Archive | Writer Profiles RSS feed for this section

Canadian Writer Profile – Samantha Bailey

An ESL teacher for 15 years, Sam Bailey started her writing career as a novelist. While it initially looked like a promising career track, repeated rejections and setbacks inspired her to try her hand at writing for magazines instead. These articles started getting accepted, and so after the birth of her second child, she decided to pursue freelancing. She discovered that her skills were in demand, and has been working full-time in the field since May 2011.

To her, the greatest draw of freelancing is the ability to pursue her dream of writing and editing as a career instead of a hobby. With children, being able to set her own hours and work from home is a definite bonus as well, but to her, the best part of freelancing is getting to do what she loves full-time. She also enjoys being able to create things that make people happy and appreciates being able to help those who may struggle with expressing themselves in writing.

A member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC), Sam is planning to self-publish her novels and is a contributor to Now Magazine, The Village Post, Abilities Magazine, Oxford University Press and other publications. She’s also really enjoying a current project creating ESL course materials for business writing communications, because it’s the first time she’s been able to combine all her skills and education, both in writing and in teaching ESL. She prides herself on being a versatile writer, covering everything from business to creative to academic, with experience teaching English and business English, as well as a master’s degree.

When it comes to writing, she finds it helpful to be able to step away from a project for a bit, in order to come back and look at it with a fresh eye. It’s also helpful having a second set of eyes to look something over, so never be afraid to ask someone to edit. She also finds it’s important to know when to stop — sometimes you just have to know when to hit send.

For those just beginning in the profession, she recommends establishing a payment plan with clients and trying to get some of the fee before releasing the materials. It’s also essential to believe you can do it and to have faith that it is possible to make a living as a freelancer.

Sam provides samples and updates of her current projects on her website, Perfect Pen Communications. Her first novel, Finding Lucas, is due out in mid-April and will be available on Amazon’s Kindle platform.

Canadian Writer Profile – Kait Fowlie

Kait Fowlie is far from the typical young writer just out of University. Through a mix of tenacity and talent, Kait has an impressive list of publications in her portfolio that she’s grown over the past five years, including Canadian Living, Shedoesthecity.com, Brick, and Torontoist.com. We had a great chat with Kait to find out more about the path that led her to success.

Kait grew up in Brantford and moved to Toronto for the inspiring literary scene. She graduated from Ryerson in April 2011 from the Arts & Contemporary Studies Program, where she majored in English. She’s really inspired by the Victorian literature that she studied in school. She interned with Brick, the blog Shedoesthecity.com, and she is now interning with Bunch. She loves writing very much and it comes naturally to her.

She’s very interested in the intersection of writing and media, and is completing an internship with a media consulting company, Bunch Family Media, right now. Kait has found it relatively easy to transition from internships to paid gigs. She Does the City is paid, Canadian Living pays, and her Bunch internship pays. She says that “it is difficult to make transition if you aren’t gung-ho. I’m very motivated and it is a joy. I’m willing to work hard for it.”

Tips for Other Young Writers
We asked her if she had any tips for other writers who are just starting their careers. “Making connections. Young writers are intimidated by idea of making connections. They think of it as some weird, superficial thing we have to do. If you genuinely give of  yourself as a person you’ll get somewhere eventually. Your professional self doesn’t have to be different from your own self.”

What was the biggest factor that helped out her career?  She Does the City was her first real “gig” and she’s still writing for it. As she puts it, the blog “opened her universe” and made her get out and explore the great city of Toronto. Right now, she is writing the most for bunchfamily.com, a trendspotting blog. The blog is along the lines of the type of writing she’d like to do in the future.

You can follow Kait on her blog at boldandherbacious.tumblr.com and through her prolific posts at Shedoesthecity.com.

Canadian Writer Profile – Ellen Baragon

Ellen Baragon has been writing all her life. So when she was forced to leave her job as a newspaper reporter due to illness, freelancing seemed a natural way to make money during the long recovery process. A desire to be her own boss drew her to the field, but also the flexibility of being able to write anywhere and the variety of subject matter make freelancing appealing to her.

“I think that for me the best thing about it is that you are exposed to a lot of different fields,” she explained. “You meet a lot of really interesting people. And that makes it an adventure, every day.”

She reflects back fondly upon selling her first story, right out of journalism school, which she says is one of her favourite memories of her freelancing career: “I wrote a feature story and sold it right away to a paper. And that was extremely exciting.”

Of course, not all jobs come so easily and even after years of experience, finding work can still prove one of the biggest challenges of the profession. “You can be a decent writer and have the skills, but selling yourself, it’s uncomfortable.”

Her trick to nailing down a story lies in writing the lead. Figuring out the hook or central idea can sometimes be the hardest part, but once captured in that lead sentence or paragraph, it can set the tone and encapsulate everything that’s to follow. “Then you’re good to go — it’s just a matter of telling the story,” she noted.

A devoted Mac user, she favours Microsoft Word for her work, admitting that she can’t imagine not having that program. Along with her writing, she’s also a photographer and videographer, which are important to her because they’re also part of the storytelling process.

You can view samples of Ellen’s work, including her photographs and videos, on her professional website, ergocreative.ca.

Canadian Writer Profile – Travis Shuman

Writing has always come naturally to Travis Shuman. He got his start when he was still in grade school, kicking off a short fantasy novel in a moment of boredom. He liked it so much, that he kept going back to the computer to write for hours every night. He attended college for massage therapy, but found that it wasn’t really what he wanted to do. Each time he’d try to find a new career path, he kept finding his way back to writing. He slowly began to acquire clients and has now been freelancing for three years.

Finding work when it sometimes feels like everyone’s a writer, and being able to take criticism when receiving feedback can sometimes prove challenging. To him, however, the best part of freelancing is just being able to do exactly what he loves: “As soon as I get to start writing, I enjoy it from start to finish. It doesn’t even feel like I’m working. It feels great.”

He’s enjoying his current gig as a freelance article writer for a site called Egotastic. “I basically write about gaming and technology, and that’s kind of the other thing I’ve really enjoyed in life. So to be able to combine writing and gaming together is perfect… Writing’s great, but writing about what you love is the best.”

While some writers may seek the quiet and solitude of an empty study, Travis, who got his start freelancing on the side while working at the mall, finds that surrounding himself with white noise and activity can help reduce writer’s block. When it comes to hitting the keys and knocking out a story, he describes himself as old-fashioned, preferring a typewriter instead of the usual laptop. And for those ideas that strike when on the go, he carries a notebook with him all the time.

You can find Travis on Facebook, where he provides updates on his writing career.