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Specialized and niche writing

Organizations and resources for writing specialties
(including animals, autos, bowling, children's books,
food, gardens, family history, jazz,
résumés, sports, travel, Web writing, and wine)


• Organizations and resources for writing niches or specialties
• Miscellaneous listings, alphabetical order
• Animal-focused writers organizations
• Automotive press organizations
• Cartoonists, humor writing, comic book writers, and comedians
• Cartoonists, Q&As with
• Behind the Cartoonist: Gag writers and cartoon captionists (by Sarah Wernick)
• Children's books, Writing and illustrating for kidlit
• Children's books about science
• Comedy and comedians
• Food and beverage writing
• Garden writers and garden writing
• Military writers (including veterans)
• Miscellaneous types of writing gig
• Music and musicians
• Music journalists and songwriters organizations
(other categories within that section)
• Outdoor writers
• Prison writing
• Sports journalism
• Sports journalism organizations
• Travel writing
• True crime
• True crime books
• True crime crime podcasts
• Veterans who write (and military writing)

See also

Arts and poetry organizations
Cartoons, comics, anime, manga, panel stories, graphic novels, humor, and animation
Editors, proofreaders, and indexers, Organizations for
Fiction writers and fans, Organizations and sites for
Journalism organizations  (and see Covering XYZ, further down)
Major writers organizations
Local and regional U.S. organizations and events
Media pros and other allied professionals
Medical, health, and science writers, Organizations for
Songwriting and songwriters, Books by and about
Translators and interpreters, Associations for


Organizations that help artists with disabilities has moved here, to a website page focused on living with disabilities.

 

Under Journalism, you will find

Covering abortion
Covering climate change
Covering coronavirus (Covid)
Covering crime and criminal justice
Covering disability
Covering disaster
Covering diversity and inclusion
Covering elections
Covering energy
Covering extremism
Covering gun violence (comfortdying.com site)
Covering health reform
Covering HIV and AIDS
Covering immigration

Covering medical beats
Covering medical and health news (where journalists get their information)
Covering Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP
Covering mental illness and suicide prevention
Covering poverty
Covering public and private tragedy and trauma
Covering the Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare)
Covering the Covid-19 pandemic: Resources for journalists
Covering the opioid crisis
Covering various other specialty beats
Covering war


Subcultures within subcultures! An association of Fantasy Sports Writers? the American Night Writers? One could spend all day just looking at websites of people who write about vehicles (why so may auto writers associations, and so regionally organized?). See 6 Questions to Help Nonfiction Writers Find Their Niche (Erica Meltzer on Jane Friedman's blog, 9-11-18)

And why is there no website for the Aviation/Space Writers’ Association (17 S. High Street, Suite 124, Columbus, OH 43215, (614) 681-1900)?. Shouldn't writers about a high-tech industry be on the World Wide Web? Cat writers have a website. (In Dec. 2019 I am finding "THE SOCIETY OF AEROSPACE COMMUNICATORS ... to fill a void created after the bankruptcy of Columbus, Ohio-based Aviation/Space Writers Association." But no link for that group either! There's a lesson here, I think.)

Why are children's books and night writers and sportswriters grouped together? Because the template for this website allows only "50 works" (in this case resources) and I was running out of slots!



Food and beverage writing

Cooks, cookbooks, and  food and wine writers and writing

 

"Garlic is the catsup of intellectuals."
~ A motto in my kitchen

 

"It's a shame to be caught up in something that doesn't absolutely make you tremble with joy."
~ Julia Child, 1991
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
~ Michael Pollan

"Britain and America are the two great cookbook-writing nations, which is not the same as being nations of great cooks. It is precisely because neither country can boast a coherent, admirable, traditional cuisine that cooks have such need of guidance and distraction. Nations with grand cooking traditions produce fewer, simpler cookbooks. Yet things are changing."
~ from a story in The Economist:
Pluck a Flamingo: What Cookbooks Really Teach Us

 

Food and cookbook writing and editing
Who owns a recipe? Recipes and copyright
Food shopping, food safety, and the food business
Cookbooks, food reference books, and food history 
Books for food writers and readers
Food lovers' blogs, Twitter feeds

 

Organizations for food writers/journalists

 

Association of Food Journalists (AFJ)
Circle of Wine Writers
Culinary Historians of Washington, DC (members include scholars, cooks, food writers, nutritionists, collectors, students, and all those interested in learning about foodways, culinary history, and gastronomy) Their links page links to Culinary Historians and related groups in Ann Arbor, Austin (Foodways), Boston, Chicago, New York, Ontario, Northern California, Southern California, New Orleans, and more).
International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Join at various membership levels. Members-only access to website's best features: excellent resources, for members only.
Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) , independent, nonprofit news organization that produces investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.

International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA)
Oldways (not a writing group but a nonprofit food and nutrition education organization, with a mission to inspire healthy eating through cultural food traditions and lifestyles)
Slow Food USA (dedicating to changing the world through "food that is good, clean and fair for all")

Directory of State and Local Regulatory Officials (AFDO, Association of Food and Drug Officials) involved with food, animal feed, animal health, and food defense. See also their links to resources related to food, drug, cosmetics, and medical product safety.

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Food and cookbook writing and editing

Three Cookbook Authors on How They Got Their First Book Deal (Jenny G. Zhang, Eater, 9-26-19)
I Was a Cookbook Ghostwriter (Julia Moskin, NY Times, 3-14-12) From proposals to advances, Molly Yeh, Priya Krishna, and Von Diaz explain how they became published cookbook authors.
The Recipe Writer's Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker
Recipes Into Type: A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors by Joan Whitman and Dolores Simon. A reference book about the mechanics of recipe writing. Out of print, but worth buying a used copy. Dolores was a copyeditor at Harper & Row, when I worked there (way back when!).

• Example of a clear explanation: "Stock is made from bones and meat, while broth is made from meat or cooked vegetables. Bouillon is dehydrated stock, and it’s more concentrated. It can help flavor your dishes." ~ What Is Chicken Bouillon? (Healthline)


Julie Powell Took Food Writing to a Franker, Darker Place (Julia Moskin, NY Times, 11-3-22) The food blogger, who died recently, was portrayed sunnily in “Julie & Julia,” but her work and her life held hard truths about domesticity. “I don’t see the disconnect between the parts that are nice and full of butter and Julia Child and the parts that are painful and include pig parts and BDSM,” she said in an interview after “Cleaving” was published. “One leads to the other and back again.”
What We Write About When We Write About Food (1A, NPR, 11-28-19, 34-minute listen: Jonathan Gold, Osayi Endolyn, Osayi Endolyn, Helen Rosner) A lot of time people say "stick with the food," food writer Osayi Endolyn told us. "But it's never just about the food."

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Advice for Future Food Writers (Amanda Hesser, Food52, 4-10-12) "Except for a very small group of people (some of whom are clinging to jobs at magazines that pay more than the magazines' business models can actually afford), it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a food writer, and I think it’s only going to get worse."
Why We Are Self Publishing the Aviary Cookbook - Lessons From the Alinea Book. (Nick Kokonas, 5-10-17)

The Hidden Risks of Writing a Cookbook (Sierra Tishgart, Grub Street) The cookbook business has a reputation for being strong and lucrative — a smart career move for any chef. The reality burns. "The way these deals are structured protects the publishing house and empowers them to make more and more books." The realities of self-publishing (including a Kickstarter campaign). “Cookbooks are like restaurants — you can’t make money with one,” says Fat Rice's Abraham Conlon

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10 Things Every Cookbook Publisher Should Know (T. Susan Chang, cookbook reviewer, in PW, 12-6-10) Five common mistakes that make a cookbook unusable, and five things that make a good cookbook great.

Why newspaper food writing is bad (W. Blake Gray, The Gray Report, 11-1-11)
Is Food Writing a Dismal Way to Make a Living? (Dianne Jacob, Will Write for Food, 4-17-12)

Why Is Every Cookbook a Memoir Now? (Tori Latham, Bon Appetit, 5-24-22) Books like Simply Julia, Korean American, and Arabiyya teach us as much about life as they do food.
Food-related memoirs and biographies

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Would You Write a Cookbook for Next to Nothing? (Priya Krishna, NY Times, 10-1-19) A crop of publishers offers would-be authors very low or no advances, and may ask them to forgo royalties or sign nondisclosure agreements. Nick Kokonas 'explained that even with the $250,000 advance that he negotiated for the 2008 cookbook “Alinea,” traditional publishing is set up so that most authors never see money beyond an advance, and much of that amount goes toward expenses.... Kevin Pang, who recently left his post as editor in chief of the online food publication the Takeout, is collaborating with chefs and restaurants to self-publish shorter, magazine-like cookbooks with just a few recipes.'
Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks (Gastro Obscura) Spiral-bound community recipes and antiquarian gems mingle at this small East Village shop in Manhattan, NY. See also Gastro Obscura, the food department of Atlas Obscura.
Secrets of a Cookbook Editor: 5 Steps to Writing Foolproof Recipes (jennifern, Weldon Owen, 5-29-13)
This Is What It’s Really Like to Be a Cookbook Editor (Sarah Billingsley, Chronicle Books, 1-28-16)
How to Write Your Own Cookbook (David Lebovitz, 7-24-07). .
Designing a Cookbook (Glenna Collett, Book Design Made Simple, 1-11-16) How to on layout, trim size, typesetting, etc. But first, get it professionally edited.
Jean Patterson's FAQ about food writing

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Who owns a recipe? Recipes and copyright

The Recipe Writer's Handbook, by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker
Copyright Office on recipes Copyright law does not protect recipes that are mere listings of ingredients. Nor does it protect other mere listings of ingredients such as those found in formulas, compounds, or prescriptions. Copyright protection may, however, extend to substantial literary expression—a description, explanation, or illustration, for example—that accompanies a recipe or formula or to a combination of recipes, as in a cookbook. Only original works of authorship are protected by copyright. “Original” means that an author produced a work by his or her own intellectual effort instead of copying it from an existing work.
Who Owns a Recipe? A Plagiarism Claim Has Cookbook Authors Asking. (Priya Krishna, NY Times, 11-29-21) U.S. copyright law protects all kinds of creative material, but recipe creators are mostly powerless in an age and a business that are all about sharing. Alan Richardson and Karen Tack, the authors of “Hello, Cupcake,” saw their signature corn-on-the-cob cupcake on the cover of a women’s magazine in 2011 — but the recipe didn’t give them any credit. [Doesn't that make you want to try the recipe, if only out of curiosity?]

Can a recipe be stolen? (Joyce Gemperlein, Washington Post, 1-4-06) "Copyright law specifies that "substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions," such as a cookbook, can be copyrighted but that a mere list of ingredients cannot receive that protection. The International Association of Culinary Professionals guidelines "focus on giving proper attribution to recipes that are published or taught." The association advises using the words "adapted from," "based on" or "inspired by," depending on how much a recipe has been revised.
Food critics group updates its guidelines and ethics code (Jim Romenesko, 5-14-13) See also Why One Food Writers Group Updated Its Ethics Guidelines (Katie Bascuas, Associations Now, 5-20-13)

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Food shopping and safety, the food business, and interesting food articles

Inside Trader Joe's (The Everygirl) Shopping tips for TJ regulars.
How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food (Andrew Jacobs and Matt Richtel, NY Times, 9-16-17) Excellent investigative piece about how, as growth slows in wealthy countries, Western food companies are aggressively expanding in developing nations, contributing to obesity and health problems. "A New York Times examination of corporate records, epidemiological studies and government reports — as well as interviews with scores of nutritionists and health experts around the world — reveals a sea change in the way food is produced, distributed and advertised across much of the globe. The shift, many public health experts say, is contributing to a new epidemic of diabetes and heart disease, chronic illnesses that are fed by soaring rates of obesity in places that struggled with hunger and malnutrition just a generation ago.

How Bad Are Ultraprocessed Foods, Really? (Alice Callahan, NY Timres, 5-6-24) They’re clearly linked to poor health. But scientists are only beginning to understand why....

The Nova system sorts foods into four categories:

      Unprocessed or minimally processed foods, like fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, beans, lentils, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, plain yogurt, rice, pasta, corn meal, flour, coffee, tea and herbs and spices.
      Processed culinary ingredients, such as cooking oils, butter, sugar, honey, vinegar and salt.

      Processed foods made by combining foods from Category 1 with the ingredients of Category 2 and preserving or modifying them with relatively simple methods like canning, bottling, fermentation and baking. This group includes freshly baked bread, most cheeses and canned vegetables, beans and fish. These foods may contain preservatives that extend shelf life.
     Ultraprocessed foods made using industrial methods and ingredients you wouldn’t typically find in grocery stores — like high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and concentrated proteins like soy isolate. They often contain additives like flavorings, colorings or emulsifiers to make them appear more attractive and palatable. Think sodas and energy drinks, chips, candies, flavored yogurts, margarine, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, sausages, lunch meats, boxed macaroni and cheese, infant formulas and most packaged breads, plant milks, meat substitutes and breakfast cereals.

     Try to eat closer to the first category!

When Dangerous Strains of Salmonella Hit, the Turkey Industry Responded Forcefully. The Chicken Industry? Not So Much. (Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung, ProPublica, 12-29-21)Consolidation in the poultry industry may be fueling widespread salmonella outbreaks. Turkey companies worked with researchers to eradicate one. So why can’t the chicken industry do the same? See also Your Free-Range Organic Chicken May Have Been Processed at a Large Industrial Poultry Plant (Andrea Suozzo, Maryam Jameel, Michael Grabell and Bernice Yeung, ProPublica, 12-28-21) To help make sense of the opaque poultry supply chain, hundreds of ProPublica readers sent in details about their chickens and turkeys. Here’s what ProPublica writers learned.

Meet Raghavan Iyer, the Man Who Makes Indian Cooking Easy (Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Mpls.St.Paul) “One thing I learned in Minnesota,” says Raghavan Iyer, “corporations are where the money is, but the thing that matters most is keeping your personal integrity and brand in the best shape. [This] allows you access to that money. You simply must keep your integrity above all.” When he developed shelf-stable Indian foods for Target’s Archer Farms line, and for the UK’s Patak’s Foods, Iyer was persnickety about keeping the ingredients few in number and high in quality."
      In He Taught Americans to Cook Indian Food. Now He’s on His Final Chapter. (NY Times, 2-21-22) Iyer is described as using his last days to get familiar comfort foods to patients like himself. And according to him, “No self-respecting Indian kitchen would have curry powder.”
Food writing (interesting articles, tips, and books for food writers and aspiring food writers)
How to Stock a Modern Pantry (Julia Moskin, Cooking, NY Times). For example, "Fragrant leaves like makrut lime and curry (not the spice mix, but an Indian tree with scented leaves) are much more powerful in frozen form than dried."
The Unsung Women of the Betty Crocker Test Kitchens (Anne Ewbank, Gastro Obscura, sibling of Atlas Obscura, 3-21-22) 'She was fictional, a marketing tool used to sell Gold Medal Flour, Bisquick, and other American staples. But at a time when women were discouraged from working outside the home, the real women behind the dozens of cookbooks, hundreds of advertisements, and thousands of letters emblazoned with the name “Betty Crocker” turned an illustration and a name into a corporate powerhouse. Despite prevalent gender discrimination, many remembered their time as “Crockettes” with immense fondness.' For many Crockettes, the job was glamorous, fulfilling, and “almost subversive.”

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health by Marion Nestle
Fast Food Nation (The Dark Side of the All-American Meal) by Eric Schlosser. Supersize Me.
What the U.S. could learn from Japan about making healthy living easier (Yuki Noguchi, Shots, NPR, 8-6-23) Listen and/or read.
Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel.It’s a perverse fact of modern life: There are more starving people in the world than ever before, while there are also more people who are overweight.

Tables for Two (delicious New Yorker columns).
My Life as a Child Chef (Adam Shatz, New Yorker, 11-18-19) For a bullied kid with weight issues, haute cuisine provided an escape.
Want tastier coffee? Add a splash of water before grinding the beans (Sean Cummings, Science, 12-7-23) A bit of water reduces clumping and makes a more consistent cup of joe.
---Why adding water when you grind coffee beans makes for a better brew (Alex Wilkins, New Scientist, 12-6-23) Coffee aficionados often add a drop of water to their beans before grinding – now scientists have shown that this leads to less mess and a more flavourful espresso
---Spraying Your Coffee Beans (Katrina Yentch, Barista Magazine,5-16-24) James Hoffmann mentions that spray bottles have recently accompanied home grinder shipments he has received. The intention is to reduce coffee static in the grinds.Measuring out to just .1 of a gram, the added moisture will keep coffee from sticking to the sides of a dosing chamber. As a result, you won’t have to tap your dosing chamber against anything, you use up all the coffee, and you have less of a mess!

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Cook books, food reference books, and food history

"There is really no such thing as an original recipe. . . But cooks must feed their egos as well as their customers." ~ M.F.K. Fisher to Julia Child, October 4, 1968


A French Answer to American Apple Pie (Bill Buford, New Yorker, 11-19-2020) The principles beautifully explained, preparation wonderfully video-demonstrated. After that video ends a wonderful video showing how to make steak tartare comes on.
The Future of Food Critics (Mandalit del Barco, All Things Considered, NPR, 9-4-18) Anthony Bourdain and food critic Jonathan Gold shared a love of street food. With their deaths, and many moves in the world of food writing and criticism, the industry is at a moment where it can be reshaped.

 Finding, Then Killing, America's Best Burger Joint (All Things Considered, NPR, 11-23-18) After traveling to 30 cities to try 330 cheeseburgers, food writer Kevin Alexander crowned Stanich's in Portland, Ore., the best burger in America. Five months later, Stanich's closed. NPR's Ari Shapiro speaks with Alexander about what happened, the role of the critic and whether he played a role in Stanich's closure.
Fifteen Essential Cookbooks (New Yorker newsletter, 4-22-24) The kitchen guides that New Yorker writers and editors can’t do without. Useful if you're looking for gifts to give.
When Every Ketchup But One Went Extinct (Sam Lin-Sommer, Gastro Obscura, Atlas Obscura, 8-16-22) The main casualty of the catsup war was flavor. See also More stories from Gastro Obscura and its first food-oriented crossword puzzle.
Food-related memoirs and biographies
Eleven Madison Park Explores the Plant Kingdom’s Uncanny Valley (Pete Wells, NY Times, 9-28-21) Now vegan, Daniel Humm’s acclaimed restaurant does strange things to vegetables. “In tonight’s performance, the role of the duck will be played by a beet, doing things no root vegetable should be asked to do.”
On Plant-Based (Alicia Kennedy)
What We Write About When We Write About Food Helen Rosner, food writer at The New Yorker, food writer Mayukh Sen, and food and drink writer and editor Osayi Endolyn, on 1A, WAMU 7-25-19)
Names for food in British and American English (OxfordWords) -- for example, eggplant and aubergine, garbanzos and chickpeas, arugala and rocket, navy beans and haricot beans)
GoodFood (BBC food glossary) and BBC recipes
The Deluxe Food Lover's Companion by Ron and Sharon Herbst. A popular reference for food writers.
Food memoirs and biographies (a list of recommended reading)
How James Beard Invented American Cooking (Adam Gopnik, New Yorker, 10-12-2020) The gourmet’s real genius wasn’t in his recipes but in his packaging. He knew how to serve up the authenticity that his audiences craved. Beard’s ambition to be an actor never vanished; his often heretical performances were part of his authority in the kitchen. See also John Birdsall's biography: The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard
Famous food critics (Ranker) See also The most epic Yelp reviews.
Why We Are Self Publishing the Aviary Cookbook: Lessons From the Alinea Book. (Nick Kokonas, Medium, 5-10-17) Real numbers from the opaque world of cookbook publishing--a "how we did it" story. Watch their Kickstarter video for the Aviary Book..

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Jane and Michael Stern, The Art of Nonfiction No. 8 (interviewed by Sadie Stein, The Paris Review, Winter 2015). The delightful authors of Roadfood: The Coast-to-Coast Guide to 900 of the Best Barbecue Joints, Lobster Shacks, Ice Cream Parlors, Highway Diners, and Much, Much More and their memoir Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food. See also their write-ups of road food around the U.S. (on the Splendid Table website). See also Meet Jane and Michael Stern, the Original Culinary Road Warriors (Sarah Baird, Eater, 12-2-15) and Roadfood.com.
Questions for a Cookbook Copyeditor (Q& about cookbook editing with Karen Wise, Copyediting, 10-27-11)
Recipe for Fred Hapgood's fabulous sourdough anise bread
The Trouble With Nightshades. Maybe. Erik Ness's excellent website and blog, The No Nightshade Kitchen (H/T Todd Pitock for recommending it: "good, balanced science, delicious-looking recipes including a lot of great vegetarian ones").
How Erewhon’s Head Grocery Buyer Shops for the Future (Aliza Abarbanel, Taste, 7-4-22) See also (if you have time for a long read) Finding Erewhon: A History of "America's Most Expensive Grocery Store (ThisIsMold.com) In part satirical, the clip breaks down how the Los Angeles grocery chain has earned its viral reputation as “America’s Most Expensive Grocery Store”
Ghost Kitchens Are the Wave of the Future. But Is That a Good Thing? ( Kristen Hawley, Eater's newsletter, 11-9-20) Delivery-only restaurants, which have proliferated during the pandemic, could change the way the industry does business for years to come. Virtual brands, ghost kitchens, delivery-only concepts — whatever you call them — have thrived during COVID-19. But even with hard data and a good gut instinct, virtual concepts fail just as easily as their brick-and-mortar counterparts. See also Everything Eater Editors Have Cooked in 2021 "All the recipes, from simple dinners to baking projects, that we’ve loved so far this year."
Tea Vendors and Communities (Katharine O'Moore-Klopf, KOK Edit)
10 Things Every Cookbook Publisher Should Know (Cookbook reviewer T. Susan Chang, PW, 12-6-10) What not to do in a cookbook, and a list of her favorite recipe books (good for holiday shopping).
From Bananas to Blintzes: Writing about Diet, Nutrition and Food by Kelly James-Enger (Writing-World.com)

The Handmade Cookbook That Taught Me How to Grow a Family (Abigail Rasminsky, Food52, 8-22-2020)

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Cookbook Author Lazarus Lynch Loves an Ugly Tomato “The uglier the better for me.” (Chris Cowley, Grub Street, 8-16-19) Spend a little time with the author of Son of a Southern Chef: Cook with Soul.
Michele Anna Jordan on Food and Food Writing (interesting Q&A on Andy Ross's Ask the Agent blog: Night Thoughts About Books and Publishing)
Ruth Reichl, James Beard award winners cook up the future of food writing (Dawn Failik, Poynter, 5-25-11). Hear from Ruth Reichl, Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl (“Being a restaurant critic in Minnesota is relentlessly local”), Holly Hughes (“I love the alternative weeklies; they still devote space to longform writing”), Jonathan Gold, Miriam Morgan, Craig LaBan (“You can’t underestimate how the change in technology has changed food writing”)
The Restaurant Where Grandmas Cook to Share Their Cultures (Shaima Shamdeen, Yes!, 2-20-18) A New York City restaurant does more than serve home cooking from around the world. It prepares each dish with the love that only a grandmother can provide.
Justice Among the Jell-O Recipes: The Feminist History of Food Journalism (Suzanne Cope, LA Review of Books, 7-9-18)

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Drizzle and Drip recipe index (some of Sam Linsell's recipes are worth making)
The Nigerian Fried Rice That Turned Me Into My Mother (Kitchen Butterfly, Food52, 7-25-2020)
Haute Cuisine (Doug Brown, American Journalism Review, Feb/March 2004). Food journalism, once a throwaway compendium of recipes and “what’s hot” articles, has gone upscale. Newspapers and magazines are dedicating top talent to the food beat, and they are hungry for sophisticated stories with timely angles. (This was printed in 2004)


How Food Helps Homeless People Get Back on Their Feet (Civil Eats, 9-8-16) The Doe Fund housing and job training program in New York City expands its food-related opportunities.
Is Puerto Rico the Next Sustainable Ag Hot Spot? (Civil Eats, 9-19-16) As the U.S. island territory faces a $70 billion debt crisis, some advocates see sustainable farming as one potential solution.
How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat (Anahad O'Connor, Well, 9-12-16) The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit.
How the sandwich consumed Britain (Sam Knight, The Guardian,11-24-17) A Guardian Longreads. The world-beating British sandwich industry is worth £8bn a year. It transformed the way we eat lunch, then did the same for breakfast – and now it’s coming for dinner.
This small Altadena press is publishing some terrific L.A. cookbooks (Margy Rochlin, Los Angeles Times, 8-22-17)
Slippery Business (Tom Mueller, New Yorker, 8-13-07) The trade in adulterated olive oil.
Celebrating with Julienne by Susan Campoy "cost $40. Nobody was buying anything then. But people were buying stacks of 10 as gifts,” says Bates of a cookbook that would end up winning the nonfiction book prize from the Southern California Independent Booksellers Assn. that year. “We sold 8,000 copies in six months with no publicity, no nothing." “A small press only has certain niches available — and my niche is that I’ve lived in L.A. my whole life. I know people in the food world, I know the retailers, I know the media, I know the bloggers,” says Bates, a sixth-generation Southern Californian who as a child was an exasperatingly picky eater but evolved into — much to the amusement of her family — LA Style’s restaurant critic, a post she held for seven years.'

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Instagram Your Leftovers: History Depends on It (Laura Shapiro, NY Times, 9-2-17) "With its vast reach and the technological savvy of its users, Instagram could go beyond mere glamour and open up a domestic world that has always been elusive. I’m talking about ordinary meals at home — the great unknown in the study of food....[T]here’s nothing to tell us what a schoolteacher in Connecticut served to her family on a Thursday in 1895. Or what she was thinking when she boiled the string beans for 45 minutes, put ketchup in the salad dressing and decided to try her neighbor’s recipe for rice pudding, the one with a little cinnamon. Could Instagram capture today’s version of that story?"
Can Babies Learn to Love Vegetables? (Burkhard Bilger, New Yorker, 11-25-19) No diet has been more obsessively studied, more fiercely controlled, or more anxiously stage-managed than baby food. Yet we still get it wrong.
The Best Things I’ve Eaten This Decade (Helen Rosner, New Yorker, 12-31-19) "So much of the pleasure of eating is tied up in the specific, ephemeral gestalt of the moment, even if the food is identical down to the molecule."
The Greenbrier Food Writers Symposium (Kurt Michael Friese, HuffPost, 9-20-10)
From Chop Suey to Haute Cuisine: A Case Study in American “Ethnic Food” (Oliver Wong, LA Review of Books, 3-20-17)
Food for Thought (and for Publishing!) (Kavitha C. Reinhold, Chicago Women in Publishing, Feb. 2009). The Food Publishing panel comprised Carol Haddix, Chicago Tribune food editor and editor of Chicago Cooks; Doug Seibold, president of Agate Publishing, whose Surrey imprint publishes books on food, dining, and entertaining; Laura Bruzas, founder and publisher of Healthy Dining Chicago, a community education and outreach effort; and guest moderator Tom O'Brien, of O'Brien Culinary Communications and Kendall College food writing faculty.'
Food pieces by David Hochman (scroll down to find links to some interesting stories). He also runs Upod Academy (Upod stands for “under-promise, over-deliver”), a workshop at which to learn learn the ropes about freelancing successfully.
A Cheerful American Cookbook Memorializing the 1948 Berlin Blockade (Caroline Lieffers and Frederick Mills, Slate, 8-4-17) A work offered free, onlin

 

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Books for food writers and readers


If you buy any books from Amazon after clicking on one of these links, we get a small commission (which helps support the site).
Recipes Into Type: A Handbook for Cookbook Writers and Editors by Joan Whitman and Dolores Simon. (Dolores was copyeditor at Harper & Row when I worked there, when it first started publishing the big cookbooks.
Indexing Specialties: Cookbooks by Alexandra Nickerson, Fred Leise, and Terri Hudoba (InfoToday Books)
Cookbooks Are So Much More Than Recipes and Photographs (LitHub, 11-1-19) Joshua Raff on the triple pleasures of memoir, travel, and family history. '“People want something larger than a recipe collection,” Matt Sartwell observes, they “want a voice and an authority.” While an authentic and engaging voice is important, perhaps above all, the author must have and project authority, a thorough knowledge and competency. Here's an example of how elaborate a food story can be, with color photos, lots of space, links to more material, and a full explanation of what goes into a Brunswick stew that makes it so special: Why Everyone Should Make Brunswick Stew, a Southern Classic (Eric Kim, NY Times, 10-21-22)
“People ask me, ‘Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, about love, the way others do?’. . . The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it. . . There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.” ~ M.F.K. Fisher, from The Gastronomical Me
Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacob
How to get your cookbook published (Penguin's cookbook editors)
Food memoirs and biographies (a list of recommended reading)
Five Reasons to Incorporate Food into Your Writing This Year (Jessica Kehinde Ngo, Brevity blog, 1-15-24)
Is Food Writing Important? (Michael Ruhlman, HuffPost, 9-24-12) Michael is author of Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World's Most Versatile Ingredient " Humans do two things that no other animal does, Ruhlman writes: cook our own food and tell stories. If we are prevented from doing either of these things, he says, life is unsustainable. “Cooking and telling stories. That's what makes us human."
The Hungry Soul: Eating and the Perfecting of Our Nature by Leon R. Kass
Food Photography: From Snapshots to Great Shots by Nicole S. Young
Plate to Pixel: Digital Food Photography & Styling by Helene Dujardin.
Recreating a 2000-Year-Old Curry: A Gastronomic Adventure into Oc Eo's Ancient Culinary Heritage (Southeast Asian Archaeology, 8-5-23) Recipe and images of the ingredients.
Jane Shafron's recipes The cooking website of a wonderful colleague and friend, who died far too young in January 2019. Posted there is a tribute to Jane, including a moving farewell note from her mother.

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Food Lovers' Blogs, Twitter Feeds, How-To videos


The Department of Salad Index (an index for Emily Nunn's great Substack blog recipes)
The best way to carve a whole chicken (Frank Proto, YouTube video) Part 3:Use a long thin carving knife to cut thin pieces of breast meat, and a boning knife to get into joints and tight spots. Skip to Part 4, the demonstration and explanation.
NYTimes Food
50 Best Food & Cooking Blogs (Detailed.com)
Baker’s Dozen: 13 Food Bloggers to Follow on Twitter (Claire J. Dunn, The Muse, 6-19-20)
11 Twitter Accounts You Should Follow If You Love Food (Francis Lam, Mantry)
Bon Appetit Twitter feed
Eater Twitter feed
NatGeoFood Twitter feed
118 Twitter Feeds Every Food Activist Needs to Follow (FoodTank, 2013)
13 Best Food Accounts to Follow on Twitter (Spoon University)
• See Baltimore cookbook author Allison Robicelli's Twitter thread about being "given an offer to write a book highlighting the 100 best restaurants in Washington DC FOR ZERO DOLLARS."
What to Cook When You Don't Feel Like Cooking (Carolyn Chambers)
YouTube@EthanChlebowski. Check out in particular Are Expensive Eggs Actually Worth It? (YouTube, Ethan Chlebowski) and Is Real Vanilla actually worth it? And read the comments.

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Sports journalism

See below:  Sports journalism organizations


"Football is not a contact sport, it's a collision sport -- dancing is a contact sport."

 


Sports Betting Won (Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, 8-9-23)

    "If you’re one of the (many, many) fans who find it irritating to now get much of your sports news filtered through the lens of what it means for bettors, the situation can only get worse as ESPN gets more centrally involved in gaming. Or maybe it’ll just turn you into a gambler against your better judgment, precisely as intended.
     "Media executives go where the money is, and right now, the biggest piles of new money are available to those who encourage viewers to gamble. If even ESPN can’t hold out, and apparently has no desire to try, then no one can."
Public financing of sports venues: 7 reporting tips from our webinar (Clark Merrefield, Journalist's Resource, 5-22-24) Professional sports owners often justify asks of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars for new or revamped stadiums with estimates of huge economic returns for communities. It’s important that journalists covering these projects understand how public dollars are raised to pay for them and how to interrogate economic impact claims that teams produce. Research conducted over decades indicates these investments almost never lead to massive economic gains for host cities. Economic activity related to sporting events by and large goes back to team owners.
---Public funding for sports stadiums: A primer and research roundup
---Covering sports stadium financing? Read these 4 tips.
Media world ‘heartbroken’ over mass Sports Illustrated layoffs (Bridget Reilly, NY Post, 1-19-24) Media members who either worked for Sports Illustrated or were fans of it eulogized the iconic magazine on Friday with the news of its potential demise. “RIP one of the best magazines in history. Gone but never forgotten,” wrote Rick Reilly, who for years wrote the magazine’s famous “back page” column.
Behind the Scenes of the Most Spectacular Show On TV (Jody Rosen, NY Times Magazine, 12-2-23) "Months of preparation, hundreds of staff, convoys of cutting-edge gear: inside the machine that crafts prime time’s most popular entertainment: Sunday Night Football.... Broadcasting a football game on live television is one of the most complex technical and logistical challenges in entertainment. The task is magnified in the case of “Sunday Night Football,” which is known for sparing no expense to deliver the most comprehensive coverage and the most arresting spectacles....The person responsible for the sonic personality of 'Sunday Night Football' is Wendel Stevens, the lead audio engineer....What viewers might assume to be an unmediated flow of in-game audio is more like a live D.J. mix, sculpted spontaneously by Stevens, who blends sounds from dozens of sources."
This Man Turned the Worst Job in College Basketball Into a Slam Dunk (Billy Witz, The Great Read, NY Times, 3-8-24) South Carolina Salkehatchie had no budget, players or running water in the locker room when Matt Lynch arrived. One season in, the first publicly gay head coach is figuring out how to win, on the court and off. He told the players he did not need their acceptance — that it had taken nearly 30 years to accept himself.
Miscellaneous Sports, Surfing and Fishing sites (Journalist's Toolbox, SPJ) plus gambling, sports business, etc.

The Last Days of Sting (Mike Piellucci, D Magazine, 1-15-24) The 63-year-old professional wrestling legend could have retired to his ranch in Waxahachie years ago. Instead, he’s fighting time for a chance to go out on his own terms.
Shohei Ohtani, most coveted free agent in baseball history, to sign $700 million contract with Dodgers (Andy McCullough, The Athletic, 12-9-23) Shohei Ohtani’s singular pursuit of history, one man’s quest to rewrite the baseball world’s understanding of what is possible, reached another summit on Saturday when he agreed to the largest contract in the annals of major North American team sports, a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, his agency CAA announced.
Bitter rivals. Beloved friends. Survivors. (Sally Jenkins, Deep Reads, Washington Post, 7-23-23) Tennis icons Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova met as teenagers, forged one of the greatest rivalries in sports and then became close friends. But nothing compared to fighting cancer together. After 50 years, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova understand each other like no one else can. Listen to the audio (53 min.), read the story.
---A profile of rival athletic greats becomes an exploration of a great friendship (Dale Keiger, Why’s This So Good?, Washington Post, 8-10-23) Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins aces an off-court story about Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, competition, cancer, battles and bonds
---Sally Jenkins on her intimate interview with Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert (Esther Landhuis, Strictly Q&A, Nieman Storyboard, 8-18-23) The Washington Post sports columnist used a career of trust and "sincere curiosity" to talk to the tennis greats about rivalry, cancer and friendship

 

The Last Dance (Netflix, 493 min.) This docuseries chronicles the rise of superstar Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, with unaired footage from an unforgettable 1997-98 season.
100 Best Markets for Freelance Sports Writing (John Fox, BookFox, June 2016)
Top Sports News (Alltop) Includes (and describes strengths of) Best Sports News Sites for 2021, listing ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Reddit Sports, Yahoo! Sports, FiveThirtyEight Sports, The Ringer, SB Nation, Deadspin, The Lines, New York Times Sports.
Sports Journalism Institute Helping women and minorities into newsrooms since 1993
Sports journalism jobs (LinkedIn)
Sports Journalism (Wikipedia entry)
How Digital Media Has Changed Sports Journalism (StBonaventure University Online, 3-16-21) Excellent overview for someone thinking about entering the field. Where did today's sports journalism come from? There have always been famed writers in the sports world but modern technology amplifies their message beyond regional audiences. Modern sports reporting recognizes athletes, coaches, and others as human actors rather than interchangeable parts.

     "In recent years, data analytics and visualization have joined investigative skills as must-haves for sports journalists. And athletes have taken public stances on a variety of issues. The following events sparked debate on social media and in comment sections of sports stories:

    San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick protested police violence by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016
    The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team wore their warmups inside out to protest pay inequality in 2020.
    The Milwaukee Bucks walked off the court to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020.
Football’s “woke” moment is over (Michael Serazio, Vox, 10-28-19) "Three years after Colin Kaepernick’s protests, the sport hasn’t changed. Neither have fans....I would argue that sports inform our attitudes about wealth disparity and endless warfare as much as they do racial discrimination and policing practice. Colin Kaepernick — along with the Miami Heat, Derrick Rose, the St. Louis Rams, and University of Missouri football players — have sought to keep fans “woke” about the latter, to the chagrin of most."
Colin Kaepernick to Publish a Young Adult Memoir (Elizabeth Harris, NY Times, 5-18-22) Colin Kaepernick: Change the Game, a graphic novel memoir, follows a young athlete choosing between baseball, which seems like a sure path, and football, where he feels he can be himself.

 

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How Deadspin Changed Sports Journalism (Noah Frank, Global Sport Matters, 7-13-2314) Deadspin is a sports blog founded by Will Leitch in 2005 and based in Chicago. Previously owned by Gawker Media and Univision Communications, it was later owned by G/O Media.

       "Will Leitch was sitting on a panel when he was confronted by an exasperated ESPN executive. Roughly six months earlier, Leitch, then the editor-in-chief of Deadspin, had published a leaked internal memo from the network – a massive 50-page intra-office Q&A about some programming items as well as tree planting, parking issues, and sleeping security guards at ESPN's headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut.'

        "It was just a reminder that ESPN – the most powerful force in all of sports then and now, but certainly even a larger percentage of it then – was just as banal and stupid and pedantic as your paper company in Omaha, Nebraska," Leitch said.
     'From inside professional sports front offices, Deadspin appeared at first as a curiosity.“We started to read it and pay attention to it because it was irreverent and funny,” said Patrick Wixted, who worked in public relations with the now-Washington Commanders from 2000 to 2008.

       “But then it definitely became clear that if Deadspin was doing a story about you, your players or your team, or someone was reaching out to you in a PR capacity, it wasn’t going to be a good thing. Your day just took a turn.”

      “Deadspin was a wake-up call to the evolution of sports media from traditional to non-traditional,” said Wixted. “It kind of signaled that time and era, that you need to be ready for it, deal with it, have a plan for it.”
The Ham-Handed, Money-Driven Mangling of Sports Illustrated and Deadspin (Louisa Thomas, New Yorker, 11-3-19) Louisa Thomas writes about the massive layoffs at Sports Illustrated, the mass exodus of employees from Deadspin, and the future of sportswriting. How new owners brought about the demise of a leading sports website, and the decline of its media-legacy predecessor.

      "It seems that not one of the buyers had purchased Sports Illustrated because it valued the publication’s work. What concerned the buyers was how much money they could wring from their purchase. Authentic Brands held the licensing and trademark rights to celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali, and had never actually published a magazine." Things went downhill fast. See also, perhaps especially, Inside The Maven's Plan to Turn Sports Illustrated Into a Rickety Content Mill (Laura Wagner, David Roth, and Kelsey McKinney, Deadspin, 10-4-19)


What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting? (Amos Barshad, NY Times Magazine, 2-21-18) The Players’ Tribune, a pet project of Derek Jeter’s, allows the stars to tell their own stories. It’s occasionally great — but is it journalism? See for yourself: The Players Tribune ("The Voice of the Game," first-person stories from athletes, providing unique insight into the daily sports conversation).
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Although the Oakland Atheletics had many players with atypical physical attributes and unusual hitting or pitching styles, they excelled in overlooked statistical categories, like on-base percentage, that were typically dismissed by baseball traditionalists. This enabled Beane to get maximum efficiency from his team, earning wins at a fraction of the price paid by the rest of the league.
To Hate Like This Is to Be Happy Forever: A Thoroughly Obsessive, Intermittently Uplifting, and Occasionally Unbiased Account of the Duke-North Carolina Basketball Rivalry by Will Blythe. “The best book on basketball I have ever read ... destined to become a classic of sports literature.” ~ Pat Conroy

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Student. Athlete. Mogul? (Bruce Schoenfeld, read and listen, NY Times, 1-24-23) Now that college players are allowed to cut sponsorship deals, some of them are raking in the money — but at what cost to the rest? "For more than a century, or as long as the N.C.A.A. has presided over college sports, athletes had no legal way to earn anything more tangible from their achievements than plaques and trophies.... Seven-figure salaries for coaches have become common. The players, however, could get nothing beyond a free — often perfunctory — education....

    "That changed on July 1, 2021. Following a Supreme Court decision against the N.C.A.A., the organization ended nearly all its restrictions on what athletes could earn from the use of their names, images and likenesses, an amorphous category that has become known as NIL." (See Supreme Court Backs Payments to Student-Athletes in N.C.A.A. Case (NY Times,6-21-21) "Throughout its 115-year history, the N.C.A.A. has largely defended the principle that students should play sports as amateurs....The association argued that the payments were a threat to amateurism and that barring them did not violate the antitrust laws....

     [Now] "student-athletes in at least six states are poised to be allowed to make money off their personal fame — not because of action by the N.C.A.A., but because of state officials who grew tired of the industry’s decades-long efforts to limit the rights of players. The N.C.A.A.’s response to the pressure routinely rising out of statehouses since 2019 has been, in effect, to stall....Justice    Kavanaugh’s concurring opinion was bolder. “The N.C.A.A. couches its arguments for not paying student-athletes in innocuous labels,” he wrote. “But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The N.C.A.A.’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.” The Supreme Court's decision was narrow, but clearly the tide has turned.
Why U.S. Players in the World Cup Will Get the Most Prize Money, Even if They Lose (Allison McCann, NY Times, 7-22-23) For the first time in World Cup history, FIFA — soccer’s global governing body and the organizer of the World Cup —will allocate money for players and federations separately, a move made to ensure that players will see a cut of the overall prize money. Players will not rely on FIFA to determine their share of World Cup prize money and will instead follow the terms set out in their contract with the U.S. Soccer Federation. In it the Americans have already secured tournament prize money significantly higher than the minimums set by FIFA. The U.S. players’ share of the tournament winnings — roughly $300,000 for each player before even stepping on the field, and rising from there — comes through a new labor agreement signed last year. It’s unprecedented in soccer history, with the players on the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams pooling, and splitting equally, the prize money earned at their respective World Cups.
Why This World Cup Is Dogged By Corruption Allegations (Ian Ward, Vox, 11-19-22) Since FIFA awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar in 2010, the tournament has been ensnared in a tangled web of scandals. Qatar’s bid was marred by accusations of corruption and bribery.The tournament’s infrastructure has been built on the backs of low-paid migrant laborers. Qatar is under fire for using the tournament to “sportswash” its record of human rights abuses. FIFA is massaging the numbers on its sustainability pledge.
Report Details ‘Systemic’ Abuse of Players in Women’s Soccer (Kevin Draper, NY Times, 10-3-22) A yearlong investigation found U.S. Soccer executives, N.W.S.L. owners and coaches at all levels of American soccer had turned a blind eye toward years of reports of abuse from players. Read Report on Abuse in Women’s Soccer Sally Q. Yates wrote the report on allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women's professional soccer.


The Hogs Name (History of the Hogs, TheHogs.net) Interesting website copy.
What Running Taught Me About Life (Carolina Cala Donofrio, WaPo, 10-16-22)
On Outscoring My Father (Thomas Beller, New Yorker, 10-26-22) What would he make of my middle-age obsession with basketball?
Author: Don’t Read My Biography of Brett Favre (Michael Schaub,Kirkus, 9-15-22) Schaub urges readers not to buy his book. (Okay to read this article, though.)

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Remembering Roger Angell, Hall of Famer (David Remnick, New Yorker, 5-20-21) In the course of a well-lived century, he established himself as the most exacting of editors, the most agile of stylists, a mentor to generations of writers, and baseball’s finest, fondest chronicler.
How south London became a talent factory for Black British footballers (Aniefiok Ekpoudom, The Guardian, 3-31-22) A long read. From the playing fields of Lewisham and Bromley to the Premier League, south London’s football clubs have nurtured wave after wave of stars. And these players have become proud symbols of a place reshaped by each new generation of migrants.
The 25 best non-fiction sports books (Chris Morgan, YardBird, 8-21-22) Good for holiday shopping.
Netflix Outlines The Next Phase of Its Sports Strategy (Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg, 1-16-22) Sports documentaries aren’t a brand new category for Netflix. Netflix has always cited cost as a big reason it doesn’t want to offer live sports. [But] the streaming service is making shows about Formula One, the PGA Tour and professional tennis.The company can make dozens of docuseries for less than it would cost to show a single season of games from a sport like the NFL. These shows can also live forever.
Broken Pelvises, Collapsed Lungs, and Decades of Winning: Barrel Racing’s Martha Josey Has Seen It All (Laura Beil,Texas Monthly, 2-21)

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Simone Biles Chooses Herself (Camonghne Felix, The Cut, 9-27-21) “I should have quit way before Tokyo.” ...“You get surgery, it’s fixed. Why can’t someone just tell me in six months it’ll be over?” she wonders. “Like, hello, where are the double-A batteries? Can we just stick them back in? Can we go?”
Turning Sports Statistics Into Riveting Cinema (C, alum Marsh, NY Times, 12-30-22) Jon Bois and his collaborators specialize in documentaries about seemingly unremarkable teams. Then he wields charts and graphs to spellbinding effect.
Viral post thoughtfully reexamines Kerri Strug's iconic broken ankle vault at 1996 Olympics (Annie Reneau, Upworthy, 3-14-22) Maybe we are finding a better balance between competitiveness and well-being? acknowledging the importance of mental health and physical health?
Sportsability Alliance (formerly Florida Disabled Outdoors Association)
The Billionaire Playbook: How Sports Owners Use Their Teams to Avoid Millions in Taxes (Robert Faturechi, Justin Elliott and Ellis Simani, ProPublica, 7-8-21) Owners like Steve Ballmer can take the kinds of deductions on team assets — everything from media deals to player contracts — that industrialists take on factory equipment. That helps them pay lower tax rates than players and even stadium workers.
A Gambling Sharp Breaks Into the N.F.L. (Danny Funt, New Yorker, 2-12-22) Gamblers covet information that gives them an edge against oddsmakers, especially about injuries and coaching strategies, and Sharp’s confidants—who include “a number of guys from Florida,” he said—are privy to “the best information that exists.” Warren Sharp says he’s the only analyst “in the betting space” who works with N.F.L. teams. Do those dual roles constitute a conflict of interest?
How knowing the full story process informs a writer’s work (Greg Bowers, Nieman Storyboard) GQ features editor Daniel Riley went back to full-time writing, drawing on what he learned as an editor. About a story about golf, with principles that apply to all story writing.


What Happens When Athletes Do the Sportswriting? (Amos Barshad, NY Times Magazine, 2-21-18) The Players’ Tribune, a pet project of Derek Jeter’s, allows the stars to tell their own stories. It’s occasionally great — but is it journalism?

For example, Accuscore (Sports Forecasting - Profitable betting since 2004)

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Eight Takeaways From ProPublica’s Investigation of How Sports Owners Use Their Teams to Avoid Taxes How do billionaire team owners end up paying lower tax rates not only than their millionaire players, but even the person serving beer in the stadium? Let’s go to the highlights. #3. Owners across the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB reported incomes for their teams that are millions below their real-world earnings, according to ProPublica’s review of tax information, previously leaked team financial records and interviews with experts. #6. Even the team owner who pioneered the depreciation of player contracts in the mid-20th century called the maneuver a “gimmick.”
Roger Federer as Religious Experience (David Foster Wallace, Play Magazine, NY Times, 8-20-06) "...if you’ve never seen the young man play live, and then do, in person, on the sacred grass of Wimbledon, through the literally withering heat and then wind and rain of the ’06 fortnight, then you are apt to have what one of the tournament’s press bus drivers describes as a “bloody near-religious experience.”
How coronavirus has changed the world of sports reporting – and made the job harder (Tim Abraham, The Conversation, 3-31-21) As the Daily Mirror’s cricket correspondent Dean Wilson put it: “It’s not impossible to get the job done, but we are crucially missing out on the vital face to face contact which we rely on so much and is part of the job.”

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The Mad, Mad World of Niche Sports Among Ivy League–Obsessed Parents (Ruth S. Barrett, The Atlantic, 10-19-2020) "Whereas the Hoop Dreamers of the Chicago projects pursued sports as a path out of poverty and hardship, the kids of Fairfield County aren’t gunning for the scholarship money. It’s more about status maintenance, by any means necessary....In a twist worthy of a Jordan Peele movie, Fairfield County has come to resemble Compton in the monomaniacal focus on sports."
Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery by Christie Aschwanden. In her tour of the multi-million $ports recovery industry, she investigates claims about sports drinks, chocolate milk, and “recovery” beer; examines the latest recovery trends; and tests some for herself, including cryotherapy, foam rolling, and Tom Brady–endorsed infrared pajamas. She seeks an answer to the question: Do any of these things actually help the body recover and achieve peak performance?
How Baseball Players Became Celebrities (Louis Menand, New Yorker, 5-25-2020) Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, idols of the Golden Age of sports, brought stardom to America’s pastime. The rise of sports as big business and the handling of athletes as human capital may have started with a man named Christy Walsh—who had worked a sports cartoonist and a ghostwriter—who brought his background in advertising and publicity for automobile companies to his role as the first sports agent in the modern mold. Interesting social (and baseball) history.
Detroit’s game-changing sports reporter on a half-century of work (Anna Clark, CJR, 11-2-18) Mick McCabe spent 49 years covering high school sports for the the Detroit Free Press. His "sportswriting is pioneering for its kid-first approach and its expansive coverage of female athletes." He took girls' sports seriously and covered more than football and basketball. See also Time for a new game plan for covering high school football (Tony Biasotti, CJR, 2-3-17)

Sports Style Guide & Reference Manual : The Complete Reference for Sports Editors, Writers, and Broadcasters by Jennifer Swan

Sports Data (Journalist's Resource, SPJ)

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"The Catch" and the Birth of a 49ers Dynasty. Can anything capture sports better than this video of Joe Montana throwing a high pass to Dwight Clark does?
Commentators' Curse (Erik Hoffner's essay arguing for quieter sports experiences. This 2017 essay makes the case for commentary-free soccer coverage, because too often the announcers talk over the most interesting & exciting moments of a match.)
Maddie Norris on Bodies Built for Game (Essay Daily, 2-24-2020) Which might make you want to read Bodies Built for Game: The Prairie Schooner Anthology of Contemporary Sports Writing ed. by Natalie Diaz. It "brings together poems, essays, and stories that challenge our traditional ideas of sport and question the power structures that athletics enforce."
Outpedaling the Big C: My Healing Cycle Across America by Elizabeth McGowan
Writing a Sports Column Far From Print, and the Game (Noam Cohen, NY Times, 11-15-09), About Bill Simmons and sportwriting.
How the Kremlin Tried to Rig the Olympics, and Failed (Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic, 12-6-17) Is this a sport story or a political story? Either way, it's one not to miss.
Can a Czech Firefighter Compete With M.L.B.’s Biggest Stars? (David Waldstein, ny tIMES, 3-6-23) The World Baseball Classic is a battle of the game’s top professional players. A scrappy Czech Republic team, full of guys with regular jobs, just might win your heart.

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Sports Fandom and Political Attitudes (Emily A Thorson and Michael Serazio, Public Opinion Quarterly, 5-25-18) "Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to follow sports closely. However, sports fandom is positively associated with individualistic attributions for economic success and support for the US military. In addition, conservatives are more likely to resist the intrusion of partisan politics into sports."
Why Times Reporters Don’t Vote for M.V.P. (Or the Hall of Fame or the Tonys) (Mathew Brownstein, Times Insider, 11-22-21) To avoid conflicts of interest, The New York Times doesn’t permit its journalists to vote for various sports and entertainment awards.
The Best Sports Journalism Ever (According to Bill Simmons) (C. Max Magee, The Millions, 10-12-08)
60 Years, 60 Iconic Stories (Sports Illustrated)
The Athletic An online newsletter and there's also a podcast.
50 Great Articles and Essays about Sport (Electric Typewriter)
Speed Hurts: Jeff Passan Talks About Baseball’s Arm Troubles (John Williams interview, NY Times, 4-20-16)
Longreads Best of 2017

           ~Vince Lombardi

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Sports journalism organizations


Arena Football League Writers Association
Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE)
Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM), with both male and female members, supports the advancement and growth of women--both sports and professional--in sports media
Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA)
Football Writers Association of America (FWAA)
Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA
International Bowling Media Association (IBMA)
International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA)
Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA)
National Collegiate Baseball Writers (NCBW)
National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA)
North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA), for professional snowsports writers, authors, photographers, videographers, broadcasters and industry professionals (originally U.S. Ski Writers Association)
Philadelphia Sports Writers Association (PSWA) More info on Wikipedia entry
Professional Basketball Writers Association (PBWA)
Sportswriters.Net  Home to Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), U.S. Basketball Writers Association of America (USBWA), and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA)
Track and Field Writers Association of America (Facebook)
U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA)

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Cartoonists, humor writing, comic book writers, comedy, comedians

"Keep on truckin" ~ R. Crumb
"We have met the enemy and he is us." ~Walt Kelly, Pogo

See also
---Cartoon caption and gag writing
---Q&As with cartoonists
---Cartoons, comics, anime, manga, panel stories, graphic novels, humor, and animation
---Graphic novels


What Do We Want from Comedy? (Adam Gopnik, New Yorker, 12-18-23) 'Our earliest experience of laughter comes when we are first tickled: laughter arrives at the moment when a baby grasps the difference between a real threat and a mock threat. If the baby senses she is in danger, she cries; recognizing that she is not, she laughs. This shift seems foundational to what comedy is. We insist that comedians respect our sacrosanct ideals—and pray that they skewer our sanctimony....

    'What people call “woke” is, in large part, just a more exquisitely attenuated system of fictitious benevolence, focussing on things you shouldn’t say or perform because they might injure someone. We all recognize how fictitious it is—how could we not?—but we have a sense of its benevolence, too. Satiric comedy may have particular targets, but a comedy of manners—as in "situation comedy," a revolving set of people and predicaments responding each week to small social pressures—is always about nothing important and about everything human all at once.

     'If the uses of comedy are endless, what seems to make us laugh loudest now are reminders of uncomfortable but permanent human truths. We laugh when John Mulaney tells us that, in the midst of his drug intervention, he stopped to count, self-approvingly, the celebrities who had come out to help intervene.

 

• 'The Nora Ephron We Forget (Rachek Syme, New Yorker, 8-22-22) ' “Everything is copy,” which Ephron attributed to her mother, as encouragement that life never hands you material that you can’t use. But the phrase feels more portentous than exhilarating, given the source. “I now believe that what my mother meant was this: When you slip on a banana peel, people laugh at you,” Ephron once said. “But when you tell people you slipped on a banana peel, it’s your laugh, so you become a hero rather than the victim of the joke.” Of course, that’s only the case if you are funnier in the telling than you are in the falling. '


Three Rocks: The Story of Ernie Bushmiller: The Man Who Created Nancy From Bill Griffith, the acclaimed creator of Zippy the Pinhead, comes a history of comics as told through the life story of Ernie Bushmiller and his iconic comic strip Nancy. “As the widest-ranging cartoon chronicler of American absurdity in our time, Bill Griffith has topped himself. This is an instant comic-strip classic!” —Matt Groening
Reinventing Comics: The Evolution of an Art Form by Scott McCloud. Topics covered: The life of comics as an art form and as literature, the battle for creators' rights, reinventing the business of comics, the volatile and shifting public perceptions of comics, sexual and ethnic representation in comics, and (in the digital revolution) the intricacies of digital production, the exploding world of online delivery, and the ultimate challenges of the infinite digital canvas.

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Comic Books in Libraries (Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Library Pass, 1-16-24) "Looking back at the top 5 comics on OverDrive and Comics Plus [platforms] last year highlights something important about licensing models. All but a couple of the titles on both lists are related to well-known multimedia franchises, but four of OverDrive’s titles aren’t available on Comics Plus because their publishers don’t make their titles available via unlimited, simultaneous access licenses."

       Compare the two lists:

      "OverDrive, which serves more than 88,000 libraries and schools in 109 countries worldwide, reported +12% growth in ebooks borrowed in 2023, and +14% specifically for comics and graphic novels. Similarly, Comics Plus saw +34% growth last year across the 3,000+ libraries and schools that offer it, many in addition to their OverDrive and Sora collections. Interestingly, the top 5 comics were very different between the two platforms, most likely for two very important reasons: availability and affordability." 

      ComicsPlus (powered by Library Pass) "With Comics Plus, your readers can have unlimited, simultaneous access to thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga from a variety of library-friendly publishers."
Is What’s Good for Taylor Tomlinson’s Career Bad for Her Life? Jason Zinoman, NY Times, 1-11-24) The stand-up has a new TV gig and a spot on the list of top-grossing comedy tours. Still, “there sometimes feels like there isn’t anyone my age to talk to.” Zinoman's series On Comedy is worth checking out.
---Dave Chappelle Assumes We’re Already Offended in His New Netflix Special (Jason Zinoman, NY Times, 12-31-23) “The Dreamer” predictably includes trans and disabled jokes but punches down in other ways, too. Chappelle is part of a comedy elite that Gary Gulman pokes at.
---Chiseled Cheekbones and Comic Chops: Why We Don’t Like Our Stand-Ups Hunky (Jason Zinoman, On Comedy, NY Times, 11-15-23) Can good-looking guys be funny? The conventional wisdom is that men in comedy need to come across as relatable, not hot. But that may be changing.
---Was a Scandal the Best Thing to Happen to Hasan Minhaj? (Jason Zinoman, On Comedy, NY Times, 12-17-23) At the Beacon, the comic took a different tack after posting a video rebutting a New Yorker article on fabrications in his work. The crowd went wild.
---With a Chuckle and a Cool-Girl Smirk, Beth Stelling Moves Up a Comic Class (Jason Zinoman, On Comedy, NY Times, 10-20-23)The stand-up, who has a new Netflix special, delights in inappropriate laughs — none more so than in her bits about aging and childhood.
---How Shane Gillis Both Plays to and Mocks Red Staters ( =Jason Zinoman, On Comedy, NY Times, 9-16-23)The comic’s savvy approach fits into the evolving meaning of conservatism and has resulted in hugely popular stand-up specials, like “Beautiful Dogs” on Netflix.
---That’s the Funny Thing About Grief (Jason Zinoman, On Comedy, NY Times, 5-17-23) A new generation of stand-ups is mining the heartbreaking loss of a loved one for ambitious shows. How did we get here?

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The Semi-Sadistic 7-Minute Workout (Alison Bechdel, New Yorker) Delightful cartoon from her graphic novel The Secret To Superhuman Strength . "As usual, her story and art are about so much more—the realities of aging, the quest for transcendence and the drumbeat of mortality.” — Washington Post
Amazon's Huge Layoffs Are Gutting Comixology (James Whitbrook, Gizmodo, 1-18-23) In the wake of a disastrous Amazon integration and redesign last year, a move to cut 18,000 jobs is going to have a major impact on the digital comics platform.
CBR.com ComicBookResources.com is a pop culture site dedicated to comics. Also on Facebook.
19 Top Publishers of Humor Books (Ruposhree Som, Writing Tips Oasis)
30 Street Art Pieces That Feature Adventures of Quirky Characters (Artist David Zinn, shown on Bored Panda) Totally delightful. David Zinn is well-known for his “ephemeral art,” created on the streets and composed entirely of chalk, charcoal, and random objects found on the premises. Cracks, holes, and small grooves are enough for Zinn to notice the figures they suggest and that’s where he gets most of his inspiration from; his work is done on the go.
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud (his earlier work) “McCloud’s masterwork is not just an indispensable treatise on comics, it’s also the best primer around on visual literacy and the mechanics of storytelling. A must-read for anyone interested in narrative of any kind.” ~ Alison Bechdel
Finding the Funny with New Yorker Cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell (CreativeLive video, video interview, 2020, one hour+)

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The Christians Who Mock Wokeness for a Living (Emma Green, The Atlantic, 10-14-21) The Babylon Bee, an online satire publication, has become a popular destination for Christians disaffected with megachurch culture and right-wingers who crave clever commentary about the hypocritical left. See also The Babylon Bee Guide to Wokeness by Kyle Mann and Joel Berry.
We’re betting on comics creators (Hamish McKenzie, 8-9-21) Substack is "thrilled to be announcing a major investment in comics creators. There are few industries where we feel the Substack model could be more game-changing than in comics, where the gap in power and earning potential between publishers and for-hire creators is enormous, and where the creator of a story can spawn a nine-figure franchise and yet take home little more than a standard paycheck. On Substack, comics creators are their own publishers, and they are guaranteed full ownership of their intellectual property, content, and mailing lists, like any other publisher on the platform....To succeed with the Substack model, you don’t need millions of pageviews, you don’t need to play by the rules determined by an opaque social media algorithm, and you don’t have to submit to a corporate publisher’s conditions. Instead, you get rewarded for doing great work that you believe in."
Watch Norm Macdonald's beloved, very long, infamous 'moth joke' (The Week, 9-14-21). Delivery is everything.
Marvel and DC’s “Shut-Up Money”: Comic Creators Go Public Over Pay (Aaron Couch, Hollywood Reporter, 7-16-21) The star writers and artists behind major comic book characters are becoming increasingly outspoken about "paltry" deals that don’t account for their work being adapted into billion-dollar blockbusters. Conventional wisdom within the comic book industry is to go to Marvel and DC to build your personal brand, then leave, bringing that audience over to publishers that allow you to retain character rights.
The irony of Steve Martin's life isn't lost on him (Jake Coyle, Where Your Story Lives, Napa Valley Register, 3-26-24) "As we age, we either become our best selves or our worst selves. I’ve seen people become their worst selves and I’ve seen people who were tough, difficult people early on become better selves.”
Jerry Seinfeld and Steve Martin on Comedy and Paying Attention (video, Dan Stahl, New Yorker, 10-8-2020) Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld spoke with Susan Morrison at The New Yorker Festival, 10-7-2020) For Seinfeld, comedy’s essence is irritability. Martin draws not just on irritation but all perceptions for material.
Philomena Cunk's funniest interviews Her guests can't keep the straight face she does.
Constant Comedy: How I Started Comedy Central and Lost My Sense of Humor by Art Bell. “As comedy writers know, the rarest of all creatures is the comedy exec who's actually funny. Art Bell is funny as hell, he understands comedy, and that’s why Comedy Central was born and why it thrived. Constant Comedy is a great, fun read.” ~ Michael Weithorn, creator and producer of "The King of Queens."

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Can You Copyright Your Dumb Joke? And How Can You Prove It's Yours? (Laurel Wamsley, The Two-Way, NPR, 5-17-17) A good account of the start of a now-famous lawsuit: Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg (who often wrote for Jay Leno) complained that in late 2014 and early 2015 late-night TV host Conan O'Brien told jokes that Kaseberg wrote, and the complaint ended up in court. The jokes in both versions are quoted. Here's the abstract for an earlier law review piece on the topic: There's No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy (Dotan Oliar and Christopher Jon Sprigman, Virginia Law Review, 5-28-08) "...how stand-up comedians protect their jokes using a system of social norms. Intellectual property law has never protected comedians effectively against theft. Initially, jokes were virtually in the public domain, and comedians invested little in creating new ones. In the last half century, however, comedians have developed a system of IP norms. This system serves as a stand-in for formal law....Under the norms system, the level of investment in original material has increased substantially. We detail these norms, which often diverge from copyright law's defaults." See also Conan O’Brien Settles Lawsuit Alleging Joke Theft (Reggie Ugwu, NY Times, 5-10-19) “Four years and countless legal bills have been plenty,” he wrote in a statement. A trial — rare in comedy — had been set for this month. 'Fans of O’Brien, rallied to his defense after the lawsuit, arguing that “parallel thinking” in comedy is commonplace, and that there are only so many ways to tweak a day’s news events. In the letter posted by Variety, O’Brien made the same argument.' See Conan O’Brien: Why I Decided to Settle a Lawsuit Over Alleged Joke Stealing (Conan O'Brien, Variety, 5-9-19)


Another cartoonist loses his job. This does not bode well for the future of newspaper cartooning. (Michael Cavna, WaPo, 1-25-19) Steve Benson was laid off Wednesday by his longtime employer, the Arizona Republic, as part of larger cuts by the Gannett company.... The layoff represents the latest spasm of shrinking among staff editorial cartoonists — who numbered in the hundreds several decades ago, but now have dwindled to dozens....We miss, and should mourn, these prominent visual voices who hold the feet of the mighty to the fire." Nick Anderson, pink-slipped by the Houston Chronicle: “While the Internet and social media helped spread my work widely, they also have made it harder for anyone in the news business to make a living.”
2020 Was a Tough Year for Comics Shops (Shannon O’Leary, PW, 4-2-21) Retailers discuss what they’ve learned from the pandemic.
Caption That Cartoon: Big-shots try their hand at writing New Yorker cartoon captions. (New Yorker series) While you wait for their "reveal," try to think of a caption yourself.
The Big Story: Uncovered (New Yorker, Françoise Mouly, the magazine’s art editor and the author of Blown Covers: New Yorker Covers You Were Never Meant to See) n conversation with the artists Barry Blitt and Bob Staake, moderated by David Remnick, 4-30-13, in a discussion of the magazine’s landmark covers—and (Blown Covers) the ones that didn’t make the cut. An interest behind-the-scenes explanation of how they decide on each issue's cover.
The Cartoonist's Muse: A Guide to Generating and Developing Creative Ideas by Mischa Richter and Harald Bakken. The art of creating a cartoon, from developing an idea to carrying it through to a finished cartoon. The elements a cartoon contains and how they are arranged and why.
The State of Political Cartooning (Chris Lamb, on Paul Conrad's Drawing Fire column, PBS, Independent Lens) Chris Lamb, associate professor of communication at South Carolina’s College of Charleston and the author of Drawn to Extremes: The Use and Abuse of Editorial Cartoons, shared his views on why he thinks this political art form with a literally illustrious past might have an endangered future.  'Joel Pett believes that newspapers could hire cartoonists without sacrificing their bottom line. "If they take seriously the journalistic side of their obligation," he said. "If they sign on to the quaint but true notion that journalism ought to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, there's no better way to afflict the comfortable than with editorial cartoons."'
The Internet makes it possible to see dozens of editorial cartoons every day on sites such as PoliticalCartoons.com, EditorialCartoonists.com, and CagleCartoons.com.
What we lose when we lose political cartoons (Jeva Lang, The Week, 6-12-19) The editorial page editor James Bennet announced that the Times was "bringing [the global] edition into line with the domestic paper by ending daily political cartoons."...'With the annihilation of its editorial cartoon section, the paper gives up one of journalism's — and democracy's — greatest weapons.' See also Cartoonists draw their fury toward the New York Times: ‘It seems we have touched a nerve here’ (Michael Michael and various cartoonists, WaPo, 6-18-19) "You're here to complain about our company doing away with editorial cartoons? Just follow the yellow streak."
How David Harper built a huge audience with his comic book criticism (Simon Owens) Harper's podcast Off Panel was an instantaneous hit, rocketing to the top of the Apple iTunes charts.
Creating Comic Books 101: A Guide to Creating Comic Books (Aaron Albert, ThoughtCo, 2-25-16)
Tools for Comic Creators (Jerry Stratton, Negative Space)
Cartoon Caption Contest (New Yorker).
Caption That Cartoon (video, Big-shots try their hand at writing New Yorker cartoon captions) 1 season, 11 episodes.

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AI-Created Comic Could Be Deemed Ineligible for Copyright Protection (Brian Cronin, CBR, 12-19-22) The United States Copyright Office initiates a proceeding ruling that a comic book made using A.I. (artificial intelligence) art is ineligible for copyright protection. Did that lead to this? For Artists: How To Tell AI Datasets Not To Use Your Content (Deviant Art) "AI generators were trained using datasets collected from the open web. This includes content from creator platforms like DeviantArt, Pinterest, Twitter, and more. This was done without DeviantArt's permission and without your permission.
"To help prevent your work from being used by third party AI datasets without your consent, we implemented a flag to tell AI datasets not to use your art. All deviations on the platform are not authorized for inclusion in third-party datasets used to train artificial-intelligence models — unless you choose to opt in."
How to Write a New Yorker Cartoon Caption: Jon Hamm Edition (video, New Yorker) The actor tries his hand at the cartoon-caption contest.
How Women Broke Into the Male-Dominated World of Cartoons and Illustrations (Anna Diamond, Smithsonian, 1-11-18) Early in her career, Dalia Messick, a cartoonist struggling to get her work published, adopted the name Dale and her Brenda Starr comic strip took off. "Messick’s story is just one example of the overt sexism faced by female artists." An exhibition at the Library of Congress highlights female artists and their contributions to comic strips, magazine covers and political cartoons.
Comics Creators on the Net (Negative Space)
Top 125 Comic Book Writers Master List
The Definitive List of Comic Publisher Submission Guidelines (Jason Thibault, 11-28-16)
Liza Donnelly, Cartoonist: On Humor and Feminism (No Country for Young Women, 12-2-09) "Generally speaking, it was assumed that men were funnier....Persistence and doggedness pay off. We can change things, one laugh at a time."
Cathy Thorne, Cartoonist: Drawing Her Perspective (Jessica, No Country for Young Women, 2-26-10) Interview with "Cathy" cartoonist, whose book made Parents.com's "9 Books That Make Great Mother-Daughter Gifts" list: Fifty Things That Aren't My Fault: Essays from the Grown-up Years by Cathy Guisewite.
Comic Writing Jobs (Upwork, updated constantly)
‘Kingsman’ Artist Dave Gibbons Explains ABCs of Making a Comic Book (John Martin, Observer, 9-28-17) "His new book with writer Tim Pilcher, How Comics Work, is a how-to guide for aspiring pencilers as well as an insight into his working process. "
How Comics Work by Dave Gibbons and Tom Pilcher

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Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud, also the author of Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels 'isn't really about how to draw comics: it's about how to make drawings become a story and how cartooning choices communicate meaning to readers. ("There are no rules," he says, "and here they are.") McCloud's cartoon analogue, now a little gray at the temples, walks us through a series of dazzlingly clear, witty explanations (in comics form) of character design, storytelling, words and their physical manifestation on the page, body language and other ideas cartoonists have to grapple with, with illustrative examples drawn from the history of the medium.'~Publishers Weekly
Drawing Manga Heroines and Heroes: An interactive guide to drawing anime characters, props, and scenes step by step by Sonia Leong, Illustration Studio.
Growing Up in Cartoon County (Corby Kummer, The Atlantic, 11-21-17) In a new book, Cullen Murphy describes the cadre of artists—including his father—who drew comic strips from the suburbs of Connecticut during a golden age for the funny pages. The book: Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe. See also When Fairfield County Was the Comic-Strip Capital of the World (Cullen Murphy, Vanity Fair, 8-3-17) From the 1950s through the 90s, Fairfield County, Connecticut, was home to many of America’s best cartoonists and illustrators—the men responsible for “Beetle Bailey,” “Little Orphan Annie,” “Hägar the Horrible,” and countless other comic strips. The author, whose father drew “Prince Valiant,” remembers their eccentric subculture.
How satire got a cartoonist fired from a Jewish newspaper (Cathryn J. Prince, Times of Israel, 9-22-17) Eli Valley has never been afraid to point his pen at the most venerated Jewish institutions — but it costs him. See also his work Diaspora Boy: Comics on Crisis in America and Israel
How I became a cartoonist before graduation (Ben Jennings, The Guardian, 2-27-12) Jennings has already been published in the Guardian and The Huffington Post. He shares tips for anyone looking to combine university work with a burgeoning career.
Randy Rainbow’s Witty World (Margaret Engel, WashPost, 5-28-19) How a musical theater nerd reinvented political satire for the YouTube age. Randy Rainbow brings his political commentary to the public quickly, directly and with no filter.
Gary Gulman On How The States Got Their Abbreviations (on Conan, 7-14-16)  A very funny man.
CBR: The World's Top Destination for Comic, Movie & TV News (CBR is a file extension for a comic book or paperback)
The 10 greatest comic book artists of all time (Sammy Maine, Creative Bloq Staff, 3-11-14) He writes about John Romita Jr, Brian Bolland, Will Eisner, Jim Steranko, Osamu Tezuka, Steve Ditko, Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, Steve Dillon, and Jack Kirby.
Create Your Own Digital Comics Whether You Can Draw or Not (J. D. Biersdorfer, NY Times, 4-29-2020) Even if you can’t draw a stick person, you can still express yourself and tell stories through the time-honored tradition of sequential art.
Last Girl in Larchmont (Emily Nussbaum, New Yorker, 2-23-15) "Joan Rivers was a survivor of a sexist era: a victim, a rebel, and, finally, an enforcer."
How to Create a Comic Book: Neil Gaiman’s Step-by-Step Guide for Making Comics (Master Class, 2-5-2020)

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The Creator of Pepe the Frog Talks About Making Comics in the Post-Meme World (Sean T. Collins interviews artist Matt Furie, Vice, 7-28-15) Collins officially debuted the character (2006) in the Boy's Club #1, a collection of single-page comics chronicling the adventures of an anthropomorphic quartet of funny-animal stoners. Who could have predicted: Pepe the Frog creator brings copyright lawsuit (Bill Morlin, Southern Poverty Law Center, 3-8-18) "The case of Pepe the Frog — a meme widely used without permission by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, conspiracist radio host Alex Jones and Donald Trump — appears headed to a federal court jury.... Defendants named in the action are Infowars, LLC, and Free Speech Systems, LLC, two Texas-based companies managed by Jones, a far-right radio host and promoter of assorted conspiracy theories."
A Letter from the Condo Association to Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth (Ross Murray, McSweeney's, 4-23-2020) Also note that Article 14.3 clearly states: “No soliloquies after 11 pm.”
Publishers on the Net (Negative Space)
Comic Book Recommended Reading (Negative Space)
List of American comics creators (and humor writing) (Wikipedia)
How the Jews Created the Comic Book Industry (Part I: The Golden Age --1933-1955) (Arie Kaplan, Reform Judaism, Online, Fall 2003)
Golden age superheroes were shaped by the rise of fascism (Art Spiegelman, The Guardian, 8-17-19) Created in New York by Jewish immigrants, the first comic book superheroes were mythic saviours who could combat the Nazi threat. They speak to the dark politics of our times. See also Jews and the invention of the American comic book (Jewish News of Northern California, 10-21-05)
The dark side of 21st Century TV comedy (Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, BBC Culture, 11-2-21) Shows like BoJack Horseman, Fleabag, Succession, and Veep show how modern TV comedies have embraced pain and grief. When will we be ready to admit that life is funny and sad, beautiful and tragic, and that the best of any art form reflects it all? Even, and perhaps especially, television.
The Evolution of the Comic Book Industry (David Palmer, University of Nebraska at Kearne, Advances in Business Research, 2010)
Top 10 Highest Grossing Comedy Tours of 2023 (Eric Frankenberg, Chart Beat, Billboard, 12-13-23) Check out the top 10 highest grossing tours by comedy performers of 2023.

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Black Is the New White by Paul Mooney, intro by Dave Chappelle. Memoir of "a boundary-pushing comedian who was Richard Pryor’s longtime writing partner and whose sage, incisive musings on racism and American life made him a revered figure in stand-up." (From his AP obit).
Differences Between a Cartoonist and a Comic Artist (Janet Stanton Burt, Chron)
Advice to Aspiring Comic Book Creators (Gene Luen Yang, Tor.com, 7-15-14)
Batman's Co-Creator Bill Finger Finally Receives Recognition (Rob Salkowitz, Forbes, 9-19-15) "Bill Finger, the writer who worked with artist Bob Kane to create Batman in 1939, is finally receiving official credit from DC Entertainment for his contributions to the character, the culmination of a long battle by his family and other creators on behalf of Finger and his legacy.....Kane was able to retain the copyright in the 1940s by claiming that he was under age 18 when he signed the contract with DC, scoring a rare victory for creator’s rights in the early years of comics. Never an especially energetic or inspired cartoonist, Kane hired a stable of artists and writers, including Finger, to produce Batman stories for DC into the 1960s, when he was finally given a cash settlement to give DC clear title to the character.... Over the past two decades, comic scholars including Batman movie producer Michael Uslan, cartoonist and fellow Batman artist Jerry Robinson, author Mark Tyler Nobleman, writer Mark Evanier and comics historian Arlen Schumer produced convincing historical evidence documenting Finger’s significant role in Batman’s creation and lobbying for his formal recognition as co-creator."
Witness and Response: September 11 Acquisitions at the Library of Congress
Digital Storytelling (StoryboardThat) Powerful visual communication, made easy.

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7 Awesome Free Comic Lettering Fonts for Commercial Use and How to Use Them (Jason Thibault, 1-27-17)
Punctuating Comics: Breath Marks (Todd's Blog, Todd Klein on lettering, literature and more) Interesting and with interesting links. See also Punctuating Comics: Dots and Dashes
The Top Things Every Comic Book Collector Should Have Or Know About (Aaron Albert, ThoughtCo, 2-26-16)
How Marvel's writers' retreat became the secret meeting everyone wants to be invited to ( Alex Abad-Santos, Vox, 12-17-14)
List of American comics creators
Comics Scholarship (Negative Space)
Comic sales by year (Comichron)


 "Laughter is wine for the soul - laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness - the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living."  ~Irish playwright Seán O'Casey

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Travel Writing

See also
Great travel  sites (search links)
Travel packing, planning, and bargains
(Great and Unusual Shopping, Pat McNees site)
Outdoor Writers)

"Not all those who wander are lost."
~ J.R.R. Tolkien

 


Foreign Exchange: Get the Best Rate (Elaine Glusac, Frugal Traveler, NY Times, 9-20-23)

Using foreign money wisely requires understanding the going exchange rate with the U. S. dollar and practicing the following strategies to avoid excessive fees.
   Take a card that doesn’t charge transaction fees
   Ask to be charged in the local currency
   Don’t exchange money at the airport
   Beware of A.T.M. fees
   Use mobile payment for transit (where it's available)
   Don’t return home with coins. Skim the many Comments, also.

 

Society of American Travel Writers (SATW, the most exclusive of the travel writer organizations--you must have a substantial portfolio of travel writing to be accepted)

International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) ( a global network of journalists who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, and the people who promote them)
The North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) ( “premier professional association of writers, photographers, editors, and tourism professionals dedicated to redefining professional development for the travel industry")
Bay Area Travel Writers (BATW)
Midwest Travel Writers Association (MTWA)
Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC, for professional travel writers, bloggers, photographers, videographers and tourism industry experts)
TravelWriters UK
British Guild of Travel Writers (BGTW, representing travel writers, photographers, editors and broadcasters)
Australian Society of Travel Writers Incorporated (ASTW, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting ethical and honest travel, and the unbiased reporting of it)
Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA, writers, broadcasters, photographers, outdoor industry, and more--and we're all passionate about the outdoors)
Outdoor Writers & Photographers Guild (UK) (writers, authors, photographers, designers, journalists, artists, illustrators, editors, broadcasters, copywriters, content-providers, lecturers, public speakers, consultants, communicators – all specializing in sustainable outdoor activities and the outdoor world).
Travelwriters.com (a professional network of travel writers, editors and members of the public relations community)
Travel Writers Exchange

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Freakonomics Radio Takes to the Skies (three-part series on airlines, airlines travel, and airlines safety, 2023)
Skip the Airport Lines with Global Entry (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) $100 a year. See their Frequently Asked Questions and other useful info on that website.
More Airport Close Calls: This Is Getting Serious (James Fallows, Breaking the News, 4-27-24) Excellent illustrations. The air travel system is under constant pressure to move more people, faster. The strains are mounting up. The system has already come close to a big tragedy, last year in Austin, and has been spared others mostly by quick reflexes of flight crews or air traffic controllers, or by sheer luck. The most dangerous place a modern airliner can be is on the ground. (Why? In simplest terms, because so many huge aircraft are trying to use the same little strips of pavement at roughly the same time.) You’ll also see that these recent close-calls all appear to involve mistakes or misjudgments by air traffic controllers, rather than flight crews. We either need to hire and train a lot more controllers, or we need to ratchet back flight volumes to put less pressure on the ones we have.
Bad Breaks? Or a Breaking System? (James Fallows, 3-12-23) Commercial air travel has been extremely safe. It will take work to keep it that way. (The financial system is showing us right now the emergencies it has, and has not, prepared for.) That is what the aviation culture needs to do again. Links to stories of near-disasters.
Hotels are hiding nonrefundable fees. Here’s how to fight back. (Christopher Elliott, Washington Post, 6-7-23) Online travel sites sometimes bury the terms and conditions of a nonrefundable hotel room three or four clicks into a reservation. That means some travelers skip through and assume they still have a traditional, refundable rate. This greediness (imitating the airlines) is new and should be regulated. The Federal Trade Commission has a “cooling-off rule” that allows consumers three days to cancel certain types of door-to-door sales made at your home, workplace or temporary location (such as a hotel). A cooling-off rule for hotel bookings would give consumers time to fix any booking errors or seek a refund. Meanwhile, Marriott turned down several requests to refund one customer's hotel room, "so he filed a chargeback on his American Express card and received a full refund."
Hotels are returning fire in the "junk fee" war. Don't be a casualty (Christopher Elliott, The Elliott Report, 8-6-23) Watch out for mandatory destination fees and other creative surcharges
New ‘Dashboard’ Allows Travelers to See Which Airlines Seat Families Together (Isabella Kwai, NY Times, 3-6-23) The Department of Transportation is launching a new online resource for travelers to see which airlines guarantee seating families with children age 13 and under together.
Sherpa Need a visa to travel? Sherpa makes it fast, easy and secure.
Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) A free service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State, to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and check with them on a country's safety conditions and for help in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
Pack-Smart for a Healthy Trip CDC's important list of what to pack for travel abroad. Bring certain items with you, since the quality of items bought overseas cannot be guaranteed.
Ask The Chefs: What Travel Tips Have Worked For You? (Ann Michael, Scholarly Kitchen, 7-26-18) Follow-up to an earlier post: Are You a Folder or a Roller? What Travel Tips Have Worked For You? (7-2-15)

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Why I Became a Travel Writer (John Gimlette, LitHub.com, on doing the not very sensible thing, 2-24-16)
I want to be a travel writer (YouTube video for the delusional)
Todd Pitock on Travel Writing interviewed by Rolf Potts for his blog Vagabonding Travel Writers; his site is FULL of interesting interviews, essays, etc. about travel and travel writing. If these links don't work, go to http://rolfpotts.com/index.html and look around. See especially http://rolfpotts.com/writers/.
The Allure of Travel Writing (Jan Morris, Smithsonian Sept. 2009) One of the world’s leading travel writers introduces six essays by others, answering the question Where in the world would you like to go?

How to become a travel writer (seriously)
10 Things Wrong with Travel Writing (Peter Greenberg, Travel Detective blog, 6-19-13) "Travel news you can use" -- see practical tips in many categories, including Mileage and rewards programs, travel gear, Hotels & accommodations, Budget travel,and Travel insurance.
10 ways not to be a travel writer (Vivek Wagle, for Lonely Planet)
Five expert tips for getting started in travel writing (Don George, Lonely Planet, 8-9-13)
Travel Writing by Don George (Lonely Planet)
The Art of Travel Writing: 100 Tips, Tools, & Resources to Get Paid and Published (Kelly Sonora's blog)
12 Types of Travel Writing Every Writer Should Know (Reedsy, 6-21-17)
• "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." ~ Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad(Julie Schwietert, Matador Network, 5-22-13)

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Special Delivery (Lindsy VanGelder, Wanderlust, Salon Magazine) Hand delivering a postcard from the Galapagos to Italy starts a string of delightful surprises.
How Not to Be Elizabeth Gilbert (Jessa Crispin, Boston Review, 7-20-15) ""It is a risk, becoming Elizabeth Gilbert...being an obnoxious white lady in brown places....Gilbert has inspired a whole niche of faux travel writing by women, from Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling Wild (2012) to more moderate offerings by Elisabeth Eaves and Kristin Newman. In this genre, the focus of attention is the self, and the beautiful locale becomes the backdrop of the real action, which is interior psychodrama."
I Lost My Life to Airbnb (Rebecca Holland, Narratively, 3-18-19) Obsessively renting out her home was the only way she could make it in the gig economy. And it enabled travel writing --but there were downsides
Grounded (Jason Wilson, Washington Post, 10-14-2020) What, exactly, is a travel writer who cannot travel? During the pandemic, this lifelong travel writer takes a journey inward to reflect on what he has learned around the globe.
1,000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler's Life List by Patricia Schultz
Atlas Obscura (online magazine and travel company that catalogs unusual and obscure travel destinations via user-generated content). See Atlas Obscura's Pitch guidelines.
How TripAdvisor changed travel (Linda Kinstler, The Guardian, A long read, 8-17-18) The world’s biggest travel site has turned the industry upside down – but now it is struggling to deal with the same kinds of problems that are vexing other tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter. It replaced "expert review" with crowdsourced reviews, earning "$ per click" for sites listed, and grew more popular than professional reviews; now it's dealing with paid-for "fake reviews," SLAPP suits (for honest warnings in negative reviews), and backlash when they withhold negative reviews.
The Making of a Travel Writer (Judith Fein on transformative travel -- the difference between a tourist and a traveler, written for Spirituality & Health Magazine)
The Tao of Travel: Enlightenments from Lives on the Road by Paul Theroux and other, underappreciated travel writers (including James Baldwin, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene Ernest Hemingway, Freya Stark, Evelyn Waugh, Eudora Welty, and others)
Top 5 American Road Trip Books and The List (Vera Marie Badertscher, A Traveler's Library, 4-2-09).
Rewriting the West. A Guernica series reconsidering the origin stories and mythologies of Los Angeles, Texas, Arizona, the Alamo, and a family (by Adriana Gallardo, Michelle García, Fernanda Santos, Raúl Ramos, and Carolina A. Miranda).
Stories by World Nomads (World Nomads) Personal, inspiring, and engaging narratives that get to the heart of why we travel.
The Wild Alaskan Whales Will Perform at Noon (Joyce Wadler, I Was Misinformed, NY Times, 9-28-18) Some reviews spare you an experience, and allow you to chuckle cozily at home.
The Precarious Future of Big Sur’s Highway 1 (Emily Witt, New Yorker, 5-17-24) How climate change is threatening one of the country’s most famous roadways.
The Sisterly Bonds Forged by Nudism (Jack El-Hai, The Atlantic, 9-30-18) Three sisters drifted apart after a tough childhood. A nudist club brought them back together.
Touring 109 Bars in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Joe Rhodes, Travel, NY Times, 9-3-15). Here's a travel-book review that takes the travel story up a notch or two. Lovely ending.

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The Man with the Golden Airline Ticket (Caroline Rothstein, a Deep Dive, Narratively, 11-27-19) My dad was one of the only people with a good-for-life, go-anywhere American Airlines pass. Then they took it away. This is the true story of having—and losing—a superpower. (A long read.)
Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts (for budget wanderers)
The Best Travel Insurance Plans for Different Types of Trips (Christopher Elliott, Forbes, 5-13-23) The types of coverage that should be on your insurance policy. The best insurance by trip type, plus travel tips (Don't buy the first policy they offer you. Prioritize your coverage (build packages around medical coverage, and then layer on trip cancellation, baggage loss, or other extreme sports riders). Consider "cancel for any reason" insurance. Consider an annual policy. See also his This is the only guaranteed way to avoid an airline meltdown this summer and What You Don’t Know About Travel Insurance Can Hurt You. (Forbes, 5-31-23) and The Elliott Report, full of consumer advice, much of it about travel.
The Rich, Weird, and Frustrating World of Depression-Era Travel Guides (Scott Borchert, The Atlantic, 6-21) The American Guides were unusual not only for their shaggy opulence and Americana maximalism, but also for their source of funding: the federal government. They were created by the federal government through the Federal Writers’ Project, a division of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration. The American Guides were among the unlikeliest weapons in the improvised arsenal that the Roosevelt administration brought to bear upon the Depression.

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The World’s Best Hitchhiker on the Secrets of His Success (Wes Enzinna, photos by Brent Stirton, NY Times, 3-22-18) "The ideal pickup spot, he explained, has not only a place for cars to pull over safely but also some obstacle or obstruction that forces them to slow down as they approach you. Standing just before or after a hill, or a train track, or a wye, a stoplight, a traffic circle, or even a speed bump would have worked just as well as our pothole. Villarino forbids hats and sunglasses because they hide your eyes from drivers; sitting is discouraged because it obscures your physical size."
Detective Montalbano TV Series Transports Italophiles to Sicily (Irene S. Levine, Forbes, 11-2-2020) "Sicily is the scene-stealer in Detective Montalbano, the popular Italian books-to-TV series that has captivated the hearts and minds of mystery fans on both sides of the Atlantic....the 36 two-hour episodes—now streaming on-demand on MHz—bring to life the novels of acclaimed Italian director and storyteller, Andrea Camilleri."


Quiet Places (Quiet Parks International) Public places are Awarded (For example: Parks, Trails, etc). Private places are Certified.

The 25 Travel Experiences You Must Have (Alwa Cooper, Ashlea Halpern, Debra Kamin, Aileen Kwun, Miguel Morales, Dan Piepenbring and Michael Snyder, NY Times Magazine, 11-17-22) A pair of internationally minded writers, a chef, an architect and a landscape photographer made a list of the most extraordinary adventures a person should consider.
52 Places for a Changed World (Travel, NY Times) The 2022 list highlights places around the globe where travelers can be visitors can be part of the solution to problems like overtourism and climate change. See The World Has Changed. So Has ‘52 Places.’ (Amy Virshup, Travel, NY Times, 1-10-22)
The 25 Most Significant Works of Postwar Architecture (Kurt Soller and Michael Snyder, NY Times Magazine, 8-2-21)
No Sex Just Cuddling (Ann Garvin, author of I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around)



Award competitions for travel writing
Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year Winners (Goodreads' description) "The Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards comprise two awards, the Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year and Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing. The award was previously called Dolman Best Travel Book Award (2006-2014). The award is named for Edward Stanford who published the Stanford's Guides travel guide-books and is sponsored by Stanfords, a travel books and map store established in England in 1901.
       "The first Dolman award was given in 2006, just two years after the only other travel book award - the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award which ran for 25 years - was abandoned by its sponsor. From its founding through 2014, the £1,000 to £2,500 prize was organized by the Authors' Club and was sponsored by and named after club member William Dolman. Beginning in 2015, a new sponsor Stanfords, a travel book store, was established along with an increase to £5,000 for the winner.
      "The Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year is one of the two principal annual travel book awards in Britain, and the only one that is open to all writers. The other award is that made each year by the British Guild of Travel Writers, but that is limited to authors who are members of the Guild.

What to read: the Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards 2023 winner and shortlist (National Geographic UK)
Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards (Wikipedia entry). The Stanford Dolman Travel Book of the Year and the Edward Stanford Award for Outstanding Contribution to Travel Writing) celebrate the best travel writing and travel writers in the world. This Wikipedia entry lists winners over the years.

    Another place to find the winners (and the shortlist): National Geographic .
Stanford Travel Writing Awards


Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) Awards ("Inspiring Travel Through Responsible Journalism)
---Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism awards Open to travel journalists from around the world, honors works in more than two dozen categories, including print, digital, audio, video and photography. From 1,200 to 1,400 entries are received each year. Judging is done independently by the faculty of a top U.S. school of journalism.
---SATW Bill Muster Photo Award recognizes excellence in photography and is ‎named for renowned photographer Bill Muster, who generously established a foundation to support this annual travel photography award. Since 1981 SATW has presented ‎the Muster Awards and cash prizes for travel photography in various categories ‎awarded at the annual SATW convention.‎
---Phoenix Awards recognize destinations, individuals, organizations, governments and firms that have made exemplary efforts at environmental, cultural and/or historical conservation, preservation and beautification of tourism sites. SATW members can nominate individuals, organizations, governments and tourism providers who have contributed to a quality travel experience. Nominations are reviewed by the SATW Phoenix Committee and submitted with recommendations to the Board of Directors for final approval.
---Chapter writing and photography awards Each SATW Chapter hosts writing and photography competitions that are awarded with cash prizes during annual meetings. Four chapters: Eastern States, Central States, Canadian, Western States
---Marco Polo membership is awarded by the SATW Board of Directors to members who have provided extraordinary service to SATW. Marco Polo members must have made major contributions to the growth and development of SATW for at least ten years prior to their selection and receive a lifetime membership.

 

---Awards for Travel Journalism (NY Times, 9-18-23) The Times boasts of winning four gold awards and two bronze in the Lowell Thomas competition from the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
---Archived lists of past winners of SATW travel awards (Society of American Travel Writers)

 
Best travel writing (Solas)


Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of man and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

                      ~ Mark Twain

 

"A storyteller who provided us with…a profusion of details would rapidly grow maddening. Unfortunately, life itself often subscribes to this mode of storytelling, wearing us out with repetition, misleading emphases and inconsequential plot lines…The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress; they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments, and thus, without either lying or embellishing, they lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting wooliness of the present."
                     ~ Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel 

 

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Garden writing and garden writers


Garden Writers Association (GWA)
The Garden Professors (Facebook group) and Garden Professors blog.
The Art of Watering (Andy Radin, Fine Gardening) Add water slowly and gently. Methods that deliver water in small droplets or a slow trickle help preserve soil structure and prevent runoff. Quench your plants' thirst with less waste. Read about sprinkler options. See also Fertilizer Basics (Sandra C. Gorry, Fine Gardening) It pays to know why, what, how, and when to feed your plants.
7 Peat Moss Alternatives That Are Better For The Planet (Natalie LaVolpe, Farmers' Almanac, 7-19-21) Eco-friendly alternatives to peat moss, these options are good for the garden and better for the environment.
Grow Vegetables In Dry Climates (Janine Pineo, Farmers' Almanac, 3-31-22) Xeriscaping is a fancy word for a method of landscaping in dry climates. In addition to employing water conservation techniques, it focuses on plant varieties that thrive in arid to semi-arid conditions. While xeriscapes tend to center on perennials, shrubs and trees, a xeriscape also can include a fair number of vegetables grown with attention to microclimates, gardening techniques and plant characteristics. See More such articles from Farmers' Almanac
Shopping for garden, yard, and composting gadgets (Great and unusual online shopping, Pat McNees site)
Cool garden gadgets  Gifts for gardeners who have everything
Garden Comm blog
Garden Rant (Where gardeners get things off their chest)
Award-winning garden books (Cumulative list of award winners, American Horticultural Society)
Garden Tours & Travel Destinations (Garden Design) Self-guided day tours, worldwide garden tours, local day trips (by region), etc. See also Top 20 Public and Botanical Gardens in the United States

Gardens and Gardening (New York Times articles)
Professional Gardening Organizations(American Horticultural Association) Want to learn more about edible gardening, arboriculture, or landscape design? Would you like to meet other gardeners with similar interests? Check out the following gardening and plant-oriented organizations that serve enthusiasts and professionals.
---Nonprofit garden clubs (Great Nonprofits)
---Gardening Organizations (Walters Gardens)
25 Incredible Benefits of Gardening Happy DIY Home
The 10 Books Every Gardener Should Read (Clare Coulson, Gardenista, 1-6-20) See also Required reading.
The Maine Farmer Saving the World’s Rarest Heirloom Seeds (Laura Poppick, Down East, April 2020) Will Bonsall has spent a lifetime scattering seeds across the country. “Even if we don’t know if there is immediate use for [a seed],” he says, “there is certainly value as an insurance policy to conserve the material.”
---Grassroots Seed Network "Sharing Seeds, Preserving Varieties Democratically"
---Seed Savers Exchange "Keeping Heirloom Seeds Where They Belong"
---Scatterseed Project "Collecting, Preserving, and Sharing Our Horticultural Heritage

The Age Defying Benefits of Gardening (Sandra Beckwith, FAR: "How to Make Retirement Work," 5-12-22) “Squeezing can be a difficult task for older people or those with disabilities, and a ratchet pruner breaks the job of cutting through a tough material into smaller chunks.”

This World-Famous Bonsai Tree Is Almost 400 Years Old and Survived Hiroshima (Ally Mauch & Rebekah Brandes, Nice News) The fact that it survived a U.S. B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay, dropping the world’s first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan, during World War II isn’t the tree’s only amazing attribute, of course. The centuries-old art of bonsai, which traces its roots back to ancient China, is one requiring great patience and deep intention.
Invasives of the Month (Maryland Invasives) 
A Viable Alternative to Conventional Lawn? Cornell May Have Found One (Margaret Roach, NY Times. 9-13-23) "Cornell Botanic Gardens is testing sustainable options for replacing your backyard grass.... The bonus: They don’t need to be cut more than twice a year. “Please do walk on these plants,” a sign tells visitors, explaining what’s going on underfoot: a test of “low-growing native plants” as an alternative to traditional lawn... The promise? Less environmental damage and more biodiversity. Because traditional lawn care is, at its essence, a perpetual fight against biodiversity, a war conducted with mower blades and chemicals."

The Once & Future Gardener: Garden Writing from the Golden Age of Magazines: 1900-1940 by Virginia Tuttle Clayton

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True Crime

See also True crime podcasts and True crime books
“... the devil doesn't come dressed in a red cape and pointy horns.
He comes as everything you've ever wished for...”
 ~ Tucker Max, Assholes Finish First

 

"True crime makes the world coherent by reducing chaos to a neat story line with a clearly defined culprit. In this period of national precariousness, it’s no wonder the public is eager for stories that amp up our anxiety before assuaging it."
~ Rachel Monroe, The Con Man Who Became a True-Crime Writer
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American Crime Writers League (for writers of crime fiction & true crime)
Public Safety Writers Association
CrimeCon National true crime convention for those who want to do more that watch the news. Meet the key players in big cases, learn how detectives, investigators, and attorneys work, and be the first to see new documentaries and films.
Writers' Police Academy (Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, June 2022) A chance for writers to participate in many of the same hands-on training classes, basic and advanced, taught to Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, and Corrections personnel. Sessions are typically reserved only for professionals. See Dana Stabenow's account of attending the Police Academy Training for Writers.
Federal Crimes List (ClariFacts)
Resources for Victims and Survivors of Crime and Crisis (National Organization for Victim Assistance, or NOVA)
Disaster Distress Helpline (SAMHSA)

True crime stories on CrimeReads

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Uncovered: Crowdsourcing Cold Cases Follow and help solve cold cases. Jim Brown used his tech and product skills to build a database of cold cases and describes what happened on Simon Owens' podcast The Business of Content: Uncovered is building the largest community for true crime enthusiasts (42 minutes, 10-19-22) What started as a tipline became a central database and magnet for new information on cases that never got solved. Reddit and Facebook were the main avenues for funneling information at one point, and then Google got involved. The site now attracts tens of thousands of monthly visitors and recently played a key role in solving a cold case. Do listen to the interview. Think of Uncovered as a kind of Wikipedia for unsolved crimes.  "We became the squeaky wheel," says Jim Brown. That and popular true-crime show
Writing True Crime: Q&A with Janis Thornton (Cathy Shouse on Jane Friedman's blog, 9-30-2020) The author of No Place Like Murder: True Crime in the Midwest, a modern retelling of 20 sensational true crimes, and Too Good a Girl: Remembering Olene Emberton and the Mystery of Her Death "While the research was intensive, the most challenging aspect of the project was breaking through my self-doubt. The closer I came to wrapping up the research phase, the more I heard myself asking: Am I the right person to tell this story? Have I crossed a line? Will the book cause the family pain by opening old wounds?" She discusses the logistical, ethical and legal issues around writing true crime. s put pressure on law enforcement that helps break some of these cases. 


A brutal murder, a welcoming pub and an elegaic essay of place (Laurie Hertzel, Why's This So Good? Nieman Storyboard, 5-15-24) An Irish Times writer refused the easy draw of a lurid murder, and instead delivered a deadline ode to community. Why she didn't deal on details of the brutal murder: "It’s always disconcerting for Irish readers to read the way American media covers violent death. In Ireland, those details are never reported until the trial."

Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake ( Frank W. Abagnale with Stan Redding) Immortalized by Leonardo DiCaprio in DreamWorks' feature film of the same name.

Her Father Is the B.T.K. Killer. She’s Helping to Close More Cases. (Remy Tumin, NY Times, 9-15-23) Dennis Rader terrorized Kansas for decades before his arrest in 2005. His daughter, Kerri Rawson, could not bear to see him until this June, when she visited him in prison to help investigators. Her contributions have helped investigators identify him as the prime suspect in two unsolved cold cases: a missing person investigation and a murder. 

The Con Man Who Became a True-Crime Writer (Rachel Monroe, The Atlantic, 8-19) In his old life, Matthew Cox told stories to scam his way into millions of dollars. Now he’s trying to make it by selling tales that are true.

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Poison Pill (Michael Solomon, Truly Adventurous, a site for longform true stories, 7-13-22) Is the killer behind the 1982 Tylenol poisonings still on the loose? Exclusive revelations by investigators yield the first authoritative account of what happened and who likely did it.
What About Ann Rule (Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell, CrimeReads, 11-10-21) An ode to the original queen of true crime, who focused on victims, not perpetrators; lessons, not details; and loss, not violence. “It seems to me, I may bring something to the field of crime writing that men do not.” — Ann Rule.
Dead Certainty (Kathryn Schulz, New Yorker,1-25-16) How “Making a Murderer” goes wrong. After going once over lightly through successful true crime series (Erle Stanley Gardner's "Court of Last Resort," in Argosy, progenitor of true crime)... then the standout representatives of this form were “The Thin Blue Line,” a 1988 Errol Morris documentary about Randall Dale Adams, who was sentenced to death for the 1976 murder of a police officer; “Paradise Lost,” a series of documentaries by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about three teen-agers found guilty of murdering three second-grade boys in West Memphis in 1993; and “The Staircase,” a television miniseries by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade about the novelist Michael Peterson, found guilty of murdering his wife in 2001.

      Peterson has been granted a new trial. Randall Dale Adams was exonerated a year after “The Thin Blue Line” was released. Shortly before the final “Paradise Lost” documentary was completed, in 2011, all three of its subjects were freed from prison on the basis of DNA evidence.' And a more recent crop: First came “Serial,” co-created by Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder, which revisited the case of Adnan Syed, convicted for the 1999 murder of his high-school classmate and former girlfriend, eighteen-year-old Hae Min Lee. That was followed by Andrew Jarecki’s “The Jinx,” a six-part HBO documentary that, uncharacteristically for the genre, sought to implicate rather than exonerate its subject, Robert Durst. Schulz then shows where "Making a Murderer" goes wrong.

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Posse Comitatus Lawyer Jessica Pishko's newsletter focuses on investigating and reporting on sheriff’s departments around the country--"digs deep into history to give readers greater insight into America’s fractured law enforcement apparatus."~ quoting an investigative journalism award site.
A Brave New World for Nonfiction Writers (Mark Bowden, CrimeReads, 4-2-19) In an era when everything is recorded, researchers and authors face new challenges—and new opportunities to find the truth.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy-Gang Crisis (Dana Goodyear, New Yorker, 5-30-22) Whistle-blowers say that a group called the Banditos functions as a shadow government within local law enforcement. The sheriff says there is no such gang in his department.
The Dark Art of Interrogation (Mark Bowden, The Atlantic, Oct. 2003) The most effective way to gather intelligence and thwart terrorism can also be a direct route into morally repugnant terrain. A survey of the landscape of persuasion.
Victims, Families and America’s Thirst for True-Crime Stories (Britt Peterson, Washington Post Magazine, 7-30-19) What happens when one family's tragedy becomes entertainment for everyone else? For Bill Thomas and other family members of murder victims, CrimeCon — an annual true-crime festival sponsored by the TV channel Oxygen, now in its third year and hosting a sold-out crowd of 3,600 (up from 1,000 its first year) — represents a major and unprecedented opportunity. Twenty years ago, if victims’ family members wanted to draw media attention to a crime in hopes of shaking loose new leads and motivating law enforcement, there were just a few options. Today, there are thousands.

      Yet despite all the opportunities it offers, the true-crime boom — and CrimeCon itself — has put Thomas and other victims' relatives in some awkward positions. There's the very real risk of using these new outlets too aggressively and alienating law enforcement. And then there's the fact that thrill-seeking true-crime fans (and the media serving them) can sometimes forget that Cathy Thomas and other victims were real people, not just characters in a titillating narrative.

The Art of Investigation by Chelsea A. Binns and Bruce Sackman
How to Write & Sell True Crime by Gary Provost
How does the ‘true crime’ genre impact criminal investigations? (Nora Daly, PBS News Hour, 3-19-15)
‘Serial,’ Podcasting’s First Breakout Hit, Sets Stage for More (David Carr, NY Times, 11-23-14)
How to write a true crime tale, according to bestseller David Grann (Ellizabeth Flock, PBS News Hour, 1-31-18)
Why our true crime obsession is bad for society (Laura Bogart, The Week, 1-31-18)
Why Fingerprints Aren’t the Proof We Thought They Were (Sue Russell, PSMag.com)

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The Botched Hunt for the Gilgo Beach Killer (Robert Kolker, NY Times Magazine, 10-19-23) For 13 years, police failed to scrutinize the man now accused of the infamous murders. Why did it take so long?
The Con Man Who Became a True-Crime Writer (Rachel Monroe,The Atlantic, 7-19-19) Appears in the August 2019 print edition with the headline “The True-Crime Writer in Cellblock B4.” In his old life, Matthew Cox told stories to scam his way into millions of dollars. Now he’s trying to make it by selling tales that are true. Interesting insights into the genre.
Iphigenia in Forest Hills (Janet Malcolm, New Yorker 5-3-10) Read this long, grim true-crime murder story by a master storyteller and then Parul Sehgal's review of the book Iphigenia in Forest Hills: Anatomy of a Murder Trial nytimes.com/2023/10/19/magazine/gilgo-beach-killer-suffolk-police.html</a"> 'It’s a story that discomfits as much as it explains. Not for Malcolm the journalism of “reassurance” or “rhetorical ruses,” her small book with big stakes and mythic underpinnings flies close to the sun. It unsettles and scorches and soars.'
The Young Woman Behind a Last Mystery of the Green River Killer (Leah Worthington, NY Times, 10-26-22) A mother lost her daughter 40 years ago. Until investigators knocked on her door, she had no idea what had happened.
Search for ‘Golden State Killer’ Leads to Arrest of Ex-Cop (Thomas Fuller and Christine Hauser, NY Times, 4-25-18) Joseph James DeAngelo, 72, was arrested at a home in Citrus Heights, Calif. The so-called Golden State Killer is thought to have killed 12 people, raped at least 45 people and burglarized more than 120 homes in the 1970s and ’80s.
The Worst of the Worst (Patrick Radden Keefe, New Yorker, 9-14-15) Judy Clarke was the lead defense lawyer representing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, on trial for the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013—the worst domestic terrorist attack since September 11th. 'As the Tsarnaev case began, Clarke told the jury that she would not contest the “who” or the “what” of the case. She would focus on the “why.” Clarke is driven by an intense philosophical opposition to the death penalty. She once observed that “legalized homicide is not a good idea for a civilized nation.”

      A training guide that Clarke helped prepare for defense attorneys in 2006 notes, “In capital cases, appropriate physical contact is frequently the one gesture that can maintain a defendant’s trust.” Under the terms of his confinement, Tsarnaev was not permitted to touch any visitors, even relatives, so the casual contact of his attorneys likely represented his only remaining form of tangible human connection.

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The tiny murder scenes of forensic scientist Frances Glessner Lee (Nicole Johnson, Al Zazeera, 9-11-22) Lee was a diorama-maker, criminal investigation educator and the first female police captain in the US. Through her studies, Lee became convinced of the need for better-trained experts (coroners, elected officials with no medical training,  were bad at determining the true cause of death), arguing that every individual with an unexplained death deserved a fair and thorough investigation.
“I Was in a Violent Girl Gang, Now I’m Helping Others Get Out” (as told to Sue Russell, The Independent, UK)
The Real Lolita (Sara Weinman, Hazlitt LongReads, 11-20-14) The story of 11-year-old Sally Horner’s abduction changed the course of 20th-century literature. She just never got to tell it herself.
True Crime (On the Media radio show, WNYC)
True Crime (The Guardian's pieces about true crime are a notch above the rest.)
Serial Killers, Versace, and Me (Sarah Weinman, Paris Review, 1-29-18)
The Unravelling of an Expert on Serial Killers (Lauren Collins, New Yorker, 4-11-22) Stéphane Bourgoin became famous through his jailhouse interviews with murderers. Then an anonymous collective of true-crime fans began investigating his own story. A compelling story. In "My Conversations with Killers," Bourgoin wrote, "The immense majority of serial killers are inveterate liars from a very young age. Isolated, marginalized in their lives, they take refuge in the imaginary to construct a personality, far from the mediocre reality of their existence."


Collision Course (Lauren Smiley, Intelligencer, New York Magazine, 10-3-22) The car wrecks were staged. The injuries were real. Led by a charismatic rogue, one family bloodied itself to pocket $6 million. Wonderful true-crime story.
The fugitive and the chameleon (Ciara O'Rourke, Deseret News, 8-2-21) The story of one of the longest manhunts in U.S. history. “Like a modern Inspector Javert, forever in pursuit of his Jean Valjean, the cop didn’t let up.” H/T Jack El-Hai, Damn History.
To Investigate Serial Killers with the FBI, First She Had to Pass the Test (Dr. Ann Wolbert Burgess and Steven Matthew Constantine, CrimeReads, 12-9-21) She was the woman behind the FBI's groundbreaking Behavioral Science Unit. But she was an expert, not an agent.
A Lawyer’s Deathbed Confession About a Sensational 1975 Kidnapping (Alex Traub, NY Times, 8-12-21) Samuel Bronfman, heir to the Seagram fortune, was abducted by two men who confessed to the crime. But then their story evolved wildly, and the jury believed it. Was it all a lie?
The case of a lifetime (Eli Saslow, Washington Post, 8-7-22) For a Buffalo lawyer, the investigation of one mass shooting leads him back to another.
The Crime Victim Who’s Obsessed with True Crime Shows (Taylor Schumann, Memoir column, Narratively, 6-25-2020) After I was injured in a school shooting, I found unexpected comfort in binging grisly TV shows and podcasts. And I’m not the only one.

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True crime podcasts

There are specialties: cold cases, serial murderers, unsolved murders, forensic science.  After the massive success of "Serial" there rose lots of true-crime podcasts (from "Wine & Crime" to "Crime Stories With Nancy Grace" to "Crime After Crime," to My Favorite Murder," a comedy-crime series, and "Crime Junkie" and "Up and Vanished" — are downloaded hundreds of thousands or even millions of times and frequently rank in Apple Podcasts' top-25 chart.


The Long Afterlife of a Terrible Crime (Ryan Katz, New Yorker, 1-3-22) Decades after her mother was killed, Regina Alexander reached out to the son of the people who did it. The national press quickly picked up on the story, fascinated by a family who appeared to be robbing and murdering together.
      Now Wondery has a podcast series on the crime story: Families Who Kill: The Donut Shop Murders. "In the era of some of the most heinous serial killers of all time, one murderous family went curiously unnoticed: The McCrarys. Led by a psychopathic patriarch and his cunning son-in-law, this Texas clan roamed the country robbing, kidnapping, and killing up to 20 people, most of them taken from donut shops. “Families Who Kill: The Donut-Shop Murders” recounts the wild and deeply disturbing story of an unhinged American family and the terrible brutality they unleashed. The podcast features the taped confessions of one of the killers, given when he was serving a life term in Colorado."
Crime Junkie (Spotify)
In the Dark (New Yorker, 48 episodes)
Bear Brook (Apple podcasts, 21 episodes) Sharon Johnson’s family and friends have spent the last 35 years coping with her brutal murder. But what if that story was based on a lie?
7 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Listen to This Winter (Lizzy Steiner, CrimeReads, 12-3-21) Cold cases, hot investigations, and a visit to the body farm.
The 15 best new true crime podcasts (Jess Joho, Mashable, 5-13-2020)
50 True Crime Podcasts We've Been Hooked On This Year (Bianca Rodriguez and Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, 6-25-2020)
Best True-Crime Podcasts of 2018 (Laura Barcella, Rolling Stone, 12-31-18) True crime helped create the podcast revolution — and they’re still leading the way
The Life and Death of Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (YouTube video)
The True Crime Edition (Medium newsletter) The guilty, the dead, the missing...
The Most Infamous Crimes Committed in Every State (Insider)

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Best True Crime Podcasts (Samuel Thomas Davies)
20 True Crime Podcasts That’ll Make Your Commute Go by so Fast (Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping,12-18-19)
Beyond ‘Serial’: 10 True Crime Podcasts You Need to Follow (Elisabeth Garber-Paul, Rolling Stone, 7-22-16) From L.A. comedians riffing on murder to full-on 1940s-style radio dramas, there’s hours of earbud entertainment to keep you on edge
True Crime podcasts (Player FM)
Are True-Crime Podcasts Ready for the #DefundthePolice Era? (Marisa Meltzer, Vanity Fair, 7-9-2020) Some of the most popular podcasts have relied on a paternalistic and trusting relationship with the criminal justice system—one that seems increasingly out of step with the current moment.
The 10 True-Crime Podcasts That Changed Everything (Rebecca Lavoie, Vulture, 10-1-19)

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True crime books

True crime (Wikipedia's overview) Helter Skelter (1974), the true story of the Manson murders by Vincent Bugliosi, is the biggest selling true crime book in publishing history; Truman Capote's In Cold Blood (1966) is number two. Other classic titles to get you started, if this genre has just caught your eye:
---And The Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi with Bruce Henderson (four people set sail for a South Pacific island and only two return)
---Columbine by Dave Cullen (this book about a horrific school shooting and massacre tries to answer the question, Why did it happen?)
---The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (who entertwines the true story of two men: the architect behind the legendary 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and a cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death)
---Fatal Vision by Joe McGinnis (the story of Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the handsome, Princeton-educated physician convicted of savagely slaying his young pregnant wife and two small children)
---Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi with Kurt Gentry (the true story of the Manson murders)
---In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (the cold-blooded murder of the Clutter family, in a small town in Kansas)
---The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm. (Using a strange and unprecedented lawsuit as her larger-than-life example -- the lawsuit of Jeffrey MacDonald, a convicted murderer, against Joe McGinniss, the author of Fatal Vision, a book about the crime -- she delves into the always uneasy, sometimes tragic relationship that exists between journalist and subject.)
---Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil 'by John Berendt (Savannah socialite Jim Williams stands trial for the murder of Danny Hansford, a moody, violence-prone hustler--and sometime companion to Williams; to improve the story, Berendt didn't stick to the true chronology)
---The Other Side by Lacy Johnson (memoir of her brutal kidnapping and imprisonment at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, her dramatic escape, and her hard-fought struggle to recover)
---Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People by Tim Reiterman
---Shot in the Heart by Mikhal Gilmore, brother of the murderer Gary Gilmore, who asked to be executed by a short in the heart. Norman Mailer covered Gilmore's story also, in The Executioner's Song
--- Small Sacrifices by Ann Rule (a powerful account of the destructive forces that drove Diane Downs, a beautiful young mother, to shoot her three young children in cold blood)
---The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule (about Ted Bundy)
---Son of a Gun: A Memoir by Justin St. Germain (a memoir of a mother-son relationship that is also the searing, unflinching account of a murder and its aftermath)
---The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist (Rich Schapiro, Wired Magazine, 12-27-10) A magazine-length true crime story, for when you want the story and the suspense but don't have time for a whole book.

 

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Organizations for Music Journalists and Music Creators

See also (scroll down)
Music and Musicians
Performing Rights Organizations and Other Directories
Music rights and royalties

(under Copyright, on this Writers and Editors site)
Other music-related resources


____________________________

Organizations for Music Journalists and Music Creators

 

American Songwriter ("The Craft of Music"). Their Legal Corner looks helpful.

Classical Voice North America Journal of the Music Critics Association of North America

Dance Critics Association
Directory of songwriters organizations (The Muse's Muse)

The Guild of International Songwriters & Composers  Email: gisc@songwriters-guild.co.uk
International Songwriters Association (ISA)
Ivors Academy as of March 2019. Before that (most recently) the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and others.

Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) has hosted several webinars on jazz journalism, which you can listen to free, online, including Writing Jazz Biographies.
The Muse's Muse (an informal directory of songwriters organizations)
Music Critics of North America
Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) "It all began with a song"
Songwriters Guild of America (SGA)

Songwriters Resource Network (SRN) Associations & Organizations for Songwriters
• Song Writing and Song Writers (Songwriters Resource Network, organized by state)
Top Music Journalists to Cover Your Story (Prowly)

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Performing Rights Organizations

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) A performing rights organization.
BMI (Broadcast Music Inc)
The Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC)
SoundExchange

 



 

Other music-related resources

(Composers Forum)
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Songwriters Resource Network (SRN)
4 Reasons Why You Should Focus on Small Music Blogs... Not Big Ones (Sonic Bids)
Organizations Supporting Composers & New Music 

     (listing many types of support for musicians and composers, and generative artists)
What Is A Music Journalist And How Do I Become One? (String Ovation, Connolly Music)
Best music journalism of 2021(Jason Gross, Rock and Roll Globe, 12-27-21)
Music Journalism (Wikipedia) Links to many resources.

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Music and Musicians


Links to more articles and episodes about music and musicians (to come), as I find the time!
7 Lives of Music - The Kanneh-Mason Family (video, PBS, 11-1-23, but repeats) The Kanneh-Masons are seven siblings ranging from 12 to 25 years in age - Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata, and Mariatu are all gifted musicians in their own right on violin, piano, or cello. The film follows them and their music-loving parents on and off the stage as they conquer the musical world together and grow into their own as artists.
Taylor Swift and Beyoncé Get Their Own Press Corps (Eduardo Medina, NY Times, 9-13-23) Newspapers rarely assign a reporter to cover a single artist. But Swift and Beyoncé are cultural forces whose tours continue breaking records.
The Year Lou Reed Gave Up on Music (Will Hermes, NY Times, 9-22-23) Between quitting the Velvet Underground and writing “Walk on the Wild Side,” the singer endured a long stretch of doubt, frustration and failure. Article adapted from his forthcoming biography Lou Reed: The King of New York
For Me, For You (Bruce Hubbard, link to album from a Wall Street Journal article. I was able to listen free, with brief ads every couple of songs.) In 2024 the WSJ highlighted a lovely album by Bruce Hubbard ("For You, For Me," recorded in 1990, the year before he died at age 39 of pneumonia in NYC. Hubbard (1952-1991) was an American operatic baritone. A Drama Desk and Laurence Olivier Award nominee for Best Actor, he performed on Broadway, the Metropolitan Opera, BBC television, in concert and made several recordings. He is most famous for appearing as Joe in Show Boat, and as Jake, as well as Porgy, in Porgy and Bess on Broadway, the West End, and in several major opera houses and regional theatres. (H/T Stanford Lamberg)

 

MORE TO COME

Miscellaneous listings, alphabetical order




American Night Writers Association (ANWA) (ANWA, a network for writers who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, LDS)
Asian American Writers' Workshop (AAWW, an arts organization devoted to the creating, publishing, developing and disseminating of creative writing by Asian Americans– dedicated to the belief that Asian American stories deserve to be told)
Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW)

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Binders Full of Women (Facebook group--name based on a phrase Mitt Romney used during his run for president). See Binders Full of Women Writers: can a secret Facebook group be inclusive? (Caty Enders, The Guardian, 8-5-15) Can an online ‘safe space’ be both selective and preoccupied with inclusivity? That’s a question Binders Full of Women Writers is trying to sort out after a member published an article about the Facebook group.
Biographers International Organization (BIO), chiefly a U.S. literary organization devoted to biographers and biography (memoirists participate too)
Black Writers
Children's Writers. Above all, go to the website of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. See section below on Children's Book Publishing


Criminal Justice Journalists (CJJ), which has an interactive forum/community. Also of possible interest:
---The Crime Report (your complete criminal justice source)
---Crime and Justice News (your daily newsfeed)
---Cop Link (resource for police writers and others with law enforcement interests)
---Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) (the organization for investigative reporters)


Education Writers Association (EWA), with many useful resources, including: news and blogs and other resources, plus interesting book reviews, such as these for The Gift of Failure (a radio interview about the book The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey) and If you read one education book this year…. (the book is Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement by John Hattie.

•  Erotica Readers & Writers Association


Garden Writers of America (GWA)


Historical Writers of America (for writers of historical fiction or nonfiction, all genres)
Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), best known for its Golden Globe Awards (presented weeks before the Academy Awards are presented)
Humor Writers of America . Presumably Jordan Carr's New Yorker story would qualify: Can We Try Breaking Up Again, for the Sake of My Memoir? (6-21-16). And this: How to Make White People Laugh Negin Farsad's memoir on race, identity, and comedy.
Hollywood Network (Warning: I am not really sure what this is about)
HTML Writers Guild (for HTML design originators, writing for the Web). Provides online training in Web design and development. Absorbed International Webmasters Association.

International Society of Family History Writers and Editors ( (ISFHWE, formerly Council of Genealogy Columnists), to encourage excellence in writing and editorial standards in genealogical publishing.

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Legal Writing Institute (LWI))


National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE)
National Book Critics Circle (NBCC, and the blog of its board of directors, Critical Mass
National Résumé Writers' Association (NRWA)
New York Financial Writers’ Association, Inc. (NYFWA)
North American Agricultural Journalists (agricultural editors and writers)


Organizations for biographers, memoirists, and personal historians
Organizations and resources for veterans and military writers

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Peace Corps Writers (a division of Peace Corps Worldwide) This isn't really a writers organization but there is material of interest for writers about the Peace Corps.
Police Writers
Prison and Justice Writing (PEN America) Download list of writing programs in prisons across the U.S., request a copy of the Handbook for Writers in Prison, find a writing mentor, and/or submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN’s Prison Writing Contest. See also section on prison writing on this website (Writers and Editors)
Public Safety Writers Association (formerly Police/Public Safety Writers Association)


Scribes (The American Society of Legal Writers)
Southern California Restaurant Writers (SCRWm bestows annual awards, to encourage better restaurant reviews)


United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA)
U.S. Marine Corps Combat Correspondents Association (USMCCCA)

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White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA)
Women Writing Women's Lives Biography Seminar (roughly 70 women in New York metropolitan area engaged in writing book-length biographies and memoirs). See WWWL blog and videos of past events.

Writers' Trust of Canada
Writer UA, the Conference for Software User Assistance
Washington Biography Group. On that website is a list of Other biography centers, groups, and resources
The Young Writers Society (YWS)

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Miscellaneous types of writing gig


I Learned to Love Standardized Tests ( Mathina Calliope, Wall Street Journal, 11-29-18) "...as a child, I had loved taking reading exams. Reading a story and answering questions about it didn’t feel like a test at all. I sensed a real person behind the prompts, and we conducted meaningful mental conversations. Now I write those multiple-choice questions as a freelancer."
Submit Your Crossword Puzzles to The New York Times (8-1-22) The New York Times looks for intelligent, literate, entertaining and well-crafted crosswords that appeal to the broad range of Times solvers.
53 Places to Land Freelance Writing Gigs Online (Elna Cain, 10-28-17)
81 Sites To Find Side Gigs To Earn More Money Now (Emma Johnson, Forbes, 9-14-15) These aren't writing gigs, but just as actors often work as waiters on the side, so writers may find it useful to take on dog sitting, mystery shopping, and other jobs suitable for freelancers.
Employers Are Paying Freelancers Big Bucks for These 25 In-Demand Skills (John Rampton, Entrepreneur, 5-23-17) With the right skills and some hustle, freelancing pays like a full time job.
The One-Traffic-Light Town with Some of the Fastest Internet in the U.S. (Sue Halpern, Annals of Technology, New Yorker, 12-3-19) (a side gig a writer can handle)

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Animal focused organizations for writers

 "Until the lion learns to speak, every story will glorify the hunter."
"The hen knows when it's dawn, too, but feels no need to announce it."

"The tiger does not declare his tigritude before he pounces. He declares it in the elegance of his leap."


Cat Writers' Association (CWA) . See categories for CWA awards.
Dog Writers Association of America (DWAA). See rules and entry information for DWA's writing competition
Horserace Writers' and Photographers' Association (HWPA, UK). See Derby Awards
Making a Living as an Animal Writer (Mary Hope Kramer, The Balance, 6-23-17)
Writing for Animal Magazines: Publishing Markets (Mary Hope Kramer, The Balance, 6-25-17)
9 Publications That Pay You to Write About Animals ( Paula Fitzsimmons, Animal Jobs Digest)
This Pet Writing Conference Made Me Fall Deeper in Love with Animal Lovers (Jen Reeder, HuffPost, 5-25-17) The president of the Dog Writers Association of America reports on the three-day BlogPaws conference

The Dog Exception Second excerpt from The Unspeakable by Meghan Daum (on submitting photos of her aging dog to Daily Puppy).
The Conscious Cat with Ingrid King (winner of a gazillion awards for pet blogs, all linked to here) This piece is about "writing an illustrated book for adults, platform building, and listening to the little voice inside." Here's one of the winning posts: Estate Planning for Pets: Provide For Your Cat in Case Something Happens to You (1-15014)
Resources for finding service dogs, therapy dogs, and other types of assistance dogs (Pat McNees)

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Children's book publishing

(writing and illustrating for kidlit)

plus links to resources about the young adult (YA) market

Carroll Moore, superintendent of children's work at the New York Public Library and [children's book editor] Ursula Nordstrom's nemesis, once famously asked Nordstrom what qualified her — neither a librarian nor a teacher nor a parent — to publish books for children. Nordstrom replied, "Well, I am a former child, and I haven't forgotten a thing." ---from Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Leonard S. Marcus



Children's book publishing doesn't operate the same way as adult book publishing, so be sure to read up on how it does work.
        First, check out (and later, join) the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Start there, explore the site's excellent resources, and look up local chapters. This is a specialty you WANT to learn about from practitioners with experience. See, for example, Frequently Asked Questions about Children's Book Publishing and The Book: Essential Guide to Publishing for Children (downloadable free on joining SCBWI), in which you can study up on the kidlit industry, the querying process, agents, editors, age groups of readers, and so on). See also SCBWI Digital Workshops and links to local SCBWI chapters in the US and around the world.
Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the only organization in the country devoted to furthering the careers of authors and illustrators of children's and young adult books. (There's an SCBWI in the UK, also.) The kidlit genre has altogether different approaches to publishing, so if this is the field you aspire to, join and participate.  SCBWI conferences (New York in the winter, Los Angeles in the summer, for kidlit writers at all levels, and Bologna (Italy), with a Showcase every other early spring), plus many regional events. (Writers signed up for the Winter conference will typically be able to post their ms online for agents & editors to read).

      Members of SCBWI can get a list describing "which popular books were edited by which editors at which houses. This information is invaluable, because it tells you exactly which editor acquired or worked on what book--presupposing this is the type of material they will continue to seek out."

• Authors Guild members who are new to kidlit: Subscribe to the AG's Writing for Children and Young Adults group after clicking on Communities on the AG website.
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (Writer's Digest). Get the most recent edition, so you are likely to have the names of the current staff. Study the big children's book publishing houses to learn what genres and subjects they are interested in and what they do not want to see. Editors of children's books tend to work with a set of favorite illustrators, so do not assume you should submit both text and illustrations--or if you do, "make it clear that you are you are offering the manuscript WITH OR WITHOUT the illustrations. This will increase your chances of being acquired exponentially, because if the editor doesn't like the illustrations, and it appears to them that art and text are a package deal only, they are probably going to turn it down even if they do like the attached narrative." It's also important with books for young readers to know and state the age of your target audience. Is this a picture book for pre-readers? An early reader with illustrations? A YA (young adult) title without illustrations or photos? Etc. (H/T for her practical wisdom to Lenore Hart—co-author of T. Rex at Swan Lake (for children) and author of The Night Bazaar: Venice--Thirteen Tales of Forbidden Wishes and Dangerous Desires (for adults), volume 2 of the fantastic fiction series of which she is series editor.)
The fighter behind many of the most beloved children’s books of all time (Nell McShane Wulfhart, Washington Post, 8-4-23) Editor Ursula Nordstrom valued telling kids the truth, and published “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harriet the Spy,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and other classics. There was a time, before Ursula Nordstrom, when children’s books did not discuss race, homosexuality, puberty, divorce or any of the themes that are currently falling afoul of a handful of unimaginative and fearful right-wingers.

       "Before Nordstrom, children’s literature had a tendency toward the moralizing, the saccharine, the didactic — stories that she once described as “neat little items about a little girl in old Newburyport during the War of 1812.” (Check out Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom Paperback by Leonard S. Marcus.)

     "Banning controversial books is a coward's act. Publishing controversial books can require great gobs of bravery. There was a time, before Ursula Nordstrom, when children's books did not discuss race, homosexuality, puberty, divorce or any of the themes that are currently falling afoul of a handful of unimaginative and fearful right-wingers.

      'She was referred to (and referred to herself) as the Maxwell Perkins of children’s literature. Over more than three decades, beginning in earnest in 1940, Nordstrom shepherded, chivied and gently bullied some of the greatest works of children’s literature into life. Those books included “Goodnight Moon,” “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Harriet the Spy,” “Little Bear,” “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little,” “Bedtime for Frances,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “Freaky Friday.” [This, by the way, is a good shopping list if you want to buy a good book for a young child.]

     "Although Nordstrom was not officially out of the closet (her 1988 obituary in the New York Times described Mary Griffith as "her longtime companion"), many of her cadre of writers, including Fitzhugh, Maurice Sendak, Arnold Lobel ("Frog and Toad") and Margaret Wise Brown ("Goodnight Moon"), were queer.

      "She stood up to librarians, issued petitions and news releases, wrote back with patience to those readers who sent letters complaining about the uncomfortable feelings books had brought up. She gave the writers of these books an established publisher, exposure to a mainstream audience, generous advances, endless support. And the thing that enabled her to do this, her position of power, hadn't been inherited; it had been earned."
How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon (Dan Kois, Slate, 1-13-20) There’s a reason this classic is missing from the New York Public Library’s list of the 10 most-checked-out books of all time. Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, would have made the Top 10 list and might have topped it, the library notes, but for the fact that “influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore disliked the story so much when it was published in 1947 that the Library didn’t carry it … until 1972.”
Why Kids Aren’t Falling in Love With Reading (Katherine Marsh, The Atlantic, 3-22-23) State assessments that test reading level and comprehension focus on reading analytically, critically. The love of books and storytelling is being lost. "This disregard for story starts as early as elementary school....The process of meeting a character and following them through a series of conflicts is the fun part of reading. Jumping into a paragraph in the middle of a book is about as appealing for most kids as cleaning their room....You can’t teach kids to love reading if you don’t even prioritize making it to a book’s end."
Not Lost in a Book (Dan Kois, Slate, 5-24) Middle-grade book sales have been suffering perhaps because the number of kids reading for pleasure is dropping at the age of 9, research shows. Why the “decline by 9” in kids pleasure reading is getting more pronounced, year after year. Sales of “middle-grade” books—the classification covering ages 8 through 12—were down 10 percent in the first three quarters of 2023, after falling 16 percent in 2022."
     "Reading in the classroom has moved away from encouraging students to dive into a whole book and moved toward students reading excerpts and responding to them. “Even in elementary school, you read, you take a quiz, you get the points. You do a reading log, and you have to read so many minutes a day. It’s really taking a lot of the joy out of reading.”
PW Q & As with Children's and YA Authors (Publishers Weekly) For example, Q & A with Daniel Salmieri (Libby Morse, Publishers Weekly, 6-6-23) Q & A: Before Now is your first solo book since 2018’s Bear and Wolf. How did you know it was time to be both author and illustrator again? And how did you arrive at the concept of telling a life story? Etc.

Plus:
---PW Kidscast (188 episodes) Interviews with children's and YA authors conducted by Publishers Weekly children's editor Emma Kantor.
---PW Comics World: More To Come PW's weekly comics podcast.
---PW Insider, Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly editors chime in on the biggest stories and books of the week.
---Publishers Weekly PW LitCast Conversations between Publishers Weekly editors and authors of new fiction and nonfiction books.
---Publishers Weekly PW FaithCast A podcast featuring interviews with authors of new and upcoming religious books by the editors of Publishers Weekly Magazine.
So You Wrote a Children’s Book—What’s Next? (Carol Fisher Saller, The Subversive Copy Editor, 5--6-17) Excellent basic advice.
****How to Make Six Figures Self-Publishing Children’s Books (Darcy Pattison on Jane Friedman's blog, 8-31-21) @FictionNotes A successful self-published author discusses the importance of multiple formats, wide distribution, licensing, thinking like a publisher (not an author), networking your way to special sales. Wonderful advice.
• Try the 12x12 Picture Book Challenge.
Writing Children’s Books For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Lisa Rojany Buccieri, Peter Economy, Dummies).Includes Age Levels for Children's Books:
      Board books: Newborn to age 3
      Picture books: Ages 3–8
      Coloring and activity (C&A) books: Ages 3–8
      Novelty books: Ages 3 and up, depending on content
      Early, leveled readers: Ages 5–9
      First chapter books: Ages 6–9 or 7–10
      Middle-grade books: Ages 8–12
      Young adult (YA) novels: Ages 12 and up or 14 and up.
F&G stands for “folded and gathered.” F&Gs are like advance readers/review copies (ARCs) for picture books. The pages are printed on a massive piece of paper that is then cut and folded and gathered into “signatures,” each signature representing one part of of the massive pieces of paper, including many pages. This is why signatures come in multiples of 8, in many cases 32 pages. For more information about this stage of book production, check out Steven Waxman's Why It’s Smart to Ask for F&Gs , in a useful newsletter from the Printing Industry Exchange. It pays to be savvy about the production part of book publishing.
Woke Roald Dahl Will Put Kids to Sleep (Meghan Cox Gurdon, Wall Street Journal, 2-21-23)  'Sensitivity readers' are determined to make reading dull.

     'The Telegraph reports that Puffin functionaries and hired “sensitivity readers” have combed through Dahl’s works for children—including whizbang novels such as “Matilda,” “The Twits,” and “James and the Giant Peach”—and cut all references to fatness, craziness, ugliness, whiteness (even of bedsheets), blackness (even of tractors) and the great Rudyard Kipling, along with any allusion to acts lacking full and enthusiastic consent.'

     'The bowdlerizing of Dahl fits a broader trend in children's books. Everything is getting less specific, more didactic and more boring. Writers and illustrators, terrified of causing "harm" by failing to be "inclusive" and "accessible," are sacrificing specificity, beauty and fun. Most new picture books deliver a lesson rather than risk telling a story, and they increasingly feature young protagonists of indeterminate sex rather than boys or girls.'   
Changes to new editions of Roald Dahl books have readers up in arms (Jaclyn Diaz, NPR, 2-21-23) The changes to these books include adding language not originally written by Dahl. In his 1983 book The Witches, he writes that witches are bald beneath their wigs. According to The Telegraph, an added line in new editions says, "There are plenty of other reasons why women might wear wigs and there is certainly nothing wrong with that."
Children’s Dialogue: They Don’t Talk Like Adults (Jessi Rita Hoffman on Jane Friedman's blog, 3-17-22) Children aren’t miniature grownups. When writing a story with a child character, take time to really listen to how kids of that age talk.
Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy by Leslie Brody. Do read Harriet the Spy, the first book in a short series. See also the New Yorker piece The Tragic Misfit Behind “Harriet the Spy” (Rebecca Panovka, 12-9-21) The girl sleuth, now the star of a TV show, has been eased into the canon. In the process, she’s shed the politics that motivated her creation.
4 Tips to Market Children's Books, According to a Bestselling Author (Reedsy) Yvonne Jones: Hit up social media. Get your books into libraries. Plan school visits. Get your Amazon page right.
• "If you're self-pubbing kidlit (paperbacks, etc.),the author/publisher you should follow is Darcy Pattison, says former librarian Marie Monteagudo. Sign up for her newsletter (although it's $ for everything) and take her workshops, including those on marketing.
Act Like a Publisher, Not an Author: How Indies Can Better Market Children’s Books (The Hot Sheet, 7-15-18) Selling self-published indie children’s books requires strong, innovative distribution and social proof with educators and librarians, who care about professional reviews and book awards. See also The Toughest Sell? Children’s Books by Indie Authors (The Hot Sheet, 7-11-18)
Picture Books 101 (from Alison Hughes) (Michael Hingston) The basics for children's books, which are virtually all illustrated.
Picture Book Basics - Understanding Format (Part 1, John Shelley, Words & Pictures, The SCBWI British Isles Online Magazine, 2013) Text vs. Illustration, Number of pages, Separate-ended books, Self-ended books, Page proportions. Good basic explanations for illustrated children's books.
Picture Book Basics - Sketches and Layout (Part 2, John Shelley, Words & Pictures, The SCBWI British Isles Online Magazine, 2013) Storyboards, "Boxed, Vignette, Spot and Full Bleed," Big or Small, Crescendos and Patterns, Dummies.
The Spark Press Children's Book Publishing Package, a pitch for hybrid publishing. Their Children’s Book Publishing + Illustrator Tip Sheet explains basics helpful if you're new in this field.
How To Self-Publish a Children's Book: Everything You Need to Know To Write, Illustrate, Publish, and Market Your Paperback and Ebook by Yvonne Jones
How to Make (and Self-Publish) a Children’s Book (Eevi Jones, Kindlepreneur)
57 Children's Book Publishers that Accept Direct Submissions - No Agent Required (Emily Harstone, Authors Publish)
Where to submit your stories for kids and young adults (International Writers' Collective, 6-24-21)
The Authors Publish Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Publishing Download free PDF.

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Writing, Publishing and Marketing Books for Children with Crystal Swain Bates (Creative Penn, 4-12-21) "Before you ever write a word, write a positioning statement for your book...the elevator pitch for your book, because it's just a concise way to identify who your book is for and what that transformation will be for the child after they read it."
Rachelle Burk's Resources for Children's Writers Scroll down to a list and links to a gazillion useful articles.
Essential Kidlit Blogs and Newsletters for Writers and Illustrators (Teri Daniels, KidLit Crossing, 12-26-2020) Also posted by The Writing Cooperative. Most resources are free; some require membership; all are supportive.

Kid lit podcasts (Teri Daniels, KidLit Crossing) Links to podcasts about creating and disseminating children’s books and other literary works
Books and other resources for kid lit creators (Teri Daniels, KidLit Crossing). A thorough, practical list of resources about the craft and about the life of a kid lit creator, and resources about specific genres and sub-genres.

17 Magazines that Publish Writing by Children and Teens (Emily Harstone, Authors Publish) A list of literary journals and magazines that publish writing by children and teenagers. Some accept submissions from adults; all accept submissions from youth of various ages.
Esther Hershenhorn's Confessions and Secrets of a Veteran SCBWI Conference Goer (or, Do As I Say, Not As I Did).
Top Children's Book Publishing Companies (Pen & the Pad, 7-12-18) See also SCBWI's longer list of Published and Listed (PAL) Publishers and guidelines for PAL publishers.
Latinx Resources (SCBWI
SCBWI on YouTube (lots of great and sometimes super talks and storytelling). See, for example, Linda Sue Park: get out of your head
Verse Novelists Forge a Unique Connection with Young Readers (Amanda MacGregor, School Library Journal, 3-31-22) "Verse novels are voice-driven, often intimate feeling, and seem uniquely suited to tackling complex or emotional subjects."
How Jason Reynolds Distinguishes Y.A. Books From Adult Fiction (NY Times, 2-3-22) “It has more to do with tone than anything else,” says the current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Jason Reynolds, whose latest book is “Ain’t Burned All the Bright” (in collaboration with the artist Jason Griffin). “With a shift in tone, ‘Salvage the Bones’ might be a young adult novel. And that would make it different, certainly, but not a lesser work.”
Critique groups (KidLit 411) Links to info and groups. You can learn a lot from critique groups.

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Writer's Digest articles about children's and YA lit
Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators, and Performers (CANSCAIP)
The Purple Crayon. Harold Underdown's site about the business of writing, editing, illustrating, and publishing children's books, with articles about many topics, including
~The Acquisition Process,
~Children's book genres
~Basic articles (answers typical questions of people getting started in the children's publishing world)
~Resource guide (books, magazines, and other resources for writers and illustrators of children's books)
~Best of the site (including "Getting Started)
~Getting Out of the Slush Pile

~Children's Book Agents and Artist's Representatives: a Guide
Children's Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing and Selling (Facebook group)
Josh Funk's Guide to Writing Picture Books
Creating Picture Books (Debbie Ridpath Ohi's how-to guides, free templates, & resources), including InkyGirl's Reading, Writing, & Illustrating Children's Books. See also newsletter archives. Twitter: @inkyelbows.
Storyteller Academy (Facebook page) Check out the informative videos, such as 'how to open and close story loops.'
Kid Lit (literary agent Mary Kole's website on how to write and publish children's and YA books). See also her book Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers
Finding the Sweet Spot for Funny: Writing Humor for Middle-Grade Readers (Jake Wheeler and Jeff Sikaitis, Writer's Digest, 6-6-23)

    Samples: "Let the Inner Child Write and the Adult Edit."
    "Play with the rules of reality, but don’t be arbitrary. Middle-graders are happy to inhabit whimsical, silly, and strange realms. But there must be rules in these worlds, and they must be consistent.   
    "Middle-graders don’t take everything at face value anymore. They want to know “HOW.”
Publishers rejected her, Christians attacked her: The deep faith of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle (Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Wash Post, 3-8-18) "It took 26 publisher rejections before Madeleine L’Engle could get “A Wrinkle in Time” into print in 1962. The book was an instant hit, winning the Newbery Medal the following year, but despite its wild success, L’Engle still had fierce critics — including a good number of" conservative Christians, who disliked her book for faith reasons.
Bearily Bear (Miral Sattar reads aloud Reimagined Fairy Tales and Audio Stories) Give your email address to hear the stories read aloud. Love the stories? Spread the word and share with other parents and friends.
20 great resources for aspiring writers of children's books
Birth Stories for Books (Dawn Babb Prochovnic) Various authors share the story of their path to publication. She shared her own here.
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market (Cris Freese, Writer's Digest)
How to Publish Your Children’s Book: A Complete Guide to Making the Right Publisher Say Yes (Square One Writers Guide) by Liza N. Burby. See Author's note and review comments.
The Business of Writing for Children (Tips on Writing Children's Books and Publishing Them, or How to Write, Publish, and Promote a Book for Kids) by Aaron Shephard
How to Market Children’s Books Online (Karen Inglis, Self-Publishing Advice from ALLi, 12-17-16) Think like a broadcaster: YouTube, Kids' radio, Popjam, Toppsta.
Why Print Rules When Self-Publishing Children’s Books (Karen Inglis, ALLi, 10-27-16)
Soapbox: Have We Solved the Problem of Boy Books and Girl Books? (Shannon Hale, Publishers Weekly, 4-5-22) "For nearly two decades, I have been speaking about the ways adult gatekeepers encourage girls to read books about boys but discourage, prevent, or even shame boys from reading about girls....our cultural ideology has for so long taught us “girls will read about boys, but boys won’t read about girls” that it feels like truth. That statement is putting an innocuous mask on this foundational belief: girls should (and for their own survival, must) learn to understand boys, but it’s demeaning for boys to understand girls.
From Slush Pile to Bestseller: The Story Behind Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (Chronicle Books blog, 2-2-17)The question “how did this come to be?” often arises in the wake of massive success, so we reached out to one of our senior editors, Melissa Manlove, to share the truly heartwarming story of how the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site world was born.

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How Ramona Quimby Helps Kids Make Sense of This Unstable World (Rachel Richardson on the Genius of Beverly Cleary, LitHub, 4-12-19) Beverly Cleary’s vision, so perfectly articulated through Ramona Quimby’s eyes, feels like a balm for our moment. Every character tries to do right according to their own means of expression and ability. They mess up, they fight, and they try again.
Beverly Cleary Taught Me How to Share My Divorce Story (Pooja Makhijani, Catapult, 8-25-21) I had tried to show the world that I was resilient, never fallible, but my unwillingness to deal with my sadness and anger was hurting me and my daughter.
Mirrors, Windows, & Sliding Glass Doors (Rudine Sims Bishop, Prism). Children need to find themselves reflected in the books they read. (You may have to click on font cues at bottom for it to show up). Bishop refers to an old classic on her theme: The All-White World of Children's Books (PDF, Nancy Larrick, former president of the International Reading Association, Saturday Review, 9-11-65)
Self-publishing children's books (another page of Writers and Editors)
Children's Books (JC Publishers, Go for the Gold section). Ted Bowman offers concise explanation of why children's books, which require illustrations, are not good candidates for print-on-demand self-publishing--and there are other good author resources on his site)
Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising, and Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein. See also her book The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults
Soft Skills Needed to Be a Children's Book Illustrator: A Practical Guide (Rowena Aitken, EvnatoTuts, 8-14-18)
How to illustrate children's books: 7 top tips (Doreen Marts, Creative Bloq, 3-10-17) Professional advice on how to bring your stories to life, and help them find an audience.
75 best Adobe Illustrator tutorials (Creative Bloq staff, 11-28-18) Top quality Adobe Illustrator tutorials for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
From brief to book: A guide to book illustration for beginners (Creative Bloq staff, 5-29-12) They explain how the publishing cycle works for illustrators and some leading art directors give some top tips on how to get your work noticed.
The 25 Best Children’s Books of 2021 The most notable picture, middle grade and young adult books of the year, selected by The Times’s children’s books editor.
The 2021 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books (11-12-21)

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'Can you illustrate my book?' Some tips for writers approaching illustrators (Sarah McIntyre, Jabberworks, 4-25-16)
5 tips for illustrating children's books (Creative Bloq, 9-14-15) Best-selling author and illustrator Rob Biddulph shares his expert tips.
Children's Book Illustrations: Breathtaking Examples for Inspiration (Iveta Pavlova, Graphic Mama)
I believe writing is an act of resistance (the personal is political) (5 On: Amy Tipton, interviewed by Kristen Tsetsi, on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-15-18) Savvy advice from freelance editor and former literary agent Amy Tipton, discussing her love of young adult and middle grade fiction, the role of the "unlikable female character," whether agents who don't want a manuscript will be likely to pass it along to an agent friend, her personal editing style, and more.
The Radical Woman Behind "Goodnight Moon" (Anna Holmes, New Yorker, 1-31-22) Margaret Wise Brown constantly pushed boundaries—in her life and in her art. “It is only the blind eye of the adult that finds the familiar uninteresting,” she wrote. “The attempt to amuse children by presenting them with the strange, the bizarre, the unreal, is the unhappy result of this adult blindness.” Among her many children's books: Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny (both illustrated by Clement Hurd). Two biographies of her unusual life: Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened By the Moon by Leonard S. Marcus, and The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby.
As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White (Elizabeth Blair, Code Switch, Morning Edition, NPR, 6-26-13) Children are told today that "you can be anything." But only a small fraction of children's books have main characters that are Latino or Native American or black or Asian. Publishers may have to catch up, though. According to new data from the Census Bureau, nearly half of today's children under 5 years old are non-white.
Race, Gender, and Disability in Today's Children's Literature (Kira Isak Pirofski, San Jose State University, Education Exchange) This review of the literature underscores the lack of non-gender biased, multicultural, and inclusion literature. It also includes a list of childrens books that are appropriate for the mixed classrooms that are increasingly becoming the norm. br />• The Repressive, Authoritarian Soul of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” (Jia Tolentino, New Yorker, 9-28-17) As analyzed by adults. Wilbert Awdry, who created Thomas the Tank Engine, disliked change, venerated order, and craved the administration of punishment. "How could I possibly have imagined that, decades later, I would get lost in obscure corners of the Internet where people interpret the show—at length—as a depiction of a premodern corporate-totalitarian dystopia?"


The Next Wave of Children's Bookstores: Part One (Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly, 12-12-17). And Part Two: Getting Political (12-14-17)
Children’s Picture Book Authors & Illustrators on Twitter (Tara Lazar's selected list of authors with their twitter addresses)
20 great resources for aspiring writers of children's books
Children's Book Guild of Washington D.C. (as well as Maryland and North Virginia)
Middle Grade or Young Adult? (Christine Ma, Copyediting, 2-16-17) Middle grade books are geared to readers 8 to 12; young adult (YA) books are aimed at readers 13 and up. But that's not all that helps define the labels.
Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks by Shirley Raye Redmond and‎ Jennifer McKerley
From Keyboard to Printed Page (basics on formatting your writing and sending it out--SCBWI)
Making It: Children's Books by Peter Barnes (Elizabeth Chang, Washington Post Magazine, about journalist developing niche writing and publishing children's books about vacation sites)
• The Institute of Children's Literature publishes a useful newsletter ($20 a year) for children's book writers, but also provides many useful articles and transcripts free onlne, at Rx for Writers (a topical index for articles and transcripts on writing for children)

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Write a Marketable Children's Book in 7 Weeks by Shirley Raye Redmond and Jennifer McKerley
What Children (and Everyone Else) Need to Read Donna Jo Napoli's excellent TEDxswarthmore talk, 4-3-12. "Children's books often are banned because people feel that the vulnerability of childhood gives them the right and responsibility to protect children. They see books that touch on certain topics as dangerous. Although the motivations of these adults are understandable, Napoli argues that the top 12 reasons why books are banned are actually reasons why books should be read. She will discuss what these books do for the unprotected child and the protected child.
(More) Education Market Predictions 2020 (Emily Williams of EL Education posts predictions about the K-12 education market: more school districts buying curricula that use trade books instead of textbooks; better understanding of the value of open educational resources (OER) in K-12; audiobook platforms getting better at serving the needs of K-12 schools; growing demand for books by diverse authors, about diverse characters; more access to books in other languages.
How to Self-Publish a Children's Book: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Illustrate, Publish, and Market Your Paperback and Ebook by Yvonne Jones
Write for Kids--Change the World (Children's Book Insider)
Children's Book Council
FAQs About Children's Writing (Anne LeMieux, David Lubar and Marilyn Singer, Writing World--the FAQ written for the AOL Chidren's Writers Chat on AOL, which no longer exists). Plus more articles and interviews about writing for this age group (Writing-World.com)
JacketFlap (connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for children and young adults)
Margot Finke's Monthly "Musings" (guidance to people getting started in the children's publishing world, articles from 2002 to 2008)
From the Editor's Desk (Bantam Delacorte Dell editor Beverly Horowitz answers the questions most frequently asked by writers of children's books)

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FAQs About Children's Writing (Jon Bard, Children's Book Insider, Right-Writing.com)
Writing Tips from the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua (much material, from several years)
Children's Literature Web Guide
CHILDRENS-WRITING (an e-mail discussion list for children's writers and illustrators, and for anyone interested in writing or drawing for kids)
Children's Book Insider (a $ newsletter) and Children's Book Clubhouse. Video tips from same source: 7 Things Editors at Children's Book Publishers Wish Writers Knew;
Harold Underdown's fabulous page of links to relevant magazines, organizations, and websites
Children's Writer's & Illustrator's BlueBoard (discussions, Verla Kay's site)
Susan Raab's articles on marketing children's books
The Repressive, Authoritarian Soul of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends” (Jia Tolentino, New Yorker, 9-28-17) The Thomas the Tank Engine universe was the brainchild of an Anglican minister, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry, who in 1942 began spinning stories about trains to amuse his son Christopher, who had come down with the measles. Awdry disliked change, venerated order, and craved the administration of punishment.
SmartWriters website for children's writers
Children's & YA Lit Resources (Cynthia Leitich Smith's site)
Children's Book Council (CBC), many helpful reading lists.
World Kid Lit Exploring translated children's and YA literature. See also World Kid Lit Month Kicks Off with Virtual Celebration (Pamela Brill, Publishers Weekly, 9-17-2020)
Building Bridges: The Art of Children's Book Translation (Emma Kantor, PW, 9-17-2020)
Brooklyn Arden (children’s book editor Cheryl Klein talks about the books and authors she works with and what's going on in her industry)

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Editorial Anonymous (blog of a children's book editor, with entries such as How can I become a children's book editor? (4-19-09) and Do I need an agent?
Top 20 Picture Book Agents in Publishers Marketplace (Edie Hemingway, As the Eraser Burns, 9-13-10, MD/DE/WV region, SCBWI)
Still looking for that picture book you loved as a kid? Try asking Instagram (Rachel Treisman, NPR, 12-27-21) Marie-Pascale Traylor is the powerhouse behind an Instagram Page called What's That Book?, in which someone asks if anyone remembers the name of a book about "a girl with magic powers who learns how to fly" that she remembers from childhood, and readers come up with the title (which helps them find a vintage copy of the book).
Small Presses of Color (listing of active small-press publishers or producers of multicultural materials owned and operated by people of color, compiled by the Cooperative Children's Book Center
• “I’m not a writer. I’m a rewriter. I go over and over and over. A million times.” 

Writing is work. “I don’t count on inspiration. Inspiration follows pushing yourself, pushing yourself, pushing yourself.”
“When I got my first book published, I was in a state of high rapture for a very, very long time,” she said. “But you’ve got to love the process.... Most of what you’re doing is, you’re writing the book. You’re not hugging the book afterward. You have to love that enough.”
From a profile of Judith Viorst, whose popular children's books are often about kids who are grouchy or annoyed, on the occasion of ‘Lulu and the Brontosaurus’ preparing to go onstage in Bethesda.
Juvenile genre spotlight: Humorous stories (Pamela Millar, BookNet Canada, 1-21-2020) Humorous juvenile fiction has been trending up for three years. Made famous by a viral video of a Scottish grandmother reading to her grandson, The Wonky Donkey video went on to get millions of views and book sales soared along with it.

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Writing Science Books for Children
(writing and illustrating for children's books)


How to write a science book for kids (Soph Arthur, Soph talks science, 3-3-17)
Q&A: Joanna Cole on writing science books for kids (Nicola Jones, Nature, 3-3-10) Joanna Cole reveals how clarity and colour can introduce even very young children to science.
A Science Author’s “Eureka!” Moment (Deborah Lee Rose, PLOS SciComm, 8-15-19) “One of the best tips I can offer to anyone creating a children’s book for the first time is to look at lots of published children’s books, to see how the authors, illustrators and photographers approached their subjects and audiences,” writes Rose.
Writing Young: Crafting Science Stories for Kids (Elizabeth Preston, The Open Notebook, 9-29-15) Writing for kids is not easier than writing for an adult audience, says Janet Raloff, editor of Science News for Students, "It’s just different.” Listen also to Writing for Young Audiences with Elizabeth Preston (Video of presentation at AAAS conference) Preston, the 2017 Gold Award winner in Children’s Science News, discusses her winning story on a blind 13-year-old boy using echolocation and her experience writing for young audiences. She's the former editor of the MUSE magazine for kids ages 9 to 14.
Monsters at bedtime: managing fear in bedtime picture books for children *Mary-Louise Maynes, Nature, 2020)
• Archive of a dozen Reading Rainbow TV shows.

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Bring Science Home (Scientific American) A multitude of articles. As the old saying (almost) goes, science starts in the home. Try our fun science activities, which parents and their kids ages 6-12 can do together with household items in just a half hour or less. Teachers might like to incorporate them, too.
How writing science books for children benefited my academic career (Tallulah Cherry,The Royal Society, 2-9-17)
Author Isabel Thomas Has Written 100 Science Books for Kids (The Conversation, Glamour, 7-31-15)
Children's picture books about death and loss

How to Start Writing Science Books for Kids (Rachel Ehrenberg, NASW, 10-20-14) Interesting report from a panel on the topic. Kids are people, too. If you’re wondering where to start, ask librarians and teachers where the gaps are in up-to-date science books.
Science News for Students News and feature stories aimed at middle schoolers.
Interviewing Scientists for Kids’ Science Stories
Writing About Science for Children & Young Adults (8 articles, Highlights Foundation)
Top Children's Books on the Environment (A Mighty Girl) See also Top Environmental Movies.
Making Science Sing: Writing creative nonfiction about science, for kids. (Christy Mihaly, Grog, 8-2015) Writing creative nonfiction about science, for kids.
• Thanks to Marianna Limas for many links, found in Science Writing News Roundup You can subscribe here (highly recommended.).

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Outdoor writers

Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW)
Florida Outdoor Writers Association (FOWa)
Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association (LOWA)
Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA)
New York State Outdoor Writers Association (NYSOWA)
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association (NOWA)
Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild, UK (OWPG, writers, authors, photographers, designers, journalists, artists, illustrators, editors, broadcasters, copywriters, content-providers, lecturers, public speakers, consultants, communicators – all specializing in sustainable outdoor activities and the outdoor world)
Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA, writers, broadcasters, photographers, outdoor industry, and more--all passionate about the outdoors)
Outdoor Writers of Ohio (OWO)
Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association (POMA)
Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA)
Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA)
Tennessee Outdoor Writers Association (TOWA)
Texas Outdoor Writers Association (TOWA)
Virginia Outdoor Writers Association (VOWA)
The WOMA.com (The Women's Ourdoor Media Association, WOMA, the only not-for-profit media group focused on promotion of women in hunting, shooting, fishing and archery)
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Prison writing

See also "True crime" writing
Donating books to prisons
“When I don’t write, I’m nothing. I’m very ordinary; there is no difference between my presence and absence. Writing protects me from my nothingness and restlessness. …Like all writers, we have magic.” ~Ahmet Altan


PEN America's annual prison writing contest Imprisoned writers from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works every year to PEN America’s annual Prison Writing Awards, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. Anyone incarcerated in a federal, state, or county prison in the year before the September 1 deadline is eligible to enter.
How a project is training incarcerated people to become journalists (Julia Métraux, Poynter, 1-26-21) The Prison Journalism Project helps share ‘stories that are never told and never seen because nobody gets in deep enough’ into incarcerated issues.
A Handbook for Creating a Literary Life in Prison (Deirdre Sugiuchi, Electric Lit, 2-24-22) "Alone time and quiet is non-existent in prison—imagine writing on a tiny bunk with the toilet next to you and potentially your roommate going to the bathroom as you try to type.... What’s hard to grasp is censorship. Everything that comes in and out of the prison mailroom is read, reviewed and censored by a random mail clerk. Often when incarcerated writers publish their work, it comes with punitive results."
Setting Stories Free (Write-minded Podcast), a PEN America book featuring Caits Meissner and T Kira Madden, with Grant Faulkner. This is the book they're talking about: The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison, edited by Cait Meissner. Summoning inspiration from solitary, Missouri resident wins PEN America prison writing award. Give a copy to someone in prison or someone in their family.
PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Mentorship Program has paired incarcerated writers with skilled writing mentors in prisons all over the U.S. for nearly 50 years.
In Jail, Writing in Short Bursts as Therapy and Performance Art (Ernesto Londoño, NY Times, 9-6-23) Former prosecutor Nate Johnson found solace and renewal in a writing process he teaches to inmates in Minnesota. The idea of turning free writing into a career came to him in 2019 while visiting a friend from Alcoholics Anonymous in jail. Seeking to lift the friend's spirits, Mr. Johnson guided him through a prompt-based writing session, which became a habit to break the tedium of days behind bars.

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The Prison Newspaper Directory finds that the number of prison-based papers is growing (Hanaa' Tameez, Nieman Lab, 3-14-23) There are at least 24 known prison newspapers in 12 states, and four of them were launched in 2022. “Prison journalists and newspapers are able to share what life is actually like inside in a way that a journalist on the outside could never do.”
Prison Journalism Project (PJP) Give incarcerated journalists a voice in discussions about criminal justice reform. PJP has published work by more than 525 writers, poets and artists in 34 states, Canada and the United Kingdom. You can read the biographies of our writers and their stories as they introduce themselves. Sign up for their Inside Story newsletter.
I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer by Ahmet Altan. After a failed coup in 2016, Turkish writer Altan was imprisoned via trumped-up charges and sentenced to life without parole. His self-reflective, short essays written from prison are deceptively graceful and often humorous even as they deliver a blow to the heart. Altan discovers that the power to survive new reality has lurked inside him all along: “I am a writer. I am neither where I am nor where I am not.”  Read also When the Urge to Write Is a Life Sentence (Rod Nordland, Reporter's Notebook, NY Times, 10-24-19)
Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop Incarcerated youths writing new chapters in their lives. "Free Minds runs book clubs and writing workshops at the DC Jail and juvenile detention center. We also run a long-distance, correspondence-based book club with members in the federal prison. When members return to DC after their release, they join our reentry book club."
Why You Should Read “That Bird Has My Wings” by Jarvis Jay Masters (Jenny Phillips, Lion's Roar, 9-14-22) Oprah has picked the book for her book club. Masters is a well-known Buddhist writer and practitioner who has spent over thirty years on death row for a crime that many believe he did not commit. "That Bird Has My Wings is a powerful narrative of a life lost on the streets, and then found again in a prison cell on San Quentin’s death row. This is not a book about guilt or innocence, but about the possibility of redemption."
Summoning inspiration from solitary, Missouri resident wins PEN America prison writing award (Sherman Smith, Missouri Independent, 9-8-22) The way Alex Tretbar sees it, prison saved his life. A poem of his (which won first place in PEN America's annual prison writing contest) is about working out the effects of segregation on the personality, how time is perceived, and grappling with addiction and suffering and racism.
Writing Behind Bars: The True Tale of Noir Hero Malcolm Braly: From San Quentin to Johnny Carson (Brian Greene, CrimeReads, Literary Hub, 4-8-16) Posted here because Malcolm was a friend of mine when I worked in book publishing, and I knew beans about his criminal past -- he was just a lovely friend, gentle and good-natured. He did adapt to regular life, as far as I knew, and we were all so sad when he died. Read his wonderful novel about prison life, On the Yard and his autobiography, False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin & Other Prisons.
Prison Stories (GEN, Medium) What matters now. A fascinating roster of stories about life in prison.

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Former prosecutor teaches writing to help jail inmates choose better paths (Boyd Huppert, Kare11, 1-31-22) Four days a week, Nate Johnson teaches freewriting at the Hennepin County Jail. See also Jail writing program helps reduce stress, clear heads, gain insights (Katy Read, Star-Tribune, 5-20-22) While prison courses are intended to teach writing skills, this  jail program in Minnesota has other goals. FreeWriters reaches county jail inmates at a crucial time in their lives--as they sit in jail for days, weeks, months, even years--a much-needed chance for creative expression and emotional release, and inspiration for a future free of incarceration. Since fall of 2019, FreeWriters has held classes for more than 1,000 inmates who have written and performed more than 3,000 pieces of writing.
The Invisible Hand of Steve Twist (Nicole Santa Cruz, ProPublica,4-5-22) How an Arizona man who’s never held elected office has shaped one of America’s most punitive criminal justice systems.
Arizona Prison Writing Project
12 Famously Incarcerated Writers (Now Novel)
Defenseless: Investigating the Only State Without Public Defenders (ProPublica series) An investigation by The Maine Monitor and ProPublica found that more than a quarter of Maine attorneys disciplined in the past decade for serious professional misconduct were hired as lawyers for the poor. Defendants often paid the price. One example, among many articles: Lawyers Who Were Ineligible to Handle Serious Criminal Charges Were Given Thousands of These Cases Anyway (Samantha Hogan, The Maine Monitor, and Agnel Philip, ProPublica, 2-23-21) In Maine, the only state with no public defenders, people charged with murder and other serious crimes can get assigned attorneys who are legally ineligible to take on their cases. The state claims it was unaware. Check out ProPublica's other various, invaluable series on criminal justice.



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The Outlaw's Journey: A Mythological Approach to Storytelling for Writers Behind Bars by Gloria Kempton
What happened during my first visit to a prison since being released from one (Jason Rezaian, WaPo, 3-26-19) "I was reminded of a passage I came across in a copy of the 1960 edition of the Federal Bureau of Prisons booklet: 'These men read more serious literature than does the ordinary person in the community.' Literate convicts, it estimated, read from 75 to 100 books each year." Rezaian wrote of his own experiences in Prisoner: My 544 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out
• The 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award will honor imprisoned writers Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan. The three writer-activists have been subjected to imprisonment, solitary confinement, and torture by the Saudi Arabian government as part of its brutal crackdown on individuals who raise their voices in defense of women’s rights in the Kingdom.
Prison Writers "Where prisoners have a voice." "What happens in prison doesn't stay in prison anymore. The most forgotten segment of our society now has a voice."
Donating books to prisons (Writers and Editors site)
Memoir writing workshops for prisoners (Writers and Editors site)
Prison Writing (Writers and Editors)

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Teaching Poetry in Prison (Zachary Lazar, LitHub, 2-16-18) Zachary Lazar on a Writing Class of Undergraduate and Incarcerated Students
The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison, ed. by Caits Meissner, Director of Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America."There are millions of stories locked behind bars, along with the millions of people our nation has caged. This astonishing book has the power to set those stories free."~ Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow.
PEN Prison Writing Program
PEN's annual Prison Writing Contest (PEN's annual competition) Every year hundreds of imprisoned writers from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. See Guidelines and Winner archive.
PEN America’s Prison Writing Mentorships More than 250 mentors work with close to 250 incarcerated writers in the most interactive and engaging project in PEN's Prison Writing Program.
PEN Handbook for Writers in Prison features detailed guides on the art of writing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenplays—an invaluable resource for any writer. Each year, thousands of free copies are sent to incarcerated men and women.
Writers in Prison Network Ltd. (UK)
On Being Invisible: Our Nation's Incarcerated (Ilse Munro, Little Patuxent Review 1-9-12)
In the Endless Sameness of Prison, Writing Kept Me Human (Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, LitHub, ) "Paper, any paper, is about the most precious article for a political prisoner, more so for one, like me, who was imprisoned without trial for his writing." From Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir
The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela

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American Prison Writing Archive (Digital Humanities Initiative)
"Inside" Prison Writing Blog

Memoir-writing workshops for prisoners
Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop This links to its useful page of resources for inmates.
American Prison Writing Archive (Digital Humanities Initiative, National Endowment for the Humanities)
American prison literature (Wikipedia)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable."~Publishers Weekly (but read about the next book also, which argues with this one).
Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration-and How to Achieve Real Reform by John Pfaff. Read about the book and the issues it discusses here: Why you can’t blame mass incarceration on the war on drugs (German Lopez, Vox, 5-30-17)
Books about wrongful convictions and related issues
What's wrong with American prisons (Central Issues of Our Time, Pat McNees site)

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Textbook and Academic Authors

Textbook and Academic Author Association (TAA) (the organization to join if you're writing textbooks)
Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers (ALSCW)
Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP, provides community, opportunities, ideas, news, and advocacy for writers and teachers of writing.)
Teachers and Writers Collaborative (TWI, a New York group whose volunteers boost the teaching of writing, the educating of imaginations)
National Association of Science Writers (NASW) , for popular and academic authors (but not about academic publications)
PLoS, a nonprofit organization of scientists committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature freely accessible to scientists, researchers, educators, and patient advocates. One of PLOS’s goals is to show that open access publishing is a sustainable way to publish peer-reviewed research.
Open Library of Humanities (OLH), website provides background to, and rationale for, OLH's vision of building a low-cost, sustainable Open Access future for the humanities
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Military writing and military writers

See also, below:  Organizations and resources for veterans and military writers

 

Veterans Writing Project . Offers no-cost seminars and workshops for members of the armed forces, active and reserve, who want to learn about writing in order to tell their stories. Their core curriculum is Ron Capps's book Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Own Story (written by a veteran for veterans). The Veterans Writing Project publishes a blog and a literary journal O-Dark-Thirty .
Military Links (SPJ Toolbox, 3-18-23) See also
---Ukraine
---Iraq Resources
---Military in Afghanistan
---9/11 Archives
---Military Weapons
---Bioterrorism
---Tracking Military Personnel
Heather Cox Richardson on U.S. military use of drones (9-19) "...scholars note a significant downside to the use of drones. First of all, on occasion, they fall into enemy hands, transferring new technologies that could lead to military proliferation. Second, they lower the bar for military engagement, enabling the U.S. to insert itself into other countries at a much lower cost than in the past, opening the way for permanent hostilities around the world. And, third, they kill civilians." She provides a useful historical perspective on many issues, with links to supporting articles. If there's a military issue, search for material using her name.
A Final Salute (Rocky Mountain News, 11-9-05) by Jim Sheeler, who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for a narrative series that followed a Marine major whose assignment was "casualty notification" — delivering the news to families of loved ones killed in Iraq. Click on the title on that website to pull up the piece.
The York Patrol: The Real Story of Alvin York and the Unsung Heroes Who Made Him World War I's Most Famous Soldier by James Carl Nelson. And Ed Kosner's review: ‘The York Patrol’ Review: Immortal Doughboy review by Edward Kosner of Alvin York’s feats on the battlefield were obscured by movies and mythology, but his heroism under fire was the real thing. (Okay, so it's not quite on the topic of this column.)
Veterans group, Maxine Hong Kingston together use writing to heal (Justin Berton, SFGate, San Francisco Chronicle, 1-7-08) For 15 years, group has explored personal voices of war.
Helping Veterans Turn War into Art (Trevor Carolan, Tricycle, 11-10-17) Novelist and Buddhist Maxine Hong Kingston reflects on her years of facilitating writing workshops for veterans.
UC Student Veterans Summer Writing Workshop (University of California, Santa Barbara)
You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War . The long-buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the barriers to women covering war. Read about the book here: Elizabeth Becker on 3 Women War Reporters, with Anne Nelson (The Leon Levy Center for Biography, 2-24-21) The long buried story of three extraordinary female journalists who permanently shattered the official and cultural barriers to women covering war: Kate Webb, an Australian iconoclast, Catherine Leroy, a French dare devil photographer, and Frances FitzGerald, a blue-blood American intellectual, arrived in Vietnam with starkly different life experiences but one shared purpose: to report on the most consequential story of the decade.
Veteran Voices Pt. 1: Don’t Let Silence Be the Story of Your Life (David Chrisinger, on The Havok Journal, 12-12-18--from Chrisinger's blog posts in 2014 on his website Stronger at the Broken Places). In this, the first of a three-part series, Chrisinger writes: 'For the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to piece together my grandfather’s narrative — the “truth” about what happened to him during the Battle of Okinawa. Before I started my research, I knew next to nothing of his experiences, yet I know from his behavior that something must have happened. For him, the war did not end on the battlefield — it followed him home and had a life-changing effect on both him and his family. The trauma he survived reverberated through the generations, leaving no one in our family unaffected....I wish he had met someone who could have helped him tell his story and share it with others. After all, if your life does not become a story, silence will become the story of your life.'
In Part II: “A Chance to Work Through Things” he explains: 'As for how it works and why, psychologists say that confronting traumatic memories, rather than avoiding them, is central to feeling better. Beyond that, organizing them into a coherent narrative helps make meaning of them, which causes them to be recalled more like other memories, says Joshua Smyth, a professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University. With time, when the traumatic memories are triggered, you feel less like you’re reliving them. “We can see on fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance images) that the neural representation can change,” Smyth says. “You can access the memory in a less traumatic way.” ' One of several explanations why writing stories of war seems to be therapeutic.
In Veteran Voices Part III: Healing through Sharing Chrisinger writes about the work Ron Capps does helping veterans tell their stories of war in a free writing course he offers and in a literary review called O-Dark-Thirty. 'The point, Capps stresses, is not to erase traumatic memories — it is to control them. He describes what is accomplished as the “concretization” of the memory. You create s omething tangible that you can crumple up, burn, revise or publish. “You are building a framework around the memory and placing it under your control,” Capps says, “rather than vice versa.” “Either you control the memory, or the memory controls you.”'
National Veterans Creative Arts Competition & Festival (US Dept of Veterans Affairs and and the American Legion Auxiliary)
Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors (Southeast Missouri State University Press. All Military Personnel, Veterans, and their Families: Call for Submissions and Contest.
Veterans Writing Award (Syracuse University Press, Institute for Veterans and Military Families). A new award, open to open to U.S. veterans and active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military and their immediate family members -- who submit unpublished full-length novels or short story collections in manuscript form. "Although work submitted for the contest need not be about direct military experience, we seek original voices and fresh perspectives that will expand and challenge readers' understanding of the lives of veterans and their families."
Veterans Writing Award (Syracuse University Press) This biennial contest alternates between fiction and nonfiction each award cycle. The award is open to U.S. veterans and active duty personnel in any branch of the U.S. military and their immediate family members.
The Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award for Veterans This creative writing contest for U.S. military veterans and active duty personnel is hosted by The Iowa Review and made possible by a gift from the family of Jeff Sharlet (1942–69), a Vietnam veteran and antiwar writer and activist. The contest is open to veterans and active duty personnel writing up to 20 pages in any genre and about any subject matter.
Writing Resources for Veterans (Iowa Review, Winter 2018-19) Excellent resource list, with links to articles about writing, publishing venues, workshops and classes, writing contests
Warrior Voices ( Cecilia Capuzzi Simon, NY Times Education Life, 2-1-13). Veterans learn to write the words they could not speak.
The Bridge Award ($1o,000, Arts in the Armed Forces, recognizing an emerging playwright of exceptional talent within the United States military)
The Veterans' PTSD Project , which also has as page linking to resources for veterans who want to write
The Journal of Military Experience
Writing personal stories about war (on another McNees website, a blog post with resources about writing about war, and links to examples of good writing about war and to organizations for veterans who write). You can post further recommendations.
A Million Strong: Helping Them Through (James Dao, NY Times Education, 2-1-13). Serving the surge in military students puts colleges to the test. Teaching veterans to express their experiences helps them heal.
Veterans group, Maxine Hong Kingston together use writing to heal (Justin Berton, San Francisco Chronicle, 1-7-08)
Back From The Brink: War, Suicide, And PTSD (Ron Capps, Health Affairs, July 2010)

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Organizations and resources for veterans and military writers


Veterans Writing Project . Offers no-cost seminars and workshops for members of the armed forces, active and reserve, who want to learn about writing in order to tell their stories. Their core curriculum is Ron Capps's book Writing War: A Guide to Telling Your Own Story (written by a veteran for veterans). The Veterans Writing Project publishes a blog and a literary journal O-Dark-Thirty .

 

Black Hills Veterans Writing Group
Heroes' Voices veterans' poetry contest
Home Fires (George Packer, New Yorker, 4-7-14) How soldiers write their wars.
Military Experience and the Arts This organization works with veterans and their families to publish short stories, essays, poems, and artwork in our bi-annual publication, As You Were: The Military Review, Blue Nostalgia: The Journal of Post-Traumatic Growth, and periodic editions of others.
Military Veterans Writing Workshop (Writers Guild Foundation)
Military Writers Society of America (MWSA) Saving history one story at a time--1200 members, a quarterly magazine called Dispatches.

Military Reporters & Editors (MRE) Aim to advance public understanding of the military, national security and homeland defense, to represent the interests of working journalists to the government and military, and to assure that journalists have access to places where the U.S. military and its allies operate. See also the Military Reporters & Editors Public Group (a Facebook group)

The Military Writers Guild MWG includes service members, civilian analysts, veterans, and writers who are actively engaged in writing about national security, intelligence, diplomacy, conflict, and military professionalism. <
Military Writers Society of America (MRSA) A nationwide association of authors, poets, and artists drawn together by the common bond of military service.
Military Writers' Symposium Norwich University's symposium convenes authors and experts in the fields of military history, intelligence, and current affairs to offer important perspectives on pressing global concerns.
Mil Writers Guild @MilWritersGuild on Twitter. A global nonprofit network of service members, veterans, and writers dedicated to elevating discourse in military writing.
Syracuse Veterans’ Writing Group
Veterans' Voices (devoted to the writings of military veterans for over 70 years)
Veterans' Writing Group of San Diego County
Veterans Writing Project: Nation's Heroes Write of Pain, Personal Triumphs (John Bachman, Newsmax, 5-27-12)
Warrior Writers (based in Philadelphia)
Writing personal stories about war (Pat McNees, blog post)
Writing Resources for Veterans (Iowa Review) Articles, publishing venues, workshops and classes, writing awards.
Authentic Writing: Writers’ Resources For US Military References
Memoirs of war and conflict: A reading list (blog post, Writers and Editors, 8-7-15)

Let me know if I have overlooked any important resources.

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Q&As with Cartoonists

See also
---Cartoonists, humor writing, comic book writers, comedians
---Cartoon caption and gag writing
---Cartoons, comics, anime, manga, panel stories, graphic novels, humor, and animation


Connecticut's Cartoon County (Jonathan McNicol, WNPR, Connecticut Public Radio, 3-26-19)
Art Versus Commerce: Q&A with Author-Cartoonist Bob Eckstein (Kristen Tsetsi on Jane Friedman's blog, 12-17-19) "Beginners make the mistake of thinking it’s all about being good and then take rejection personally. It’s all about finding your publishing match." See also Ask the Author: Bob Eckstein (Goodreads)
The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist by Adrian Tomine (Drawn & Quarterly). "Full of juicy comics scene cameos, but it’s the vulnerable turn Tomine takes when a medical scare grants fresh perspective that truly got me.” —Meg Lemke, comic.
“Our Democracy Is on the Line”: Q&A with Cartoonist Darrin Bell (Glen Martin, California Magazine, Summer 2019) Once on staff at the Daily Cal, Bell is now a Pulitzer Prize winner."An editorial cartoon is not a gag....For me, editorial cartoons don’t have to be funny. I want them to make people think and feel, even if they end up thinking I’m an idiot and want horrible things to happen to me."
The Cartooning Life of Magazine Cartoonist: Interview with Dan Rosandich (Wojtek Szywalski, PressPad, Digital Publishing Solutions) "...text book publishers who saw my work in magazines were inquiring to reprint certain panels in special print runs – such as college text books, manuals and educational books. Those fees they paid were more than what many magazines were paying and this made me realize my cartooning and illustration work had potential for offering to the book publishing market."
Q&A with Ellis Rosen, Cartoonist and Illustrator for The New Yorker (Jonathan Kalan, Unsettled)
This Week’s Q&A: Meet Al Goodwyn, an award-winning freelance cartoonist (Virginia Press Association, 11-20-19)
Q&A with Baltimore cartoonist turned literati, Tim Kreider (Marion Winik, Baltimore Fishbowl, 3-2-18) 'In Baltimore, Tim Kreider is known primarily for two things: his comic strip in the City Paper, The Pain: When Will It End?, which ran for fifteen years, and an essay called “My Own Private Baltimore” that he published in The New York Times. For the former, he is beloved. For the latter, the reaction was more complicated.'
Q&A: Artist behind infamous New Yorker cartoon on the craft, his inspiration (Carlett Spike, Columbia Journalism Review, 12-26-16) Spike interviews New Yorker cartoonist Paul Noth. 'Plenty of Trump-focused political cartoons have circulated the web and social networks since Election Day. But one has drawn particular viral attention: It depicts a wolf in a suit on a campaign billboard with the words, “I am going to eat you,” while onlooking sheep grazing in a field respond, “He tells it like it is.”'
Q&A: New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast talks toons, Trump and drawing with sensitivity (Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10-12-18)
Q&A with Kevin Moore, EveryLibrary’s 2017 Artist in Residence (Library Journal, 12-15-17)
A Q&A with Noted Cartoonist KAL (Megan Wessell, A Bookish Affair, Gaitherburg Book Festival, 4-21-16) "You may not recognize the name Kevin Kallaugher but if you’re a reader of The Economist or The Baltimore Sun, you probably recognize his editorial cartoons drawn under the name Kal. Always insightful, his cartoons add a lot of humor and wit to the issues of the day."
Q&A with ‘Baby Blues’ Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott (an email interview in The Daily Cartoonist with the creators of the “Baby Blues” 8-13-18) How does a 28-year-old comic have 35 books? "This is actually our 45th Baby Blues book, and I could use a nap."
'Ask a Portly Syndicate Person' Has Debuted, Here's Our Exclusive Q&A with the 'Cartoonist' (John Glynn, Ask a Syndicate Person," GoComics Blog, 7-16-19)
Public Forum and Q&A (The Cartoonists' Club of Great Britain) A Public Forum for Cartoon related chat, asking questions and giving answers about all aspects of Cartoons and Cartooning.
Q&A with cartoonist Matt Pritchett on his 30th anniversary at The Telegraph (Mădălina Ciobanu, Journalism.co.uk, 2-26-18) The Telegraph is celebrating 30 years since cartoonist Matt Pritchett, known under the pen name 'Matt', published his first cartoon. "When I started 30 years ago, you could assume that you weren't to everyone's taste, some people will love you and some people won't like you. But then social media comes along and you're in no doubt about who dislikes you! Initially, it's a huge shock, but you sort of get used to the idea that there can be a backlash to something you have made, 24 hours later."'Many cartoonists feel like they are commentators on events.... I'm not like that, I feel my role is just to try as hard as I can to make people laugh"
Q&A with Nancy Goldstein (University of Michigan Press) A Q&A with the author of Jackie Ormes: The First African American Woman Cartoonist "The Courier was at that time the biggest circulating African American newspaper with 14 editions coast to coast. They claimed to have over a million readers! ...Wow—as I cranked through the microfilm, I was thrilled by what I saw, a piece of American history suddenly came to life, in headlines that seemed so urgent and immediate! Here was news and commentary from the perspective of the black community. These were the days before the civil rights movements....All the characters were African American! And not a minstrel show either, not the stereotypes or caricatures you’d see in comics of those days in the mainstream press. These cartoon people had real lives, real issues, and dealt with them on their own terms."

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Behind the Cartoonist, Gag Writers and Cartoon Captioners

by the late Sarah Wernick



Most people don't realize that cartoonists sometimes buy their funny ideas from gag writers. For the article below, which appeared in the June, 1995 issue of Smithsonian, I interviewed four leading practitioners of this little-known art.

The family farm is rented out now, but Al Batt hasn't shed the dairyman habits of his father. He's up before the sun, “cursed,” as he puts it, “with whatever it is that causes you to rise at an ungodly hour.” From 5:00 to 8:00 every morning, seven days a week, he sits at his desk listening to Minnesota Public Radio and scanning the Wall Street Journal or a book. Occasionally a phrase strikes him, and he writes it on a pad. Today's crop includes: “adopt-a-highway program,” “one out of every six members of Congress is a millionaire,” and “extra-crispy chicken.”

From time to time after the sun comes up, he swivels to check for birds or deer in the backyard that he's gradually turning into wildlife habitat. At some point he returns to the list and writes: “Man looking at invoice says: 'Just my luck to have adopted a highway that's in medical school.'”

Batt is a cartoon caption writer, one of the best. Though he is unknown outside the dwindling circles of his curious profession, chances are you've seen his work. Indeed, if you're in the habit of displaying apt cartoons, a Batt creation might be hanging on your fridge.

The open secret of the cartoon business

Few outsiders realize - though it has long been an open secret in the cartoon business - that many artists buy ideas, on occasion if not regularly. Some simply prefer drawing to writing. But even those who normally produce their own gag lines might turn to caption writers if they hit a dry spell. Or they may need a helping hand because (to give a real-life example) a trade magazine has requested twenty cartoons that would draw a chuckle from a turkey breeder.

Hank Ketcham, creator of Dennis the Menace, says, “Any professional humorist is out of his mind if he doesn't surround himself with talented writers. Otherwise you get to the bottom of your own barrel too quickly.” Currently, most of Ketcham's daily Dennis gags are written by Batt. “He gives me ideas I'd never think of.”

The top captioners are astonishingly prolific. In a week of three-hour sessions. Al Batt comes up with 150 cartoon ideas for the thirty artists with whom he currently works. Under their signatures, his lines appear in every major cartoon outlet, including the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, Parade, Omni, Good Housekeeping and Playboy, plus numerous trade journals.

Rex May, who's been called the king of cartoon gag writing, produces 150 to 200 captions a week. Most are written during three 90-minute sessions at a karate dojo near his Indiana home, where he waits while his wife, Jean, and their twelve-year-old son, Bjorn, attend class.

Sitting on a metal folding chair in the stark second-story loft, oblivious to guttural shouts and bodies slamming onto a mat just inches away from his feet, May scribbles captions on a yellow pad at a rate of up to one per minute.
In the early years at the New Yorker

In the glory years of magazine cartooning, which lasted from the 1930s through the 1960s, it was possible to earn a living as a caption writer. That's no longer true, except for the handful of writer-partners who collaborate on popular syndicated comic strips. The cartoon marketplace shrank. Weekly outlets, such as Collier's, Look and the Saturday Evening Post, folded in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, and many surviving publications curtailed their use of humorous art. Also, new cartoonists reduced their reliance on captioners.

Lee Lorenz, cartoon editor of the New Yorker since 1973, says, “The biggest change over my career - I started here as a cartoonist in 1958 - is that the generation of cartoonists that came to prominence in the sixties and seventies all do their own writing. For the first twenty-five years of the New Yorker, captions were nearly always written by people other than the artists - writers on the staff or outside gag writers.”

At the New Yorker's now legendary Tuesday art meetings, chronicled by James Thurber and others, editors reviewed not only artists' sketches but also submissions from gag writers and non-preferred cartoonists. “They would buy your idea for eight or ten dollars and give it to one of their regular artists,” recalls Hank Ketcham, who was a non-preferred cartoonist in his pre-Dennis years. “They would say, 'This is a Helen Hokinson gag,' or 'This is a Bill Steig,' or 'This one Peter Arno should do.'”

The distinctive style of the New Yorker cartoon owes as much to the caption writers of those early years as to the artists, according to Lorenz. “E. B. White should get credit for helping establish the tone,” he says. “One of his functions here was sharpening gags, and he was sensationally good at it.” White also wrote many captions, including the line immortalized in a drawing by Carl Rose: A mother says, “It's broccoli, dear,” and her daughter replies, “I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.”

The most influential and successful of the New Yorker's freelance gag contributors was Richard McCallister, who continued writing until shortly before his death in April, 1995 at age eighty-six. McCallister supported himself and his family in Connecticut for fifty years on the proceeds from New Yorker cartoon captions. “I didn't need another job,”he said. One week, when he arrived at the New Yorker to deliver his latest submissions, he discovered that six of the cartoons in the current issue had been drawn from his gags. Long after the magazine itself stopped buying ideas from gag writers, McCallister continued to sell captions to individual artists.

His career is not likely to be matched, even by writers who don't limit themselves to a single magazine. Current demand provides only part-time employment for at most 200 or 300 captioners. Some find supplemental humor gigs, such as writing funny greeting cards or slogans for “social expression” products like T-shirts or coffee mugs. Al Batt has a separate career as an insurance agent. Rex May draws his own cartoons under the name “Baloo,” and he's a part-time postal clerk.
Cartoon gag writing's basic rules

Hartland, Minnesota (pop. 270), where Al Batt grew up in the 1950s and still lives today, is a long way from the Manhattan boardrooms and cocktail parties in which so many New Yorker cartoons are set. It's a place where you can get your name in the local newspaper by inviting your sister-in-law for Thursday supper or locking yourself out of your car.

Unlike Woody Allen and other angst-driven comics, Batt enjoyed a happy childhood. His sense of humor was nurtured by a mother who had “the best laugh in the world” and an older brother who kept him supplied with issues of Mad magazine.

Batt's first comical captions, written when he was still in high school, were entries for the Sunday “Foto Funnies” contest in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “They'd have a clip out of a movie, and you'd send in a caption,” he explains. There were five winners each week, and when a Pioneer Press editor noticed that Al Batt's name had been on the list nearly every week for two years, the paper ran a story about him. Then someone told him he could sell cartoon ideas. Batt learned the basics from the classic book on the subject, Cartoonist's and Gag Writer's Handbook by cartoonist Jack Markow.

For an enterprise that traffics in whimsy, gag writing's rules of the road, as codified by Markow, are surprisingly rigid. Captions are typed on 3-by-5-inch index cards and mailed to cartoonists in batches of ten or more, along with a stamped return envelope. The artist keeps any that seem promising and sends back the rest. If a resulting cartoon is sold, the writer gets a cut, usually about 25 percent. This share could amount to pocket change if the cartoon appears in a small-circulation newspaper, or a low-three-figure check if it's placed in a premier market like the New Yorker or Playboy.

Since ideas that have been passed over by one cartoonist may be accepted by another, Batt and May keep hundreds of gags in circulation. The paperwork - keeping track of gags written, who's seen them, captions held by cartoonists, and cartoons that sell - is onerous. “I used to keep a lot better records,” says Batt. “But I hated doing it, and I figured out that the benefits didn't override my dislike.” In a corner of his basement is a storage unit five and a half feet high, plus a stack of eight large shoe boxes, all packed with gag-stuffed envelopes - about a quarter of a million gags, sold and unsold. Batt says with a sigh, “I always think there's something I should do with them, but I don't.”

Rex May, whose garage and work shed contain a similar accumulation (“I have a whole shoe box of unsold Gerald Ford gags”), has been entering his captions into a computer database for four years - mainly so he can check that a new gag doesn't inadvertently duplicate an earlier one. He estimates that it would take six months of doing nothing else to type the backlog into the database. And why bother? It's much more fun, he says, to come up with new captions.
A changing collaboration

Back in the golden years when the cartoon business was centered in New York City, artist and writer might get together to go over ideas. James Reid Parker, a New Yorker writer, met weekly with Helen Hokinson, whom he supplied with captions for her suburban-matron cartoons. Richard McCallister worked directly with several artists. He recalled, “I'd spend two, three hours a week in Peter Arno's studio. We'd talk about what was happening in the world, what we thought we could satirize.”

One of Arno's most famous cartoons was inspired by an experience McCallister had at a newsreel theater in the 1930s. “I could hear hissing,” he said. “I thought it must be one of the radiators. Then I looked around, and I realized people were hissing the President.” In the cartoon version, two couples, obviously well-to-do, stand outside a mansion and call through a window to their counterparts: “Come along. We're going to the Trans-Lux to hiss Roosevelt.”

These days, cartoonists and gag writers are rarely brought together by art editors, as McCallister and Arno were. A small number of cartoonists solicit gags via professional publications. Usually contact is initiated by would-be gag writers who track down published artists and submit ideas. (Some cartoonists won't admit to using gag writers, not because they're embarrassed at needing assistance, they say, but to avoid being inundated with unusable material.)

Human contact is rare these days, even for enduring partnerships. Harald Bakken, a 21-year veteran of the business who's now semi-retired from gag writing, has met only four of the approximately 100 artists with whom he's worked. As a beginner he received valuable instruction from Randy Glasbergen, a widely published cartoonist who sent back helpful suggestions along with rejected gags. “He was very specific,” Bakken recalls. “He'd explain, 'This won't work because ...' or 'This is great because ...'” For months Bakken had no idea that his mentor was a precocious teenager who'd made his first sale to a national magazine at age fifteen. Then one day Glasbergen wrote, “Congratulate me! I just graduated from high school.”

Personal relationships with other caption writers are uncommon too. There's no professional association; the closest thing to a trade journal is Gag Recap, a monthly newsletter with a few hundred subscribers. Recap, founded forty years ago and published by Al and Jo Gottlieb since 1961, lists hundreds of cartoons that appeared in major outlets during the previous month. Descriptions are terse, with as many as fifty cartoons summarized on a single page. To the Gottliebs and their readers, a parched man clad in tatters, who's searching on his hands and knees for an oasis in the sand, is known simply as “Desert crawler.”

Anonymity precludes public acclaim for gag writers. What passes for applause is the heady experience of finding their creation tacked to an office bulletin board or supermarket cash register. When Harald Bakken took a fiction-writing course in which everyone showed examples of their work, he passed around some cartoons. He says, “I realized it was the first time I'd ever heard a laugh at my captions, and I thought: Wow!”

Every year or so, Rex May and Al Batt - who have never met - break the isolation with a telephone chat, “like Luciano Pavarotti calling Placido Domingo,” May says. What do gag writers talk about? “Of course if there's ever anybody that doesn't pay, that's the first thing,” says Batt. “But there are very few of those.”
The challenge of a quick laugh

Harald Bakken - who has a Harvard PhD and a non-captioning life as a history professor at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell - has given serious thought to humor in general and cartoons in particular. “A magazine cartoonist is supposed to get a laugh from a total stranger in under seven seconds,“ he observes. “No one else who professionally tries to make people laugh is expected to do it quite so quickly.” Moreover, the artist must communicate under less-than-ideal conditions. As Bakken points out in the Cartoonist's Muse: A Guide to Generating and Developing Creative Ideas, a book he wrote with longtime New Yorker cartoonist Mischa Richter, cartoons are viewed not in a gallery but in a doctor's waiting room or perhaps (to use Bakken's delicate description) “in the smallest room of the house.”

It all starts with a premise. Says Randy Glasbergen, “It's not as difficult to be funny as it is to find something to be funny about. Sitting there with a blank piece of paper is hard, but once you zero in on penguins it's easy.” As a beginning cartoonist, Glasbergen challenged himself by selecting random objects on the street and trying to find something funny about them. “I would look at a crack in the sidewalk and think: A family of ants would take pictures of themselves next to it, like the Grand Canyon. Or a nurse would put a Band-Aid on it.”

Almost anything can be a cartoon premise. Rex May says, “I've heard that a general can't play golf without thinking about where he'd put tanks. I see everything in terms of turning it into cartoons.” Glasbergen, who once spent a week with May when the two were working on a project proposal, confirms this. “Rex never put down his notebook; it was chained to his belt. If we were watching television and an ad for Grecian Formula came on, Rex would write a gag about it. Thank goodness,” he adds, “we didn't have yeast infection commercials back then.”

Though few subjects are taboo, a cartoon premise is limited by artistic considerations. Rex May, who sometimes receives submissions from writers who have seen his Baloo cartoons, says with exasperation, “A guy sent me a gag that started 'Man to brother-in-law.' Now, how the hell do you draw a brother-in-law?” Many artists shun ideas that require elaborate illustrations, such as the inside of a cathedral or a full symphony orchestra. “I don't do galley slave gags,” says May. “I'm not going to draw a ship with fifty oars.”

Sometimes the premise for a gag line is supplied by the cartoonist. Doug Sneyd, an artist on contract with Playboy who regularly uses ideas from May, recalls, “Playboy wanted some Christmas gags, so I called Rex one morning. By noon he'd come up with seven or eight, and they wound up buying three.” In one of them a lecherous Santa pauses to reflect: “I was going through that 'naughty or nice' routine for the millionth time, when suddenly it hit me: Who am I to judge?”

The leap from Christmas to a self-questioning Santa is inspired. But professional gag writers don't sit around waiting for inspiration to strike; they use techniques to “work” the premise. Harald Bakken likes to demonstrate with the familiar story of the princess who kisses an enchanted frog and turns him into a prince. “First think about the frog,” he suggests. “Perhaps he has political views on monarchy. What do his friends and his parents think about this? Consider the princess. Is this her first go at kissing a frog?”

Bakken continues: “Move forward in time, after the wedding. The couple could have in-law problems. 'Dammit, Gertrude,' says the prince, "you knew when you married me that my mother was a frog.'” Bakken once sat down and spun twenty-five captions from this fairy tale.

Because so many cartoons are based on stock situations - shipwreck survivors on a tiny island, a lawyer addressing a judge, a child bringing home a report card - most captioners write only brief descriptions on the gag slips they send to artists. Bakken says, “For a while, I made a game of trying to get the non-caption part down to as few words as possible. Instead of something like 'Wife says to husband' I'd just write 'Wife' since that implied a domestic setting and the whole works.” Others, including Rex May, add a sketch. “I put the facial expressions in just the way I want them, which is very hard to describe in words,” says May.

The business side of cartoon captioning

When the week's output is ready for mailing, it's time to decide what goes to whom. In general, top-selling cartoonists get the first look; others see the leftovers. “As Baloo, I'm number four on my own list,” May admits. He currently sends ideas to about twenty artists.

Though he'd like to encourage beginning cartoonists, he's reluctant to work with them. “The postage is murder,” he says. “It costs me at least a buck to mail a batch to somebody. A new kid can be a great cartoonist, but can he sell? Can he take the rejection? Ninety percent of people can't, and after six months they quit.”

Certain ideas - such as Batt's captions for Dennis the Menace - are created for particular artists. Or the gag itself might suggest a certain cartoonist. Bakken recalls, “I once wrote a cartoon with a husband and wife arguing. She says, 'Let's face it, Ralph. The only time we meet each other's needs is when we fight.' It was a very grim idea. I thought immediately: That's for Joe Mirachi. He had a very mordant sense of humor. I knew he'd take it and sell the cartoon to the New Yorker - which is what happened.”

Rex May comments, “Some gags are best drawn by me or somebody else who doesn't draw ears on people unless they need them; others are best drawn by Doug Sneyd or some other fine artist.” He cites a caption that he wrote for a Sneyd cartoon: a woman turns down a marriage proposal, saying, “It would never work, Rodney. You're a Benny Hill person and I'm a Monty Python person.” Says May, “If I did that, it would be mildly amusing. But Doug drew it elaborately, with a beautiful woman and a beautiful setting, and the absurdity worked so much better.”

A gag's content may rule out certain artists. Some won't accept X-rated material; others would have little interest in a caption geared to a trade journal. Says Bakken, “One cartoonist told me, 'Never ever send me horse gags; I can't draw horses.' Another said, 'Don't send me anything that has to show the inside of an automobile under the hood. I cannot draw that.'”

Because most freelance cartoonists sell to many publications, the submission process can take a long time. Says Batt, “Bo Brown, a wonderful cartoonist and a wonderful guy, will send you a check for a gag you wrote fifteen years ago. He never gives up. He'll say, 'Here - I sent this to 946 places and somebody finally bought it.'”

Ideally, the final product delivers more than a tickle. Rex May reflects, “I doubt I'd be doing this if I didn't have convictions. I like to make people laugh - but after they've laughed, I want them to think about why they laughed and to reexamine how they've been looking at things. If it's funny, there's something serious at base.”

POSTSCRIPT: For more on cartoon caption writing, see The Cartoonist's Muse: A Guide to Generating and Developing Creative Ideas, by Mischa Richter and Harald Bakken (McGraw-Hill, 1992). Though this delightful and informative book is now out of print, new and used copies are usually available on Amazon.com

© 1995 and 2004, Sarah Wernick. This article is not to be reproduced or distributed in any manner or medium without the written permission of Sarah Wernick's estate. Reprinted here by permission of Willie Lockeretz, Sarah's very funny husband.

 

See also
---Cartoonists, humor writing, comic book writers, comedians
---Q&As with cartoonists
---Cartoons, comics, anime, manga, panel stories, graphic novels, humor, and animation