Why I’m Glad to be an Office Nomad


Anne Cassidy

For much of my freelance career I had a home office, a spare second-floor bedroom with a view of our garden and woods. I wrote a book there and hundreds of articles. I treasured that room, considered it essential. But for six years now I’ve been traveling light, roaming around the house with my laptop, freed from the dedicated writing space I once swore I needed.

Our laptops and tablets have liberated us from the physical office. Now we carry our offices with us — or they float around in the cloud waiting for us to access them. While I haven’t stopped lusting for the perfect writer’s cabin, I like being an office nomad. Continue reading →

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My Favorite Office Assistant: Freelancers have a special bond with their pets


Michelle V. Rafter

When he was with me, my office assistant always let me know when a package had arrived, or if it was time for a break. He loved hanging out in the car while I ran errands, and lived for walks we took when I was frustrated with an article, or needed to stretch my legs.

It’s been almost four months since I said goodbye to Riley, my family’s wirehair fox terrier. He’d been my faithful office mate ever since we brought him home as a tiny fur ball 14 years ago. Riley was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor in April 2013 and hung on for more than a year before cancer got the best of him and we had to let him go. Continue reading →

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No Tax Break If Client Stiffs You


Julian Block

Contrary to what many freelancer writers mistakenly believe, long-standing regulations usually prohibit most of them from claiming bad-debt deductions on their tax returns when they’re unable to recover amounts due from clients. Why should freelancers forget about any kind of relief when they fill out their tax forms? Because, says the IRS, there are no tax breaks for “cash-basis taxpayers,” agency argot for individuals who weren’t previously required to count those unpaid amounts as reportable income. The IRS helps ease the hurt only for freelancers who come within the definition of “accrual basis taxpayers,” meaning individuals who were previously required to declare such amounts as income. Below is a representative question that I have frequently received from freelancers. Continue reading →

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Color My World


mary Ellen Collins

One of my editors emailed her thanks for an assignment and added, “Why is it in so many pretty colors?” Oops. I’d forgotten to “select all” and convert my red/green/blue/purple/pink/orange text to black. With a couple of keystrokes, she got the format she expected.

My trade magazine features can require up to dozen sources, which means many interviews and lots of quotes. Sometime early in my freelance life, I realized I needed a way to keep the sources and their material straight, especially during the cutting and pasting part of the editing process. The solution?  Type the notes from each interview in a different color. Continue reading →

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Writing a Children’s Book? Make It Predictable.


Susan Shafer

If you’re like many ASJA members, you probably write for adults. But have you ever considered writing for kids?

As a former teacher, and then, as a children’s book editor, I’ve read hundreds of books for young kids, from wordless books to early chapter books.

Of all those, my favorite kind is the predictable book, which helps young kids learn to read, and find joy in reading. If you’ve ever thought of writing a book for children ages 3-5, I suggest you build in a predictable structure.

Continue reading →

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