Laura M. Talley

Ghostwriter, Copywriter

5 Ways to Stay Sane During Summer Vacation

I started off the summer with good intentions. Write my novel, start another one, work X number of hours per day. And for a few weeks, I did just that. But now it’s mid-summer and my house is a wreck, my writing schedule is atrocious, and I feel like throwing in the towel. I applaud those of you who have multiple children. It’s not easy to juggle creative tasks with half your mind occupied with parenting. Even if your child is busy in the other room, you’re still keeping your ears open for signs of trouble. Constant interruptions don’t help either! Fortunately, I think we are just about back into a good routine. (As much as possible with children around!)

Here is what we’ve been doing to stay on track.

1. Let the housework go.

During the summer, I pick up, make the beds, wipe down the bathroom, wipe the kitchen counters, take out the trash, sweep/vacuum and other little things to keep it from getting nasty. I pretty much let everything else go. My husband does the dishes, we take turns with the laundry, and we keep meals simple.

2. Keep a realistic goal.

It’s unrealistc for me to work 8 hours per day during the summer and be the kind of parent I want to be. Having no goal, however, means it’s very difficult to keep any kind of accountability. I try to work three solid hours on projects and fit in some reading about publishing, marketing, or improving writing skills throughout the day. It doesn’t feel like enough, so it is good practice for prioritizing and keeping organized.

3. Get up early or go to bed late.

I am fortunate. My child is a night owl and I am a morning person, so during the summer I let her go to bed late. She usually sleeps for an hour or two while I work.

4. Unless you’re a single parent, they’re someone else’s kids, too.

On the weekends, I usually take a chunk of time to write while my husband is in charge. We both need time to relax, too, so we make sure that happens, but we also understand that summer is kind of crazy. I am very fortunate to have a partner who is really a partner. Not everyone has that. If you don’t or if you need more time and if you can afford it, hire a mother’s helper to watch your kids while you work in the next room.

5. Let them entertain themselves!

When everyone is awake and I am still trying to work, I let my daughter play with my tablet. She only gets to use it when we are in the car or when I am working so it keeps her entertained for a long time. I also let her play office with me sometimes. We’ll both work on our office things. If I feel she’s had enough screen time and I am doing something that requires a lot of concentration, I just tell her to find something to do. She likes art so she usually does art while I write.

How do you manage children in the summer? How do you get back on track if you get derailed?

On Making Business Mistakes

I came across a scathing blog post written by a writer who was annoyed by a letter an aspiring writer had sent to her. While I had never done anything quite like the author of the letter, I had done something close enough that it raised my eyebrows and made me think. While I probably wouldn’t use that method again because I have found some more effective ways to market myself, I did actually get a few leads and made some new friends. I also got more out of it than by doing some of the other methods that particular blogger suggested simply because I am in a radically different place than she is. Of course I realize now that I probably made some people mad, too! I’ve also received similar letters and they haven’t bothered me at all. I learned something from that blog post that I think is very important: what one writer will consider incredibly annoying and unprofessional may be well-received by another. There is a ton of advice floating around the internet, much of it directly contradicting other pieces of advice. I have seen advice ranging from simply lying about your expertise when you can’t find clients to advocating smarmy methods that make your writing sound more like spam than actual content. It’s hard to know the difference between good advice and bad advice sometimes because everyone is different. What worked for one person with ten years of marketing experience in New York City before becoming a freelancer in 1995 long before the Recession is probably not going to work for the college grad hit hard with the Recession facing competition from 5,000,000 other college grads hit hard with the Recession. And far from New York City, this semi-sort of recent college grad lives in a rural area and has a family (why yes, I am talking about me!). Add the myriad of different careers within the writing field on top of that, and you’re going to have a ton of advice, 90% of it most likely useless to your particular situation, even if it made the advice giver millions.

The truth is this:

  1. There is no “Right” path to success, though there are a few wrong ones, which include anything illegal and unethical. Everyone  gets to where they want to go in a different way. Writing is a big umbrella encompassing people with goals ranging from making a few extra dollars per month to making six figures every year. With that range, there are going to be many different way to reach your goals. Timing, experience, education, location, personality, contacts, lifestyle, goals, age, strengths/weaknesses, and niche all play into it. 
  2. You will make mistakes and that’s okay. Starting a writing business includes a lot of trial and error. Some things work, some things don’t. Everyone cringes at the things they said, the overconfidence they had, or the discouragement they felt when they were a newbie. I grimace over a few things, but I try to smile and let it go because I learned from it. I also try to use it as a vehicle for empathy which allows me to be gracious when people make errors around me. Not that I’m a super expert yet! :)
  3. The winners are the ones who keep trying. Even through the discouragement and rejection (or the letters posted in public and thoroughly castigated!), those who eventually succeed use each experience, positive or negative, to improve. You won’t succeed if you assume you’re a great writer and it’s everyone else who sucks. But you won’t succeed if you think you can never be a great writer, either. Writing takes practice, business takes patience, and it simply takes TIME to get to the point where you can carve out a living. Study writing techniques, marketing techniques and anything else pertaining to your goals, and get creative. Try new things. If they work, great. If they don’t, then you learned something! Never stop learning, never stop improving, don’t try to get rich quick because you won’t, keep your goals in mind, and eventually, you’ll get there or somewhere like it.

 

Review: The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction

How do you write historical fiction? How do you insert your research to make a novel sound interesting and real as opposed to one or the other? Recently, I had the pleasure of finding answers to these questions as I read The Art and Craft of Writing Historical Fiction by novelist James Alexander Thom. I have been researching an idea for a set of novels since 2010, and was starting to wonder what I was doing wrong to need so much research! I found out I was doing it exactly right; I just need patience.

This book is primarily geared for those writing American historical fiction, but even though mine takes place elsewhere, I found it useful. I’ve seen some criticism for the informal tone, but I actually liked it. I felt like I was having a conversation with Thom instead of being lectured. This held my attention and I learned a lot from the author’s experience. Those who have written good historical fiction know how tricky it is to strike the balance between factual and fictional, but most of my favorite books are those in which the author succeeded in a big way.

Thom covers research methods, though does largely eschew modern approaches like the Interent. He rightly criticizes the ambiguity between good and poor research you can find online, but without the Internet, I wouldn’t have a novel. I have used it as a starting point to find good resources, both online and off. I have been able to obtain electronic copies of books out of print and figure out exactly what I need to do to get the most out of my research.

Thom also discusses the importance of getting the details right, how to organize your data (though once again, preferring hard copies as opposed to computer or cloud-based storage), genealogy basics, methods to approach your novel, and more. All in all, a helpful read.

Why You Should Write a Book

Thinking about writing a book? You should! Here are 8 reasons why.

1. Authority in Your Field

Writing a book instantly makes you an authority in your field. People assume that if you wrote a book, you know what you’re talking about.

2. Supercharge your career

Once you’re seen as an authority, you can launch your career to new heights. Be the guy who wrote the book on management skills for the 23rd century and you will be seen as the most qualified to move into a new position.

3. Make extra money

You probably won’t grow rich, but you can make some extra money by publishing. And you never know! Maybe you will be one of the lucky few who wind up with a mega best-seller.

4. Helps you market yourself

How awesome does, “Author of Book” look on your resume? Writing a book shows you are knowledgeable and willing to work hard to go the extra mile.

5. Launch a speaking career

As an author, you may find yourself invited to speaking engagements. Having a book to sell at such presentations adds to your income and authority.

6. Impressive

Most people are impressed by writers because they know they don’t have the discipline to sit down and write a book themselves. Everyone has a book in them, but very few people take time to write them. Even fewer people take time to publish the ones they do write.

7. Rewarding

Not only does writing a book make you look good, it makes you feel good, too. Some people say success is a habit. Writing a book helps you feel confident. More confidence can turn into more work and more success.

Like the idea but don’t have the time/energy/will? As a ghostwriter, I help people find their way in the writing world whether they simply need advice or are too busy to write. If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact me. I love email!

Write Healthy During Flu Season

It’s flu season again, and people everywhere are debating the merits of flu shots and other preventative measures. Flu isn’t the only illness writers like to avoid. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t feel well,  I don’t write well. I hate being sick and avoid it at all costs! Even though writing itself is a solitary profession that helps minimize exposure to germs, shopping trips and family members often traipse in what we could otherwise avoid. How can you stay healthy this winter? Follow these steps to stay healthy and germ free!

1. Wash hands

This goes without saying, but a surprising number of people (even health care professionals!) don’t wash their hands often enough. Keep a bottle of Germ-x around for the times when water isn’t available, and wipe down shopping carts. Don’t touch the faucet or door handles after washing in the bathroom–use a paper towel to open doors and turn off the water. Wash before eating, after going to the bathroom, or after shaking hands with people.

2. Eat well

Avoid eating too much holiday junk food. Sugar lowers our immunity and prevents us from getting the vitamins we need t At parties, consider the fruit/veggie trays over cookies and brownies. Bonus? You can avoid that holiday weight gain.

3. Exercise

It doesn’t have to be much if you hate exercising. Personally, I hate exercising in the cold. Just make sure you are moving around throughout the day, and consider a post-dinner walk with your family.

4. Consider a supplement

I take one packet of Emergen-C every day, two if I feel I am coming down with a cold. As long as I do this regularly, I don’t get sick. Bonus? I have more energy, too, due to the B vitamins found in the supplement.

Vitamin C on its own won’t do anything to help you once you’re sick. You have to take it regularly before you come down with a cold.

Keep yourself healthy to make sure you can keep up with your work and life this winter season.

Why You Should Write the Book Proposal First

You’re finally finished with your book. Time to sell it! Most writers write a book proposal after they finish writing their book, but wouldn’t it be nice to simply slip your opening chapters in with an already written book proposal rather than write the entire thing? Of course it would! Then all you have to do is sit back and relax as your book heads to agents and publishers.

Beyond convenience, there are a few more reasons you should consider writing your book proposal before you write your book.

1. Find the flaws

If you do your book proposal first, you can more easily spot the flaws in your project. Does the synposis reveal a tired, overused plot? Is there no market for the book at all? (It’s fine if there is not, but if you want to sell your book, you will want to know before you invest several months in it that it probably won’t make a lot of money!)

2. Find similar books

Potential publishers want to know what books exist that are similar to yours. There are no completely unique ideas. Decent selling books with similar concepts are actually good: it means there is a market. However, you don’t want to copy. If you find your exact plot has been taken, you can tweak it before you commit it to paper. If you find a nonfiction book that conveys the same information, you can think of what makes yours different and better. You don’t have to have an answer right away. Writing your  book proposal first means you can think about this as you write, rather than panicking after you finish as you realize someone else already came up with your exact idea.

3. Have it done while you are still excited

Many writers experience project burnout by the time they are finished. It’s exciting to finish, but going back and writing a proposal is not fun. If you do it upfront, your can bottle up some of that early enthusiasm. It will shine through.

4. Helps you think about the direction/outline of the book

Are there holes in your plot? Synopsis not compelling enough? Writing the synopsis section helps you outline and think about the direction of your book. If your book goes in another direction, you can always change it later. It’s easier to tweak than to write from scratch.

 

Even if you want to self-publish, you may find writing a book proposal helps you to organize your thoughts and marketing strategies so you can keep them in mind as you write. And you never know. You may change your mind about self-publishing and decide to go a traditional route later.

5 Reasons Writers Should Use Job Sites

Where does a writer go when they’re first starting out? They tend to hit the job sites. I have made it quite clear that I do not like using online freelancing sites such as Freelancer, oDesk, Guru, etc. As a general rule, I do not use them and I advise others to not use them, too. Focusing your time and efforts marketing to high quality clients is the best way to go.

However, you know what they say about rules, especially when it  comes to art. There are a few circumstances when using these sites is fine–as long as you have a plan.

1. When you’re just starting out

What this means:

If you are just starting out and trying to break into a field where you don’t have many contacts, it can take awhile before you build reputation and marketing to find enough clients to fill your time. In these cases, using a job site to help you gain experience can help.

How to plan:

Don’t ever let these sites be your only plan. Continue to set aside some marketing time every day to find clients. Also, try writing articles for magazines during this time, especially for your chosen field, even if that’s not your ultimate goal. They will pay more and you can mention what you do in your byline.  For example, if you want to write copy for the healthcare industry, write articles for healthcare magazines that note you are a copywriter in your byline.

2. When you hit a lull

What this means

This is what I do occasionally. Sometimes, I don’t have enough clients to fill my slots, so I will go to a site to fill in the time. This can also be a fun way to try something new. Think you might want to write speeches but you’ve never done it? Try it here.

How to plan

Your ultimate goal, of course, is to not ever have a large enough lull in clients to need this, but everyone has to start somewhere. It can take anywhere from six months to five years to build your work load to where you want it to be, depending on what you have to start with.  Shore up your marketing and put yourself out there so eventually, you won’t have any lulls.

3. When you need something immediately

What this means

As previously mentioned, when you are first starting out, it can take awhile to build your workload. If you need cash and don’t have the time to wait for projects to trickle in, you can usually find a project on a site within a week, if not sooner.

How to plan

Again, this should not be your only plan. Make sure you continue to market yourself in other ways.

4. When you need marketing money

What this means:

Not all of us are cut out for cold calling. If you decide to pursue another marketing route such as joining organizations, sending materials, etc, you may need some money to do it. By all means, use these sites to earn cash with no overhead beyond what you probably already have.

How to plan:

Make sure you know what you’re doing. Make a marketing plan, figure out a budget, and make what you need.

5. When you don’t know if you want to do something or not.

What this means:

If you have never edited and want to break into it, using these sites can be good practice without spending a ton of money changing your business cards and stationery only to find out you hate editing. It’s a low commitment and no cost way to market your skills to see if you have what it takes.

How to deal with it:

Try it a few times, see if you like it, then learn everything you can about making an actual career out of it.

3 Bonus Tips for Making the Most of It

  1. Know it is extremely likely you will have to offer a steep discount on what you would normally charge.
  2. Do your best anyways: it’s good practice and you never know who will see your work
  3. Manage your time: don’t let working for these sites become your full time job. Make sure you keep some marketing time for yourself so you can actually make a decent wage someday.

Like this post? Get more! Each month, I take a topic on my blog and explore it a little more in depth. Subscribe today! 

The Secret to Writing for Hours

Writing is one of the best jobs in the world. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, as any writer will tell you. One of the hardest things to adjust to is keeping your brain sharp enough to create content for hours at a time. There is nothing passive about writing: it’s all active.

Between client projects and a week-long Internet crash that occurred right before Thanksgiving, I have managed to fall behind on things like blogging in favor of finishing client projects and meeting deadlines. With a rush of new projects at the end of November, it’s all I can do to keep up. But I’m not working 8 hours per day. I can’t yet. If I could, it would have been no problem to catch up. I could produce much more and earn more money. But writing isn’t even like editing where you read and correct. Creating is an entirely different thing. It requires more from your brain and you have to build up to the ability to do it. Just like you can’t decide one day to run a marathon when you’ve been sedentary, most people can’t just decide one day to become a writer and write 8 hours straight without the majority of it sounding awful. This can frustrate new writers who may think they don’t have it in them. They do! It just requires practice and training.

When I started getting serious about a writing career, I was rusty. Doing 2 hours of actual writing was a victory. Now I am up to about four hours before my brain turns to mush and my words don’t come out properly. I know one writer who will write 12 hours every day. I have no idea how she does this! Right now, I just want to get up to six, using the other two hours for marketing. Whatever your personal goals are, you can meet them. There are two ways to do this.

1. Challenge Yourself

When you are ready to quit, write one more sentence, paragraph, or page, or 5 minutes  (depending on how much you are doing, how fast you are going, and what you feel like you can do to stretch yourself a bit without making it agonizing). When I tried to break my writer’s block, I started by writing for just minute on OneWord.com. Then I moved on to 750Words.com. It took off from there.  Tell yourself to do just one more of something that will take you about 5-10 minutes and you’ll take a break to do something you enjoy.

2. Quit While You’re Ahead

Then actually do it. Even if you receive another burst of inspiration while you’re writing that paragraph (and you will at least sometimes), STOP. You want to end on a positive, energetic note so writing doesn’t become a dreaded chore. If you don’t stop and wait until you are worn out and mentally fried, it will be harder to come back to it later. Slowly, the energy and fun you find in writing will drain away.

Do this and you will find your time and word counts increasing. It may take time, but writing will stay enjoyable.

What’s your daily limit?

Author Interview: PJ Larue

A big welcome with today’s victim interviewee, PJ Larue, author of the children’s book, The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool

How did you become a writer?

 I wrote poetry when I was in high school, and then quit for quite a long time.  A couple of years ago, a former co-worker and his three sons were killed in a car crash. The driver at fault was impaired. The family’s pain spoke so strongly to me, and a poem poured out, along with many tears. It was a heart breaking way to re-start my writing, but the family was so touched that each of the wives framed the poem and hung it in their homes. It was also read at the sentencing of the impaired driver a few months ago.

Just after that sad event, I wrote a two or three page summary of the first Mystic Princesses book and gave it to one of my staff members who had a daughter the right age. Her daughter loved it, and the mother encouraged me to expand it into a chapter book. So I read some chapter books to see what they were like. When I expanded the story it became The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool. Her daughter is still asking for book two, so she must be my number one fan.

 What is your writing process like?

I carry a small spiral notebook everywhere I go. I never know when a poem is going to come out. Likewise, ideas for my books or short stories are jotted down in the notebook, so that I won’t forget them.

Also, I dream very vividly. I often wake in the mornings with ideas for short stories and maybe even a future novel. I don’t really outline ideas chapter by chapter. I divide ideas into beginning, middle and ending categories, providing the roadmap for where I want a story to go and how to get there

 

What is your #1 motivation?

So far, writing is a hobby that separates me from my day job. It distracts me from other responsibilities and is an outlet for stress. However, I would like my writing to blossom into more in the future.

Most super hero books are for boys. Through my chapter books, I hope to empower girls to be strong on their own. Although my books series is called The Mystic Princesses, the books won’t focus on finding Mr. Right, or even “princess-like behaviors.” I don’t like the proliferation of princess books and movies for girls that teach unrealistic relationship and marriage ideals. I can say this, because I’ve been happily married 30 years, but life has its ups and downs and isn’t always the “Happily ever after” presented by these fairy tales.

Finally, I hope to spread moments of happiness to my poetry readers. My husband and I hike when we are on vacation, so the photography and nature is often the inspiration for my poetry. But sad events like losing family members to cancer inspired me to write a series of poems about each of the cancers that touched my family. The poem about breast cancer is on my Facebook page right now, since October is breast cancer awareness month.

https://www.facebook.com/pj.larue.12?ref=tn_tnmn

(Laura’s note: this interview was originally conducted in October.)

Do you self-publish or use traditional publishers? Why?

The competition in traditional publishing is fierce. One almost has to have a name established as a known commodity in order to attract an agent or publisher. So I self-published using eBook formats only.

Another reason is that agents and publishers expect the author to develop their own platforms and market their own books. Yet, the author receives so little in return. I understand that is because the cost of printing creates a risk for the agents and publishers. The profit after the eBook commission that I pay to Amazon, Barnes and Nobel and iBooks is much more compared to the amount I would receive by going the traditional publishing route.

 Tell me about your recent book.

 The Mystic Princesses and the Whirlpool is a chapter book for girls about 6 to 10. The girls inherit powers from their parents who are mythological gods. They use their powers to protect Princess Harmonie, who makes people feel peaceful, from the Children of Ares who want to fight and cause wars. The girls’ powers are elemental, coming from the water, air, fire and earth.

Princess Coral is the daughter of King Neptune and can command sea creatures and help the other princesses breathe under water without scuba gear. Princess Catie is the daughter of the Goddess Iris and can make rainbows for the girls to slide down as transportation, or just to play. She can also turn the girls into birds so that they can get to the top of the rainbows. Princess Breanna is the daughter of Pele and can throw fire balls. She can also turn the girls into candles and torches if they need to light the way in when it is dark. And Princess Janna is the daughter of Mother Nature. She can turn the girls into flowers to blend into the landscape if they need to hide. She can also command butterflies and ladybugs. All of the girls’ powers will increase to equal their parent, as the girls grow up.

It only took a few weeks to write. However, the editing process covered months. Getting the book up online actually took about two years from when I wrote the first draft. My illustrator is my sister-in-law, but I didn’t ask her to draw the pictures until the editing was complete.  She is a busy mom, with two young children and a job outside the home. I wasn’t sure that she’d want to add anything more to her schedule.  The copyright process was also completed separately. I know now to have my illustrations completed while I’m in the editing process and to copyright everything at the same time to shorten the timeline.

I used the internet extensively to self-educate about everything I could think of, from copyrighting my work to the purchase of the ISBNs.  I’ve also subscribed to several magazines to learn along the way. Unfortunately, I didn’t start developing my online presence sooner, so I am behind in that regard.

As for publishing, I just found it to be another step in the process. I found a free ePub conversion software called Calibre on line. I used it to convert from Word to ePub. These files were then uploaded to Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. I had to have my web designer format the files, though. The pictures weren’t page breaking properly and the cover appeared twice.  For iBooks, I had to borrow a MAC laptop and download an App called Pages, as Calibre wasn’t compatible with Apple products.

 

Any other projects in the works?

 I write poetry and pair it with my photography. Some of it is posted on my Facebook page.

I am also in the process of writing the second book in The Mystic Princesses series. It will be set in New Orleans, which is where Princess Catie lives. Princess Catie is the daughter of the Goddess Iris, who used rainbows to carry messages to the gods. Princess Catie can make rainbows so that the girls can use them for transportation, or just to play, like a waterslide. Princess Catie can also turn the girls into birds, so that they can fly to the top of the rainbows.

My plan is to have each of the princesses be the lead character in a five book series. I will feature that character’s flaws and let them grow into their powers and overcome their flaws as each book progresses.

 

Do you write full time?

No, I juggle time with my husband, my day job, writing and marketing my book.

I am a CPA and Assistant Director of Finance at a major international airport. I would rather keep my day job separate from my writing, so I use the pen name PJ LaRue.

 

 Where can people buy your book?

 It is in eBook format only. People can link directly to the following sites from my website www.mysticprincesses.com.

Amazon.com

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

 

The book is currently being translated to Spanish for release at a later date.

 

 Where can we send fan letters?

 pj@pjlarueinc.com

www.mysticprincesses.com

What is your #1 tip for aspiring writers?

Make time to read and to write. The more one reads, the more one notices styles. The more one writes, the more one’s writing improves.

Even though you didn’t ask for #2, I’ll give it anyway. Get an experienced editor and listen to him or her.

 

What are some of your favorite books/authors?

I love reading and enjoy a variety of books and genres.

Philippa Gregory – historical novels – The Tudor Court novels

Ken Follett – historical novels – Pillars of the Earth and World Without End

Dan Brown – suspense books

David Baldacci – King and Maxwell books and Camel Club books

Christine Feahan –The only Feahan books I haven’t read yet are the stand alone books. I love all of her series – Dark series, GhostWalker series, Leopard series, Drake Sister series, and Sisters of the Heart series

Christian Dodd – paranormal romances – The Darkness Chosen series and The Chosen One’s series

Nalini Singh – Psy/Changeling paranormal romance series

J. R. Ward – The Black Dagger Brotherhood series and Fallen Angels series

Stieg Larsson – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

 

Tell me something random about yourself.

I have a Russian Blue cat named Sasha, like big dogs (like German Shepherds, Alaskan Huskies and Golden Retrievers), hiking, photography, Jackie Chan movies, college football and elegant car shows. I’ve been known to go shoe shopping on my lunch hour a few times.  :0)

You can see what I mean about the car shows by visiting the following websites:

http://www.pebblebeachconcours.net/pages/3003

http://www.ameliaconcours.org/

 

Thanks, PJ! The books sound right up my own 6-year old daughter’s alley! Best of luck and again, thanks for taking the time to interview! 

 

On Becoming a Writer

People often ask me how I got into a certain area of writing or how many years of experience I have. I am never quite sure how to answer that question. When did I become a writer? When does anyone “become” a writer? Do they mean a full-time writer? Or when I started calling myself a writer?

Unlike teaching or nursing or almost any other non-creative field, there are simply no black and white answers. For me, I don’t think I ever “became” a writer; it’s just something I’ve always been, even if I was something else, too. I don’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t writing, though I did have a dry spell through college where most of my writing consisted of academic papers. Talk about writer’s block! That was about 4 years of writer’s block! Still, I wrote even then. I submitted (embarrassingly awful) stories to publishers and queried magazines. I learned how to have a career in writing during that time.

Yet, it seems to me, I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember. If I didn’t know how to write the words, I drew the pictures, dictated to my poor mother whose shoes I am now in, or acted them out.. I borrowed a typewriter from my next door neighbor and typed out my first story at 7 (shocker: it didn’t sell) and had my first article published at 8 or 9 in a children’s magazine. All I remember about our first computer is that I no longer had to write out my stories by hand.

And I just never stopped. If you want to define professional writer, I know professional writers who wrote like I did as a kid: an article in their spare time and a novel that was never published. I became a full time writer a couple years ago, and became ultra super serious about writing not very long ago. But is that when I “became” a writer? I don’t think so. I say 6 years of freelance experience because that’s when I graduated from college, but the truth is, I’ve been a freelancer since long before that.  I submitted stories and articles in college and high school, too. Most of them were rejected, but it was easier to get in the practice then because I was so young. At 7, the accomplishment is trying and the praise from your mother and teachers is adequate. At 18, you feel good for finishing and learning where and how to submit. Armed with the knowledge that most people must submit a lot before they start getting a yes instead of a no, it’s hard to become discouraged. Now the accomplishment does come in making money because I have a family, but not many people define writing experience based on the money you earn.  So I don’t really know how to answer that question. How about you? When do you say you became a writer?