In my new Zoom course for SUNY Adirondack — “Ideas: Mining for Freelance Writing Gold” – I will share strategies that I have used profitably as a professional writer in both the magazine and book fields. One of those strategies inspired my book Amazing Animal Actors. Here’s the scoop:

I’m a fan of the television game show Jeopardy, and my favorite categories relate to movies and television. One episode featured the category “Animal Actors.” I followed along as contestants responded to questions about Arnold the Pig, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. That got me thinking:  How many other animal actors could I remember? I grabbed a pencil and paper and brainstormed my initial list. That led me to do an Internet search where I discovered other animal actors to fill out my roster of about 100 animals in film and on television from the 1930s to the 1990s.

That extensive list and the charming stories I researched about the animal actors and their trainers convinced me that I had my next book. I pitched the idea to Taylor Publishing Company and received a book contract. That led me to locating and interviewing the trainers of many beloved animal actors to learn about what went on behind the scenes. I wrote the manuscript, and Amazing Animal Actors was published in 1997.

What You Want to Know is a strategy that relies on the mental sparks of question marks to lead you to ideas for content that would be ideal for articles, short stories and books.

If you want to learn more, register for “Ideas: Mining for Freelance Writing Gold” that I will teach on Zoom for SUNY Adirondack on Saturday, September 25, 2021 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Click here for the college’s catalog or cut and paste this link:,%20Language%20and%20Communication

Blogger Bio: Pauline Bartel, M.A., is a nationally known author and writing consultant who helps aspiring writers become published authors. Her byline has appeared in more than 100 national publications, including Boys’ Life, Seventeen, Mademoiselle, USAir, Sky, The Saturday Evening Post, Woman’s Day and Writer’s Digest. She is a member of the prestigious American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). Contact her at