Dec 142015

Waterline - October - 20151018 -  (4 of 19)What was the inspiration behind what you’ll be reading at Waterline?

Having had five books and more than fifty pieces of shorter fiction published, having participated in a large and diverse writers’ group for more than fifteen years, having critiqued pieces of genre fiction at fantasy, science fiction, and gaming conventions, having been a judge on Project Publish, having read a ton of articles and blogs about writing, and, most recently, having edited an anthology of ghost stories (Familiar Spirits), I’ve had a lot of experience with critiques, workshops, and editing. I’ve also read some “classic” books and stories that, frankly, have been less than impressive. Because of that, I began to wonder what would happen if popular or classic stories were submitted to a workshop, writers’ group, or critique site which was unfamiliar with the historical success of the piece. Having seen Steve Allen occasionally spoof musical lyrics by reading them aloud with a deadpan demeanor (Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” was one such reading), I wrote “Season’s Critiquings” as a kind of Christmas card for social media friends. When a small press publisher asked for a holiday piece for a charity anthology, I polished it up and submitted it and it got accepted . A few years later, I read it at Waterline Writers and got a very satisfying reaction from the crowd, so since then have created two sequels: Merry Mark-Up (darker, grittier, because, like all sequels, this time it’s personal), which I read during the open mic portion of last December’s session of Waterline Writers; and “Holiday Workshopping” (based on a more adult Christmas classic). All three are also available as short e-stories on Amazon and make great Christmas cards for your writing friends or favorite author.

What has changed since you last read at Waterline?

I’m actually just finishing up ghostwriting a novel, but the nature of ghostwriting is such that I can’t tell you what it is or really anything about it, except that it’s a thriller and about 100,000 words long. I also recently placed the last story I read at Waterline, “Options,” in an anthology and wrote another story on a similar theme, but in a much different setting. Next up is getting back to working on the sequel for my spy thriller, “Net Impact.”

What is the value of Waterline Writers, or an organization like Waterline Writers, that provides a venue for writers to read, or perform, their work?

Two things stand out. First, there is great value in reading your work aloud. Every writer should do that with every story they write, even if it is alone at their desk. It helps reveal clumsy construction, confusing phrases, and misplaced attributions or asides. Reading in front of a group is even more helpful, however, as you get to see and hear reaction to your words. Not only can that be informative (I’ve read lines that I think are hysterical and heard no reaction but crickets chirping), but it is the exception from the normal rule that writers work alone in silence and readers read alone in silence. Second, independent and small press authors have few real opportunities to be discovered by readers and have their work gain traction in the marketplace. By connecting personally with readers and lovers of words at places like Waterline, an author gets a chance to not only highlight their work, but a chance to feel like their work is appreciated, even if it never achieves any real commercial success.

Oct 262015

CubsBookCoverWaterline alum Deb Brod just released (this morning!) her latest book: A Chicago Cubs Triple Play.

Three previously published short stories by D.C. Brod feature the Chicago Cubs and the fans who love them. “The Night the Lights Went out at the Tattersall Tavern” is set the night the Cubs played their first night game at Wrigley Field–August 8, 1988–as fans gather to watch at the local watering hole. All is good until the storm hits. And then the lights go out. “The Dugout Dudes” have been Cubs season ticket holders for many years. All of a sudden, it’s a lethal condition. “My Heroes Have Always been Shortstops” examines how far a young woman will go to see her team break the curse and win the World Series.

It is available now for the Kindle! Buy it!

Oct 172015

PatrickShannonHow and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

High school was where I found that I might have some talent and more importantly that I liked writing very much.  My father was an excellent story teller; it was his only redeeming quality.  Many of my relatives in the generation born in the late 19th century had good stories, and I listened closely.  I almost lost it all in grad school, because I became corrupted by academic writing.  And worse, I went into business and became even more corrupted by business writing.  It took me years to recover.

Describe your writing process.

The only ritual I have is that I like a nice notebook.  Otherwise I can write any time and any place.  The most important thing about writing to me, however, is to watch and listen to other people.

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

Watching and listening to other people.  You’ll see.

What are you working on now?

Still working on two things.  One is a novel based on the War on Terror.  It’s a comedy.  The second is a novel that continues a long short story that I wrote (and part of which I read at Waterline) called The Relic Thief. 

Oct 162015

EricBodwellHow and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

My 11th grade English teacher, Ms. Oswald, was a really tough teacher who barely ever smiled. Once a week, we had to free write about whatever we wanted for 10 minutes. One day she approached me with a poem I had written during this free writing time. She told me that the poem was really good and suggested I enter a local community college contest for area high school poets. I won first place and Ms. Oswald continued to mentor me in my writing that year. I definitely did n’t have the best class grade, but I was set on a path that I  am really glad I followed.

Describe your writing process.

I have been experimenting with different times of day, places, etc. for a few years, but I don’t have anything that works all of the time. I find that I do best when I working with others who help keep me accountable–creative writing classes, writing groups, prompts between friends, holidays where I need a cool present. I only write poetry, but I do research and several drafts as needed. 

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

My poems tend to be autobiographical or about something that catches my interest for some reason. For instance, one of the poems I will be reading is about President McKinley and his wife. It came about because of an off-hand comment from a work colleague about having older parents who had a “I voted for McKinley” button. The idea stuck in my mind. I found the couple fascinating and it lead to a poem that imagines part of the time while he was governor of Ohio.

What are you working on now?

I’m not working on anything specific right now.  I just continue to write poems that someone might be interested in publishing in their small market literary journal. I took about twenty years off from writing and I have just got back into it in the last few years. I’m just trying to build a habit and a body of work right now.

Oct 152015

Waterline Picture of Don Profile 300 dpiHow and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

Not so much a discovery as a natural progression. School always involved a lot of writing and included things like forensics (original oration), debate, theater, and actually crafting papers for class which had original thoughts and theories. In college I was involved in parliamentary debate, which is essentially role-playing debate (playing characters and setting the debate in time and space). So, when my brother asked me to take him to GenCon because he was involved in playing things like Dungeons & Dragons, I got involved in that, playing hundreds of different characters in scores of different settings and worlds, eventually becoming the world’s top-ranked player of classic RPG tournaments for about fifteen years. Roleplaying is great for learning about pacing, plot, character motivation, and dialogue. Along the way in my gaming years, I started running adventures and tournaments for others, then writing them, then writing published source material (adventures, faux history, monsters) for game companies and tie-in fiction for Dragonlance and BattleTech. After a few editors found out that I could write quickly to specifications, including word count, in a wide variety of genres, I became one of the writers DAW Books, a big producer of anthologies at the time, would call when they needed someone to write a story on a short deadline because a writer dropped at the last minute or they were short on word count. After pitching a novel to a publisher at a con as kind of a learning experience, he asked if the novel was finished. I confessed I hadn’t even started it, but he asked if I would send three chapters to him when I had them. Since I had no idea when he expected those chapters, I set to writing the book right away. He didn’t end up buying it, but another, smaller publisher did. Been writing books and stories ever since.

Describe your writing process.

I don’t write every day. I don’t even write every week or sometimes every month, but when I do write, I write very quickly (about 800 words an hour) and I am Usersvery good about deadlines (whether external or self-imposed), so when I need to write, I sit and write for hours at a time and many days in a row if need be. I always write in my home office, no music, no interruptions. I never edit the same day before writing and try to end at the end of a story or a paragraph or two into the next chapter or scene of a longer work. I usually have a few notes, but no outline, before I write, and rarely refer to my notes as I do write.

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

The inspiration behind “Options,” the piece I think I am reading this month, was a commercial on television. Can’t really say more without giving something away.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am ghostwriting a thriller for someone and I can’t really say more about that. I just finished editing and Kickstarting Familiar Spirits, a ghost anthology commissioned by magician William Pack and featuring a number of writers who have read at Waterline, including Lynne Handy, TS Rhodes, and more. Kevin J. Anderson’s WordFire Press just published The Love-Haight Case Files, which I wrote with Jean Rabe. Love-Haight is about two young attorneys who fight for the rights of supernatural, other-than-humans in a San Francisco filled with magical and paranormal critters. It’s got horror, comedy, romance, action, and courtroom drama all rolled into one. I’ve also got about half-a-dozen stories looking for homes and am writing the sequel to my spy novel, Net Impact. I also have a new entry, called Holiday Workshopping ready for December in my Christmas Carol Critique series.

Oct 142015

Photo by Chuck Bennorth (we’re pretty sure)

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

I guess I’ve always been a storyteller, much to my parents’ dismay. But my family has always encouraged me from childhood days and on to the present. My two smart and lovely sisters have always been among my biggest supporters.

Describe your writing process.

I’m a night owl, always have been. Now that I’m older, I’m likely to fall asleep on the couch, but when I wake up at midnight, I’m raring to go. I do research when I need to, but most of my writing comes from visualizing the scenes in my mind.

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

The story “Crystal Pillars” is actually based on an actual incident, which was recounted to me by a friend about an acquaintance of his. The wife came downstairs from her bedroom in the middle of the night to discover a strange woman sitting at the kitchen table. She found that her husband had brought home a prostitute and then passed out on the couch.  I believe the real story actually had sort of a happy ending. So I made up my own.

What are you working on now?

I’ve got a short list of stories that are crying to be put on paper. But I should be more diligent about editing and marketing my novel.

Apr 222015

10408954_983626251670859_1678154533538743628_nDonna’s play And We Will Share the Sky, a portion of which was read at Waterline, is now published through YouthPLAYS.  The picture at the left is from the YouthPlays Facebook page.

Donna’s plays are being performed all over:

He Said/She Said, Touch Me Philly Productions, Pennsylvania, April 2015

Glacial Decline, Raze the Space, Hollywood, California, May, 2015

We wish her continued success!

Apr 162015

MaryWagnerMary T. Wagner is a former newspaper and magazine journalist who changed careers at forty by going to law school and becoming a criminal prosecutor. However, she never could step away from the written word entirely, and inevitably the joy of writing drew her back to the keyboard. A Chicago native, this mother of four and recent new grandmother now lives in rural Wisconsin, where she draws much inspiration for writing from daily walks in the countryside with her dog, Lucky, and the cat who thinks he’s a dog…The Meatball. Wagner’s ongoing legal experience has ranged from handling speeding tickets to arguing and winning several cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court…sometimes in the same week! Wagner’s life experiences includes the defining watershed of motherhood, and stints as a girl scout troop leader, truck stop waitress, office temp, judicial clerk, and radio talk show host. She counts both wearing spike heels and learning to use a cordless drill and chainsaw among her “late blooming” discoveries, and would be hard pressed to surrender either her favorite stilettos or her power tools. For more on Mary, visit her website.

We asked her some questions.

How and when did you decide, or discover, that you were to be a writer?

Well, it’s been a long and interesting journey. I was never one of those writers who kept a journal when they were young or knew at an early age that this was their chosen path. I sort of stumbled into journalism as a sophomore in college, and found myself hooked from my first basic reporting class. So I started out in newspaper work which is pretty straightforward. Then I started freelancing for magazines when I was raising my children. After a serious horseback riding accident, I changed gears completely and went to law school at the age of forty. I seriously thought that my writing days were behind me then…but after several years as a prosecuting attorney, I let some friends talk me into blogging. So I created my first website, “Running with Stilettos,” in 2007, and somehow the ability to write simply for myself instead of for a particular publication has been absolutely LIBERATING!

Describe your writing process.

Ideally, I would wake up at my leisure, make a cup of tea and cut a slab of chocolate chip cheesecake to jump start the process, and let words ebb and flow from my fingertips as I steal glances at the wildlife in my backyard through the windows in my family room. Bwah ha ha ha!!! Real life is a lot different. Any time I get seized by a spasm of inspiration and want to sit down to write, nine out of ten times one–or both–of the two cats will decide to park themselves in front of the screen and demand attention. After ten minutes of cat-resettling, I can finally start to type. Away from home, I write ideas down on napkins, in notebooks, on the backs of envelopes, and sometimes as notes in my iPhone. At any given moment I’m juggling three or four ideas at once and add to them as I can.

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

I’ll be reading a piece I wrote called “Mink Recycling.” It started when my godmother passed away a few years ago. I went through her things as part of getting ready for the estate sale, and was quite surprised to find a lovely mink stole hanging in the hall closet. She had never married, and didn’t really lead a “mink stole” kind of life! It didn’t sell, and so eventually it made its way home with me. I feel like both the mink and I share a new lease on life!

What are you working on now?

Well, at the moment, I’m nearly halfway through a mid-grade book featuring a cat and a circus museum. Two YA novels are in the works as well, along with a grown-up suspense novel that I’ve worked on in fits and starts for several years. AND…just as the year turned over to 2015, I joined the official team of bloggers at Growing Bolder, so I’m trying to pull my weight in that department too!