Four FREE Tools Help Aspiring Writers

Written by Cheryl Paquin

CleverKeys — This is a nifty little program you can download from It integrates with most software such as browsers or word processors. When you're writing or come across an unfamiliar word, just highlightrepparttar word, hit control L and CleverKeys will take you straight torepparttar 129904 dictionary meaning at You can changerepparttar 129905 default from to if you're interested in looking up an alternative word while you're writing. Again, just highlight it, hit Control L andrepparttar 129906 word listing in pops up in your default browser.

If your computer is connected torepparttar 129907 Internet most ofrepparttar 129908 time, using CleverKeys instead of looking uprepparttar 129909 dictionary or thesaurus, saves A LOT of time. The download is only 800 KB, and installs easily.

GrammarCheck — is a free weekly newsletter with hints and examples to improve your grammar and writing skills. Each week a different subject is covered, such as Indefinite Pronouns, Gendered Vocabulary, Sentence Structure and Commas. Everyday usage of grammar is given in right and wrong examples. It's fun and a great refresher course. You can sign up forrepparttar 129910 newsletter at GrammarCheck. If you have a grammar question you can emailrepparttar 129911 GrammarCheck people, or submitrepparttar 129912 question onrepparttar 129913 Web site form. There are also archives of topics previously covered.

GrammarCheck ( takes a light-hearted approach torepparttar 129914 subject, and is very user-friendly. It only takes a few minutes a week to brush up on those grammar skills.

JournalistExpress — This is a relatively new site and just about an essential reference desk for non-fiction newshounds. After registering, you can customize your page with links to your specific interest areas. JournalistExpress hasrepparttar 129915 tools to finding just about any information a journalist would ever need, all in one place. It's a also a great place to come up with story ideas. There's even a section called "Slow News Day", with links to what's new onrepparttar 129916 Internet.

Hot Flashes of a Freelancer

Written by Cheryl Paquin

Am desperately sick of spending freezing weekends in dingy newsroom earning $12.36 per hour as news editor. Too much time spent away from spouse and children, and it’s minus 20 F. when I finish work. Want to resign from job and freelance, and earn lots of money while ensconced inrepparttar warmth of my home, with two daughters playing merrily near feet. Want a job that will allow me to travel to visit family in Australia at least once a year — preferably during Minnesotan winter.

Have ordered Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $85,000 a Year by Robert W. Bly from I believe I can live on this annual income and support my travel habit.

March 2000:

Devour Bly’s book and believe all he says. Resign from job with spousal approval, with enough money to cover bills for a couple of months.

Enthusiastically design and print all my own business cards, letterheads and stationary. Buy thousands of stamps from post office for thousands of query letters. Have noticed, however, thatrepparttar 129902 minute I sit down to write a query letter, something urgent, like changing baby’s diaper, needs utmost attention. Organize myself by stacking newly printed stationary tidily into filing cabinet. Spent time cleaning desk, and buying pens and paperclips. Also buy tons of women’s magazines — official market research.

April 2000:

Decide I must get serious about writing career with no income gained in March. Enthusiastically join hundreds of online writing lists. Become scared with professionalism of some groups so spend hours and days in more social groups. Feel panic-stricken at decreasing bank balance and spousal concern at lack of writing work. Treble efforts patroling online job markets.

May 2000:

Hurrah! Success – respond to online job for writers and editors, pass editing test and receive assignments: $ 700 per article and $30 per hour as editor.

June 2000:

Hurrah! Defy query guidelines listed in Writer’s Market for regional magazine such as querying by snail mail and waiting six weeks for response. Send e-mail query to editor asking if she wants to see travel piece. Editor replies immediately via e-mail. Sell article for for $400 first rights, payment on acceptance.

July 2000:

Wait for checks to arrive inrepparttar 129903 mail having earned over $2,500 last month. Wait some more and put account into overdraft, paying large sums in overdraft fees. Learn that cash flow is very important to fledgling small business. Also learn that it is very important to keep querying instead of resting on laurels, admiring achievements.

August 2000:

Checks begin to dribble in slowly. Articles get published online. Feel inspired to keep going, however no work. Children are home forrepparttar 129904 summer and time is limited for writing. Head lice breaks out in house, efforts to control infestation that will not quit consumes more time. Finally overcome problem, and sell article on beating Nix-resistant nits. Decide life’s little dramas are good writing fodder.

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