Saturday, October 28, 2006

10 Tips for Freelance Success

1 Show-that you care about your target markets
"Showing that you care" means understanding the publication you're writing for--and demonstrating that understanding.

Freelancer and former magazine editor Judy Keene explains: "When I was an editor, the quality I valued most--and found least--was an almost perfectly honed sense of my magazine's voice: its tone and point of view, our readers' needs, knowledge of previously run material, etc. I had a couple of freelancers who knew the publication and our audience almost as well as I did. When I saw a query from one of them, I knew before even reading it that I was going to find something absolutely on target. Barring something similar in the works, their assignment rate was close to 100 percent."

2 Be a team player
"For editors who ask reasonable things, I am more than willing to help out," notes freelancer Margaret Littman. "That's what you do for your co-workers in an office setting--and that's the way I think of editor/writer relationships. If I learn a fact or see an item that I think may be of use to that editor, regardless of whether or not I think it will turn into an assignment for me, I'll pass it along, just as I would in an office. Being willing to be a team player makes editors more likely to call me with assignments."

3 Stay in touch during the down times
Writer Elizabeth Johnson makes it a point to contact one of her editors even when she's not working on an assignment. "Every few weeks, I drop her an e-mail letting her know that I'm available. Sometimes she'll call me back in day or so with an assignment. Recently, she didn't have any assignments for me, but because she knew I was available, she passed my name on to another editor at the publication, who had a feature she needed to assign. If was a surprise story for which I wouldn't have been considered if I didn't keep in regular contact."

4 Follow up on your assignments
"When I e-mail a finished story to an editor, I always follow up a few days later just to make sure it was received, if I haven't heard anything," writer Dara Chadwick notes. "If I run into a potential problem on a story, I'll usually let the editor know way ahead of the deadline. Many times, I'm able to work around the problem and still meet the deadline. But I think most editors appreciate knowing."

5 Mind the details
Integrity and accuracy are the traits that keep many editors going back to the same freelancers. That means finding reliable, authoritative sources and checking facts.

"Notice the deadline," adds Meg Guroff, a feature editor at AARP The Magazine. "I know I'm supposed to say, 'Always meet the deadline,' but, frankly, most of the best writers I know have deadline problems. Writers who blow past the deadline without comment cannot be trusted with work in the future, but a chagrined phone call a day or two ahead saying the first draft will be a little late is not always a catastrophe."

6 Be patient
Many magazines receive hundreds of queries every week and don't always have staff available to review them. Holidays, sick days, vacations, office meetings and overall work flow all play a part in how quickly an editor can respond to a new story idea or a completed assignment. As a result, it can sometimes take six to eight weeks for an editor to get back to a writer just to say "No thanks." Sometimes--thanks to the internal approval process--it can take even longer to get a go-ahead. In such cases, patience is a virtue. Even so ...

7 Be persistent
Go-aheads also can take a while at AARP The Magazine. Guroff adds, however, "I'm much more likely to keep pushing [in-house on a writer's behalf] if the writer checks in periodically, without a hint of aggravation. Besides reminding me of their idea, this also demonstrates that the writer will be good at tracking down potentially reluctant sources. Same goes if you've turned in copy and haven't heard anything in a while." Don't be afraid to keep knocking, politely, until you get a response.

8 Be willing to revise
When writer Sal Caputo turned in his copy for a bridal magazine's new advice column for grooms, he learned he still had some work to do.

"Apparently, I was a little too irreverent," he says. "The editor wanted more Everybody Loves Raymond than Saturday Night Live. I took a deep breath and said, 'Let me take another crack at it.' When I handed in my revised version, the editor called to say that she and the publisher were exceptionally pleased with the column. It looks like I'll have a new steady gig with her magazine."

9 Offer something surprising (in a good way)
"Don't use all the good stuff in the query," freelancer Wayne Curtis suggests. "Leave out some fun surprises for the final piece." That way, your brand-new, well-polished manuscript won't feel like old news to the editor who has been living with your query for a month or two.

If he's really got a jump on his story, Curtis will sometimes surprise his editor by submitting his first 200 to 400 words a week or two before deadline, "just to give the editor some comfort and to allow the art department to start thinking."

10 Show that you care about your work
"We don't change things just for the sake of changing them," Guroff says. "So if a story comes back to you repeatedly with questions and changes, it's because it needs more work before it will fit well in our magazine. A writer who sees such feedback--or pretends to see it--as a chance to perfect the piece makes me happy. Someone who turns in a draft and says, 'Do what you want with it,' or tends not to know the answers to follow-up questions off the top of his or her head--indicating a minimum of curiosity about the subject--scares me."


Thursday, October 26, 2006

What, Me Worry?

An industry leader explains how a climbing mishap helps him keep fear in check.

Paul Gagner, president of Sierra Designs and Ultimate Direction, wasn't always a corporate honcho obsessing over sales figures and marketing schemes. In July 1995, deep in the Canadian Arctic, he had more elemental concerns: He wondered if his climbing partner, Rick Lovelace, would eat him if he happened to die first.

They had just put up a first ascent on Walker Citadel, a 4,000-foot granite wall on Baffin Island. They called their 26-pitch climb Superunknown, which is exactly what they got into upon their descent. To their dismay, they found that the sea ice had broken up, blocking their intended over-ice hiking route back to the nearest settlement 70 miles away. stranded with antiquated maps and no radio, their survival was both a waiting game and a race against starvation.

BP How did you find yourself in such dire straits?

PG On all my other trips--the Himalaya, Alaska, Patagonia--there was always someone I could call for beta. For Baffin, there was nobody. I got some broad info from Conrad Anker, and that was it. Locals said it had been a warm spring and that the sea ice was melting, which shortened the window for our climb. Then with high winds, our climb took a week longer than expected. Our plan for returning to Clyde River was to ditch our climbing gear and hike across the frozen fjord. Our outfitter would pick up our gear after breakup, so no one was scheduled to come get us. Our plan B was to traverse the edge of the fjord, but the terrain was a minefield of crevasses. Our maps weren't accurate, and while we had a compass, we were so close to magnetic north that it didn't give us precise info. We had no GPS and no radio. We returned to basecamp hoping that when we missed our flights home, people would come looking.

BP Did you think you were going to die?

PG We waited for rescue for 2 weeks; one without food. I lost 20 pounds and felt like I was floating out of my body. We got pretty weak--it took all my energy just to pee. We took a photo of ourselves in front of our climb (see above) and joked it might be our last. Rick is stockier than me, and I asked "Hey, are you going to eat me if I go first?" We made light of it, but sitting there for 2 weeks, going through scenario after scenario, it could get grim very quickly if you let it. But we never really felt we wouldn't make it.

BP What did it feel like to hear the boat that finally rescued you?

PG A river near us made noise, which sounded to us like a boat engine. That was frustrating as hell. But this one time, the pitch was different, and it clicked: This is a boat. We bolted up, looked out the tent door, and saw three angels on a boat coming toward us. Relief. It made everything we'd been through feel worthwhile. The guys were hunters who spoke no English, but it was easy to communicate our gratitude--and our hunger. I'd been a vegetarian for about 6 years, and I was ravenously hungry. We had caribou stew.

BP What did you learn from this epic?

PG Be confident that there will be successful conclusions and make smart decisions toward that end. No freaking out! I tell my employees, "Look at El Cap; know that the goal is to stand on top of it. But break that down into stages you can attain." Right now, I'm working on restructuring our business in Japan, which I could really thrash around about--it's a big job. But you've got to look at a bite-sized goal first, like who our partners will be. Intense situations build character and stock your toolbox for real life.

By Shannon Davis, Backpacker

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Vexing Success Of Avandia

Some 18 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes, and 41 million more are at high risk of developing the disease. A newly published study finds that the "at risk" group can cut the odds of developing diabetes by 60% if they take Avandia, a pill used to treat the disease. The results create a conundrum for doctors, however: Diet and exercise can lower the risk by the same amount, without the potential side effects of a daily pill. "But lifestyle changes have limited usefulness because so few people are willing to make them," says Dr. Jill Crandall, head of the diabetes prevention program at Montefiore Medical Center in New York. Avandia is made by GlaxoSmithKline, which also sponsored the research. For three years the study followed 5,269 patients in 21 countries with impaired glucose tolerance, half of whom were given Avandia.

Reporting in The Lancet, the researchers projected that 144 cases of diabetes could be prevented for every 1,000 pre-diabetics treated with the medicine. The patients on Avandia did have a slightly higher rate of congestive heart failure, which specialists said could limit its effectiveness. At about $170 a month, the drug could also be costlier than lifestyle changes. But as Crandall notes, insurance companies are more likely to pay for the drug than to cover the costs of a dietician or fitness trainer.

Copyright The McGraw-Hill Companies, Copyright 2006

Survival of the Fittest

How working out saved David Lee Nall's life--in more ways than one

Reportedly Men's Fitness, some people just try to survive their workouts, while other people survive because of them. David Lee Nall, of Austin, Texas, is in the latter group: He credits exercise for not only giving his life joy and direction but also helping him sustain it.

A skinny kid growing up, Nall didn't have many friends or a constructive pastime. "I was also dyslexic" he says, "and I got D's and F's in high school." Smoking pot and getting into fights caused the cops to visit Nall at home more than once, and he found no outlet in sports. Osgood-Schlatter disease, a rare genetic disorder characterized by pain in the joints associated with growing too quickly, prevented him from almost any physical activity. "I went from 5′6″ to 6′1″ almost overnight" says Nall of his teenage development. "My knees ached for days whenever I tried to run, but my doctor told me I could lift weights."

Unlike the pounding and jerky motions that running and other sports would subject him to, weight training was easy on his knees and could even improve them by strengthening the muscles around the joint. Psyched to have found an activity he could take part in, Nall threw himself headlong into lifting.

"I got up to 222 pounds at 6′3″," says Nall, and he competed successfully as a 'bodybuilder in regional shows. "And I started to care about learning. Dyslexia had made me hate reading, but I read my first book when I found Arnold Schwarzenegger's Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. I just kept reading it until I could comprehend the words."

Upon graduation in 1994, Nall was spending almost all his time in the gym. At 18, he took a job cleaning up his local Bally's club. A few years later, he married and earned a reputation as a brilliant club manager, ultimately overseeing several gyms in the South and Midwest. However, he was growing tired of the politics involved in operating a successful gym and, seeking a more lucrative occupation to support his wife and newborn baby, ended up buying in to a franchise office-cleaning service.

Though no stranger to long hours, Nall started logging 90-hour weeks running his new operation. He stopped working out, and protein shakes gave way to sodas with every meal--and cake and cookie dough weren't far behind. Nall swelled to an unsightly 245 pounds and 25% body fat.

But the ultimate impetus for change came with Nall's discovery of a lump on the side of his belly. Though a surgeon told him it was a benign tumor, he warned Nall that he could have more. "That was my wake-up call" says Nall. "I was only 27. My son was 4, and I wanted to see him grow up."

In December 2004, Nall learned of a local natural bodybuilding competition and made it his goal to compete again. He started eating smaller, superhigh-protein meals throughout the day. (The rest of his diet was moderate in carbs and low in fat.) In the gym, he'd train heavy one week and light the next, forcing his muscles to keep adapting.

In six months, Nall was down nearly 50 pounds. His waist had returned to a svelte 32, and he had a dean bill of health from his doctor. By May 2006, he was ready to compete, and he took second place at the contest, weighing 186 pounds. Saved a second time, Nall, now 30, knows he'll never again lose his fit habits. "Months later, I'm at 4.1% body fat--even better than I was in the contest!"

Maintaining his incredible appearance has even gotten Nall noticed by several fitness-modeling agencies, and he hopes to appear in an upcoming ad campaign. But he also knows it's not all about him. "My son works out with me. He's 6 now, and I got him a mini exercise bike and bench with foam weights on it" Nall is even training people again, all the while still growing his business. "Everything in my life changed when I started working out. I only hope that my transformation can inspire other people to have the same experience."

Stick With It
How soon will you see results? Depends how long you've been training.

We all know it can take weeks before you see any measurable progress from your workouts. But if you give up beforehand, you won't see any progress. That said, if your program is on track, here's about how long it will take to yield good gains.

Almost immediately. Your nervous system learns to recruit more muscle fibers every time you repeat an exercise, so strength gains should come regularly (especially if you're a beginner or coming back from a layoff).

If you're relatively new to lifting, six to eight weeks. Once your nervous system has recruited all the fibers it can, the fibers themselves enlarge, creating bulk.

A month. The body can shed water weight in just minutes, but to lose fat safely without losing muscle is usually a pound-per-week process. Depending on how much you're trying to lose, four weeks should give you noticeable--and maintainable--results.

By Sean Hyson

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Tricks For Halloween Treats

Did you know that each American eats an average 11 of 25 pounds of candy a year? That's a lot of sweet stuff. It can be fun to trick-or-treat and then pig out on candy. But you have to admit that it can also leave you feeling … icky. Here are five ways to enjoy a healthier, happier Halloween.

Instead of going candy crazy all night, limit the number of houses you go to and get just a few pieces. Then settle in with friends and watch a scary movie.
Pace yourself by creating a schedule. For example, you can choose to eat eight pieces of candy on Halloween and then one piece a day after that until it's all gone. Or decide that you will eat no more than three pieces a day for a week.
Separate your candy into three piles: what you really like, what you sort of like, and what you couldn't care less about. Then give away all but the first pile.
Stay in and make your own healthy Halloween recipes with friends. Try this recipe for
Bloody Finger Pizza. You'll need: • chopped red bell peppers

• low-fat string cheese sticks

• cooked pizza crust

• pizza sauce

Spread pizza sauce on cooked crust. Arrange cheese sticks on the pizza. Then place bell pepper pieces at tips of cheese to look like fingernails. Heat in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese starts to melt.

5 Skip Holloween candy altogether this year. Instead, trick-or-treat for charity. Ask people for loose change in place of chocolate. The United Nations Children's Fund, or UNICEF, is a popular and well-known organization that helps children in need worldwide. Go to or ask your teacher to order collection boxes for the whole class. Helping others will make you feel better than eating a box of candy.

Source: Current Health 1, Oct2006

Sex Tricks For Experienced Girls Only

You aced Bedroom Basics 101, and now you're ready for graduate-level get-it-on instruction. Complete our advanced amorous assignments and he'll be begging to be the teacher's pet.

• "Overall, my sex life is pretty fantastic," says Beth Rarchart(*), a 26-year-old travel agent. "But still, I'd kill for some new moves. And I would love my orgasms to hit new heights."

Yes, even those of us who routinely earn A's in bedroom basics can up our pleasure by mastering a fresh trick or two. That's why we're having open enrollment for Cosmo's Sex School--the only place where you'll learn how to increase your passion proficiency in every sensual subject from Dirty Language Arts to AP Penis Pleasing. Our top-notch ecstasy instructors--real women and sexperts--will provide you with the hot and heavy homework that will help you graduate with orgasmic honors. Just commit our hooky notes to memory and you're sure to be ranked number one in bedroom fun.

SULTRY SUBJECT 1 Dirty Language Arts
You already make him melt with your sexy moans, groans, and bad-girl dirty talk. But after a while, he might get too used to the same old vixen vocabulary. So we came up with new lusty wordplay games that will quickly grab--and hold his attention.

"Write naughty words on his back with your fingers for a fun change of pace," suggests Ava Cadell, Ph.D., Los Angeles sexologist and author of Stock Market Orgasm (Peters Publishing, 1999). "For example, draw the word lick on his skin using a sexy touch. Have him guess the word you drew. Once he gets it right, do that to him." Take turns drawing on different body parts. You'll be amazed how erotic the back of your knee and other overlooked areas can be.

Jennifer Hooper, a 26-year-old dance instructor, shares a different form of carhal communication. "After months of talking dirty to my boyfriend in bed, I wanted to try something racier," she says. "So one night, I borrowed one of his porn mags and started reading the X-rated story that accompanied one of the nudie layouts. The plot was about a horny girl who has her car fixed by an even hornier mechanic," Hooper's man was immediately turned on by the sound of his woman's voice uttering these wicked words. It didn't take long before she had to throw the magazine down because he was all over her!

Turning him on? That's easier than study hall. You know exactly how to rub, kiss, and lick your man before the real action begins. But you can make that pre-sex period even hotter by spicing things up with a little pre-boink bondage.

"Because it builds anticipation, gently tying him up is a great way to heighten sexual arousal," says Lady Green, author of The Sexually Dominant Woman (Greenery Press, 1999). Use a soft bathrobe sash to tie his hands together behind his back, she suggests. You want the knot to be comfortable but firm, so he can't get out of it easily. Then stimulate his hot spots in ways only you know how.

Candi Harris, a 25-year-old bartender, has a similar S and M way of firing up her boyfriend. "I wear black thigh-high boots and a naughty teddy to set the mood," she says. "Then I fasten his hands together and blindfold him for a little game called Tease 'n' Tie." She begins her seduction by slowly licking his chest and nipples, then she stops for a few seconds. "Next, I stroke his penis passionately until he's fully aroused," she says. "Then I completely stop again. Not knowing what I'm going to do next really drives him wild, to the point where he's begging me to untie him. And when I do, he returns the favor--and then some."

SULTRY SUBJECT 3 AP Penis Pleasing
Sure, you know how to wake up his willie. But how do you make a major impact on his member? Here are a few penis projects that will put him in absolute awe of your creativity.

First, grab a hair scrunchie that's not too tight. "After he's fully erect, wrap it around the base of his testicles and the base of his penis [wrap it twice if it's too loose]," explains Cathy Winks, coauthor of The New Good Vibrations Guide to Sex (Cleis, 1997). "Make sure the scrunchie is tightly secured, but not so tight that it's uncomfortable." Once your passion prop is in place, stroke or kiss his penis. Don't be surprised if he moans more than usual. "That extra squeeze at the base of his genitals keeps the blood trapped inside his erection and causes pleasurable pressure," says Winks.

Another prizewinning penis move? "During oral sex, I'll give him a hummer," Michelle Conrad, a 24-year-old bank teller, says. "I put the first two inches of his erect penis in my mouth, and I make a low, vibrating noise in the back of my throat." Meanwhile, she uses her hands on the bottom of his shaft and testicles for extra stimulation. "He thinks I'm a genius!"

SULTRY SUBJECT 4 Climax "G"-ography
So, you have reaching your passion peak down, but are you doing everything you can to climb even higher? Expand your big-O know-how fast by finding your G-spot, the hidden happy button you may have heard or read about.

To begin your horny homework, bring his penis in contact with your G-spot by getting in the woman-on-top position and leaning forward slightly. When you're about to climax, reach down to the middle of your pubic hairline and press in with three fingers, Think of that area as your G-spot on the outside. (If you don't feel anything, press a few inches higher or lower until you do.) "Massage it using a firm circular motion," suggests Barbara Keesling, Ph.D., author of Discovering Your Sensual Potential (HarperCollins, 1999). "You'll feel G-spot stimulation from the inside and the outside, which can intensify your orgasm."

But don't stop there; you can still break even more big-O records. Just use your other hand for clitoral stimulation while you rub your G-spot externally and his penis hits your G-spot internally. This triple-play is bound to bring on an outof-this-universe "blended climax," which involves both clitoral and G-spot stimulation. "Women who have had this type of climax say it's the most intensely pleasurable sensation there is," says Keesling.

Marge White, a 25-year-old optician, uses this double-whammy orgasm technique often. "I feel waves of excitement inside and outside my body--and my orgasm lasts longer," she says. "My husband is totally turned on by my A-plus abilities."

"My Passion Professor"
Real women remember the sex-perts who gave them an unforgettable hands-on how-to-do-it tantalizing tutorial.

• "His name was Dave, and he was a pro at foreplay. We'd make out for hours, bringing each other to the brink of orgasm, then backing off. Finally, when we couldn't stand it anymore, we'd have intercourse. Dave taught me that liming is probably the most important element in incredible sex."

--Corette, 25

• "When I was in Paris, I had a fling with a hot Frenchman. We'd have mad, animal sex in elevators, on the beach, and behind the bleachers in a public park. He added an adrenaline rush and excitement to sex that I had never experienced before. Now I'm not afraid to pounce on my current boyfriend in bar bathrooms or while we're in the car!"

--Elizabeth, 23

• "My boyfriend got me past my fears of oral sex. Before, I could never enjoy receiving it. I was worried about my smell and taste. He reassured me that he loved kissing me down there. As a result, I began having the most intense orgasms of my life."

--Joani, 27

(*) Names have been changed.

By: Kemp, Kristen, Cosmopolitan