MF: At age 19, I read Kerouac’s On the Road and I was hooked. I’ve been writing ever since.
LH: What was your first success?
MF: My early success came while I was still in the creative writing program at Cal State Long Beach. I had several poems and short stories published in literary journals. My first short story was published at the University of Wisconsin, in their journal “Cream City Review.”
LH: What kind of things do you most enjoy writing?
MF: Short fiction or nonfiction profiles of individuals. I also like travel writing, although I don’t do much of it anymore. Film scripts can be fun too, but I prefer doing those in collaboration with other writers.
LH: Do you have an agent? Tell us about your experiences with/without agents.
MF: Yes, it seems as if I’ve always had an agent. My experiences have ranged from terrible to wonderful. Agents tend to be busy and some of them handle it better than others. My current agent falls into the “wonderful” category. He has been handling some screenplays for me, and he’s great.
LH: What are your thoughts about marketing? Do you have any great tips on how to do it well?
MF: Writers are expected to do much more of this now. Good networking with other writers or editors is essential. So I can recommend attending writer’s conferences, where you can meet many people in the industry face-to-face. There doesn’t seem to be any substitute for this. Meet people, talk about your work, and when you attend a conference, be sure to carry a few asmples with you.
LH: If you could go back in time and start over, tell us one thing you have learned that would help you to succeed better/faster/with less struggle.
MF: In the early days, I hated rejection so much that I would pore over a rejected manuscript and try to make changes so the next publisher would take it. Now I understand that work gets rejected for a variety of reasons and many, many times it has nothing to do with a work itself. If I were starting over, I would just give a rejected manuscript a quick read and then send it out again. I wouldn’t waste a lot of time worrying about it. That would free up time for writing other things.
LH: Any other thoughts to share?
MF: When it comes to writing, I still haven’t seen anything more valuable than persistence. Be persistent in writing and submitting. You have to write well, of course, but the more persistent you are, the better your writing becomes. Keep doing it!
LH: Can you tell us where to find some of your articles and your website? I know you work with other writers to help them improve/edit their work, and I have found your online courses, workshops, and input on my own manuscripts very valuable.
MF: You can find some of my articles at the Dream Merchant web site, although they aren’t designed to help writers. http://www.dreammerchant.net/
My web site is at: http://www.writers-review.com/
LH: Thanks for the insights into your life as a writer, Mike.