How did you come to commercial freelance writing?
I followed a meandering path from a love of reading and writing as a child to a practical college major in accounting to an early career in auditing, accounting, financial systems and IT to a career that leverages both my writing and communication skills and business experience.
After over 20 years in government IT and financial consulting, I came across Peter Bowerman’s The Well Fed Writer. My enthusiasm grew when I realized that I could leverage my business background and communication skills into a viable and enjoyable writing career.
For the past five years, I’ve made my living as a freelance commercial writer. The bulk of my work has focused on helping high tech companies write strong proposals to win government work and crafting and documenting conceptual solutions to satisfy their clients’ needs.
What kind of education do you have?
Besides a college degree, I’ve taken a variety of courses in my adult years to enhance my skills and further my own knowledge in a variety of areas.
I graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Leeds Business School, with a B.S. in Business (accounting major). In addition, I have the following certificates:
- ”Breaking into Print” - introductory course in writing for children and teenagers - from the Children’s Literature Institute
- ”Beyond the Basics” - advanced course in writing for children and teenagers - in process with the Children’s Literature Institute
- Management Consulting Services / Information Resource Management Consultants’ Training Program (MICT) - a six-month training program for IT systems consultants sponsored by Price Waterhouse
- Certificates in Liturgy and Theology from Georgetown University
Over my years at Price Waterhouse and AMS, I participated in a number of internal management and technical training courses, including:
- Advanced Presentation Skills—“One Word Technique”
- Covey Leadership Training
- Supervisory Skills (AMS internal)
- Conflict Resolution
- Marketing Professional Services
Today I stay current and broaden my horizons through reading and self-education. I read dozens of books and magazine articles monthly. I’ve listented to almost all of the non-fiction audio books available through our public library; I’m currently working my way through audio college courses in a broad spectrum of areas from basic science to biological anthropology to mythology and great literature.
What is your professional work experience?
Before going out on my own, I worked for two large organizations: Price Waterhouse and American Management Systems (AMS).
I spent eight years with Price Waterhouse, moving from Consultant to Senior Manager during that time. I worked on a variety of projects from financial and compliance audits (key accounts included the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the New York State Assembly) to systems design and implementation projects for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation and the Navy CFO.
I then spent the next 13 years with AMS, progressing from Business Analyst to Senior Principal before moving to Colorado and starting my own business. At AMS, I managed large, complex systems implementation tasks, projects and accounts, including long-term work with the Department of State to modernize the domestic and overseas financial management systems environment.
Since 2003, I’ve worked independently, providing business, financial and systems consulting and writing services. I’m pleased to count as a client my former employer AMS (now a subsidiary of CGI Group), along with a variety of large and small businesses in the DC-area and in Colorado.
Do you have any professional certifications or memberships?
Yes, I have a variety of professional certifications, including:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA) - now inactive, since I don’t practice public accounting. I received the Elijah Watt-Sells award for high honors on the CPA exam, which I passed on my first attempt just after college graduation.
- Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) - awarded by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) at the start of the CGFM program. This certification is no longer active due to my inability to stay current with its continuing education requirements when my children were younger; however, I do stay current with government financial practices and trends through active participation in the AGA’s conferences and workshops and subscription to a variety of periodicals and newsletters.
- Certified Data Processor (CDP)
I’m a member of the AGA, the thought leadership organization for government financial and accounting professionals. I participate in a variety of online forums and groups dedicated to improving my business knowledge and writing skills.
Have you always been a writer?
I’ve always been a reader. I don’t think you can be a good writer without reading.
As a child I read everything. (I still do!) My mother tells me that I read my first book at a little over a year old–Bunny Blue. I went through a phase where I read biographies of almost every famous person on the library bookshelf. I read stories about animals – classics like Black Beauty and then-contemporary stories like The Black Stallion and A Horse Called Bonnie. My parents took me to the public library downtown once a week on Saturday mornings where I checked out the maximum allowable eight books. I was usually finished with them by Sunday night. I read under the covers with a flashlight after lights out more nights than I can count.
As I got a little older, I became fascinated with historical fiction. I love books that teach me something about history and culture through story. I also love fantasy and science fiction. My favorites during my early teenage years were Mary Stewart’s Merlin stories The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills. In college I took a Science Fantasy course and discovered Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy and The Lord of the Rings, both still favorites today. I still love a good fantasy; in the past few years, I have enjoyed LeGuin’s later additions to the Earthsea collection, the Harry Potter series (particularly the later books), and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series.
Since I’ve always loved reading, I thought writing would come easily. As a teen, I had several poems published in a local anthology. I tried to write a novel in my later teen years, but it was predictable and unexciting, so I gave up pretty quickly and decided that I didn’t have the ability to write. In high school English, though, we wrote essays at least once a week, and my English teacher, Ms. Graham, thought I had considerable writing talent. I remember when an essay on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness earned me my first A+.
When I began my career in business, I did a lot of writing; however, business writing was very different from the kind of writing I did for English class. It was drier and more factual. I developed a knack for it, though, and was considered an excellent writer. Twice in my career I spent several weeks “locked away” to single-handedly write a big report that was a make or break for a large project. These kinds of experiences paved the way for my current focus on business writing.
How did you get started in your writing career?
From a book, of all things.
The Well Fed Writer–by Peter Bowerman. I came across this book in late 2002 when I was at a transition point in my career. Up until that point, I’d never heard of freelance commercial writers. I grew excited as I realized that my business background and writing skills could combine to form a rewarding career, and I began to pursue commercial freelance writing. From there, my business took off.
What do you do when you’re not working?
Family. Kids. Martial arts. Reading. There’s never a dull moment.
My husband and I have three teenage kids, so we’re always on the go. With the demands of work and family, I don’t’ have a lot of free time. My primary hobby is martial arts; I’ve recently received brown belts in the goju ryu style of karate and in Matayoshi kobudo (ancient weapons). I recently took my first trip to Okinawa for some traditional training. And I still enjoy a good book whenever I have a quiet moment.
Where are you located?
IHome these days is in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I grew up, the oldest of eight children (four girls, four boys). We moved to Colorado in 2001 to raise our three children away from the hectic lifestyle and climate of the big city environment in Washington, D.C. (though I still travel there occasionally to support clients).