Hi all! I’m flying to NY for 8 days so I’m taking some liberties and running my own author interview. I’ll be back with new authors and writing contests around July 22.
Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer, editor and PR consultant. She works from her home office in Colorado Springs – usually in pajamas or sweatpants. Wendy has written three books, and her fourth book comes out in April 2010. Her first two books, written with Erin Kindberg, were, “Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One” (2001, McGraw-Hill) and “Work It, Girl! 101 Tips for the Hip Working Chick” (2003, McGraw-Hill).
- 1. Tell us about your latest book.
“The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters” is a how-to book about getting published. It includes information on writing a query letter for magazines, agents, novels and nonfiction books.
The book was a great fit for me because I’d been teaching “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” for about eight years. In the workshop, I covered a lot of what is in this book: writing query letters to get articles in magazines, to land an agent, or to get a book deal with a publisher. Since I’m a full-time freelance magazine writer and editor with two previous books, this was incredibly fun to write because it didn’t require tons of research. I was lucky enough to receive lots of great sample query letters from writers and authors that I use as “good” examples in the book. I wrote all the “bad” examples myself because I didn’t dare ask for contributions that I knew I’d be ripping apart!
In addition to the ins and outs of what makes a good query, the book covers things like why (or why not) to get an agent, where to find one and how to choose one; writing a synopsis or proposal; selling different rights to your work; other forms of correspondence; and what editors and agents look for in new writers.
It was really important to me that the book not be a dry, boring reference book, but rather an entertaining read (while still being chock full of information). I was thrilled that Writer’s Digest let me keep all the humor.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve also been a writer. My dad is a writer (12 books, probably thousands of other published pieces) and I gave him a short story for his birthday one year (I think I was 7) and he read it aloud in church. I was hooked! My first paid piece was a poem I wrote at age 16. My dad sent it to a magazine on my behalf (without telling me) and I got an acceptance and check in the mail. I thought, “Wow! People paid me for my words? This is cool.” Yes, writing CAN be about the money too!
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
Send my kids off to a nearby home daycare (soon to be preschool!) and then spend at least an hour going through emails. Then I’m either writing (articles, a book, greeting cards), editing or doing PR coaching on the phone. I try not to work after my kids get home, other than posting my latest author interview and writing contests on Facebook and Twitter every night. (Twitter.com/WendyBurt)
4. Describe your workspace.
I have a cream and wood L-shaped desk , bookshelf and two matching filing cabinets that I just love. My office is in a sort of loft area on the second floor of our house, but now that we built our sunroom, I look out onto a tile roof. It’s probably for the best so I don’t procrastinate by watching our neighbor. Besides, the view out the picture window behind me is of Pikes Peak!
I’m not a clean freak, but I’m a bit of an organizational freak. There is dust behind my computer, but everything is it’s a labeled file. I have four Macs and often have two going at once.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
“Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing” by David Morrell
“Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott
“On Writing” by Stephen King
Two new books for writers:
• “Get Known Before the Book Deal” by Christina Katz (http://www.getknownbeforethebookdeal.com/)
• “Writing the Life Poetic” (http://writingthelifepoetic.typepad.com/) by Sage Cohen
Also, my dad, “The Sinister Minister” is the author of 12 books. (www.BurtCreations.com)
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
- A horse bit off the last knuckle on my right middle finger when I was 5.
- I once owned a muffin business in Vermont called Little Miss Muffin.
- I went to the University of Aberdeen (in Scotland) my junior year of college.
7. Favorite quote
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
I love when I get to write humor and people email me to say that think I’m funny and that it made my book (like the query guide) fun to read, even though it’s an informational book. I’ve gotten more “fan mail” on this book than my first two combined and the emails make my day EVERY time.
I don’t like being at the mercy of my clients when it comes to deadlines because I have two little kids.
9. Advice for other writers
Seize every opportunity that comes along when you’re first starting off. Many of your regular writing gigs will be from repeat business and referrals.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
I was on a flight to NY skimming my first book for errors and the woman next to me leaned over and said, “Is that any good?” I laughed and said, “It had better be. I wrote it.”
Where can people buy my book(s)?
You can buy my latest book, “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters” in most major bookstores (it’s usually right next to the Writers Market) or on Amazon.com.
Follow me on Twitter.com/WendyBurt or befriend me on Facebook or LinkedIn.