Today, Boulder Writing Examiner brings you the first part of the promised interview with 2011 Frasier Contest Coordinator Tiffany Colter. (Yes, you were promised “this weekend.” Tuesday’s part of the weekend, right?)
In addition to serving as contest coordinator for My Book Therapy’s 2011 Frasier Contest, Colter is a full-time writer, a National Writing Examiner and the owner of Writing Career Coach. Her credits as a writer include “national magazines, local papers, E-zines and blogs” on topics ranging from local business to the national writing market. Says Colter, “I can speak as readily on overcoming challenges by faith as I can about reaching a target market through platform development.” And as a writing career coach, she teaches others to do what she had to simply figure out:
I teach business principles to writers and writing principles to businesses. I started as a writing career coach in 2006, shortly after my husband was diagnosed with and treated for cancer. I began learning business principles and I applied them to writing. Now I make my full-time living as an author and teach other authors to do the same.
Her role in the Frasier Contest came about via another project, The Master Seminars, which she coordinated for her agent Chip MacGregor, himself the president of MacGregor Literary (see related forum thread for more about this agency). MacGregor introduced Colter to one of the speakers in The Master Seminars series: My Book Therapy’s Susan May Warren. Says Colter,
[W]e clicked. We both have the same passion to help writers develop. She works more on the craft end, and… I focus more on business development and marketing. We had a complimentary set of skills and started working together.
I first started helping her coordinating some of the things with My Book Therapy. When the Frasier came about, because I had experience as both a coordinator and a judge of writing contests, I took over. Now we work together on other things as well and we’ve really developed a very good friendship.
Another thing they have in common: Colter and Warren are both members of American Christian Fiction Writers. So it’s only natural they would work together in the inspirational fiction and Christian fiction genres, which is the focus of many at My Book Therapy and the MBT “Voices” Club.
(Sidenote: MacGregor Literary is also involved in ACFW. If you write Christian fiction, put them on your list of possible agencies to contact. Also, you’ll want to check out the North Denver ACFW chapter, HIS Writers, who meet on 2nd Mondays in the Barnes & Noble at 92nd & Sheridan.)
What resources does Colter recommend for aspiring writers? Well, for one, Writer’s Digest, not just a great magazine for the beginning fiction or freelance writer but also a useful website. (Industry watchdogs recommend avoiding those who advertise within their pages, however.) Additionally, Colter recommends Chip MacGregor’s archived blog (no longer updated) and that of Rachelle Gardner, agent with Wordserve Literary (see related forum thread). Essentially, the blog of any reputable editor or agent will be full of great information. For instance, Colter says, “Harlequin has some really great blogs and chats from their authors. I’ve learned a lot about craft by going to those websites.”
And, of course, Colter recommends contests: “I suggest getting into a variety of contests, if you can afford it. Set aside a budget to allow you to enter four, five, or six writing contests a year.” But why contests? Well…
Because you get feedback. You can start to see what’s consistent. Now this is the big stumbling block, especially for new writers. You don’t want to change every single thing that every single judge says. What you want to do is get feedback from a variety of different areas, from a variety of different groups, and see what’s consistent throughout. Are they saying that you’re consistently telling instead of showing? Are they consistently saying that your primary characters are not likeable? Are they consistently saying there are holes in your plot? Then change those things. If one person doesn’t like a name, don’t change it.
By entering a number of writing contests it really helps you see what it is that are your overarching issues.
Right now, Colter hasn’t got any plans to visit Boulder on her calendar, but that could change:
If there’s a group in Boulder that would like to have me come speak, contact me through my website and get some details. I’m always looking for opportunities to come and speak to authors. If the Boulder people would like to talk to me online, I put together online workshops where it’s just that writing group and me. It’s a lot of fun, lasts an hour or two, and I’d be happy to tell them more information about that.