1. Did you choose the writing profession or did it choose you?
Probably a little of both. I also denied it for a while. I kept telling myself that the other things I was doing were just as creative, just as important. I was wrong.
2. What is your background? (education, work, etc.)
I am an instructor for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program and completed a teaching program with that school–their intent, of course, to make terrific presenters of us all! (-: I was graduated from their cross-town rival, USC, and I have done just about every kind of writing professionally from media releases for a fashion publicity agency, to journalism to poetry (Tracings, a chapbook of poetry, named to the Compulsive Reader’s Ten Best Reads of 2005 List).
3. When did you ‘know’ you were a writer?
The day it occurred to me I needed to print business cards. I picked them up at the printer and it said Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Writer. Ahhhh, confirmation. In print. And you should know this worked better than bylines had in the past.
4. How would you describe your style of writing?
Casual, thoughtful. I think of myself as literary but accessible.
5. What is your writing process?
I work it in when I can. I write without worrying about it. I edit the whole damn mess later.
6. What was your path to publication.
Journalism. A very exciting way to get the bug back in those days. Teletypes tapping, typewriters clacking, the smell of real printers’ ink.
7. What is your favorite self-marketing idea?
I love Amazon. Now that’s a targeted audience and they offer tons of perks to authors. Read about it in The Frugal Book Promoter: How to do what your editor won’t.
8. What are the biggest surprises you’ve encountered as a writer?
That, even with a publicity background, I didn’t know everything about book publicity!
9. How do you inspire yourself? What are your sources of creativity?
I don’t know what writer’s block is. All I have to do is pick up one of the thousands of papers on my desk, open one of my notebooks. I have far more ideas and projects than I can ever do in a lifetime.
10. What is your proudest writer moment?
A hard one. I think when I read that I had been named a woman “who makes things happen” for my literary activism. I write because I want to make a difference so The Pasadena Weekly’s recognition that I had was a grand moment.
11. What’s the best advice you were given about writing?
Do as I say, not as I did. Never give up on it. If you do, you’ll have to start over again! (-:
12. What is your most embarrassing writer moment?
This is a whole mini anecdote. I was a reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune writing a food column on a teenager who offered up an easy — very easy–fudge recipe you could make as you studied. The one-column cutline read (name changed to protect the innocent), “Kathy Laresen…easy to make while studying.” The copy editors caught it before it ran in the city edition but it had run statewide that way. We didn’t get a single letter!
13. What business challenges have you faced as a writer?
Mmmm. Paying the bills?
14. What is your writer life philosophy?
I will never stop. My last and final breath will be, “Make sure my manuscript sees the light of day.”
15. When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
Promote. Ski. Promote. Travel. Promote. Go to museums. Promote. Read.
16. Who do you like to read?
I am voracious. Cereal boxes to philosophy.
17. What’s your advice for new writers?
Learn your craft every time you take up a new one. That means lots of learning for your 1. first foray into journalism 2. first poetry 3. first novel 4. first essay 5. first short story 6. first nonfiction book 7. first….you get the idea. They’re all different. Because you’ve “made it” with one writing profession, doesn’t mean you know beans about another.
18. What books have you written?
The Frugal Book
The Frugal Editor
The Great First Impression Book Proposal: How to Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less
This Is the Place is my heart
Cherished Pulse, with Magdalena Ball,
Imagining the Future, with Magdalena Ball’s
She Wore Emerald Then
Deeper into the Pond