Even though I’ve been writing poetry and stories the majority of my life, it wasn’t until the year 2010 that I discovered that I was, in fact, a writer. At the time, I owned and operated a coffee shop at a local commuter train station. Between trains I began to write a mystery novel entitled Scrap Bones. Two weeks before I closed the shop, I wrote the conclusion and thought, well, what should I do now? So I joined a writer’s group called the Fox Valley Writers where my writing skills were challenged and enhanced. Through the group I learned of a book by Julia Cameron entitled The Artist’s Way and it changed my outlook on life. You see, I told my first story in kindergarten, a poem of mine was so well done in grade school that I was accused of plagiarism by a prickly, stone-faced nun, (I should have known right there that I had some talent), received straight A’s in creative writing classes in college and continued to set pen to paper throughout my young adult life. Sadly, it only took forty-plus years to acknowledge what and who I am. It’s liberating to accept my artistic abilities and allow myself the title of writer. I only wish I discovered it sooner.
What inspired you to write flash fiction?
I enjoy writing novel-length material but it was through attending a writer’s group, the Fox Valley Writers, that I unearthed a knack for writing flash fiction. This is due to the use of writing prompts which encourage a writer to think creatively and succinctly within a short period of time. Even if you cannot complete a story within the time frame, you can polish it up at a later date. I often revisit some of these prompts and discover the small buds of a story that could blossom into something wonderful.
Describe your writing process.
I write at all times of the day but find that I prefer mornings, after I’ve had my coffee and bagel and have walked the dogs. I don’t write everyday but I do at least try to do my morning pages, another tip from the Cameron book. Recently I’ve been writing in the home or kitchen office but our new house has an incredible shed that I hope to convert into a writing cabin similar to the likes of David McCullough or Virginia Woolf. Sometimes it’s inspiring to have a fresh cup of coffee, soft music playing and a fragrant candle lit. There’s usually napping dogs and a purring cat resting nearby too. And I always keep a notebook and pen in the nightstand for those ideas that go bump in the night. I prefer writing new material and doing research. Research is critical in making a story believable even if it is fiction based. I found this out when writing A Solitary Grayback for the first Foxtales anthology. The Civil War based story was only 1,630 words long but the amount of historical research was immense. I abhor the use of outlines. I simply let my characters take me on their journey. I often initiate a story without knowing who the antagonist will be or how it will conclude. The characters will tell me. I believe tremendous pressure is put on an author when they believe they must know the outcome of their story before they even start. This can be so intimidating that one word may not be written on the page. I encourage all writers to follow their own form and do what works for them. I also thought I’d only have one book idea. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I seem to develop plots easily and endlessly, either for my own use or in assisting fellow writers. I now have a book of book ideas which may take a lifetime to come to fruition. While I enjoy writing new material, I procrastinate at the revising stage. This is the reason why my mystery novel is not yet in print. Being a bit of a perfectionist doesn’t help either.
What was the inspiration behind what was published on FewerThan500.com?
The story Faith was inspired by my own real-life experience. I wanted to show the fear and uncertainty that arises before being diagnosed with breast cancer, even the possibility is a shock that imprints itself indelibly and you will never be the same. I also find that more and more families are touched by breast cancer. Though many are aware, they may not take the steps for early detection which is critical in saving lives. I’m hoping that people can relate to my experience and know that they are not alone but they must push on.
What are you working on now?
I’m a volunteer writer for Anderson Animal Shelter, member of the Fox Valley Writers Group and I lead a creative writing group called the Writers on the Fox at Gail Borden Public Library. I’ll be facilitating the Animal Crackers Writing Workshops at Anderson Animal Shelter in Spring 2016. My short stories are featured in three Foxtales anthologies: Foxtales I, Foxtales II, and Foxtales 3. Join me every fourth Monday of the month for the Writers on the Fox at Gail Borden Public Library for a writer’s peer group that will inspire and motivate you with thought-provoking writing prompts and constructive critique. Writers of all genres are welcome to participate. And stay tuned for further developments on my book Scrap Bones, the mystery novel I’ve long been working on. This writer hopes to get it published one day soon.