Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Library - My Second Home

When I'm not working at home (reading, writing, re-writing, staring at the wall) you can usually find me at one of the area's libraries (reading, writing, re-writing, staring at the wall). I use the libraries to read newspapers and magazines that I don't subscribe to (Harvard Business Review, Barron's, Wall Street Journal and others). I also use the library to find books on the subjects I'm writing about. When I want to write gags about cooking or food, I borrow books about cooking and food. When I want to write business gags, I check out new books about how to succeed in business, prepare for job interviews, avoid getting fired, etc. I also seem to check out a lot of new books about money and finance (saving money, saving for retirement, not having enough money, etc.)

I'm also always looking for new books about cartooning (developing ideas, writing great captions, etc.). If I find a new book of cartoon collections, these go home with me as well.

I have to say that working in the library has its ups and downs. Usually I can find a comfortable chair in a reading area, where I can get comfortable, with a pad of paper next to me and my reading material in hand. Of course, other people have the same idea. Most are quietly reading like I am, trying to find a spot with minimal noise. However, there are some people who will use these quiet areas of the library to make and receive phone calls. There are others who find a comfortable chair and take a nap, snoring so loud that it's almost impossible to concentrate. When that happens I usually leave the area and either find another "quiet" area or get a study room to myself.

Here are a few books I seem to read again and again for inspiration:

* "The Cartoonist's Muse - A Guide to Generating and Developing Creative Ideas" by Mischa Richter and Harald Bakken.

* "How about Never - Is Never Good For You" by Robert Mankoff.

* "The Complete Cartoons of the New Yorker" from 2004, edited by Robert Mankoff.

There are many, many others I go back to when I need some inspiration. Now it's back to work!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Getting Together with Like-Minded People

As a cartoon gag writer, I spend most of my days looking for material. To find this material, I read a lot of newspapers and magazines, watch a lot of TV news, read stories on specific websites, read relevant books, etc. All this is pretty much done alone, either at home or at a library. But I realize more than ever that it's important to get together with others who understand what you do, are encouraging, can offer suggestions and help, and may be able to hire you. I've received some of my best leads concerning who I could write for from like-minded creative people I've met at social gatherings. It's really important to get together with others who do what you do, who even if they don't do exactly what you do, can be supportive of what you do. People who tell you you're a good writer or a good artist. This encouragement is necessary to keep on going when sales are down and the confidence level is at an all-time low.

So, I plan to follow my own advice. I know I have to get out of the house and be with people! I used to regularly attend events of the National Cartoonists Society in my area but, because of the distance and time involved, I've slowly drifted away from it. I plan to go back. The Long Island chapter of the NCS will be holding its monthly luncheon later this month and I plan to be there. The Manhattan chapter of the NCS will be holding their annual holiday party in December and I plan to be there. The New Jersey chapter is having a large get-together in January and I plan to be there. The relationships you make in pursuing any creative endeavor cannot be underestimated. I'll let you know how it all goes.

Comments? You can email me at:

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Still Writing...

I have to apologize for not writing this blog for the last several weeks. I've been very focused on writing gags (which is a good thing!) specifically geared toward the needs of the people I write for. Some of the cartoonists I write for only want business gags. Others want relationship gags (husband/wife, my favorite!). Some want gags centered around animals while others want gags that have no category...they're just "different." So, it's important that I keep up with the news (especially the election), read newspapers, magazines, direct mail, anything that might lead to a good gag. Sometimes just commenting on situations you find yourself in will lead to a great cartoon. The best humor is based on truth. Anyway, I've been busy reading, writing, editing, getting organized, you understand. I'm constantly trying to improve on what I do.

I know I need to get out of the house more and experience life. Try new things. Go places I've never been before. Writing is isolating and I have to push myself to get out and trying writing in places other than my house, such as the library or a coffee shop. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn't. I have to say I find great humor in the whole going out to eat experience (lousy food, awful service, long lines, nasty wait staff, high prices, etc.). I think if I ate all my meals out I would come up with so many cartoon ideas that I could retire and just eat out for the rest of my life. Forget the gag writing.

Anyway, today I'm writing husband/wife gags but I'm always looking for business gags. Today I'll read my local daily newspaper, watch the news, try to fit in The New York Times and Barron's, and  will most likely have to put off reading the latest issue of Harvard Business Review till tomorrow.

Have a great day...and keep creating! I'm always on the lookout for new writing opportunities or to be part of a cartoon panel discussion. Send me an email to:

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Tonight! Bob Mankoff Speaks at the Museum of the City of New York

Bob Mankoff, Cartoon Editor of the New Yorker, will speak at the Museum of the City of New York tonight at 6:30. The talk, titled, "New Yorker Cartoons Past, Present and Future with Bob Mankoff," should be a great evening of cartoons and laughter. There's still time to buy tickets at the museum's website: I plan to be there.

Also, the New Yorker Festival, an annual event, features three days of interviews, film screenings, panel discussions and book signings. Topics include: politics, art, music, books, film, TV, theater, comedy and current events. This year's festival is scheduled for Oct. 7-9. For more information and a complete list of events go to the magazine's website, and click on "Festival."

Other than that, I spend my days reading and writing. Any comments, you can email me at: Have a great day! 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bob Mankoff at the Museum of the City of New York

I wanted to let you know about an upcoming event I plan to attend. Bob Mankoff, Cartoon Editor of The New Yorker, will speak at the Museum of the City of New York on Thurs. Sept. 8 at 6:30 pm. The program, titled "New Yorker Cartoons Past, Present and Future with Bob Mankoff," should be a great evening of laughter and cartoons. I've attended many of these New Yorker cartoon events and they're informative and a lot of fun.

For ticket information go to the museum's website:

Hope you can make it.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Few Thoughts at the Beginning of August

I think that a fundamental quality of a gag or comedy writer is the ability to see the humor in the world around us. You have to be able to see through the arrogance, phoniness, get the idea...and see the "funny" in what people say and do right in front of you. I guess you could call it being critical, having a skewed way of looking at things, or just having a sense of humor. You just have to be able to see how funny people are. I write a lot of gags about myself and those closest to me. The conversations that go on in my house - right in front of me - between me and my husband and our children are funnier than a lot of stuff on TV. Maybe I should be writing for TV. My motto continues to be: Anything is possible.

The other night I was having dinner with my extended family and someone asked me about my sales to The New Yorker (where the cartoon contained my gag). Of course I had copies of these cartoons in my bag which I promptly circulated around the table for all to see. I was asked how I work - how I come up with my ideas. I told them I read a lot and write down words and phrases that can be used in my captions. As those in attendance looked at these cartoons and asked wonderful questions like, 'That's yours?' I was so proud of what I helped produce. Someone remarked that the cartoons were "timeless" and "classic" and would make people laugh for many years to come.

Isn't that what we're doing this for?

Any comments? Send me an email at:

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Summer Slowdown

It seems like the whole world is on vacation in July and August and no one is buying. June wasn't so great either. That's fine. I actually took a week off in June myself. My favorite season is summer and I try to get to the beach as often as possible. But, it's been a really slow summer for me sales-wise. I know that cartoonists and editors are on vacation and can't be reached. This is the case in many professions. The world of work seems to take a vacation in the summer and come back to life in the fall...hopefully!

When things are slow - "holds" but no sales, no "holds" and no sales - it's very easy to get discouraged. I check my mailbox constantly beginning around 2pm even through my street is now at the end of the route and I get my mail around 5pm. Great expectations and great letdowns. I also check my email constantly for news of "holds" and sales. Again, great expectations and many days, great letdowns.

All is not terrible, however. I really love what I do and find great pride in seeing my ideas and captions in published cartoons. I get excited when I talk to others about what I do even though many  don't really understand what I do. Sometimes I don't either. Actually, I've received a lot of support and congratulations from members of my family and friends who do understand. It keeps me going. So does talking to other writers and cartoonists. Even though I write alone I need to get together with other creative people who can help and inspire me. For me, this is very important.

I've learned a few things about how I can be more productive. I know that I'm much more alert in the morning and therefore need to do my actual writing then. Many times by 4:30 or 5pm I'm ready to call it a day. I also need to prioritize what's the most important thing to accomplish that day and do that task first. I also know that I need a quiet place to write. When I'm sitting in the library trying to read a newspaper and come up with new ideas and someone sits down next to me who's talking on their phone I'm just kidding myself to think I can accomplish anything there. Best just to move to a better location.

Well, it's time to get back to work. It's early morning and I have writing to do.

Any comments? Write to me at: Enjoy the rest of the summer!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I Could Write A Book

There's a lot of rejection in this business of gag writing. If you can't take rejection, this may not be the career for you. I've been doing this for many years and I still get frustrated and discouraged when nothing seems to sell. Cartoonists take very few of my gags. Cartoonists hold my gags but very few sell. I seem to be recycling gags from one cartoonist to another. Then I write lots of new ones - topical ones - business gags - gags about what's trending - and these seem to fall flat as well.

I know I can do this because I've got three portfolios of published cartoons whose ideas and captions are mine.

I'm still trying to fine-tune what I do. Over the years I've written for many cartoonists - some I still write for almost 20 years later - many I no longer write for. From the cartoonists who I currently write for I'm constantly re-evaluating how I can write better - how I can zero in on what they want - and, also - when it's time to take a break and focus on what I'm good at and can easily do.

I've written other things as well. I told you I have a background in news and feature writing, advertising copywriting, editing and proofreading. I believe my background in advertising definitely helps with my cartoon gag writing.  I actually read ads - and the copy provides ideas and phrases that I use in my gag writing.

Many times I've said to myself and members of my family, "I could write a book." Well, in a way I already have. I have three large portfolios of published cartoons whose ideas/gags are mine. These are the books I've written. It's all my writing. It's my outlook on life. And when I get discouraged I need to go through these books and tell myself that I wrote all this and I will get published again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Interview in "Ink Spill"

In last week's entry I told you about attending a cartooning event at the Museum of the City of New York on June 29th which featured a panel discussion by four female New Yorker cartoonists. It was a great evening as I was able to meet  some of the cartoonists I had never met - each with their own styles and personalities. I was also able to meet Michael Maslin, also a New Yorker cartoonist who has a blog on his website which focuses on news and events of the magazine and its cartoonists. I read this blog every day and it's very informative and interesting. I introduced myself to Michael at this event and he asked if he could interview me for his blog. A week later he did and the final product can be found by going to and clicking on the icon on the upper left hand side: his "Ink Spill" blog. The entry is dated July 7th.

The interview goes into depth about where I get my ideas, how I work, the process by which I send gag ideas to syndicated and non-syndicated cartoonists and a few of my opinions about the role of the cartoon gag writer. Included is a gag slip which shows how I would send a gag to a cartoonist via regular mail and the resulting cartoon in The New Yorker. When I admitted in the interview that I don't draw, Michael asked me to draw a tree for the article, which I did. It appears in the interview.

I guess if you're interested in finding out how I work, reading this article could be very informative. I've already received many positive comments about the interview. I thank Michael Maslin for the opportunity to do this.

If you have any comments about this article or a previous entry on my blog, send me an email to:


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Two Outstanding Cartoon Events

Not that I spend all my time attending social gatherings, but I see it as a very important part of being a gag writer. I recently attended two wonderful cartooning events six days apart that I'd like to tell you about.

The first, the "Bunny Bash," was held on June 23rd at the home of Bunny Hoest of "The Lockhorns" fame, on Long Island. It's an event for the Berndt Toast Gang, the Long Island Chapter of the National Cartoonists Society. However, cartoonists from the local group and across the country plus many other invited guests gather at Bunny's home each June for a wonderful day of friendship, great views of Long Island Sound and terrific food. I've been a member of this group for about 17 years and it's great to speak to others who do the same type of work I do. There's also plenty of  opportunity to make new connections.

At this year's Bash, Bill Morrison, NCS President, presented Bob Lubbers with the "Gold Key" NCS Hall of Fame Award. George Booth, celebrating his 90th birthday, was presented with a huge cake. To compile a list of cartoonists who were in attendance would be exhausting, but a few more were: Mort Drucker, Mort Gerberg, Sam Gross, Sy Barry, Sandy Kossin, John Reiner, Hilary Price and Adrian Sinnott. A great afternoon in a great location!

I also attended a panel discussion on Funny Ladies of the New Yorker at the Museum of the City of New York on June 29th. Four female New Yorker cartoonists, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Barbara Smaller, Liana Finck and Liza Donnelly, discussed their cartoons and where they get their ideas. Some other cartoonists in attendance were: Michael Maslin, Roz Chast, George Booth, Bob Eckstein and Isabella Bannerman. I really enjoyed hearing about where the panelists get their ideas and meeting new people. I walked away inspired and ready to get back to work.

I also realized that I'd like to be part of a panel discussion - where I'd be able to tell my story, and how I come up with ideas.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Staying Current"

With the Presidential race in full swing and changes occurring hour by hour, I try to keep up with the latest election news, which itself can be frustrating. I read newspapers. I watch TV news about four times a day. I listen to news radio. I read election-related stories online...and the list goes on. The phrases and key words are what I use to create cartoon gags. Some of the election gags can be submitted now; others will be submitted later in the campaign if they're still relevant. Like I said, changes are occurring hour by hour (and sometimes minute by minute).

On the topic of staying current, I rely on (again) newspapers, radio, magazines, the Internet and new books to find out what's trending. I try to find what millennials are talking about, how they talk, and what they're buying, reading and watching on TV. All this I must do if I'm going to write about current stuff. Even though I may not have kept up with the current stuff before, I have to at least try to find out about it now. (Hey! I listen to a radio station which plays songs from the 70's and 80's, and I love it!) I still read newspapers. I use a flip phone. My home phone does not have "Caller ID." I own lots of vinyl records. I do not have satellite radio in the car. I have a VCR player that we still use. Actually, this makes it easy for me to write about how technologically "behind the times" I am, so there are rewards. 

Because of all the reading I'm doing to stay current, my vocabulary seems to be greatly expanding. I'll read a story on what's trending, or what young people are doing nowadays, and, because I don't know what they're talking about, I'll have to look up definitions of words and phrases on Google. Everything gets written down in my notebook.

I'm learning so much!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Drawing From Your Own Life

We're right in the middle of a Presidential election and I'm keeping busy writing lots of political gags. Of course I read newspapers, magazines, watch TV news and listen to news radio, trying to take advantage of the great material out there and turn it into something that's funny.

At the same time, I realize that the best humor is based on truth. If you can write gags based on the experiences that we all share, if your humor is based on the crazy things that go on in your life (your family, your friends, your enemies, the things and people that drive you nuts) people will be able to relate to it and will find it funny as well. I can easily write about people who are technologically behind the times because I am. I can write about middle-aged couples who sit around the house and watch TV every night because my husband and I are one of them. I can write about people who live for "buy-one-get-one-free specials because...well, you get the picture.

As I get older and have more experiences, and maybe a little more ability to see things as they actually are, I'm able to write about the things that actually have happened to me or are about me. I constantly draw on my own experiences when I write. I'm writing about and making fun of myself, but nobody really knows that, except maybe those closest to me. There's a ton of funny material based on my life! When I make the comment, 'I could write a book!' I really mean it. I haven't written a book. It's all in my captions.

Anybody agree with any of this? Send me your comments at:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Some of the Things I'm Doing This Week

In order to supply gags to the ten or so cartoonists I send material to, I read constantly: The New Yorker, Newsday, The New York Times, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, Reader's Digest, Harvard Business Review (and I'm sure I'm missing something). I don't actually read every word of every publication. I have to pick and choose the sections and the articles. I also read stories on The New Yorker's website, mostly the political articles, to keep me up-to-date with what's happening.

Right now I'm also reading "Peter Arno: The Mad, Mad World of The New Yorker's Greatest Cartoonist" by Michael Maslin. I've been waiting for this book to be published to find out more about the cartoonist's life and where he got his ideas. So far the book is full of interesting material and very well written. I recommend it to anyone who's interested in New Yorker cartoons.

I own a copy of "The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker," which was published in 2004 and includes two CD's containing all the cartoons which ran in the magazine from 1925 to 2004. When I run out of ideas and need some motivation, I go through random years of cartoons for inspiration. It always helps.

Besides all this, with political news all around us, I get updated by listening to news radio and watching national and local broadcast news three to four times a day. I also get news briefs on my computer. And, my notebook follows me from room to room. I've got to write it down. I don't want to miss anything.

After this political season is over, things might seem quite boring.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Busy Writing Political Gags

This post will be short because I'm keeping very busy writing political gags. I live in New York which just finished off a very active primary vote. The newspapers, radio stations, TV stations and the Internet are full of stories - lots of material for gags. As I've said before, I read constantly and write down phrases and words that pertain to this presidential election. And, of course, the road to the White House has many twists and turns. You have to make comments about what's going on and, of course, you have to keep updating your material.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Using Trending Words and Phrases

We're in the middle of a very active political season and this gives the gag writer and cartoonist lots of material.

I read several daily and weekly newspapers plus a few magazines. I'm constantly looking for words, expressions and phrases that appear again and again during this political season. While reading news and feature stories, or scanning the internet for trending political buzzwords, I write down anything that I feel could be used in my gag writing. You want to find words and phrases that are familiar...and used over and over again. Just placing the familiar phrase in an unfamiliar situation can be the basis for a cartoon. You can take the phrase and use the opposite of it. You can also take the phrase and substitute a new word for something that was there before. Ultimately, you're trying to create a surprise.

I find that reading articles on The New Yorker's website,, brings me up to date with what's trending in politics. I also read various sections of the Sunday New York Times plus my local daily newspaper, Newsday. I'm also receiving a lot of political flyers in the mail and I read these as well. I also look through published cartoons and see if they generate any ideas that can be used. Certain situations are used over and over again: prisoners, heaven, hell, gurus on mountaintops, job interviews, the Grim Reaper, animals talking to each other, bosses talking to office workers. You can change the situation, or the caption...there are no limits to where you can go. But I think it all starts with the words (ideas).   

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A Few Tips on Working Well with Others

First of all, I missed posting new entries on my blog for the past few weeks because, honestly, I've been very busy working, which is a good thing. I've taken on some new writing assignments lately and this has become a top priority. I plan to return to posting new entries on a weekly basis starting today.

You probably already know what I do. I provide gags for syndicated and non-syndicated gag cartoons. I see this as providing a service to my customers. I spend lots of time getting new customers and then keeping those customers happy. I guess working in print advertising sales for many years has given me this mindset.

Here are a few things I've learned over the years about getting and keeping customers:

1. ALWAYS TRY TO ACT LIKE A PROFESSIONAL. Be professional in how you approach new customers and how you deal with them when you have their business. If you're interested in developing new business for yourself, your website and your profiles on LinkedIn or Facebook should also highlight what you do, always in a professional manner.

2. WHEN YOU PROMISE TO DO SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE, DO IT. And if you can't, tell them why the work will be delayed or why you can't handle the assignment at all. Be honest. Don't make a lot of excuses.

3. WHEN SOMEONE PAYS YOU FOR WORK YOU PROVIDED, THANK THEM. Let them know you appreciate their business.

4. ALWAYS TRY TO BE POSITIVE WHEN DEALING WITH CUSTOMERS. Don't speak negatively of anyone, especially on the internet.

5. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT THE OUTCOME TO BE. Always be thinking of what the goal is (more sales together, usually).

6. DO MORE THAN WHAT IS REQUIRED. If some asks you to send them 10 to 20 gags, send them 25 good ones. Let that person know that you're reliable and are willing to give more.

7. WHEN ONE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS HAS A BIG SALE, CONGRATULATE THEM.  When the cartoonists I work with have a big sale to a national publication, even if I'm not the one who provided the gag, I try to send an email of congratulations. When you make a big sale people will congratulate you as well.

These are just a few things I've learned over the years. If you have any questions or comments, shoot me an email at:

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Getting Organized

In order to be productive in this business, I have to be organized. I make "to-do" lists every afternoon with the work I have to do the next day. And then as I accomplish these tasks, I cross the item off the list. Doing this gives me a great sense of accomplishment...the goal being to cross off every item  by the end of the day. Some people might say this is crazy, but it works for me. I write for a lot of people and I've set up a system to send them gags on a regular basis. I'm not saying I don't veer off from this routine when I need to. Doctor's appointments, illness, loss of Internet access, having to tend to a sick family member, a really bad toothache, a car that won't start...all these things can get in the way of keeping a regular schedule. But, like I said, writing and sending out gags on a regular basis works for me. (I also write lots of things on a calendar before they make their way onto my "to-do" list).

I also give myself incentives to work. I could easily spend hours on the Internet checking out long lost friends from high school and college (where are they now?), reading endless posts from friends on Facebook or going out to lunch. Because this work is very important to me, I have to focus on it, sit in the chair, read newspapers and magazines, write, write and do more writing.

One of the other things I have to do each week is exercise. I used to go to a gym and work out on the treadmill. At some point I dropped my gym membership and now exercise at home, which for me consists of dancing 45 minutes to a disco tape. No more driving to the gym in snowstorms or the dark of night. (I reward myself after exercising by checking my email).

One other trick is to stop working (for example, for lunch or dinner, or at the end of the day) in the middle of something. It's a lot easier to pick up where you left off on a project than to start a new project. (Try really works!) Again, everyone works differently. I'm a morning person and am at my desk and ready to work at 8am every morning (unless something comes up, like a bad toothache) and I'm usually ready to quit for the day at about 5pm. I'm just more alert in the morning so that's when I work on the things I really have to concentrate on. Again, it works for me.

Any comments, send me an email at:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Helping Others Helps You

You rarely see "help wanted" ads for cartoonists and gag writers. In order to find work in the area of cartooning you have to make contact with other people in the same field and be willing to help them. I've found that when you help others, by giving them information, leads or referrals, the same type of help comes back to you. I've referred a cartoonist looking for a gag writer to another gag writer because I didn't have the experience in the type of writing they were looking for. This gag writer then gave me a lead of a cartoonist who uses writers and this has led to many sales. I guess you could say what you give to others comes back to you.

It's really important to keep in touch with as many people as you can in the cartooning and gag writing field. Be the first to ask them what's new - what they're working on. Take an interest in their work and who they work with. Congratulating them when you hear about a sale, or a book deal, or a cartoon that's just been syndicated. People love to talk about themselves and what they do. All of a sudden you're in a conversation about who buys what, who uses writers, who uses cartoonists - it's a wealth of information. Then you have to act on it. If someone tells you so and so uses writers you have to make the first move. You have to do the research and figure out if you can provide the type of writing that this person is looking for. And then you have to find a way to contact them, whether by email, social media, letters (who writes letters anymore?) or picking up the phone. Then you have to sell yourself by letting people know what you do, what you can offer, all in a professional manner.

Good luck...and keep in touch!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Importance of Hanging Out with Other "Creative Types"

I work alone and I'm sure most of the people who read this blog do too. When I'm super busy and I'm accomplishing things the time goes by very quickly. I don't even realize I haven't spoken to anyone except the members of my immediate family all week. However, when the words aren't coming and neither are the checks it can get boring, frustrating and lonely.

I believe it's important to find people who do the same type of work I do and "talk shop." I attend meetings and events of the National Cartoonists Society where I'm able to talk to people who understand what I do. This seems to motivate me and helps me to keep doing this every day. If I can't physically be with others who understand what I do I try to keep in touch with other gag writers and cartoonists online or even  by phone. Again, getting assistance, encouragement and feedback from others motivates me. So does getting an email telling me something I wrote sold. So does seeing my work in print. And, of course, getting a check in the mail and making that deposit is a great motivator as well.

What I'm trying to say is when you work alone you don't have people at the next desk to bounce ideas off of. You don't have people down the hall to ask a question to. Sometimes I ask myself that if I stopped doing what I'm doing right now would anyone care. Getting together with others in the same boat lets you know you're not the only one who is:

a.) experiencing rejection (lots and lots of rejection)
b.) checking the mailbox 35 times a day to see if the mail arrived with a check you've been waiting for
c.) waiting months (or years) to find out if something you wrote (or drew) actually sold.  

Any comments? Email me at:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Always Be Looking For New Opportunities

With a background in news and feature writing and advertising, two years ago I decided to write gags full time, which I had been doing on the side for the past 20 years. Over the years I've written for many cartoonists...several of whom I don't write for currently. Right now I'm writing for five syndicated cartoons and five cartoonists who submit to various publications. Cartoons, with my gags, have appeared in The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, First for Women, Playboy, the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and many others. Oh, and I also do proofreading for a marketing company. I started this blog about eight months ago with the goal of helping people write better gags and letting them in on what it's like to be a behind-the-scenes gag writer.

I'm always looking for new writing opportunities. I search the Internet for syndicated cartoons I feel I can write for and, if so, I contact the cartoonist to see if they use writers. I have a profile on LinkedIn and Facebook and regularly try to connect with new people who I may be able to work with. I also scan job posting sites for new writing opportunities on a regular basis. I'm planning on writing a children's book - something completely new for me, but something I feel I must do. Sometimes I'm amazed at the work I've been able to develop for myself since I started doing this full time. I also feel that there's a lot more I could be doing. There's always room to grow.

I would ask that if anyone needs assistance with cartoon gag writing, please let me know. I can be reached by email at:

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Upcoming Election Can Be A Gold Mine -Part II

As a sequel to the entry I posted last Wednesday, I just want to say again that the upcoming Presidential election is ripe for humor. It's everywhere you turn: newspapers, magazines, radio, television, websites, podcasts and so on. Unless you're living in a cave, you can't get away from it. And what an election it is. Between the caucuses, primaries, debates, candidates winning, candidates losing, candidates dropping out, there's plenty of material out there.

Like I said last week, I watch local and national news, I read daily and weekly newspapers, I read weekly magazines, I listen to news radio. I jot down items, locations and phrases that will be used in my gag writing. I place the characters in unfamiliar places, like desert islands or at heaven's gate, and let them do the talking. I'm always trying to match up phrases in unfamiliar situations. Sometimes it leads to humor - sometimes it doesn't.

I don't write political gags, but I just don't think this Presidential election can be ignored. I'm writing the gags now because I don't want to miss out. There's plenty of twists and turns in this election...and it's only February.

Good luck writing!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Upcoming Election Can Be a Gold Mine!

Every newspaper you pick up, every television station you watch and every radio station you listen to has information about the upcoming presidential election. Even though the election isn't until November, we're in the midst of caucuses and primaries. Soon we'll be reading stories about the conventions set to take place in July. And then it's onward to the election.

The presidential election is just too large to ignore. Even if you don't write political gags, which I don't, you can write gags about how people decide who they're voting for, how bothered they are about the constant phone calls and direct mailings, what else they will be doing on Election Day. The bottom line is, this election is ripe for humor. And, all you have to do is read a newspaper or magazine, watch the national news on TV or listen to the radio. First of all, it will make you more knowledgeable about what's going on but also allow you to more easily write gags. Just like you would write about any other subject, you can jot down lots of phrases and words about the election, which will then be used to write gags. You can have your characters change settings or periods in history and have them discuss the subject. You can also slant gags you already have to refer to the election.

Like I said, I don't write political gags, but I can write about what the hipster thinks, or what the old couple watching TV at night thinks, or what kids think. I can also write about the character who has no interest in the election at all. Can't be bothered.

Good luck with it...and make it funny!

Any comments or questions, please send me an email at:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hard Work Does Pay Off

I think my writing has reached a new level. I can honestly say that I'm writing better gags than I wrote 20 or so years ago when I started doing this type of work. Of course, if you ask me how things are going when I'm making no sales and no checks are coming in, I may not be so enthusiastic.

When I look back over the gags I wrote 20 years ago I sort of cringe. But, in my defense, I started writing captions for single-panel cartoons not knowing what I was doing. I taught myself by studying business cartoons, reading everything I could find about how to write comedy and cartoon gags with no background doing this at all. Previously, I had written hundreds (or was it thousands?) of one-liners and sold many of them to comedy services to be used by disc jockeys, speakers and comedians. One day I realized that these one-liners could be illustrated and turned into a cartoon. My writing career changed!

Fast forward 20 years and today I'm writing gags for four syndicated cartoons and about five other non-syndicated cartoonists. The people I write for has changed considerably over the years.  Cartoons, with my gags, have run in The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, Barron's, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Better Homes & Gardens, First For Women, Reader's Digest  and many, many other top publications. The syndicated cartoon I've written for the longest? The Lockhorns. I love to write those husband/wife and mother-in-law gags (and now I am a mother-in-law!).

I plug along at gag writing everyday (at least five full days a week plus many nights and weekends). I read constantly and the phrases I jot down in my notebook become gags. I get away from my desk occasionally and actually do things, go places, observe and make comments about what I hear and see, which many times becomes the basis of new cartoons. I read The New Yorker every week and additional stories on their website, The 2004 book, "The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker," has become my textbook.

I believe that if you find the thing that you really enjoy doing the work becomes easy. It's not really work. You enjoy doing it. Sometimes I think back to all the jobs I've held since I graduated college. There have been great ones and some not so great. This work experience has provided me with lots of material (so has being married and having children). I believe my writing has greatly improved in the past 20 years and I'm writing things I never imagined I would. I continue to work at it every day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Writing Gags

Because I'm a cartoon gag writer, I need to come up with new material on a daily basis. Besides reading constantly, being aware of new trends, keeping up with what's going on in the world, I realize I have to know the basics - how to actually write a gag. Gags (jokes) have two parts: a straight part and a twist. There are many books out there which will help you write good gags, but basically you have a straight part (think of it as a statement) and the twist (something unexpected at the end). If you can understand this, you can write gags. Books on this topic go much more in depth as to how this is done (for example: using fewer words for greater impact; always having the punch, or twist, at the end; the use of opposites) but this is the basic formula.

As I've explained in other columns, when I write gags on a particular topic, like the upcoming election, I make it easier for myself by making a list of anything I can think of that has anything to do with elections, such as: debate, polling place, candidate, contributions, cast your ballot, absentee ballot, acceptance speech, concession speech, answering questions, etc. These items, places and phrases will be used in my gag writing. It's like assembling different colors of paint before you start painting. It makes it much easier.

I also think you have to know the audience or publication you're writing for by studying the type of gags and cartoons they use. Different publications have different voices. If you study enough cartoons, or gags, in any one publication, it becomes part of you.

I also think you have to know yourself and be honest about who you are and what your opinion or outlook is. If instead of using all the latest technology you're stuck back in the Ice Age, you can easily write about how much you enjoy being back in the Ice Age. You can poke fun at yourself for being back in the Ice Age and also poke fun at those who are 'on trend.'

Any questions about any of this, feel free to email me at: Be well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Working Harder in 2016

As I begin a new year of writing, I'm constantly fine-tuning what I do - what I spend my time on. And I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not writing enough. I've come to realize that I need to spend more time on the things that are easy for me and which are most productive. I know I have to spend much less time on the things that distract me, are unproductive and simply just a waste of time.

Right now I'm focusing on my work, with writing and more writing every day...and, guess what? It's working. I'm producing many more gags and, I think, of a higher quality, because I'm putting in the effort. Because selling gags often takes a lot of time, I may not see the rewards of my efforts for awhile, but I feel better about it because I feel more productive. I'll let you know how this extra effort goes. It can only be good.

I wanted to let my readers know of a special event in Manhattan next week. The Long Island chapter of the National Cartoonists Society is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year with an art show featuring present and past members January 5th through February 27th at the Society of Illustrators. An opening reception, featuring a buffet and music, plus the appearance of many of these artists, will be held at the Society, located at 128 E. 63rd Street (near the corner of Lexington Ave.) on Wednesday January 20th from 6-9pm. Some of the artists whose work is on display include: Sy Barry, Stan Goldberg, Ray Alma, John Reiner, Valerie Costantino, Joe Giella, Al Scaduto, Bill Seay, Mike Lynch, David Gantz, Bill Hoest and Roberta Fabiano. Cost is $25. You must RSVP to Adrian Sinnott at Prepayment is necessary and when you RSVP Adrian will tell you about the prepay options.

Any questions about this column, please send me an email at:

Continued success to all my readers in 2016!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Be Willing To Try New Things

As I start the new year - 2016 - I'm trying to be more successful at what I do. I'm trying to write better gags and sell more of them. To accomplish this, I'm keeping a regular schedule; focusing on the goals I've set for myself; getting rid of the projects I'm not good at and going into new areas of writing and speaking.

Over the years I've written for comedians, disc jockeys and public speakers before I even started submitting material to cartoonists. In some ways I was very successful writing one-liners for these people but for some I was very unsuccessful. I also used to sell a lot of ideas to companies that produce humorous buttons and magnets. I tried to do this again a year ago and could not sell one idea. But, I tried, and when you try something and fail it lets you know that this is not the right thing for you at this time. So, you focus on the thing that you do well. That comes easy to you. And, you get better at it.

Just because I'm a writer it doesn't mean I can write anything. Far from it. I can't write poetry. I have no interest in writing novels. Or cookbooks. Or technical manuals for computer companies. What I seem to do best at is write humor...making fun of situations, people and all the crazy things that we encounter on a daily basis. This is what comes easy to me. This is where I focus my attention.

I also think you have to be willing to try new things - go into areas you haven't gone into before. I've written gags for single-panel gag cartoons for almost 20 years. This year, I started writing for multiple panel cartoons - something I had never done. I figured out how to do it by studying multiple panels, getting books out of the library about cartoon writing and focusing on what I needed to know to do it. And, I have to say I've been successful at it.

So, it's important not to limit yourself. It's important to make note of all your writing and/or drawing skills and figure out where you can use them.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the things you can accomplish.

Continued success to all my readers! Any questions or comments, email me at: