Guess who's eating with us on October 16? (Hint: Dessert comes first!)

Here’s some great news to all our passionate foodies out there!

Joining us on October 16 for Eat, Write, Love is popular food writer Lori Baltazar of the blog Dessert Comes First. If you haven’t read her blog yet, check it out now to discover what it means to be passionate about food (and desserts, in particular) and turn it into a career.

And if you don’t know enough about Lori yet, check out her profile below:

* * *

Lori Baltazar lives to write about food – after eating it, of course. She’s written professionally for 15 years and has been a food writer for the past 10. Lori has written for almost all the local food magazines and is a former columnist of the Manila Times newspaper and ABS-CBN’s Foodie magazine. Aside from writing, she is also a food consultant for an international food company. Lori is also one of the pioneers in the local food blogging industry with her website, Dessert Comes First.com which she put up in 2005. In the following year, it was featured in the New York Wall Street Journal and a year after, was awarded Best Food Blog 2007 by Globe Telecom at the 1st Philippine Blog Awards. Lori loves to take pictures of food, is an avid home baker, and is the proud, though slightly embarrassed owner of 1000+ cookbooks.

* * *

We don’t know about you, but our taste buds are already craving for what’s to come on October 16!

To refresh your memory on the details of this food writing workshop, click HERE.

To reserve a slot, click HERE.

And, to pay for your slot, use the Paypal button on the right sidebar, or deposit your payment (Php2,500 per person) to this account:

  • Ma. Veronica U. Sarthou
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands
  • Savings Account
  • Account No. 1759037711
*To confirm your payment: Please scan/take a photo of your deposit slip and email us at writersblock.ph@gmail.com with your name and mobile number.

Guess who's eating with us on October 16? (Hint: Dessert comes first!)

Here’s some great news to all our passionate foodies out there!

Joining us on October 16 for Eat, Write, Love is popular food writer Lori Baltazar of the blog Dessert Comes First. If you haven’t read her blog yet, check it out now to discover what it means to be passionate about food (and desserts, in particular) and turn it into a career.

And if you don’t know enough about Lori yet, check out her profile below:

* * *

Lori Baltazar lives to write about food – after eating it, of course. She’s written professionally for 15 years and has been a food writer for the past 10. Lori has written for almost all the local food magazines and is a former columnist of the Manila Times newspaper and ABS-CBN’s Foodie magazine. Aside from writing, she is also a food consultant for an international food company. Lori is also one of the pioneers in the local food blogging industry with her website, Dessert Comes First.com which she put up in 2005. In the following year, it was featured in the New York Wall Street Journal and a year after, was awarded Best Food Blog 2007 by Globe Telecom at the 1st Philippine Blog Awards. Lori loves to take pictures of food, is an avid home baker, and is the proud, though slightly embarrassed owner of 1000+ cookbooks.

* * *

We don’t know about you, but our taste buds are already craving for what’s to come on October 16!

To refresh your memory on the details of this food writing workshop, click HERE.

To reserve a slot, click HERE.

And, to pay for your slot, use the Paypal button on the right sidebar, or deposit your payment (Php2,500 per person) to this account:

  • Ma. Veronica U. Sarthou
  • Bank of the Philippine Islands
  • Savings Account
  • Account No. 1759037711
*To confirm your payment: Please scan/take a photo of your deposit slip and email us at writersblock.ph@gmail.com with your name and mobile number.

Hooters Girl for a Day: Ana Santos on Freelance Writing

September 24 is International Freelancers Day. To celebrate this event and the freelance path, we are publishing our own thoughts on freelance writing.

🙂

Yes, that’s me dressed in a Hooters girl uniform.

That photo was taken in 2008. Hooters had just opened in Manila and I was going to write a story about the famous Hooter girls for UNO Magazine. Apparently, every other men’s magazine worth its salt had the same idea.

Since its opening, magazines (along with photography clubs) were queuing up at Hooters. I was upset that just days before, another men’s magazine had come in and interviewed the Hooters girl imports –who were in the Philippines briefly to train the new local recruits.

I was a few days late. I was desperate to find another angle, otherwise my story would look like  a “me,too-press release”. So I decided to dress up as a Hooters girl and write about what it was like to be one.

It took awhile to convince the manager, but after explaining the story angle I wanted to take, he eventually agreed. I was whisked off for make-up and wriggled into the iconic Hooters girl uniform. I took dance lessons with the other girls, took direction on how to pose, made some drinks and served them, danced on the  bar and posed for photos with customers.

The glares from the girlfriends/wives who came in with their partners, notwithstanding (that’s a whole other articIe altogether), I had a good laugh.

I posted the photos on Facebook after and one of my former subordinates saw it. She was completely mortified.

At this point, I think I should go into a bit of background. Just months before this “Hooters” incident, I had unceremoniously quit my PR job. For the first time in my life, I was trying to live off my writing.

My former subordinate, thinking that I had to resort to moonlighting as a Hooters girl to make ends meet, told my former boss about it.

I’m sharing this story today, International Freelancers Day, because I think it says a lot about what it’s like being a freelance writer:

1.       You literally have to make your own money

Before becoming a freelancer, I would get paid just by showing up at the office. I could toil the whole day or just sit at my desk – it didn’t matter, I would still get my pay check every month. On days that I was sick or on holiday, I didn’t even have to be in the office physically and would still get paid.

As a freelancer, you operate under a “no work-no pay policy”. In the beginning, I waited for writing assignments to be given to me.  It came in trickles and it wasn’t enough. I had to actively look for restaurants, date places, events – anything to write about; anything to get me another writing assignment.

2.       You have to be unique to stand out

The impetus for me to put on the Hooters uniform was anxiety. I was afraid that editorial would not run another Hooters story, if already covered by a competing magazine. I had to find a different angle, impress my editor and get published otherwise, I would not get paid.

On a more macro-scale, in our writing workshops, we tell our participants to think of their byline as a brand name that needs to be built and protected. Being unique is the start of that process.

3.       You shouldn’t care what other people think

I already knew what other people would think if they saw me in a Hooters girl uniform. But I didn’t care. I wanted my story. And if I had let what other would think consume me, I might not have gotten it.

4.       You will need gumption in generous amounts

Whether it’s to follow up a check, negotiate a rate, interview celebrities, meet with heads of state or just network, you will need courage and confidence.

Oh, and copious amounts of patience.

5.       You will have many many reasons to believe that you have the best job in the world

I lived out my fantasy of being a Hooters girl for a day. I was tickled pink right down to the ends of my toes to see that that after one child and a full decade more on the calendar, I still fit into a uniform meant for a 20something Hooters girl.

More importantly, after that day, it all became clear to me. I knew that I had what it took pursue an even bigger dream. I knew I wanted to be a writer and was ready to do anything to become one.

I know, I know. It sounds just like me to think of being a Hooters girl for a day as a defining moment in my career as a writer.

It’s all in the way you chose to view things, really.  I guess it’s also called angling.

Front and center: Ana Santos as a Hooters Girl for a Day
Front and center: Ana Santos as a Hooters Girl for a Day

Challenges of a Freelance Writer

September 24 is International Freelancers Day. To celebrate this event and the freelance path, we are publishing our own thoughts on freelance writing.

🙂


Challenges of a Freelance Writer

by Nikka Sarthou

Like any other job, there are certain advantages and disadvantages to being a freelance writer.  On one hand, you have freedom and flexibility; on the other hand, you can have too much freedom and flexibility.  If you have the right mindset, you can use these to your advantage, but if you don’t, you would have a hard time succeeding in this field.

When I decided to become a freelance writer, I didn’t have a plan.  I just knew that I wanted a more flexible lifestyle.  But then nobody taught me what to do next.  I had to figure out things on my own.  I had to make money by looking for writing projects, and then searching some more during my free time.  The truth is far from what most people think of freelancers.  There’s this misconception that freelancers are living the life—they can do whatever they want, when they want.  The reality is that being a freelance writer is still a job, and with optional weekends.

Here are some of the challenges that most freelance writers encounter and what you can do with it:

1.    Frequency of projects

Your income is dependent on the number of projects you get.  Unless you get a retainer job, do not count on getting a steady stream of income.  You have to go out there and be on the lookout for potential money-making ventures.

2.    When to say “no”

There might be times when you’ll get a lot of writing assignments and you’ll be tempted to accept everything for financial purposes.  Don’t.  Know your limit and manage your workload.  There’s a risk of compromising your writing quality if you keep on saying “yes” to everything that comes your way.

3.    Managing distractions

As a freelancer, you’ll most likely work at home where there are a lot of things to distract you.  Instead of writing, you might get distracted and play with your niece, or watch TV, or take long naps…  There are so many things that could sidetrack you.  Get rid of those distractions and discipline yourself.

4.    Payment scheme

Freelancers don’t have a regular payroll like employees do.  Your sweldo doesn’t come in every 15th or 30th of the month.  Most publications even require you to go to their office to pick-up your check payment.  You just have to keep track of all your payables and make sure that you can get to their office when your check is ready.

5.    Getting connections

The fact is you would have a better chance of being published if you know someone from the inside.  Get yourself out there and network.  That’s the best way to get connected with the right people.

Eat, Write, Love–a food writing workshop

Writer’s Block Philippines will be hosting a food writing workshop entitled, “Eat, Write, Love“.



Like their other trademark experiential workshops which Writer’s Block Philippines has come to be known for, “Eat, Write, Love” will combine the gastronomic experience of eating and the equally satisfying activity of writing about it. 

“We Filipinos eat five times a day! It’s a national pastime for us. What we’d like to do is take this much-loved activity and see what food tells us about our history as a nation. This is also exactly what we want to share with our participants, food writing is not just about tastes and textures. There is so much more that can be written about food, like its link to our past or what it says about it in terms of our regional differences,” says Writer’s Block Philippines co-founder Ana Santos, who is also a sexual health advocate.

Niña Terol-Zialcita, another Writer’s Block Philippines co-founder, shares, “I write about food the way I write about a person or about travel. I get to know its interesting qualities, decipher what attracts me to it, and describe the overall dining experience. And because food is so integral to our daily lives and our cultural context, it is always a great starting point for any exploration. 

“Eat, Write, Love” is not just for professional writers or food bloggers, but also for culinary students and just about anyone who would enjoy an afternoon of good food and history. Co-founder Nikka Sarthou, whose writing focuses on lifestyle and travel, says, “There’s a proliferation of food blogs right now and it’s important to stand out from among the rest. Whether you’re an experienced food writer or not, this food writing workshop will help you do so. Since it will be held in Adarna Food and Culture, we hope that it will inspire the participants to nourish their appreciation for food, especially local cuisine.”

Workshop participants will definitely be able to learn more about food appreciation from Adarna Food and Culture Chef Giney Villar, as she will discuss her dishes and more; while food writer, Lori Baltazar of Dessertcomesfirst.com, will talk about food writing basics and more.

The workshop fee is Php 2,500, inclusive of lectures, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Bona fide members of Writer’s Block Philippines will be entitled to a 10% discount off the workshop fee.

Eat, Write, Love–a food writing workshop

Writer’s Block Philippines will be hosting a food writing workshop entitled, “Eat, Write, Love“.



Like their other trademark experiential workshops which Writer’s Block Philippines has come to be known for, “Eat, Write, Love” will combine the gastronomic experience of eating and the equally satisfying activity of writing about it. 

“We Filipinos eat five times a day! It’s a national pastime for us. What we’d like to do is take this much-loved activity and see what food tells us about our history as a nation. This is also exactly what we want to share with our participants, food writing is not just about tastes and textures. There is so much more that can be written about food, like its link to our past or what it says about it in terms of our regional differences,” says Writer’s Block Philippines co-founder Ana Santos, who is also a sexual health advocate.

Niña Terol-Zialcita, another Writer’s Block Philippines co-founder, shares, “I write about food the way I write about a person or about travel. I get to know its interesting qualities, decipher what attracts me to it, and describe the overall dining experience. And because food is so integral to our daily lives and our cultural context, it is always a great starting point for any exploration. 

“Eat, Write, Love” is not just for professional writers or food bloggers, but also for culinary students and just about anyone who would enjoy an afternoon of good food and history. Co-founder Nikka Sarthou, whose writing focuses on lifestyle and travel, says, “There’s a proliferation of food blogs right now and it’s important to stand out from among the rest. Whether you’re an experienced food writer or not, this food writing workshop will help you do so. Since it will be held in Adarna Food and Culture, we hope that it will inspire the participants to nourish their appreciation for food, especially local cuisine.”

Workshop participants will definitely be able to learn more about food appreciation from Adarna Food and Culture Chef Giney Villar, as she will discuss her dishes and more; while food writer, Lori Baltazar of Dessertcomesfirst.com, will talk about food writing basics and more.

The workshop fee is Php 2,500, inclusive of lectures, lunch, and an afternoon snack. Bona fide members of Writer’s Block Philippines will be entitled to a 10% discount off the workshop fee.

Top tips for freelance writers

On June 6, 2010 I guested at DJ Vince Golangco‘s “Edumacate Me” segment on Mellow 94.7. We talked of freelance writing, and I recapped the session in my blog, The Art of Changemaking.

Here are excerpts of this blog post. Click here to view the original article and read The Art of Changemaking.
~ NTZ
Freelance writing for magazines isn’t as easy or as difficult as it first appears to be. Depending on one’s exposure, experience, and connections, it can be as easy as downloading a free iPad app–or it can be as daunting as  preparing one’s own multi-country travel itinerary from scratch (both of which, by the way, I have found myself preoccupied with as of late). Regardless of the level of difficulty, however, writing is very often a fulfilling and exhilarating process, and for freelance writers the kick that one gets out of seeing one’s byline immortalized on print can be quite addictive. I, for one, will never tire of seeing my name on print.
To help the budding writer make sense of the process, I’ve summarized here some of the key points that DJ Vince and I have talked about this morning:
1. First things first: know your medium.
During this morning’s show, I first mentioned that those aspiring to write for magazines should, first of all, get to know the publication they want to write for. (I failed to consider that freelance writing can also take the form of writing for television, radio, or the Web, so here I’m editing myself and saying: first, know thy medium.) What does that entail? Study the medium’s format and tone, the audience it’s trying to reach, its contents, its overall messaging.
Does it come across as wholesome or edgy? Mass-based or niche market-driven? Upscale or budget-conscious? Is it writing with an authoritative tone, or is it trying to be your best friend? What are its sections? What kinds of subjects are usually discussed there? Does your writing style fit in with it?
2. Next: develop your topic.
Just the fact that you’re interested in writing for magazines means that you have an idea of what you want to say. When I started contributing for an upscale lifestyle and fashion magazine, I knew that I wanted to channel my interest in arts & culture and pop culture into something that would eventually build my portfolio as a credible writer. I started by writing book and music reviews. Then I started featuring visual artists and art exhibits. Soon, I was making a name as an art writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed attending and writing about exhibit openings, artists, and artworks. I was by no means an art critic and had no Fine Arts background whatsoever, but because I enjoyed all forms of art and was open to immersing in it, I soon became comfortable with my “beat.”
Your own experience might be different, but it should start with a focus in mind. What is it that you want to say? Who or what will your subjects be? What is the point you are trying to make? Why will the readers of that particular publication be interested in your story, and why should the editor decide to publish it? How is it in any way relevant to the brand and the message that the publication is trying to build and protect?*
3. Pitch your story to the magazine’s editor.
Once you’ve figured out enough about your preferred medium and the story you’d like to share, then comes THE PITCH. This is the process by which you introduce yourself to the editor and try to sell your story for them to publish. Undoubtedly, this can be the most intimidating and challenging part of the writing process, as it takes your idea right out of your hands and onto the territory of somebody else. You might be in love with your story idea, but the editor you’re pitching it to might not be so convinced. Or, someone else may have already written a similar story–thereby rendering your pitch useless.
There are many factors that affect how–or if–a story eventually sees print, and it helps to take note that, whatever the outcome, it is usually nothing personal. I myself have gone through A LOT of rejected pitches, and it’s often just a matter of angling your story idea another way or developing a new story altogether  to get yourself back on track.
*If these questions sound daunting, don’t worry. Writer’s Block Philippines holds regular workshops on freelance writing, and we’ll take you through different topics such as writing features, the art of the interview, building your own brand as a freelance writer, practicing your pitch, and other topics that will help you build a career (and make more money) out of freelance writing. Check out our website for workshop schedules.

Here are excerpts of this blog post. Click here to view the original article and read The Art of Changemaking.

~ NTZ

Freelance writing for magazines isn’t as easy or as difficult as it first appears to be. Depending on one’s exposure, experience, and connections, it can be as easy as downloading a free iPad app–or it can be as daunting as  preparing one’s own multi-country travel itinerary from scratch (both of which, by the way, I have found myself preoccupied with as of late). Regardless of the level of difficulty, however, writing is very often a fulfilling and exhilarating process, and for freelance writers the kick that one gets out of seeing one’s byline immortalized on print can be quite addictive. I, for one, will never tire of seeing my name on print.

To help the budding writer make sense of the process, I’ve summarized here some of the key points that DJ Vince and I have talked about this morning:

1. First things first: know your medium.

During this morning’s show, I first mentioned that those aspiring to write for magazines should, first of all, get to know the publication they want to write for. (I failed to consider that freelance writing can also take the form of writing for television, radio, or the Web, so here I’m editing myself and saying: first, know thy medium.) What does that entail? Study the medium’s format and tone, the audience it’s trying to reach, its contents, its overall messaging.

Does it come across as wholesome or edgy? Mass-based or niche market-driven? Upscale or budget-conscious? Is it writing with an authoritative tone, or is it trying to be your best friend? What are its sections? What kinds of subjects are usually discussed there? Does your writing style fit in with it?

2. Next: develop your topic.

Just the fact that you’re interested in writing for magazines means that you have an idea of what you want to say. When I started contributing for an upscale lifestyle and fashion magazine, I knew that I wanted to channel my interest in arts & culture and pop culture into something that would eventually build my portfolio as a credible writer. I started by writing book and music reviews. Then I started featuring visual artists and art exhibits. Soon, I was making a name as an art writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed attending and writing about exhibit openings, artists, and artworks. I was by no means an art critic and had no Fine Arts background whatsoever, but because I enjoyed all forms of art and was open to immersing in it, I soon became comfortable with my “beat.”

Your own experience might be different, but it should start with a focus in mind. What is it that you want to say? Who or what will your subjects be? What is the point you are trying to make? Why will the readers of that particular publication be interested in your story, and why should the editor decide to publish it? How is it in any way relevant to the brand and the message that the publication is trying to build and protect?*

3. Pitch your story to the magazine’s editor.

Once you’ve figured out enough about your preferred medium and the story you’d like to share, then comes THE PITCH. This is the process by which you introduce yourself to the editor and try to sell your story for them to publish. Undoubtedly, this can be the most intimidating and challenging part of the writing process, as it takes your idea right out of your hands and onto the territory of somebody else. You might be in love with your story idea, but the editor you’re pitching it to might not be so convinced. Or, someone else may have already written a similar story–thereby rendering your pitch useless.

There are many factors that affect how–or if–a story eventually sees print, and it helps to take note that, whatever the outcome, it is usually nothing personal. I myself have gone through A LOT of rejected pitches, and it’s often just a matter of angling your story idea another way or developing a new story altogether  to get yourself back on track.

*If these questions sound daunting, don’t worry. Writer’s Block Philippines holds regular workshops on freelance writing, and we’ll take you through different topics such as writing features, the art of the interview, building your own brand as a freelance writer, practicing your pitch, and other topics that will help you build a career (and make more money) out of freelance writing. Check out our website for workshop schedules.

To read the rest of the blog post, click HERE.

Meet an indie book author at our Networking Night!

Here’s one more reason to go to our first-ever Networking Night–meet Carl Javier, a Creative Writing graduate and author of three book publications.  Get to know him a little before you actually meet him in person.  Read his bio below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Carl Javier, 29, has authored three books, And the Geek Shall Inherit the Earth (Milflores:2009), Geek Tragedies (UP Press:publication pending), and The Kobayashi Maru of Love (Youth and Beauty Brigade: 2010).  A graduate of UP Diliman, he earned his degree in English Studies majoring in Creative Writing.  He has been a fellow to the Dumaguete and the UP National Writer’s Workshops (2003 and 2005, respectively) and the UP Advanced National Writer’s Workshop (2009).  His fiction, creative non-fiction, and criticism have been seen in print in a number of anthologies and publications.  At present he is associate features editor of The Philippine Online Chronicles.

ABOUT KOBAYASHI MARU OF LOVE

“Javier’s post-breakup essays, universal in scope and galactic in magnitude, trace the chronological arc from the lover’s disconnection notice, the final severance, and the getting by–which, depending on one’s predilections, can be the road to ruin or the ultimate fast track to freedom.  By turn elegiac riff and breezy romp, these essays are the work of an original mind at play.”

– From the introduction by Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta

Be a member of Writer’s Block Philippines and get exclusive deals and information for writers!

A group for writers, by writers.

Now you can mingle and talk shop with fellow writers at Writer’s Block Philippines’ (WBP) membership group. Open to writers of all sorts, the aim of this membership group is to establish a venue for writers to associate with people who share the same passion for the written word.

SIGN-UP and become a member now! The Php 1,500 membership fee is valid for one year and comes with the following benefits:

  • A personalized membership card with free shipping within Metro Manila
  • A 10% discount on Writer’s Block Workshops or the early bird rate, whichever is lower
  • Complimentary passes to selected events (*on a first-come, first-serve basis)
  • Exclusive discounts from our membership partners:
    • 10% off on selected treatments and services in Studio Zen
    • 10% off on universal adaptors and other cool gadgets for the mobile lifestyle from MiLi Philippines
    • 10% off on accessories for Apple products from OPT
    • 10% off on food purchases at Peanut Butter Company, except for peanut butter jars
    • Plus more deals and treats coming soon!
  • Exclusive access to specific website content
  • Subscription to our e-group to get the latest updates on WBP’s activities, and more

To register, FILL OUT THIS ONLINE FORM and deposit the payment to our bank account. Please email us after and don’t forget to attach a copy of your deposit slip and indicate the bank branch so we can process your membership application as soon as possible.

Account name: Writer’s Block Training Services

Account number: BPI Savings Account 1759 0377 11

You may also use the Paypal button on the right sidebar.

For more details on membership benefits, or to sign on as a membership partner, please email writersblock.ph@gmail.com or call (0927) 850 8280.

 

What was your first time like? Tell us here!

What was your FIRST time like?

Here’s your chance to hobnob with fellow writers, editors, and people from the industry! Writer’s Block Philippines will be holding its first-ever networking event on September 25, 2010 (Saturday), at Mozu Café. It’s the start of a series of networking nights where you can mingle with other writers, meet and greet editors, do craft and skills building, and participate in many more activities.

For our introductory networking night, we want to hear the juicy details about your first time—your first job, the first time you saw your name in print, your first kiss… Get ready to divulge the details of this memorable event with people who share the same interest as you.

SIGN-UP NOW to attend the first networking night for only P150; the fee is inclusive of a complimentary drink. Members of Writer’s Block Philippines can attend the event for FREE! Limited slots available so be the first to register.

Mark the date—September 25, 4:00-6:00 pm! See you then!

Mozu Café
Linden Suites Tower 2
Amethyst Road
Ortigas Center, Pasig City