Madeline Mora-Summonte: Spring 2009 Contest Runner Up
Here's a little information about Madeline:
She has written poetry, personal essays, and book reviews; but her first love is fiction in all its forms--from flash to novels. Her work has appeared in over twenty publications, including Highlights for Children, Storyhouse, and Every Day Fiction. Her story, “The Empty Nest,” will be included in W. W. Norton's upcoming Hint Fiction Anthology. She attends mystery author Blaize Clement's weekly writing workshop where the talent and creativity of the group continues to amaze her. Madeline is currently busy writing and revising her women's fiction manuscript. She lives with her husband/best friend in Florida. You can visit her website at www.MadelineMora-Summonte.com.
WOW: Congratulations, Madeline, on being a runner up in the flash fiction contest. What was your inspiration for "Poster Child?"
Madeline: I’d glance at the “Missing” posters on my way into those big box discount stores, but I’d never really see them, you know? I think for many of us they do start to seem like wallpaper like the woman in the story whose own child is safe and sound and playing beneath them. One day, I just stopped and looked at them, really looked at them. Then I just kept asking myself questions: “Who else is stopping and looking?” “Why?” “What if?” And that’s when Megan appeared.
WOW: Great points. It is interesting how your story came out of something that we see every day, but only when you really stopped to think about it. Your description is amazing in "Poster Child," from the coin-operated kiddie rides to the actual description of the old MISSING posters. Was it difficult to describe everything you needed to with such few words available?
Madeline: Thank you! It’s a constant balancing act. Too much description overloads the story, and the plot and characters get lost; but too little makes the story seem set in limbo. It’s tricky, finding just the right detail and then the right amount of it. I wanted people to know that store, to have been in that store, without me naming it or describing it brick by brick. I hope I accomplished that.
WOW: You definitely did describe well for me and obviously the judges, too! Why do you enter contests? Would you suggest entering contests to most fiction writers?
Madeline: I tend to enter mostly flash fiction contests because they give me a nice, tight word count; a deadline; and sometimes, a theme. When I’m working on a novel, I’m in this murky place that seems to have no discernible framework or an end in sight. Flash fiction generally, and contests in particular, give me a structure to work within and a finish line I can see.
I think contests are a great way to stretch that writing muscle, but you also have to be aware of the scams out there. Make sure the contest is legit. Read the fine print about rights, etc. before entering.
WOW: I agree with you that contests are a great way to maybe try something new without investing a ton of time in it. It is nice to focus on more than one project at a time. I think that helps writers' block! You attend Blaize Clement's weekly writing workshop. Can you tell us a little about this? Is it like a critique group, mini-conference, writing/brainstorming time?
Madeline: I am extremely lucky to be a part of this workshop. It’s like a haven for creativity and expression. We are a diverse group: different ages, different backgrounds, different goals. But one of the things we have in common is this desire to create and to play with words and to tell stories.
Blaize, who is the author of the Dixie Hemingway mystery series (St. Martin’s Press), has created this safe place for all of that to happen. We usually do timed writing--Blaize gives a word or a phrase, anything from “a room” to “an omen”--and we write for about five minutes. Then we take turns reading aloud what we wrote. NO critiquing allowed! We can only mention something that strikes us--a great line or a vivid turn of phrase or an interesting character. If nothing strikes us, then we just move on to the next reader.
Blaize also talks about craft, and she gives us some insight into the world of publishing. We all sometimes talk about great or not-so-great books we’ve read or movies or TV shows. But it always starts and ends with the writing.
WOW: That group sounds awesome and like a lot of fun. Your description might encourage others to start a group like it in their communities! Congratulations on your publication success. What are some goals you have for yourself and your writing career?
Madeline: Thank you! Well, one of my goals is to break into the top three of a WOW! Flash Fiction Contest! Don’t get me wrong. I was thrilled to previously make Honorable Mention twice and now the Top Ten twice, but to rank higher has become a personal challenge of sorts. Although, maybe I should change my goal to be the person who makes it into the Top Ten the most times!
My writing goals are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. I want to keep writing stories and hopefully one day, novels, that move people the way I’ve been moved by the many wonderful books I’ve read, and will continue to read, in my lifetime.
WOW: (laughs) Madeline, I love your writing goals and the fact that you are going to keep entering WOW!'s flash fiction contest. Think of how many interviews you could accumulate! (smiles) Seriously, we are glad you took the time with us today to share your thoughts on writing. Good luck in your future endeavors.
Interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, http://margodill.com/blog/