Sometimes stories write themselves

This started out as a fun conversation with a client then I posted it on Facebook.

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As you can see one of my friends has the gift for writing humor.

I am not sure if I would have used a funny headline while the search for the man continued. But I certainly would have used the play on words in follow-stories. This stuff just writes itself.

 

 

 

I still believe in local news

While I no longer make my living in local news, I believe in it. My husband and I travel several times a year and everywhere we go, I check out the local media. I usually lug an armful of newspapers and notes about local television and radio stations. Then I spend a few hours relishing in learning about some of the places we were or passed through like Madisonville, Tennessee. I enjoyed reading about their community and seeing the ad for “Sloans.”

madisonville newspaper

When I read about layoffs in the newsroom at Gannett, I am dismayed.  Who is going to tell people about the county commission’s debate on a tax increase? Who is going to run the picture of the winner of the flower show? How will you learn about road and school closings when the weather is bad? Yes, online platforms like Facebook and Twitter are used but who puts out that information? Many times, it’s local journalists.

Anyone can create a website and post anything these days. My husband and I were getting very upset I while watching Law and Order SVU the other night. A person with no journalistic training was running a website accusing a Congressman of sexual misconduct. He didn’t care about the truth nor did he vet his sources. While it did lead to a real crime, the alleged crimes were never proven and this guy showed he didn’t care about the truth. I won’t print a spoiler but things did not end well in that episode.

You can find a lot of websites like that one across the country. Call me old school, but I believe in getting both sides of the story and fact checking. Even some so-called legitimate media organizations have given into just getting the story out there so they can be first without checking the facts and the validity of their sources. The media used to be respected as the watchdog for the little guy and it has become more about getting clicks and being first. And we wonder why people don’t trust the media and are quick to label all of it “fake news.”

This doesn’t mean I ignore local media and work only on social media and other online platforms. I work with clients from all over the world and I love it. But when I start working with a business or organization, I always ask about their local and state media. I compile a list of the names of editors, news directors, and producers. I still send out traditional press releases, book broadcast interviews, and market online using social media and other tools. I make a lot of phone calls pitching my clients to local media sources, too.

About 80 percent of my work is online. But I still believe that the other 20 percent of my time spent working with local publications and broadcasters is just as important. My hope is that in the future, we will begin to see the value of not only telling our story to a worldwide audience but to our neighbors down the street.

Hear’s some writting to spank you’re interest

Obviously, the headline is full of mistakes. And I will be honest with you—mistakes happen. I have made some doozies. Thankfully, my biggest this week was replying to a client’s note and signing his name at the end instead of mine. Here are some I have made and some I have prayed I wouldn’t make!

  1. I once sent off a pitch offering to spank someone’s interest. Sorry, I don’t want to spank anyone. But I am sure I may have sparked their interest.
  2. A client was looking for someone with a lot of sass in their writing. I sent him a reply saying I had lot of….well just remove the “s.”
  3. I can’t tell you how many times I have changed the “o” in shot to and “i.” A shooting is bad enough but the other?
  4. I once had a group of cyclists training 8 days a week. Thank you, Beatles.
  5. A college in my town had Angus beef sales on occasion. I had to be careful to not leave out the “g.”
  6. Also, be careful how you spell “public” area.

Side note, I once attracted a lot of porn followers on my website and social media accounts because I had two articles where I mentioned the work cock a few times. Get your minds out of the gutter. I wrote articles for a magazine in the chicken industry a few years ago.

I am sure some of my colleagues can remember some more of my blunders. But they happen and you have to pick yourself up and move on from them.

What mistakes have you made or seen? Leave them in the comments for a future post!

Have a great day!

Kim J

Priceless

I purposely positioned my desk in front of the window so I can raise it most mornings and listen to the birds sing. A woodpecker joined the tunes today. The sound of the train through my little town provided some background music every hour or so.

Among the robins, sparrows and blue jays, two cardinals were playing in the trees. The cardinals are my favorite birds because they represent so many things—faith, vitality and creativity. Some say they represent loved ones who have passed away. This thought gives me comfort that my parents are free and playful as the birds.

I am not writing about very exciting subjects today. But the inspiration outside my window is priceless.

A few years and several hair colors ago

I have been writing professionally for more years than I am going to admit. I want to keep up the ruse that I am 35. But I have a big birthday this month and let’s just say I am not 35.

Like some women, I have been through many hairstyles and colors. So when I referred a possible client to some samples, I noticed my hair looks totally different than it does today.  I am a natural dirty blond. Through the years my hair has been dark brown, light blond and even red. So how did I describe the different look? “A few years and several hair colors ago I was a contributor to a legal blogging site.”

I haven’t heard back from my proposal. I hope the client was impressed by my cleverness!

Have a happy day!

Kim J

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P.S. This picture is 8 years old from my “long, brown hair” phase.

Making up for that lost hour

I am someone who HATES Daylight Saving Time. I get up at 4 a.m. and even if it wasn’t a requirement for work, I would still get up pretty early. I love the sunrise and delaying it an hour doesn’t make me happy.

Losing that hour also dismays me. I have struggled with getting back in my groove since my parents died last year and I just found a system that works for me. I block off time where I shut off social media, my phone (gasp) and any distractions so I can just focus on work for that hour or 45  minutes. I then take a break for 10 t0 20 minutes or a meal break if needed.

This system has increased my productivity but I am still working on perfecting it. Losing an hour that could have been a work block or sleep is distressing.

How are you making up for that lost hour?

Pajamas and a laptop

I am a child of the 70s and 80s and I remember when I dreamed about working in a city, wearing cute clothes and eating at trendy restaurants.

Flash forward to 2017 and my dreams are about working at home, wearing my pajamas and eating mac and cheese for breakfast. Add in some trips to interesting small towns, the Smoky Mountains and maybe a big city or two and you have described my ideal life.

In today’s society, working from home has become a career goal not only for moms with young children but for people who hate fighting traffic or who just don’t like having to deal with office politics or boring meetings. I work at home only part-time. I have a full-time broadcasting gig that I get up very early to do so most days I am home by 2 p.m. For 18 months in the late 2000s, working at home was my only source of income. I have found that I have a routine I follow no matter how many hours I work.

  • I wear pajamas or something equally comfortable. Even on non-freelance days, I put on my pajamas as soon as I come home. The only exception is if we have plans for a short time later.
  • I always put my computer in front of a window or facing outdoors. Years ago I had a desk on my back porch. Those were the days. My current view may not be the most scenic but I like it. view
  • I tend to work in blocks of time. I have a difficult time sitting for long periods of time. The longest I will sit is about two hours. A four-hour work day usually consists of an hour and 15 to 20 minutes at a time with 10 to 30-minute breaks. While it turns four hours of work into a six-hour stretch, I am more productive this way.
  • I keep the door shut when I don’t want to be disturbed. If I am researching an article or pitching clients, the door is open. When I am writing, it’s almost always closed. My family has learned to only contact me in dire emergencies. Problems with Netflix, opening a package or taking clothes out of the dryer are not dire emergencies!

Finally, get the image of home workers basking in their filth out of your head. One thing I do every day is shower. When I was working at home full-time there may have been several days when I didn’t put on shoes but my feet were clean. For me, taking a shower officially started my day.

If you work at home, what are your routines?

Kim

 

 

Just doing it

I have been doing this freelance writing thing since 2003–almost 14 years! For a couple of years, it was all I did. And it’s hard. But I have met some wonderful people and written some pieces that give me pride.

The last 10, yes, 10 months of 2016 were some of the hardest I have experienced personally and professionally. As I approach a “big” birthday this spring, I knew I wanted to really do more freelance writing for financial and professional reasons–a dream of mine for more than 20 years. I stopped bidding on those low-paying job sites and signed up for the Carol Tice’s Freelance Writers Den. I snagged a great magazine gig and several other assignments.

But remember, I said those were hard. I lost my mother-in-law, then my mother and then my father. I kept up okay until my father became very sick in the fall and then passed away. Losing daddy took the wind out of my sails.

Thankfully, I had clients who were patient and understood. I still have a full-time broadcasting gig I go to very early day. My writing career suffered.

Now I am getting back on track–a track I couldn’t even see a couple of months ago. I am dreaming again and I have snagged a few more assignments.

I have also had a mortifying moment. I sent a draft, not my finished product, to a client. Not just any client but one I really wanted to impress. I didn’t realize it until she sent back some edits. Sadly, I struggled for a couple of hours before I realized what I had done. She was cool with it and said she had done that once herself.

I think my defining moment came on my other blog, kimjinspired.com. I shared more on my grief and my life since my parent’s death. I cried while writing it and I cry when I read it again. But I hear my mother’s voice telling me in her own way just to do it. So here I am, getting it done and hopefully making my parents proud.

Finding my new normal

My feed looks flighty. I posted in September that my mother died in August. Three months and one day after my mother died, my father passed away after a brave fight with cancer. Keeping up with this blog was not at the top of my priority list over the past few months.

I am lucky that  work had slowed down and I had some very understanding clients.I was really just getting started AGAIN with my freelance career. But I do not regret the break I took to be with my mama and daddy. They did so much for me and I wish I could have done so much more for them.

I feel like I am starting over again. Honestly, it feels strange to have so much time on my hands to pursue my passions–content writing, social media marketing, publicity and journalism. But it’s part of my new normal without two of the most important people in my life.

 

 

Tears and tenaciousness

I have been absent from my own site but I have not stopped working. My mother died last month and I have focused my energy on my clients and radio work. While this has been a terrible loss to me and my family, I have learned so much in my professional career I want to share.

First, most people understand when you are going through something as hard as the death of a parent. I was almost afraid to tell clients for fear they would drop me. That did not happen.

Second, I may have overcommunicated what was happening during this time but I think it was important. My clients knew when I would be in and out of the office and how I was coping. Some days I just couldn’t focus.

Third, I always try to stay a few days ahead of deadlines. This discipline kept me from getting too far behind during this time.

While I cried, and still do at times, I also remained tenacious in my goals for myself and my clients.Tears and tenaciousness are an odd couple but they get me through my days.