You are the editor of FundsForWriters.com. Tell us what this organization does for writers.
FundsforWriters is an online resource of grants, contests, markets, publishers and jobs for writers. While that sounds generic in nature, FFW has more of a motivational flavor to its message. We attempt to research each posting, keep information very current, and update weekly. A radio announcer once dubbed me “Freelance Hope.” That’s how FFW wants to be envisioned – as freelance hope for writers. Our nine years of existence says it all. Writers love FFW. And Writer’s Digest Magazine selected FundsforWriters.com as one of its 101 Best Web Sites for Writers for the last nine years running. I’m SO proud of that.
How long has FundsForWriters.com been in existence? What spurred you to create it?
A little over nine years. The anniversary is in March. I jumped back into writing in 1998 after decades of being stagnant in my personal writing development. I wrote book reviews online. Back then, the Internet was fairly new, and people wrote for the Web like they did magazines – long and detailed. A ladies’ writing group asked me to speak about writing for the Web. The conversation took a side road when they realized my day job involved grants and managing finances for the federal government. My writing advice turned to financial advice, and soon my e-mail inbox was inundated with questions. So I started a newsletter to answer questions better. It evolved to 1,000 readers in barely three months. I figured it was a niche worth developing, as a hobby. Now it’s a full-time job, a website, four newsletters, a dozen or more ebooks, and a paperback entitled THE SHY WRITER. It seems that writers aren’t comfortable talking money and how to earn a living. They’d much prefer talking writing mechanics. I’m not about to teach someone how to write, but I’ll assist them finding employment income.
You are also a published writer. Tell us about The Shy Writer and where we can buy it.
The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success is a strong message to inhibited writers. They do not have to convert to outspoken types to make sales. While the more extroverted individual has an edge in a room full of people, the introvert has strengths as well. I used this book to help shy writers make sales, deal with interviews, and face the public. I use many of these tools in my own writing environment. I’m not a public person, and I understand how harsh a world can be to a private person. And writers tend to be introverts. It helps make them better writers. You can purchase The Shy Writer at www.fundsforwriters.com/shywriter.htm
Your novel, Hog Tied: a Carolina Slade Mystery was recently selected as a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier contest for mystery/suspense novels. Tell us about that experience.
I’m a firm believer in contests. Many writers shy away from them, thinking they are predominantly scams. Most won’t pay entry fees. I adore mysteries, and while I am a freelance nonfiction writer and editor of FundsforWriters by day, at night I pen my mysteries. The Carolina Slade mystery series takes my knowledge of agriculture, the rural environment, and the world of federal agents, and turns it into some fun sleuthing in South Carolina. I did administrative investigations in my past life, and my husband retired in 2006 after 30 years as a federal agent. We met on such an investigation. I take what most people think of as mundane agriculture, and turn it into a crime scene. Hog-Tied is centered on hog farming and real estate investments, with some wonderful twists and a splash of romance. But while I worked on this first novel, I often wondered how it would fare against other stories. In other words, how good was it? So I started using contests as a barometer, entering the opening line, the first paragraph, the first chapter, and eventually, the entire novel. I’ve won or placed in several small contests, to include a $500 award. I’ve received a detailed critique from bestselling mystery novelist CJ Box, and I’ve made the top 100 out of 10,000 in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. Then I landed an agent, and I’m sure my contest activity aided that happening. My novel sits on the fence of mystery/romantic suspense, so when I made the finals of the Daphne du Maurier contest (sponsored by the Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death Chapter) in the mainstream category, I was surprised. And when I learned that the mainstream category was the most prestigious, my mouth fell open. I’m flying to Washington DC for the award event on July 16, 2009. Keep your fingers crossed.
What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?
I’m about to mail the final manuscript to my agent for book two – Tomato-Stewed. Then I have an outline for book three, which I’m craving to dive into. I’m an advocate for traditional publishing, so when it will be available is not predictable at the moment. My agent has landed my book in the hands of a large publisher right now, but it’s still under consideration. No offers yet. I hope that the Daphne du Maurier contest will aid that effort to find a publisher. The series is practically exploding in my head with so many stories for Carolina Slade. I’ll write them until they are sold or I’ve moved on to my next life.
Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?
Write regularly, get involved with a serious critique group, and keep writing even when you think you’re wasting your time. Writing evolves when practiced, not when simply thought about.
What writer’s organizations claim you as a member?
Sisters in Crime, South Carolina Writers Workshop Association, and I’m a member of MENSA.
Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.
Actually, with the economy like it is, I’ve had several appearances cancelled this year, so I’m using the time to propel the novels, and I’m enjoying the heck out of that opportunity. I will be at the Romance Writers of America Convention in Washington DC July 16-17, 2009, but my “appearances” are predominantly online at the moment. Every other week you can find me at my local writers’ group in Columbia, South Carolina.
Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.
Don’t think you’re too good or not good enough to improve. Even the most successful writers start off as other people. Don’t feel you have to possess a degree. In other words, don’t make excuses. Write, write a lot, submit a lot, edit a lot, and enjoy the simple task of pecking away at words until they make beautiful sense.
What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s)?