Marc Jacobs Challenge: Update #1

You've heard the latest on the Alannah Hill Challenge, now let's find out how my bid to earn some gorgeous Marc Jacobs shoes is going...

For those who haven't heard the
Mark Jacobs Challenge is to snare either an agent or publisher for my book on entering and winning competitions. 

Here's what I've accomplished so far:

  • Write another blog post on my other blog, I LOVE WINNING. I've written a couple, actually.
  • Amass 200 Google followers on that blog. Current count is 205.
  • Print out my book proposal and sample chapters. Done.
  • Finish sample chapters. Nope, haven't looked at them yet.
  • Update proposal with 2010 media training and appearances, plus freelance writing, and check comparisons with other books etc are still up-to-date. Nope.
  • Create ordered list of agents and publishers to whom I'll send my proposal. Nope.
  • Select first round of agents and publishers to send to and check their guidelines. Nopeski.
  • Send out proposal/cover letters to first round. Not even close!

So you could say it's not progressing so well, this challenge. I ticked off the first three items a couple of weeks ago and since then, a whole lot of not much. In my defence, I've been concentrating on the Alannah Hill Challenge and I've also been dealing with my computer catching some sort of hideous STD that makes it look up gay porn (I wish I was kidding). I'm currently limping along using Adam's Apple (ha ha) and the library PCs.

I'll have to get my butt into gear next week. Will let you know how that goes!

Fabulous Fridays: 28 January 2011

You guessed it, it's Friday, when all the good links and blogs come out to play...

    Enjoy the weekend -- you earned it. I'll be writing up a storm and plotting blogosphere domination with more Becks and the City fun features. See you next week!

    Magazine Guide #16: Peppermint

    Publication: Peppermint
    How Often Does It Come Out: Quarterly
    Distribution: National
    Contributors vs Staff Writers:
    A decent chance, considering the gorgeous, uncluttered new web site has a submissions page. Include brief details about yourself, why you're contacting the magazine, where you hail from, your background and what you can offer. Warning: "budgets are limited".
    Target Audience:
    Age: I reckon 18-35
    Gender: Female
    Interests: Fashion, sewing, art and craft, and beauty, all with a vintage-organic-ethical-environmental slant.
    Topics and Themes:
    Where do I begin? I'd never given this mag the time of day before, but I am totally enthralled now. Reasons to adore it include simple, stunning sewing patterns, and articles on a caravan that doubles as a vintage shop, one woman's six-month ban on buying new clothes, and an eco-mermaid. No, I'm not kidding!
    Length of Features:
    Generally 500-1,200 words.
    Tone and Style of Writing:
    Relaxed and colloquial without too much word-play. Interviews are the question-and-answer variety. A mixture of third- and first-person perspective is used and some articles employ case studies. Blogs and web site URLS are religiously cited. Breakout boxes and expert quotations have taken a vacation and are nowhere in sight.
    About How Many Features:
    Hard to tell short snippets from articles, but around 14.

    Magazine Guide #15: Dance Australia

    Publication: Dance Australia
    How Often Does It Come Out: Six issues per year
    Distribution: National
    Contributors vs Staff Writers:
    A fair chance, although the magazine is advertising in this issue for a Sydney-based freelance writer to join their staff.
    Target Audience:
    Age13-50 and beyond
    Gender: Female
    Interests: Classical ballet and related forms of dance (contemporary, musical theatre etc).
    Topics and Themes:
    Topics include nutrition, techniques, dance education, performances and professionals. The Australian Ballet and upcoming musicals touring nationwide are obviously a focus. Articles are tailored toward professional dancers, students, choreographers and teachers.
    Length of Features:
    Several pieces are 2,000 words. Shorter pieces are from 500 words.
    Tone and Style of Writing:
    Dance Australia has a factual, authoritative language style. It assumes a knowledge of dance jargon in its readers (eg a story on grand jetes). Interviews can be Q-and-A or slotted directly into the article, but frequently appear in one form or another. They're not enthused by breakout boxes or subheadings. This is a serious dance magazine.
    About How Many Features:
    Ten, counting reviews.

    Magazine Guide #14: Shop Til You Drop

    Publication: Shop Til You Drop
    How Often Does It Come Out: Monthly
    Distribution: National
    Contributors vs Staff Writers:
    Mostly staff-written, but you never know your luck.
    Target Audience:
    Age: Around 18-40
    Gender: Female
    Interests: Shopping, fashion and beauty.
    Topics and Themes:
    Shop Til You Drop aims to make fashion accessible to everyone, young and old, cashed-up and cash-strapped, skinny and curvaceous. Megan Moir Pardy's brilliant column tells shopping the way it is for bigger figures and articles sermonise on new ways to shop (group buying web sites, Mecca Cosmetica's new maxi-mart), new trends (backpacks) and new stores (Gap). Two of my favourite articles are "The Fashion Intern Wardrobe" and "The New Zine Scene" about fashion fanzines.
    Length of Features:
    Short pieces reach around 500 words and the longest pieces contain 1,500.
    Tone and Style of Writing:
    The writing is familiar and friendly, with short and sharp titles. Case studies, lists and breakout boxes all appear. The people in the know quoted are brand managers, stylists and designers. One article also refers to Urban Dictionary.
    About How Many Features:
    Let's say 11.

    Magazine Guide #13: WellBeing

    Publication: WellBeing
    How Often Does It Come Out: 6 issues per year
    Distribution: National
    Contributors vs Staff Writers:
    Plenty of contributors and the exciting news is there's even a page on the WellBeing web site about how to contribute to the magazine. It talks about word length, themes of the magazine, style guidelines, how to research and best of all, pay rates ($220 per 1,000 words published or $150 for a whole experience-based article). Also note the magazine prefers writers to submit photos to accompany their writing, especially for travel articles.
    Target Audience:
    Age25-50 and beyond
    Gender: Mostly female
    Interests: Natural health and beauty, wellbeing, relationships, the environment, mind, body and soul.
    Topics and Themes:
    Aside from the expected topics of yoga and meditation, there are articles on holidaying in Broome, India and Canada, the concept of "slow cities," all-natural DIY muscle-soothing remedies, rejuvenating your eyes, turning off the iPhone and computer and performing a "digital detox" on your life, art and play therapy, burnout at work, eating disorders and the benefits of corn.
    Length of Features:
    Generally 2,000-2,500 words, except for "real life experiences," which should be around 800 words.
    Tone and Style of Writing:
    There is a strong how-to focus, with articles being worded in a direct and helpful way. Dot points, subheadings, breakout boxes and self-checking lists are often used to aid meaning. Some experts are quoted, but infrequently. The magazine seems to be trying to avoid hitting readers over the head with statistics, experts and survey results. 
    About How Many Features:
    Around 20, plus eight regular columns!

    Alannah Hill Challenge: Update #2

    The Alannah Hill Challenge to put my name to some well-known magazine articles has progressed well this week.

    Since update #1, I have:

    While Vogue and Madison are not beating a path to my door yet, I'm feeling optimistic about my progress. A nice little Alannah Hill treat is firmly in my sights...

    Fabulous Fridays: 21 January 2011

    As another Fabulous Friday rolls in, I'm recovering from feeling tremendously blah yesterday and trying to coax myself to start a new article a magazine asked me to write 'on spec' (without promise of being published). It's about local writers. Should be fun. In the meantime, join me in some links...

    • Whilst I can't identify with "active," I can certainly get behind "lazy". Check out some lazy recipes for active people. This may help me on my quest to get unjiggly-with-it. I'm especially fancying those noodles and the tuna salad.
    • I've always felt Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr were long-lost twins. Ditto Helen Hunt and Jodie Foster. Check out other celebrities separated at birth.
    • This was pretty much my understanding of Star Wars as well. Episode IV explained. Finally!
    • It's great to see I'm not alone in my stupidity when it comes to mishearing lyrics. My famous mistake with Eskimo Joe's "Black Fingernails, Red Wine"? Well, "All of us stand and point our fingers" became "I don't understand the point of fingers" in my mind. Fail.
    • I bought this on sale from Country Road this week. It's such a rush when you've been picturing a great piece in your mind for ages and then it suddenly pops up at a reduced price!
    • One in a million photographs. Rare sites, stunning colours, majestic animals, surprising moments...

      In other exciting news, bentofabulous has awarded Becks and the City the Stylish Blogger Award!

      Thanks so much, bento!

      Here's the rules for the award:
      1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
      2. Share 7 things about yourself
      3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
      4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!
      Here's seven things about me:
      1. Some of my favourite sayings and quotations are "Many a truth is said in jest," "I expect to pass through this life but once. Therefore, if there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do for another human being, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again," and "If all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail" (very useful advice for mediating disputes, that last one).
      2. I'm a Libran, and yes, I am fickle and indecisive, yet charming!
      3. My left pointer finger was accidentally slammed in a car door as a kid, resulting in a permanent line down that nail.
      4. I dislike Everybody Loves Raymond and Two and a Half Men with a passion. Is it me, or do they simply rely on demeaning women for cheap laughs?
      5. I like tomato sauce. A lot. I slather so much on my pies and pasties, I've been charged double in bakeries!
      6. The top five destinations on my travel wish list would be Denmark, New York, Paris, Greece and London.
      7. I've visited every capital city in Australia. My favourite is Melbourne, but Perth and Hobart were the biggest surprise packets -- much more fun than I'd anticipated.
      Okay, I'm gonna cheat here and list five recently discovered great bloggers, rather than fifteen. I'd prefer to honour some truly wonderful blogs instead of choosing at random just to make up the numbers. Here's my picks:
      1. The Everyday Philanthropist. Brilliantest book idea and blog ever. I don't even care that I'm using pretend words!
      2. The Clothes Whisperer. What a gorgeous sight/site.
      3. Tales of Endearment by Natalie Joos. Vintage clothing blog featured in this month's Harper's Bazaar magazine. I can see why.
      4. Who's Your Editor? Currently undergoing a makeover and sure to return with more writing-related goodness than ever.
      5. The Globetrotting Gamine. Fellow writer shares her travels and tummy rumbles. Great stuff!
      That's all for now. Tune in next time -- same Becks time, same Becks channel!

      Magazine Guide #12: Harper's Bazaar

      Publication: Harper's Bazaar
      How Often Does It Come Out: 10 issues per year
      Distribution: National
      Contributors vs Staff Writers:
      Around half-and-half. Gather a few clips from other fashion mags first, then pitch away!
      Target Audience:
      Age: 25-45
      Gender: Predominantly female
      Interests: Fashion and beauty, with some lifestyle, travel, health and culture thrown in.
      Topics and Themes:
      Intriguingly, Harper's Bazaar has just begun a media partnership with The Australian Ballet, so there is a ballet theme in this issue, including an interview with Black Swan star, Natalie Portman. The luxury feel of this magazine is ever-present, from the Giorgio Armani interview aboard his yacht to Jessica Alba discussing her high-end fashion tastes, to the short piece on Cartier jewels. There is also a piece on the emotions behind eating, "Fed Up," and my favourite, "Shop Girl," about the beauty director's day job-shadowing at a Myer beauty counter. 
      Length of Features:
      Ranging from 400-2,500 words.
      Tone and Style of Writing:
      Intelligent, name-dropping and bursting with fashion-insider knowledge. Subheadings are notably absent. Breakout boxes appear occasionally and there is one list -- a style forecast for 2011. Experts are quoted where appropriate, but are more likely to be designers and authors than scientists.
      About How Many Features:
      I counted 16.

      Magazine Guide #11: Women's Health & Fitness

      Publication: Women's Health & Fitness
      How Often Does It Come Out: Monthly
      Distribution: National
      Contributors vs Staff Writers:
      Prospects seem hopeful as a freelancer.
      Target Audience:
      AgeI'd say 20-45
      Gender: Female
      Interests: Health, sport, fitness, weight loss, nutrition, beauty, relationships and wellbeing.
      Topics and Themes:
      Features include "Beginners' Guide to Triathlon," "Relationship Renewal" in the Whitsundays, "Predicting the Future" about pinpointing the onset of menopause and "10 Reasons Why Pets Are Good For Your Health". Other topics include freckles, eye health, hiking, Kelly Osborne's fitness transformation, consuming less meat and comparing health benefits of various cooking oils.
      Length of Features:
      Typically 1,000-1,500 words and maybe 2,000 words occasionally.
      Tone and Style of Writing:
      Friendly, straightforward and authoritative. Breakout boxes with handy hints, top tens and sample daily menus are popular, as are subheadings. Ads are for vitamin and protein supplements, skin care products, diet foods, sneakers, and sports events and programs. Articles quote professional athletes, dietitians, authors, and numerous scientific surveys and studies.
      About How Many Features:
      Around 15.

      Fabulous Fridays: 14 January 2011

      I have news -- I've scored a paid article with one of the publications in my "First Magazines to Tackle" list! While I'll finish that today hopefully (the deadline is Monday), here's some links to kick-start the weekend...

        Hello, Lover!

          And that's a wrap for another week!

          Alannah Hill Challenge: Update #1

          It's dangerous to stray too close to the Alannah Hill counter in David Jones. That's me above trying on a cardie this morning and falling in love with it. It took every scrap of willpower I possess to resist purchasing it, especially as it was marked down ($149.95 from $220). At least I've been inching closer to winning the Alannah Hill Challenge and earning my precious cardie...

          To win the challenge, my mission is to compile an impressive freelance writing portfolio. I haven't acquired any new clips yet, but I've been working my way through the steps to success I conjured up last week.

          Here's my progress to date:
          • Print out and re-read my notes from the Sydney Writers' Centre freelancing course. Did this today.
          • Write an average of one pitch email per weekday, mostly ones from my "First Magazines to Tackle" list and follow up by phone a couple of days later. Ongoing. I've pitched once per weekday on average, but haven't phoned yet because I figure editors are likely still sunbathing in the Bahamas until mid-January.
          • Scour blogs of established freelancers to find more "First Magazines to Tackle". I added Women's Health and Fitness, Wellbeing and eBaylife to my list.
          • Create a list of pitches and ideas so I can keep track of them and reuse unsuccessful pitches for other magazines. Haven't recycled any pitches yet, but I'm keeping track using a Chemplus calendar Adam's mum gave me. Daggy, but effective!
          • Keep adding to the magazine guides on Becks and the City (YenDance Australia etc -- "First Magazines to Tackle"). You may have noticed the Vogue and Yen guides materialising on the site in recent days. More to follow.
          • Notify Sydney Writers' Centre of my successes. None yet, but not too concerned... There was bound to be a time lag before the successes start (undoubtedly!) rolling in.
          My pitches so far have been to Cosmo Bride, SA Motor, frankie, eBaylife, Jetstar Magazine and SA Life. Today's idea will be sent to Yen. Well, once I finish that email languishing in my drafts.

          Time will tell whether my pitches will be converted to runs on the board and cardies on the Beck...

          Magazine Guide #10: Yen

          Publication: Yen
          How Often Does It Come Out: Six issues per year
          Distribution: National
          Contributors vs Staff Writers:
          More than a snowball's chance in hell of getting published. Good enough!
          Target Audience:
          Age: 18-30
          Gender: Female
          Interests: Art and photography, fashion, beauty, music, lifestyle and film.
          Topics and Themes:
          Ricki Lake, Oprah and Donahue make an appearance in an article on talk shows and being summer, there's a special on music festivals such as the Big Day Out and Future Music. I was excited to see an article by Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane fame (see my interview with her), which asks ten ordinary Australians "What It's Like To..." run into a fire, win gold, be naked on stage and do other extraordinary things. The magazine is definitely heavily into interviews, chatting with Johnny Depp's squeeze, Vanessa Paradis, as well as illustrators, designers, authors and rockers. There is also a whimsical offering on hula hooping.
          Length of Features:
          Up to 2,500 words, with 1,000-word features being the staple.
          Tone and Style of Writing:
          Less quirky, colloquial and personal than frankie, the writing is more reporter-style here, but on similarly offbeat characters and themes. There's also less of a political bent and crafty flavour. Interviews often use the question-and-answer format, while other articles frequently form makeshift lists using subheadings. Breakout boxes are sometimes used. Experts are rarely quoted and titles lean towards the clean and uncomplicated.
          About How Many Features:

          Magazine Guide #9: Vogue

          Publication: Vogue (Australia)
          How Often Does It Come Out: Monthly
          Distribution: National
          Contributors vs Staff Writers:
          Don't get your hopes up too high -- although there is a fairly even split between staff writers and freelancers, The Australian Writer's Marketplace entry for the mag warns they are interested in hearing from "experienced writers with a strong publication record". Balls.
          Target Audience:
          Age: Around 20-50.
          Gender: Female
          Interests: Luxury fashion and beauty, with a smattering of travel, lifestyle, health, relationships and culture.
          Topics and Themes:
          Profiles on and interviews with resurgent and new designers and brands are heavily represented. There is also analysis of romance, divorce and whether to age gracefully or fight nature in this issue. "Help Me Help You" is an article on mentoring, using the Zimmermann sisters' mentoring relationship with the design team behind Romance Was Born as a prime example. Articles on perfume, fake tanning and female balding round out the selection.
          Length of Features:
          Usually 1,000 - 2,500 words.
          Tone and Style of Writing:
          Short, plain-Jane titles are the way to go. Articles tend to feature plain text without subtitles to break it up, with break-out boxes used sparingly. Interviews are occasionally Q&A-style. The language is serious, but readable, and at times semi-academic in tone. Experts such as English professors, cultural analysts, CEOs of companies, medical practitioners and presidents of nation-wide organisations are quoted. Vogue is not afraid to cover well-trodden magazine fodder (eg romance), but take it to some depth and analyse it in terms of contemporary culture.
          About How Many Features:

          Fabulous Fridays: 7 January 2011

          In this first week of January, I've taken a fair stab at writing full-time, intermingled with a lovely little holiday with Adam. We stayed overnight at the Jacob's Creek Retreat (aka Moorooroo Park) and it was just glorious -- time to explore, drink wine, visit the famous Maggie Beer farm shop and enjoy meals from fresh local produce. Back at home, I've prepared some links for you...

          • I'm not opposed to a spot of museum-going, especially if we're dropping into these.
          • Bag a bargain at Portero Luxury. This may be just what the designer doctor ordered!
          • Yes, I'm a total ballet tragic and I hear a new movie is coming out, Black Swan. Digging the resurgence of dancer chic (as if it ever left).
          • Not only is it Gaga, it's pink. And perfect. Do want.
          • I'm temporarily morphing into a grandma to make some plum jam. Can't wait to try it!
          • So we're clear, I have desperate, immediate need of an hilarious "Bless This House" cross-stitch. No, I haven't taken to tedious traditional tapestry. Check out Regretsy for this and more Etsy items to blow your mind.
          • OMG, OMG, OMGGGGGGGGGGG!!! The Burlesque movie is HERE!
          • I've endured lawyer jokes. Will I soon qualify to be offended by these?
          • That's the sound of the girl... working on the chain... yeah yeah. Learn to crochet. It's on my bucket list.
          • Although this was hyped quite a while ago now, this guy's a legend and the book is unputdownable -- One Red Paperclip.

            So far with this writing lark, I'm not enjoying my mother's scoffs at the thought of writing professionally and insistence that I am unemployed. She even asked yesterday how Adam and I are managing financially. AFTER ONE WEEK. The debt collectors are sure to be knocking on our door any second. Totally.

            Aside from this, I am pleased with my progress and my lists of magazines to tackle. I've fired off three query emails to magazines so far, with two more in the works today. Now to entice at least one of them to say yes!

            Until next week... 

            Personal Goals 2011

            To continue my spate of sharing my 2011 goals, here's my personal ones. Notice from the first category that apparently to me, fun = travel and yes, my writing goals are incorporated here. Am fatty boomba also. 

            Fun and Relationships
            ·         Organise trip to Kingston/Naracoorte/Mount Gambier with Adam
            ·         Organise trip to NZ with Adam
            ·         Organise mega overseas trip with Adam to Paris/New York/London/anywhere awesome!
            ·         Go on a girls’ trip away... somewhere.

            ·         Lose weight so I am less than 70kg.

            ·         Visit financial planner.
            ·         Maintain decent income while freelancing.
            ·         Get agent/publisher for book proposal.
            ·         Vastly improve magazine writing portfolio.

            Perhaps I should look into diet airplane food...

            I'd Like to Write For...

            Here's some magazines I'll be pitching to in the near future -- both practical and pie-in-the-sky!

            First magazines to tackle:

            Dream magazines:

            Writing Goals For 2011

            Welcome to my year of full-time freelancing!

            After some soul-searching, I've set my two main goals for 2011. With the success of The Tiffany Challenge in 2010, I'll issue myself new challenges with designer prizes to help motivate me. The goals and the steps to achieving them are below. I'm hoping to polish these off by the close of January and set new ones. How far do you think I'll get? ; )

            1.   Grow a Freelancing Portfolio of High-profile Magazines

            • Print out and re-read my notes from the Sydney Writers' Centre freelancing course.
            • Write an average of one pitch email per weekday, mostly ones from my "First Magazines to Tackle" list and follow up by phone a couple of days later.
            • Scour blogs of established freelancers to find more "First Magazines to Tackle".
            • Create a list of pitches and ideas so I can keep track of them and reuse unsuccessful pitches for other magazines.
            • Keep adding to the magazine guides on Becks and the City (Yen, Dance Australia etc -- "First Magazines to Tackle").
            • Notify Sydney Writers' Centre of my successes.

            The Alannah Hill Challenge

            You may have gleaned from previous posts that I have a major crush on Alannah Hill's cutesy cardies, frilly frocks and alluring accessories. The challenge, if I choose to accept it, is to compile an impressive freelancing portfolio. My reward will be running free in the Alannah Hill Rundle Street store and picking out a cardie or equivalent fashion delight. Excitement!

            2.   Get My Non-Fiction Book Published

            • Write another blog post on my other blog, I LOVE WINNING.
            • Amass 200 Google followers on that blog.
            • Print out my book proposal and sample chapters.
            • Finish sample chapters.
            • Update proposal with 2010 media training and appearances, plus freelance writing, and check comparisons with other books etc are still up-to-date.
            • Create ordered list of agents and publishers to whom I'll send my proposal.
            • Select first round of agents and publishers to send to and check their guidelines.
            • Send out proposal/cover letters to first round.

            The Marc Jacobs Challenge

            Obsessed. Love these mouse flats, which have been released in a dazzling array of colours and styles. If I snare either an agent or publisher for my book, I'm treating myself to an adorable pair. White or black patent? Decisions, decisions!

            Keep a watch out for frequent updates on my sure-to-be-stellar progress!


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