Thursday, September 29, 2011

Specialists and Generalists Speak Out

Recently, I did a post on the difference between writers who are specialists and generalists. I think many writers have a little of both in them, and there are benefits to being each type of writer. However, it's nearly impossible to be one and the other.

So I asked readers of my free weekly newsletter to offer their thoughts on using the specialist or generalist approach. Here are some of my favorite responses:

Rodger Jacobs: Allow me to answer your question with a question: If I haven't eaten in two days (which I have not), my rent in a single-occupancy residential hotel is two weeks in arrears, and my monthly food stamp allotment of $122 was spent in less than two weeks, my next Social Security Disability payment isn't due until the third of next month, and yet I am still able to stand on my 20-plus years as a professional writer and journalist, am I generalist, a specialist, or what the market dictates I need to be if I want to supplement my meager income? Writers need to diversify like never before, especially independent contractors.

Dawn Herring: I think I fit best in the Specialist category since most of my writing is aimed toward journaling and positive change, with some spiritual writing mixed in connection with those two subjects. Much of my activity, in addition to my writing, is centered around journaling, since I host #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter for all things journaling. The writing I do in my newsletter, Refresh Journal, has the same focus (journaling and positive change) as well as my blog, Refresh with Dawn Herring.

Lila Johnson: After reading the article, I feel that I fall into the category of the generalist. Although I have completed my first manuscript and in the process of rewrites, articles seem to be my best bet. I love pulling a story together in a short amount of time. Writing articles pushes you to set up and complete an idea fast and furious. When you see your efforts print, you feel like, WOW, I did that. Afterwards, I am searching for the next assignment to fulfill the high I get from writing.

Tom Bentley: I'm a generalist and then some, and that can mean changing hats multiple times in a day. Last week I continued edits on a business book, wrote website copy, edited articles for an online newspaper, wrote a press release, wrote an element of a book proposal and wrote info for a newsletter promo. I truly enjoy the variety, but having multiple clients with sometimes overlapping deadlines can be challenging. I'm better now at estimating how long things will take and how to prioritize, but I'm far from perfect. And sometimes I get tired of the scramble. But I think I'd be bored with writing one kind of thing—white papers, for instance—and so I'm pleased the cascade of hat changes keeps me alert and active.

Aimee Jackson Fortney: Growing up, my sweet mother always said that if you go to bed at night and you did not learn anything new, then it was not a good day. I love to learn about everything and teach my daughter to be the same ... always inquisitive, always learning about every possible topic of interest (and her school subjects). That being said, I believe I am a Specialist. I write about food, and I appear on Nashville's NBC affiliate, WSMV twice a week sharing easy, economical meal ideas with viewers. I call myself, "Not the Perfect Cook." I mess up, I make mistakes, but I specialize in helping families get back in the kitchen and avoid the drive-through options. I specialize in being not perfect.

Stephanie Hoover: I am a "specialist" in the main. Although I've been selling my writing since 1984, I also work as a genealogical and historical researcher. Much of my writing (now) involves topics requiring deep, historical research--so I get to combine two passions into one career. I strongly recommend specialization to all new researchers and writers who ask me how to get into the business. For young writers, the intimate knowledge of one topic might help outweigh the lack of published clips.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Events on the Horizon

This weekend, I'll be attending my final event of 2011. I'll be reading poems (with 20+ other poets) at the Barnes & Noble in Webster, Texas, as part of the Houston Poetry Festival's Poetry "Out of Bounds" Readings. I believe I get to kick things off at 1 p.m.-ish (poets are smart enough to always add an -ish to everything). Click here for more details.

Mary Margaret Carlisle and I on the Featured Poets Forum at the 2011 Austin International Poetry Festival.

This reading came about as a result of meeting Mary Margaret Carlisle at the Austin International Poetry Festival. We both met at one of the events and then traded collections (my ENTER for her It's Always About The Rain) after the reading. Then, we ran into each other at the featured reading and sat next to each other at the featured panel (we were both features at the festival).

The ability to share your work and learn from others is often what makes it worth attending an event. However, it's the people you meet and connect with that can really elevate your experience to new levels. I'm still maintaining conversations with the great poets I met in Austin, and I can only hope that I've been as much help to them as they've been to me.

So yeah...2011 is wrapping up. Here's what's currently on my calendar for 2012:

AWP Conference, February 29-March 3, Chicago, Illinois
The official schedule will not be released until October, but I do know that my panel is on The Tech-Empowered Writer: Embrace New Media, Experiment & Earn. The panel was pitched by Christina Katz, who invited Jane Friedman, Seth Harwood, and myself to join her.

Poetry Hickory, June 12, Hickory, North Carolina
At 4 p.m., I'll lead a workshop on building an audience for your poetry. I believe the workshop will require a small fee of something like $10 per attendee. After that (beginning around 5:30-ish), Tammy and I will read our poetry. Tammy and I met Scott Owens, who hosts the Poetry Hickory events, earlier this year, and we're really excited to meet many of the North Carolina poets we already "know" through Facebook and other social media sites.

Poetry Hickory will be getting two poets for the price of one (or something like that).

Writing Away Retreats, Labor Day weekend, Breckenridge, Colorado
This retreat will offer writers several tentative mentors, including myself, agent Kristin Nelson, Kate Gale (I'm assuming of Red Hen Press), agent Sandra Bond, and multiple RITA award-winning author Barbara Samuel (O'Neal). These retreats are scenic, inspiring and are limited to 10-12 writers, which means you'll get plenty of time for feedback and mentorship.

I hope to see you at one of these events--either on Saturday or next year!


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If you happen to know of any speaking opportunities in your area and are interested in hearing me read poetry, talk about getting published or building a writer platform, etc., then either contact me (or have your organization contact me) via e-mail at

Keeper League Confidential: Beating My Own Team

The third game is a charm. After two humbling losses, the Zombies have put together their first win! And it's over the team I left a couple years ago--that also happened to win this league's Super Bowl last year. It was a pretty cool way to get my first win of the season.

Finally! The Zombies get a win!

This win was completed mostly by my own (new) players. Here's how the scoring broke down for my team:
  • 5 starters that returned from last season: 23.5 points (4.7 pts/player)
  • 10 starters added since last season: 92 points (9.2 pts/player)
Plus, factor in that 13 of those 23.5 points came from the QB position, which frankly is a low QB score, and it shows just how much I've been able to improve the team through trades, drafting, and the waiver wire. This illustrates why it's so important to have an amazing scouting team for your fantasy football club, especially when that scouting team is me, myself, and I.

Anyway, the Zombies are excited about their first win, but we've still got a losing record, and I'm playing my brother David this week. My brother David is the only owner in this keeper league's history to make the playoffs every single season, so he will not be easy to beat. Not by a long shot.


Week 4 Tip: Try Making a Trade

Pulling off a trade is usually difficult at any point, but after the first three weeks of the season, you may be able to make a deal or two. Look for owners who have a need that you can fill and/or have surplus at a specific position and could use an upgrade at another.


Waiver Wire Watch: Week 4

QB: Matt Hasselbeck, Ten. Anyone who acted on my Hasselbeck suggestion last week was rewarded with 300 yards and 2 tds. He's still available in most leagues.

RB: Alfonso Smith, Ari. I've never been big on Arizona's running game, but Beanie Wells couldn't play this past week (and he has a history of being unable to play). While he was out, it was Smith--and not Chester Taylor--who got the bulk of the work. Of course, Chester Taylor isn't a bad gamble either if you're really hurting at RB.

WR: Nate Washington, Ten. Washington is still available in most leagues--despite me talking him up--and he's only continued to produce. Plus, Kenny Britt is now out for the season, which makes Washington the top receiver in Tennessee.

I told you to pick up Nate Washington last week.

WR: Torrey Smith, Bal. Wow! What an amazing way to debut in the NFL. My only concern here is that Smith may have been given some extra space while the defense focused on Anquan Boldin and that they'll play him honest from here on out.

TE: Ed Dickson, Bal. I promise: I have not just turned into a Baltimore fanboy...but Dickson is quietly putting together a good number of touches for a TE with two 5-catch, 50-yard games out of three so far. He's not a Top 10 TE, but all of those are probably gone in your league.

DL: Greg Hardy, Car. Playing opposite of Charles Johnson has its advantages. For instance, less double teams from the O-line. Plus, run plays may swing more in his direction, which can add to his tackle totals. He's doing fine through the first three weeks.

LB: Pat Angerer, Ind. Still not owned in most leagues, he's registered 42 tackles in 3 games. What else does he need to do?

DB: Justin King, StL. I don't usually recommend CBs, but King has put together a very solid first 3 weeks--with 19 tackles, a sack, and an interception.

As usual, you're on your own with the kickers.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Advice for Writers: 004

Here's this week's round-up:

What Bestselling Fiction Can Teach You About Writing Better Landing Pages, by Sean D'Souza. Actually, this post teaches an important lesson for all writers (except maybe poets, since we like to beat around the bush).

25 Things Writers Should Know About Theme, by Chuck Wendig. Theme is one of those concepts that professors like to look at in college creative writing fiction courses. Of course, that doesn't mean it's a bad thing to master.

Top 7 Reasons Readers Stop Reading, by K.M. Weiland. Here's a good post on why readers might abandon your writing.

Talking Tumblr, by Collin Kelley. Poet/novelist/journalist Collin Kelley shares his love of the social networking/micro-blogging site Tumblr.

A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book, by Jane Friedman. Jane shares the 4 P's for book marketing: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion.

I've just updated my Blogger interface, since this is apparently Interface Update Week. So if you notice anything weird or have any new Blogger interface tips to share, please let me know.


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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Call for Submissions: 2013 Songwriter's Market!

The 2012 Songwriter's Market is fresh off the presses, which means two things:
  1. The newest publication information--both listings and articles--is available for writers of fiction.
  2. It's time to pitch the editor for the 2013 Songwriter's Market.
By the way, the 2013 Songwriter's Market will feature a new editor: Scott Francis! Scott is an experienced trade book editor for Writer's Digest Books, and I'm sure he'll bring some new perspective to the SM series.

Here are the specs for the official 2013 SM call for submissions:

  • Pitches (and queries) being accepted for the 2013 Songwriter's Market starting today.
  • Deadline for pitches (and queries) is November 1, 2011.
  • Send pitches (and queries) via e-mail to with the subject line: Pitch for 2013 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market
A few things to keep in mind before submitting. Review previous editions of SM, including the 2012 Songwriter's Market to get an idea of the articles that have been accepted in the past. While Scott will bring his own sensibility to the table, I doubt he'll completely abandon what's always made SM useful in the past.

Also, remember that your expertise is important, but your article idea is even more important in your pitch. Outline your article idea first. Then, share how qualified you are to write the article.

Good luck!


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Also, there's another call for submissions open at the moment for the 2013 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market. Click here to view those guidelines.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

7 Stages of Dealing With Facebook Interface Change

As usual, Facebook has changed its interface just as I was getting used to the last round of changes. Whether this helps or hinders Facebook's long-term success, I'm not going to hazard a guess. After all, people are complaining and venting, but they're still doing it on Facebook, which only boosts the time spent on the evil site that everyone's complaining about. (Facebook says, "Jump," and we say, "How high?")

To help others cope, I thought I'd take a moment to remind everyone of the 7 stages most folks go through when a site such as Facebook redesigns their interface:
  1. Shock. This morning, I logged into Facebook and was like, "What the heck?" I didn't even know how to respond, but that didn't last long...
  2. Denial. My first action was to log off of Facebook and log back in. Obviously, there was some kind of technological hiccup that caused my account to look completely goofy and entirely too busy. But then, I realized that no, this is the new reality. Of course, that brought me to...
  3. Anger. What right does Facebook have to go changing their freaking interface? Don't they respect my visits that are helping with their clicks, engagement and click throughs? Yes, I posted a status update to vent.
  4. Bargaining. Then, I started letting Facebook know that they'd better change their ways back or else I was going to become a Google+ user. Or Tumblr. Or Twitter. Or LinkedIn. Of course, I'm actually already a user of each of these social networks.
  5. Depression. By 11 a.m., it really began to sink in that this is it: the new Facebook. There's no hope of continuing on in a civilized social media society that doesn't include a "ticker" of status updates. Might as well give up on social networking ever again. Sigh.
  6. Acceptance. About an hour ago, I came to terms with the new reality. After all, Facebook is a free service that I'm not obligated to use. They can do what they want, and it doesn't hurt anyone in the grand scheme of things. Maybe life after the Facebook redesign can be productive. In fact...
  7. Championing. In fact, I'm not going to let an opportunity to discuss this new Facebook interface slip through my fingers. I'm going to write a post about it now. There's no reason I can't make the new Facebook work for me, is there?
Not everyone will be able to work through these 7 stages of Facebook interface redesign in a matter of four hours like I was. Some may take a whole week. But believe me, they'll work through these steps (or just abandon Facebook for Google+ or even--gasp--give up on social media completely).

And those who wants to stick around and play social media will need to work through these 7 stages, because they need to be ready for the next round of changes.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keeper League Confidential: The Kardashian Konnection

Last week, the Zombies took a moral victory out of defeat; this week, we just took defeat. And the real difference makers in this week's game were unexpectedly ex-boyfriends of Kim Kardashian. Unfortunately, I had the ex-boyfriend who can't score points, and my opponent had the one who could.

My ex-Kardashian, Reggie Bush, was the starting RB of the Miami Dolphins going into the game. However, when the dust settled, Bush had gained only 18 yards on 6 carries and 3 yards on 1 catch--for a whopping total of 0 fantasy football points. Meanwhile, his understudy, rookie Daniel Thomas, ran for 107 yards on 18 carries in his first ever NFL game. Plus, he added a reception for 10 yards (and a fumble).

Reggie Bush hasn't been the same since he quit doing Kardashian push ups.

Luckily, I used my first overall pick in this year's draft to handcuff Bush with Thomas. So long term, I'm golden. In this particular game, not so much.

My opponent's ex-Kardashian, Miles Austin, did next to nothing for the first 28 minutes of his game. Then, right before halftime, he scored his first touchdown. By the end of the game, he'd gained 143 yards on 9 catches--3 of those for touchdowns. His total fantasy football score: 24 points.

Miles Austin apparently wasn't into doing girlfriend push ups.

Needless to say, in this battle of ex-Kardashians, my team came up short. I started the wrong ex. Oh well, all is fair in love and fantasy football (sorry, I couldn't help myself).


Week 3 Tip: Freak out!

Last week, I advised you not to freak out if your team lost its first game. However, if you're now sitting at 0-2, it's officially time to go crazy. Okay, not really. But you can start considering more significant adjustments to your starting line up. For instance, after two straight weeks of big-time production from Steve Smith, I'm promoting him to the starting line up over Mario Manningham (who suffered a concussion on Monday night). I'm also slotting in Mike Tolbert over both the Miami RBs until I know for sure who is actually going to be the lead back over there. Plus, injuries have hit my team, and I'm making adjustments to account for that.

Speaking of which...


Waiver Wire Watch: Week 3

QB: Jason Campbell, Oak. I mentioned Campbell heading into the season, and he's now put together 2 solid weeks of fantasy football. He's not flashy, but he's got a big arm and fast WRs (Oakland always drafts for speed). He may be the best option out there at the moment.

QB: Matt Hasselbeck, Ten. Speaking of not flashy, Hasselbeck is about as un-flashy as you can get, but he has Kenny Britt and Nate Washington to hit, and you know, the lightning bulb is going to come on sooner than later for Chris Johnson. Hass has already put together two solid games, and he has the potential to do even more damage once the running game takes off.

RB: John Kuhn, GB. Kuhn is quietly turning into a TD vulture, scoring once in both week 1 and week 2. He's an option for leagues that don't have any starters available.

John Kuhn is making a habit of diving into the end zone this season.

RB: Ben Tate, Hou. If Tate is available, snatch him. However, he's probably not available in most leagues.

RB: Any Chiefs RB who isn't Jamaal Charles. Charles is out for the season, and the obvious fill-in is Thomas Jones. But Jones is over 30 and not super productive (averaging barely 3 yards per carry). Dexter McCluster is fast and explosive--like Charles--but he's inexperienced and super undersized. The sneaky sleeper may be Le'Ron McClain (formerly of the Baltimore Ravens). He's big, experienced and young. Of course, Kansas City currently looks like a train wreck, so it might not even matter.

WR: Devery Henderson, NO. If he's available, what are you waiting for? A third game of 100+ yards and a TD? If he's available this week, I don't think he will be next week.

WR: Eric Decker, Den. Who's my number 1 pick up going to be? The guy who could not only be lined up for a huge breakout season but also a long and successful career. This guy. In week 1, he returned a punt 90 yards for a TD. He followed it up in week 2 with a 5-catch-100-yard-and-a-TD game.

Say hello to the newest member of the Zombies!

WR: Nate Washington, Ten. He's currently on pace to have 104 receptions and 1,328 yards for the season with two solid games in the shadow of Kenny Britt. If he starts grabbing a TD or two, he'll be winning games for his smart owners. If nothing else, he's a super bye week play.

TE: Fred Davis, Was. If you need a TE, here's your guy. Through the first two games of the season, he has 11 receptions for 191 yards and a TD. Those are WR-caliber stats. Of course, the only possible downside is that Chris Cooley is currently recovering from injury and may start to eat into those stats.

DL: Michael Johnson, Cin. No one's talking about him. No one owns him. But he's put together two very good games in a row and has been a sleeper on Cincy's D-line for a few years now.

DL: Jason Hatcher, Dal. He was promoted to started D-line for Big D in week 2, and he responded with 4 tackles and 2 sacks. If he can keep this up in Rob Ryan's blitz-happy defensive scheme, then he could become a star (get it? awww... nevermind).

LB: Wesley Woodyard, Den. Replacing the injured D.J. Williams, Woodyard has registered 19 tackles so far and will continue to do least until Williams returns.

You don't want to anger Angerer.

LB: Pat Angerer, Ind. Speaking of tackles, Angerer now has 21 on the season.

DB: Lardarius Webb, Bal. There are plenty of defensive stats to go around with the Baltimore defense. For instance, Webb has 21 tackles and half a sack. And you've probably never heard of him, right?

DB: Morgan Bennett, GB. Bennett is putting up similar numbers to Webb for the Pack Attack.

Not sure that I can be bothered to recommend kickers again. After all, they are kickers.


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Monday, September 19, 2011

The Art & Craft of Writing Bios

There's so much information on how to write better and how to get published, but writers are often left to their own devices when it comes to writing their own bios. Not surprisingly, this little blurb can intimidate writers more than any other part of the publishing process.

Bios that fail usually fall into one of two categories:
  • Too short. Something along the lines of: "Mr. Brewer writes."
  • Too long. These bios start off at the writer's birth and motivation for writing and end with the previous day's major annoyances and/or joys.
For short pieces (not book-length), the best rule of thumb is to keep your bio between 25-50 words in length. Anything less than 20 is probably being too secretive; anything closing in on 100 words is probably too talkative.

Since books are a different animal, especially if you're the sole author, you can be encouraged to write more than 100 words in your bio. After all, your displayed expertise may help sell a few more books. Heck, I know I've been known to read a bio or two.

So now that we've established a word count, here are a few other tips to keep in mind with bios:
  1. Tie your bio into whatever's being published. My bio as the editor of Writer's Market is much different than my bio for publishing poems in literary publications--and even those bios can be personalized depending upon the publication and the poem(s) published.
  2. Include ways for readers to learn more about you. If you blog, include your blog's URL. Include an e-mail address. Give editors, agents, conference directors, journalists, and fans a way to learn more about you and offer you opportunities.
  3. Include publications, awards, etc. If you've been recognized for anything related to your publication credit, then mention it (keeping in mind word count, of course). If you've been published in 20+ publications, pick your three favorite or most relevant.
If you don't have any relevant awards, you could always include something completely out of left field to add a little humor to your bio.

As with all things in writing, my top tip is to study other author bios. Figure out what you like and why. Then, imitate and experiment. Eventually, you may even turn the craft of writing your bio into an art that others will wish they'd written.


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Check out some other great posts for writers:

Advice for Writers: 003

There's always something cool for writers online. Here's what I've found during the past week:

Using Word of Mouth (Not Media Attention) to Sell Books, by Jane Friedman. Jane interviews humor writer John Warner about his debut novel, The Funny Man, from Soho Press.

Time Management and Social Media: Progress Update #1, by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. Recently, Debbie has been working very hard to use social media in moderation. Of course, one part of that is training herself to stay away, but the other part is training contacts that she's staying away.

Want to Be a Better Marketer? Start by Becoming a Better Teacher, by Jennifer Louden. Since most writers nowadays are forced into the role of marketer, I wanted to share this insightful piece on how to get better at it. The advice is spot on.

5 Elements of a Riveting First Line, by K.M. Weiland. The first line of a novel is one of the more important. Many writers mistake this importance as meaning the line has to be memorable, but as Weiland explains, it actually just has to propel the reader forward.

Proof Positive, by Randall Davidson. Davidson, who is the co-founder of a proofreading services company, shares his 10 tips for proofing your own writing.

Write a How-to Article in 6 Easy Steps, by Christina Katz. If you're into helping people get things done, then this how-to piece on how-to will help you help others.


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Friday, September 16, 2011

When the Water Was Free

Today felt like the first real day of autumn, though the ATL temps are supposed to rise again soon enough and the official first day of autumn is still not quite here. Anyway, autumn is my favorite season and October is my favorite month, and I'm totally feeling all autumn and October today.

So here's one of my favorite poems from my recently released limited edition chapbook ESCAPE (if you're interested, look below for details on how to order a copy):

the silence between us

i remember when the water was free. it
was in the autumn dali visited
the high. leaves fell from the trees, and trees fell
from the earth. we propped them up on crutches,
and cheerleaders covered them in blue tarps
before becoming witches themselves. cut
a hole in the ceiling if you adore
the sky. we left the city, but the crime
followed us to the suburbs. our cheers turned
to chants faster than we'd like to admit.
i'm not saying the water should be free,
because everything has a price, but
i remember when the water was free;
i remember when the water was free,
and our planet fell from the galaxy.
i'll tell you now i had no reason; each
evening was a chance to be near you.


This is one of 22 poems from my limited edition chapbook, ESCAPE. There are only 101 signed copies available, and more than half have already been claimed. If you'd like to claim a copy yourself (for only $10, including shipping to anywhere in the world), then send me an e-mail at with the subject line: I Need an Escape. I'll send along information to pay either via check, money order or PayPal (whichever is easiest for you).


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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Keeper League Confidential: A Tale of Two QBs

I'll cut straight to the chase: The Zombies lost their first fantasy football game of the season. This was not unexpected, but my team beat the other one at every position...except one, the most important one: Quarterback.

You see, my team's starter was Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers. In case you're unaware, he completed 22 of 41 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown. Oh yeah, and this is the killer, he threw 3 interceptions and fumbled the ball twice. That's negative 11 points in my league.

Dude! Quit turning the ball over!

It's hard to win when you turn the ball over in real football, but it's also hard in fantasy football.

As the title of this post suggests, the story is not over with Big Ben. No, this story and my first fantasy football game ended when Tom Brady took the field. He completed 32 of his 48 passes for a team-record 517 yards and 4 touchdowns. He did toss a pick, but no one noticed.

Dude! Quit throwing touchdowns!

So here's how the game went this weekend:

Zombies (without QB): 92 points
Opponent (without QB): 79.5 points

Roethlisberger: 6 points
Brady: 37 points

Zombies: 98 points
Opponent: 116.5 points

They say football is a team game, but tell that to owners of teams that played against Tom Brady this weekend. Ouch!

Of course, I still could've won this game if I'd started Mike Tolbert or Steve Smith--so shame on me. At least we're proving to be competitive. As my opponent told me this morning: "Well, Rob - you ended up making this matchup a lot closer than what I thought it could end up being. I was really sweating it out leading up to the New England game yesterday evening."

Zombies are mindless beings, but even we can take a moral victory during the first week of the season. On to Week 2!


Week 2 Tip: Don't freak out!

If all of your fantasy players had horrible weeks, don't overreact. Make small adjustments, but try to stick to your gameplan for at least one more week. For instance, I plan to continue starting Ben Roethlisberger in Week 2--and despite Steve Smith's monster first game, I plan to continue starting Steve Johnson and Mario Manningham over him. Owners can frustrate themselves to death by always chasing last week's points. Don't do it!


Waiver Wire Watch: Week 2

QB: Chad Henne, Mia. He threw and ran the ball well against New England. He could finally be showing that's he ready to take the next step. Or he had a lucky week.

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buf. I put his name out there last week, and all he did was throw 4 touchdown passes. Gosh, I wish I'd followed my own advice.

RB: Cadillac Williams, StL. Steven Jackson went down early on Sunday, and Cadillac filled in great. Jackson is already ruled out for this week--and could be out longer. If you need a RB, grab Caddy.

He's not pink, but he is a Cadillac.

RB: Darren Sproles, NO. Sproles won't carry the ball as much as Ingram, but he will get plenty of receptions and can produce the occasional return touchdown.

WR: Devery Henderson, NO. Henderson led the team in yards, touchdowns and targets against Green Bay. Plus, Colston is out for a few weeks and Lance Moore may be as well.

WR: Jerome Simpson, Cin. While all the attention has been directed to A.J. Green, Simpson was targeted more than twice as many times on Sunday.

TE: Fred Davis, Was. Davis emerged from Chris Cooley's shadow on Sunday by catching 5 passes for 105 yards. Pretty impressive for a tight end. (Note: Cooley is a backup on my team, so I'm hoping this is just a mirage.)

DL: Henry Melton, Chi. A lot of people have been patting Brian Urlacher on the back for an impressive defensive performance against the Atlanta Falcons, but I actually want to put the spotlight on Melton, who had 4 solo tackles, 2 sacks, and--proving the sacks weren't a fluke--7 QB hits! Talk about big time pressure. Will he do that every week? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

LB: Pat Angerer, Ind. Angerer had 13 tackles (9 solo), and I expect this trend to continue for one reason: Peyton Manning is out. That means opposing offenses will get leads that Indy won't be able to match, which also means those opposing offenses will run the ball a lot to kill the clock. Hence, lots of tackles this season for Angerer.

LB: Sean Lee, Dal. He had an interception and nearly returned it for a touchdown. That alone is a highlight play to go watch, but he also managed 12 total tackles (10 solo)--and a pass defensed. It might've just been one big game, but I think he'll continue to produce as Dallas' top ILB.

When he's on the field, Ed Reed usually touches the football.

DB: Ed Reed, Bal. It's easy to forget about Reed, because he's old and nearly always injured. However, when he's healthy--like he is right now--he's a fantasy force to be reckoned with (2 interceptions and 6 solo tackles). This is what Reed does (when he's healthy).

DB: Reggie Nelson, Cin. 9 tackles (7 solo), 1 sack, and 2 passes deflected.


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As long as you're playing fantasy football, why not actually get outside with a real football and play catch. Trust me, it's even more fun than watching other people do it.

Are You a Specialist or Generalist?

When new writers ask me how to find success, I often advise them to sit down and think about their goals. While I do still believe this is sound advice, some writers may benefit from taking even one more step back to ask themselves: Am I a specialist or a generalist? Knowing the answer to this question may help many writers set the right goals.

Am I a generalist?
Are you the type of person who wants to know everything about everything? Do you get bored in the middle of long projects? Do you seek out new challenges?

If so, then you're likely more of a generalist than a specialist. Generalists are well equipped for shorter projects, because they have the ability to shift gears constantly. While they can write books too, generalists are usually ready to move on to the next assignment (and the assignment after that).

Great markets for generalists include articles for online and print publications, copywriting, short-term professional and technical writing, poetry, short fiction, and blogging.

Am I a specialist?
Are you the type of person who really likes to know everything about one subject? Do you get tunnel vision when you're researching that subject? Are you sometimes accused of being obsessed?

Then, my friend, you may be a specialist. Some specialists have formal training on their subject; others find it through personal experience or investigation. Specialists usually have what it takes to dig deep into a subject and to keep digging. The hurdle for specialists is often learning how to share that deep information with your audience, especially if you're writing for a more general audience.

Great markets for specialists include columns for online and print publications, big professional and technical writing projects, novels, nonfiction books, and blogging (on a specific subject, of course).

Which is better?
Most people have a little generalist and specialist in them, so making a decision about which path to take isn't always easy. Plus, I feel that even generalists should try to pick niches for their work--just to help them develop long-lasting professional relationships and opportunities. That said, I don't think one is better than the other.

Specialists can often demand more money on a project, but the direct competition with other specialists can make the stakes of landing a project higher than for a generalist. It's also worth noting that specialists put all their eggs in one basket. If something happens to the basket, there ain't no eggs.

Meanwhile, generalists have a more diversified approach, but they run the risk of continually chasing the next assignment or job. It can be tough work without the recognition that specialists may receive in their fields. Generalists often can struggle with maintaining a steady revenue stream.

So which one are you?


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Want to know yourself better? Check these out:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Advice for Writers: 002

Here's what I found interesting during the past week:

25 Things You Should Know About Queries, Synopses, Treatments, by Chuck Wendig. This is a wonderful list of how to give editors and agents what they want in a submission.

Has Rejection Turned You Into Someone You're Not?, by Jane Friedman. Just a little reminder that rejection happens--no matter how talented you are--and that it's best to take rejection with grace and remember it's not a personal evaluation of you as a writer.

Why I Pushed My Heroine off a Cliff...Almost, by Connie Briscoe. This post talks about the importance of making life hard on your characters.

The Single Word That Is Stealing Your Future, by Robert Bruce. Pretty straightforward in this post. And true.

Simplify, Simplify, by Susan Ishmael-Poulos. Sometimes, it's a good idea to remember that subtraction can a better option than addition.

A little bit of craft, a little bit of business. Hope it's useful.


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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 From the Midwest

I remember September 11, 2001, as the day that I started listening to talk radio. Up until that day, I always listened to music--unless I was listening to the Reds or Ohio State football. In fact, I'm sure I was clicking between music stations that morning during my 90-minute drive into work.

The New York City skyline as I grew up picturing it.

It was a Tuesday morning after all, and I always took advantage of our flex time to beat the Cincinnati traffic in the morning and evening by getting in at 7 a.m. and leaving by 3:30 p.m. There's something very quiet and productive about getting into the office 2 hours before most of your co-workers. I'm 100% sure that on that day nearly all my work was done by 9:30.

I didn't watch the clock, but maybe a little after 9 that morning is when I first heard about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. Since I wasn't involved in the discussion, I just immediately assumed that they were talking about a small Cessna or something. After all, those little planes seem to crash every so often. No one stopped by my cube, so I just kept working under that assumption.

Maybe around 9:20 or so, I first heard the word "attack," but again, I was safely tucked away in my cube. So I jumped on CNN's website, and this is when I knew something weird was happening, because the site would not load. I tried a few other news websites, but they weren't loading either. My guess has always been that the traffic volume was crashing the sites. Eventually, I tried ESPN, and there were the Twin Towers with smoke billowing out. For the rest of my work day, ESPN is where I got my news on the attacks.

The last moments of the Twin Towers.

The rest of the work day was a blur. Somebody found a TV that I didn't watch. Video didn't stream online back then. So I actually did not see anything in motion until I got home that evening. However, rumors were in motion all day. First, New York was attacked and the Pentagon. Pennsylvania was attacked. People started claiming that attacks were under way in Florida and California. Of course, not everything panned out, but our world suddenly seemed more vulnerable.

When I left work, I remember walking out to my car in a surreal fog. Everything was so perfect outside, but I almost felt lost or out of place. I turned on the radio and that's when it started. I felt the need to know what was happening, and that's when I located NPR. It would be months before I started listening to music on the radio again.

On my 90-minute drive home through the city, then through the suburbs, and ultimately through Ohio farm country, I just kept looking up at the sky. It was blue. No birds. No clouds. No planes. It's like everything was grounded for the day.

At the time, my first wife and I were staying at her parent's house while our house was being built on the other side of the lake. (We'd move in a few weeks later.) When I got inside, I finally saw footage of the planes crashing into the towers. I watched it over and over again. I watched them fall down. I watched people jump. I watched people run. I watched people walk around in a daze.

My first born son, Ben, was two months old. He spent the first two weeks of his life in ICU, and now I wondered what kind of world I'd brought him into. We were under attack, and it seemed like only the beginning. Then, a huge explosion outside shook me to life.

My father-in-law, an ex-Marine, and I looked at each other and ran outside. Our neighborhood was filled with propane tanks, and my first thought was that one had exploded. We were under attack. I felt my stomach sink and thought, Here we go.

But when we got outside, I didn't see any smoke or fires. I didn't see men with guns and bombs strapped to their chests. I didn't see anything. Then, my father-in-law nudged me and nodded up. There were two jets speeding across the empty blue sky.

We'd heard a sonic boom when they broke the sound barrier. That was the end of our excitement for the day. I admit I had trouble getting to sleep that night. I kept imagining that terrorists would start the second wave at any moment.

Over the coming weeks and months, I saw all the vulnerable spots and targets that I would hit if I were a terrorist. I didn't feel safe on bridges or near the GE factory. The sky suddenly seemed more ominous. The world around me was the same as it had always been, but everything had somehow changed.


These are my memories of 9/11/01. If you wish, you can share your memories below. Or check out these places that are sharing thoughts on a day when so much changed for so many:
  • Poetic Asides. On my poetry blog, I've invited poets (after the suggestion of Bruce Niedt) to share poems they've written about 9/11 (old or new). 
  • Writer's Digest with Brian Klems. Brian shared his story of that day. He and his future wife were working and living in Chicago at the time.
  • Let's Keep Rolling. Rick Reilly of ESPN remembers Flight 93 (the one that ended up in a field in Pennsylvania).
I'll probably add more links as well throughout the weekend. If you know of any, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment below.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Set Your Goals

In a recent newsletter (which, btw, is free; go sign up now), I asked readers what their writing goals are. After all, how can we measure our success if we don't know what our objectives are?

Here are some of my favorite responses:

K. Dawn Byrd: Thank God I have a job that pays the bills and don't have to worry about when the next royalty check is coming in the mail. I write for a couple of reasons. The number one reason is that it's more than a mere hobby; it's a passion! I turned in a book to my editor on September 1 and by September 2, I was itching to start another book. Another reason I write is that it's so much fun! It's my cheapest form of entertainment and costs virtually nothing since all communication for me is via e-mail. Lastly, I write because it's cheaper than paying a therapist for therapy.

Steven M. Moore: I'm not a poet, but some of my muses are Irish, and the Irish love to spin a good yarn. I wrote my first novel the summer I turned 13--a disaster but similar to the movie City of Angels. It ended up in the circular file, of course, but over the years, I have developed many stories that I just have to write down. I'm not in this to make money but to entertain readers. I'm an avid reader myself as well as a reviewer--today, it's a reader's market.

Terri Huggins: Publish my opinion piece about why I don't believe in college. Travel to an exotic country and write an earth shattering article about it. Be able to live comfortably as a writer. Have a syndicated column about higher education. Make enough money to be able to donate to all of the organizations and causes I support and feel strongly about. Publish a book before I'm 30. Be a recognizable name in the writing world. Get published on Write an article for Win an award for my writing.

Deborah Jeanne Sergeant: From the time I composed my first poem (around age 5), I knew I wanted to do this the rest of my life. Perhaps part of it had to do with my being the youngest of six (the four nearest in age all brothers). When I wrote something, people paid attention to what I had to say! For the past 10 years, I have met my writing goal: making a full-time living freelance writing. I have turned down staff writer opportunities. Whether it's Web copy, marketing materials, articles for trade or consumer publications or the occasional poem, I enjoy the flexibility, creativity and challenges of freelance writing.

Kathy MacMillan: My loftiest goal is to write something that will make people forget to eat dinner and stay up late to keep reading even though they have to get up early the next day. In more practical terms, my goal is to get published and have my book do well enough that I can get published again!

Courtney E. Carter: I am 16 years old and have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first book when I was in 2nd grade, which of course was filled with princesses and mystical creatures. At 15, I wrote my first novel that I am currently trying to get published. My goal as a writer is to write inspirational and moving stories that will encourage and touch my readers. I hope to take my audience on a ride filled with excitement, tears, and of course, smiles.
Personally, I always have several goals, including publishing a novel, full-length collection of poetry, snag a National Book Award, Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature, and more. Heck, I can't think of a goal that I don't have when it comes to my writing. But the most important one is to always keep writing.
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Call for Submissions: 2013 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market!

The 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market is fresh off the presses, which means two things:
  1. The newest publication information--both listings and articles--is available for writers of fiction.
  2. It's time to pitch the editor for the 2013 NSSWM.
By the way, the 2013 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market will feature a new editor: Melissa Wuske! Melissa is an experienced trade book editor for Writer's Digest Books, and I'm sure she'll bring some new perspective to the NSSWM series.

Here are the specs for the official 2013 NSSWM call for submissions:
  • Pitches (and queries) being accepted for the 2013 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market starting today.
  • Deadline for pitches (and queries) is November 1, 2011.
  • Send pitches (and queries) via e-mail to with the subject line: Pitch for 2013 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market
  • Attachments are okay
A few things to keep in mind before submitting. Review previous editions of NSSWM, including the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market to get an idea of the articles that have been accepted in the past. While Melissa will bring her own sensibility to the table, I doubt she'll completely abandon what's always made NSSWM in the past.

Also, remember that your expertise is important, but your article idea is even more important in your pitch. Outline your article idea first. Then, share how qualified you are to write the article.

Good luck!


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Check out the entire 2012 Market Books series:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Keeper League Confidential: Let the Season Begin!

Duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, etc. I am ready for some football!

I'm ready for the NFL to kick off on Thursday, though I may be ready for the season to end before Monday night.

Well, kinda. As I mentioned last week, I'm in the early stages of turning around last season's worst fantasy football team, and--as luck would have it--I'm facing off against my pick for league champion this year in the first week. Yay, Zombies!

Right now, I just have to hope that he doesn't notice that his kicker, Garrett Hartley, is expected to be out 6-10 weeks. But even without a kicker, I'm pretty sure his team can still whoop up on my team. He's got Tom Brady, Greg Jennings, Larry Fitzgerald, Darren McFadden, and so many more. In the predictions for this week, I predicted his team to win.

So no one would blame a Zombie of being overly confident. But who knows? Maybe we'll overwhelm The (Tom) Brady Bunch (as they're called) with our numbers and mindless ambition. Maybe.


My team made a couple pick-ups this week. First, we acquired LB-Casey Matthews, Phi and dropped DB-Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Phi. I've already got Kurt Coleman as a Philly D-Back, who I expect to have higher tackle totals throughout the season. Plus, I decided to take a shot on a young MLB in Matthews who may (or may not) end up being a young piece of my defense moving into the future (because Ray Lewis and D.J. Williams surely aren't spring chickens).

Is Casey Matthews Zombies material? He's got long hair and a vacant stare.

The other pick-up was more of a knee jerk reaction which may or may not pay off. I dropped WR-Terrell Owens, FA and replaced him with RB-Keiland Williams, Det (newly acquired by the Lions, in fact).

When I first saw that Williams was acquired by Detroit, I thought he would make a better complement to Jhavid Best than Jerome Harrison or Maurice Morris. Then, I saw their coach make the same comment. As a result, I decided to take a chance on him since Owens isn't a part of my long-term plans, especially since I learned that Demaryius Thomas of Denver is back and practicing two months early. (Brian Robiskie, Cle and Steve Smith, Car are both on the bubble too, because I'm feeling pretty good about my WRs now.)


Last week, I promised some super sleepers, so here are mine. These are players that are probably not on a roster at the moment and really don't belong on a roster, but they are great players to follow through the early part of the season.

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buf. He's in a tough division, but I think he's got a better than expected defense that will help keep games honest. Plus, he has a good running game with underrated Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. Most owners are overlooking him because of Buffalo trading away Lee Evans, but Fitz still completed nearly 62% of his passes during the preseason.

QB: Jason Campbell, Oak. This is a QB I've always liked, but he's always been put in tough situations (with a new offensive coordinator every season since like high school). However, I think he's got a real shot at making hay with his WRs this season. Plus, he's got a killer 1-2 combination at RB between Darren McFadden and Michael Bush.

RB: Justin Forsett, Sea. Last season was the first time Marshawn Lynch played an entire season, but he did it between two teams. So for him to play an entire season, Lynch needs to be traded. Either way, it benefits the second RB in Seattle: Justin Forsett, who reminds me a lot of Jamaal Charles. Everyone's always dissing his size, but he still always seems to produce.

RB: Isaac Redman, Pit. Pittsburgh plays Baltimore twice every year, including in Week 1. There are always broken bones in these games (or at least, it seems that way), so grabbing Mendenhall's back up is not the worst move an owner could make, especially when you consider that Redman averaged more than 5 yards per carry during the preseason.

RB: Derrick Ward, Hou. I don't care what people say about Foster playing in Week 1; there's still a Q next to his name. Plus, if they push Foster back into action too soon, Houston may end up losing his services for the rest of the season. Either way, Ward is a smart investment, whether you already have Foster or not.

Arian Foster's infamous MRI tweet could end up helping or hurting owners who take a risk on him this season.

At WR, keep an eye on these guys (though don't pick any up this week unless you're really depleted at the position): Jerome Simpson, Cin; Emmanuel Sanders, Pit; Anthony Armstrong, Was; Jacoby Ford, Oak; Nate Washington, Ten; Deion Branch, NE; Earl Bennett, Chi; Harry Douglas, Atl. At least one or two of these guys is going to have a good season if things break the right way.

TE: Jeremy Shockey, Car. I actually dropped Shockey from my roster, so this might come as a bit of a "shock" (get it? His last name? It's sort of "shocking?" Oh, forget it.), but I won't be surprised if Carolina uses a lot of double TE sets to help Cam Newton succeed early on. Many owners have already jumped on Greg Olsen, but I think Shockey's numbers might get a jolt (again, kinda playing off his last...nevermind) too.

I'd give you the names of some great kickers, but the team I'm playing this week is in need of one, and I don't want to be the reason he kicks (okay, enough of the puns) my Zombie brains in.

If you have any suggestions (any position or team), share them below. I sure could use the help myself. Good luck, everyone!


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer. By Sunday evening's games, I should be tweeting all manner of agonizing and self-loathing comments about my team's diminishing chances to win even one game this season. Should be fun stuff (if you aren't me, that is).


Need a jersey to watch the game? Here are the Top 10 most sought after jerseys (according to