Archive | August, 2009

I’m being guilt-tripped by New York Magazine

31 Aug

guiltI just received a scary yellow envelope in the mail, with big black words emblazoned across the top: PLEASE USE STAMPS INSIDE AND OPEN AT ONCE!

Fear not – it’s just from New York Magazine.

When I joined MediaBistro four years ago, every year I’d get sent a free copy of Wired each month. Three years ago that was switched to New York Magazine. No idea why. I understand that MediaBistro is based out of NY but plenty of us live beyond the Big Apple. Oh well. And so, every week I received New York Magazine for an entire year. I never caught up reading them, though. Too many. I have newspapers and other magazines to read too. What’s the point of learning the great shops, restaurants, theatre in New York if I’m rarely there… and I’m certainly not there every week!

Still, two years ago, MediaBistro finally had the foresight to allow you to “opt out” and actually receive a $10 cash back for refusing the mag. I took the moolah and thought I’d sent New York Mag back to the Tri-State area. Ha! No such luck. I have continued to receive the magazine for the past two years  — despite pushing the opt out button every year. And I continue to receive the “last chance” letters from NY Magazine.

I understand that newspaper and magazine subscriptions are falling, failing and flailing, but do they really need to keep me on their circulation list that badly? I’ve been cajoled, prodded and begged into renewing my membership for the last two years and I haven’t caved once. Today, I’m finally being guilt tripped. An excerpt from NY Mag letter:


Dear About To Be Former NEW YORK Subscriber,

…We’re worried. You see, you only have a few more issues left on your subscription — unless we hear from  you now.

Don’t you want to know the meals, bars, gyms, deals, spas, shops, bargains, and galleries…?

Um, in New York? Nope! That’s why I have Los Angeles Magazine.

And the final line…

P.S. Sadly, we won’t be able to replace the issues you’ll miss if you wait to reply.

And this is signed by a very attentive KEN SHELDON.

Poor Kenny, I feel bad for him. However, I’m taking bets. Whoever can tell me how long it takes before my subscription runs out FOR REAL, HONEST, wins a jar of jelly beans.


I’m too clean to edit erotic fiction

30 Aug


… or so say Ellora’s Cave. At least I think that’s what they say. I applied for a copy editing position for Ellora’s Cave – a site that publishes romance fiction and various forms of erotic fiction. As part of my application I was asked to fill in an extensive questionnaire and to submit a resume, and at that point I’d be sent a copy editing test to undertake.

Among the questions was my definitions of  romance, sensual romance, erotica and pornography (or something like that), and the types of books, online mags etc. I read. Clearly they were not what Ellora’s Cave were looking for.

Imagine my surprise when I received the following email:

Dear Ms. Hartog,

Thank you for your interest in the editing positions at Ellora’s Cave, and for taking the time to complete the application and send your resume. Unfortunately, based on those, we don’t currently feel we’re an appropriate match for your strengths. Perhaps our professional paths will cross again in the future.

I wish you the best of luck in finding compatible and fulfilling employment!

Call me crazy, but I think a good editor is a good editor, no matter the material. I had a job editing right wing Republican rants, something far more out of my comfort zone than erotic literature, and my ability to parse those sentences was not impeded by my non right-wing leanings.  And, I even let Ellora’s Cave know I had been a top rated runner up in a Mills & Boon (the non-American version of Harlequin Romance) short story competition.  And I reviewed my great creative writing teacher – Rachel Resnick’s latest book, Love Junkie. And that’s full of erotic unmentionables. Sheesh!  I can’t believe  they didn’t even let  me take the test!

And so, it appears, my paws just aren’t smutty enough to edit erotic fiction. I will now have to take my heaving bosom and my dirty gerunds and seek solace in the arms of a vibrant, chiseled editor at another company.

A very tall man looking for a very small child

30 Aug

Ah, the Interweb. The bane of my existence. Love it or loathe it, few of us can live without it, and I pretty much make my living on it. Writing, editing, researching, it’s all done on my MacBook, and thanks to brilliant techie geeks who somehow know how to get all this information to shoot across the universe. I’ve always been one of those people that doesn’t care how it works, as long as it does work.

So, when I found out that my D-Link router (that had served me faithfully for five years) wasn’t working and was no longer under warranty and I’d have to pay for advice to hook me back up to the world-wide spider web, I finally bit the bullet and attempted to hook up my Airport Express. Granted, I’d bought it about three months ago, but on the first try it wouldn’t work and I figured I’d just wait to try again.

a-woman-showing-frustration-at-her-computer-~-pgi0318Finally that day arrived (thank you D-Link non-free advice people), but still, despite my basic grasp of tech-dom I could not get the Airport Express to work. Now, I’m not a big swearer, but something about losing my link to the computerized world gets me in a terrible state and I find myself using and abusing all kinds of expletives (sorry Mum). I cursed the computer, Apple, Steve Jobs, my desk and anything within cursing range. And finally I called the Mac experts (God bless Apple Care – you should all invest).

And that’s when I met Russell (on the phone of course), and Russell went through all the motions  I went through and also couldn’t get it to work. This made me happy momentarily, because at least it meant I wasn’t being obtuse, if even Russell the mac guy couldn’t fix it. Of course, it meant I still had not Internet access, unless – heaven forfend! – I used an Ethernet cable. The horror of it!

And then, Russell suddenly said, “How far is your Airport Express base from your computer?” I said, “About a foot.” And he said, “Try moving your computer at least three or four feet away.” Which I did, and voila, it worked!

Then Russell, mac guru and apparently philosopher said gravely: “When setting this up, the base was just too close to the computer, so it couldn’t tell it was there. It’s like a very tall man looking around for a very small child and realizing that he’s standing at his feet but he’s looking all around instead of looking straight down.”

father-daughterI’d like you all to know that my very tall man and my very short child are now happily reunited and we’re back to living in Mac harmony. Thank you for today’s philosophy lesson, Russell. May you and  your Mac/philosophy skills go far.

Writing about the pursuit of Justice – Bet Tzedek

28 Aug

BetTzedekTorchMy article on an amazing LA non-profit that provides free legal assistance to all who are needy (and these days we all are), is  now up on The Jerusalem Post.

Bet Tzedek is an extraordinary institution that has helped thousands of people over the years. Give it up for them!

Discovery of a creative writing Yahoo group

28 Aug

creativewritingThanks to my dear friend Yael Unterman, I have been introduced to CRWROPPS-B – aka – Creative Writers Opportunities List – a Yahoo Group that “posts calls for submissions and contest information for writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.”

I’m always excited when you can simply head to one place to discover a wealth of opportunities under one banner. While it’s great to be able be spoiled for choice when it comes to writing opportunities available on the Internet, sometimes it’s a relief to not have to trawl for hours and hours, no?

I have sent the Scribblers on the Roof info out into the Internet ether and hopefully the submissions will be coming in thick and fast very soon. Lots of positive feedback, so that’s exciting.

Watch this space…

Drumroll please… new Web site almost ready to launch

27 Aug

scribbler logo copyDear All,

I’m excited to say that I’m about to launch my new Web site – Scribblers on the Roof!

Website is but you won’t be able to access it just yet.

Send submissions to or send your thoughts, views, ideas to Submission details are below – keep reading!

Scribblers on the Roof was born out of a need for a dedicated place for both established and emerging writers of fiction and poetry with Jewish themes to submit their work. While there are some wonderful Jewish publications that have small sections for for creative writing they are few and far between and they are not dedicated solely to the craft of poetry and prose.

There are also many many fine “non-Jewish” literary publications where writers can submit their work. However, sometimes a piece may contain certain references or even words in Hebrew or Yiddish that a non-Jewish audience may simply not understand.

Scribblers on the Roof is also dedicated to allowing Jewish writers to connect with one another, and support and encourage each other in their literary pursuits. We aim to bring together writers of Jewish poetry and fiction from around the globe, showcase their talents, provide resources for their work, as well as host competitions, and challenge writers to delve into their Jewish backgrounds.

Remember, you don’t have to be Jewish to submit, just have stories and poems that have Jewish themes and/or content.

Launch is in September 09. Please submit your work and be part of our official launch!


* Scribblers on the Roof welcomes unsolicited submissions of original fiction and poetry only.
* All submissions must have identifiable Jewish themes or content.
* You may submit previously published work only if you have retained the rights to your piece. Please state where and when the piece was previously published and confirm that you have permission to publish on Scribblers on the Roof.
* Scribblers on the Roof accepts simultaneous submissions
* Fiction submissions may be anywhere from 500-5,000 words.
* Fiction submissions over 1,500 words deemed suitable for publication will be serialized over a period of weeks depending on the length of the story.
* Poetry submissions must be no more than 4 pages.
* Scribblers on the Roof only accepts electronic submissions
* Send submissions to
* All submissions must be in a Word Doc (.doc), double-spaced and in 12-point font.
* Please include your name, email address and word count, and a short, relevant biography (no more than two lines) on a separate page.
* If your piece is accepted for publication, you will be notified by email.

Freelance writing priorities meets social media

27 Aug

GoingCrazy-HowUDoing-MLHelp! I think I’m actually having a social media meltdown. Does this not happen to anyone else? I’m so busy trying to figure out how to tweet, facebook, blogg, digg, both this blog, and get going on the dry run of my website (name and address coming very very soon,) I feel like I’m drowning. Especially after seeing this lovely Youtube clip:

And, of course I’m doing Jane Boursaw’s course and we’re now onto the “Social Media” part, which I confess, aside from being under the weather with the beginnings of some kind of unpleasant bug,  I’ve been putting off doing. But now I’m working on it with gusto.

Is this the bane of a freelancer’s life? Constantly juggling so many project you don’t know which ones to work on when? Where, how, what to promote and why? Right now if I add everything up I’m currently working on:

  • Two ongoing editing projects
  • Three articles
  • One blog
  • One Website
  • Three interviews to set up
  • Prepping to teach a class
  • Transcribing  three hours of notes from an interview
  • Spending time doing the volunteer work I’m committed to
  • Checking for new freelance jobs every day
  • and… of course… finding time to blog, tweet, facebook etc. etc. and keep up with others in my profession who are doing the same thing.

And I’m an organised person. Truly. I have diaries, notes, papers, lists, etc. but I still get confused about what I’m working on when, what I want to work on, what I have to work on. I try to lay out my day to spend x amount of time on one thing  and y amount of time on another. But it rarely works. While it’s great to be able to chop and change when you get fed up with one thing or another, it can still be overwhelming. And I think social media puts me under even more pressure.

Now, if only I can find time to write more fiction and read my latest edition of Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Anyone else feeling the pressure?

My dog is cancer free!

22 Aug

Great, great news!

Bridget, who as I mentioned last week underwent surgery, just passed her biopsy test. Relief all around. Not only did they remove the entire lump and it was deemed clean, vet says that the pathology results revealed that it may not even have been cancer. They can’t be 100 percent sure. But the great news is whatever that nasty lump was is gone, and she has bounced back wonderfully. Hip, hip hooray. Stitches come out next week. Here is a cool shot of her where you can see her scar if you look closely. And if you can’t there’s a second pic too. Not for the squeamish, though.

She has been an absolute trouper and I’m just thrilled she’s back to her old self.


Here’s the gory pic. Don’t look if you’re squeamish! For what it’s worth, she doesn’t even seem to know it’s there, and it now looks much better – this was taken on the day of surgery, eight days ago.

Bridget's scar

Sally Boyden: The Littlest Australian on Youtube

19 Aug

Ssally_theno, remember all the hush hush secrecy surrounding my discovery of the Aussie child star I obsessed over as a kid? Well, I can finally come clean, because she’s going public. Sally Boyden – aka – The Littlest Australian – has put up her latest song on Youtube.

Sal and I have been collaborating over the last few weeks and while I can’t tell you directly the projects we’re working on, I’m excited that her 100 Hours project with Dan Dubelman is finally getting some airplay. She also finally set up her own site on Myspace. The 100 hours project is about the first 100 hours Sally and Dan have spent together writing and performing music. They’ll be performing  at Arlene’s Grocery in NY on Sep 11.

She’s come a long way from this adorable kid when she was on Australia’s variety show Young Talent Time back in the 1970s.

Here she is all grown up with Dan, singing their amazing song “God Knows Why” on Santa Monica Blvd at dawn. Enjoy!

Staying on top of everything

18 Aug

frog-pondWhere I come from, we used to say “I’ve been buzzing around like a blue-arsed fly,” but given that I’m now in the grand old U.S. of A., I guess I have to say I’ve been hopping around like a crazy green frog. That, I suppose is my excuse for not having written for a few days. Today, hopefully that has changed. I am now much more prone to resting on a lily pad and going out of my way to avoid pond scum (Names withheld to protect me from being beaten to a pulp at a later date).

I’m still waiting on my dog’s biopsy although she is happily resting on her own pond of happiness. Three days of cool painkillers saw to that, and now she’s back to her old self. Hooray. Biopsy results should be in tomorrow.

I’ve also suddenly been bombarded with some great editing work  at the Levan Institute at USC (thank you Nick!), and things are moving ahead with the articles on the former child star. All in all things are going swimmingly.