Freelance Writer’s Almanac – March 2014

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Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com

Today is the first day of March. The word “March comes form the Roman ‘Martius.’ According to this site, it was originally the first month of the year (Roman calendar) named after Mars the god of war.

The flower of the month of March is the Daffodil or Jonquil.

Daffodil

Daffodil – the flower of March

March’s stone is Aquamarine  / Bloodstone (modern) and Jasper / Bloodstone  (traditional) – meaning: COURAGE.

Aquamarine

Aquamarine – modern birthstone for March

Bloodstone - birthstone for March

Bloodstone – modern & traditional birthstone for March

Jasper - birthstone for March

Jasper – traditional birthstone for March

Here’s a rhyme for March’s Bloodstone:

Who in this world of ours their eyes
In March first open shall be wise;
In days of peril firm and brave,
And wear a Bloodstone to their grave.
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Some  sayings associated with March’s weather:

“When March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb.”

“As it rains in March so it rains in June.”

“March winds and April showers
Bring forth May flower.”

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  • March 1-16 – Dogsled race, the  Iditarod.
  • New moon

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  • Alexander Graham Bell was born on this day in 1847 in Edinburgh Scotland. He went on to invent the telephone (The Christian Almanac [T.C.A.] p. 141).

pancakes4

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  • On this day in 1953 Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin (creator of the Iron Curtain) died at the age of 73 years.  (TCA p. 145. )
Michelangelo - self-portrait

Michelangelo – self-portrait

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  • Silly putty was invented on this day in 1950 (TCA p. 147).

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  • World Day of prayer (always first Friday)

Wind in the Willows - cover8

  • On this day in 1859 Kenneth Grahame, creator of The Wind in the Willows was born in Edinburgh Scotland. Parts of the book were written as letters to his young son (TCA p. 151).

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  • Daylight Savings Time begins
  • First Sunday in LentLITURGY

    1966 Ford Mustant

    1966 Ford Mustang (photo from Wikipedia)

  • The Mustang is 50! The Ford Motor Co. produced the first Ford Mustang on this day in 1964. It became an instant classic (TCA p. 153).

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  • Salvation Army Day

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  • Organize your home office day

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  • James Taylor (singer) was born on this day in 1948.

earmuffs13

  • Earmuffs, patented as “Champion Ear Protector” by Greenwood, were introduced on this day in 1877.

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Hamentaschen & Purim rattle

Hamentaschen & Purim rattle

  • Today is the Jewish holiday of Purim
  • Second Sunday in Lent – LITURGY
  • Full Moon

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  • Kate Greenaway, English artist and book illustrator was born on this day in 1846 in London. Her illustrated books like Mother Goose created a revolution in book illustration (TCA P. 169).

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  • David Livingstone – physician and explorer was born on this day in 1813.

Robin20

  • World Storytelling Day– On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night.
  • Brian Mulroney, former Canadian Prime Minister  turns 75 today (born in 1939).

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water droplets22

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  • Feast of the Annunciation – LITURGY

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  • Robert Frost was born on this day in 1874. (He’d be 140 today.)
Robert Frost

Robert Frost

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  • Coca Cola was introduced on this day in 1886

Vincent Van Gogh - self-portrait30

  • The painter Vincent Van Gogh was born on this day in 1853.
  • It is also the birthday of Canadian singer Celine Dion (1968).
  • Fourth Sunday in Lent – LITURGY
  • New Moon

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  • The English poet John Donne  died on this day in 1631 at the age of 59.

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Lots of other days celebrated in March found at Brownielocks
http://www.brownielocks.com/march.html

My (penciled) writing goals for 2014

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Goals - Plans - Aspirations - Dreams Can you believe we’re almost halfway through January! By now those wonderful New Year’s Resolutions have been tested, perhaps broken (if you made any). And what about writing goals?

I always start the year full of bubbly optimism. The year is new. It’s a clean page. I can begin again. The possibilities are endless. Writing down goals is one way to attach a string to my helium-filled balloon. Having this topic as the first one in our BLOG HOP  gets me tying on that string in real time!

Goals are as useful or unrealistic as we make them. They  are most helpful when they come with details like what, how much, by when. Some folks split goals into two parts: Goals and Objectives. That’s what I’m going to do here.

I’m defining goals as  overarching ends I’d like to achieve.   Objectives are  the specific measurable steps that I need to take to achieve those goals. This article about writing goals and objectives  (PDF file) uses a helpful mnemonic for objectives:

SMART mnemonic

S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound

Here are some of my 2014 goals and objectives:

Goal 1:
Contribute to the conversation about God, spiritual things, and what it means to live as a Christian.

Objectives:

  • Continue to post daily devotions at my devotional blog Other Food Devos. (Some of these are reposts.)
  • These will be written between 5:30 and 8:00 a.m. daily and scheduled ahead.

Goal 2:
Do my part on special projects and assignments (two poetry books and my FellowScript columns) to which I’ve committed myself.

Objectives:

  • Work with my colleagues on these projects by meeting the deadlines we set up. (Vague but some of  these projects are not in my control.)

Goal 3:
Make a little money with my writing.

Objectives:

  • Send out one article/poem/devotion/kids’ activity etc.  to a paying market the weeks I’m working (not during holidays and times of family obligation).

Goal 4:
Improve as a poet.

Objectives:

  • Write at least one new poem per week, with the exception of April (National Poetry Month) and perhaps November, when I usually join in on challenges to write one poem a day.
  • Enter at least six poetry contests this year.
  • Research and submit to poetry publications (try for one submission per month).
  • Read and review at least one book of poetry monthly on my poetry blog (Violet Nesdoly / poems).
  • Continue to be part of the Kidlit Poetry Friday community by posting weekly poems and hosting when it’s my turn.

Goal: 5
– Write another novel.

Objectives:

  • Work a minimum of 60 minutes per day on this (whatever stage I’m at: research, plotting, character development, writing, editing etc.) five days a week.

Goal 6:
Broaden my author platform.

Objectives:

  • Post a monthly Freelance Writers Almanac article on this blog.
  • Read and comment on colleagues’ blogs (Regularly; I’m not putting a number on this because I don’t want to track it).
  • Remain active in the writing and friend communities to which I belong by posting to Twitter and/or Facebook/Facebook author page.
  • Continue to read publisher- and author-offered books and review them on my blog, Goodreads & Amazon within the time frame that the publishers request.
  • Research publishing a newsletter.

Goal 7:
Work towards self-publishing some of my previously published blog posts, stories, poems etc. (This goal is at the back of the queue; I’ll be considering it later in the year).

Objectives:

  • Learn to make book covers using Photoshop Elements by ordering a Dummies book to help me understand the software and spending at least an hour each week working in Photoshop so I get some hands-on experience with the program.
  • Work on getting my U.S. ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number) in order to circumvent the IRS withholding royalties should I choose to publish with a US publisher like Create Space.
  • Continue mulling over the idea of publishing an author newsletter.

Yikes, I feel like I’ve bitten off some rather big chunks here. I’ll definitely need the word I’ve chosen as my inspiration this year:  FOCUS. It’s what I’ll have to do in order to make progress on any one of the above, let alone achieve them all!

I remind myself, too, of something a speaker at one of our women’s events said:

“Remember, you write your plans in pencil. Only God writes in pen.”

And we’re off! (#ICWriters)

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2014 is off to a great start!

"Yes" written on lined paper

Writing has changed a lot since I sold my first article in 1997. Then it was a solo business for me. I was in the middle of taking a writing course and submitted those first pieces to see if I actually had what it took. It was all done by surface mail. (I sound like a real old-timer!)

Last year, after spending the end of 2012 marketing my novel, I decided to get back into freelance writing. Nowadays, the temptation for me is to write a lot but for free. Many publications have folded, and there are far fewer paying markets than there ever were. For the first quarter of the year, my goal was to change bad habits and submit one article per week to a paying market. Now my humble ships are coming in!

At the end of 2013 I received my contributor’s copy of  the January/February 2014 issue of Pockets. It had my article on Jean Vanier in it. I’m always thrilled to be published in that beautiful children’s magazine!

January 2nd brought word of contest results for the Time of Singing Winter Contest (8-line rhyming poems). My poem “Ananias explains the situation to Sapphira” won—first place! Pinch me!!

Yesterday  the latest Faith Today went online. My review of Janet Sketchley’s Heaven’s Prey is in it.  I was so pleased to get a chance to review this suspense-loaded novel authored by my friend.

Also yesterday my contributor’s copy of Cadet Quest (February 2014 issue) arrived with a word-search puzzle I put together for their  “Let’s Get Fit” theme.

It’s all fruit of work I did months to a year ago. Sometimes it seems like you labour and labour and nothing comes of it. And then the results return in a wonderful week or two of deluge! It’s not the instant gratification of fifteen LIKES on a Facebook update. But it has more impact on a resume!

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – January 2014

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Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com
Happy New Year!

Welcome to the first post in the Freelance Writer’s Almanac series.

Today we start a new year. It’s interesting to look back and see what happened 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago with a view to remembering, reflecting on, and perhaps writing about these things.

Of course if you choose to write about any of these subjects, you’ll need to give it your own angle.  I have linked a few resources, but to do a proper job, you’ll need to sleuth out more info. Also double-check all dates, because even as I put this together, I found date discrepancies in my sources.

2014 is the anniversary of the following big events:

100-year anniversary (1914)

  • The beginning of World War I
  • Woodrow Wilson signed a Mother’s Day proclamation.
  • The Panama Canal was opened.

75-year anniversary (1939)

  • The beginning of World War II
  • John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath was published.

50-year anniversary (1964)

  • This was the year of Beatlemania. The Beatles began their U.S. tour by appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in February.
  • A powerful 9.2 earthquake hit Anchorage Alaska.

25-year anniversary (1989)

  • The Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil.
  • Chinese students protested and were massacred in Tianamen Square.
  • The Berlin Wall was opened to the West after 28 years.

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Carnation - flower of JanuaryThe flowers of January are the Carnation and the Snowdrop

Garnet - the birthstone of JanuaryThe birthstone of  January is Garnet. It means Constancy.

Here are some things that happened in January throughout history. I chose events  and facts that interest me in the areas of history, the arts, faith, science, food, Canadiana and other cool things. But of course these just skim the surface. There are more links to check out at the bottom of the post.

January

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  • New Moon

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  • On this day in 1745 at the age of 27, David Brainerd committed himself to reach the Indian tribes of Colonial America with the gospel of Christ. He died two years later but lives on in The Diary of David Brainerd pdf file (published by Jonathan Edwards) TCA p. 17.
  • J.R.R. Tolkien Day. Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892.

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  • World Braille Day – 205 years ago today Louis Braille was born in Coupvray France (1809). He himself was blind from age three.

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  • National Weigh-In Day (always the first Monday after New Years)

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  • Earth’s Rotation Day. “On 8 January 1851, using a device known as Foucault’s pendulum, Frenchman Léon Foucault demonstrated that the Earth rotates on its axis.”  Read entire article

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  • On this day in 1922, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson received the first insulin injection to help regulate his diabetes. Canadian scientists Banting and Best had isolated the hormone the year before – TCA, p. 33.

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  • Today is the birthday of Jack London (born John Griffith Chaney in 1876). He wrote books about adventure and courage like White Fang and Call of the Wild (two books I loved as a kid). He said: “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

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  • Stephen Foster Day. Stephen Foster, musician and song-writer (“O Susanna,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Old Folks at Home” and many others) is sometimes called the Father of American Music.  This year is the 150-year anniversary of his death (January 13, 1864).

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  • How cold is it? On this day in 1733 Yeneseisk, Siberia recorded a temperature of −120 F. The air was so frigid that birds dropped frozen to the ground and smoke couldn’t rise – TCA, p. 39.

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  • The first Super Bowl game was played on this day in 1967.

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  • Full Moon
  • Religious Freedom Day. The Ordinance of Religious Freedom passed the Virginia Legislature on this day in 1786 (TCA p. 42).

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  • U.S., British, and Saudi air raids on Iraq started the Gulf War in 1991.

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  • Winnie the Pooh Day – A. A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh and other children’s books was born on this day in 1882. He said: “Almost anyone can be an author; the difficult business is to actually collect money from this state of being” – TCA p. 47.
  • Thesaurus Day – Peter Mark Roget was born on this day in 1779. His claim to fame was the 1852  publication of the Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Roget’s Thesaurus).

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  • French painter Paul Cezanne was born on this day (in Aix-en-Provence, 175 years ago, in 1839).

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  • 81-year-old Myles Coverdale died on this day in 1569. In 1535 he printed the first complete  English Bible, called the Coverdale Bible.

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  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) broadcast its first programming from London to the world on this day in 1929 – TCA p. 53.

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  • The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Roe vs. Wade, legalizing abortion from the moment of conception until just before the moment of birth, was rendered on this day in 1973 – TCA, p. 54.

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  • The Russian city St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad on this day in 1924. After the fall of communism, it was renamed St. Petersburg.
  • Sir Winston Churchill died on this day in 1965 at the age of 90.

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  • Robbie Burns Day – Robert Burns, the Scottish National Poet, was born on this day in 1759.
  • On this day in 1915 Alexander Graham Bell inaugurated transcontinental telephone service.
  • This day is the 90th Anniversary of the beginning of the first Winter Olympics in Chamonix, France, 1924.

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  • The Soviet Red Army liberated the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz on this day in 1945.

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  • I make a birthday cake for someone special at my house on this day!

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  • New Moon
  • On this day in 1939 Adolf Hitler called for the extermination of European Jews.

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Sources and links to check out for more days:

Freelance Writer’s Almanac – coming soon!

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Anyone who has written freelance knows that wonderful writing isn’t the only thing our piece needs to get accepted. It also needs to be timely. Write and submit an article about C. S. Lewis in 2014 and chances are editors will reject it, whereas they may well have accepted it in 2013. Why? Because 2013 was the 50-year anniversary of Mr. Lewis’s  death (in November of 1963). You may have noticed the large number of articles about C. S. Lewis floating around in 2013, and the anniversary is why!

In order to write timely articles like that we need to be alert to what’s coming up in the birthday and anniversary department as well as the annual holidays that repeat year after year. Of course it’s also feels good to be in-the-know about fun facts like when it’s National Pie Day or Poem In Your Pocket Day.

I’ve been planning for a while to prepare a list of upcoming dates for myself. One day it hit me. If I could use such a list, probably other freelancers could as well. And so I’ve decided to start a new blog feature.

On or around the first day of each month, I’ll be posting a Freelance Writer’s Almanac  piece, listing the holidays and special days of the month we’re entering. This will be eclectic and include information about history, the arts, faith, science, food, Canadiana, and anything else I find interesting.  (This post will replace the monthly writing prompt of 2013).

Freelance Writer's Almanac icon - violetnesdoly.com
So if you need timely ideas of things to write about in blog posts, articles, even books, come back January 1st for the first installment of Freelance Writer’s Almanac.