I just published a piece about cursing on the Essay Fiesta blog. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Essay Fiesta

At Essay Fiesta, we have a set of guidelines that we provide all of our readers. One of the most contentious guidelines is our suggested limited cursing policy. It’s also one of our most misunderstood policies. Allow me to explain.

First, we abide by the rules of our generous partner, the Book Cellar, which has graciously lent us their space for use to host our little show. And because the Book Cellar is a family-friendly retail environment, it is their request that readers be mindful of their language. This does NOT mean no cursing. It means be smart with your cursing. And honestly, I think this is great advice for any writer.

Fuck! Do I love cursing! It can be an extraordinarily effective device in your writing. At times, no other word will cut it like the four-letter kind. There’s just a certain kind of weight that the…

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Least Consumer-Friendly Lawsuits of 2011

Justice

I’m very proud of this piece I wrote and researched on the least consumer-friendly lawsuits (and legal issues) of 2011. Also, if you get the chance to see Hot Coffee, by God watch it! You’ll never make a McDonald’s coffee-spilling joke again.

Here’s that story on the least consumer-friendly lawsuits of 2011. 

Here’s some info on Hot Coffee.

Press Release Writing Basics This Thursday

Have you ever wondered how to get your name in the news? Are you trying to drum up more clients for your business? Do you need more individual donors for your organization? Then you need to learn to market yourself to the public. And one of the best ways to do this is through press releases.

Press Release Writing

I am teaching a class through the wonderful site Dabble.co called Press Release Writing Basics. It’s a 2-hour workshop held this Thursday at Noble Tree in Lincoln Park. I do not mess around when I teach. YOU WILL LEARN! And if possible, I’ll even provide some personally tailored advice to give you some ideas of how you can get the coverage you desire. And for only $20! Sign up today!

Here’s what you’ll leave with:

1) Format – What are all those little details that you should include in your press release, from a dateline to those little hash marks at the bottom. You need your press release to look like a press release.

2) Content – Pitching your business to the media is a nuanced skill. Merely saying your product is worth writing about is not enough. You need to be clever and think like an editor in order to create a press release that will actually get media attention.

3) Distribution – So how do you find media contacts to reach out to? And how do you alert them to your press release? What’s the protocol on follow-ups? This class will touch on each one of these critical points regarding press release distribution.

I Thought of an Amazing New Idea

I just thought of an amazing new idea. Here’s a hint…

 

 

IT’S A BLOG!

What I Do: A Succinct Description

When I tell people that I am a professional writer, one of the most common questions I get is, “What do you write?” I know what this question implies. They want to know if I’m a novelist, a columnist, a screenplay writer or some other fun and zany writing professional. What these people don’t realize is that I am a working writer, which means the work is much less glamorous than penning the next Oscar winner. I largely stick to the income-generating forms of writing, like press releases, marketing collateral, SEO Web copy, custom publications, articles and the like. I also do some reporting, such as my work with Lawyers.com, the A.V. Club and the Huffington Post. And of course there’s that whole creative streak I have with Essay Fiesta and comedy writing, which has evolved into a labor of love instead of a pursuit of riches.

When I tell people this, they usually only perk up by the time I mention Huffington Post. And that doesn’t even pay. So what I’ve realized is that the general public has a very skewed idea of what it means to be a professional writer, particularly how writers actually make money. Likewise, some prospective clients/employers have a very limited view of what a writer like me does. They think I merely set copy to paper. In actuality, because I operate my own agency, I also am skilled in business development, client services, B2B communications, marketing and PR strategizing, media relations and project management.

So calling myself a “writer” maybe isn’t really doing me justice. I’ve been trying to think of a better title that more accurately describes what it is I do. I’m a editorial, marketing and PR copywriter, editor and project manager with business development, client services and media relations experience. Perhaps I’m a media professional? A marketing consultant? An agency founder/president/principal?

 

Groupon Morale Shifts and TSA Settles HIV Discrimination Claim

I’ve got two pieces bouncing around the Internet this week (with a couple more huge pieces coming up).

The first piece is published on the Huffington Post and looks at what appears to be a shifting corporate culture at Groupon. As the start-up darling gears up for its IPO, its sales staff has been griping extra loudly on GlassDoor.com. Take a look for yourself.

The second piece covers an ACLU case where an HIV-positive job applicant alleged the TSA denied him a job in violation of the ADA and the agency’s own policies. The article looks at the workplace protections that are afforded those in the HIV/AIDS community. Read it here.

I’m a Writing Fool

It’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog. And so I thought I’d let you all in on what has been keeping away from my precious little patch of Internet for the last several weeks.

These tired hands...

Besides weddings galore because the entire population of my heterosexual social sphere is coupling, I have been writing as if I was on fire and words were water. I have problem written enough articles in the last several weeks to constitute a volume somewhere between a novella and a full-fledged novel. Here’s a rundown of some of the things I have done (links lead to my work):

  • Essay Fiesta: I’m gearing up for our two-year anniversary! Can you believe it?
  • Huffington Post: I absolutely love writing for this site. I mainly write about Chicago’s vibrant entrepreneurial scene, but occasionally I get riled up enough about something else to state my opinion (often something gay).
  • Lawyers.com: I am now a regular contributor to this legal portal. It’s a really fun job. I know. Law = fun? For me it does. I’ve been a legal reporter now for nearly my entire professional career, and it’s one of my favorite subjects to write about. I’m currently working on a huge feature on tort reform and campaign financing, which required some of my old-school investigative skills.
  • The Onion A.V. Club: I just started writing for the Chicago section of this well-known A&E publication. My first piece (see link) was a labor of love, and it’s already insanely popular. I’m currently working on a second piece slated for some time in November.
  • RE:COM: I just put the finishing touches on a piece I’m doing for RE:COM, a national comedy magazine. I’m pretty proud of the outcome.
  • Loyola University Center for Digital Ethics & Policy: I wrote a piece for this site questioning the ethics of sites like Demand Studios, which coincidentally recently undertook a large overhaul in light of changes to Google’s algorithm.
  • DePaul’s Dialogue Magazine: I love writing for DePaul Law School’s alumni magazine. I just got an assignment for their upcoming Winter 2011 issue.
  • Chicago Theater Beat: I’m still reviewing on average four plays a month. That’s one a week. That means I’ve seen more than 100 plays in the last two years.
  • Legal technology vendors: Still doing stuff for them, too.