Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Business of Writing

Most of us write for the love of writing. Yet, for many, in order to continue doing what we love, we must get compensation for our work. The business of writing is just that–a business. As in most business enterprises, record keeping is a vital part of the procedure of maintaining our profession and measuring progress.

For me, the most efficient method of keeping track of article submissions is to have a table listing all my submissions and subsequent activities. I list the name of the article, the publisher, the status (submitted, published, paid, follow-up, rejected) and dates of activities. I place an asterisk beside the article name until all activity is concluded.

At the first of each month I do a search for the asterisk to learn the status of article activity and take the appropriate action. I haven't had many problems with delinquent payment, but occasionally I've sent a payment reminder letter, or perhaps an invoice listing the article, when it was published, and the amount due. I wait for at least two months after publication before sending a payment reminder. Using a simple spreadsheet or table shows me where I need to take action.

Of course, the best scenario is when I’m paid in advance for my work. But the above steps keep me ahead of the game and help me to keep track.

Persistence and good record keeping–for me these practices contribute to my success rate in getting articles published and getting paid to write them.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Blooming Fields of Skagit Valley

We love the Northwest and one of the reasons is the annual Tulip Festival. It’s like viewing the perfect mural–row upon row of dazzling color–brilliant red, sparkling yellow, vivid pink, rakish purple. Though picture-perfect, they’re real, these delightful tulip fields of the Skagit Valley. Not only tulips, but daffodils and iris grace these lovely fields. Although Mother Nature dictates the bloom dates, daffodils bloom first, followed by tulips and finally, iris.

Now extended to cover the entire month of April, this year’s 26th annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival also features–in addition to viewing the blooming fields--a packed schedule of events including art shows, wood crafting events, barbecues, quilt walks, walking and bicycle tours and kite flying.

Since the mid-1930s, spring-time visitors to the Skagit Valley have marveled at the striking beauty of tulip, daffodil and iris fields. Northwest Washington, particularly the Skagit Valley, has become world- famous for its seasonal showcase and for its commercial bulb production. Washington Bulb Company, the nation’s largest tulip, daffodil and iris producer, makes its headquarters in Skagit Valley.

A favorite local story tells about the Northwest gardener who thought he would buy his bulbs that year from “the source”–Holland. You guessed it–when he received his bulbs from Holland, the package label said the bulbs were grown in the Skagit Valley!

Visitors who return year after year to enjoy the springtime hues will notice that those fields seen last year frequently will not have the same crop this year. That’s because flower bulbs, like many other crops, must be rotated to preserve the soil and reduce pest infestation. The flowers rotate to their original field about every five years.

Tulip Festival maps are available at many Skagit Valley stores, but it isn’t necessary to have a map to enjoy the blossoms. Signs indicate the “Tulip Route,” or you may simply drive along until you see a field. If there is a pull-off, park and enjoy the view, or even walk along designated paths.

Great opportunities await eager photographers. My husband Bruce claims early morning or late afternoon give the best light for picture taking. Many of his pictures include landscape attractions, such as barns or snow-capped Mt. Baker.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the Pacific Northwest during April, join us!