One of the people who responded to my request for a new columnist was C. Hope Clark. From the interview below, you’ll understand how I felt when Hope responded and, therefore, without further ado, I have great pleasure in introducing to you, C. Hope Clark …
Aneeta: Hope, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Hope: You are quite welcome. Always glad to talk to other writers.
Aneeta: Let’s start with something about you. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? What do you do for a living now and where do you live?
Hope: I was born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi. I know, you’ve never heard of it. My grandparents were farmers and my parents were visiting them when I decided to arrive. But with my father being Air Force, I grew up in Mississippi, Illinois, Washington State and South Carolina. I call SC my home since I’ve been here for 30+ years.
I requested an early retirement from the federal government in order to write. With that and my fulltime writing, I make my living. FundsforWriters.com is a career for me. I live on the banks of Lake Murray in South Carolina, where I write every single day, overlooking the ducks, deer, raccoon and other wildlife that live here with me.
Aneeta: I have a confession. When I first received your email, I recognised the URL. It took some time but I soon realised who it was and I must say, I am quite humbled that you’d contacted me! Having your website, Fund for Writers voted Writer’s Digest 101 Best Web Sites for Writers, from 2001 through 2008 is a great achievement. Congratulations! How did you come about setting up this website in the first place? What was its purpose and have you reached the goals you set out for it?
Hope: I started the newsletter first when the emails became too many to answer. My previous life in the federal government was centered around finance, grants and loans. So when I spoke to a group of writers in Atlanta about how to write for the internet in 1999, the conversation somehow gravitated on how to make a living, grants and other money issues. After the meeting, people started emailing me. The newsletter started to cut down on duplicate emails (and allow me to write). In two months, I had 1,000 members. Took me a week to design my first web site and it loaded slowly (everything was dialup in 1999-2000 when I started). I’ve since learned from trial and error how to prepare a web site. But all I wanted to do was show people where grants were and educate them on how to write without tunnel vision. People need to learn about the many money streams there are in writing – grants, contests, publishers, jobs and freelance gigs. Don’t put your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Some fans nominated me to Writer’s Digest when their contest was new. I was surprised to learn I had made the list! Now each year, FFW has seemed to have maintained that position, and I’m tickled to death about it.
Goal? I had no goal with FundsforWriters. I went into it kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to start a venture that was too close to the day job I still worked. I wanted to write fiction. Eventually, I faced the music and realized a higher power was pushing me toward FundsforWriters. A lot of writers don’t understand the networking, study and effort it takes to earn a living writing. So I feel I provide a service. I’m always amazed at how far it reaches and how many people it touches. Just stuns me. I really don’t have long-term goals for FundsforWriters. I maintain it, rotate the inventory (the ebooks), and have fun with the weekly editorials. I enjoy the connection to other readers, and only hope that it keeps growing.
Aneeta: I can see that you’ve got quite a few ebooks on the market. As this website is for storytellers, I would like to ask you about two which, I feel, would be most interesting. They are Short Story Writer and Agent in Your Pocket. Can you please describe these two ebooks?
Hope: These are actually my newest two books. Short Story Writer gives basics on writing short stories then it lists 240+ markets for those shorts. Short stories cover from flash to the longer shorts just under the size of novellas. The markets cover all of them – from 50 words to 25,000 words. A lot of people love writing shorts, and I thought readers would like to test getting them published.
Agent in Your Pocket is a guidebook on submitting to literary agents. It has 140+ agencies in it – most of which I’ve spoken to, written, or known through other writers. In this ebook you learn what an agent expects and how to prepare a query to them. I’ve also included agent blogs and web sites. Great information for the writer who has a polished manuscript ready for publication.
Aneeta: I’ve just read this piece of information and I like you even more – You’ll find me in my study overlooking the dock, talking to the birds and loving my dachshund who ever sleeps at my feet (and in my lap when I let her). Anyone who knows me even for a minute will know that I’m crazy about dachshunds. I have one and let’s just say she’s treated like gold – she’s the granddaughter my father does not have! So, tell me all about this dachshund of yours.
Hope: Dixie’s full name is “Cindy’s Dixie Doodle” on her papers. My first name is Cynthia, but I prefer using my middle name – Hope. Dixie is a miniature black-and-tan, and she is my baby. Everyone in the family will admit she’s definitely mine. She sleeps between my husband and me. She adores chasing the squirrels on the lake bank, and when I built this house, I had her built a window seat at the window with a cushion so she can watch the back for wildlife. She’s slowing down a bit now at 12 years old, but she’s traveled coast-to-coast with me.
Aneeta: As you know this website caters for storytellers. What advice would you give those who would like to become storytellers?
Hope: Write the story, then go back and take each chapter or scene and stir it up. Then go through it again and shake it up again. The first time around is never right. Even when you think you have it down pat, pull a “what if” and wonder what would happen if…and fill in the blank. I’m in the process of doing that now in my edits of my two novels.
Aneeta: Hope, this is all I have to ask. Is there anything you’d like to add?
Hope: FundsforWriters is about writers trying to make a living at their craft. The web site, ebooks and four newsletters we offer educate them on contests, grants, markets, publishers/agents and jobs. I welcome anyone interested in making a writing income, whether part-time or full-time, to come by and sign up. The opening motivational editorials are everyone’s favorite part!
Aneeta: Hope, thank you.
This piece may NOT be freely reprinted. Please contact editor @ howtotellagreatstory.com for reprint rights.