Freelancing and freedom

Ruth E. Thaler-Carter

The 4th of July celebrations this past week, along with a prompt from NAIWE executive director April Michelle Davis, got me thinking about the connection between freelancing and freedom.

The link between my areas of expertise — writing, editing and proofreading — and our country’s role as an exemplar of freedom is easy to make: I live in a country where I can express what I believe and want to say, and edit or proofread materials that relate to my beliefs and perspectives. I can accept assignments that are consistent with those beliefs and perspectives, or turn down assignments that go against my principles and beliefs. I can even use my skills, as well as the income those skills generate, to support causes I believe in. I can set my own schedule and fees. I am not just a freelancer; I am free.

That freedom is invaluable, and not something I take for granted. I’m the daughter of Holocaust survivors (yeah, it happened). I’m a member by birth of a religion that is still stigmatized and under constant attack even these days — and sadly, even in my own country — and by choice of one founded on principles of freedom. I see examples of the lack of freedom in the headlines every day. Both in the USA and beyond, there are many, many people who cannot claim the luxury of living in a country or community where they are free to do the work they love, be with the people they love, or simply enjoy comfort and peace on a daily basis.

I am very lucky.

My country is not perfect, and certainly is seeing an unprecedented level of hostility and threats to our freedom in the current political realm. But it is still a, if not the, leader of the free world. Most of us are still free to express our beliefs and advocate for what we think is right and fair. We owe it to ourselves, our families, our histories, our futures to use our communications skills to keep it that way, for all of us.

Kids, summer and writing — opportunities for fun and the future

By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, NAIWE Networking Expert

It’s summertime and the livin’ is supposed to be easy, but some of our kids (and grandkids) might want to make use of the vacation months to do some writing. While summer is traditionally a time when many kids are encouraged to read a lot, writing is also something they might enjoy doing for fun and as a way to fill the dog days of the season.

I’ve never forgotten the first publications I created, back in high school days: a literary magazine I put together with friends after being turned down for the official school version, and a “yearbook” for a summer leadership program I was in one summer. I still have copies of both (and I still remember the smell of the ink from the A.B. Dick mimeograph machine that we sued to create them). Today’s kids are probably a lot more sophisticated when it comes to producing versions of their own writing; you might be pleasantly surprised at both the content and the look of what they come up with.

In many communities, finding writing opportunities for kids might be easier than you might realize. In my hometown of Rochester, NY, the Writers and Books literary center has a Summer Write program for youngsters. I’m sure many other communities have similar programs, so if your kids want to write the summer away, a first step would be to look for a local or regional writers’ or literary center to see if it hosts anything along these lines.

If that doesn’t work, look into your area high school continuing education programs; library system; bookstores — both chain and independent — and book clubs; museums — especially children’s museums — and art galleries; newspapers (there’s a national Newspapers in Education program that might work with you on this kind of project); colleges and universities; or various not-for-profit organizations — the local YMCA/YWCA, JCC, Boys and Girls Club, Urban League, etc.

And of course, if your town doesn’t have such resources, consider being the innovator and starting a kids’ summer writing project yourself. It can be as small as you and your own children; it could be a neighborhood project; it could even become city-wide. A successful summer program could even become a year-round activity.

If you do get involved in such a project, be prepared to help kids come up with ideas for what to write about. Encourage them to be creative with fiction, poetry, graphic novels, even playwriting! Make sure they don’t feel pressure about making their writing letter-perfect, especially if they’re very young. Ask them to share what they write, just in case anything evolves that suggests someone needs help with challenges such as bullying or abuse, but be prepared for some children to be shy about showing their work.

You don’t have to have children of your own to do this. You can find kids’ writing programs on behalf of nieces, nephews, grandkids, neighbors’ kids, even the children of total strangers.

It’s never too soon to encourage children to express themselves in writing. (Those of us who are editors or proofreaders will need them as clients in the future!) Let us know what you find and how your kids enjoy a summer writing experience.

A great start to the new year

It’s an honor and a pleasure to start the new year as a member of NAIWE‘s Board of Experts, especially with Networking as my area of NAIWE expertise. As many of you know, I’m a long-time, even passionate believer in networking, as evidenced by the many professional associations and online communities of colleagues that I belong to, along with the Communication Central “Be a Better Freelancer”® conference that I host every year. Even more important to the concept of networking is that I’m far more than what I call a “checkbook member” – I don’t just pay dues and wait for the membership to do something for me; I’m active and visible in every group I belong to (yes, it’s OK to end a sentence with a preposition).

For organizations such as the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), ACES-The Society for Editing, Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists (GSLABJ), International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), Association of Independent Information Professionals, Association for Women in Communications (AWC) and NAIWE, I do everything from write for and edit newsletters to  present webinars, workshops and conference speeches; write booklets; contribute to online conversations; manage and update websites; organize events, etc. That may seem like a lot of work, but I enjoy it (I’m the poster child for extroverts) and it means that I’m constantly learning from, not just sharing knowledge with, colleagues at all levels of professionalism. Even better from a professional success standpoint, it means I become visible and known within these groups, which often leads to being hired or referred for projects. I even make a few bucks from some of these activities in and of themselves.

In addition to the professional advantages of networking, I’ve also made great friends through many of these organizations and found resources that have made my work life easier, more diverse and more interesting.

My point is that networking is a two-way process. You don’t get much, if anything, out of joining an organization or group and waiting for it to do something for you. When you engage in genuine networking, the group benefits you in a number of ways, many of which can be quantified in terms of income and renown. Do keep that in mind as NAIWE makes it possible to do more for ourselves and each other in this new year.

Here’s to a successful, profitable, enjoyable year of writing, editing and networking for all NAIWE members. To coin a version of a popular phrase, may we live well and prosper!

Clients’ books are in print!

Books by two of “my” local authors (that is, I did editing and design & layout for one, and editing and proofreading for the other) are in existence! I’m so pleased for them. These are really fun, creative projects.

Jane Austen fans, check out Carolyn Meisel‘s PuzzleBooks for Readers – six books, each based on an Austen novel, with crossword, story and scramble puzzles for each:

Those who sew, are sure to enjoy Meredith Drake‘s Song of the Seam Ripper & Other Sewing Poems: (props to Victoria Brzustowicz,, who created Meredith’s website).

Now to help these authors set up some readings/signings in area bookstores and shops!

Award-winning moment!

This was so exciting – I’m a recipient of a 2015 Big Pencil Award from Rochester, NY’s Writers and Books literary center for being “A teacher of adults who has inspired the creation and appreciation of literature” and someone who has “contributed significantly in the advancement, creation, and understanding of literature in the Rochester community.” The award presentation was on November 14 – and I’m still glowing.

RETC-2015 Big Pencil Award

Registration open for 2015 Be a Better Freelancer™ conference – discount for NAIWE members!

Registration is open and NAIWE members are eligible for a colleague’s discount for “Be a Better Freelancer™ – Take it to the 10th!,” the 10th annual Communication Central conference for freelance writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, abstractors, graphic artists, photographers and any other professionals in the editorial/publishing community. This year’s conference will be held September 25–26, 2015, at the downtown Hyatt Hotel in Rochester, NY, with both new and familiar presenters offering important tips on building a successful freelance business in terms of both skills and concepts.

Accompanying the conference is an Editorial Bootcamp with Laura Poole on September 27 at the same location, offering intensive copyediting training, with a separate registration fee and a discount for conference attendees.

For details of presenters, topics and registration, go to:

Important info about social media and death

If you (or someone you’re close to) were to die, what would happen to your social media contacts and accounts? The July 3, 2014, NY Times has a useful article on “How to Digitally Avoid Taking It to the Grave.” You should be able to check it out at

The article includes several tips that I’ve offered in the past, based on what I’ve seen happen to friends and colleagues in similar situations:

Give all your passwords to a trustworthy relative, friend or colleague so they can get access to your accounts, and close them if needed. Some people are OK with leaving things like a Facebook account open after a death, while others find it creepy.

Store the info in a safe deposit box, not on your computer(s).

Include a “digital executor” in your will (you do have a will, right?).

2104 conference for freelancers – discount for NAIWE members!

NAIWE members are eligible for the colleague’s discount on registration for “Be a Better Freelancer! (Re)Invent Your Business,” the ninth annual Communication Central conference for freelancers, Sept. 26–27, 2014, in Rochester, NY, with an Editorial Bootcamp on Sept. 28 at the same location. The early-bird registration deadline for the best rate is July 31.

The conference is a great resource for anyone wondering how to launch or improve a writing or editing business.

Topics include launching your business, macros and other efficiency/productivity tools, working with MS Office, organization tips, a self-publishing roundtable, balancing freelancing and family life, resources, benefiting from social media, and more. Keynote speaker is Jake “Dr. Freelance” Poinier. Other speakers include Erin Brenner, Ally Machate, April Michelle Davis, Daniel Heuman, Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, Dick Margulis, Greg Ioannou, Geoff Hart, Jack Lyon, Laura Poole, Ben Davis, Amy Schneider and Ruth E. Thaler-Carter.

Make your hotel reservations early – the conference coincides with the last weekend of a film festival and space will be at a premium the closer it gets to September.

To register, go to:
and click on the link under the image.

Info for the Editorial Bootcamp is included in the conference registration PDF. The Editorial Bootcamp may be taken without attending the conference.

NAIWE members are eligible for a registration discount; conference-goers get a discount for the Editorial Bootcamp.

Questions? Contact Communication Central owner/NAIWE member Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, at or 585-248-0318.

See you there!

Webinar on working with nonprofits

Hi, all. If you’re interested in writing or editing for not-for-profit organizations or charitable agencies, I have a resource for you! I’m presenting a webinar/audioconference for on “Editing for Nonprofits and Agencies” on July 16. Details at: