As the "Roar Series" continues, I hope you'll join me in welcoming Wendy Burt Thomas to Pen and Prosper. Wendy and I go back a bit, and she's one of my favorite online writing connections.
Wendy Burt-Thomas is the author of “The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters” and three other books. Her published pieces include more than 2,000 articles, essays, short stories and poems. She works as a full-time freelance writer, editor and PR consultant from her home in Colorado Springs.
1. Do you write everyday? Do you think that it's important for other writers?
I write every weekday. Sometimes I need to work on the weekends, but if I don’t, I do very little writing so I can spend time with my family. I do keep a notepad next to my bed to jot down ideas, but I don’t want to look back someday and think I missed my kids’ childhoods because I was so consumed with writing. I do think it’s vital that writers write—and read—a lot, but it doesn’t have to be every day.
2. Where are you most inspired to write? (at home in tub, local coffee shop, etc.)
I do most of my writing at home on my computer. However, I do still love the feeling of a notepad and great pen! Although I enjoy writing at the park, it’s often hard to stay focused with so much going on around me. As writers, there’s a balance we need to find between our love of writing and letting the world pass us by. It’s the irony of writing a sci fi story without noticing that a spaceship has landed in front of you.
3. If you could receive a 6th sense, what would it be?
Dogs have a special place in my heart and I would love to be able to read their minds and communicate with them. Having a “mental conversation”with animals could change so much in our world. (I can’t even hear Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel” song without crying!)
4. If there were a song to describe your life's philosophy, what would it be?
“Anything” by Hedley. It’s a fun, funny song (warning: bad language!) about how “I can do anything.” It’s sort of my philosophy with writing. My degree is in psychology but I’ve been writing all my life. Whenever I see a writing gig that sounds fun or if a client asks me to do something I know nothing about I say, “Why not? I’ll try it!” It’s gotten me very far in my career! I’ve written games, greeting cards, mugs, plaques and countless other fun things that I wouldn’t have done if I’d put my skills in a box based only on experience.
5. What talent do you wish you had?
I wish I had a gymnast’s flexibility. I am so stiff from sitting at a desk for years that I feel like I’m 43 going on 143! I was an athlete in my high school and college years and I let it all go. Being able to paint my own toenails sounds like a “talent” right now.
6. Who are your favorite authors and why?
I love Anne Lamott and David Sedaris because they both make me laugh out loud. I’ve also read all but the latest of Sue Graftons’ alphabet series, which I enjoy because it’s pre- personal technology (cell phones, email, texting, Internet) so she has to do everything “old school.” And my father, Steve Burt, is also a writer. He’s won numerous awards for his YA paranormal books in the “FreeK” series and I love editing his first drafts.
7. What project are you working on now?
I’ve got three full-time clients and several part-time clients for whom I do a mix of writing, editing, PR and copywriting. But I’m also in the middle of pitching TV ideas and writing a (comedy) screenplay. I love trying new things even if I’m not always “successful” by industry standards.
I think it’s that they don’t learn enough about the business because they think the rules don’t apply to them. They don’t understand that an editor’s job is to help you, that agents can make you more money than you’d get on your own, and that publishing houses have rules (like “no unagented submissions”) for a reason. If you want to make money as a writer, you’ve got to learn the rules so you can figure out how things (generally) work. And don’t rely solely on your mom’s opinion of your writing. She thinks everything you do is wonderful. Get a professional opinion to find out where you can improve your writing.
Thoughts, readers? Questions on queries for the "Query Queen?"