Finding the Right Freelance Content Writer

I am amazed by the sheer number of services devoted to helping you find the right freelancer. The only thing more surprising is that there are enough freelancers to support all these platforms. I suppose this was inevitable in the age of #sidehustle. But as someone who works with freelancers every day, I can tell you that they are not all created equal.

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An Ode to Monty Don

I’ve got Spring Fever, and I blame Monty Don, otherwise known as Britain’s Favorite Gardener. After discovering a season of Big Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix that I hadn’t already seen, I spent a couple of weekend mornings watching intently as people across England transform their backyards with the help of Monty. When I came to the end of the unwatched season I wasn’t satisfied. I started watching Monty Don’s French Gardens, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens. All of this is on Netflix, ready to be binged. And while you might be saying, “I don’t care about gardening, that show isn’t for me,” I’m going to make a case for why you should all be watching Monty Don.

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Why Every Writer Needs an Editor

An acquaintance of mine, after finding out what I do for a living, asked me if I considered myself a writer. She’s an English professor, who has devoted her life to studying writers. So when I said, “I love writing, but I think I lean more toward being an editor,” she seemed surprised. When you’re a kid, you never say, “When I grow up, I want to be an editor!”

Everyone wants to be a writer--but every writer needs a good editor. 

When I tell people I’m an editor, they don’t really know what it means. If they have some idea about the profession, it’s that we spend our time looking for misplaced commas and typos. Of course, we do a bit of that, but in reality, that’s what copy editors and proofreaders are for. My time is spent assigning articles, and then making sure that the writers have hit the mark. I’m usually editing articles about business and technology, which means there are a few things I’m looking for.

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Happy Sunday: Just Fine

Brandi Carlile wowed people on The Grammy’s. Unfortunately, I missed that performance–at least the live broadcast–but her newest album has been in heavy rotation at my house for months. Then, recently, I saw that this song made President Obama’s playlist last year. I thought that was a good reason to share.

A Writing Shed of One’s Own

I am smitten with Britain’s favorite gardener, Monty Don. A couple of years ago, I had no idea who he was, but then Netflix started airing Big Dreams, Small Spaces and I was hooked. But I’m not here to talk to you about Monty Don’s gardening prowess, his suspenders, or his loping walk. I’m here to discuss his writing garden–a lovely little woodland with a shed at the back where Monty types out his books.

Monty Don in his writing shed.
Monty Don is his writing shed.

The first time I ever thought, “Gee, I sure would like a writing shed” was when I read John Irving’s Last Night at Twisted River. The main character talks about the little shack he writes in on a remote island. Then, several years later, Pinterest and tiny houses became a part of my life. Before I knew it, I was very seriously coveting a writing shed of my own.

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Lean Out and Get a Life

I am a working woman in my 30s who has never read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I’m a rare bird, but now that you’ve spotted me, you can check me off your list.

Like a lot of women, I had a very basic, visceral reaction to Lean In that made me an instant skeptic. For me, though, the problem was less about the privileged position Sandberg was writing from at the time, and more about the fact that she was using her prominent position to tell us all to work harder–as if Americans weren’t already working themselves to death.

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On Becoming a Plant Lady

The title of this post is misleading. I’ve always been a plant lady–but focused mostly on the outdoor variety. Back in 2011, I bought a house. The yard was a bit of a wasteland, but I kind of liked that, because it meant I could make it my own. I begged, borrowed, and stole plants from just about everyone I knew. Roses and lilacs from my grandmother. Black-eyed Susans from my aunt. Peonies from my other grandmother. Irises from a family friend. Another family friend helped me procure wood for the raised beds for my vegetable garden. By the time I sold the house in 2017, the once barren yard was filled to near overflowing (though my mom did dig up some of Nana’s old roses and take them to her house before I put it on the market).

But since I sold the house and have been moving around, I’ve had to embrace houseplants. I had a few easy to care for plants at my old place–a spider plant given to me as a housewarming gift, a few cacti also given as gifts through the years. But I’ve never been much of a houseplant person. My cats were generally the enemy of any plants I brought inside. They either ate it or knocked it over. And frankly, I didn’t really know what to do with the plants, anyway. What does “bright indirect light” mean, anyway?

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The Best Way to “Reread” Your Favorite Books

When I was 14 years old, I wandered into my local Barnes and Nobles with the summer reading list my high school had given me. There were hundreds of options on it that I could hardly make sense of. So I handed it to an employee and she quickly zeroed in on John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany. She told me that if it wasn’t the best book I’d ever read, I could come back to the store and throw it at her.

I never threw the book at her, because it’s still my all-time favorite. If she’s out there, I’d love to thank her.

I’m not one for rereading books. There are just too many new stories to discover, but when I found myself with a few Audible credits to use, I thought, this might be a good way to revisit some old favorites. It can be hard to follow an audiobook for 20 hours or more (though I’m getting better at it), so rather than trying to follow a new story–and incessantly having to rewind–I downloaded my old pal Owen.

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The Best Coat I’ve Ever Owned

I receive a lot of press releases and story pitches in my day job. Lately, companies seem to be eager to tell me how consumers are more likely to be loyal to brands that take a stand, have a conscience, and are good corporate citizens. I want to write back, “Yeah, I know. Let me tell you about my coat.” But, since that would be weird, I’m going to tell you about my coat. Continue reading

Happy Sunday: Free Thinkers

Over the past month or so, I have wasted an inordinate amount of time watching two guys watch and react to music videos. It started–as so many of my YouTube rabbit holes do–with Jason Isbell. But it quickly led to Chris Stapleton and Amanda Lambert…and even some Alanis Morrissette.

Here’s the premise: Ryan and George, two black men , listen to music you might not expect them to like (based on stereotypes), and they react. I don’t think I have ever wanted to be friends with two people as much as I want to be friends with Ryan and George. Continue reading

Happy Sunday: Live from The Stone Church

IMG_3025A couple of weeks ago we finally made it to The Stone Church in Brattleboro. If you like live music, it doesn’t get much better than this place. It’s literally an old church with great acoustics, beautiful stained glass, and a giant organ. And boy is it intimate…

Brian and I were there see our friends Ashley Storrow and Putnam Smith. They were opening for a band we hadn’t heard of. They were great, just like we knew they would be.

The big surprise of the night, though, was Town Meeting. It was the best live show I’ve seen in a long time. At one point Brian turned to me and said, “I saw The Dropkick Murphys on the small stage at a Warped Tour back in the ’90s… and I feel like I just had the same kind of experience. We’re never going to be able to see these guys in a setting like this again.”  Continue reading

“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” No More

book-jacket 2Michelle McNamara spent years working on a book about The Golden State Killer. She died in her sleep before she was able to finish the book–in part because of the substances she used to cope with the horror of investigating these crimes. Her husband, Patton Oswalt, and a couple of collaborators made sure the book was finished and published. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was published a few weeks ago to huge acclaim. Today, police announced THEY’VE TAKEN A SUSPECT INTO CUSTODY!

You couldn’t write this stuff if you tried.  Continue reading

Happy Sunday: Ode to Dan Conner

My boyfriend once told me that, before meeting me for one of our first dates, he asked some friends if the shirt he was wearing made him look like Dan Conner and then changed his shirt. I then told him that Dan Conner is basically the perfect man… (or, at least he was until Coach Taylor came along).

This scene gets me every time.

Anxiously Awaiting Roseanne

I’m almost always the first one up on Saturday mornings–if you don’t count the dog and cat, who are the ones who wake me up–and I spend my alone-time with Roseanne. I make a cup of tea and I cozy up on the couch with the TV Land marathon of one of my all-time favorite shows.

I loved Roseanne from the beginning. It was the first TV show I ever saw where the people were recognizable to me–who behaved, dressed, talked, and just plain lived like the people I knew. I didn’t grow up in a nuclear family where one parent was a therapist and one was a news anchor. (Shout out to the Seavers!) Nor were they architects (the Keatons!) or doctors or lawyers (the Huxtables). My mom waited tables, my grandmother watched me and my cousin, and my grandfather worked shift-work at the paper mill. If there was ever a family that I could imagine living next door to, it was the Conners.  Continue reading