May 192017
 

… I am sure that the reading of great classic and modern literature through the years, as well as–surprise!–the study of grammar in elementary school–gave me a feel for the language, not only the sound of good poetry but the balanced construction of phrases and ideas.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I was always a voracious reader and a good writer in school . I loved my English classes, but by the time I got to college and grad school, academics and music eliminated any time or thought for creative writing. Later, as a high school English teacher, first in Chicago, then in the suburbs, I was assigned to teach Creative Writing, I would write with my students, and they taught me a great deal as we exchanged daily critiques in the classroom.

Describe your writing process.

I don’t have a specific writing process, but I am sure that the reading of great classic and modern literature through the years, as well as–surprise!–the study of grammar in elementary school–gave me a feel for the language, not only the sound of good poetry but the balanced construction of phrases and ideas. My study of Latin, French and Italian also gives me a feel for unusual syntax and vocabulary, which helps me draft a poem, then edit and revise it many times before submitting it to editors of literary journals.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

The inspiration behind my writing at Waterline is people! For some reason, important people in my life, both the living and the dead, have been circling me lately, and I’m giving them voice and tribute in this reading.

What are you working on now?

My seventh book of poetry, EDGES, was just published a few months ago, so I am working on spreading the news, and am grateful to Waterline Writers for giving me the opportunity to do just that, both through readings and also my blog, donnapuccianipoet.wordpress.com.

May 182017
 

… a high school English teacher turned me to poetry, and I took off. And those were also the days of Simon and Garfunkel, and Leonard Cohen, and others, writing real poetry set to music, and that really helped me take off.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I’ve always known I was a writer. I started with the obligatory third-grade haiku, started writing little adventure stories in junior high, and then in high school, had an ongoing epic, “Joe Cowboy,” which depictedthe daily silliness, adventures and imaginary activities like smoking blueberry cigars and drinking Genesee Cream Ale in frosted mugs which the bartender slid down the bar to us. (Actually, the soda fountain clerk, a relative of mine, used to slide down “buckeyes,” which were root beer floats; it was almost as good.) But then, a high school English teacher turned me to poetry, and I took off. And those were also the days of Simon and Garfunkel, and Leonard Cohen, and others, writing real poetry set to music, and that really helped me take off. My high school English classes were the last English and literature classes I ever had, but I never quit writing. I just read a lot and wrote a lot, and now, here I am.

Describe your writing process.

My writing process is kind of quirky. I keep a notebook, in which I enter lines or words or images that occur to me. Then, twice a week or so, I go to the Limestone Coffee and Tea here in Batavia, early in the morning, look at my notebook, and start drafting. I don’t always know where I’m going or what I’m writing; I just write until I finally know, “oh, this is what I’m talking about!” And then the revision starts. I don’t know about other writers, but for me the revision, the shaping is the most fun, finding the music of the poem. The hardest thing is that as I revise, I get a better, sharper sense of what I’m doing, and then I sometimes have to take lines, or chunks out that I really like. But they just don’t belong in that poem. That’s where the notebook comes in, and the various drafts: I always still have the stuff I had to take out for one poem still available for another poem some other time. Finally, I do some writing every day, and I write with pen and paper, not the computer, until the poem is done. Then I enter it into my computer, making a few last-minute adjustments as I see how it looks in print. I’m sort of a neo-Luddite.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

The pieces I’ll be reading at the Waterline are a mix of serious and humorous poems. They’ve some–a few–of the many poems I’ve written in the last six months, since a visit to my small home town in northern New York for an Italian family reunion, and a March working vacation in Tennessee, where I stayed with some friends. It was ideal: Jim went to work, Hannah went to work, I stayed at home, and wrote about the area, and stuff that had nothing to do with where I was; it was a chance to get to some work done that I hadn’t had time to do. These are some poems that I have a serious fondness for.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I’m putting together a book of poems called “Night Travels.” It’s pretty dark, but I like it, and it does have its lighter moments. I’m still playing with what gets included and in what order. There are a lot of kinds of dark; this book explores some. I’ve also started reading at more open mics around the Fox Valley area. I’ve also started exploring short fiction (I’ve published all three of the short stories I’ve written so far, one of which won an Editor’s Choice 2016 in the journal, “Inscape”), and mixed genre. I’m curious to see where that all goes. God knows I’m never bored! Thank you for choosing my work. In these days, especially, shalom.

May 172017
 

Shepherd & the Professor springs from my interest in how we’ll be remembered after we’re gone. So I created a protagonist with a terminal illness who isn’t afraid of dying as much as being forgotten.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I came to writing as a broadcast journalist at NPR / WNIJ, learning how to use “the fewest, most powerful words” to tell stories. In recent years, I began interviewing authors for WNIJ’s “Read With Me” series and found myself in a master class. It didn’t matter whether I spoke with an internationally-known writer (Robert Hellenga, Amy Newman, James McManus) or a self-published author — I learned their tricks about the craft of storytelling. So I took those lessons and wrote my own novel, Shepherd & the Professor.

Describe your writing process.

I write on weekends and when I’m on vacation. I tend to write best in the morning and edit best after a mid-day walk. And I never outline. I like to start with two characters in dialogue. After that scene resolves, I create another scene with two characters, resolve that, and then find a way to connect these scenes to form a basic plot.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

Shepherd & the Professor springs from my interest in how we’ll be remembered after we’re gone. So I created a protagonist with a terminal illness who isn’t afraid of dying as much as being forgotten. Susan Shepherd lived a life of service — as a Gulf War vet, cop and single mom — and she’s trying to publish her memoir. After dozens of rejections, she’s down to her last publisher. For this submission, she converts her memoir into one long letter to the editor who will decide whether to forward her manuscript. The first excerpt I’ll read is Susan’s initial query to this editor, which reveals much about her emotional state — and her feelings about the publishing industry.

What are you working on now?

Keeping with the legacy theme, I wrote a story called “The Caretaker” that appears in the journal Crack the Spine (#209). This is about a man who’s retiring after decades of working for a vampire. The story is a memoir/confessional but also a guide to the person who will succeed him in the caretaker role. I hope to expand this into a novel. The story that serves as Chapter 2, “The Interview,” is under consideration by a handful of journals.

May 162017
 

I’ve always been fascinated with making things. As a kid, my favorite toys were LEGO and K’NEX. The wonderful thing about writing is that it really allows you to make anything out of nothing.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I’ve always been fascinated with making things. As a kid, my favorite toys were LEGO and K’NEX. The wonderful thing about writing is that it really allows you to make anything out of nothing. Basically as soon as I could write I would write stories and even make them into books using cardboard. I guess I really started taking it seriously towards the end of grade school where I won an award for writing Pokémon fan-fiction and also had one of the poems I wrote for an assignment get confused with that of a classical poet. So while I’ve always loved writing and felt like a writer, there have been a few accomplishments that have made me feel like I might have some talent with words.

Describe your writing process.

I try to be disciplined, but it doesn’t always work out. On a good day, I have a morning routine: I wake up, drink water, brush my teeth, stretch, meditate, and then brain dump in my notebook for a page or two. This brain dump is literally just a stream of consciousness, so whatever’s on my mind at the time–I also use it as a time to make a list of tasks I need to accomplish throughout the day. After the brain dump, I do some more focused writing, which is either continuing work on a previous project or planning out / getting started on a new one. I’ve always got something to work on. After that I’ll usually read and then carry on with the rest of my day. I’m a big fan of the Pomodoro Technique, so it’s usually 25 minutes of fully focused writing followed by 25 minutes of fully focused reading. If I’m really excited about a project, I’ll probably come back to it later in the day and do more sessions. I’m a morning person, so ideally this all takes place around 6am  / 7am. I want to do this every day, but I have an extremely erratic life that doesn’t always allow for it. As far as my actual process goes, it’s a little different depending on what it is I’m writing. Poetry can come pretty quick, initially, but will usually go through quite a few revisions before I’m satisfied with it. When it comes to longer material, there’s usually a long process of note-taking, researching, outlining, etc., which can take weeks before I actually get to writing. I like to keep things focused and disciplined, but I’ll never stop myself if I feel drawn to writing at any time–it’s why I always keep at least one notebook with me and have no less than three heavy-duty writing apps on my phone!

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I plan to read a couple of poems from my book of poetry, That One Black Kid. That One Black Kid was inspired by one night during a workshop hosted by my non-profit, Teen Writers and Artists Project. During this workshop, somebody mentioned how they rarely hear poetry about what it’s like growing up black in the suburbs. This comment inspired a poem which then inspired another poem and the next thing I knew I had enough poems to fill a short book of poetry. The book is quite the departure from my typical work, but was a fulfilling journey into a side of myself that was just begging to be explored.

What are you working on now?

Following the completion of That One Black Kid, I plan on exploring narrative gaming (or interactive fiction, as it’s sometimes called). As a big fan of video games myself, I’m planning on exploring some programs and seeing if I can craft some truly immersive interactive experiences. Other than that, I have half-written screenplays and novels to work on, as well as another book of poetry, potentially. Outside of writing, I perform improv comedy every other Sunday night at 8pm at The Comedy Clubhouse in Chicago with my group, Friar Pryor. I will also be performing a one-man variety show in the Elgin Fringe Festival which takes place September 13th through September 17th.

May 152017
 

I have always been a storyteller, I would say. Writing came later … . I wanted to tell stories like the ones I read, from faraway places and about interesting things.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

I have always been a storyteller, I would say. Writing came later. I was a newspaper boy in my youth and would stop and read the paper during my deliveries. I wanted to tell stories like the ones I read, from faraway places and about interesting things. In my teens, I was into music and played in a band. Soon, I was writing music and that in many ways for me was storytelling. When I became a radio broadcaster, I then told other kinds of stories. Journalism was my next stop and it was then that I started to concentrate on writing. Stories in print and on the radio soon became bigger stories in journals and then books. Becoming a writer was a long process.

Describe your writing process.

I have recently built a shed, a writing studio on my property. It’s a simple place but it’s all mine. I go inside and I’m alone with books, art, and photography and I write. Mornings are the best. I usually work two hours or so and record my word count, a sort of ritual, really. But I also like writing in coffee shops. Sometimes I like the noise—the whir of the espresso machine, the conversations around me. I do not outline but I do take lots of free-form notes and do some research before I jump into the writing. But I am much more organic than a lot of writers. Then, of course, comes the drafting and revising. I love this part. The shaping of a piece or a book is a wonderful experience. That’s when the story comes to life for me. It is solidified and all the pieces—the ingredients, if you will—make for one single entity.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

It’s from my memoir October Song. I never expected to write this book. But the experience was so interesting and so personal, it was impossible not to. The story is about when your dreams are no longer realities. When do you give up a dream? And as we age, do we just acquiesce to what age eventually does to all of us—wear us down? The story is about a road trip, music, love, and the power of our dreams.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing another memoir. It’s about the notion of home…what it is, what it means, how we discover it. The subtitle of the work isn’t fully flushed out, but it is about growing up, moving on from our childhood home, and the eternal search for our own place under the stars. Home means so much to all of us. Good and bad. And for me, there is so such rich material there. I had parents who grew up, met, dated, fell in love, married, bought a home, raised a family, and died all in one neighborhood. That fact is hardwired into me and I have forever been influenced by it. I think readers can find their own stories in mine.

Mar 192017
 

Gint Aras, Julie Brandon, Donna Wise Coombs, Laura Knapp & R.G. Ziemer will be featured at Waterline Writers on Sunday, March 19th at 7 pm, sharing fiction and poetry that shapeshift listener perceptions of identity, relationship and reality.

Gint Aras will share one chapter from The Fugue, of which Dimitry Samarov of the The Chicago Tribune says “the story loops in on itself, episodes echo over decades, different people often seem to trade thoughts and threads of conversation as if picking them out of the ether and … dreams described by one person are overtaken by another”. Buy a signed copy for $15 or sign up for the 8-week Gint Aras Prose Writing Workshop!

Julie Brandon’s “The Last One In” is her first foray into science fiction but it keeps you on the edge of your seat, or her character’s seat or wait … who is in that seat?

No matter what Donna Wise Coombs is writing about, her poetry seems steeped in the beauty of the states she’s called home — Colorado and Oregon. She’ll share some of that distilled beauty with us on Sunday night!

Laura Knapp’s Pushcart-nominated story should be kept handy for those days when your co-workers make you wild and you long for a little “Natural Selection” in the workplace.

Ray Ziemer blends his Chicago South Sider’s voice with a Southern-writer gravitas, evident in his story The Shiner, which packs a left hook you won’t see coming, and his poem The Hobby Shop, which will have you thinking more deeply about vocations and avocations.

Other writers can join the 5-minute-limit Open Mic at 8:30. Admission is $5/$3 students. Join us in the art gallery at Water Street Studios 160 S. Water Street, Batavia, and enjoy the evening with wine and beer from Solemn Oath Brewery and Bright Angel Wines ($5), and artisanal meats and cheeses from The Market at Gaetano’s!

Wooden Writers will be on hand with beautiful, hand-tooled pens for sale, $15-$75, cash/check or orders accepted.

No event will be held on April 16th due to Easter. There will be one more event on May 21st before our June-August hiatus. The 2017-2018 season will begin on September 17th. 

Find Submission FAQs, our Video Library and more at WaterlineWriters.org. For more information, contact Anne Veague or Kevin Moriarity at waterlinewriters@gmail.com or Like us on Facebook!

Mar 172017
 

Julie Brandon’s one-act play “Cup of Joe” will be a part of Westchester Theater’s 8X10 Short Play Festival in April, but her Waterline reading includes her first foray into science fiction.


How did you discover that you were a writer?

It seems like I always knew that I wanted to write.  When I was around six years old, I remember telling everyone that I wanted to be an author.  I dabbled a bit for years but it wasn’t until a close friend of mine, Nan Sampson, who is also a writer, gave me the The Artist’s Way workbook as a gift that I started to take writing more seriously. I began with poetry and then included short stories and plays.

Describe your writing process.

I don’t really have any specific process or pre-writing rituals other than I need to write in complete silence. No music, no conversation and that means not writing in public places. I don’t use outlines as a rule. I just get started and see where the story and the characters take me. It certainly can be quite the adventure.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I had just started writing short stories and decided to try my hand at science fiction. This story is what emerged. I like the idea of transformations.

What are you working on now?

I’m completing the revisions on two new one act plays. Another of my one-acts, “Cup of Joe”, is being produced by Westchester Civic Theater in April as part of their 8X10 Short Play Festival.  I recently participated in the Poetry event at the Elgin Literary Festival for the second year.

Mar 162017
 

“I try to serve the poem, rather than holding fast to a preconceived notion of what it should look like on the page or what it is about… I will intentionally put (it) aside for weeks or months.”


How did you discover that you were you a writer?

I started writing poetry as a child but did not identify myself as a poet until my 30’s.  From a young age I was a huge reader of poetry though.  We were a family of readers and there was no TV in our home.  When I was 13 we moved from New Hampshire to live in France for a year.  At the little library in St. Cyr-sur-Loire, there were not a lot of English fiction available but they had a great selection of English and American poetry books.  That was the year, while living far from New England, that I discovered the poetry of Robert Frost.  I am still thankful that I unwittingly fed the dormant poet in me with such spare, wry and wise poetry.  Much later, when I discovered the art of Andrew Wyeth, his paintings felt like a Frost poem framed.

Describe your writing process.

When I am writing well, and often, there is an absence of clutter: visual clutter of dishes to do, laundry waiting to be done, bills to pay; schedule clutter of a day overfull with non-essentials; Internet clutter of social media, Netflix, Youtube overuse which can be a barrage of needless data.

Long walks, reading poetry and having enough down time allows my busy monkey brain/ego to be hushed and for the reflective soul and heart to speak.  And then of course to listen – to conversations, birdsong, night dreams, other poets, the quiet voice inside of me.

I write many revisions by hand before transferring the poem to a Word document for further editing.  I read the poem aloud as I edit.  I try to serve the poem rather than holding fast to a preconceived notion of what it should look like on the page or what it is about even.  Often my first few lines get ditched as just the starting impetus, the seed for what bloomed later.  I often will intentionally put aside a nearly finished poem for weeks or months.  When I come back to it, it is easier to see it fresh and the final edit goes easier. I have a poet friend that I sometimes send work to for her critique, if I feel stuck, or for her praise that, miracle of miracles, another poem has been born.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

I will be reading from my first book, River Beneath the River, which was published 10 years ago.  Many things inspired those poems: parenting two daughters, marriage, fly fishing in Idaho, mid-life shape shifting.  I will also be reading new poems inspired by my happier second marriage, mushroom hunting in Oregon, moving to the Midwest.

What are you working on now?

My husband and I moved to Batavia from Oregon last June.  I am still settling into our home, neighborhood, new job, etc.   I am also working on my second poetry book with a working title of Walking Uneven Ground.

Mar 152017
 

“My eye has swole up like a tennis ball. It looks like a globe of the earth sticking out of my face, black and blue with all the colors of the continents and the seven seas. ’Nice shiner,’ says Joyce, usually more of a sympathetic person.”


How did you discover that you were a writer?

I always got a lot of encouragement from my older sister Barbara, who was an inspiration in many ways, especially the arts. In my 8th grade autograph book she wrote “To our own private ‘Ernest Hemingway’. Show them what you can do in high school.” She introduced me to a world of creativity and style.

Describe your writing process.

ZZZZZ. Fall asleep on the couch and wake up at midnight full of ideas and ready to write. I’m a night owl. Some day I’ll find out how productive I could be if I worked after a good night’s sleep.

What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

“The Shiner” is based on actual events that befell an old high school buddy of mine. Possibly embellished. Just a tad.

What are you working on now?

I have a number of poems and stories in various stages of disassembly.