Archive for the ‘Freelance Writing’ Category

Event review: Dogwood Festival delights


Editors Note: Last year, INtown partnered with the freelance writing class at SCAD-Atlanta to create our July issue. This year, students are contributing articles, video and photos for our website and social media portals. Malee Moua live-tweeted from the Dogwood Festival and brings us this review of the weekend.

By Malee S. Moua
SCAD INtown Takeover 2.0

The possibility of rain didn’t stop thousands of mothers, sisters and cousins from packing the trails of Piedmont Park for the annual Dogwood Festival. The breeze wafted the savory smoke from Shane’s Rib Shack into the crowd. I was delightfully overwhelmed by my gastronomic options. Around every corner was the prospect of enjoying a sugary funnel cake. The Deadfields, a local country band, sung to the audience, “dot your t’s and cross your i’s.” There was a lively melody of rich conversation, good music and lots of laughter.

Inside the Friends of Dogwood Pavilion, chefs from some Atlanta’s favorite restaurants showcases their signature dishes. Barrelhouse served up a savory watermelon dish, and it was a new concept for me. The honey basil vinaigrette drizzled over the top balanced out the sweetness of the watermelon. Then – the bacon. It crunched in my mouth, and I got another combination of sweet and salty.

I wasn’t sure how I would get around to all of the vendors, but I tried. As I enjoyed one small plate of food, I was at another table grabbing a new delectable dish. The ladies at Five Napkin Burger finished off their sliders with caramelized onions and a dollop of rosemary aioli sauce. I thanked them and sunk my teeth into the juicy burger. The aioli sauce had the perfect texture: creamy and smooth. It was bursting with flavor, and I wondered if they could add a little more just to satiate my new addiction.

I tagged on to the long line for Morelli’s ice cream. From the choices of ginger lavender, chocolate Guinness and salted caramel, I asked for the salted caramel. The salt was rich and pleasantly strong in the dish, helping to bring out the sweetness of the caramel. I was sad to see the bottom of the cup.

Outside of the pavilion I caught the tail end of Stevie Monce’s performance on the acoustic stage. He did a heartfelt rendition of Damien Rice’s “9 Crimes.” It was true to Rice’s version, but Monce’s voice was sweeter and more subtle.

Along one of the artist market paths, the work of Joyce Stratton caught my eye. The rectangular panels looked lacquered in some spots, and then I noticed strips of paper with Chinese characters. Stratton spoke passionately about her art. It takes about three months for her to create a small piece. She uses paper, ink, charcoal and other mixed media and begins a process of addition and subtraction directly on wood panels.

Waiting in line to get a funnel cake, I started talking with Charisse. She’s lived in the metro area for more than 20 years and has never been to the Dogwood Festival. She said, “I like wandering through the booths and seeing all of the unique artwork. They each have their own story.”

I could attest to that when I met John Booth. I had to talk to him when his large painting of Scrabble pieces immediately entranced me. I had to ask, “Who are your influences?” He replied with, “Man Ray, Kadinsky and Warhol.” I could definitely see the Warhol aspects of his work. There was a compelling painting of man in a suit, but where there should have been a head, it was an iPhone. I was in awe of the hyper-realism in his paintings.

As the day wound down, I was in the mood for something refreshing. King of Pops was down to their last few popsicles. I was relieved when there were still some strawberry lemonade pops left. I found a spot in the middle of the field between the carnival rides. The skyline I know and love was outlined behind me against a soft gray sky. Children ran and played in the grass as I took another bite of my popsicle, savoring the cool morsel of strawberry as it melted in my mouth.

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How I Got My Groove Back


Im a late bloomer. Ive always been a late bloomer. Its ironic but I figured out I was a late bloomer way back when I was 12 years old.

The realization that I was plagued with arrested development came to me during a 1986 grade-school girls basketball game. During a sweaty crush of gawky, leggy tweens vying for a rebound, I found myself far shorter and far less, um, developed than a majority of my teammates. I looked down and knew in an instant, I would always be just a bit behind the curve.

Im a military spouse and as we all well know, war has been a constant over the past decade. And since I met my Marine soon after college, I barely secured a toehold into my career when the deployments, the moves, and more deployments consumed our life. Its not an excuse but rather the reality — and although plenty of military spouses work during deployments and plenty of military spouses maintain their thriving careers, plenty of us live in far-flung towns with few career choices and higher op-tempo. My resume was pockmarked with bullet holes: a job here, an internship there, and a clear spot last in line for any real opportunity. And mind you, I did take time off to have my children so I wasnt exactly pounding the pavement for work. Regardless, it was decidedly difficult to find work in my chosen field and I found myself, again, in the wake of my peers successful careers.

After several tours in an operational AV-8B Harrier squadron, my husband and I received orders to The Pentagon where my Marine would fly a desk, as they say. And while we were spared from deployments for the duration of the two-year tour, he worked, much to my chagrin, endlessly. Once we were settled into our home, I steeled myself and began to job hunt. My parameters were simple: I wanted to work with military families and almost immediately I discovered an organization called Blue Star Families. Blue Star Families was a young nonprofit dedicated to supporting military families and was run largely by military spouses. I fired off my resume offering to help with web content, newsletters, and press releases, and within a few minutes, I received an enthusiastic response.

There are countless intangible benefits from volunteering, including the feel-good factor. And particularly during this hum-drum economy, having such glaring gaps in a resume is foolish, especially when volunteer opportunities are abundant. And Im not alone in the belief that true volunteer work in your chosen profession is worth mentioning. LinkedIn has a field for members to share volunteer positions and loads of employment organizations laud volunteer work — paid or not — as valuable experience. Blue Star Families seemed like a perfect match for my skills.

Just weeks into my volunteer gig, Blue Star Families demonstrated, with further responsibilities and assignments, satisfaction in my work and while I have held jobs before this, it had been years since I felt so successful. With each compliment or accolade, my confidence blossomed. I found my groove.

From then on, my relationship with Blue Star Families continued to develop. I was a military spouse intimately aware of my communitys plight and could offer insight, extend suggestions, and truly engage with the companys leadership. I began to write more and actively pursue freelance writing with a focus on the issues affecting military families. After a while I asked my new colleagues for editing assistance and screwed up the courage to send out query letters. At first the responses were mostly rejections, but at least they were being read — and now I can happily say, those letters are fired off with more frequency and much better results.

And then after a year of volunteering with this rapidly growing and obviously influential group, Blue Star Families offered me a job.

The Blue Star Families team is spread across the nation and we come from all walks of life. We are lawyers, veterans, mothers, writers, and executives and I am lucky enough to now call this group of people my friends.

Our lives are invariably shaped by our experiences. And one day Ill write more about my past — much to the chagrin of my parents, Im sure.

But for today, Ill write about what it means to be a military spouse and what its like for many: the unemployed and the over-educated. The women, like myself, who are dealing with multiple deployments, children, and life aboard bases strung across the United States. Today, Im happy to share their voices and remind folks about the one percent who are serving.

Molly Blake is a freelance writer and Marine Corps spouse. Her husband, Lt. Col. Peter Blake, is currently deployed on his fifth overseas tour as the Commanding Offcer of VMA-311. Molly is the web editor for Blue Star Families, a nonprofit organization representing military families. She is also a freelance writer interested in issues that affect military families. Her work can be found at

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Freelancer of the Fortnight: Ek Heng Ng


Click here to view Ek Heng
Ngs full freelance profile on

Why did you choose to become a freelancer?
After working in journalism and public relations careers for 20
years, I decided on freelance writing as I thought it would be an
acid test of my ability to make a living doing what I enjoy, that
is, writing and editing.

If you trained, where? If not, how did you become a
With my grounding gained from working as editorial staff in an
international newsagency and perspective from public relations, I
decided I was ready to provide value-add in editorial and marketing
communications to my clients.

Do you specialise in any particular field and what areas do
you write about?
Technology and management are areas
where I have a track record and work samples. But the Internet is a
wonderful tool that can be tapped as a rich resource for any topic
by a writer.

Which publications have you been published in?
I have completed many editorial projects for Singapore, UK and US
clients. Some examples are pilot publications like ITMedicine and
Clinical Trial Reporter for Lippincourt Williams and Wilkins Asia,
NonWoven Textile Asia magazine, as well as features for Elsevier
Business Intelligence (Healthcare), Singapore tertiary institutions
and research institutes (online and print publications) and
business organisations.

Which articles, in which publication, are you the most
proud of?
As a writer, I hope to be a
bridge in sharing knowledge that will benefit the readers. So I
reckon I do have a particular interest in feature writing as well
as getting involved in bringing out publications. I would relish
getting involved in writing for multi-media projects. I have taken
to producing short video clips after my own interest which can be
found here.

What are the best and worst aspects of freelancing?
The worst part of freelancing, I suppose, is that I do not have
colleagues to bounce ideas around. Seen in an economic sense, the
good months with projects are the high points and the low points
are the quiet periods. The bottom line, however, is that I do not
have to justify my time to any boss and I have the freedom to get
involved in work that improves my knowledge in many areas.

Do you have any interesting anecdotes in
relation to your experience as a freelancer?
Once I had
a client who complained about the fee, considering the eventual
number of words produced. But I must say such clients are a rarity.
My rejoinder was that they could invest in a dictionary if they
were just interested in words and not the drift and import of the
total message, which also had to suit the appropriate

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Tigers, elephants and aliens at BookPeople: The strange, magical love stories …


A tiger in love with his zoo keeper, a newlywed executioner whose wife despises him, an elephant writing her memoir, and a sentient insect creature in the Andromeda Galaxy trying to raise a rebellious daughter . . . these are some of the minds and lives explored in the short story collection I Am an Executioner: Love Stories by the India-born, Texas-raised writer Rajesh Parameswaran.

On Monday, Parameswaran makes a visit to Austin for a reading at BookPeople.

Though many contemporary writers find their training ground in graduate creative writing, MFA programs, Parameswaran took a slightly different path to becoming a writer law school. Yet he thinks he found some of the tools creative writing programs can give another way.

I saw that there were other people around me in law school or in that world who were also writing fiction, he says. It felt very compatible.

I had good friends from college who were excellent readers. I felt like I had a community of people from whom I could get feedback, so I really didnt feel like I was missing something and I didnt feel the need to get an MFA, he tells CultureMap.

While he was interested in writing before entering law school, it was there that he became more serious about writing fiction. When I ask him if it was a strange jump from the law to writing stories, Parameswaran gives an intriguing peek into what might be a hidden American subculture, story-writing lawyers.

I saw that there were other people around me in law school or in that world who were also writing fiction, he says. It felt very compatible. It didnt feel like they were necessarily contradictory. After law school I clerked for a judge in (New York), and I was doing law related freelance writing while also writing fiction.

Elaborating on the connection between fiction writing and studying and practicing law, Parameswaran says, It seems in way natural because they are both very writing intensive endeavors and a lot of people who are good writers, when they are trying to find a useful path in life, will naturally gravitate to law school because theres so much writing involved.

He continues, If I take a step back, I can see some of the same themes I was interested in as a law student are some of the themes I see cropping up in my fiction, so there is a continuity in that way. And what are those themes and issues that stayed with him from law school into fiction writing? Identity, community, and race.

He also feels law school taught him to be a very precise, meticulous, and thoughtful writer. Yet, to be a good fiction writer you have to let go of that restraint, you have to let go of that control, if you want to write creatively.

Tales That Count

The stories in I Am an Executioner illustrate that use of precision and the control of the language to produce worlds of unrestrained creativity. The first story in the book, The Infamous Bengal Ming, is narrated by a tiger who manages to transcend his zoo captivity both spiritually, and then literally, because of his love for his human keeper.

In the last story, On the Banks of the Table River (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) a loving but bewildered insectoid undertaker attempts to understand his sullen teen daughter. These two stories provide a frame for a collection that explores the dark and comic nature of relationships and the power love has to both destroy and create.

I just started with the premise what would happen if a tiger fell in love with a zoo keeper? And then it was just a matter of following the logic of that premise step by step.

Parameswaran wrote the stories over several years and at the time didnt have one, coherent theme or idea in mind. I was trying to approach each story on its own terms . . . he says. I was more interested in exploring and trying new things and finding out what I could do with fiction.

Later, when placed together, he found the stories did have some similar thematic threads running through them. They all are in one way or another about different kinds of love or relationships. He believes the juxtaposition of the books title, I Am an Executioner and its subtitle Love Stories capture both the darker side of some of the stories along with the irony and humor found in the collection.

The Infamous Bengal Ming is again a good illustration of how all these varying themes of love and the variety of tones work together in the book. The story is both very dark and yet very funny, and Parameswarans description of how he went about creating the mind of a philosophical, smitten tiger is almost as amusing. He says, I feel like in many ways its a very straight forward story . . .

I just started with the premise what would happen if a tiger fell in love with a zoo keeper? And then it was just a matter of following the logic of that premise step by step. Logically what would follow from that? Well, he would want to express his love and then how would he do that?

It felt like a very logical story in some ways.

Recently Parameswaran has simplified his life so he can devote more time to writing. He has also moved from short stories to a new novel. Though he is a little superstitious about giving many details of a work in progress, he does say the novel will tell the story of a community of outcasts who process a citys garbage.

If the worlds ofI Am an Executioner are any indication, this Texan has many stories yet to tell readers.

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Embracing Our Differences Winners Just As Diverse As The Art


Its a project to celebrate peoples differences, or to embrace them, and the winners of the Embracing Our Differences art and quotation contest are just as diverse.


Take the Adult Best In Show winner Andrea Rankin of Sarasota – a student at Sarasota County Technical Institute. 


Im not used to being the center of attention, she said. When I hear someone using the word inspiring on me tonight, I … Im speechless. It makes me feel so good.


Rankin and other winners from Sarasota, Bradenton and all around the world were honored at a reception Tuesday evening at the Ringling College of Art + Design for Embracing Our Differences, an exhibit that featured oversized art and quotations promoting inspirational art and has been displayed on Sarasotas Island Park.


Rankin decided to go back to school and enter the graphic design realm after her and her partners daughter went off to college and has been self employed for a long time.


Her Lifes Library piece has Dont judge a book by its cover, on a chalk board and all sorts of books with inspirational titles and diversity issues we face today like I have two mommies, My Brother Is Now My Sister, and I will still love her, and Different is another word for wrong.


I really wanted to make sure I had a good cross section of the titles, and just do a better representation, she said. Often times youll see it limited to about 10 different maybe religions or ethnic races. I wanted to expand that more.


Each piece of art was teamed up with a quote, and Gloria Tracy of Bradenton felt like hers was a perfect fit with Rankins piece because it was about loving people for being different and not saying everyones the same. 


I always heard people saying it doesnt matter that your black, or it doesnt matter that your Hispanic, and I always took offense to that, said Tracy, who is the Equity Officer and Employment manager in State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasotas Office of Human Resources. Their intent is to say were all the same it doesnt matter, but what I see it as, lets recognize my difference and acknowledge that, and lets talk about that if you have questions.


See me, is really what its saying.


Her quote says: Stop judging … Notice skin color, hear accents, ACKNOWLEDGE the differences; THEN, ask questions and be open to learning about others.


Then theres Peter Bassen of Sarasota, also a student at Sarasota County Technical Institute attending there for a career change. An adult division winner, he grew up during a time when diversity and Civil Rights were the hottest topics in America.


What better way to illustrate that then using Photoshop to have Martin Luther King Jr.s I Have A Dream Speech written across and shadowed and lightened just the right way to form Kings bust.


I was only born in 65 and it was very prevalent when I was growing up as a child. The most prolific person was Dr. Martin Luther King, and so immediately I thought of the I Have a Dream Speech and the iconic image of him being in deep thought, Bassen said.


Bassen wanted to convey the power of the black and white contrasting along with the words themselves being in black and white.


Its all in different shades as well, so its quite fitting, he said.


Casey Miller, 18 of Bradenton, a senior at Lakewood Ranch High School, created See through your eyes, in Photoshop.


She was excited and said she was just messing around with a design and came together and was happy to be selected. 


I was basically saying that everythings the same, so its all equal, Miller said of her design. Were all different colors but we see the same person in the end.


Shell attend University of Central Florida for graphic arts and photography.


Gabrielle Holt, 17, of Sarasota is a junior at Riverview High School whose quote was selected to appear with a piece of art.


It reads: Society tells us how to act, exist, and be. We must LEARN for ourselves hot to interact, coexist and become.


Holt is happy to be selected. 


Humans are a lot more than what the media tells us, she said. I was going with the society thing because as a girl I see a lot of things in the media that tell you how to act, what to wear and what to look like, and being in high school, theres a lot of pressure to do those kinds of things.


Though shes quite the succinct poet, Holt would love to work for Nike because shes a runner and wants to study human physiology, but a freelance writing gig at Runners World wouldnt be bad either, she admitted.


Holt is a member of the Coexistence Club at the high school, which is a youth chapter part of the Coexistence Inc. nonprofit that creates the educational lessons, field trips and exhibit to embrace diversity. The group provides tours to elementary students during the school day, too. 


Michael Sheldon is the executive director of Coexistence and said the main component beyond fund raising to create the programs, is the programs themselves of providing teachers a template of a lesson plan, workbooks and free field trips to enhance diversity education.


Were the only organization in town that provides free field trips, he said.


The organization is in talks to have its own version in Manatee County and said Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston has embraced the idea. 


About 5,000 Manatee County students participate in Coexistences programs and the logistics of busing them down to Sarasota is too difficult, so its time to forge north.


The key for the group will be to find out how Bradenton could have its own version. They have a spot picked out along Rossi Park on the waterfront to mirror the bayfront aspect of the Sarasota Island Park, Sheldon said.


What were adamant about not doing is taking a Sarasota concept and dumping it on Bradenton, he said.  


Yep, that seems to be in the spirit of the organization. Bradenton and Sarasota should not be the seen as the same — embrace the differences.

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Dozier: People News


Writers conference celebrating 25th anniversary

A Rally of Writers 2012, a freelance writing conference, is celebrating its 25th year. The event will be held from 9 am to 4:30 pm April 14 at the Conference Center, West Campus, Lansing Community College, 4708 Cornerstone Drive.

Loren Estleman, the keynoter and author of more than 60 books and 200 stories in crime, Western, and mainstream fields, will lead off with “Writing Is the Best Revenge.”

Sixteen breakout sessions will follow on fiction, creative nonfiction, articles, poetry, playwriting, travel writing, e-books, and marketing. Speakers include Dennis Hinrichsen and Anita Skeen, poets from LCC and Michigan State University; Lev Raphael, acclaimed author in many genres; Mardi Link, true crime and essay winner; Carol Finke, editor of Controlled Burn; and Mark Crilley, young adult graphic novels.

Authors will talk with attendees and sign books in Authors’ Alley.

The program is sponsored by Gibson’s Bookstore, Lansing Community College, the Skaaldic Society, and the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The cost of the conference is $70 in advance ($50 for students) and $80 ($60) at the door.

Reservations with lunch must be postmarked by Saturday.

The Rally Warm-Up, a free event featuring “After Red Tails: Struggles on the Home Front,” with discussions by author Lawrence P. Scott and descendant Geoff Blair, will be held at 7 pm April 13 at Schuler Books Music at Eastwood Towne Center.

Details are available at or at 372-4294.

MSU College of Music seeking host family for student

The Michigan State University College of Music is looking for a host family to house a graduate music student from South Korea.

She is a doctor of musical arts student in violin performance and is completing her first year of study toward the degree.

She speaks and understands English quite well as she completed her master of music degree at the University of Houston before entering MSU in the fall. Because she does not have a car, it would be advantageous for her to have a host family living in East Lansing, Okemos or Haslett.

Interested families are urged to call the Orchestra Office in the College of Music at 355-7670.

Military Mailbag

Army Sgt. and Recon Scout Brad Kubat, of Fort Carson, Colo., has deployed to Afghanistan for a nine-month mission.

Kubat is a 2005 graduate of Holt High School. He is the son of Mark and Kim Attard and brother of Mackenzie, all of Eaton Rapids.

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American Writers & Artists Inc. Announces Dates of the 2012 Copywriting …


American Writers amp; Artists Inc. Announces Dates of the 2012 Copywriting Bootcamp and Job Fair
The FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, the freelance writing industry’s top event, will return to its longtime home, the Delray Beach Marriott, this October. AWAI is now offering a chance for you to secure your spot.

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HENRY BRIGGS: Michael Lacing is funny – seriously.


I ask about those days he doesnt feel that funny.

I dont have that luxury he says. My clients dont care if Im not in the mood. They want the jokes. Those days just run a little longer than others.

Hes pretty liberal, which caused problems in the beginning. Politics and politicians can be funny, especially nowadays, but people have gotten so serious I usually stay away from either side.

After spending time at the mall yesterday, it seems springing forward for daylight savings is the most exercise some people get all year.

He went to Radnor High and West Chester University, then spent a few years after college banging around the country. The best part? Meeting all those people in all those places, he says. It taught me more than college.

That was followed by a combination of construction jobs and freelance writing. He shows me some clippings from Main Line Times articles he wrote during that period. Theres a piece on a Dr. Janet Sy in which she describes the inequities and frustrations of being a doctor.

Why not socialized medicine and why not a national insurance program controlled by the government? she asked Michael in frustration in 1977. I am stunned.

He worked at Channel 10 and freelanced for the Philadelphia Daily News.

US teenagers science scores rank behind most Western countries. Its gotten so bad that half of the frogs dissected in biology classes actually get better.

In the early 90s, Michael was doing a local TV show with comedy skits called Almost Live. He sent a demo reel to the Today show and they booked him, but on the day he was to appear, he was bumped by breaking news the first Gulf War. They never rebooked me. Then, think of all those laughs they missed. Da dum! Continued…

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Appeals Judge Fair takes oath


During Judge Eugene Fairs investiture to the state Court of Appeals on Friday, he said the Boy Scouts pledge fits what he must do as a judge.

We made this pledge and I have always remembered it … that says I will do my best to do my duty, and thats what I promise, said Fair, an Eagle Scout.

Senior US District Judge William H. Barbour Jr. administered the oath of office to Fair before a crowd of family and friends, judges and lawyers who packed the Court of Appeals Courtroom in Jackson.

Melissa Fair Wellons, MD, of Birmingham, one of Fairs two daughters, held the Bible during the oath. His wife, Dr. Estella Galloway Fair, assisted with the enrobing.

Fair, nephew of the late Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Stokes V. Robertson Jr., put on one of his uncles old robes after he took the oath. As he adjusted the snaps on the garment, he quipped, You got your moneys worth when you paid for these robes.

Justice Robertson retired from the court in 1982.

Gov. Haley Barbour appointed Fair, 65, of Hattiesburg to the District 5, Place 1 seat on the Court of Appeals.

Fair replaced Judge William H. Myers of Ocean Springs, who retired Dec. 31, after serving for 11 1 1/82 years.

Fairs appointment is for one year. A special election will be held in November in the Court of Appeals district which includes Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Lamar, Pearl River, Perry, Stone and parts of Wayne counties.

For the past five years, Fair served as a chancellor on the 10th Chancery Court, which includes Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River and Perry counties.

Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. said chancery experience will be an asset to the Court of Appeals, which decides a large volume of appeals from chancery courts as well as criminal appeals.

He is right where he needs to be at this time as a part of history, Waller said. This court more than likely will have an impact on the average citizen from the standpoint of adjudicating the child support needs of a single mother, of compensation for an injured worker, justice for a victim of a crime, or redress for an egregious wrong.

Before calling him to the bench to take his seat with the other members of the court, Court of Appeals Chief Judge L. Joseph Lee said, Ladies and gentlemen, can you think of a better name for a judge to have than Fair? We are all envious. It has been said and I have heard it numerous times that the Court of Appeals is a fair court. Now its official.

Fair grew up in Louisville. He earned a bachelors degree from the University of Mississippi and a law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

He helped pay his way through college with freelance writing for newspapers.

He practiced law in Hattiesburg from October 1972 to December 2006. He ran unsuccessfully for election to the Supreme Court in 1988, and for the Court of Appeals in 1994. The 1994 race was for Position 1, District 5, the same position to which he has been appointed.

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How to Earn Extra Money as a Pet Sitter


After writing about ways to earn an extra $500 for the holidays, we heard from a lot of skeptics. Commenters noted how hard or even impossible it can be to find a paying side-gig; some argued that any activity would pay so poorly that it would not be worth the extra time and stress.

[In Pictures:10 Ways to Save on Food Costs]

To counter that pessimism, we spoke with another successful side-hustler, Tara Heuser, a Washington-based office worker, freelance writer, and pet sitter. She first launched her pet-sitting business after getting laid off from a job at a custom framing company. After living off of unemployment for 14 months while hostessing at a restaurant part-time, she posted an ad for her pet-sitting services on Craigslist.

Heuser, 33, graduated from college with an art history degree, and she says her dream job would be to write about art full-time. For now, shes juggling her new full-time office job along with pet-sitting and freelance writing to generate enough income make ends meet. We spoke with Heuser about just how she does it. Excerpts:

How did you get started as a pet sitter?

I had some experience watching a friends two cats and my little business grew from there… Getting laid off from my framing job is definitely what prompted me to start pet-sitting. I like dogs and cats and figured it would be an easy money-making job. This job was definitely more enjoyable than hostessing and required less work. It was an easy money-making gig and easy to get referrals.

Do you earn a solid side-income from it?

The pet-sitting jobs definitely offered more flexibility than hostessing, since I had the power to accept or decline, and I made more money. I only got paid $13.50 per hour hostessing and didnt work that many hours a week when I was also working a full-time job. I now charge $55 to $65 per night for pet-sitting. When I got my current job, working as a publications and exhibits coordinator for an association, I kept the pet-sitting gig because I still dont make much money. Most pet-sitting jobs are on the weekends and I have weekends off with my office job, which is 9 to 5.

Do you do anything else to earn more money on the side?

I also write articles for a DC-based website called The Pink Line Project, another part-time gig. This is what I would love to do all the time. I enjoy writing and love art. I write articles on art gallery openings around the city, promoting emerging artists and small galleries. I only write one to two articles per month and get paid $50 per article, but it is my favorite job by far.

What are your future plans for your side gigs?

I do plan on expanding my two part-time jobs as much as possible. I now have six pet-sitting clients. My current job is pretty boring. I sit in a cube all day and stare at the computer. I dont really like the idea of having an office job for the rest of my working career. Eventually I would like to go to grad school and get a masters in creative writing and possibly get a job working for a magazine or doing freelance writing, but since I dont make much money now, that poses a problem.

Looking for more side-gig ideas? Check out 10 Ways to Start Earning Extra Money Now

Twitter: @alphaconsumer