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  • I'm a writer, journalist, and the editor of The Gambit, the alt-weekly newspaper in New Orleans.

    Journalism: My work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Globe & Mail (Canada), The Times- Picayune (New Orleans), The Oregonian, and Willamette Week, as well as in magazines including Details, Vogue, Publishers Weekly, and Portland Monthly.

    Publishing: Tight Shot, my first novel, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Its sequel, Hot Shot, was roundly ignored by everyone, but was a far better book. I'm also a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

    Stage: I was a member of the Groundlings and Circle Repertory West in Los Angeles, and am a playwright (see "Stage" in the right-hand rail).


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« Write for free!: Not everyone in Chicago is thrilled with the Huffington Post | Main | Write for free!: Critical raves for the Huffington Post's Chicago début »

August 19, 2008



Good luck on this. I'm not being a smartass: honestly, good luck to you on trying to point this out. I just know from sad experience, though, that until the money to pay editors runs out, it'll keep going forever. You just have too many wannabe and has-been writers willing to work for free because they figure a shiny new venue might give them their big break. The quality may diminish as the more talented realize that they're never going to get paid and that the exposure isn't worth it, but they're just replaced by more zombies.

It's not just here, either. Look at the number of daily and weekly newspapers that pay their top bloggers by the click, and you'll usually see about five to ten who were promised that they'll be brought on at those lofty rates "once you've proven yourself". Well, after a year or two of free contributions, why the hell should they pay? The venue already has a year or so of content, which is usually owned outright by the venue so the blogger can't take it elsewhere, and if readers ask what happened when the blogger quits, all they'll get is a snotty "This person no longer works for us." In most cases, particularly with film or music commentary, the venue can just hand the blog over to a new grunt, and most readers wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

This is why while I agree with what you're trying to do, I'm very dubious as to whether it'll actually happen, because you just have too many hungry wannabes who assume that all they need is a break. Just as with the number of hungry young actors moving to Los Angeles who figure that doing "just one" on spec porno will give them enough credit to move to bigger things, you'll always see wannabe writers willing to be screwed for free. Unfortunately, our business is one where we're all whores, and most of us are perfectly willing to do an all-nighter, complete with bunny suit and enema bag, for IOUs.


A colleague of mine puts it best: too many publications take the first part of "freelancer" literally.


I do the same on HumidCity with one exception: I don't make a penny either. A subtle but elegant difference...

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  • Booklist:
    "A worthy successor to Tight Shot, Allman's insider view of the seamier side of Hollywood is not only hip and entertaining but also has something serious to say about our insatiable hunger for tabloid thrills."

    Washington Post:
    "Barbed, breezy and often pretty and entertaining. Allman can be very funny, and Hot Shot complements nicely the less forgiving takes on Los Angeles as the future of us all. "



    "Allman turns a very sardonic pen loose on Hollywood's glitz-and-glamour crowd in this entertaining first novel... An impressive debut and an almost sure thing for a sequel."

    New Orleans Times-Picayune:
    "Allman clearly knows those of whom he writes. He's got L.A. nailed."

    Publishers Weekly:
    "Snappy debut... Readers will look for a sequel."


    A French Quarter convenience-store clerk has a hilariously traumatic encounter with a pair of Shreveport tourists. Part of Native Tongues 3 (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2001; Steppenwolf Theatre, Chicago; 2006).
    An upper-class black caterer finds comeuppance and redemption. Part of Native Tongues 4 (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2005).
  • MY-O-MY
    A recreation of an evening at the notorious New Orleans 1950s female-impersonator nightclub My-O-My (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2005).
    A lonely man discovers purpose when he intercepts a televangelist's letters from his neighbor's mailbox. Part of the Dramarama New Plays Festival (Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans; 2004).
    A black father discovers that no good deed goes unpunished when he helps his white neighbor bail her son out of Orleans Parish Prison. (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2004; Walker Percy Southern Playwrights Festival, Covington; 2007).
    An evening of comedies. In The Stud Mule, the world's richest woman arranges to be impregnated by a doltish escort; in Snatching Victory, an earnest college student runs afoul of her lecherous professor and the dour head of a women's-studies department (Le Chat Noir, New Orleans; 2003).


  • Patty Friedmann: <i>A Little Bit Ruined</i>

    Patty Friedmann: A Little Bit Ruined
    One of the first post-Katrina novels, and probably destined to be one of the best. Friedmann's sequel to Eleanor Rushing finds her crazy heroine still holding everything together after the storm (after a fashion), until she has to leave New Orleans and she falls apart physically as well as mentally. Mordantly, morbidly funny.

  • Tom Piazza: <i>Why New Orleans Matters</i>

    Tom Piazza: Why New Orleans Matters
    The best post-Katrina book I've read. In 150 small pages, Piazza explicates the New Orleans experience simply and beautifully. I'll be passing this one on to anyone who wonders "But why would anyone want to live there?".


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