Two panels I attended at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) 2012 Conference & Bookfair – “A Writing Life, After the Workshop” and “Setting Limits: Balancing Paid Writing and Creative Writing” – both provided a number of valuable resources for working writers.

“A Writing Life” is where I found out about Evernote, Web clipper and time tracking apps, and the social media management system HootSuite. It was presented by the Writing Life Collective, a group of five writers and editors.

One tool they shared – an eye opener for me – was “A Writing Life Skills Assessment,” which you use to get real, and I mean real, about the balance in your writing life. When I took it, I found I was strong in Creative and Editing, but extraordinarily lacking in Administrative and Marketing. I’m taking steps to remedy that right now (starting with this blog).

Valerie Due, the moderator of “Setting Limits,” like me, is a freelance marketing writer and editor, and, like me, balances her paid work and creative work on a daily basis. She has a great page packed with the resources she told us about at the conference. So far I’ve checked out a visual tool called The Wheel of Life and downloaded the Wunderlist task management app. There are many, many other resources here that you might find useful too. Let me know what you think.

In our house, I’m the one who gets us organized for tax time. After being in business for myself for so long now, it’s kind of a natural; I’m used to throwing receipts into a file and then sorting through them to come up with the numbers our accountant needs. I know I could stuff everything in a shoebox, thrust it at him, and say, “Here,” but I’m way too Type A; the thought of doing that is rather horrifying.

Tax prep is not something I’ve ever truly loved, but lately, I’m really starting to resent doing it. It started three years ago, I think, when having stop and do our taxes severely cut into studying for my master’s comprehensive exam. So that’s the thing. I know it has to be done. But these days it cuts into time I’d rather be writing. Last week and over the weekend, for example, I spent what felt like hours and hours sorting through receipts, going through files, and slowly but surely filling out the accountant’s worksheet. I did not get a lick of fiction writing or reading done those days, and I resented forsaking those for spending time on – ugh – this other stuff.

The good news is:  it’s over. Yesterday I took a lunch-hour meeting with our accountant and he had me out of there in an hour and fifteen minutes. And we’re getting money back this year. If I think of it as a writing or editing project for which I am being paid, considering my rates and the number of hours I put in, I actually made some pretty good dough. Now I can get back to revising my newest short story and reading Maggie Shipstead in the “Beauty” issue of Tin House.


Was all set to attend Gravity Marketing’s Coffee Connection this morning, but a project beckons–input I’d requested from three different subject matter experts suddenly came through this week and so I am at my desk writing the next drafts of two stories about a global lead-acid battery recycling program. Pretty cool stuff, actually, and I admire my client for instituting it. So the party rages on at Gravity without me, but a) I need to take care of my client; b) the project needs to keep moving; and c) it’d be better to show up to the party with new business cards in hand, which are being printed as we speak and include the URL for this site. In the meantime: Gravity Marketing’s Coffee Connection is the fourth Friday of every month, 7:30-9:30 a.m. CT. It is open to business and creative people, most of whom have passkeys to the firm’s coffeehouse space (like me) and may use it to work and/or meet with clients free of charge; I occasionally meet with the Milwaukee Writers Workshop and have attended an MCA-I meeting there. Gravity Marketing is a B2B marketing firm in Milwaukee, located on the edge of the Third Ward, and the host of Coffee Connection, featuring delicious Stone Creek Coffee.

Found out about Evernote, a free app that “allows you to save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see,” from a colleague a few weeks ago (quote from Evernote site). Anyone who has come up with a great line of dialogue or an idea for a client thinking “Oh, I’ll remember it later” knows the pain of having lost them when later comes. I installed the app on my iPhone last week, and today installed the application on my MacBook Pro. Whatever notes I make, whatever scenes I write, whatever sound or images I record on my iPhone now automatically/simultaneously sync to and show up on my laptop. Had been using Notes on iPhone and emailing them to myself for use and safekeeping, but this is slick. Will need to spend more time with it to become a diehard fan, but so far things are looking good. To check out Evernote, visit the App Store or the company Web site and look for the little green elephant. Have fun with this one.

I joined the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) last year after subscribing to its magazine, The Writer’s Chronicle, for a year or two. On February 29 I took the train down to Chicago from Milwaukee to attend my first-ever AWP conference, which ran March 1-3. Wow, was it fantastic! The conference locations were on the Loop at the Palmer House and Chicago Hilton, about six blocks apart, a really vibrant part of town. Among the panels I attended: “Selling Out Everyone You Love: The Ethics of Writing Nonfiction”; “The Place at the Heart of Story”; and “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (But Some of Us Will Be Fine),” which covered all the tools writers use to create buzz about their works. Last night I started going through the pile of literary journals, magazines, books, catalogs, bookmarks, and business cards I brought home that have been stacked on our coffee table since I got back, and I haven’t even begun reading through my thirty-some pages of notes. For now I will say that the 2012 AWP Annual Conference & Bookfair was most impressive, and I will be back to post about I learned there. Already looking forward to next year, when the conference will be in Boston. And Seattle after that. And LA after that. The 2012 photos aren’t posted yet but you’ll find shots from past conferences at

When I entered grad school, the Internet was one kind of place; when I graduated, it was quite another. I am happy to be here in my first solo online presence since joining Facebook. Going to practice for a week or two so I know I won’t screw this up, then be back with a few things to get started. See you again soon!