Interview with Pamela Allison - Fall 2009 Contest Runner Up
Pamela ’s Bio:
Pam Allison lives in a historic community near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Currently she divides her time between revising her novel manuscript, writing book and movie reviews, and submitting short stories and articles. She’s had several articles, a poem, and illustrations published. An active participant in online critique sites, Pam will attend a writer’s conference later this year. Every day she adheres to her writing schedule, looks for new markets, and researches agents. She enjoys reading, bird watching, volunteering, and spending quality time with family and friends. This year she will also graduate with a degree in Accounting.If you have not done so already, check out Pamela's story "Ten Past Midnight" and return here for a chat with the author!WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2009 Flash Fiction Contest! What is the inspiration for your story?Pam
: Last year I caught a late night show. When the movie finished, I walked out of the restroom and into a deserted lobby. I’d never experienced that, because I’m a Sunday matinee kind of gal. Everything was dark except for moonlight coming through the front windows, and the only other person I saw was an employee running a sweeper over the carpet. I walked around, struck by the eeriness of it all. So I tapped into that fleeting experience as inspiration. Plus, while in college I worked briefly for a theater and the job was pretty awful, so I drew from that memory as well.WOW!: You do set an eerie scene. I especially like the line “we leave projectors rolling to keep ourselves company” because it brings out that lonely, eeriness. What is the biggest challenge you face as a writer?
: Sitting down to write is the easy part, and if I didn’t have to eat or sleep or juggle life responsibilities, I’d write nonstop. However, life sometimes pulls me away long enough that it takes a day or two to plug back into the story. I write every day, and when I can’t, it’s frustrating because momentum breakers waste time that could have otherwise been productive. Also, many people dismiss writer aspirations as being a pipe dream, so I don’t really talk about it too much. I just keep my head low and my keyboard clacking as I focus on making my professional goals a reality.WOW!: I can definitely relate to the frustration of momentum breakers! I have to give myself little pep talks to keep going, but as soon as I start I settle right back into the rhythm again. If you could have lunch with one writer, who would it be and why?
: Definitely Stephen King. I have followed his entire career, and think he’s an incredibly gifted and prolific storyteller who transcends all the labels people have tried to put on him. From everything I’ve ever read and listened to from interviews, he strikes me as a down to earth and genuinely decent human being. I respect many things he stands for and does, including his charities. So to have a chance to talk with him would be wonderful. I envy those in his life who call him friend.WOW!: According to your bio, you will graduate with a degree in accounting this year, which I think is very interesting because accounting and creative writing are often considered to be opposites. Would you agree? Does studying accounting ever stunt your artistic creativity?Pam
: I get that a lot, and my joke is this: I’m neither a left nor a right brained person, but a whole brained individual. On a surface level they are opposites, but digging deeper you find overlap. I’ve met plenty of creative people who are highly analytical, and analytical people who are highly creative. So I think we’re all analytical and creative in our lives, just in different ways. Accounting probably helps my creativity, by doing its part to keep my mind active and challenged. Even as a kid, math, science, language and art were always my strongest subjects. Also, I’m a realist. Being a self supporting novelist is extremely hard—not impossible, but difficult. By hedging my bets, I can face whatever the future has in store for me. Which career path will win out? We’ll see.WOW!: I like that, “a whole brained individual.” I'm glad to hear that accounting helps fuel your creativity rather than stifle it. What do you enjoy most about writing?
: The enormous satisfaction I get from channeling my sometimes bizarre imagination into a tangible story. I also love getting feedback, especially from publishing professionals. I don’t shy away from constructive criticism at all, because it’s so important to hear what others say about your work. Last, I feel oddly grateful to look back and see how much my craft has improved since those first initial steps…like I’m doing something right, and that deepens my resolve.WOW!: Accepting constructive criticism and learning how to use it to improve is, in my opinion, one of the most challenging and most important parts of being a writer.
Thank you, Pam! We hope to see more of your writing in the future!
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Fall 2009 Flash Fiction Contest, Pamela Allison, Runner up
Interview with Elizabeth Barton - 2009 Summer Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up
Elizabeth Barton has been writing stories for just about as long as she can remember. After attaining degrees in psychology and nutritional sciences, she began work as a medical writer and editor. She participated in the Writer’s Loft workshop in Chicago for more than four years and has recently begun seriously pursuing a career in fiction writing. Elizabeth has dozens of short stories in varying degrees of completion and is polishing a draft of her first novel. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Ian, and two cats, Roxie and Gordon. When she is not writing, Elizabeth is an avid reader and enjoys travel, theater, and wine. She also loves to dabble in, but never master, various pursuits including drama, sewing, painting, ceramics, and stained glass work. She believes that every experience can be an inspiration. She recently won third place in WOW’s spring flash fiction contest for her story, The Wedding March
If you haven't done so already, you should definitely check out Elizabeth's prize-winning story "Not Tonight." When you've finished reading, return here for a chat with the author.
WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the 2009 Summer Flash Fiction Contest! You have managed to pack so much emotion into your piece of flash fiction. Do you believe it’s easier or more difficult to create such vivid feelings under the constraint of a small word count?
Elizabeth: Honestly, neither. I think that one can create vivid feelings in a sentence or two. Of course, it's harder to create a character with depth and tell a complete story when you have word count restraints. On the other hand, it's hard to maintain the intensity you often get with flash fiction when writing longer pieces.
WOW!: Yes, I agree. Despite the word count restraints of this contest, I think you have done a fantastic job of creating a complete story with meaningful characters. In your bio you say that every experience can be an inspiration, and I completely agree. Can you describe or give an example of how some of your other artistic endeavors have inspired your writing?
Elizabeth: I can't think of any specific instances where my other artistic endeavors have directly inspired me in my writing. It certainly could happen, though. For now, I find that it those endeavors allow me to create in a different way. I don't have to think about ceramics or painting in the same way I have to think about writing, so my mind can sort of relax.
WOW!: As an avid reader, I'm sure you’re in the middle of reading at least one (if not two or three) books right now. Are you reading anything interesting? Which writer or story has most influenced your writing?
Elizabeth: Right now, I'm reading Timeline by Michael Crichton, which has an interesting mix of science and history; plus, I've always been a sucker for a time travel story. My all-time favorite book is Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Although I enjoy both Crichton and Vonnegut, I wouldn't say my writing really resembles either of them. It's hard to pin down one particular author or story that's influenced me most, but I'd list Michael Chabon, Nick Hornby, David Sedaris, and A. Manette Ansay among my influences.
WOW!: I know, it’s difficult to pin down just a few influential writers because inspiring or helpful attributes can be found in so many pieces of writing. In your interview after winning 3rd place in the WOW! Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest, you spoke about working on revisions to your novel. How is your novel progressing? Have you had any breakthroughs or run into any roadblocks?
Elizabeth: No, there haven't been any breakthroughs or roadblocks. I'm making steady progress, but it's always slower than I would like!
WOW!: Yes, I know what you mean! When I'm excited about a writing project, it always seems to progress slower than I’d like. What do you enjoy most about writing?
Elizabeth: I just love seeing what happens when I start writing. There's stuff I never knew I had in me that ends up on the page. Also, when I start a story, I rarely know where it's going to go. Just like with reading, I like writing to see how the story ends.
WOW!: Thank you, Elizabeth, for your time, your insightful answers, and your impressive piece of flash fiction. We wish you the best of luck with your writing in the future!
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Elizabeth Barton, Runner up, summer 2009 flash fiction contest
Interview with Lori Lyn Greenstone - Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest Runner-Up
Lori is a graduate student in Literature and Writing Cultural Studies at California State University, San Marcos where she teaches composition while finishing her thesis on motherhood memoir and ekphrasis—vivid description depicting a visual work of art. She is married to one of America’s Hottest Husband’s (Redbook, July ’07), a fire captain. They have six kids (what woman in her right mind has six kids?), ages 27-2, and are celebrating their 30th anniversary in November. Lori writes and paints from her studio overlooking their sustainable blueberry farm in Fallbrook. Her artwork has won several awards and been published in Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing by Northlight. Her autotheoretical essay “Ekphrastically Writing of Creative Mothering,” will be published in Mothers Creating/Writing Lives: Motherhood Memoirs, forthcoming in 2010.
If you haven't done so already, you should definitely take a look at Lori's award winning story, "Removing the Mask." When you've finished reading, return here for a chat with the writer.
WOW!: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2009 Flash Fiction Contest! I read in your bio that you’re completing your thesis on motherhood memoir and ekphrasis. I am fascinated by that idea. Could you tell us a little more about it?
Lori: Ekphrasis (ek=out+phrasis=speak) denotes art that speaks out, often poetically. A visual work of art gives rise to a verbal work. For example Homer's "The Shield of Achilles" in the Iliad, or Shelley's "On the Medusa by Leonardo Da Vinci." As a mother-artist who really wants to write, I found ekphrasis as a way to use the art I've created over the past 15-20 years, much of it responding to mothering, using my children as models-- often our oldest daughter who trained with the Joffrey Ballet at 17. I always wanted to write, but I got caught up in art b/c it was successful and it provided a visual map to return to between the many interruptions of mothering.
WOW!: That is such an interesting idea, and a great way to combine writing and other art forms. How has your work on your thesis inspired “Removing the Mask”?
Lori: The mask, created about 15 years ago, is one of many pieces of art in my studio and home. Art has its own story to tell, something I realized recently when I returned to get a Master's degree in writing as a way to force myself back to my desk. The paintings and sculptures speak stories I didn't know were there until I started listening, writing. In this way, I'm rediscovering myself and a whole new world in my own art.
WOW!: I love the idea of art and sculptures speaking their own stories. And it's great that you are able to rediscover yourself through your art. Art and writing can be so fulfilling and rewarding, but they come with their challenges, too. As a writer, what is your biggest challenge and how do you overcome it?
Lori: Constant interruptions, including the internal ones of a manic mind. I collage the interruptions into my work, allowing them to add to and subtract from the story, memoir, or essay I'm writing. My thesis is a fictocritical response to the work of other mother-writer-artists- Fanny Howe who was my mentor at UCSD in the late 80's, and Bernadette Mayer, a beat poet who wrote an epic prose poem "Midwinter Day" on December 22, 1978, Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. This book is the epitome of alternative motherhood memoir. She was a mother of two small children at the time she wrote it. These writers provide incredible inspiration.
WOW!: With six children, a husband, a blueberry farm, teaching and thesis writing it sounds like you’re a busy woman! What are some of your tricks to find time and space to create art?
Lori: As women and writers, we find creative spaces where our minds and bodies dwell and thrive, spaces that drive creativity. Ekphrasis- the space between seeing and saying, between painting and writing is a liminal space, a threshold where confusion presages creativity, bringing order out of chaos. By grace, I am surrounded by a great group of supportive people, but being a mother is confusing. Writing and art help me sort through the tangles, and I am blessed with a partner who encourages me and gives me space. In turn, I have more to give back to the partnership, motherhood, and writing. If there is a trick, it might be knowing what to give up and when. We are going to sell the farm, go travel, find some simple place to live where the ground is covered in pine needles and sometimes, snow; a place where we can write and ski and be together--follow our dreams.
WOW!: That sounds like a great plan! Are there other writing or art projects you hope to create in the future?
Lori: I'm writing a novel told from the perspective of the prostitute to whom Vincent Van Gogh gave his ear. I also have a surrealist novel that takes place along the Alcan Highway with a character who may only exist within a painting- I'm not sure yet- she hasn't told me. I'm writing a piece for a conference in March at UCBerkeley, Our Bodies, Our Shelves - "Ekphrasis as Exploration of the Feminist Maternal Body." I have a memoir "You Are Here: Dots on the Map of a Manic Motherhood." I have more short stories. All are driven by art in some way.
WOW!: You definitely have your artistic plate full for the future! Good luck! What is the best advice you have ever received about your writing or art?
Lori: Carpe Diem- Just do it. Sit your behind down and don't get up until you've written a certain amount of words or pages or minutes, even if it is only 15. I sit on a balance ball so I can bounce energy back to my cerebral cortex when it falls low. The ball allows me to exercise- swiveling the hips, raising the pelvic floor--while I write, important issues for women as we age. I turned 50 on Nov.1. The affirmation from WOW was a nice gift. Thank you.
WOW!: You're welcome, Lori! You earned it! Congratulations with all of your accomplishments and we hope to see and read more of your art in the future!
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, ekphrasis, Lori Lyn Greenstone, Runner up, summer 2009 flash fiction contest
Interview with Nicole Waskie - 2009 Spring Flash Fiction Contest Runner Up
Nicole Waskie has been writing in one form or another since the age of two, when she would dictate her poetic masterpieces to her mother whilst she languished in the bathtub. Such gems as "Mascara Face" (Nicole's first epic poem about the trials and tribulations of makeup removal) have since evolved into a deep-seated desire to express herself through the written word and an obsession with flash fiction (which may or may not have something to do with her jam-packed schedule and short attention span) though she aspires to write a novel in due time. Nicole currently works as an elementary school library media specialist and cheerleading coach, and furiously pens sentences on receipts and napkins whenever inspiration strikes.
Her e-mail is nnwaskie[at]gmail[dot]com, and she would love to hear from you!
If you haven't done so already, check out Nicole's story "The Last First" and then return here for a conversation with the author!
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Spring Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing your award winning story, "The Last First?"Nicole:
I wrote "The Last First" on a whim. I was sitting on my living room floor, and a memory of renting paddle boats at a local park popped into my head. It was so vivid that I felt compelled to re-create the scene in words, and "The Last First" evolved from there.WOW: You've done well recreating the scene. Your imagery is great! Do you find it difficult or liberating to write within the word limit restrictions of flash fiction?
I love flash fiction. It's one of my favorite ways to write! I find that expressing a complete story in a limited amount of space forces you to carefully choose your words and details in a way that longer fiction doesn't demand. So, while it's difficult in that sense, I think it's liberating to be able to express a story in such a rapid, concise way, because you don’t have the opportunity to get bogged down in the exposition of the story.WOW: Which books/authors do you read for inspiration, and how do they inspire you? Nicole:
I read all the time, and I read anything I can get my hands on. I'm a school librarian, so I read a lot of children's books, and draw much inspiration from children's fiction. Kate DiCamillo is a master of storytelling, and Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials
trilogy was quite possibly some of the best books I have ever read--I am so inspired by how children's authors handle adult themes using understandable language without becoming patronizing. As far as "adult" books and authors, I am completely obsessed with Alice Sebold, Sue Monk Kidd, and Sylvia Plath. I recently finished John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things
, which was dark and delightful. I could go on and on and on…but I won't! I find inspiration in any author that can make the mundane seem epic, especially those that write about the complexities and consequences of the minute choices life presents us, and the doubts that exist in all our souls.
WOW: I like what you say about children's authors writing complex ideas using understandable language. That can be extremely difficult to do and I also find it inspiring when an author does that well. What is your strategy for finding or making time to write with a busy schedule? Nicole:
I'm horrible about writing. I don't have a set schedule, and I should. I write whenever I feel the urge to write. I'm lucky to have a supportive fiancée who understands when I need to disappear with my laptop for an hour or two, but more frequently, I'm scribbling on napkins and scraps of paper, a sentence here, a sentence there. Consequently, my list of finished work is very, very short.
WOW: I've always loved that image of authors being so compelled to write that they scribble away on napkins and paper scraps. It will take some time to pull all of the sentences together, but we'll look forward to reading more of your work when that happens! What’s the most useful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received? Nicole:
The best advice I ever received was to just keep writing. I often get discouraged with myself for not following through on stories I start. I was complaining the other day about how I never finish what I start, and my fiancée told me, basically, "Then FINISH!" If you love writing, write. It's as simple as that.
WOW: I often ask authors that question, even though "keep writing" is usually the answer. I always find it helpful to hear those words. Are you currently working on any new writing projects or stories? Nicole:
See above! I'm always half-writing something. I've been banging around a few ideas for longer stories, but they've yet to come to fruition. I also review books for School Library Journal, so I'm consistently writing reviews each month.
WOW: Thank you, Nicole! Good luck and keep writing!
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Nicole Waskie, Runner up, Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest
Interview with Ann Imig, Runner-Up in the Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest
A stay-at-home humorist, Ann began writing to distract her ovaries from insisting on a third child. Ann has made no progress at earning continuing education credits to retain her social work license, but has had her writing featured on Humorpress.com
, and FunnyNotSlutty.com
. Ann looks forward to the launch of UnhingedMagazine.com
, featuring her essay "The Saddies." Ann blogs regularly at annsrants.com
, but never when she is supposedly watching her preschool-age boys.
If you have not done so already, take a look at Ann's winning story "Date Night"
then return here for a chat with the author!WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Spring 2009 WOW! Flash Fiction Contest! How did you begin writing your award winning story, Date Night?Ann:
A terrible date with my husband reminded me of the humor in juxtaposition. It's supposed to be a date, but it ends up as WWIII with a waitperson trying to serve you dinner as both parties re-load and dress their wounds.WOW: I loved this story because it seemed like such a real and honest situation. Do you find it difficult or liberating to write within the word limit restrictions of flash fiction?
I found it liberating. As a new writer, I feel more comfortable with digestible chunks. It forces me to be concise--even though you'll notice a few too many adverbs lingering in my piece. At least I didn't say unnecessarily
lingering in my piece.WOW: Ha! I'm sure we can overlook an adverb or two. Which books/authors do you read for inspiration, and how do they inspire you?Ann:
Right now I'm reading Judge
by Dwight Allen. He writes literature, and it inspires me by its sheer craftsmanship.
I draw most of my inspiration from comedians. I listen to comics when I jog--so don't be surprised if you see me loping around the neighborhood laughing hysterically.WOW: (Laughs) What a great idea to listen to comedy while you jog! How do you make or find time to write with two pre-school aged children at home?
HA! I write mostly at night after my kids are asleep, or the three mornings a week that both my kids are in school at the same time.
I used to try to multi-task--writing while the kids seemed occupied with TV or play. When TwoPointFive started pressing the hibernate button every time I was on my computer, I realized I needed to set some boundaries.WOW: What's the most useful piece of writing advice you've ever received?
My dear friend Erin advised me to keep writing and submitting, so as not to dwell on one specific contest or submission. Best advice EVER. I keep a spreadsheet of what I've sent out, but continually put myself out there so I can't obsess over one piece. I prefer obsessing about multiple pieces at one time I guess.WOW: To keep writing and submitting is great advice. The more you submit, the better your chances of getting published. Are you currently working on any new writing projects or stories?
Every time I have an idea, I throw it in a word doc. It always surprises me which ones end up as essays, or longer pieces, and which ones never even turn into blog posts (for annsrants.com
This past week I started two or three blog posts, and worked on a project I hope will be a book someday. This weekend I'm editing an essay I already submitted for an anthology, in order to enter it into another contest. Next week I plan to spend some time working on a short story I started recently.WOW: Sounds like you're staying busy in the writing world. Good luck and we look forward to hopefully reading more of your writing in the future!Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
Labels: Ann Imig, Anne Greenawalt, humor writing, Spring 2009 Flash Fiction Contest
Interview with Sarah Hina, Winter 2009 Contest Runner-Up
If you haven't done so already, check out Sarah's award winning story, Jackpot, and then return here for a conversation with the author.
Sarah Hina hails from Athens, Ohio. A former medical student and lab rat, Sarah now writes in between mothering two kids, watching films with her husband, and escaping into the outdoors with her camera and dog. Her debut novel, Plum Blossoms in Paris, is forthcoming from Medallion Press in 2011, while her flash fiction won first prize at The Clarity of Night
For more of her poetry, vignettes, and musings, check out Sarah’s blog, Murmurs
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Winter 2009 Flash Fiction Contest! Could you please tell us more about your short story, Jackpot? What was your inspiration for this story?
I enjoy using my photographs as prompts for my vignettes and poetry on Murmurs
. However, winter is probably the hardest time to come up with cool photos, since most of the time I prefer outdoor settings. So one day, a little desperate, I decided to take along my camera to our local grocery store to see what I could capture. Well, as soon as I walked in, I saw this wall of gorgeous roses. It was a beautiful sight for my color-starved eyes, especially during those January doldrums. So I snapped a picture.
I think the jolt of finding something so beautiful in that somewhat monotonous, everyday place sparked the idea of Frank and his lovely gesture. We can brighten the world we live in, if we get outside our old routines and mindsets. Even on the coldest day of the year, we can create warmth for the people around us. As cliche as it sounds, giving creates its own reward. I have rarely felt as good after writing a story as I did after this one. Frank gave something back to me, too.
WOW: I felt good after reading your story. It refreshed me to read something so sweet and uplifting. What do you like about writing flash fiction?
Sarah: I love flash. There is nothing like it for stripping away the filler and digging deep into the essence of a character or emotion. It feels like an incredibly pure and potent communication between myself and the reader. The restrictions on length are actually a motivator for me. I had a tendency to overwrite before I started writing flash fiction. I think it's weaned that out of me to a large degree.
Flash does only carry you so far, though. The complete focus and immersion experience that a novel provides us writers is still what I enjoy, and fear, the most. Because there's so much room to fly, or to fall flat on your face.
WOW: That’s so true! Very well said. I see from your bio that you have written a soon-to-be-published book Plum Blossoms in Paris. Could you please tell us more about this novel? Does it feel like a relief to write flash fiction after completing a novel?
Sarah: Thanks for asking! Yes, Plum Blossoms in Paris will be released next summer by Medallion Press. It concerns a young American woman, Daisy, who falls in love with a Frenchman in Paris, with the strained relations between the U.S. and France during 2004 serving as an undercurrent. If you've seen Before Sunrise, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, it is very much in the same spirit of discovery and connection, with some hard choices that follow.
And yes, it was a huge relief, and a great growing process, to exchange novel writing for flash fiction. The expectations are very different. But there's no doubt that flash fiction is less demanding overall. Since I'm thick in the brambles of a new novel now, I miss it quite a bit.WOW: As a wife and mother of two children, do you find it difficult to find time to write? What are some of your strategies to find time to write?
Sarah: It's always difficult to find the time, and the quiet space, to write, but I'm much luckier than most. Both my husband and I work from home, and we're both writers. So we're very understanding of one another's need to escape and get some work done.
Lately, I've started going out of the house to do my writing. It's very hard to totally disconnect from the kids' voices and their many small crises (as I'm sure you all know!). And also, I'll admit to being a shameless internet junkie. If I come to a pause in the story with an internet connection around, I tend to hop on and waste too much time. So this new routine has provided the discipline I need for this new novel. I definitely like to write every day, if I can.WOW: Thank you, Sarah, for your great answers! Good luck with your writing, and we look forward to reading more of your work soon!
WOW: I'm always roped in by the Internet, too, when I'm trying to write. That’s a good idea to find a space outside the home to work once in awhile. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Sarah: Write what you're passionate about. Write what moves you. If it doesn't inflame you, then it's just work. My husband, Paul, has always been a fervent believer in writing as art. I really admire that about him. I never wrote, or even dreamed of writing, before I met him. He is a constant inspiration in my life.
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Sarah Hina, Winter 2009 Contest Runner Up
Interview with WOW! Runner-Up Vera Constantineau
Vera Constantanieau is a runner-up in the WOW!
2009 Winter Flash Fiction Contest. If you haven't done so already, you should check out her award-winning story, "Ten the Hard Way."
I live in Copper Cliff in northern Ontario, Canada with my husband Ralph. We have one daughter, Chloe. The easiest thing in the world for me to do is to spin a yarn about the lives of my characters, but ask me about me, and I will stammer that I have been writing for fifteen years. The truth is I began writing when I was five years old; my first project was a cooking show script, spoken in gibberish which I pretended was French, as I concocted mud pies.
Currently, I write a humor column, From the Porch, published weekly in a Canadian newspaper. My work has been featured on CBC radio, Canada’s national radio broadcast, I have published features and personal essays in Canadian magazines and had short stories included in three anthologies. In the fall, my novella Diamond Day will be included in a new anthology along with several northern Ontario writers.
I read, I write, I breathe… it’s all connected.
Read Vera's prize winning story here, and then return for a conversation with the author.
Interview with Vera Constantineau:
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! 2009 Winter Flash Fiction Contest! Can you tell me more about your short story, “Ten the Hard Way”? How did you start this story, or what was your inspiration? WOW: What was the biggest challenge you faced and overcame while writing this story?
Vera: I wrote this story in an attempt to portray a woman acting purely on physical attraction, and then, have her pleasure in the resulting relationship eroded by the realities in his life, wife, children and his basic dishonesty. I wanted her to end it, as she began it, for selfish reasons.
Vera: Allowing the woman to be sexual and selfish without trying to cushion the reader with some kind of apologetic behavior on her part was very difficult. The challenge was to keep myself from caring whether the reader liked her or didn’t like her. To let the character create the response I thought this spare style worked to keep her relatively one dimensional.WOW: I see from your bio that you have variety of writing experiences. Is there any particular type of writing (fiction, non-fiction; novella, flash-fiction; etc.) that you prefer to write?
Vera: My column is creative non-fiction and for fifteen years it has been very satisfying to write, but I love fiction. With fiction I can manipulate the characters, take them to extremes, rescue them from the resulting mess, it’s all up to me – that’s power.WOW: What excites you most about writing?
Vera: The development of an idea into a full blown story is exciting. Using the characters to support the idea, throwing in just the right mix of quirks and truth, raising the tension level to capture people’s attention, and supplying a moment where I hope they will gasp either in surprise or pleasure, and sometimes if I do it right, with laughter.WOW: That’s great advice. Writers certainly do have to learn to be fearless! Thank you, Vera, and again, congratulations!
WOW: The twist in your story definitely grabbed my attention because I didn’t expect it. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Vera: Whichever type of writing you choose, read as much of that as you can. Read both the good and the bad. Learn to recognize what works and what doesn’t. Above all I think you have to be fearless, not everyone will like what you write but if you do then likely someone else will as well, stay true to your own style.
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Runner up, Vera Constantineau, WOW Winter 2009 Contest Winner
Interview with WOW! Runner-Up Jen Payne
Jen Payne is a runner up in the Fall Essay Contest sponsored by skirt! Books. Read her winning story, How the Universe Moved My Sofa and Changed My Life.
Jen's Bio: I've been a writer for as long as I can remember--adolescent poetry, high school newspaper, college journalism, freelance writing, zine publishing, blog entries. For the past 16 years, I've been a wearer of all hats--editor, copywriter, marketing wordsmith--as the owner of my own graphic design company, Words by Jen, in Branford, Connecticut.
In 2006, I launched Creative Soup (www.creativesoup.org
), an online collaboration of artists and writers dedicated to the pursuit of creativity in all its forms. Truth be told, it was the excuse I needed to reconnect to my own creative voice, which had gotten lost amidst the busy-ness of everything else.
That creative voice has always been inspired by those "life moments" that move us--love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. My writing serves as witness to these, in powerful (often humorous) vignettes of thoughts, impressions, and feelings.
I am currently working on several poems, a series of short stories, and my first novel.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Fall 2008 Essay Contest! How do you feel about your prize-winning entry? Have you won other writing contests?
Jen: It was very exciting to find out that my essay was selected for the Top 10! I have always considered myself a writer, but only recently made a commitment to put my work "out there," to get published. Having one of my first attempts be acknowledged reminds me that THIS is what I am supposed to be doing. So, much thanks to WOW! Women On Writing for the encouragement and incentive to continue on this path!
WOW: You're welcome! I'm very glad we could help! Which of your writing accomplishments makes you most proud?
Jen: I have to say, there has not been one particular moment, or one specific piece of writing, that makes me most proud. What I am most proud of is the process of this writing--to take an idea that tip-toes in and transform it into a story or poem; to speak a truth that others can relate to; to weave words in such a way that it moves the reader, or opens them up to share their own stories.
I had lunch with an old friend a while ago. We hadn't seen each other in eight years, so the conversation was a bit awkward and somewhat censored in that way we are with strangers. I told her I'd been working on a new poem, and she asked me to read it. As I did, you could see the pretense fall away. The poem was a simple piece of truth, but it gave us both permission to be ourselves. By the end of lunch, we were talking and sharing stories as if no time had passed since we'd last seen each other.
WOW: That's a great story because it shows one of the many ways that writing can be a powerful tool. I hear that you have a website. When and how did you get the inspiration to launch your website Creative Soup?
I am lucky to be connected to a number of creative people--writers, artists, poets. A common thread we all seem to share is the need to find time for our creative work. In my mind, there is a difference between the work we do for pay, and the work we do by pure inspiration. Creative Soup was founded for that reason: to give people a chance to connect to their creative spirit more often.
We do four seasonal installations a year, usually with a theme or prompt. Contributors are encouraged to participate if they are so inspired--to submit work if they can, with no pressure to produce if they can't.
I like to think Creative Soup offers a gently tap on the shoulder: "find the time."
WOW: That's a great idea. For me, finding the time is one of the biggest writing challenge I face. You must be pretty good at finding the time to write because I hear you are currently working on your first novel. Would you mind sharing your progress so far, or what it is about?
The novel is a fairy-tale of sorts, loosely based on the narrative structure of a hero's journey (or heroine's, in this case). It's part coming-of-age and part life lesson, with a good dose of humor. It started, actually, as a series of very short stories. It's been an interesting process to take those initial ideas and build on them, create characters and a narrative, and keep the story flowing smoothly from beginning to end. Much different than working on a poem or short story, and certainly more challenging!
WOW: It sounds like a great project, and I hope we all have a chance to read it someday! What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
There have been three pieces of advice that I think of often when I write. The first was something my Dad taught me the day I slammed my sled into a tree when I was four. "When you fall off a horse, get right back on," he said that day, and many times after. You have successes, you have failures, but don't be afraid to keep trying.
The second was from my high school English teacher, who taught me the bones of good writing: organization and flow. He critiqued a poem I wrote once and said, "This needs to be more universal." I think about that every time I write, and always read a piece through that filter before I'm finished--will other people relate to this?
The final piece of advice was from a good friend who is an award-winning author and publisher. She told me "you're not a real writer until you can wallpaper your bathroom with rejection letters." It helps keep things in perspective--but I'm grateful I have a very small bathroom!
WOW: Yes, that is so true, but it’s all of those rejections that make the successes so much sweeter. Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
The Spring Flash Fiction Contest is still open! Deadline: May 31, 2009
(midnight, Pacific time) Visit: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Jen Payne, WOW Fall 2008 Contest Runner Up
Interview with WOW! Runner-Up Julie Donner Andersen
Julie grew up in rural Ohio where she graduated from the University of Toledo and married shortly thereafter. The stay-at-home mother's writing career started nearly two decades later when, faced with divorce and life as a single parent in 1996, she chose a job with a political action committee as a speech writer. This stint lead to becoming a lobbyist for parental rights at the Ohio state capital, which occasionally took her to Washington DC. Her political networking skills helped to hone her freelance writing career. While researching information about chat rooms for a Christian publication, Julie met her present husband in a chat room for Canadian widows and widowers. After marrying, Julie moved with her two children to Ontario, Canada. At age 40, Julie and her husband welcomed a new baby to their family, and "The Brady Bunch Bonus Family" became a happily blended group of five.
Julie's experience with marrying a widower was the catalyst to penning her first book, a self-help guide, entitled PAST Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman's Journey as the Wife of a Widower
. Her personal website hosts a helpful message board for women dating or married to widowers. The following year after her first book was launched, Julie switched genres and wrote again from life experience, this time with humour. Her comically illustrated book Parentally Insane: Insights From The Edge...of Midlife!
has been compared, much to Julie's delight, to the writing style of the late Erma Bombeck, her idol.
At present, Julie's works can be read on over 200 websites internationally. She has continued her freelance writing career enthusiastically, with published articles and stories appearing in print publications such as Metro Seven (Australia), Family Digest, and Golden Living magazines. Julie is currently working on her next humour book, entitled Lance Romance In His Underpants: A Girls' Guide to 'Guy Things' as well as a tear-jerker book of letters from a mother to her daughter spanning 30 years, entitled I'll Always Be With You: Memoirs Of A Mother's Love. This is her second writing contest win.
Visit Julie’s websites:
If you have not done so already, read Julie's runner-up entry here
.Interveiwed by: Anne GreenawaltWOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Fall 2008 Personal Essay Contest! When you saw the topic for WOW’s Fall 2008 contest, did you know immediately what you wanted to write about, or did you need time to mull it over?
WOW: That's right--not only did your essay "Lady of the House?" earn the runner-up prize, but your other essay "Country Fried City Girl" earned an honorable mention. Your writing resume doesn't end there, either. Which of your many writing accomplishments makes you most proud?
Julie: Being that I usually write about my life experiences, I have a library of ideas always floating around in my head, ripe for the picking. Drawing on my early childhood home, as well as my life as a wife of a former widower, helped me pen the two winning articles I submitted for the contest.
WOW: It sounds like you have experience writing and publishing in different genres. Do you have a preference between writing fiction and non-fiction?
Julie: I have written two books of which I am extremely proud. My first book, "PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman's Journey as the Wife of a Widower" has been one of my publisher's best sellers, and continues to help women deal with their relationships and resulting issues. Because of this book's popularity, I have been able to open a message board for wives and girlfriends of widowers, where they can find support, advice, encouragement, and hope among their fellow "sisters."
My second book, "Parentally Insane: Insights From The Edge of Midlife" is an illustrated humour book. After years of researching grief information for the first book, "Parentally Insane" was a breath of fresh air. Penning it allowed me to stretch my skills as a writer. I had a lot of fun with it, and it's nice to hear from female readers who not only appreciate the humour that can be found in aging, but who can also relate to the serious physical and emotional ups and downs of parenting in their 30's , 40's, and beyond.
Julie: As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve and writes from life experience, non-fiction is my genre of choice only because it seems to come easier to me than fiction. Although "Parentally Insane" is fictional, many of the ideas came from life with my own insane family (but don't tell them!).
WOW: Don’t worry--my lips are sealed! Did you enjoy your time as a speech writer? How does speech writing compare to other types of writing?
Oh yes, I thoroughly enjoyed speechwriting because it gave me personal, intimate insight into the political process. It also gave me a chance to express some of my own political opinions through someone else! I am terrified of public speaking, so translating a like-minded politician's views into my own words gave voice to my deeply held beliefs while, at the same time, remaining true to the politican(s) and constituents whom my speech represented. It is thrilling when the speech you write snags a sound bite by the media, but even more exciting when your speech brings a crowd to tears...or to their feet! To me, that is what writing is all about: moving people emotionally and/or giving them food for thought.WOW: It must be quite an experience to watch others' reactions to your writing. Eliciting an emotional response in your readers/listeners is definitely motivation to keep writing. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?Julie:
"Write what you know and love." This piece of advice has never failed me. Also, my grade school English teachers deserve a nod for how they demanded proper grammar and correct spelling from their charges. There is nothing more off-putting than reading something chock full of grammatical errors, which brings me to my second best piece of advice: editing is key. I edit my works at least fifty times before submitting. It's amazing just what you can catch, even on the fiftieth edit!WOW: Thank you, Julie! Keep up the great writing!
To find out more about WOW's quarterly contests, please visit: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Julie Donner Andersen, Runner up, WOW Fall 2008 Contest Winner
Interview with Madeline Mora-Summonte, Runner-Up
Madeline Mora-Summonte’s work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Highlights for Children, Storyhouse, and Every Day Fiction. She’s written poetry, personal essays and book reviews, but her first love is fiction in all its forms, from flash to novels. Every week, she attends a writing workshop where the talent and the creativity of the group continues to amaze her. The workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, is where the seeds of this story took root. For the fifth consecutive year, Madeline is participating in November’s National Novel Writing Month. A four time winner, her goal this year is an extremely rough draft of a YA horror novel.
She lives with her husband/best friend in beautiful Sarasota where they don’t spend nearly enough time walking on the beach and collecting seashells as they’d like.
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest! The last paragraph of your story gives me goosebumps! It’s great! Where’d you get your idea or inspiration for this story?
Madeline: Thank you so much! What a wonderful compliment! This story emerged - almost whole - from a writing exercise. I attend a weekly writing workshop, led by mystery author Blaize Clement, where the group does semi-timed writing based on a given word or phrase. The one that triggered this story was “a disguise.” Who knew, right? But that’s the magic of writing.
WOW: I guess I should never underestimate the power of a simple writing exercise! NaNoWriMo, on the other hand, is not a simple exercise. I saw on your website that you participated in and completed NaNoWriMo for the past five years. That’s quite a feat! Does it get any easier each year you complete it? Do you have ideas before you start, or do you just dive in head first on November 1st?
Madeline: Let me just say first off that I LOVE NaNoWriMo. I look forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas. I pull out my NaNo t-shirts, wipe out my NaNo mug, display my NaNo postcards and other goodies. Even my husband gets into it, presenting me with a “good luck” card at the start and a “congratulations” one at the end!
Every year is different. I think I winged it a couple of times, but I prefer some level of preparation so I usually approach it with a particular project in mind, notes and brief character sketches at the ready. I do play with different genres. This year I tried a YA horror/mystery type of thing, and it was a lot of fun.
WOW: Have you used, or do you plan to use, any of the material from NaNoWriMo for your short stories/flash fiction?
Madeline: I don’t think so. Somewhere in my mind I have a dividing line - novels over here, short stories/flash over there. I have noticed, though, that while the novel ideas tend to stay put, the flash ideas like to cross over and settle down.
WOW: Have you considered writing a novel for publication? If yes, are you working on one now? If no, why not?
Madeline: I am in the process of revising a novel. I love writing flash fiction, but my ultimate goal is to be a novelist. I’ve lost count of the number of manuscripts banished to my closet. Some of those never made it out for submission - I knew they just weren’t good enough. Others came close to securing an agent - requests for partials and fulls kept coming. One ms (a NaNo novel!) actually managed to snag an agent - she wasn’t able to sell it, though, and after our contract was up, we amicably parted ways.
But I have learned something from every single one of those manuscripts and experiences, and I am a better writer for it today. It’s a process, and one I hope I don’t ever stop learning from and growing with.
WOW: Also on your website, I read how you started creating stories by dictating them to your mother. I got started as a writer by dictating stories to my parents, too. At the time, did writing down the stories make your nightmares more controllable? Do you find that writing now helps you organize and control your thoughts, too?
Madeline: If I remember correctly, it helped at the time. Now, though, some of the scariest things I come across are from stories and books!
I sometimes use my journal to unclutter my mind, but I don’t use fiction writing to organize my thoughts. If anything, that’s where I let it all out - the craziest, the scariest, the dumbest ideas -plop out on the paper.
WOW: It’s always a great feeling to let it all out! What do you hope to accomplish next in your writing career?
You know that feeling you get when you read a great story or a wonderful book? How you can’t wait to tell people about it, how you can’t wait for someone you know to read it so you can discuss it? I’ve had that experience many times and, for a reader, there’s nothing like it. That’s what I want to do. I want to give that feeling to other readers, just like it was, and still is, given to me, by so many great writers.Click this link to read Madeline’s award winning entry. For more information on Madeline and her writing, you can visit her website. www.MadelineMora-Summonte.com.
Last week to enter the Winter '09 Flash fiction Contest with Guest Judge Literary Agent Janet Reid! Visit the Contest Page.
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Madeline Mora-Summonte, National Novel Writing Month, Runner up, WOW Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest
Interview with James Tipton, Runner-Up
Interviewed by: Anne Greenawalt
James Tipton lives with his wife Martha and his daughter Gabriela in the tropical mountains of central Mexico in the town of Chapala, south of Guadalajara. His collection of poems, Letters from a Stranger (Conundrum Press, 1999), with a Foreword by Isabel Allende, won the Colorado Book Award. He has a particular interest in short poems and short (including flash) fiction. A collection of haiku, Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror, has just been published (October 2008) and a collection of tanka, five-line poems, All the Horses of Heaven will shortly be published (January 2009) by Modern English Tanka Press (http://www.modernenglishtankapress/
Jim is currently completing a collection of short stories set in Mexico, Three Tamales for the Señor, many of them about expatriates living south of the border, and a collection of short poems, Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village, set in Mexico and Latin America, which is finished and is being translated into Spanish to be published very soon in a bilingual edition.
He lives in a “high-estrogen” house consisting of his wife, daughter, two female dogs, a female cat, and various young mothers who make their appearance almost daily (often with their daughters) to visit his wife and daughter. All of these females serve from time to time to inspire him and to provide him with subject matter; and if nothing else they give him lots of excuses to retreat to his upstairs office to write, versus all the excuses not to write that he used to come up with when he was single.
James Tipton's latest book, Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror, has just been released. It is a collection of haiku and senyru, three-line poems, some about the natural world, some about the human world. William J. Higginson, author of The Haiku Handbook, says these poems are "by a man who is not afraid to be himself," who can tell "the truths of his mind without flinching or apology".
Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror can be ordered on line for $9.95 plus shipping and handling at http://www.modernenglishtankapress.com/
James placed as a Runner Up in the WOW! Summer Flash Fiction Contest. If you haven't done so already, read his winning story, Howard and Helen Play House
, and then come back for a chat!
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest! I see that you are already an accomplished writer of short poetry. And based on your award-winning entry, I’d say you have a gift for saying a lot in only a few words. Do you find it challenging to make the transition between writing shorter and longer pieces? If so, in what ways to do you find it challenging?
I've always loved short poetry and short fiction. But I think about "short" poetry and "short" fiction a very "long" time. While others dash out thousands and thousands of words, I muse over what I want to say, and then I diligently work and rework what few words I finally end up with. I was influenced by reading Kenneth Rexroth's translations of short poems from the Japanese and the Chinese, mostly love poems. My own poems, as Isabel Allende points out in her Foreword to my book of poetry, Letters from a Stranger, are often about "ordinary experiences--wings, canyons, rocks, flesh--but mainly about that other extraordinary experience....love." Love (and its various facets) for me, is always immediate, experienced in the moment, and somehow this is related to why I write short love poems.
I do like working on longer pieces of fiction, though, but rarely over 8,000 words. Right now I have almost completed a collection of short stories about expatriates living in Mexico, titled Three Tamales for the Señor. And all of them, one way or another, are about love.
And speaking of Mexico, I have a collection of 100 short poems (generally three lines) about Mexico and Latin America (but also about love) that is coming out in a couple of weeks, titled Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village. (I live in Mexico, but the book will be distributed in the states by Bread & Butter Press, 1150 S. Glencoe, Denver, CO 80246.)
And still on the subject of short poems, Modern English Tanka Press, which recently published a collection of my haiku, Proposing to the Woman in the Rear View Mirror, will publish a collection of my tanka (a 5-line Japanese form) in February titled All the Horses of Heaven. (http://www.modernenglishtankapress.com/
Both All the Horses of Heaven and Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village are published bi-lingually (with Spanish translations).WOW: Congratulations on your recent and upcoming publications! We’ll have to keep an eye out for them. You’ve mentioned that many of your poems and short stories are about expatriates living south of the border. Are you an expatriate? How did you come to make the decision to live in Mexico, and how long have you been living there?
For decades, actually, I have wandered around Mexico and parts of Latin America. The Hispanic culture is richly textured, closer to the earth, more connected to magic, and at least in the little towns the people care a lot about each other, and children, and neighbors. The violence that has developed because of the drug business (to provide the United States with "product") is beginning to touch all of us, though--I personally know of five murders in our little village--Chapala--this past month or so.
I am married to a Mexican woman, Martha, who grew up in a little Indian village near the Pacific...dirt floors, thatched roofs...the type of childhood I think I sometimes hungered for, and we have a lovely daughter, Gabriela. I have been living here full-time for about five years. Prior to that I was a beekeeper and writer in the high desert region of western Colorado.WOW: How did your story “Howard and Helen Play House” take root?James:
I like "heroes" and so many stories I read are about sad losers who allow circumstances to determine their lives. Helen in my story "Howard and Helen Play House" is not, finally, a loser, and like the classic hero she does not allow her situation to destroy her. The catalyst for change that wakes her up is when her husband throws an unopened can of tuna at her and splits open her forehead. I have left relationships that began as romantic ones after a significant and defining event, a variation of that can of tuna tossed so carelessly and callously at Helen. Helen discovers she is a strong woman, much stronger than Howard has ever imagined.
When she walks out, she is no longer a child "playing house" with another child, her husband Howard.WOW: What do you believe is your greatest writing accomplishment, and what do you hope to accomplish in the future?
I don't think much about accomplishments past, present, or future, although awards come my way now and then. Letters from a Stranger, for example, won the Colorado Book Award.
I think a lot about words, about love, about real things that have happened to me and to others, and then I like to distill those thoughts and experiences into poetry or fiction, usually short poetry or fiction. I suppose my greatest accomplishment is that I've stuck with it for decades without much real success in the way people usually think about writers and success.
The "sound" of words is also very important to me and for years I have read aloud what I have been writing and rewriting, feeling the taste of those words...in some strange way it is almost erotic to me.WOW: Sticking with something that you love, with or without traditional success, is definitely a great accomplishment and I commend you for being able to do that. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?James:
Don't think much about being a writer. Think about writing.
Let yourself be seduced by your own heart and then see what happens to you.
Advice? Maybe there is some hidden in my poem, "One Night I Picked up in a Bar," which begins:
One night I picked up in a bar
a woman named Poetry,
and she was drunk, or I was drunk,
but at any rate I took her home
and listened to her.
If you haven't done so already, read James' award-winning story "Howard and Helen Play House".
Enter the WOW! Women On Writing Winter Flash Fiction Contest, open now. Deadline: February 28, 2009.
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, interview, James Tipton, Runner up, WOW Summer 2008 Flash Fiction Contest
Interview with Caryl Cain Brown, Runner Up
Interviewed by Anne Greenawalt
Caryl Cain Brown has been writing for years--just not fiction. With BBA and MBA degrees to her credit, Caryl’s nearly thirty-year career in higher education marketing has yielded a wealth of press releases, magazine articles, newsletters, and brochure copy. Now with two grown sons, she’s begun to try her hand at new things: writing fiction, drawing, and learning major home improvement skills.
This is Caryl’s second fiction contest submission ever, but it probably won’t be her last. She lives and writes in Georgia.
Caryl is a Runner Up in the WOW! Women On Writing Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by Seal Press. If you haven't done so already, read her winning story, Stolen Moment.
***WOW: Congratulations, Caryl! How did you feel when you learned that you’d placed as a runner-up in the WOW! Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest?
Caryl: What a thrill! I couldn’t believe it. This is only the second time I’ve entered a writing contest, so I’m really motivated to try again.
WOW: I think we’ve all heard stories about writers with shoeboxes filled with rejection slips before they finally get their first story published, so that’s very impressive that you succeeded after only your second try! Can you tell us a little bit about your award winning entry? What was your inspiration for this piece?
Caryl: The concept for this story was inspired by a real situation, although it is entirely fictional. It was also one of those stories that came to me almost fully formed; I had it down in rough draft within a half hour. Of course, then I tinkered with the words--making sure I was within the word-count and that every word was just right--for about a week afterwards. My stories don’t always come that easily. And I’m usually really slow about working through character motivations.
WOW: What made you decide to start writing fiction after having a career in higher education marketing for nearly 30 years?
Caryl: I’ve been dabbling in fiction for many years, I just never trusted myself enough to share my stories with anyone else. I’m retiring in the spring and my children are finally out on their own--it’s now or never. I have the time and the desire, so I’m putting aside my insecurities and going for it.
WOW: I can definitely relate to your hesitation for sharing your work, but I'm so glad to hear that you’re going to keep sharing it anyway. Based on your award winning entry, it seems like you have a lot to offer the writing community. From your bio I know that you’ve had a lot of experience publishing articles, press releases, brochure copy, etc. How do you think your experience with marketing-related writing has helped or hurt your creative writing?
Caryl: Being in marketing has taught me to always keep my audience in mind. I think that holds true for fiction writing as well. Also, like marketing, fiction requires clear and compelling communication to make the story believable.
WOW: Is there anything about writing fiction that you find most challenging? Is this something that you struggled with while writing this story? If so, how did you overcome it?
Caryl: Plot bunnies--random threads that entice me away from the direction I need to be going--and telling the full story in the most concise way. The 500-word limit of the WOW Flash Fiction contest is an excellent exercise because every word has to count.
WOW: The 500-word limit is a great writing challenge, and I can tell that you took every word into consideration. I was very impressed with how streamlined and precise your writing was without sacrificing character or description. Presumably, you’ll want to work on other types of stories in the future. What kind of creative writing goals do you have for yourself?
Caryl: I would love to publish a novel, either mystery or romance/relationship.
WOW: We'll look forward to reading more of your work someday! Are you working on any other writing projects right now?
I’m working on a couple of ideas, but nothing that’s ready to show to anyone yet.WOW: Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us! We’ll be anxiously waiting to read more of your work someday when you are ready to show it.
If you haven't done so already, read Caryl's winning story, Stolen Moment
To check out our latest writing contest sponsored by skirt! books, please visit: http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php
Labels: Anne Greenawalt, Caryl Cain Brown, interview, Runner up, WOW Spring 2008 Flash Fiction Contest