Welcome to Writers4Higher
The purpose of the Writers4Higher blog: to feature authors in a new light, a fresh look at the way writers use their talents and life energies to uplift humankind. Writers4Higher doesn’t promote religious or political views. Authors are asked to answer three simple questions: simple, yet complex.
This issue, Writers4Higher features
Hi Ginny. Welcome to the Writers4Higher family.
1. Tell me about yourself, your book(s), your life, your inspiration.
I'm an accidental writer. With a BS in Math with minors in science and education and an MS in Botany, writing was not high on my list of priorities. I started out as a teacher--first junior high math and then college level science. In 1981, *things* changed for me (and so many others): the first home computers were released. I opened a computer retail store where we sold computers and taught classes. That lasted for five years, and then for the next 20 years, I held various computer-oriented jobs including writing a user manual for a complex software package and designing websites.
You can't have a good website (or blog) without good content that others will want to read. "Content" = "Writing." So helping people create good websites meant that they needed help with their writing. Even writers needed help with their online writing, because the attention span of web surfers is a nano-second! There's no time to waste your headline with a throw-away like, "Welcome to my website. Here you'll learn about me and my books."
In 2004, when my husband and I moved to Florida from Maryland, I tried gardening here and was pretty much unsuccessful in many ways. So I created a fun website called "Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener," where I kept a garden log. In addition, I wrote a more or less month article on my gardening successes and failures. Remember I was a teacher, so this writing was a way of teaching folks what I had learned and probably consolidating information for myself as well.
In 2006, I was a speaker at a writers' conference in Jacksonville where I met John Bryam, editor-in-chief of University Press of Florida (UPF). After his presentation, I asked him if UPF would be interested in publishing a collection of my adventures of a transplanted gardeners columns. He declined, but asked if I could write a book on organic gardening in Florida instead. I agreed, but after more research on the topics involved in Florida gardening, my formal book proposal was for "sustainable gardening" instead of "organic gardening," because I reasoned that was a larger topic with wider appeal.
The writing process included a great deal of research, using online and printed materials plus personal communication with various experts. Several rewrites with major changes were made with suggestions from experts hired by UPF, from my own contacts, and finally from the copy editor who is also a master gardener. It turned out to be a three-year process, and the book was published in 2009. I went on a self-designed and self-funded book tour of Florida and over the next 11 months I made 53 appearances including 11 garden fests. Since then, the book has done quite well even through some "down" years for book selling.
My latest book is about growing vegetables organically in Florida, which will also be published by UPF. I have a co-writer in Miami because it's four planting zones away so it's really a whole different gardening world down there. Our book, "Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida," will be published in Feb. 2013. Ironically, this is the book that John wanted me to write back in 2006, but it's so much better to have written it at this stage because of all the experience I've gained in both Florida gardening and writing.
2. Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?
At this point, I'm a niche writer and spend my time writing about Florida gardening and the environment. Fortunately, I'm retired and do not depend upon writing for an income. I will continue to write about these topics because I think they are important, and I’m committed to making this knowledge accessible to our state’s gardeners.
But I do have three novels in various states of completion sitting on the back burner. Whether I ever do anything with them is anyone's guess.
3. How do you use your talents/time to help others?
Before I switched entirely to garden writing, I'd written several articles about online writing and websites. These are posted at www.websiteideas4writers.com. Although they were written several years ago, most of my advice is relevant today. You still want people (and Internet search robots) to find you above others. Managing your online presence is tricky, but if you stay on target with comments and online writing, you'll be better off. In other words, it's best to steer clear of politics or religion unless that is your niche. In my case, both Democrats and Republicans like to garden, so why would I want to irritate 50% of my audience with a political quip or a rant? So whatever I'm doing online, I'll comment on articles, write letters to the editor, interact in a forum only if I have something to add to a gardening or environmental discussion.
My garden and environmental writing is mostly to help Mother Nature, who has been under stress here in Florida. For the past few years I have been one of two main bloggers for the Florida Native Plant Society (www.fnpsblog.org), which does an amazing work in protecting Florida's native ecosystems, educating the public about native plants, and making more native plants available for homeowners. My garden writing also includes writing for The Lawn Reform Coalition (www.lawnreform.org), and the Native Plants & Wildlife Gardens blog (nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/author/ginnystibolt/).
Recently, I started a new blog, www.greengardeningmatters.com, which is now my personal garden writing vehicle. I have left the old transplanted gardener website up, because new people moving to Florida can still learn from my adventures and avoid some newbie pitfalls with my frank and honest, "How I learned to garden in Florida."
While I think I have helped gardeners over the years, last year I received an email from a woman who lives in the town north of mine. She was stationed in Iraq and told me that reading about my garden helped her stay sane in that awful place. She is now back home and she and I are scheduled to go out to lunch together next week. I'll be writing about that interview, to encourage others to share their gardening adventures, too, because when you're online, you never know who's day you may have brightened.
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Thank you, Ginny! You make me want to go out and dig in the dirt.
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