Category Archives: freelance life

FREE fun photo caption short-short story contest!


Mitch Lavender is holding a very cool contest!

In 101 words or fewer, write a caption / flash fiction piece for the stunning photo on his website:

Contest closes April 1, 2013. The winner gets:

– a retail version of Office 2013 for Windows (valued at $219)

– a well-used paperback copy of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” with all the good parts highlighted! (NOTE FROM WENDY: This is one of my favorite books of all time!)

– a copy of Mitch’s book, “Untrue Stories, Volume One – It Didn’t Happen This Way”

FREE Freelance Success Stories Contest


Writer’s Market is currently hosting its 5th annual Freelance Success Stories contest. This free contest is looking for real stories of freelance success. These should be personal stories—written in first person—and true (how often do freelancers get to do that!). First place will receive $750 and publication in the 2011 Writer’s Market.

Submission rules: Stories should be 800-1,500 words. Submit as .doc (not .docx) or .txt attachment, or in the body of the e-mail message. Subject line should read Freelance Success Stories (or there’s a chance it could be deleted without being read). E-mail submissions only to

Author interview with…Wendy Burt-Thomas


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.

Author interview with Wendy Burt-ThomasQueryBook copy

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. 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. (

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  (

• “Writing the Life Poetic” ( by Sage Cohen

Also, my dad, “The Sinister Minister” is the author of 12 books. (

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

Follow me on or befriend me on Facebook or LinkedIn.


Need a writer, editor or proofreader?


Lauren Holder Raab can help with your projects! She provides freelance writing, editing and proofreading services, primarily for authors and literary publications. Projects include books, magazines and websites. Check out her website,, and tell her Wendy sent you.

Here’s a review of Wendy’s book on Lauren’s site:

10 QUESTIONS FOR…”Standing Room Only” author Sarah Protzman


Author interview with Sarah Protzmanbookcoverheadshot-large

My journalism career began on a copy desk in Grand Junction, Colo., at a newspaper where I later became an A&E writer and dating columnist. I now work in Manhattan at Condé Nast Publications have written freelance pieces for New York Magazine, New York Resident and Prevention.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

“Standing Room Only” is my first book. It’s the story, written diary-style and as it unfolded, of buying a one-way ticket to NYC in early 2007 at 24, without a job or apartment. It’s about creating a life from the ground up and all the happiness and struggles that accompany starting from scratch.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I’ve been writing since I could read. At 8, I wrote stories about two mice, Marshall and Raymond, who solved mysteries that often involved dinosaur footprints. Much later, I was a music columnist for my college paper at Mizzou, and after graduating was hired in Colorado. While on the copy desk, I became a dating blogger in the early stages of our push toward better Web content, and later replaced the A&E writer when she left.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a copy editor at a fashion magazine, and basically I geek out on pivotal issues such as hyphenation, dangling modifiers and semicolon placement. I work from 1-8 p.m., so I use the morning for book marketing, running errands, exercising, watching Netflix, or sometimes (ok, often) sleeping in.

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

Self-adhesive corkboards, a lot of magazine dummies, and a sign my coworkers have come to love — think a NO SMOKING sign with the word drama where the cigarette would be. There are many divas in fashion journalism (the men too), and I’m just not that into that.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

Jhumpa Lahiri has a gift unlike any I’ve seen. Chuck Klosterman’s essays are pure hilarity and very insightful. Michael Cunningham’s  Home at the End of the World changed my life, as did many of Hemingway’s works.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

• If journalism didn’t exist, I’d want to be a singer/actor/dancer.

• I hate beer.

• I have been bitten by an emu, a goose, a cat and fire ants — though not simultaneously, of course.

7. Favorite quote

“You can learn how to be you in time.” –Lennon/McCartney

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best: The rare times when you write something you think is really good.

Worst: That print media is disappearing and the industry as a whole is in real trouble.

9. Advice for other writers

Read as much as you can. Think critically about everything you read and hear. Listen to how people talk and what they focus on when they do. Let your words, both spoken and written, be unpretentious and authentic, clear and accessible.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

I once did a story where I went undercover as an aspiring rock star. I told several psychics my goal was to be performing on stage in New York City in six months. Each said my palm/the tarot cards/their intuitive powers indicated it would definitely happen. As an aside, one of them threw in, unprompted, that I would never bear children.

Where can people learn more about you and your book?

It’s all happening at