Follow by Email

Interview with Wendy Thomas

When did you become a writer?
I was one of those kids who was always writing. In fourth grade, I won a poetry contest, in 6th grade my teacher would always read my essays out loud to the class, in High School I was told I had creative talent.

And then I went to school to be a Pharmacist.

It took many, many years (including dropping out of Pharmacy school, working as a Tech Writer, and running my own consulting business) before I realized that what I really wanted to do was write.

Around 200 I started writing newspaper articles and that led to magazine articles. I had some incredible experiences as a journalist including authors a few columns, blogging for the Hillary campaign, and even conducting a one on one interview with Michelle Obama.

About 2 years ago, I started my personal blog which was originally based on a newspaper column I had on being frugal. For the column I decided to experiment with raising chickens. The chickens took off and now that's all I write about on my blog (although I do still take journalistic gigs).

Between my blogs, freelance jobs, and self-marketing I probably spend about 6 hours a day writing.

You write for 3 blogs. Please tell us abit more about each.

My personal blog www.simplethrift.wordpress.com started about 2 years ago is Simple Thrift – based on my weekly column – it has evolved from living a frugal life to life lessons we've learned from our flock of urban chickens. The chickens and I kind of clicked and I've been able to use them as a never ending source for stories.

I contribute to www.SavvyB2Bmarketing.com is where I write along with 5 other women about Business marketing. I bring in the voice of the business writer adding information about technique, style, and self-marketing.

The last blog I am a member of is www.nhwn.wordpress.com New Hampshire Writers Network. We are a group of 6 women who write about the business of writing. We write about marketing our writing, finding jobs, tools that we like, etc. Our goal is to share what we've learned with other writers, to pass it on as it were.

Blogging is a great way to add extra income to a writing career. Do you have any tips for other writers wanting to start down this path?

I actually teach a blog writing class. The first advice I give is to narrow your focus. A blog about New Hampshire might be too broad, a blog about skiing in NH might be perfect. Be careful though not to narrow your focus so much that you run out of things to write about.

People are busy and don't have time to read writing that is too vague, they want information and they want it in quick short bites. A good blog post runs around 4-600 words. Blog writing is a different skill than article writing. The best way to learn? Read some of your favorite blogs and try to figure out why they are your favorites.

Another piece of advice is to write about your passion. If you love dark chocolate then write about your travels trying to find the world's best.

If you love your chickens (like I do) then for cryin' out loud, stop writing about being frugal and instead focus your attention on what is making you get up in the morning.


You've had the honor of interviewing some big name authors in your career. What's the best bit of advice they've given you?

One of my interview questions for all the NYT Best Selling Authors was:

What is the best advice an older relative or family member gave you?

A.S. King - Before she died, my grandmother Edith wrote in my autograph book (now lost) “Hitch your wagon to a star. Hold on tight and you’ll go far.”

Meg Cabot: My father (who passed away of throat cancer at age 53. He had a smoking habit) always told me: “Never pass a bathroom without going in. You never know when you’ll find another one.” He was so right! Every time I see a bathroom I think, “There’ll be another one later,” and there never is! (Even better advice: DON’T SMOKE).

Judy Blume: My father told me to live life to the fullest, to make every day count. I try to remember that.

Jodi Picoult: That there’s always someone better than you. My mom used to say that, and it really kept me from getting conceited!

Chris Bojhalian: One good turn. . .gets most of the covers.

You write for several newspapers and magazines. What tips do you have for getting more freelance writing work?

Newspapers and magazines are hurting for money right now. Many have fired their full time writers and are relying on freelancers. The best way to land a gig is to first, send an email to the editor of the section you'd like to write for (I typically write for Arts, Living, and Neighbors) – in this email pitch a few story ideas. Make the pitches exciting – something that needs to be read. Here's a pitch I made for a women's (Living) article:

I don't know if you've ever done an article on this but at a recent party we started talking about bras. (you know how women get once they've had a drink of two).

Some women only wear sports bras because it had never occurred to them to use anything else.

A few of the women told us about how they went and got "professionally fitted" for bras (one who had been wearing a C cup found out that she is actually an F cup). All who had been fit professionally couldn't stop talking about the difference it made in look and comfort.

How about an article on: Getting rid of the uni-boob - what exactly goes on during a bra-fitting?

Present your writing credentials (writing for the college newspaper and local newsletters count). Don't worry too much about clips. If the pitch is good enough the editor will usually take a chance.

And then follow through. If the editor knows you are dependable then you'll probably be able to get more work.

I should emphasize that the above approach only applies if you know the skill of how to write an article (good lede, who, what, when, where, how, - inverted triangle, etc). If you don't know how to write an article then pick up a book and learn, there is no editor out there who has the time to teach you how to write.

You're currently working on your first manuscript. Please tell us a bit about it and when it's likely to be released.

I've actually finished a children's book and am almost finished with a memoir on our experiences with our chickens. I plan to get the memoir finished by the end of this month (it's that close).

The memoir is about the life lesson my 6 children and I have learned from raising our chickens. We've learned about life, death, friendship, and service. The kids also have a new appreciation of food, where it comes from, and the work that goes into gathering it.

During our whole chicken experience, I ended up having some surgery that didn't go well for months I floundered not able to find my writers' voice. It was due in part to our chickens and the attention from all those NYT Best Selling authors that I was literally able to get back on my feet.

The children's book is part of a series I'm developing where I take Zen stories and humorously retell them using chickens (trust me it flies).

I've had interest from an agent but I am in the waiting phase where if she likes the finished product then we're golden but if she doesn't then I'll have to shop it around.

Where can people find out more about you and your work? 
The best way to find out about me or my work is through my blog www.simplethrift.wordpress.com If people want to reach me they can send email to wendy@simplethrift.com

Anything else you'd like to add?
I am so certain about my path as a writer that I got a tattoo of Kokopelli (the North American Indian Storytelling spirit) put on my wrist. Every time I sit down to a keyboard, there's Kokopelli reminding me of what it is I really want (and need) to do. 

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! Thanks so much for sharing - especially the tidbits of advice from the authors you've interviewed yourself. I appreciate Jodi Picoult's advice, in particular. It fits in nicely with an article I read last night about writer envy. If we're going to lead happy, balanced writing lives, we really do have to learn how to keep both conceit and envy in check.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you. So feel free to comment, but keep in mind the basics of blog etiquette — no spam, no profanity, no slander, etc.

Thanks for being an active part of the Writers and Authors community.

Featured Post

Featured Post

Featured Post