Who Needs the Gym? I Do.

Folks with full-time jobs might think it’s easy to stay fit as a freelancer who works from home and sets his or her own schedule. After all, freelancers can feasibly drop what they’re doing and go for a run or attend a Pilates class while working stiffs are confined to their cubicles.

I have to admit, when I left full-time K-12 teaching to work as an adjunct professor and devote more energy to writing, I thought the same thing. What’s more, the new gym at the college commons was open to audacious employees willing to work out next to coeds far fitter and firmer than they. So I dropped my gym membership, planned on working out every day I had classes on campus and even created a Pinterest board optimistically titled “Who Needs the Gym?”

Who needs the gym? Turns out, I do.

I need the gym:

  • to watch St. Louis Cardinals games in a venue that does not offer beer bucket specials since my quasi-Luddite lifestyle means I don’t have cable television at home but am not opposed to taking advantage of it at nearby taverns.
  • as a weekend refuge from the Budweiser, barbecue, boy haven, Beatles guitar jam festival that my own home sometimes morphs into during spring and summer months.
  • as a place to expand my summer workout regimen beyond leisurely walks around the neighborhood and the occasional yoga practice or Jillian Michaels DVD.

So my recently reactivated gym membership starts in May and I have to admit I’m sort of excited to get back into a  more rigorous routine — and the gym’s new sauna — after a tough work out, of course.

For more on staying fit as a freelancer, please  check out my story and others on the topic in WOW! Women On Writing.

Free Photo from MorgueFile

Free Photo from MorgueFile

Failed Queries: New Monthly Feature for an Idea Whose Time Has Come — and Gone

In an attempt to better my blog and step up my social media presence, I have been trying to tackle the assignments presented by The Daily Post in its Blogging 201: Branding and Growth course. The Day Five challenge encourages bloggers to “Give ‘Em What They Want” by posting potentially popular content on the days its most likely to be read. In analyzing my blog’s meager

Free Photo from MorgueFile

Free Photo from MorgueFile

statistics, I determined Tuesdays were the best days to post new content and also decided to add a regular monthly feature to my editorial calendar. This feature, Failed Queries, will appear on the third Tuesday of every month until I run out of rejected ideas, which means it may be around for a while. One of my expired ideas, on the lack of TSA Pre-Check Enrollment Centers near some major cities, seemed like a solid pitch until the agency dramatically expanded the service.

If you are interested in reading another failed query from the archives, please check out On Birthdays, Willie Nelson and Failed Queries.

Dear Editor’s Name:

I hope all is well. I was wondering if you’d be interested in a short piece on the fact the Transportation Security Administration does not have enrollment centers near some major cities. For example, the closest enrollment center to Dallas is about 150 miles away in Lawton, Oklahoma. If St. Louis travelers want to enroll in the Pre-Check program, they have to drive about  90 miles to Herrin, Illinois, population 12,000.

I think this would be of interest to your readers and hope you agree. Please let me know if you’d like more information on this idea. Meanwhile, I have included a link to my resume and some writing samples for you to consider. As for my professional credentials, I have a decade of experience as a writing teacher as well as years of reporting experience as a freelancer and staff writer at publications around the country, including The Dallas Morning News. Most recently, I have been working on stories for publication by magazines and blogs including SUCCESS, Eating Well, Poets & Writers, DRAFT Magazine, Organic Gardening, The FruitGuys Almanac and WOW! Women On Writing.

Best,

Charlene Oldham

My Latest in WOW! Women On Writing – Writing for Trade Publications

For those looking to balance their day jobs with writing time, trade publications can offer an opportunity to learn more about their industry and make new connections while writing, often for extra cash on the side. Some industries, such as nursing and publishing, offer hundreds of online and print outlets seeking submissions. Others have a handful of focused publications geared to specific segments of the industry. Here are just a few examples of publications that pay and one that offers unpaid bloggers the opportunity to share their professional expertise with potential clients and contacts on a regular basis…

Read about some specific trade pubs here.

More Than Thirty Days of Thankfulness

I didn’t participate in 30 days of thankfulness during the month of November, but began composing a list in my head as I read friends’ Facebook posts and blog entries about the many good things in their lives. While I was thinking of the things and people who should be on my own list, I was also brainstorming for a way to extend the new technology-driven tradition beyond the month of November.  So here are a few of the things, animals and people I am — or at least should be — thankful for each and every day. I plan to add to the list through the new month and new year and revisit it in thankless times to come.

1. I am thankful for my boyfriend. He’s paid for more than his fair share of beer, burgers and bloody marys over the past few years so I could pursue part-time professoring and full-time freelance writing.

2. I am thankful for my so-far successful return to professional writing and reporting after a decade-long detour into teaching.

3. I am thankful for my mom who is in good health and good spirits after a life-changing move to a retirement home this summer.

4. I am thankful for my sister and her family. They have provided countless hours of logistical and moral support to both me and our mom before and since the move.

5. I am thankful for my cat Lucy. Lucy Cat, who has been a faithful and fun companion through one failed relationship, three states and nearly a half dozen moves, even decided to stay close to home this summer rather than yet again answering the call of the wild while we were on vacation.

Although, as made evident by this video, she was less than happy about it.

Promoting Books on Pinterest

Here’s a link to my latest article in WOW! Women On Writing about how authors and others in the publishing industry are using Pinterest to promote their work. Now, all I need to do is write my own prose to pin.

The Dreaded Letter of Introduction

As a follower of freelancing guru Kelly James-Enger, I have been trying to heed her advice by writing a query letter almost every day, following up on queries after they’ve been sitting in cyberspace for a month or more, and responding to rejections, which she calls “bongs” not by wallowing in self pity, but by sending a fresh idea to the editor who rejected the last query within 24 hours and refashioning the old idea to fit another market.

I’ve had some success with the approach and have been busy working on articles for a variety of magazines and websites. But, with the holidays looming, my agenda of follow up reminders is full while the one marking upcoming deadlines is looking like the advent calendar from Bad Santa.

Today, I’m finally sitting down to tackle a task I’ve been dreading — writing a letter of introduction. My query letters are typically all about an idea with just a few sentences that highlight my professional credentials. A letter of introduction, on the other hand, is all about me. I’m not just tooting my own horn, I’m playing an extended solo.

As a person who recently asserted she could probably field as well as Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma (though I have to admit my bat would be lacking), this shouldn’t be so difficult. But it is, even though research shows that people who promote their own accomplishments are seen as more competent than those who downplay their hard work. So I am finally going to finish my first letter of introduction — right after I play a few rounds of Words With Friends.

My new story in WOW – Women On Writing

I wanted to take an opportunity to share one of my favorite writing websites. WOW – Women on Writing always makes the Writers Digest list of top sites for writers. And, this month, it happens to have a story from me that features interviews with freelancing expert Kelly James-Enger, Christie Morgan Ison, a fellow Arkansas State University alum better known as the Fancy Pants Foodie, and Lisa J. Jackson, a freelancer and frequent contributor to Live to Write – Write to Live, one of my favorite writing blogs.
You can read more about them all in “Freelancers: Shed Your Pajamas and Share Your Passions.”