By Tami Kamin Meyer
When central Ohio journalist and author Sherry Paprocki first met New York-based writer Estelle Erasmus in 2016, Paprocki had a plan for tapping into Erasmus’s incredible organizational and networking skills. Paprocki had just been elected president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and she eyed Erasmus to chair the organization’s next annual writer’s conference in New York City.
Erasmus accepted the challenge, but not before checking Paprocki’s sun sign to ensure the pair could work well together. “I got a kick out of that,” said Paprocki.
Paprocki has enjoyed a varied and successful freelance life, as has Erasmus. On January 3, 2022, Paprocki released her 15th book, Freelance Fancy: Your Guide to Capturing Spiritual Health, Wealth and Happiness from Gig Work.
For her part, Erasmus’s non-fiction book tapping into her years of experience as a magazine editor, author, and freelance writer will be published in 2023. The book, Writing That Gets Noticed: Find Your Voice, Become a Better Storyteller, Get Published is aimed at writers at all levels of their writing career.
A podcast was born
Not only was Paprocki’s latest book released on January 3, but Erasmus also happened to call her that same day to discuss the possibility of the two experts and friends hosting a podcast about freelance writing. After months of planning, the pair released the first episode of ‘Freelance Writing Direct’ on October 6. New episodes drop every Thursday and can be found on Spotify and iTunes, to name a few.
Still in its infancy, Freelance Writing Direct is quickly proving its popularity. It has already earned honors to be among the top 15% of new downloads in the podcast world.
In describing the podcast, Erasmus said the pair combines their years of experience writing about the craft, creating and implementing writing strategies and assessing their own writing and suggestions for viable article ideas and even book topics.
“Our goal, in general, is to educate anyone interested in a freelance writing career,” said Paprocki. The podcast’s target audience ranges from listeners just considering freelancing, people newly embarking on a freelance career to even the full-time writer.
The news literally hot off the presses is that Paprocki lured the publisher of the Dispatch Magazines, owned by Gannett Co., to join her decade-old PR firm, R.S. Rock Media, on Oct. 31. In making his announcement that he is leaving that top post, Ray Paprocki wrote of his excitement to be joining his wife’s journalistic venture.
A parting piece of advice
If Erasmus could offer freelance writers one tidbit of advice, it would be “Never give up! Writing is a marathon, not a race.” Paprocki urged freelance writers to understand their financial worth. “Value yourself as a writer: set a price and stick to it. If you have three or four years of writing experience, eliminate any job that’s not paying you at least $60 an hour because you are worth at least that much, and probably more.”
A moment with Columbus author Robin Yocum
By Tami Kamin Meyer
Robin Yocum, an award-winning Columbus author, journalist and wordsmith attributes his ability to complete a variety of writing-related projects more to technology than old-school techniques.
Yocum says he wrote his latest novel, The Sacrifice of Lester Gates, “while I was driving, voice to text. Then I emailed it to myself. I will head down the road, put my earphones in and talk to the characters in my head.” The novel was released in 2021 by Arcade CrimeWise and was a finalist for the 2022 Dashiell Hammett Award for excellence in crime writing.
A journalism graduate of Bowling Green State University, the Brilliant, Ohio native is the author of ten novels. His book Favorite Sons was named the 2011 Book of the Year for Mystery/Suspense by USA Book News. Brilliant Death was a Barnes & Noble No. 1 bestseller and a finalist for both the 2017 Edgar Award and the Silver Falchion Award for best adult mystery. Yocum was a journalist with the Columbus Dispatch from 1980-1991, including six years as the senior reporter on the investigative desk. He has won more than 30 local, state and national journalism awards ranging from investigative reporting to feature writing. Prior to that, he was the associate sports editor at the Times Leader in Martins Ferry, Ohio, and a reporter for the Eagle-Gazette in Lancaster, Ohio. He is also the principal at Yocum Communications, a public relations and marketing consulting firm in Galena, Ohio, which he founded in 2001.
The Sacrifice of Lester Gates is the sequel for Favorite Sons.
“I always have something going on and try to write (at least) 500 words a day,” says Yocum. He recently completed his 11th novel and is in the process of finding an agent for the work.
“I’m excited about it,” he says of the fiction work about a mob hitman.
According to Yocum, writing novels has been a lifelong passion.
“In my heart of hearts, I always wanted to write fiction. I wanted to create uniquely and mine my own ideas, from my imagination, in my own words,” he says.
Yocum’s favorite aspect of being a writer is “the creativity.”
He explains that when he was younger, he needed a “creative outlet and the Dispatch was that. The writing was laborious, but never hard. No heavy lifting. I enjoy when I think I’ve created something pretty good. It doesn’t get old when my new books arrive in the mail and I rip the box open.”
His advice to would-be authors?
“If you’re not excited about a book, the reader will know.”
He also relies heavily on an old adage taught in journalism school. “Write about what you know. I’m going to stick to that,” he sums.
Discover more about Yocum at robinyocum.net.
Nita Sweeney is a lot of things to a lot of people. On top of the important and varied hats she wears, including wife, writer, author, coach, mentor, mental health advocate, marathoner, devoted dog ma, (decaf) coffee addict, and one-time attorney, she is also a meditator.
As it happens, she met the love of her life before she realized her love of meditation. It is endearingly sweet how Ed Sweeney, her husband of 29 years, not only stole Nita’s heart but also introduced her to an ancient ritual that has become central to her life, both personally and professionally.
“There was this guy,” she recalls, a slight blush rising on her cheeks nearly three decades later, of her early days with Ed. One day, her then-boyfriend asked if she would like to “sit.” He was actually inviting her to meditate. Because she liked the guy, she went along with his request. He set the microwave timer for five minutes.
“Try not to fidget,” he instructed.
But Nita is a fidgeter, and simply could not sit still the entire five minutes.
While he may not have been impressed with her meditation skills at the time, Ed both married that writer and introduced her to an activity that served as a mental lifeline for decades to come.
Her newest book, Make Every Move a Meditation, is aimed at readers both new to meditation and those with experience in the exercise. “While I give specific, detailed instructions a beginner can follow, some of the techniques might also be unfamiliar to people who have practiced before,” says Nita. While most meditation techniques suggest sitting or walking while practicing, Nita focuses on movement meditation.
Although movement meditation is not new, it is not commonly taught, says Nita. “There is an assumption you must sit still in order to develop the calm and concentration necessary for effective meditation practice. I agree that a still body can create conditions to help the mind calm on its own, but stillness is not necessary.”
While she had been exposed to the concept of meditation prior to meeting Ed, Nita admits she viewed it as “bold” and “exotic.” However, as she continued to practice meditation alongside “that guy,” Nita eventually experienced the calm and concentration that can result from meditation.
Nita’s interest in mental health grew as she became more endeared to meditation and the soothing benefits she enjoyed from it. Penning Make Every Move a Meditation is a culmination of her years pursuing mental and physical health for herself coupled with her desire to share with others what she has learned along with way.
Writing about mental health “helps me process my life,” says Nita.
She says, “I enjoy writing about mental health and meditation based on my own experience because putting words on a page is a way to digest what happens to me. It helps me understand life on a deeper level.” She says writing a book combining her loves of meditation, exercise, and mental health has been a long-term goal, but it took years for the idea to percolate in her mind.
Nita is excited to embark on an abbreviated book tour that will take her to several locations in the coming months including Columbus and Cincinnati. She will participate in virtual events around the book, too. Check our calendar for further information.
Beyond promoting her book, blogging, running, meditating, and sharing adventures with Ed, Nita is also looking ahead. “I’m nagged by an unfinished novel about a unicorn barista who unknowingly joins a troop of homeless forest people trying to save some ancient trees. There are also memoirs about some family members. And, poetry beckons.”
“I want to write it all.”
(c)Tami Kamin Meyer, 2022, all rights reserved
AN AUGUST OF ACTIVITY – WRITE NOW COLUMBUS AUGUST 2022
WE NEED YOUR HELP
Thank you for taking the time to peruse our monthly summary of literary news and events from throughout central Ohio. Nita and I enjoy sharing monthly local literary news about book releases, book fairs, author visits, book signings, workshops, and other writing-related happenings throughout the area.
To be honest, if we were trying to make a living at this, Nita and I would both be clients of my personal bankruptcy law practice (yes, I practice law on the side). We could really use some outside financial assistance to defray the costs of our website, its maintenance, occasional technical glitches, our researcher, and more.
Neither Nita nor I draw any kind of salary for these efforts, so our request for help isn’t about lining our pockets. We need help to keep the site running as it has for the past 19 years.
To donate whatever you can, please visit Nita’s DONATE page. To set up a recurring payment, check the box on that page. To send a check or money order, email email@example.com for the address. We take Venmo, too.
We also welcome sponsorships of this newsletter. At $15 a month or $40 for three months, we will mention your book, writing-related event, or even a little love note to your Write Now Columbus creators or our readers. Find sponsorship details HERE.
Thank you so very much!
DOING THE (freelance) HUSTLE!
In personal albeit professional news, I am excited and proud to announce I have been hired for four new writing opportunities. One of the freelance gigs is to write about cars for U.S. News and World Report. Another is to create original content for attorney websites. The two other writing jobs relate to banking and residential home buying, respectively.
It might seem I am flush with work, but, as a longtime freelancer, I know better. Things can change overnight. For example, a website I began writing for in January 2022 stopped using freelance writers in May, forcing me to find new opportunities.
To survive as a freelancer, a person needs to be a hustler. I don’t mean ‘hustler’ in a sneaky, unsavory way, but rather a ‘self-motivated, continuously digging for new challenges’ kind-of-way. Sure, it gets tiring, but overall, I enjoy the thrill of the hunt. And the dollars in my bank account!
IMPROV COMEDY at NEST!
Even more great news to share! Regular readers of this column know I am involved in the improv comedy community in Columbus. I’m THRILLED to announce I will be appearing in two shows in August at The Nest Theatre, 2643 North High Street. The first is Saturday, August 6, when I’ll be participating in a musical improv performance. The show will be the culmination of an intensive, 15-hour workshop I will be participating in Thursday, August 4 through the 6th, with the show at 8 pm that evening.
On August 11, at 7.30 pm, I will be performing a five-minute standup comedy routine as part of a class I am currently taking at The Nest. Yes, life is funny, and I have a lot to say about it.
And, in September, WORD: Live Lit and True Tales, will make its return. Neither the date nor the theme are set as of this writing, but if you’re interested in being a storyteller, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll share more details as they become known.
For ticket information for any of those performances, please visit www.nesttheatre.com.
(c)Tami Kamin Meyer, 2022, all rights reserved
July juxtaposition: You call this freedom?
The Summer of 2022 continued with a major slap in the face to every woman in America when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn the federal right to abortion. Nita and I are livid. I pray Ohio’s ‘Heartbeat Law’ is somehow deemed unconstitutional so women in our state can once again access the medical treatment they seek.
The numbers are on our side. We dissent.
On a lighter note, I’d like to share a glimpse into some of my recent writing successes.
I have been a freelance writer for over 40 years. As a freshman at the University of Cincinnati in 1981, I had no idea I could write. But I soon realized how enjoyable it was to research and write term papers and other assignments.
As a freshman, I joined the staff of The News Record, UC’s newspaper. Suddenly, I was interviewing people, asking questions to glean more information about the topic at hand, and writing article after article. I cried happy tears seeing my name in print. I did then and I still do now.
I have no idea how many articles I have written in those four decades, easily over 500, if not 1,000. One reason I honestly don’t know is that I’ve had several laptops and computers in that time, and not everything transferred each time I uploaded old data into new machines. Such is life. Also, some online publications don’t carry every article they have published, or perhaps rid their archives of content after time has passed. Therefore, I really have no way of knowing the actual number.
I’m grateful that 2022 has been wonderfully busy.
I have only written “on assignment.” That means I write articles based on a story idea and subsequent contract. The article suggestion is either one I made to an editor or one the editor offered to me. I receive a contract and write the piece.
I do not write “on spec.” Short for “on speculation,” writing on spec means I write the article, then shop it to several publications in the hopes one will buy and publish it. While that approach works for others, I simply don’t have the time to market my articles in the hopes of selling them after I write them. I strike the deal first, then write.
I am beyond proud to share one of my recent bylines in one of my favorite publications to write for, Cannabis & Tech Today. My editor there is pleasant, patient and honest, a joy to write for.
The article stems from my personal life experience. I possess an Ohio medical marijuana license for the pain and discomfort I endure due to arthritis. The idea for this article stems from my own difficulties opening certain types of packaging. Could it be that cannabis wrapping is ageist as it attempts to be child-proof?
You can find the article here.