On March 15, 2022, Stephanie Larkin of Red Penguin Books and I had a vibrant conversation about the work I have done in my ghostwriting and memoir writing business. I founded Writer For Hire in 1990 and since then, my writing business has evolved. In this interview, I talk about the memoirs I write for seniors that preserve their legacies. I also share stories of the independent businesses that I have worked with over the years.
Back in 1996, I was employed as a Senior Writer for Boxoffice Magazine, then the premiere national magazine for the film exhibition industry. My job consisted of writing film reviews for new releases, mostly independent movies, as well as interviewing movie theater owners, film producers and directors.
I was reading some of the reviews I wrote back then and really enjoyed reminiscing about that time in my life when I would see 3 or 4 films a week and get paid to watch them and review them. What a great life that was!
Here’s an example of one of the reviews I wrote for Boxoffice Magazine, which sadly, is no longer is published:
|WAR STORIES OUR MOTHERS NEVER TOLD US|
*** I gave this movie three stars
Featuring Pamela Quill, Flo Small, Tui Preston, Jean Andrews, Rita Graham, Neva Clarke McKenna and Mabel Waititi. Directed and produced by Gaylene Preston. A First Run release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 88 min.
In this retrospective documentary, produced in association with The New Zealand Film Commission and New Zealand On Air, seven aging women recount in intimate detail their heartfelt stories of love, romance, marriage and–too often–loss, as the men were called away to World War II. Juxtaposing images of then and now, thanks to vintage war film footage and treasured sepia photographs of the interviewees, each woman relates in remarkably candid detail the way things were back then recalling their often-frantic efforts to marry before the war wrenched away the men they loved. Using a single camera, the women, now in their late ’70s and ’80s, respond to questions posed by an off-screen interviewer. As these memories bubble to the surface, so do the bottled-up emotions associated with their youth as they relive the times and memories of 50-years ago. In presenting these interviews in a simple, unencumbered format, the focus remains on the significance of the stories each chooses to tell, shedding a whole new light on world history–that of a women’s point of view. While the dialogue is occasionally difficult to understand (due to dialect differences), the film is extremely interesting and informative, presenting a range of human experiences. From the POW widow to the female army soldier captured by the enemy, to the wife of the conscientious objector who suffered for her husband’s political views, each story is unique. For those who are too young to remember a World War or even those who do, War Stories pays homage to those times. Rather than dwelling on sadness, it celebrates life–that of the survivors and the men who never came back from the war. -Pat Kramer
If you would like to read more of my film reviews, please click on this link: Writer For HireBoxoffice Magazine – Writer For Hire (writerpatkramer.com)
“TOXIC: BRITNEY SPEARS’ BATTLE FOR FREEDOM”
LOS ANGELES, CA (September 24, 2021) — Lisa MacCarley, a California Probate and Conservatorship Attorney and Executive Director of the newly-formed non-profit Bettys’ Hope, will be featured on CNN’s Special Report “Toxic: Britney Spears’ Battle for Freedom,” to air Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 5 p.m. PT and 8 p.m. ET and will re-air on October 3, 2021 at 6 p.m. PT and 9 p.m. ET. The Special Report explores the pop star’s legal battle over her toxic conservatorship which has garnered attention around the world. The #FreeBritney movement has even inspired legislators in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C. to take up the cause of guardianship and conservatorship abuse.
In Ms. MacCarley’s interview, she talks about the dysfunctional nature of Los Angeles County conservatorships and provides expert analysis on what went wrong for Britney Spears at the inception of her toxic conservatorship. The CNN Special comes just days before the September 29th hearing where L.A. County Presiding Probate Court Judge Brenda Penny will decide whether to grant Jamie Spears’ petition to terminate Britney’s 13-year conservatorship.
Attorney MacCarley fully expects that Britney will be granted whatever she requests, stating, “After being in a conservatorship that started with violations of Ms. Spears’ constitutional rights for over 13 years, I believe that the Court is mandated to dissolve the conservatorship as soon as possible. In all likelihood, Ms. Spears will walk out of this hearing with the legal ability to make decisions for herself about her career, finances, medical treatment, her prenuptial agreement, and other legal matters.”
Lisa MacCarley has been an advocate for guardianship and conservatorship reform for several years. Her support for the #FreeBritney resulted from her observation of numerous heartbreaking cases for far less – famous people. Ms. MacCarley has also appeared on the BBC Select Special, “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship,” which aired on May 11, 2021, and she has been widely – interviewed for her legal opinion by media, worldwide.
“Britney Spears’ toxic conservatorship didn’t happen in a vacuum,” states MacCarley. “It happened due to a dysfunctional court system that has been ignored by journalists and politicians until recently. I could not be more grateful for the attention that this problem is finally garnering. We are on the precipice of the Baby Boomers reaching 80 years old, and now is time to focus on what is going wrong in probate courts all over the nation. On that note, I am grateful to have been sought out by CNN news journalist Chloe Melas and her team to talk about Britney’s conservatorship and why it was unjust from the very beginning.”
Ms. MacCarley hopes that the attention Ms. Spears’ case has produced will shine a light on the changes that she believes are needed for a more just, fair, and humane probate court system.
Ms. MacCarley is available to speak to members of the press and can be reached at: (818) 249-1200 or LisaMacCarley@gmail.com or visit: http://lisamaccarley.com.
Twitter @lisamaccarley; IG @lisamaccarley
To learn more about Bettys’ Hope, please visit: http://www.BettysHope.com (Facebook: BettysHope).
On Thursday, June 23, 2021, I attended a virtual webinar called “How to Survive the Big One,” co-sponsored for KPCC FM and the Los Angeles Times which featured the foremost earthquake scientist Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist and authority on earthquake safety. Also on the webinar were L.A. Times earthquake reporter Rong-Gong Lin II, scientist Jacob Margolis, Patt Morrison from the L.A. Times and KPCC’s Austin Cross. Being this is something I feel is of the utmost importance and a timely issue (with two earthquakes reported this week in L.A.), I took notes. Here’s what they said might happen if there was a major earthquake:
On Thursday, June 23, 2021, I attended a virtual webinar called “How to Survive the Big One, co-sponsored for KPCC FM and the Los Angeles Times which featured the foremost earthquake scientist Dr. Lucy Jones, a seismologist and authority on earthquake safety. Also on the webinar were L.A. Times earthquake reporter Rong-Gong Lin II, scientist Jacob Margolis, Patt Morrison from the L.A. Times and KPCC’s Austin Cross. Being this is something I feel is of the utmost importance and a timely issue (with two earthquakes reported this week in L.A.), I took notes. Here’s what they said might happen if there was a major earthquake:
Approximately 1600 fires would automatically break out, of which 1200 would not be attended to. If there are Santa Ana winds, there would be more.
There will be no electricity so there will be no traffic lights.
There will be massive landslides in the mountain so escape routes might be impassable.
A quarter of a million people would lose their homes in Los Angeles.
Plan to live without things you might need for two to three weeks.
Our electronics will lose power and cell phone towers won’t work so our cell phones won’t work. You will be able to get through to loved ones using text messaging for a while and make sure you have people’s phone numbers written down.
If you live in an older concrete building in L.A., it might not have not been retrofitted. Find out from your landlord if that is the case because when an earthquake hits, it will most likely suffer damage.
How to Prepare:
Download “My Shake” or “Quake Alert USA” from your phone app store. You might only have seconds from the early warning system.
When you get an earthquake alert, DROP AND COVER – get under a desk or a table right away. Being under a table will protect you from flying objects. (DON’T RUN OUTSIDE and don’t stand in a doorframe, it won’t help).
Be prepared: You’ll need to stock up on water: One gallon of water, per person and per pet, for each day for two or three weeks. Have ready to prepare food available and a cooking stove with fuel.
Store your earthquake supplies somewhere easy to access and not in a crowded garage.
People with developmental or functional needs will need to have a plan with a caretaker available to help them.
Medicine that needs to be refrigerated will need to be cooled in another way.
Have a radio powered by batteries. You can also use your car radio to hear the news.
Look into California Earthquake Insurance because the mortgage will have to be paid whether the foundation is there or not. If you have an older house, make sure it is retrofitted. Ca Geological Survey (CGS) can tell you if you are located on a fault line. The L.A. Times has an informational series you can sign up for called Unshaken. Read Jacob Margolis’s survival guide, available at L.A. Times.com. Feel free to watch the whole program here: Local Matters: How to Survive the Big One – YouTube
Changing things up in one’s work can be invigorating and exciting, especially if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do but never pursued. Depending on what age you are, it can be a very good plan or a very uncertain one. When LinkedIn asked me to write about #TheBigShift, I knew exactly the story I would tell – here it is:
When I was 30 years old, I took that “Big Step” into the unknown. I had been working as a radio news reporter and broadcaster for nearly ten years and I had reached the top of the paygrade for the market I was in as a woman. Women were not being paid the same as men (maybe still aren’t) and I was tired of working late night, early morning and weekend shifts at a pay that was not exactly practical for supporting myself.
My dad’s younger sister, Aunt Ronnie, lived in Los Angeles and worked in the entertainment industry as an agent for technical people on movies and TV. She and I had always been close but I had never had the opportunity to spend consistent time with her. Instead, it had been short visits whenever she was back in New England. Ronnie reached out to me around this time and broke the devastating news: she had been diagnosed with lung cancer and told that she only had six months to live! When I called her to tell her I was sorry to hear this, she asked me to come visit her – and to make it soon!
At the age of thirty, I was already dissatisfied with my life, my job, and the endless cold winters. I had been looking around for my next job, beyond the broadcasting industry, but it was looking bleak. I didn’t have job skills outside of being a writer, reporter, and communicator. I knew I would have to start all over doing “something else” but I wasn’t sure what it was. So I made my airline reservation right away and I took a few days off from my current job.
Ronnie and I finally got to spend some time together but I can’t say that it was that great. The shadow of her disease was always present, although we both chose not to talk about it.
Instead, I decided to interview for some jobs in Southern California. I had always wanted to be a writer for a record company or my dream job, writing for Rolling Stone magazine! Instead, I took another job working in marketing and sales for a Cable TV company, because again, I needed to support myself if I were to start all over again. Then, my plan was to work my way up to that dream job.
Lucky for me, I had the sales skills to convince all three companies that I interviewed with that week to hire me. One was in Anaheim, one was in Los Angeles, and one was in San Juan Capistrano. I took the job offer with the company in Anaheim and made arrangements with Ronnie to move in with her when I came back to start my job. All was looking good and I was invigorated by the thought of changing my life and leaving what I didn’t like, behind.
True to the plan, I moved to L.A. in June 1988 and moved in with Ronnie for a month while I figured out what to do for the long-term. That job in Anaheim lasted two months and then I realized I didn’t like the work culture. I ended up interviewing with another company and taking a job in Newport Beach. I moved in with some roommates in La Habra, CA and spent the weekends in L.A. with Ronnie. But a year later, I changed jobs again to work for a company in Simi Valley so I could live closer to Ronnie. When she passed, in November 1989, I had to make a decision: was I here to stay or was going to go home? I decided to stay because I hadn’t yet reached my goal of working as a writer.
The next ten years were rough. I supported myself working at an ad agency, writing PR content for three different public relations agencies, and yes, being a writer! I freelanced for many newspapers and magazines during the 1990’s, among them: Variety, Boxoffice, Music Connection, HITS, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Weekly, Insurance Journal, and the L.A. Times. Not long after Ronnie died, I launched my own writing business, Writer For Hire (www.writerpatkramer.com). The one thing I knew, deep down in my bones, was that I was going to make my certified, small, woman-owned business Writer For Hire a success, no matter how hard I had to work!
Looking back, the big, life-changing move I made in 1988 was all worth it, despite everything that I had to do to start over. I moved six or seven times between 1988 and 1995. Would I do it again at my present age? I don’t think so. You get used to certain things in life – financial security, your support systems which include co-workers, friends, and neighbors.
That being said, if I ever were to move somewhere outside of Los Angeles, I would certainly continue my business. That’s a given; it’s in my bones. Once a writer, always a writer. So when LinkedIn asked me to write an article about #TheBigShift, I knew this story would be about that change I made that was all worth it.
Had I stayed in Massachusetts and settled for a different life, I would never have experienced the life I now love. Looking back on all the hard work it took, it was all worth it. Thank you, Ronnie, for helping me make it happen. I wish you were still here to see me now.
Learn to Use a Map and Compass and Always Prepare for the Unexpected
On April 13th, the Crescenta Valley Group of the Sierra Club joined the Verdugo Hills Group to present a very insightful program called “Preventing Tragedy: Hiking Safety Tips That Every Hiker Should Know Before Setting Out in Our Local Mountains.” This presentation was moderated by Pat Kramer of the CV Group and David Eisenberg of the Verdugo Hills Group. Participating in the 1.5 hour informational presentation were four members of Montrose Search and Rescue: Doug Cramoline, Steve Goldsworthy, Janet Henderson and Cindy Weiner England who stated that if you are lost or injured or someone you know is missing, call 911. If you are in a wilderness area, the dispatcher will be able to activate search and rescue. There is no charge for Search and Rescue services.
Along with Montrose SAR, there were three instructors from the Sierra Club’s Wilderness Training Course: Will McWhinney, Chapter Outings Management Chair; Jane Simpson, Leadership Training Chair; and Lisa Miyake, a WTC instructor who gave a highly-informative talk on what tools and information can save your life, whether you are hiking alone and injured, are lost, or are with a partner and run into a problem.
If you missed this presentation, you can still watch it with this link, and please share it with your friends. It might save someone’s life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22aY0Pcy2mI
You are also welcome to access these document from this fascinating presentation:
Most of us are pretty happy to have everything we want right at our fingertips – our coffee is made by a Keurig so we don’t have to wait for our coffeemaker to prepare it, our food can be prepared faster in an air fryer than in an oven, and we have GPS on our phones so we don’t have to take the time to look at a map. Similarly, our informational needs are answered by Siri or Google so we don’t even need to do any research for answers to our questions. It’s easy to see why we also expect immediate gratification from our marketing and publicity campaigns – but that’s where things differ.
I’ve been working with clients behind the scenes on their branding and publicity campaigns for over 30 years now and I’m always amazed at how people, new to this process, expect immediate results from a small amount of work without sustaining an ongoing campaign.
I am often asked, “How long will it take for the book I am writing to become a “best seller?” Or how much marketing do I have to do to sell more of my products or services, and once I achieve a level of growth, can I stop doing the marketing and publicity?
When I get asked these questions, I like to refer to people in the music industry who are well known and accomplished like, for instance, guitarist Eric Clapton, who got his first guitar at age 13 and joined his first band, “The Roosters” at age 17. After working as a day laborer with his grandfather, a bricklayer, he was recruited to “The Yardbirds” where he achieved local success but without much financial success. Two years later, Bluesman John Mayall asked Clapton to join his band “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers,” where Clapton established his reputation as a guitarist. In 1966, after a somewhat turbulent time in his career, he joined the three-man band “Cream” which led to U.S. tours and rock stardom – however, that did not last very long. In 1968, Cream disbanded and once again, Clapton had to reinvent himself.
Clapton then formed the band “Blind Faith” which was known as a “Supergroup” however that band didn’t work out and after just one album and one U.S. tour, he was performing with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. This gig provided more songwriting experience and in 1970, he formed another band called “Derek and the Dominos” which produced the seminal rock album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” However, there were more hardships ahead – drug use and the failure of that band would send him into depression for three years, rarely leaving his estate in England.
But Clapton wasn’t ready to give up yet. In 1974, he reemerged again with a new album and over the next 30+ years, he continued to record, tour, record, tour, write, record, etc. — resulting in where he is today. The multi Grammy Award – winning singer/songwriter (18 Grammys) and guitarist never gave up when the chips were down and despite losing a child to a tragic accident, he turned that heart-wrenching loss into a beautiful song “Tears in Heaven.”
He also used his celebrity presence to raise money for the good of many different organizations – much like Bruce Springsteen, one of my songwriting and performing heroes has done, his whole career. Clapton built a treatment center on the island of Antigua called The Crossroads Centre and has funded it with benefit concerts through the years so that people in need who don’t have the funds can get treatment.
So using the example of Eric Clapton, you can look at the guitarist/song writer and recording artist and see him as a legend and an immediate success or you can see someone who has gone through tremendous setbacks in his career and yet, he has persisted — just like those of us in business must do every day. Marketing is a process; so is public relations and publicity. We build it from creating conversations about our business, our industry, and the work that we do. Building it is a process that continues through the life of the business. We don’t stop talking or writing or doing outreach to our customers when we have success and especially when we are in a low point – we keep going.
I hope you find some meaning in this comparison. We all have our personal demons and insecurities but like Clapton, who was born to a 16-year old unwed mother and raised by his grandparents, we play the cards we are dealt and we do the best we can. Don’t ever stop talking about your business, writing about it, and doing something productive to draw attention (positive) to what you do, and I promise you, you will see results.
Interviewing seniors, listening to their stories, writing down the experiences they have lived through including their birthplace, family history, experiences in their childhood, and any experiences throughout their lives that they want to share with their children or with a wider audience. This interview was done with Mary Winners of About Senior Solutions in Pasadena, California on September 24, 2020. I’ve been writing senior memoirs for several years now. It’s a great gift for seniors to know that their stories will not be forgotten.
Over the years that I’ve been a news writer and PR person, I’ve educated hundreds of clients in the use of press releases. When there is a proper occasion to use a press release, it can bring your company a number of benefits, including: clients who WANT your business, clients who are willing to PAY MORE for the services you offer, and overall admiration by your peers and business associates.
Here are two examples of press releases I recently wrote and issued for my clients:
Note that the headlines indicate an action being performed in the present time. In other words, whatever you are announcing must be timely and indicate some sort of news-oriented angle.
These releases generated between 1,500 and 2,500 views from readers, worldwide. Since both of these business professionals do a specialized type of service that caters to clients, both nationally and internationally, having a news headline that was read by that many viewers put them into a new orbit for business referrals. This is exactly the type of action you want with a press release.
Apart from that, both releases will act as a bookmark to their websites for the key search terms that describe them. So when people are Googling those terms, they will find them quickly and be able to read their press releases, which will provide further creditability.
If you ever have a question about what constitutes a good reason for doing a press release, or you would like my help in suggesting ways we can angle a press release to bring you more business, I’d be happy to hear from you.
You are also welcome to read the dozens of press releases I have on my web pages. If you need any further information, feel free to reach out to me any time. There’s a reason why I’m called “Writer For Hire.”
Today, I attended a Zoom meeting for business advisors and when I was asked for advice on what marketing strategies to use during the coronavirus age, I stated the following:
First, make time to post and blog every week on LinkedIn. This is critical now as our online presence is really all we have. What should you write about?
I’m a news journalist so I’m always thinking of ideas for this. To keep it simple, brainstorm with your staff, once a week, and write down what you know about your industry or your business that could be helpful to readers. For instance, share some strategies you are utilizing to make the work you are doing for clients more efficient, more economical, or more valuable.
Second, reach out to current and former clients and take an interest in how they are doing. Find out what resources they may need and offer to connect them with others whom you know. But don’t use this time to “sell” your services. Make it about them, not you. By doing so, you may be able to deepen your relationships beyond just a “service” capacity.
Third, spend time looking at the online presence you currently have. Is your LinkedIn up to date? When was the last time you refreshed your website content? What could you add to what you already have to improve your online materials and make them more reader-friendly?
While many of the business advisors I know are working harder than ever right now, other people are experiencing lots of downtime. See if you can use that downtime efficiently and productively to take on projects that you haven’t had time to do before.
For me, Covid-19 has been a sad time – hearing about the struggles family and friends are having with the loss of their loved ones. But rather than getting anxious or angry, sad or depressed, I’m grateful that I have a business that operates primarily online, and that can readily service my clients at a moment’s notice.
All in all, I’m pretty grateful most of the time and ready to help anyone who needs help with finding a trusted advisor or someone with a certain specialty for their business or personal life. I’m always happy to help anyone who reaches out to me. I hope you and your loved ones are well and that your business survives this challenging time.