Tag Archives: interview

5 Questions With Diane Holmes

Diane is the Founder and Chief Alchemist over at Pitch-University, a site devoted to teaching writers to pitch their books and make wise career decisions.

She also writes two columns here at Freelance-Zone:

  • Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book
  • Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery

1. How did you wind up a writer?

Diane Mosiac Crop The best way possible.  I was a Reader.  Yes, big ‘r.’  In fact, I was reading adult fiction by the 5th grade.

But I’m not one of those writers who knew as an toddler they wanted to write.  I only knew after graduating with a marketing degree and working as a Systems Engineer (Programmer)  for 4 years.  Yeah, then I knew.

What am I doing on a corporate death march?  I’m supposed to be a writer!

And so I quit my job.  (Don’t laugh.  It only seems rash in hind-sight.)

2. Was the road to being a published writer what you expected? Why or why not? 

Uh…No.  No, no, no, no, no-no-no-no-noooooooooooooo,

So, no, I didn’t expect the years and years of rejection.   

You have to remember, I’m a novelist.  It can take years to complete a project.  And then there are the years of rejection that can follow.  The industry is changing now, but even now, the traditional publishers are a slow lot.

I can tell you, I’m extremely stubborn.  That’s why I’m still here, and that’s saying something.

3. What has been your best moment or biggest accomplishment as a writer?

Well, I’ve co-owned a small press, had plays produced, founded and run large writers’ groups.  And  umpteen other things.

But my best moment is always the moment I know I just wrote a sentence that nailed it.  I got to the truth of it, whatever it is, and no one else has ever said what I’ve just written in exactly that way.

Ultimately, I’m a storyteller.  And when story and the writing of it transcends me, then that’s the moment I’m a better person for having written it.  I’ve transmuted words into story, shaped experience into meaning, and participated in a form of  myth-making that expands back thousands of years, and reaches forward into the future even longer than that..

That’s a pretty good moment.

I love everything about writing.  And this ability to explore concepts and make meaning out of experience is not just found in storytelling, but it’s also present in any form of writing, including my articles here.

4. What has been your most difficult moment?

Being stuck.  And writing and writing and writing every day, all day, yet only being more stuck.  This is the sort of experience that breaks your heart, because it’s so illogical.  So bad-bad-bad.

Creative careers have a downside that is related to how very much you care and how big you dream.There aren’t many careers where you can end up broken in exactly this way.  

5. Can you share your top piece of writing advice with Freelance-Zone readers?

Be a lifetime writer. 

Care deeply. Always be working toward mastery. Love your industry.  Show up to your career with the attitude that you’re on the journey to greatness.  Not acclaim.  Not that kind of greatness. The greatness of  an authentic, fully-explored, powerful interaction with readers.

Be that.

5 Questions With Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

Hey there.

We’re going to do something fun here on Freelance-Zone.com in the coming weeks.


Here’s the rub:

Each writer will answer 5 questions (below) about their life as a writer. I’m going to get the proverbial ball rolling.

We’re also going to toss this out to our readers…if you would like to answer these five questions and be featured on the site, send your answers, along with a photo of yourself to: editor (at) freelance-zone (dot) com.

Nothing like free publicity. 🙂

Here goes:

1.      How did you wind up a writer?

This is actually funny. I wanted to work from home and I was trying to think of something I could do. I had one writing job at the time (very, very, very part-time) and thought, “Why not become a writer.”

Yep. That’s it!

It took a lot longer than I thought it would. 🙂

2.      Was the road to being a writer what you expected? Why or why not?

Heh. See above.

It took a lot longer than I thought it would. I started in 2001 and although I went full time in ’02, I was putting in crazy hours to do it. I wasn’t what I would consider comfortable until ’05 or so if memory serves.

3.      What has been your best moment or biggest accomplishment as a writer?

Breaking into travel writing. I love writing about places, restaurants, buildings and outings. It’s amazing. I still can’t believe I’ve gotten to do some of the things I have. I’m very grateful.

4.      What has been your most difficult moment?

Moment? How about moments? 🙂 Typically these are associated with difficult clients. A seemingly great job can be truly awful if the wrong person is in charge. Still, this is true of any job, so I take it in stride. Here are a few of the highlights:

I recall having to chase a client for 6 months over $25, finishing an assignment on my iPhone because my power went out in the middle of a blizzard and having an editor put their own byline on my piece after they added some content to it without my permission.

Lovely, huh?

5.      Can you share your top piece of writing advice with Freelance-Zone readers?

Simplify whatever you can. Time is so very valuable.

And be tenacious. Always.

(Oh, and just in case you were wondering…I did get the $25 bucks from that client. Hence the advice above.)

Catherine L. Tully has been a full-time freelance writer since 2002 and is co-founder of Freelance-Zone.com. She is also the owner/editor and webmaster of 4dancers.org, co-founder of Pas de Trois at dancing3.com and owns the group Dance Writers on LinkedIn.You can reach her at info (at) catherineltully (dot) com.

Interview With Kim White, Web Design For Writers

Kim White Web Design For WritersKim White is the owner of Web Design for Writers. She started the business in  2003 after watching other design firms nickel and dime their clients to death (see her comments about “scope creep!”) and having friends come to her wondering where to start with their website ambitions. Freelance-Zone.com asked her about the business and what it takes  to make it work on both sides of the equation.

Freelance-Zone.com: What’s the history of WebDesignForWriters? Every good online business has a story–something that pushed the founders over the edge and made them want to fill a particular need. What’s yours?

Kim White: I was working as a webmaster and web project manager. Within a few weeks three writers, who were friends of mine, asked for my advice about building a web site. They were overwhelmed with all the choices, weren’t very technical, and couldn’t afford big design firm prices.

After sending all of them elsewhere I thought, wait a minute! Why can’t I help these people? I’m a Web professional, but I’m also a writer and an artist. I understand the unique needs and challenges of being a creative person.

How does Web Design For Writers meet the need? You offer ala carte services which is a pretty valuable option for the stereotypical starving writer. Did that come about from client feedback or did the company get started knowing that was the most realistic option for people who need web design and hosting but don’t have an unlimited budget?

I offer all my services ala carte so that writers pay only for what they need and use.  This allows a client to grow their Web site presence as they are comfortable.  As a creative person turned entrepreneur this distinction was very important to me.

During my 12 year web career, I’ve seen a lot of design companies who bleed their clients dry with scope creep and hidden fees. I couldn’t do that to any writer. My goal is to help writers get their work out there. I also wanted to offer my services so that they could focus on writing and not have to buy software, learn web design, or worse sign up for a do-it-yourself site.

One of your options is web hosting. Behind the scenes, what does it take to pull off this kind of service?After all, writers and authors live and die by their presence on the web–it must be challenging to handle the technical challenges related to uptime, preventing or mitigating data loss if the server crashes or gets hung up, suffers a denial of-service hacker issue, etc. What do you do to keep that end of the business running?

Providing good hosting service isn’t the challenge it used to be. I partner with various hosting vendors, all with excellent uptime. Lately, I’ve been trying out more green companies, companies who reinvest in clean energy. Also,  I live in hurricane territory, so keeping servers locally would be too risky.

Give us a reality check when it comes to a writer or other creative person trying to purchase services like yours for the first time. What are realistic vs. unrealistic expectations?

Well, what the writer won’t get is a 50 page data-base driven Web site with Flash animation and unlimited updates for a year, hosting and a domain name for under $300. That’s not realistic, but it’s a number I hear a lot.

Writers should expect to pay for Web services the same as any other professional marketing service and they should take care to find someone who truly is a professional.  It’s very much a ‘get what you pay for’ situation.

I have spent more than a decade honing my skills and gaining knowledge on large sites, small sites, for global companies and non-profits, and a variety of artists and writers. I offer not only Web design skill, but search engine optimization knowledge, social media savvy, and a lot of real world experience in terms of what works and what doesn’t.

Web Design for Writers can create a very professional, personalized Web site within a few weeks and cost less than $1000. The average site starts at around $500, but it really depends on what the writer needs. I always provide a free phone consultation and a written Statement of Work that includes a cost estimate before there is any obligation.

You have a section of the site dedicated to your design philosophy. Tell us about it and why a new client should understand that about what you do.

Web Design for Writers design philosophy is really ‘It takes two, baby’ meaning that the creation of a site is a partnership. I rely on the client to articulate as much as possible about what they need, want, like, and dislike. The better I understand them and their writing goals the better chance I have to create a site that really reflects the writer and not just a standard design style or template I apply to everyone.

Also, the Web Design for Writers design philosophy is really focused on process. I have created one page sites and thousand page sites during my career, and no matter what the size or subject, this is the process that leads to the best product. It starts with an analysis of the client’s needs and ends with testing and proofreading before the site goes up.  And now, keeping a site fresh, adding video and other social media is extremely important.

Web Design For Writers is a new Freelance-Zone.com sponsor. We welcome Kim to these pages and invite you to check out her services. Freelance-Zone.com is selective about our clients and sponsors, learn more about our transparency policy and how we scrutinize potential clients and advertisers.

Asking Good Interview Questions

phoneby Catherine L. Tully

Interviewing can be stressful–especially if you haven’t done it a lot. I found a good resource that I thought I would share with Freelance-Zone readers…a primer on how to ask good questions.

There are some tricks to getting the information you need from a source. My favorite is to start with an intro…theirs. I just ask them to “tell me a little bit about…” the company, their job, or whatever else I’m talking with them about. It gives them time to ramble a bit and loosen up.

5 Strategies to Use When the Interview Goes Sour

freelance writing interviewYou’ve got a good assignment on a tight deadline and need a crucial interview to go well. Your article depends on getting a set of quotes from one person and wouldn’t you know it, that one person turns out to be stubborn, un-cooperative, or just plain inarticulate.

What is a freelance writer to do in this situation?

Here’s how I handle it–my own personal secret freelance writing tactics for salvaging the unsalvagable:

1. Ask specific questions. If you can’t get the right answer by asking “Tell me about the history of your company,” ask something more detailed. “How did you launch your company? What were your first-year challenges?”

2. Ask the same question in a different way. Didn’t get enough detail when you asked, “What’s the secret of your success?” Try asking, “What do you think is your most important accomplishment and how did you make it happen?”

3. Paraphrase the clumsy stuff, and keep only the best part of the quote. When you get a quote that’s only half usable, paraphrase the rotten part and use only the strongest material.

4. When an interviewee is using too much jargon, tell them to explain what they just said for a newbie or beginner…tell them you want to be able to explain the details to the uninitiated. Continue reading 5 Strategies to Use When the Interview Goes Sour