It’s my birthday—well, Write from the Inside Out’s birthday. Blow out the candles and I can cry if I want to! We’re 10 years old this month—can you believe it? Throughout this decade, my basic offerings haven’t much changed: editing, author mentoring and writing workshops. My first workshop in 2006 was a creative nonfiction class at Edible Art next to the Royal Bean Coffee shop on Hillsborough Street. I remember it rained so hard during the second class, the roof leaked and our group had to move a couple of times not to get wet inside! I barely broke even because the hourly charge was $50/hour for two and a half hour class. Good times.

What are some highlights from these 10 years?

I received a United Arts Grant in 2007 and was able to spend a week at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival which changed my life.

I graduated from NC State in 2006 with my MA in English with a Rhetoric/Composition concentration. My thesis was on creating a creative nonfiction curriculum for first-year students; very similar to what I do now with my memoir students!

My daughter, Erin, was born and now she’s my official photographer at events.

I started Wonderland Book Club in 2008 and it has grown into a fabulous monthly gathering of 20-25 folks where we have guest authors visit us every month to share their wit and wisdom.

My writing pal, Beth Browne, whom I met in 2006, asked me and Jane Andrews (whom I met in 2004) to co-lead the Main Street Rag Open Mic Series at So & So Books in 2014. We meet every third Wednesday at So & So Books, starting the evening off with a featured poet, which is followed by open mic.

I have published five books with Main Street Rag: Unfinished Projects (2010), After the Steaming Stops (2012) and Tattoos (2012) (Editor: A Short Fiction Anthology), Creatures of Habitat (2015) (Editor: Anthology) and most recently, Heroes without Capes (2015). And let’s not forget the first book that started it all: Right Lane Ends (2006).

I taught blogging/social media classes from 2009-2014 until YouTube put me out of business, but I’ve been teaching a score of marketing and branding workshops this year that build upon core values and how George Washington was the father of branding!

The News & Observer hired me as an “Our Lives” monthly columnist in 2010.

I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2012.

In Summer 2011 I presented a poetry workshop on Long Island and read several poems in St. Louis and in Summer 2015 I read my poetry in Boulder, Colorado, at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore, one of only three poetry bookstores in the nation!

I was invited as one of the Charleston, South Carolina, Piccolo Spoleto Featured Poets for the Sundown Poetry Series in 2013.

I remain a Facebook junkie more so than Twitter or LinkedIn, but Instagram is really cool.

I joined Toastmasters in 2010 where I became painfully aware of how often I say “um” and “and so.” I am a proud member of Born Toastmasters.

I became a Reiki Master Practitioner in 2013 and continue to give healing Reiki sessions.

In 2009 I became a United Arts Teaching Arts in Wake County. I’m no longer in the official directory, but am still available to teach in the schools.

In 2013 I started Irish dance, violin and guitar lessons and am now performing with my guitar at farmers’ markets, festivals, Irish dance performances, First Fridays and open mics.

I became the NC Writers’ Network Wake County Regional Representative in 2009 and joined the Board of Trustees in 2013.

Also in 2013 I planned and hosted my first overnight retreat in Marshall, North Carolina, near Asheville. I’m no longer hosting retreats, but am available to teach at them.

I traveled many, many miles all across the Old North State reading my poetry at various venues thanks to my 2008 Subaru Outback. My car hit 100,000 miles after my first NCWN Board meeting May 4, 2013. It is now at 169,000 miles.

Surviving the Great Recession and still being relevant!

I still have the best clients ever!

What’s the secret to success?

I’m organized AND creative—the two sides of my brain usually team up for good and not for evil. I love forming productive collaborations with the right people and I’m not afraid to delegate work. Since 2014 I’ve learned to say “no” to a lot more things and this has definitely helped my health. At beginning of my business I wanted to say “yes” to everything. After all, 2008 was the Great Recession and I had to have some money coming in. Now I’m very selective in the clients I take on: I want clients who are already writers and now want to complete that novel, memoir, coaching book or poetry chapbook.

I know what my core values are: hard work, faith, persistence, honesty and integrity.

I love learning about new technology and could not have survived as long as I have without becoming a Meetup organizer (for my Wonderland Book Club) and a Constant Contact member (for my newsletter).

I’ve invested in four new website redesigns/overhauls since 2009 and invested in workshop space through the Center for Excellence when that space became available in Spring 2011. I’ve also networked, starting with Coffee and Contacts, a women’s networking group, in 2007 to the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce to Femfessionals. It’s great fun to open up the business section of the paper and now read about at least four people I know! Right now, I network mainly with fine artists, authors and musicians, since my business and my art are leading me in this direction. If you want to get ahead, you need to help other folks get ahead too by lending a hand, a referral or an introduction when necessary.

In truth, it doesn’t feel that long ago when I built my first website all by myself and hung up my workshop flyers at the Cary Borders.

And it does help if you love the work you do—even in the dark times when you get criticized, blamed, almost sued, etc., you want to get up the next day and make a difference in someone’s life.

See you next year for my 11th anniversary!