Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full time freelance writer, editor, and PR consultant. While in the midst of publishing her fourth book, Wendy has published over 1,000 articles, short stories, essays, reviews, poems and greeting cards. She has taught at several conferences including the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference in 2009. In addition, she taught “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” for 8 years. Wendy is the author of four books: Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for One, Work It, Girl! 101 Tips for the Hip Working Chick, The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters and soon to be published (in June) The Everything Creative Writing Book. Wendy is available for query consulting and she list’s hundreds of contests and publications open to writers on her blog, Ask Wendy The Query-Queen. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two children.
1) How long have you been a writer?
I wrote throughout childhood, often entertaining my grade school classmates by including them in silly poems and plays that we’d perform for the younger kids. My father is also a professional writer (a.k.a. “The Sinister Minister”) so he was always encouraging my creativity.
2) How did you get started in publishing?
My father sent one of my poems to a magazine when I was 16. I got an acceptance letter and check in the mail and I was hooked! When I graduated from college (with a degree in Psychology!), I just started approaching local publications and asking if I could write for them. I said, “If you don’t like it, don’t pay me.” Luckily, everyone paid me!
3) How long did it take you to publish your 1st book?
My first book came out in 2001. I had been teaching “Breaking Into Freelance Writing” in Denver and met my would-be co-author, Erin. She said, “We should write a book together!” and we did. Actually, two of them.
4) Who is your favorite author?
I have two: David Sedaris is the funniest male author I know and Anne Lamott is the funniest female. Anne writes a lot of books about her experience as a writer so I can really relate. (My dad’s stuff is also great. He won the Bram Stoker a few years ago!)
5) What is the best author experience so far?
Although I’m an extrovert, I hated doing TV and radio (which is what some authors think is the best part). What I love most is when someone writes to tell me they enjoyed my book and it really helped them – especially if they say it was funny and easy to read. Getting people to read a query book from cover to cover is a great accomplishment in my mind! ; )
6) What do you when you’re not writing?
I really try not to do much after I get my kids at 4:30pm. I still answer email at night and on urgent deadlines I might do some work, but with my husband deployed for a year the kids need all the attention they can get from me. So when I’m not writing, I’m taking them to the park, coloring, building campfires or going for walks. I wish I could say I do a lot of reading, but most of what I read is for work – or books for toddlers!
7) Have you ever had writer’s block? What to you do?
It’s pretty infrequent for me not to be able to get started on something. I think that’s because I get paid for everything I do right now (as opposed to sitting down to write a short story which may or may not get published). When I do have trouble, I aim for word count or minutes. For example, if I have 600-word article due I will say, “Type the title and 100 words and then you can quit and go get a drink.” That’s how I trick myself into writing when I don’t want to. I usually ended up writing the entire 600 words before I get a drink.
8) Tips for aspiring writers:
Nobody cares if you don’t write. You need to find your own motivation. Everybody wants to be a writer but the one thing all writers have in common is that they WRITE. Submit to as many contests (especially free ones!) and smaller publications as you can when you first get started. It’s OK to submit to big magazines too, but if that’s all you do and you get rejected, you might want to quit. If you mix it up with smaller literary/local publications that are more likely to publish you, you’ll stay motivated.
9) Tell me about your upcoming book:
My fourth book is actually an update on “The Everything Creative Writing Book” – which comes out in June. The book that’s out now is “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters,” which is all about getting published in magazines, finding an agent and getting a book deal. There are tons of real queries that turned into publishing deals (magazines and books) and real advice on what editors like and don’t like.
10) Where can I purchase a copy?
It should be in most major bookstores since it’s a Writer’s Digest book. You can also buy it on Amazon.com.
Tons of writing contests: http://askWendy.wordpress.com