Author Archive

Dear Aliya: Two jobs. What do I do?

February 25, 2022

Discovered in my Inbox:

Hey Aliya:

Love your blog. Will send something for your ‘pitch me’ column soon.

In the meantime. I need advice. BADLY.

Graduated in May from REDACTED University with a degree in journalism/mass communication. For nine months, looking for a job. In the meantime, I have been fake-interning at an entertainment magazine (a pull out supplement in the Sunday paper) in my hometown. I don’t get paid. (I was an official intern when I was in college.) I am just here so I can keep my face visible for when a job does become available. I work in several different departments. I do get to write a little. I even work in the design department sometimes which is great because I feel like I’m learning lots of different things.

I kept hearing rumors that the editor-in-chief’s assistant was moving and that he would be looking for a new assistant. But I never saw a job listing and no one seemed to know anything definitive. I applied for two editorial assistant jobs at very well known magazines. One job is at my ULTIMATE DREAM MAGAZINE. I was pretty sure I didn’t have a chance. But thats the job i would kill for. Anyway, last week, the editor in chief at my current “job” finally asked me to apply to be his assistant. Seven other people applied and I got the job! I accepted the job and my start date is set for April 1.

Two days later, I got a call from REDACTED magazine (my dream job). I was offered a position as an editorial assistant.

The salary is 15,000 higher at my dream job. And it’s Manhattan. (I currently live about 100 miles outside of NYC)

I had already taken the other job. But I still said YES immediately to the new job.

Now I have to quit a job I haven’t even started yet. The staff there has known me since I was an intern two years ago and everyone is nice and friendly. I know I will burn a bridge forever and this is my hometown so I will see these people. My parents and my college professor told me I need to keep the job I accepted and that is wrong to do anything else.

What would you do? I really want this other job. I know you are busy. And by the time you write me back I might already have made a decision. But I’d like to get your thoughts on this situation anyway. Thanks you.

-Nott Marealname

Here’s my answer to Nott: (well, an expanded version of my answer…)


A Conversation With…John Lee

July 16, 2020

“Crispus Attucks-First Patriot Killed in Boston Massacre, March 6, 1770” by Herschel Levit

It was 2000. The tech-bubble was swelling. I was working at a print magazine. And my co-workers were leaving in droves to internet startups: UBO. Volume. 360. Hookt.

The web was the future! Print was dead! Come to the internets or you won’t have a job!

I resisted. I like the feel of magazines in my hand. Still do. Although the internets have me publishing more content in the past sixty days then I have in print in the past year. But that’s another story.

One day, someone told me to log onto a website:

Someone with inside information was throwing up stories about the new urban websites and the print media as well.

And it wasn’t pretty.

The tone was scathing (and sometimes, downright mean). The stories were packed with inside information on what was happening at all of the urban media sites and magazines. And there was a uniform way of posting photos of subjects as disembodied heads that made everyone they covered look weird and goofy:


What really struck me was that all of urban media’s secrets were being exposed. The things we talked about in bars at night over drinks. The things we whispered about in staff meetings. The juicy gossip: who was getting fired; who was sleeping with whom. Which magazines were being shut down. All of that was being published, on a website, using people’s real names.

It set off a maelstrom.

People couldn’t figure out who was behind the site. But it quickly became addictive. If you worked in the industry in the year 2000, you know you logged on to urban expose every single day—twice a day. Or more.

After a year, it was over. The man who posted as Crispus Attucks revealed himself to be John Lee, a former hacker from Brooklyn.

I never knew anything about Lee or why he started the site in the first place. I spoke with him recently to get some insight.

Lee’s complete story was new to me. I didn’t know that he was the first Black kid on the cover of WIRED magazine, in a story on his hacking crew. I didn’t know he’d served time for hacking. His life before urbanexpose is fascinating.

I spoke with John Lee aka John Threat about his backstory, why he looked at urban expose as “an experiment” and how much urbanexpose was worth at its height…

Happy Crispus Attucks Day…


July 23, 2017



If you know anything about me and my writing classes, you know I’m very serious about the importance of keeping your blog up to date.

Welp, While I’m out in the world creating and teaching and such, I’m working on a new and improved web presence.

I shall return!


Click HERE to learn more about me!



December 2, 2009

The designer forgot my middle initial.

And my name and the word “novel” will be a bit bigger.

A little tinkering will go down between now and July 4th.

But for the most part, this is what we’re working with.



Dear Aliya: They accepted my story. Why won’t they publish it?

December 1, 2009

From my In Box:

Dear Aliya:

Your site is a great resource for new freelancers. Thanks for offering your advice and experiences. I have a query. I’m still a student, but starting my career as a young journalist based in New York. I have a regular gig with a prominent website, but recently I had my first foray with print. I wrote up my pitch and sent it in (to a national weekly). Call it beginners luck but they bought it soon afterwards. I know things can move slowly with a magazine and that editors can sit on stories for as long as they want. They can even enact the dreaded kill fee. I recently filed the story and to be honest, I don’t know anything about its current status. Is there anyway to know if a story is being sat on? or whether its death is being contemplated?

Thanks much, I hope to hear your advice,



What I love about my blog is that when I hear from new freelancers, they are going through the same things I’m going through, even with ten years in the game.

My response to Alex: