Writer Interview #6: Linda Kissam

Linda KissamThis is an interview with Linda Kissam, who writes for a number of places including http://winechixs.com.  She has been writing in different capacities for years about a variety of topics.  Thank you Linda, for taking the time to take part in this interview.  I really appreciate it, and I’m sure my readers will as well!

Q) How did you get your start as a writer?

Linda: I was a publicist for several wineries, sending out hundreds of press releases and hosting journalists for many years.  When the economic downturn came most newspapers and magazines stopped sending food, wine & travel writers out to write about my clients, however those same entities began asking if I would write stories for them.  At first I said no as I saw it as a conflict of interest.  But as time went on, I saw it as an opportunity to add some new skills to my resume and began submitting articles.

About the same time, as a publicist representing a large winery, I was asked to donate some wine to the International Food Wine and Travel Writers (IFWTWA) for their annual conference at sea.  I hooked up with their president Maralyn Hill and we became good friends.  She mentored me through the process of best practices for new writers, one of which was to join the IFWTWA.  Those two connections were the path to my becoming a credentialed food, wine and travel writer.

Q) It looks like you write on several interesting topics, do you have a favorite?

Linda: I like to write about wine and the soft activities and experiences that support that passion, such as food, spas, shopping and other unique activities. In other words, I want to understand the entire package that surrounds that lifestyle.

Q) Do you do freelance writing, or write directly for companies that employ you?

Linda: All of the above.  I am on staff with some companies, others I am a contributor. The most important thing to me is to find the right fit for the article I am writing.

Q) Where do you find new clients to write for?

Linda: At this stage in my career path they come to me. The editors either like my work and seek me out or I have a referral from a fellow writer who thinks I would be a good fit for a particular company. That’s the interesting thing about being a writer.  Once you establish yourself as a serious writer, keep your networking and article production up, and align yourself with one or more professional organizations, the rest will take care of itself. But until that time, I had to establish my own Web site, join online discussion groups in LinkedIn, Google online magazines that had similar interests to my own and ask if they were accepting new contributors, scour the monthly writer association newsletters for leads, and be willing to write for free to build my portfolio and credentials.

Q) Is writing your only source of income, or do you have a ‘traditional’ job as well?

Linda: I have a PR company that has four parts to it, all of which make income for me.  Three of them were in place before I brought in the fourth and final department – food wine & travel writing. In order of company development I have a PR company that specializes in wine related clients, I teach three nonprofit management courses for Ed2Go.com, I conduct strategic planning meetings for different  types of nonprofits at the Board level that focus primarily on the topic, “What does success look like?”  My fourth and final division is my food, wine and travel writing.  It is slowly but surely overriding the other division in terms of time requirements because of the travel involved.

Q) Which hours of the day do you do most of your writing?

Linda: 12 pm – 3 pm

Q) Please share one or two tips or tricks you use to stay motivated and productive.

Linda: I live by the “three “rule. Many writers, especially new ones get obsessive about their work.  They can’t seem to stop rewriting it, feeling something more can be done, it’s not good enough, not long enough, not short enough, not “something” enough.  They freeze up and nothing gets done. About 3 months into my writing journey I established my own strategic plan for what successful writing looks likes for me.

Here it is.

  1.  Pick a topic within my expertise and stay focused throughout the project.
  2. Pick a magazine(s) to place my article, based on my host’s requirements, my editor’s guidelines and the readers’ interests.
  3. When I get home I start writing within three days, but no longer than three weeks.  Once I start writing (including any additional research I have to do) the article must be completed within three hours.  I let the article “rest” away from my eyes for a minimum of three hours.  I come back to the article for no more than 1 hour of edits.  I send it off to my editor within three hours and move on to another project. Within three days of the article being published, I send the URL to my host with a thank you note.

Q) What is your favorite part about being a writer?

Linda: Ah, a very good question.  I love putting the puzzle together of why an experience is great – or on occasion – not so great.  I don’t just want to go and have a glass of wine at a winery or restaurant.  I want to meet the owner, the chef, the sommelier to get an idea of how this place came to be and how it sustains itself into an experience my readers will want to try.

Q) Since you specialize in writing about wine…What is one wine you think everyone should try at least once?  And, what is your favorite wine?

Linda: Not an easy question to answer. My opinion on both changes often depending on where I have just been.  I call myself a seasonal drinker.  I like drinking wines that match the season and the foods in season.  Wines are best meant to be enjoyed with food.  If I ever found the perfect wine, my job would be done.

That being said, I had the most wonderful experience last week that I can suggest to your readers.  This pairing comes from Top of the Market in San Diego.  There seems to be a special magic between Chef Ivan Flowers and Sommelier Anne Estrada that is best described in their food & wine pairings.  In a seven-course tasting menu, I was absolutely blown away at course three, the Trilogy Petite plate. It featured: Hamachi with Jalapeno Jam and Vinegar: Faux Calamari, Lemon, Garlic and Parmigiano: Yellowfin, Mango Salpicon and Agrodolce Wasabi droplets.  This dish was paired with a 2011 Curran Grenache Blanc from Santa Ynez Valley.   Exquisitely mind blowing comes to mind.

Now, ask me that same question when I head off to Greece soon and I will have a different answer.

Suggested resources for new writers:

  1.  Investigate writing for http://Tripatini.com. They take new writers.  No compensation.
  2. Join a professional association that provides leads, networking opportunities and press trip leads.  My favorite is the International Food Wine and Travel Writers (http://IFWTWA.org) Dues are reasonable and benefits are focused and worthwhile.
  3. Establish your own blog to place your articles on.  Use social media to promote your site. Tweet links to your articles every week.
  4. Sign up for and fully participate in LinkedIn. Join their writer groups.
  5. Research and reach out to online publications that have similar interests to yours.

 

Thank you again for the interview Linda!  It is very interesting to learn more about you and your business (not to mention the wine!).  Visitors, please make sure to check out Linda’s blog, http://winechixs.com/ and show her some support (while learning about some amazing wines!

If you would like to be interviewed for WriteForMoneyOnline.com, please contact me at Michael@WriteForMoneyOnline.com.  Thank you.

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