Category Archives: Interviews

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 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 She is also the owner/editor and webmaster of, co-founder of Pas de Trois at and owns the group Dance Writers on LinkedIn.You can reach her at info (at) catherineltully (dot) com.

Writing and Publishing Fiction: Victor David Giron on Curbside Splendor

Victor David Giron Curbside Splendor ChicagoVictor David Giron runs Curbside Splendor, an indie publisher based in Chicago. In part one of Joe Wallace’s interview with Giron he asked about writing fiction in general, his book Sophomoric Philosophy, and the struggle a new fiction writer faces when trying to find a voice. In the second part of our discussion, Giron explains his publishing work, and offers some sound advice to aspiring fiction writers.

FZ: Tell us about Curbside Splendor–you obviously see farther than publishing your own work, what’s the challenge of juggling your own PR and marketing with the needs and demands of putting out other people’s material, too.

Victor David Giron: I started Curbside Splendor originally just to publish Sophomoric Philosophy, when I realized one could do such a thing.

Being someone that likes business, I thought it would be neat challenge to try and understand the publishing process. During the process of working with the editor, the designer, a friend that did the artwork for it, I took a liking to publishing and decided to start publishing work by others on the Curbside site.

It also seemed that if publishing the book through Curbside Splendor was going to ever be marginally successfully, I needed to make Curbside a true publisher and not just my own vehicle. I now really enjoy reading submissions, finding ones that fit, and then making them look beautiful and presenting them to other readers. We’re now just releasing our first semi-annual print journal, a collection of short stories and poetry, and are preparing our next release, a chap book of poems by Chicago native Charles Bane Jr.

It’s a challenge, for sure, to juggle marketing the work of others with my own. But I now see myself as just one of many Curbside contributors, and am as, if not more, eager to promote the work of the other contributors, because I genuinely enjoy it. In this sense Curbside has grown much large than being my own project and I plan to continue making it be so.

You see both sides of the publishing world, so an aspiring writer is going to want to know–how does your publishing experience inform your work as an author in terms of making it as a professional fiction writer?

More than anything I’ve learned that you can’t commit to fiction writing unless you absolutely love it and are willing to do it without any guarantee of ever getting paid, let alone financially surviving from it. Even as a small publisher, you publish because it’s something you want to do, period. If you’re willing to do that, and are willing to engage in a collaborative community, there are huge rewards, though perhaps not so much in a monetary sense.

And you have to have a ton of patience, be able to accept rejection, after rejection, after rejection, and be willing to keep trying. That only comes after working on your writing to make it as honest and good as you can, and having confidence in it.

What’s the best advice you were ever given about writing and publishing? And what advice do you have to offer with the shoe on the other foot, so to speak?

When I was working with R.A. Miller on Sophomoric Philosophy, I asked him if I should be concerned with how autobiographical the novel was. I had even contemplated publishing it under a pseudonym. He told me “Dude, 95% of the stuff you read that’s called ‘fiction’ is based on someone’s real life. You either you accept that and move on, or you don’t move forward with the project.”

It then made me think of how so many of the books I’ve loved are autobiographical in nature as well, and it made me feel comfortable with getting behind the book and publishing it. So I guess I’d share that same advice with an aspiring author, to not be afraid and work with your own personal experiences to craft your work. We all have interesting stories to tell, and it’s only natural to hone them and present them in a way that other’s will relate to and enjoy reading.

Don’t force your voice into some genre just because you feel it’s necessary in order to be commercially successfully. Let your literary voice be your own.

Travel Writer Interview & More Travel Tips

2152923603_7d7f42e390Travel-Writer Interview

Over on the travel blog, Runaway Jane, there was a guest post recently published by travel writer Mark Hodson. It’s an excellent read for anyone interested in travel writing. Mark started travel writing full-time in the mid-1990s and has seen the industry change a lot since beginning. In the article, he provides many great insights on why the industry has gone through so much change. At the end of the article he also explains why it’s so easy to become a travel writer today and also why it’s even easy to get those coveted free press trips.

You can read the entire article here –

Travel tips, travel tips, travel tips!

Finally, as someone who’s always on the look out for more travel tips, there was a great post over on the Travel section of The topic was, “What is the single greatest piece of travel advice you have received or can give?” There were 166 comments. Here’s a few of my favorites:

“You’ll end up with either a good time or a good story” – Rodnet

“Pack half as much as you think you need and be ready to spend twice as much as you think you’ll need.” – Unicynicist

“Remember that you are in the air and flying, remember that not too long ago that was impossible, be happy you’re not spending three months in a covered wagon getting to where you’re going.” – XLII

“Carry a tool that you can use as a can opener, a fork, a knife, and a wine opener. You save a lot of money going to a market for food.” – Parle

Check out all of the tips here:

Jason Demant is the co-founder of, where you can find self-guided tour itineraries for your next trip. For the latest on travel-writing you can follow him on Twitter @Unanchor, or join the I Love Travel Writing Facebook group.

5 Questions With…Rolf Potts

Today we return to our “5 Questions With…” series, and we have with us a real treat–travel writer Rolf Potts. Read on to get some insights from someone who has been around the globe–and gotten paid to write about it! When you get done checking out the interview, be sure and head over to Rolf’s site where there is more advice for aspiring travel writers.                                 – Catherine

Rolf Potts
Rolf Potts

1. What is your background in writing and how did you become a travel writer?

I got involved in travel writing by trial and error — by getting out and traveling, writing, and keeping at it until I got good at both.  My first break came in 1998, when I was living in Korea and I started selling freelance travel essays to  Eventually they made me a biweekly travel columnist — and this let to other freelance work for venues like Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic traveler. 

By 2001 I’d gotten my first book contract, and “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel” was published by Villard/Random House in early 2003.  I’ve since written general journalism and literary criticism, but travel-writing continues to be my main line of work.

2. In your opinion, what are the biggest mistakes writers make when they attempt to craft a travel piece?

They forget to use the techniques of narrative — character, foreshadowing, scene, etc. — and instead just recount their experiences in chronological order.  In the age of blogs, nobody needs a bland, “travelogue” recounting of what happened to you on the road.  You need to tell a story — you need to guide the readers’ experience of your journey, and deliver them insight as well as information — preferably in a lively and engaging manner.

3. Can you share any savvy travel tips with readers? 

Go slow.  Your experience of a place will differ according to the pace of your travels, and you’ll only get superficial impressions if you spend your journey rushing from place to place.  Rather than covering a huge amount of ground in a short amount of time, stick to one place and get to know it well — and get to know some people there.  Your stories will benefit exponentially.

4. What are the components of good travel writing? Continue reading 5 Questions With…Rolf Potts

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. asked her about the business and what it takes  to make it work on both sides of the equation. 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 sponsor. We welcome Kim to these pages and invite you to check out her services. is selective about our clients and sponsors, learn more about our transparency policy and how we scrutinize potential clients and advertisers.