Friday, January 27, 2012

Programs to Make Your Head Spin and Your Words Spin Gold

by David A. Miller, II

"But I’ve never done this before,” he whined to himself…"interviewing a published author for The Write Stuff Conference.” Short silence.

“However, I’m now a published author too. Yep, I CAN do this.” And he quit procrastinating, drafted four email questions, had a ball…and made a new friend.

And intends to register for all three of Hana’s programs. As soon as he stops talking in the third person singular.

David A. Miller, II (For GLVWG): Your “Ways to Make Money as a Freelance Writer” session hits a nerve. I haven’t pursued it enough, but want to. What are good starting points?

Hana Haatainen Caye: I suggest signing up on a site like or where you can start to build a portfolio, try out different projects, learn what you like to do and can be most productive doing, and what you don’t enjoy. I have to admit that I did a lot of projects I did not enjoy in my early years. Now I know what to stay away from.

Diversifying is also key. If you really want to work fulltime, you’ll have to go in a few different directions. While I enjoy creative writing projects the most, I also throw in some press releases, ad copy, bios, SEO web copy, etc. And, of course, magazine articles.

Also, it is imperative that you keep good records and receipts. Taxes are killers, so you want every deduction you can get.

The workshop will cover many of the ways writers can make a living ‘supplementing’ their royalties or ‘financing’ their WIP.

D: "Fiction Characters Anonymous" (FCA) sounds like sort of a strange session, but really intriguing. I find it easy to write about characters, but scary to consider being one of them. Can you give some examples of previous sessions? Do the characters fight with each other?

H: It can be a strange session. And yes, the characters do sometimes fight. More often, they flirt, depending on the nature of the characters in the workshop. Someone will say something that strikes a nerve and sparks can fly.

The cool thing about FCA is the way a writer can learn a whole new side of his/her character. The first time I did an FCA session, I was in character as well, and decided to scrap the novel I was working on because I truly did not understand the main character.

It is important to come to the session in character, and stay that way throughout. Obviously, you have to know your character pretty well beforehand. But you will be amazed at what you find out about him or her. It’s all about back story and fleshing out your characters. I do this on my own by going shopping as my character, going out to eat, reading something she would like, etc. Perhaps that sounds a bit psychotic, but it helps color my main characters in ways I can’t do just in my head.

For this session, I will not be in character. I will just moderate the group and keep the dialogue going. It should be interesting!

D: "Inspiring Other – The Chicken Soup Way" (CSS) is the ‘why didn’t I think of that?’ session. I have several CSS books on my bookshelf, but never considered writing one. Can you give a few hints for success?

H: The first time I was published in CSS was in 2003 in Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul. It is amazing how many doors that opened for me, including the reunion with a 23-year-old daughter I gave up for adoption in 1980! The fact is that CSS carries a lot of weight with people, so it is a good thing to have on your résumé. In 2007, I was hired as a freelance editor for Chicken Soup for the Network Marketer’s Soul (through I had the opportunity to rewrite/edit and ghostwrite the stories for that edition. It was a wonderful experience.

Since that time, I’ve presented this workshop at conferences and taught more extensive classes to help people nail the formula that will give them the edge in being accepted and published in CSS and other similar publications. The formula has to be there and I help draw it out of the writers. Three writers who took my class this past summer were accepted for publication within the last two months, which thrills me. I have a story coming out in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, due to hit the shelves in September. My last story literally took fifteen minutes to write. CSS pays $200, plus ten copies of the book, so that was a profitable fifteen minutes!

Again, it is all about the formula. But you’ll have to take the class to find out what that is! I can’t give all my secrets away in this interview!

 D: Vinegar Fridays is a book I’ve already heard about. I already have a file on the many uses of vinegar. Perhaps you could share a few of the uses (almost) nobody knows about before they buy your book?

H: I love talking vinegar! As a matter of fact, I do it nearly every day on Facebook (Green Grandma’s Vinegar Fridays has its own page).

The book covers a wide range of subjects, from health to weight loss to cleaning to pet care … I even end the book with a children’s story I wrote called, "Soft Feet, Macaroni Salad and a Roomful of Scary Monsters." There are nineteen chapters which includes one with some of my favorite recipes.

Vinegar Fridays didn’t start out as a book. It started as a weekly feature of my blog ( Every Friday for one year, I wrote about vinegar. Thus the title. After a year, however, I simply couldn’t think of anything else to say, so I wrote a poem announcing the conclusion of Vinegar Fridays. There was a slight uproar in the Green Grandma community, so shortly thereafter, I announced I would be putting it all together in a book.

Here are some of my favorite tips from the book:

  • Get rid of pesticide residue and bacteria from your fruits and vegetables by washing them in a solution of 3 TBSP of distilled white vinegar (DWV) in a quart of water.
  • Fabric softeners are loaded with toxins linked to, headaches, respiratory ailments, brain and nervous system disorders, and even pancreatic and other kinds of cancer. Absolutely no one should ever use fabric softeners, in my opinion. It is just not worth it. Simply fill your fabric softener dispenser with DWV and let it do its magic.
  • Soften your feet (and I mean really soften your feet) by soaking them in a footbath of warm water with 1 cup of ACV (apple cider vinegar) added. After 5 minutes or so, you’ll be amazed at how soft your formerly rough heels are!
There are hundreds more in the book, which I will have available for purchase and signing at the conference.


  1. Thanks for a great interview, David. Looking forward to these sessions. For ten years I've thought about doing a Chicken Soup piece but never sat down to it. Who knew the series would be so long-lived?

  2. I'll look forward to meeting you, Kathryn! And seeing your work in a future CSS book :)