Q. Would you say writing chose you or you chose writing?
A. I think it was more a case of writing choosing me. My desire to write began in my grade school years. I loved my English classes, writing stories and poems, anything at all to do with literature. That only intensified through high school and college years. Sadly, I allowed life to get in the way, and my actual writing years did not begin until after my children were grown and independent. I was determined to pursue this lifelong dream.
Q. What do you write?
A. I started out writing fiction stories for children, mainly because I had been a teacher and thought that is the area I should concentrate on. Later, I tried a little adult fiction, then nonfiction and creative nonfiction, as well as a little poetry and articles on the craft of writing. I discovered that my strength and highest interest level proved to be creative nonfiction. These true stories, written with fiction techniques, have been published in a number of anthologies. There are 13 of my stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and I’ve also been published in Guideposts anthologies, Thin Threads anthologies, and several others. I will have two stories in a book in a brand new anthology series in January 2013.
Many of my stories and essays have been published in newspapers for seniors and on internet websites. The majority of these are creative nonfiction. Memoirs and inspirational stories are key here.
Q. What are some things readers are guaranteed to get from your stories?
A. I’ve been told many times that my stories ‘warmed the heart’ of a reader or that they triggered memories for readers. I write about things that readers can relate to. One of my Chicken Soup for the Soul stories is about a valentine box my dad made for me when I was in the second grade. The story is really about me realizing that my father loved me, something children often take for granted until an impressive situation or event brings it to light. The story has been published in many other countries and I’ve had letters from people in other cultures who loved the story. Writing something that pleases others is truly satisfying for me.
Q. When working on a story project, do you follow a certain regiment?
A. Not really. I’m one of those people who, when inspiration hits, I sit down and write a rough draft immediately. I let it sit for a few days, then revise and rewrite. The ‘letting it sit’ part is of prime importance and I’ve written blog posts on that fact a number of times. One thing I am regimented about is writing my blog. I head for the computer with my morning coffee and write the post for the day–every day of the work week. Consistency in posting helps retain readers.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who needs direction in how to write a creative nonfiction story or a children’s fiction story?
A. Never send out a submission that is your first draft. As I mentioned earlier, let it simmer for a few days, then cut superfluous bits, add whatever might be needed for clarity, check for repetitiveness, sensory details–all the little things that create a good story. Remember the good advice of many professional writers–make sure your story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Do more showing than telling. My own two keywords for writing and marketing your work are patience and perseverance. Don’t give up if writing is something you truly want to do.
Q.What awards or contests have you won?
A. I’ve placed in many writing contests including an annual contest that the Kansas Authors club sponsors, several that have been sponsored by WomensMemoirs.com and various others. This past summer I won two awards at an online magazine for children called Knowonder! One of my historical fiction stories for children won second place in the Readers Choice category and another won the Editor’s Choice category.
Thank you Nancy!