Interview with Tara Lynne Groth, 2nd Place Winner in the 2016 Summer Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Tara Lynne Groth writes short fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in multiple journals and one of her poems was selected to inspire two community art sculptures in 2014. She received honorable mention in fiction in the 2015 Carolina Woman Writing Contest and was a semifinalist for the 2015 and 2016 James Applewhite Poetry Prize. She is an alumnus of the Southampton Writers Conference. Her blog, Write Naked, is a place where she breaks down the misconceptions people have about being a full-time freelancer. She tweets at @WriteNaked. More at

Read Tara's winning entry here and then come back to learn more about this prolific writer!

-----interview by Renee Roberson

WOW: Your winning entry, "Who Am I?" has quite the twist ending. How did you come up with the idea for the story, and what was your revision process like?

Tara: I got the idea for the story from a work injury my husband experienced years ago. The idea of having metal stuck in your eye really stuck with me and I wanted to use it in a story. I explain more about that here. The first draft of the story came about in one sitting--at a write-in I hosted in Asheville, North Carolina. After a few tweaks I sent it to my critique group (twice) and made more adjustments after the story didn't place in a contest. Since I love writing short fiction I'm always trying to convey a story in as few words as possible, so my revision process usually focuses on eliminating extemporaneous words, condensing sentences, and making dialogue push the story forward

WOW: A great example of how important it is to keep revising!  Write Naked, celebrated five years in 2016, and now pays writers for guest posts and sells sponsorships to advertisers. What are some of the ways you worked on growing the blog from its inception?

Tara: When I first launched Write Naked I immediately offered paid opportunities for guest bloggers. As a professional writer, I understand the importance and value in compensating writers. At the time I could only afford to pay $25 per post, but after a few months I had not received a single pitch. So I decided to run a special: $100 per post. That got the attention of writers! After a three-month promo period I reverted back to the standard fee. I raised the rates three years later. Right now I offer $50 per guest post, and $200 if I'm particularly impressed. When I receive pitches I look at the potential contributor's writer platform and generally (not always) select a guest blogger who has a large presence that can help grow recognition for Write Naked. Aside from compensating writers, I have a consistent series of posts that subscribers and new visitors grow to rely on. I feature an interview series 200 Words With So-and-So, provide Behind the Pen review of what didn't make the cut in an article or freelance lessons I learned from a client. The Day-in-the-Life series has been one of the most popular; it offers a window into the hectic real world of freelancing. I also participate with many events so I try to mention my blog when I introduce myself. I look for guest blog opportunities throughout the year and that helps tap into other audiences. On social media I use the hashtag #writenaked and my handle is @writenaked so that helps grow awareness too.

WOW: Sounds like a clever use of marketing, and I have a feeling you'll have a flood of new visitors after this interview goes live. As a speaker for various writing workshops and conferences, one of your suggested topics is "Aromas and Creativity." Can you tell us a little more about that?

Tara: A few years ago I was walking in downtown Raleigh and stopped in a shop that sold essential oils. While I wasn't aware at the time of the powerful health benefits and uses of the oils, as soon as I started smelling them I had ideas for stories and the smells triggered memories. I told the shop owner how inspiring the oils were and how fun it would be to do a writing workshop--and she agreed! She showed me a space in the back of the store that was perfect for a small group of writers. Before the first class she researched the properties of oils and developed a 'creativity blend' (or potion as I like to call it!). Then during the workshop everyone gets to create their own blend. We've held a handful of Aromas and Creativity writing workshops over the years--and I'm currently shooting for a date in the spring of 2017 for the next one in Raleigh.

WOW: Hmm. Sounds like something I might have to check out, since I'm not too far from Raleigh! You have also founded two different groups for writers, Triangle Writers and Asheville Writers. What are some of the events writers can take advantage of with these organizations?

Tara: Triangle Writers is located in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and has a few critique groups that meet regularly. I host critiques, write-ins, seminars, workshops (like the Aromas and Creativity), retreats, and open mics. Asheville Writers is focused more on the career and professional sides of writing. I lead book marketing classes, publishing seminars, write-ins, and events related to the business of being a writer. Since I live close to Chapel Hill I'm not as present with my Asheville group, so I try to organize events each quarter there. In 2016 I started creating teleseminar versions of some of my classes, so anyone can attend from anywhere.

WOW: In addition to writing short fiction and poetry, you are also an accomplished journalist and SEO content writer. How do you balance your schedule and the different types of writing you do each day?

Tara: Ah, balance, wherefore art thou? I lead a highly regimented life. Before I go to sleep I organize the next day by the half hour. I know exactly what I'll work on and what I'll finish the next day. Once I have a deadline I put a hard deadline (usually a few days or a week before) in my calendar, then weekly/monthly countdown deadlines to reinforce it. With my freelance SEO content writing, some of that work is unpredictable. I have my anchor clients and I know how much time they require each month, but often one-time projects come through, so my days are stretched thinner then. In 2016 I stopped offering 1-hour free initial consultations. I reduced my initial consult to 15 minutes and that significantly freed up my time. I've also come to learn how and when I work best. Mornings are most productive for me so I get up early and spend time on the mentally-taxing writing then. I schedule all phone conferences and meetings in the afternoons whenever possible so that I'm not interrupted. This does not work for everyone. I encourage all writers to find what works for them and be patient in learning.

WOW: Great advice for us all. Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us here today, Tara!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Thanks for doing this interview.

Tara--I loved that you showed the story twice to your critique group when it didn't place in contests. That proves the old saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try (and try) again."

Congratulations and good luck.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great interview, ladies! Tara, I loved your story, and really enjoyed hearing about all you're doing for the writing community in this interview. Congrats on five years of Write Naked! I'm also super impressed by your regimented scheduling down to the half-hour. I wish I were that organized! Keep up the great work and excellent writing. :)

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