Long Story Short
School of Writing
'The tribute to learning is teaching.'
How to Make it as a Freelance Writer
Instructor: Cal Orey

Imagine:  The phone doesn’t ring, you find yourself amid a pile of rejection letters, and money’s tight. It’s been more weeks than you care to count since you’ve gotten an assignment or book contract, and the fear of never getting a new gig haunts you like a spooky Stephen King sci-fi tale. If you’re like most writers, at some time you’ll probably hit a plateau—the point when it seems like you just can’t pull out of a big, fat slump. But the good news is, you can reprise your role as a prolific writer. So if you’re down, on the verge of suffering through a sales lull or trying to find a way out (or in), get prepared to write yourself out of a slump. Whether you need a jump-start or want to make a comeback, the following slump-busters suggest some strategies for boosting your number of assignments and coping while trying to end a bad streak.

In this class, you can look forward to learn winning rebound strategies, straight from author Cal Orey who knows that a slump can hit anyone, at anytime. You will share your questions and ideas, hour by hour, slump buster by slump buster. Ms. Orey will provide professional guidance and suggestions and other students will participate in discussion.

By the end of six weeks, students can expect to have the essential must-have tools to pick themselves up, and be confident that they can blast a writer’s slump.

Start Date:  January 4 and every Wednesday thereafater.
Duration: 6 weeks
Class Materials:  Instructor will provide. 
Tuition:  $85 
Contact Cal.

Cal Orey is an accomplished author and journalist who holds a master's degree in English (Creative Writing) from San Francisco State University. Over the past 15 years, she has written hundreds of health-related articles for national magazines and websites, specializing in topics as diverse as health, nutrition, and sexual health. Her articles have appeared in The Writer, Woman's World, Woman's Day, Men's Fitness, Let's Live, as well as Complete Woman, for which she is a contributing editor. Ms. Orey is also the author of the best-selling book The Healing Powers of Vinegar, and Doctors' Order: What 101 Doctors Do to Stay Healthy. Get her new book:
The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes.
Purchase the book
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(I will pay for the call!) Ask a professional author anything and everything you were afraid to ask about writing but need to know: How to find a publisher, agent, editor, indexer and more.
Need help with your introduction or ending to an article or book? Want the right sources ASAP?
I can help you do it. Call me and
we'll brainstorm your writing together.  I will be there just for you!

      Cal Orey

Student's Goal: To land a humor column

Teacher Cal: Your goal is to get a regular column going with a newspaper or website.  This is good. Been there, done that. But there isn't a lot of money in these markets. What I want to do is for you to think bigger. Think of the big picture. I'm going to help you to query local newspapers, popular mags,  trade publications, etc.

The catch is, you have to be sly. Unless you have a strong platform (a ready-made audience and are very well-known) landing a regular humor column can be difficult. However, if you begin s-l-o-w-l-y you can ease into a column before you know it. I've done it many times. Keep in mind, however, nothing lasts forever. But it is a great feeling to have a column (or two). It's every freelancer's dream.

Student Mark: Makes sense.

Teacher Cal: A while ago, I co-authored a humor piece with the man who wrote, "Nice Guys Don't Get Laid." This book was very successful and very funny. We did a spin-off for an article and "Details" (a popular men's mag almost bought it; actually [ironically] we did receive a kill fee [because its companion piece written by another writer didn't live)].

My point is, it was a how-to short service piece entitled, "Killer Love Letters."  It was mocking the guys on death row who seem to be chick magnets. You know how Charles Manson-types get women who fall for 'em, write them love letters. So we  simply wrote 6 ways to be a bad boy and get a girl interested in you without  going to prison. Readers and editors love humor articles that are informative. That's how you can slide into a regular gig.
For instance, a few years ago I wanted to write fun and humorous quizzes for Complete Woman. I didn't query the editor and say, "I want to be your quiz columnist." I asked if I could write a quiz because I do them well. A hundred quizzes later...See, you have to take
baby steps. Once you establish yourself as a humor writer with service pieces that are
funny and informative, eventually you can do the off the cuff humor stuff.  But it takes patience and you have to work your way up to  that.

Student Mark: Haven't written a "how-to" or advice piece, per se, but certainly see
tremendous potential.

Student Mark: One of the first lessons I learned in stand-up was "First, get good."  It was the very good advice that you pay your dues and become very good at what you do before you try to audition to "pass" at a club.   Trying to "get passed" at a major club too soon only works to hurt you.   Seem to be some parallels here....

Student Mark: Could you humor me with a short definition of a "service" piece?

Teacher Cal: Very  clever. It would be nice to turn it into a service piece, an informative short article. Again, how-to service pieces or Op-Ed opinion pieces for Cosmo are an easier in to the mag. Purchase this mag and see what the TOC looks like.  I know they have regular columnists but you may be able to see what types of  articles, the length, etc. Thus, you can pitch an idea via query and/or submit  a humor piece. Often, mags prefer to see the humor article rather than a  proposal. We can discuss potential for this next week.

Student Mark: RE: Cosmo...germ of an idea: one of the "ideal" dates for women is a doctor. What about when the woman is the doctor.  An article  like, "Mom, I'm Dating A Doctor" but it's written by a guy dating a woman  doctor.  Would seem to be a lot of possibilities there for  role-reversal, status bragging, etc.

Teacher Cal: Good. We  are making progress. Flynt has a large group of magazines... Some of the articles I wrote were very witty and informative: "Flat chested women make better lovers."  The fact is, they're open to good writers. It's a great place to start and  you'd make more of a splash than in a local newspaper or website that doesn't  have a budget.

Student Mark: Just focusing on the magazine helps to generate  ideas. (Top 50 Excuses for Not Going to the Gym; 5 Tech Gadgets You Need to Have to Be Cool; How to Pick Up a Supermodel...Oh.  There's been an explosion of absolute schlubs hooking up with good-looking celebrity women (Britney Spears, Mischa Barton...and if Kid Rock can date Pamela Anderson, we are truly living in a world where anything is possible)

Teacher Cal: YES!  By George, you've got  it! Yes, Yes, Yes!

Student Mark: -----Ah-ha!  Took me awhile but I get it.  Or as my father used to say, "Dawn Breaks Over Marblehead."