Archive for August, 2009|Monthly archive page

Q&A with author Lisa Saunders

In Getting started, Q&As on August 28, 2009 at 12:07 am

How long have you been a writer?

I started writing a humorous column for my high school paper in 1977, no longer had anything to say so stopped writing for a while, then resumed after the birth of my severely disabled daughter in 1989. I first tried to get published in 1994.
How long did it take you to land your first paid writing job?

When I first started getting stories published, I was only paid in free issues of magazines. When I self-published my first book, “A Time to Weep; A Time to Laugh,” I received some money through its sales. When I signed a contract with a publisher for it, I received a $1,000 advance. I was finally paid as a freelance writer for a local magazine after I first offered to do a piece for them for free.

What would you do the same starting out your writing career?

Join a local writers group.


 Take a writing course at a local college where I could meet local editors/writers.

Did you have help from more established professional writers when you were starting out?

I received good advice from writers in my group on editing myself and how to find work.

What has been the most helpful tool to you as a writer?


The biggest obstacle?

 Writing what I felt like writing instead of trying to write what would sell.

Who has been your biggest support system as a writer?

My husband Jim. He puts up with a messy house and very simple meals so I can use my spare time to write.

Have you been a part of a community for writers in your career?  If so how big a role has that played in your success?

I needed my writers group early in my career—you need others to critique your work. Now I just reach out when I need advice.

What would you say has to be in place in order to have a successful writing career?

Meeting people in the industry is important. You can’t spend all your time behind your computer.  I am a full-time writer now for a college because I took a Journalism course there and met the woman who would later offer me a job.

What would be your best advice for beginning writers? 

 Find out what audiences want to read and then find a way to write about that while remaining true to your “voice”—your unique way of expressing your thoughts. Only when you have developed an audience can you can branch out and truly say what you want to say. When you write from your heart, really share your soul—don’t write what everyone else is writing. If you lay your heart bare, your readers may just find a kindred spirit in you and feel less alone in the world.

Lisa Saunders is a professional writer and author, mother of 2 , and helps educate parents about CMV.  For more of her wisdom you can visit her blog online.

What have you done to further your career today?

In Getting started, Writer Challenges on August 27, 2009 at 5:16 am

  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, as a writer it’s essential for you to understand that you have some very stiff competition – lots of it.  If you want to advance as a freelance writer, you must take certain calculated steps in that direction.  If you want to be a magazine writer at some point you will have to actually begin writing for magazines.  If you want to be a novelist you will have to start writing that book.  So where do you start?  You start with today.

  I have to ask myself this all the time – what did I accomplish today as a writer?  Some days all you will have to answer this question is one paragraph of an article, and you have no idea what you will do with it yet.  That’s okay.  Other days you will have made huge progress toward your goal of being an “established writer”.  That’s great too.

  What did I accomplish today?  I contacted some other writers on Mom Bloggers Club to solicit feedback on my work, I wrote this blog entry, I worked on an article that I hope to have published soon, and I started brain storming a query letter I hope to have sent back by the end of next week.  And I feel good about that.  If at the end of the day you feel good about the work you’ve done then you should rest easy.  If you feel like you should have done more, then you probably should have.

  What do you do if you have no clue where to start?  You start by asking yourself what do you want to write.  Once you’ve answered that question just start writing.  Of course at some point you will have to do market research and query letters, but for now you just want to start writing.  You want to have something to work with.  You don’t want to over complicate things.  Just write. 

  Tomorrow try to accomplish one writing task – just one, and then the next day maybe two, and so on until you are getting the most out of your time and moving towards your goals at a pace that satisfies you.  And don’t forget to ask yourself – “What have I done today?”

BIG Freelancing No-No

In Learn from my mistakes. on August 23, 2009 at 3:42 am

If you’re reading this then you qualify to be one of my valued readers – and as such I wish with all my heart that you will learn from my mistakes and not be doomed to repeat them.

So I’ll let you in on a little secret….as a freelancer your job is to complete your assignment in the allotted time (or before if you really want to impress some people) and adhere to the client’s specifications.  This is true even before you’ve landed the job when you promise your prospective client some samples.

A few weeks ago I called a woman that I’d met and asked if she needed any assistance writing a newsletter for her organization.  She asked is she could see some of my work and told her I’d have some samples to her within a couple days.  Here’s the rub – I don’t have the samples.  So I have to write brand new samples and get them to her in a couple days.  With a 12 month old in the house under my care 24 hours a day that was impossible, as I would soon learn, since I still have not gotten those samples to her.

I am still working on the samples and I will send them to her along with my sincere and heartfelt apology for taking so long.  I will try to make her understand that this is not how she should expect me to handle business in the future, and that I am usually very punctual with my assignments and deliver quality material on or before the time discussed.  But needless to say I probably will not be getting her business, no matter how flawless my samples are or how sweet my apology is.

The lesson to be learned here?  Don’t take on a project you can’t handle.  And always under promise what you can deliver.  Even if you’re absolutely positive you can have that piece done in a week, promise to have it done in two (or three)- just in case.  Either something will come up and you’ll be right on time, or you’ll finish early and your client will be pleasantly surprised.

In the future I will be taking my own advice.

Taking the Plunge

In Getting started on August 22, 2009 at 2:26 am

  Do you want to write for a living?  Do you want your words in print?  Are you trying to get your story published?  Do you want to make  a more than decent living doing all of the above and then some?  Join the club.  So do I, and so do hundred or thousands, maybe even millions of others.  So how do you compete?  That is the million dollar question.  If you have the answer please let me know.

  What I hope to accomplish in this blog, by sharing my successes and failures in the freelancing industry, is helping others advance their writing careers by avoiding some of my mistakes and taking some of my advice.  

  I’ve known since high school that I wanted a career writing.  But it wasn’t until about a month ago that I really started to do something about it.  I had read all the books on freelancing, but I hadn’t sent out a single query or gotten one byline since high school.  I had my work cut out for me.

  What was my first step?  I decided I needed a writing community to help me stay motivated.  I couldn’t find a community for writing mothers.  I started my own (Mommy Writers).  I figured I would be able to benefit from the experience of other writers and take advantage of the networking opportunities while supporting each other.

  What will be your first step?  Have you long toyed with the idea of a writing career but done nothing to make it happen?  Maybe your first step should be meeting other writers, pick their brains.  You’d be amazed what opportunities you might stumble upon, and how encouraging it can be just to talk to someone who’s been where you are and succeeded.   


For more information on Mommy Writers visit us online.