Thursday, November 24, 2022

Dueling Turkeys - A Thanksgiving Story

On Thanksgiving, we always had two turkeys.

Dueling Thanksgiving Turkeys

My mother would cook one and bring it to my grandmother’s house where my grandmother would have also cooked a turkey.

My father carved the one my mother cooked. My Uncle Allan carved the one my grandmother cooked.

During the dual carving, family members would interact restlessly in anticipation of the feast.

My grandmother’s sister Aunt Emma, an imposing white-haired woman always dressed in a plain black dress and sensible black shoes would corner someone, usually my sister Shawn, and lecture them on the merits of Christian Science faith.

Aunt Emma’s husband, Uncle Giff, would be surreptitiously knocking back my grandmother's best booze. He didn't think anybody noticed, but it would become apparent during dinner when he would slurringly expound on ultraconservative political viewpoints seemingly chosen specifically to annoy my father.

Emma and Giff's daughters Aunt Jessie and Betty Dean would be there, too. While Betty Dean was quiet, Aunt Jessie was boisterous. We kids delighted in her fun-loving style, but she was the constant the target of disapproving looks from her sister and mother. For example, Aunt Jessie would tell my cousin Bobby and me outrageous (and obviously fabricated) stories about Cousin Helen, such as various reasons for the horrifyingly large weeping sore between her right eye and the bridge of her nose.

Cousin Helen was pushing 90 years old and had been for as long as I could remember. On Thanksgiving, she dressed in her church clothes from when she was in her twenties. Even wedging her frighteningly swollen feet and ankles into shoes, that presumably fit pre-edema. The most interesting thing about Cousin Helen was that she was not related to us. 

That's a story for later.

Back to the turkeys.

My dad was a master carver. Proud of his skill. He would slice and carve with precision and arrange the impossibly thin slices of white meat and uniform pieces of dark meat on a serving platter. 

When my mother would pick up the platter, he would say with great pride, "That's just half the bird. With a sharp enough knife I could feed the crew of a destroyer with just one turkey." If my sister and I were in earshot, that was followed by a quick lecture on the importance of proper carving. They always ended with the same piece of advice: "Make sure the bird is rested after it comes out of the oven. And you need a good knife. And it has to be well sharpened before you start. With a sharp enough knife I could feed the entire New York Jets with just one turkey."

Next to my dad, Uncle Allan was in charge of the turkey my grandmother had cooked. And he approached it like he lived his life, looking for fun and sharing that fun with anybody and everybody nearby. 

So while my old man was wielding his knife with the meticulousness of a surgeon performing a liver transplant on a world leader, my uncle was hacking away to get meat separated from bone and onto a serving platter as quickly as possible so the feast could begin. Often, with a smile and a wink, he'd flip a small piece to any kid who came close. "Bobby, catch this in your mouth." 

Both platters were brought to the sideboard, one looking like an offering that would grace the cover of "Bon Apetit" magazine. The other looking almost like someone had put a small explosive charge into the poor bird and set it off. Both alluring in their own way.

When the festivities were over, we'd drive home. A totally intact half-turkey on the backseat between my sister and me. We'd stay silent as my dad grumbled about Uncle Giff's political leanings and Uncle Allan's mangling of my grandmother's turkey using language we knew we shouldn't hear much less repeat. If my mom could move him off a Giff rant, he would mutter angrily about having missed the football game on TV.

One year, the day after Thanksgiving, as my father was carving the leftover turkey for sandwiches (and telling us how, with a sharp enough knife, he could feed our entire elementary school including janitorial staff), it occurred to me that we had brought home half a turkey. And my grandmother had sent other guests home with plates piled high with turkey and side dishes. 

 "Why do we bring a second turkey to Thanksgiving? We didn't even need one," I asked my mom.

"Well," she said with a quick glance to see if the old man was in earshot, "Your father would get so upset every year watching your uncle carve the turkey. So I told your grandmother that we needed more leftovers for the family to take home and started to bring a second turkey."

She knew how to keep the peace. And my father's blood pressure under control.

I don't think she ever told my grandmother or my father the whole truth.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

30 Resources for Freelance Writers (with 7 Free Courses)

Considering going freelance? 

Or maybe you've already taken that step.

Here are some educational resources that can help you maximize success. 

29 Training Resources for Freelance Writers


Cash Money Freelancing:  76 bright ideas to make more money from your freelance business
Tom Abrighton 

"When you go freelance, your fate is in your hands, and yours alone. No one is coming to the rescue. Very few clients will offer you more money than you ask for, no matter how deeply they value what you do. So if you want rewards, you have to hustle for them. That is an unchangeable truth of freelance life."

Secrets of a Freelance Writer: How to Make $100,000 a Year or More
Bob Bly 

"The first step to making a lot of money as a freelance writer is to avoid the 'poverty mentality' so many writers have."

The Well Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less
Peter Bowerman 

"This business, while certainly not easy, is pretty simple, and entails a logical sequence of actions to be successful."

The Wealthy Freelancer
Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage, Ed Gandia

"As a freelancer, on those days when life is filled with roses and sunshine, it's easy to stay confident and upbeat. It's when the storms roll in -- and they will roll in -- that your mental toughness will be put to the test."

Survival Skills for Freelancers: Tried and Tested Tips to Help You Ace Self-Employment Without Burnout
Sarah Townsend

“What’s your response when someone asks you why you do what you do? Your initial thought may be 'To earn money', but money is a means to an end, not an end goal. Spend some time thinking about your purpose – the thing that drives you, and the reason you get out of bed in the mornings.”

The Flying Nun, A Light Bulb Moment and Me: 40 Years Making Money As a Freelance Writer (Hey, You Can Do It, Too!)
John Riddle

Don’t always accept what is being offered to you, whether it is for a magazine or an online assignment. If you feel it is worth more, don’t be afraid to ask!

"Six great books, Scott, but which one should I start with?"

Use the Look Inside feature on each book's listing. Along with the description, you should see enough to get an idea of which book best suits your style and your current needs. 

Free Courses

Get Paid to Write -  You "pay" with your email address.

Freelance Writing Rockstar You "pay" with your email address.

3 Steps to $1,000 Freelance Writing in 45 Days or Less -  You "pay" with your email address.

Freelance Writing Path to Profits You "pay" with your email address.

Break the Freelance Matrix

Free Freelance Writing Course You "pay" with your email address.

Learn How to Make Your First $1,000 Freelance Writing (in 30 Days or Less) - You “pay” with your email address.

How to Land Your First Freelance Client  You “pay” with your email address.

Free Guides

The Recession-Proof freelancer - Learn how to find legitimate freelance writing jobs, earn a healthy income, and more. You'll "pay" with your email address.

The Ultimate Guide to Freelance Writing for Beginners -  Discover tools and resources to start freelancing and begin making money.

Paid Courses

38 Expert Tips for Writers on Medium - $49 Lessons and Exercises from the Top 100 Medium Writers & Stories

Udemy: The Complete Freelance Writing Course $99.99Start a Profitable Freelance Writing Business in 5 Weeks $99.99The Complete Freelance Writing Online Course: Beginner to Pro $109.99 

Come Write With Us - $197 Crash course on launching a freelance writing career from scratch.

Earn More Writing - $199 Topics to help you start as a freelancer.

Creative Freelancing Freedom - $247 The essentials of becoming a freelancer. 

Creative Class - $269 The business side of freelancing.

Freelance to 5K - $497 Skills you need to become a successful freelance writer.                            

The Writer’s Den - $40 per month with nearly two dozen courses (boot camps)  

Freelance University - $59 per month with over 80 courses

Free Articles

25 Things I Got Very Wrong, and Mostly Right, in 25 Years as a Freelancer - Matthew Fenton 

Go to and search freelance and get links to articles such as 7 Ways to Find and Attract Quality Freelance Writing Clients and How to Make Your First $1,000 as a Freelance Writer

20 Online Gold Mines for Finding Freelance Writing Jobs - Kelly Gurnett 

17 Freelance Writing Niches That Still Pay Big Bucks in 2022 - Karen Mackenzie  

The 5 Hardest Things About Being a Freelancer - Neil Robertson

40 Freelance Copywriter Survival Tips - Jonathan Wilcock

Tips from New York's Busiest Freelancer - Laura Tannenbaum

Free Video

Asking 6-figure freelancers what “the secret” to $100,000 is - Deya 


This doesn't fit as "training" but it does as a "resource." And free always comes in handy. Even if it's limited and positioned so the free version will ease you into an upgrade.

Free Portfolio Websites 

Journo Portfolio  free version allows up to 10 free articles  free version allows up to 10 free articles

There are many other portfolio sites suitable for freelance writers that offer a free trial (as opposed to a free version), including: Writer’s Residence, Writerfolio, Format, and Pressfolio.


More Resources:

17 Books Writers Must Read


What you get out of any training, free or paid for,
is based on 
the commitment (time, attention, practice, etc.) 
you put into that training.

Education without action is entertainment.

You can take all the courses and read all the books,
but if you don't put that information into practice,
you're not going to get where you want to go.


 I am not affiliated with or compensated by any of these courses/books/guides/articles/exercises, their authors, websites, or corporate entities. They are not listed in any particular order.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

In Praise of the List

 9 Reasons to Use Lists in Copywriting

A list can be an effective tool for copy and content writers. Lists …

… can force the reader’s eye to follow a specific path

… make it easy for the reader to read/skim

… make the complicated appear simple and practical

… give the impression of being definitive

… present a lot of information in a less daunting, digestible way

… give the reader an idea of what to expect

… offer information in a format people are familiar and comfortable with

… deliver information quickly to distracted readers

… can be easy to write with ready-made structure/organization

"I love the way a list makes a big hodgepodge of things
simmer down and behave."

Blue Balliett

"Lists simplify, clarify, edify."

Tom Peters

"Lists are a form of power."

A.S. Byatt

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Overcoming an Image Problem

In mid-1970's America, the common opinion was that light beer tasted weak. That it was a beer for women.

The Miller Brewing Company’s (now MillerCoors) wanted to increase light beer sales. To do that, they they needed to change the way their product was viewed by the majority of beer drinkers: men.

 Miller Lite - Great Taste Less Filling

Taking the debate head-on, Miller and their ad agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide focused on the message: masculine men are comfortable drinking light beer, so you should be too.

The campaign featured macho role-models, such as popular pro football players, drinking their light beer in over the top masculine ways and declaring it great tasting. Or less filling.

In the prime of the campaign, television commercials typically portrayed a friendly machismo competition between the two features/benefits, with one side of of their celebrity Lite Beer drinkers extolling its great taste followed by others who debated it was less filling.

Hilarity ensued.

The commercials then closed with: “Lite Beer from Miller: Everything you’ve always wanted in a beer. And less.”

Their “Tastes Great, Less Filling” campaign is ranked by Advertising Age as the eighth best advertising campaign in history.


Interested in beer advertising? Check out:

The Parking Spot Next to the Front Door

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