Member Success Stories

ASJA offers so many opportunities for members to connect with potential clients and with each other, which hopefully lands us all more work. Share your success stories with us! Contact marijke@medhealthwriter.com 

Member Name: Robert Davey

Success Story: My story was published in Penthouse. 

How I Landed the Gig: At the 2014 ASJA Conference during the Client Connections event I met Christine Colby, at that time the managing editor of Penthouse.

I told Christine about some misrepresentations the Bush administration had made in 2007 about its authority to wiretap some Iraqi insurgents who had captured three U.S. soldiers. 

I had done the story once already, for the Village Voice, but I wanted to write it again and include some additional reporting. I told Christine about a military regulation that would have permitted the electronic surveillance of the Iraqis without needing to follow procedures set by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. I also had questions about a whistleblower's leaks to the New York Times, and about two of the documents released by Edward Snowden, as reported by the Guardian newspaper. Christine said the story might be a fit for Penthouse.

That fall the executive editor of Penthouse, Barbara Rice Thompson, gave me a contract, and the story was published in the July/August, 2015, issue of Penthouse. I was very happy with the way it came out in the magazine.

Net result: $1,500

Comment: I would say my decision to apply to join ASJA certainly paid off unexpectedly when I met Christine at the 2014 Client Connection event and subsequently wrote the story for Penthouse. 


MEMBER NAME:   Marijke Vroomen Durning, Montreal Canada

SUCCESS STORY:  Found a new client.

HOW I LANDED THE GIG:  I've met many writers online and I have formed online friendships with them, but meeting them in person at ASJA conferences has made a difference in how we see each other, I think. There's a lot of value to face-to-face meetings, learning more about people in real life, rather than just a colleague on the other side of my computer screen. I've since received referrals from and given referrals to several writers I've met at the conferences. One such referral I received in 2015 has led to thousands of dollars of continued work from one particular client for over a year now. I wouldn't have known about this client had I not been referred. 

NET RESULTS: around $50K so far in recurring assignments.

COMMENT:  I truly believe that my connections with colleagues through ASJA has provided me these great opportunities. My annual fees and conference costs will have been covered by this one client for a long time to come.


Member Name:  Jerome M. O'Connor, Elmhurst IL

Success Story: I sold a book proposal to a publisher through agent John Willig of Literary Services.

How I Landed the Gig:  I write about the little known or ignored, but highly significant people, events, and, most especially, the existing places of the 20th Century, World War II being its most important event.  A standout example among many, was the discovery in 1977 of the fully furnished but forgotten Churchill Cabinet War Rooms in London. For years my wife had been urging me to expand upon the features I’d written, and then write a book.  I attended the 2016 ASJA annual meeting with one objective: persuade an agent at Client Connections that the book would be different in its methodology and revelations then the many thousands of books about the war, and that it should coincide with the  75th anniversary of the end of World War II, certain to be an international event.  With John Willig of Literary Services, it became an immediate connection.  After the brief pitch I asked for his opinion.  "On a scale of one to ten, I would give it an eleven," he said.  He knew exactly where to send the proposal and shortly after submission it was sold to Lyons Press, Guilford CT, an imprint of Globe Pequot Publishing and affiliate of Lanham, MD based Rowman and Littlefield. The book is expected to be released in early 2019.

Net Results: A two-part advance was quite satisfactory as were the extra efforts John Willig made to ensure that royalties across all platforms were covered.  Soon after the sale became known in trade media, inquiries were made for film documentary rights as well as translation rights, both of which and more John ensured were included in the contract.   

Comment:  My long-term membership in ASJA paid immediate dividends with the single meeting with John Willig, and the knowledge that book publishing, even with the ongoing changes in the industry, still needs that essential link between an author and a publisher, a well-connected agent. 


Member name: Ronni Gordon, South Hadley, MA

Success Story: Stories for Next Avenue and Women’s Running

How I landed the gig: Both came out of the public day at the ASJA 2016 Conference in New York.

Net result(s): $350 from Next Avenue and $50 for Women’s Running

Comment: After meeting Next Avenue’s Richard Eisenberg at the session  “Freelance Forever: Keeping Secure and Prosperous Later in Your Career,” I followed up with a pitch that he accepted. I talked to Cindy Kuzma after her presentation on “Conference Success Stories” and she gave me good advice about pitching to Women’s Running. Richard, Cindy and the other ASJA members I talked to were so friendly and helpful that I decided to apply to the ASJA to get the full benefits of membership, which I hope will include more work!


Member name: Nancy Kriplen, Indianapolis, IN

Success Story: Broke into monthly consumer publication 

How I landed the gig(s): Virtual Client Connections

Net result(s): $2100 for 1300+ words

Comment:  I had never pitched on Skype before and ASJA did all the heavy lifting through VCC: arranging for a good editor, scheduling efficiently, providing detailed technical instructions. This was fun, a chance to pitch and work with a new editor and a wonderful benefit of ASJA membership.  


Member name: Michele Meyer, Houston, TX

Success Story: Breaking into Costco Connection, a quest I pursued for years (possibly a decade)

How I landed the gig: I participated in the first Virtual Pitch Slam.

Net result: $400 -- thus far.

Comment: Within 48 hours of the VPS in October 2016, I had a really fun assignment from an editor who has been a dream to work with. Here’s hoping the readers enjoy the experience as much as I have. I'll post the story on my website (www.MicheleMode.com) as soon as it runs! The organizers of VCC and VPS are creative and passionate about connecting ASJA writers with editors.


Member name: Christopher Johnston, Cleveland, OH

Success Story: For the 2011 ASJA Conference, I moderated a panel “Breaking Into Business Books,” which featured three literary agents, including John Willig. We hit it off and stayed in touch. I always tried to connect with him to at least say hello and chat for a few minutes at the following conferences. Last year, he sold a book for me.

How I landed the gig: After spending seven years reporting on and interviewing people about the topic, I wrote a cover story that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in February about Cleveland’s success with new, innovative approaches to rape and sexual assault cases. I had a significant amount of information and felt the story had greater potential, so I approached John about pitching a book with a national focus, since by then I had built a network throughout the US and internationally. We developed the proposal together last summer, and I turned the completed document over to him in early September.

Net result: In November, he sold the book to Skyhorse Publishing. It is tentatively titled Shattering Silences: New Approaches to Healing Survivors of Rape and Bringing Their Assailants to Justice and is planned to be published in early 2018.

Comment: As a member of ASJA, I have met a number of great writers, editors and agents, so it was nice to connect with John through ASJA and end up having a rewarding professional relationship with him.


Member name: Ashley Rodriguez, Alexandria, VA

Success Story: Finding a new publication to contribute to and establishing a relationship with an editor open to accepting my story pitches.

How I landed the gig(s): ASJA’s Annual Writers Conference in New York City, May 2016

Net result(s): Single story assignment for $1/word. Original assignment was 800 words, but I went over and my editor liked it so much he let me invoice for the full story ($1,134).

Comment: During Client Connections at the 2016 annual conference in NYC, I met with an editor from Wine Enthusiast. Turns out he was looking to include more lifestyle and fitness content online, which was right up my alley as a contributor to Running Times and RunnersWorld.com — and the wife of a sommelier. He asked me to research “running somms” and a few days after the conference we re-connected, I shared my findings, and I was officially assigned the story.


Member name: Mickey Goodman, Marietta, GA

Success Story: I landed a book agent and a new client who is interested in two pitches.

How I landed the gigs:  Virtual Client Connections and Virtual Pitch Slam.

Net result: a NY book agent and (hopefully) breaking into Costco Connection!

Comment: I’ve had success at the NY conference landing a few well-paying clients, but could never get past the lottery in VCC or VPS. Recently, I hit the Mother Lode. I “won” two editors in VCC. The first was a wash – the second was the key. The moment I mentioned the name of my memoir client, Don Panoz, agent Roger Williams of the Roger Williams Agency, expressed strong interest. He called me back later in the day and asked for the proposal; two days later, he requested the manuscript. Voila! We had an agent. The next hurdle: finding a publisher who is equally as excited. The Virtual Pitch Slam was a fluke. I didn’t win the lottery, but signed on as a listener. To my surprise, those who were pitching finished early and Wendy Helfenbaum gave me an opportunity to pitch. I was totally unprepared, but proposed several ideas. He has tentatively accepted both for future issues. Without ASJA, Wendy and Jennifer Goforth Gregory, I wouldn’t have met either.


Member name: Lisa Rabasca Roepe, Arlington, VA

Success Story: Assignments from Next Avenue and Sage Publications.

How I landed the gig(s): I had requested speeding pitching Richard Eisenberg of Next Avenue during Client Connections, but I didn't get that opportunity in the random drawing. After he retweeted one of my tweets during the conference, I sent him an email introducing myself and expressing an interest in writing for Next Avenue. He invited me to send him some pitches via email, and he bought three. I pitched Kenneth Fireman of Sage Publications through Virtual Client Connections and got a $2,000 assignment. 

Net result(s):  $3,050

Comment (about ASJA and value of your membership): In addition participating in Client Connections both at the conference and virtual, I also participated in a SIG this year. I have met many incredible and helpful colleagues through ASJA and some of them have even referred me to well-paying clients. The value of ASJA is priceless.


Member name: Wendy Helfenbaum, Montreal, Quebec

Success Story: Breaking into a custom publication

How I landed the gig: I met a West Coast ASJA member at ASJA’s regional conference in Chicago in 2014. We chatted about our respective niches, and I got in touch with her via email afterwards when I saw her byline in Ford’s custom magazine. She generously connected me with her editor, who immediately assigned work based on this member’s recommendation.

Net results: Three assignments at $1.50 per word so far, and hopefully more to come. 

Comment: “Through ASJA I’ve discovered that in addition to attending conferences and participating in networking programs, you can land work by getting to know other members. Not only will you make friends, but you’ll quickly learn that peer networking is very valuable. One conversation with this member turned out to be quite profitable! Finding work through other professional writers is a great way to leverage my ASJA membership."


Member name: Karen Kroll, Chanhassen, MN

Success Stories: Breaking into two trade magazines: ABA Journal (publication of the American Bar Association) and Inbound Logistics

How I landed the gigs: Client Connections, Chicago 2014 & NYC 2015

Net results: Five figures’ worth of ongoing assignments

Comment: "I never would have found these trade publications on my own, or even thought to look for them. The editors are wonderful to work with, and the stories are interesting--more so than you might think."


Member name: Sandra Beckwith, Fairport, NY

Success Story: Thanks to ASJA, I've written two cover stories for trade magazine Inbound Logistics in the past year and am writing for the magazine on an ongoing basis. The first assignment was especially challenging because I wasn't familiar with the industry, but each article has gotten a little easier as I've learned more. The topics I'm assigned are interesting, too. 

How I landed the gig:  I met with the editors during Client Connections at the 2015 NYC conference

Net results: A new source of steady income.

Comment: “I got my first assignment in October 2015, the same month that my anchor client of the past eight years or so went out of business. The timing couldn't have been better. I am very grateful to ASJA for helping me connect with a source of interesting, ongoing work."


Member name: Debbie Abrams Kaplan, Westfield, NJ

Success Stories: Long-form research story for Sage Business Researcher; assignment from content marketing agency Kingfish Media

How I landed the gigs: Client Connections at ASJA's Washington conference, 2015; Virtual Client Connections 2016

Net results: $6,000 assignment from SAGE; $1,300 assignment from Kingfish Media

Comment: “I'd never heard of Sage before, but several ASJAers were already writing for them. A Client Connections meeting with an editor there resulted in my 15,000-word healthcare piece published in March 2016. I heard Kingfish Media’s Cam Brown speak at the ASJA 2015 conference, on the content marketing panel, and then got a VCC meeting with him in April 2016. He said they match up writers with the right client and to stay in touch. I didn't do a good job staying in touch, but he contacted me out of the blue six months later with an assignment to write two articles for one of their clients. The pay was good and it was a positive experience. I hope to work with them again.”


Member name: Randi Minetor, Rochester, NY

Success story: Eight books and counting for Callisto Media

How I landed the gig: ASJA Freelance Writers Search

Net result: $31,000 to date

Comment: I answered an ad looking for an author with a background in writing about Alzheimer’s disease. I have significant personal experience with this, so I gave it a shot. Three weeks later, I had a contract to ghostwrite a 35,000-word book in three weeks. The experience was great for all of us, and the editor came back to me to write two other books, also on a short time frame. Since then, I have received two or three assignments every year on a wide range of topics. Thanks to these short-deadline books, I have landed a great deal of business from other clients in the medical fields. The experience with Callisto has allowed me to give up a number of less lucrative clients and replace them with much more fulfilling and enjoyable work.


Member name: Kelly K. James

Success Stories: Found a new client; started freelancing for Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (MXM)

How I landed the gigs: Freelance Writer Search; Client Connections NYC 2014

Net results: A $1,498 assignment; 10 assignments averaging $450 each so far

Comments: “I never would have known about the first project had it not been for FWS; the piece was simple to write and client paid me via PayPal the day after I turned it in. Win/win! I met with Dan Davenport of MXM, and he mentioned that my background seemed perfect for one of the custom publications MXM produces. Since then, I’ve received at least 10 assignments from several editors at MXM. Meeting Dan in person got my foot in the door."


Member name: Victoria Finkle, Washington, DC

Success Story: Finding a steady client through conference networking

How I landed the gig: ASJA’s DC Conference, August 2015

Net result: Three assignments, each worth several thousand dollars. In discussions to start a third 

Comment: "I connected with the editor at Sage Business Researcher (who has since left the publication) after a panel session at ASJA's DC conference, while I was still feeling out the idea of going full-time freelance. We stayed in touch over the fall and I locked down my first assignment with Sage before I left my job. That was a great confidence boost, and Sage has since become a regular client for me." 


Member Name: Debbie Koenig, Brooklyn, NY

Success Story: Multiple assignments from Eating Well magazine

How I Landed the Gig: Client Connections (then called Personal Pitch), 2014 ASJA conference in New York

Net Result: 10 assignments in 2 years, yielding thousands of dollars

Comment: I sold a pitch at Client Connections in 2014, and have since received multiple assignments from three different editors at Eating Well. The best part, speaking as someone who doesn’t enjoy pitching: All those subsequent story ideas have come from my editors. I haven’t had to pitch them.


Member name: Estelle Erasmus, Fort Lee, NJ

Success Story: Breaking into Next Avenue/PBS

How I landed the gig: Met the editor at the 2016 May ASJA Conference 

Net result: One 1000 word assignment (combination of service/personal essay; no interviews) for $350. 

Comment: “I met the editor at one of the panels at ASJA's 2016 NYC Conference during nonmembers day (although I am a member). It was a publication that I'd wanted to break into for a while, so I was thrilled when the editor liked the idea I pitched, "My Career Reinvention After Becoming a Mother in Midlife."  I have other ideas that I'll be pitching as well. 


Member name: Joanne Cleaver, Manistee, MI

Success Story: New client: SAGE Business Researcher

How I landed the gig: I met with then-editor Mary Anne Taggerty at the Washington DC regional conference. I thought it was meh but she followed up immediately, saying she loved our ‘connection’ and that my thirty-plus years of business reporting was just what she was looking for. She assigned, and I completed, my first assignment, a 10,000 word report on the topic of meetings (oh, come on, I made it interesting!) for $6,000. She subsequently left and I’m now working with the new editor on a report about why women aren’t breaking through in big numbers to the top echelon of corporate leadership. Same length, same money. 

Net result: $12,000 in assigned & completed business. I expect to do two of these reports annually. 

Comment: I had never heard of this publication until the Client Connections meeting at the DC conference in August 2015. They’re a great fit, and this is exactly why Client Connections is such an invaluable service for all ASJA members. 


Member name: Catherine Dold, Boulder, CO

Success Story: I got my very first book contract as a direct result of my ASJA membership.

How I landed the gig: A few years ago ASJA member Howard Eisenberg posted on the Forum that he needed a co-author to update a book that he and his wife Arlene had written with a doctor back in the early 1990s. The subject was addiction and recovery. I knew nothing about addiction, and I'd never written a book, but I knew of Howard and Arlene's great reputations. (Remember "What to Expect When You're Expecting?" That was Arlene.) I got in touch with Howard, and he and Al J. Mooney, MD, and I started talking about a collaboration. Once we got the green light from our publisher, Workman Publishing, we spent an entire year writing the second edition of The Recovery Book: Answers to All Your Questions About Addiction and Alcoholism and Finding Health and Happiness in Sobriety. It was a wonderful project with two of the best co-authors on the planet. I also developed our website and handled all of our social media outreach. www.TheRecoveryBook.com 

Net results: Full co-author credit on the cover, one-third of royalties, and an advance large enough that I could focus entirely on the book for one year. Also, my very first radio interview - a half-hour on WGN Radio in Chicago. In 2015, we won the Outstanding Book Award from ASJA. 

Comment: None of it would have happened if not for ASJA.


Member name: Chelsea Lowe, (Boston, MA)

Success Stories: I've received incredible generosity from ASJA members and the writing community in general.

Net result: About $59,000 over the years.

Comment: Alisa Bowman sent her agent a letter introducing me, simply for the asking. Brette Sember posted about a work-for-hire situation that became my first book deal. Blane Bachelor introduced me to my favorite long-term client, at a time when it couldn't have been more helpful. Former member Erik Sherman taught me how to read contracts, and has been my go-to for so many questions. Former member Anita Bartholomew taught me how to stand up for myself during contract negotiations. ASJA members have hired me to edit their books or other projects: Susan Weiner, Candy Harrington, Sally W. Grotta. Several members have become IRL friends. Michele Hollow provides consistent feedback and support on creative projects. Beth Levine has advised me about writing for musical theater. ("Don't!"  I'm kidding.) Not career related, Sally Abrahms got me a Newsweek byline! Caitlin Kelly found my go-to furniture mover. David Holzman advised me on new-car buying (or, in this case, not buying).


Member name: Jennifer Goforth Gregory, Wake Forest, NC

Success Stories: Found an anchor client through volunteering; met a new client

How I landed the gigs: Attended the 2014 Chicago ConCon Conference; met new client at NYC conference 2015 cocktail party

Net results: First gig: $30K as of Sept 2016; second gig: $1,200 assignment

Comment: While volunteering at ASJA’s Chicago ConCon conference, I met many fellow members and got to know them much better because we were working together. After the conference, one member asked me to work for her on a project, which has turned into a wonderful anchor client. I would never have gotten to know the member on this level without my volunteer efforts. Then, I met editor Lori Greene during the cocktail hour at the NYC Conference. I was bummed that I hadn’t gotten to meet her during Client Connections, so I quickly introduced myself to her and exchanged cards. I followed up a few times, but didn’t hear anything back. Then in July 2016 (14 months later), she emailed me to offer three articles for Masthead Media. Often, contacts don’t turn into clients right away, and even if you don’t get CC appointments it’s still possible to land a new client. 


Member name: Jennifer Fink, Mayville, WI

Success Story: Found a new client

How I landed the gig: Client Connections at ASJA’s New York conference 2015

Net result: $7800 as of Sept. 2016

Comment: I’d never heard of the magazine District Administration, a trade publication aimed at school administrators, but I’ve been covering education ever since I met a Scholastic editor at my first ASJA conference, in 2009. So I requested – and got – a meeting with the DA editor during ASJA 2015. That meeting has since led to 6 feature assignments, 2 news shorts AND an feature assignment with their sister pub, University Business (another pub I’d never heard of). The best part? They come to me with ideas, and they’ve turned into a pretty consistent source of work.


Member name: Jodi Helmer, Charlotte, NC

Success Stories: Client Connections, Virtual Client Connections and Freelance Writer Search assignments

How I landed the gigs: Attending multiple CC events; VCC, January 2016; a FWS ad from 2012

Net results: At least $100,000 in assignments. I found an anchor client, Allan Richter of Energy Times, through CC in 2010 (back when it was still called Personal Pitch). Over the years, Allan has assigned $5,000+ in work annually and continues to be one of my favorite editors to work with. I also met the agent for my first two books, Marilyn Allen, through CC, securing $25,000 in advances. More recently, I've sold three stories to Costco Connection Canada ($1,950) thanks to a VCC connection. I also wrote several features ($1,000 to $1,500 each) for a mental health mag that posted a lead on FWS. These are either markets I wouldn't have known about or connections I wouldn't have made without ASJA. The investment in membership has paid off in spades!

 


Member name: Emily Paulsen, Kensington, MD

Success story: Re-write of an association website

How I landed the gig: Client Connections at ASJA’s Chicago Conference, November 2014

Net result: $5000 assignment 

Comment: At the Chicago conference, I met with an association for healthcare professionals. It was not an organization I had thought about working for before, but I thought there might be a connecting point or two. We talked about my experience covering health and nutrition topics and how I had covered research topics for other organizations. They liked that I could write for professionals as well as consumers, and said they had several projects coming up that I might be suited for. I followed up after the conference, and they said they'd be in touch. More than a year later, they contacted me to re-write a section of the association's website. An appointment I set up "on a whim" in 2014 turned into a lucrative assignment in 2016! Patience and persistence pay off!

 


Member name: Teresa Meek, Seattle area

Success stories: Two new recurring content marketing clients since January.

How I landed the gigs: NewsCred came through January’s Virtual Client Connections, created by innovative and energetic ASJA member Jennifer Gregory, and the second one - a recurring content marketing gig - was posted on the ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ section of the ASJA members’ forum, also by Jennifer.

Net results: For the first gig: 1 or 2 stories a month, each paying $700; For the second gig: ongoing stories for $300-$500, depending   on length and interviews. 

Comment: One easy 10-minute Skype interview through VCC landed me this client, whom I never would have found otherwise. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs listings are reposted from places like Media Bistro and Journalism Jobs, but if you don’t have time to keep up with sites like this, they’re a handy way to spot potential opportunities.

 


Member name: Jane Langille, Toronto, Ontario

Success stories: New assignment with The Costco Connection Canada; new content marketing client.

How I landed the gigs: Costco: Virtual Client Connections, January 2016; new content marketing client: VCC, April 2016.

Net results: Gig #1: one assignment for $650 and two adaptations of US stories for $500; gig #2: A white paper for a healthcare research organization through a content marketing agency, $4,000, a spin-off gig to write three advertorials based on the white paper, for another $1,950.

Comment: I recommended that Costco editors participate in VCC and had not written for the Canadian editor for a while. I served as a volunteer host and also scored a meeting in the lottery. Speaking live was an excellent opportunity to get reacquainted and land a new assignment. Even better: I know at least two other members who got assignments. And I’m very grateful another ASJA member recommended that the agency CEO should participate in April’s VCC. 

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