Our conversation today is with Roberta Sandler, a long-time freelancer for magazines and newspapers, who has shared dozens of marketing and business-building tips with our members in the pages of Freelance Writer’s Report over the years. She shared her thoughts about surviving in today’s freelance market in our free e-book, Freelance Survival: Thrive & Prosper
Roberta has also written books, so we’ll talk to her about her most recent:
A Brief Guide To Florida’s Monuments and Memorials (University Press of Florida) by Roberta Sandler is a great resource for travelers and history buffs. It covers 80+ battlefields, parks, gardens, statues, graves, forts, and other sites honoring a person, place, or event in Florida’s past. The memorials cover 500 years of Florida history and pay tribute to real-life soldiers, pioneers, explorers, inventors, educators, Seminole chiefs, sports and entertainment icons, hotel and railroad barons, and more. The book has 250 pages; 90 photographs.
Writers-Editors Network: Roberta, what inspired you to write this book?
Roberta Sandler: When I discovered Florida’s diverse, rich and long history, and attractions that reflect that history, I wanted to share it. The book was my way of remembering and honoring people and events that should never be forgotten, whether it is the flight attendant from Florida who was killed on 9/11 or the young soldiers who died in Florida’s Seminole Indian Wars and Florida’s Civil War battles.
Writers-Editors Network: Do you plan on writing more books?
Roberta Sandler: I plan to write more books about places people can visit that offer great true stories about Florida’s 500 years of history.
Writers-Editors Network: Why should people read A Brief Guide To Florida’s Monuments and Memorials?
Roberta Sandler: As a reason to get out and explore, even if it is a one-tank getaway; as a way to discover, through Florida’s architecture, culture and history, that the Sunshine State offers much more than golf courses and theme parks; and finally, to enjoy a good read and know that every word is true.
Writing this book …
Writers-Editors Network: Did you know where you were going with this book so you could outline it fully? Or did you just start writing?
Roberta Sandler: When I began, I didn’t know how many, or which, memorials would be in my book; so rather than outline, I made lists. In my head, I knew basically what quotes, information, references, descriptions I’d need for each chapter. That part of it was fairly formulaic. With each draft, I further perfected the content until all the facts and information became poignant, exciting, amusing, or enlightening true stories.
Writers-Editors Network: What was your favorite chapter to write?
Roberta Sandler: Any chapter based on a surprising discovery I made during my Florida travels, like “The British Plot.” Because of Florida’s year-round mild weather, World War II RAF cadets were sent to Florida for training. Dozens of them died during training accidents and are buried in a British plot in Arcadia, Floriida. Every Memorial Day, someone of British heritage places wreaths on the graves. Who knew?
Writers-Editors Network: What was the biggest challenge in bringing this book to publication?
Roberta Sandler: Almost two years of driving around the state to visit sites, then the research and interviewing for more information; the fact-checking, and most of all, the repetitive proofreading.
How she writes …
Writers-Editors Network: Where is your favorite place to write books?
Roberta Sandler: My home office has the privacy, quietude, and reference materials I need in order to write.
Writers-Editors Network: Do you have any writing rituals?
Roberta Sandler: I always have a pad and pen with me — by my bed, in my pocketbook, wherever I am. I also always have a camera with me, even if it is a disposable camera.
Writers-Editors Network: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Roberta Sandler: I can’t recall not wanting to be a writer. I love reading. I love the phonetic sound of words.
Writers-Editors Network: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Roberta Sandler: Watch movies; read; go on a cruise, where I can leave the world behind, relax, and think about the cruise article I’m going to write when I get home!
Her advice to writers …
Writers-Editors Network: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Roberta Sandler: Don’t be lazy and don’t be sloppy. If you are a writer, then write. If you want to be a good writer, then know your spelling and grammar, know your facts, and always proofread.
Write about what you don’t know — i.e., get out of your comfort zone. Do background research enabling you to intelligently ask questions of experts, so you can write about unfamiliar topics. This is a great learning opportunity.