front of the other and accomplish small things every day.”

It was good advice then, even though it sounded obvious. I needed a reminder. Continue reading »

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