Monthly Archives: April 2014

Voting Counts… it really does

Kim Arnottby Kim Arnott

While Winston Churchill famously exhorted citizens to cast their votes to make a difference, Joseph Stalin more cynically noted that it was those who counted the votes, and not those who cast them, who actually decided an election.

The good news when it comes to the PWAC Annual General Meeting (AGM) is that votes are taken with a show of hands, so it’s easy to see your decision making a difference.

The annual call has been issued for delegates to attend the PWAC AGM and help shape the future of our organization. Ideally delegates – who vote as chapter representatives at the AGM – should be directly chosen by their chapters at meetings organized to discuss any issues or concerns the chapter would like to bring to the attention of the national organization.

However, in the case of less active chapters, members may express their interest in serving as delegates by contacting me directly at kim.arnott@sympatico.ca. The list of delegates is to be finalized by May 15, so if you are interested, please let me know quickly.

Electronic information packages will be sent out to delegates to familiarize them with items to be considered at the AGM. Additional information can also be found at www.writers.ca  under the “my profile” tab. By reading the board minutes from the year, as well as AGM minutes from past years, members can familiarize themselves with the organization’s main issues and challenges.  (Look under PWAC governance, at the bottom of the “about us” page.)

This year’s AGM will be held on Friday June 6 at 2pm, at the conclusion of MagNet. While only official delegates are entitled to vote at the meeting, all PWAC members may attend and observe. There is no requirement for anyone (delegates or observers) to register for MagNet in order to attend the PWAC AGM. If you are within a reasonable drive of Toronto and simply wish to learn more about how your professional association operates, please come out and join us for the meeting.

The number of delegates each chapter may send to the AGM is determined through a formula based on membership. This year’s numbers are below.

  • Guelph – 3
  • London – 4
  • Northwest Ontario – 2
  • Hamilton – 3
  • Ontario Outliers – 3
  • Ottawa – 4
  • Sudbury – 2
  • Toronto – 22
  • Waterloo – 2

Questions? Don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail.

In the meantime…
Do you remember?
AGM London
A group PWAC photo taken at the 1997 AGM in London. Can you find current Ontario members Catherine Cocchio, Suzanne Boles, Mark Kearney, Ann Douglas, Trudi Down (she’s hiding) and Leslie Smith? (Oh yes, and I’m in there somewhere too…)

Kim Arnott has been a freelance writer and editor since 1994, writing on a variety of topics for newspapers, magazines and digital media. She is PWAC’s current Regional Director for Ontario.

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The Value of Belonging: Meet the PWAC Danforth Success Group

Danforth Success Group PWAC OntarioBy Jennifer D. Foster

Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of success is showing up.” He’s definitely onto something there. I’ve been a member of the PWAC Danforth Success Group (a subgroup of the PWAC Toronto chapter) for about four years and it’s proved invaluable.

Founded by freelance writer/editor and long-time PWAC member John Schofield in May 2008, our lively group of nearly a dozen like-minded writers and editors (who also wear many other hats, including award-winning authors, accomplished musicians and singers, mentors, tutors, web gurus, prize-winning photographers, health-care professionals, piano teachers, Amnesty International volunteers and TV hosts) has been meeting at various neighbourhood cafes to commiserate and share tips on freelancing ever since. John says he thought the group “would be a great way for PWAC members living in the area to meet, socialize and discuss our business challenges and triumphs. It was also a response to my own feeling of isolation as a freelance writer working at home.”

I missed our meetings for a while after joining (raising a family, work deadlines and volunteer commitments thwarted my best intentions!), but I’ve recently started attending again with regularity. And I’m so glad I have. Being part of this group is yet another way to get even more out of my PWAC membership. As John says, “There’s no substitute for sharing ideas and advice face to face.” I couldn’t agree more. The informal networking and support provided by our small group setting has provided myriad perks for me, including freelancing writing assignments from a member during her tenure as editor ofa meetings and corporate travel magazine. I wrote eight articles, learned a ton about that industry, increased the range of my portfolio and made several business-related contacts for future articles. I also suggested a fellow writer friend to the editor, who, like me, wrote many articles for the publication.

And our small group amazes me with its generosity, humour and expertise. Someone’s always willing to share sound advice, a great organizing tip or a time-saving technique or offer up a helpful contact or a useful website. And the group is great at brainstorming for story ideas, potential sources and prospective clients. The conversation is always stimulating and diverse, often veering way off (the freelancing writing) track and into life in general, providing much-needed social time and lots of laughs (added bonus: a great stress reliever)!

A number of members have been part of the group since its beginnings and that’s created a comforting sense of continuity. New members are always welcome, though, adding a fresh dynamic to the group and yet another chance to network and make new friends. I’ve made some wonderful friends by being part of this group, friends who totally “get” what it’s like to be a freelance writer.

I’ve also recently been inspired to join a few other writerly organizations, including the Toronto branch of the Canadian Authors Association. And some of our group members are actively involved in other writing groups. I’m considering joining yet another writers’ group to take the creative writing plunge.

Another bonus of belonging to PWAC Danforth Success Group? Being able to tap into a rich talent pool. I recently wrote a feature for the 2015 issue of the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market on the anatomy of a successful short story, and one of our members, who is an award-winning short story author, graciously agreed to be a source. His quotes and information brought much-needed depth and a unique perspective to my piece, thanks to his vast knowledge and experience. In a similar vein is being able to recommend my fellow group members, when possible, to (potential) clients. I’ve passed on work to group members – and vice versa – when I’m just too busy to juggle yet another project and crazy deadline, knowing that (potential) client is in good hands.

Our monthly lunchtime meetings provide an endless forum for sharing writing-, editing- and communication-related quandaries, frustrations, triumphs, milestones and the dreaded client horror stories. And I always leave the group meeting feeling not only energized and positive about the writing biz, but also quite gratified to be part of this fab little community of freelancers.

For more information about the PWAC Danforth Success Group, contact John Schofield at j.schofield@pwactoronto.org.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto-based freelance writer and editor, specializing in fiction/non-fiction, custom publishing, magazines, and marketing and communications. Her company is Planet Word.

Image credit: sxc.hu

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Filed under PWAC Ontario Community, PWAC Ontario Events, Writing Tips & Advice

Sharing Stories, Sharing Success

Kim Arnottby Kim Arnott

Through the years I’ve gathered an invaluable amount of inspiration, encouragement and practical advice from my PWAC colleagues. I’m always awed by the generosity of our group, with people taking the time to share everything from technology tips and market suggestions to simple advice about managing to be a freelance writer and a sane person all in the same day.

I hope that this space will further that tradition of sharing and networking. And if you have any doubts about the value of such interactions, I offer you the following story.

A number of years ago, I was talking with a former Montreal PWAC member about stories we’d recently had published. She said she’d had success in pitching a story about the city’s great greasy spoon restaurants (“A Dozen Delicious Dives”) to a city mag. When I told her it was a fabulous idea, she urged me to pitch it to a Hamilton magazine, which I eventually did.

I’d never written for the magazine before that, and in the end, they never took that story. But as is so often the case in this profession, the editor called with a different assignment. And then, a few assignments later, she called with an odd question. Did I know anything about trade magazines? Or even home building? The truth?… of course I didn’t. The answer? … I’m a quick learner.

It turns out that her publisher also owned some trade magazines and needed a freelance editor for one of them. I landed what turned out to be a well-paying gig that lasted for several years, offered a great experience and opened some other doors. And I could trace it directly back to my conversation with Julia.

Often our interactions inspire us. But they can also enrich us. The story idea is now yours to pitch, and may it bring you as much success as it brought me. Just be sure to bring your stories back to help inspire us all.

Kim Arnott has been a freelance writer and editor since 1994, writing on a variety of topics for newspapers, magazines and digital media. She is PWAC’s current Regional Director for Ontario.

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Ontario PWAC Member Jennifer Foster Shares Freelance Writing Tips and Truths

Freelance writer Jennifer Foster

Jennifer Foster

We asked Toronto-based freelance writer and editor Jennifer D. Foster from Planet Word to share some of her favorite tips and tricks for succeeding as a freelance writer in Ontario.

Jennifer has been in the writing and editing business for 18 years, 11 of those spent freelancing. Her clients are from the magazine, book and custom publishing industries as well as the marketing and communication sectors and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, Kids Can Press, Ontario Dental Association, Quill & Quire and Writer’s Digest Books. She works on everything from adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction, magazines, curatorial content and brochures to menus, book reviews, press releases, packaging and blogs.

Enjoy this Q&A-style interview from one of our PWAC Ontario members and email miranda@miranda-miller.com if you have tips or advice of your own to share in an upcoming post!

1. Which tools or software help keep your freelance projects organized?

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