Oct 092017
 

I have recently started to write with pen and paper, as opposed to composing on a computer. I do little research and never outline. I simply ask myself, “What is it that needs to be said in this moment.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

When I was applying to business school many years ago, I wrote the application essays with a depth and passion I had not sensed in myself prior to that. When I gave the essays to two English teachers for editing, I expected them to tear the essays apart. They were, instead, very complimentary. That was the first time I understood what writing might become for me.

Describe your writing process.

If a writer is someone who simply must write, I am not a writer. Instead, there are times when an idea or topic occurs to me and I feel the urge to get that idea, topic or question on paper. I have recently started to write with pen and paper, as opposed to composing on a computer. I do little research and never outline. I simply ask myself, “What is it that needs to be said in this moment.”

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

I am reading from my book “Questions That Matter.” I love questions because they open us to new ideas, rather than leading us down paths we have often traveled with results we already know. I am intrigued by questions that nudge me into the unknown.

What are you working on now?

I continue to be haunted by ideas about the future of the species in relation to the biosphere. I am not a futurist, but I have tried many times to try to explain what I see. So far, I have not had much success.

What was the last great thing you read by another author?

I do not read much fiction, but my daughter, an educator in Washington DC, challenged me to read “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas. I found it to be very powerful.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which writer, dead or alive, do you invite?

Dee Hock, who wrote “Birth of the Chaordic Age,” is one of the most deeply philosophical people I have ever met. He writes with great clarity and wisdom.

Oct 052017
 

 

Authors Eric Bodwell, Roger Breisch, Laura Henrikson, Cathy Kern and Eileen Kimbrough will be featured atthe next Waterline Writers event on Sunday, October 15th at 7 pm. Roger Breisch reads two deep-dive essays from Questions That Matter, which will be available for purchase; Eric Bodwell, Laura Henrikson and Eileen Kimbrough take the tough topics we all tackle and treat them to the poet’s unflinching touch; and a chapter from Cathy Kern’s My View of the Bright Moon will further illuminate the evening.

Admission is $5/$3 students. You’ll have the opportunity to purchase an author’s book, beer from Solemn Oath Brewery, wine from Bright Angel Wine, a hand-tooled pen from Wooden Writers or a hand-constructed book from Tieri Ton. We also offer food from The Market at Gaetano’s and desserts from Limestone Coffee & Tea!

Everyone is welcome! Writers may bring a 5-minute piece to share at our 8:30 Open Mic or visit Waterline Writers.org and follow the Submission Guidelines to be considered as a future featured writer. Waterline Writers, 3rd Sundays at 7 pm, September to May, in the art gallery at Water Street Studios 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. Find us on Facebook or Twitter. Contact us at waterlinewriters@gmail.com.

Sep 152017
 

 

Every story really happened, but many are stranger than fiction. The longest is about a book challenge to a Kurt Vonnegut book in my classroom, an event that caused Mr. Vonnegut to write a letter to me about censorship.”

How did you discover that you were a writer?

A student in my education class at Monmouth College suggested I put into writing an inspirational story I’d told in class about the teaching profession. Telling and writing are two different processes entirely, and I was doubtful about the latter. However, I decided to try. After nervously editing “War and Remembrance” about fifty times, I sent it in to Teacher Magazine. They contacted me in two days and bought it. That was 2006. I thought, “Wow! It can’t be this easy.” Of course, it wasn’t after that. I self-published the teaching memoir of fifteen stories that began with that early one because publishers of education topics wanted textbooks. However, I say with a smile on my face, that this memoir has paid me a nice royalty check every quarter since September 2010. After that, I decided to move to fiction and write mysteries. My Endurance Mysteries were picked up in two weeks by Five Star Publishing (Gale/Cengage), and I’ve been writing mysteries ever since. So, I believe—finally—that I am a writer.

Describe your writing process.

Referring to my mysteries, I usually begin with an idea and spend several weeks thinking about it, making decisions, and solving problems. I also do a great deal of initial research since my mysteries often involve technical research such as mitochondrial DNA, cold case files, various kinds of wounds, blood spatter, etc. These, of course, are topics I never learned about while teaching high school English. I often interview people who can help me, especially coroners, doctors, and police detectives. I am an outliner, and I feel I must be so to make all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. The more detail in my outline, the easier it is for me to write and the less revision necessary later.

Generally, I write a chapter at a sitting, and chapters usually run around 2,000 words. I write best in the afternoon. After teaching for 44 years at 8 a.m., my mornings in retirement are slooow. I often edit as I go along, and I do a great deal of editing and proofreading at the end. When I finish writing each day, I make a list of what I will write about tomorrow. I have never had writer’s block, and that is why. I try to write every day, sometimes in my office and sometimes in my living room. Despite that statement, I don’t always manage to write every day because some days I play duplicate bridge. I must keep my priorities straight.

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

The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks) is a series of fifteen creative nonfiction stories of students who came into my life and changed the way I thought or taught or viewed the world. It tells, chronologically, over four decades, true stories that are funny, poignant, interesting, and filled with ethical choices that teachers make. Every story really happened, but many are stranger than fiction. The longest is about a book challenge to a Kurt Vonnegut book in my classroom, an event that caused Mr. Vonnegut to write a letter to me about censorship. It is now framed and resides on my living room wall. The story I’ll read is the only one from my college teaching years. It is the final story, the period at the end of the sentence, the event near the end of the career. Every time I remember that night, I smile.

What are you working on now?

I just finished my fifth mystery tentatively called A Death at Tippitt Pond. I sent it off to my editor two days ago. While it takes place in the present day, it concerns a murder that happened in the early 1970s.

Click here for more information about Waterline’s September event.

Sep 152017
 

A previous post said Waterline’s event would happen BEFORE the Cuban music, but it was incorrect. Waterline Writers will be held at 7 PM (our usual time) on Sept. 17th, at Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water St. in Batavia, IL. This month we are inviting everyone to come early, between 5 and 6:30 pm, for a rare opportunity to hear Cuban & Colombian musicians, in the adjoining Kiss The Sky Record Store. Find more event information on Waterline’s live literature or KTS’s concert by following those links!  -AV

Sep 152017
 

 

…Now I write when something–and it could be ANYTHING–captures my attention. I have learned not to try to control the poem too much but to let it have its way.  I am aware of an inner muse who leads the band, and I try not to get in her way.”

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

I always had a nudge to write. However, being raised in the 50’s, most women didn’t aspire to be writers as gender roles were pretty specific: teacher, nurse, secretary. So, I became a teacher. I taught Creative Writing, among other classes, as East High School (Rockford) for many years. During that time, I enjoyed doing the assignments with my students. Eventually, the nudge to write became a burning desire, which led to sabbaticals in which I honored the writer in me. I spent a year working with Lucien Stryk at Northern Illinois University and later another year at the Vermont Writers’ program working with Lynda Hull. They were both inspirations in different ways. Working with Lucien taught me to be more concise and tight, while working with Lynda taught me to be more lyrical and expansive. I navigate poetry both ways, depending on subject and mood.

Describe your writing process.

My process has become more spontaneous after decades of writing. When the burning desire first took hold, I wrote every day in the wee hours of the morning. It seemed like I was drawing from a bottomless well. After writing furiously for several years, things tapered off a bit. Now I write when something–and it could be ANYTHING–captures my attention. I have learned not to try to control the poem too much but to let it have its way.  I am aware of an inner muse who leads the band, and I try not to get in her way. I used to revise so much that I sometimes took the life out of the poems, but now I tend to trust my own process and revise just a little here and there. I am more aware now of shaping poems rather than rewriting them altogether. Since nature informs my work, I do enjoy learning Latin botanical names, which in themselves are remarkably poetic. I don’t outline my poems, but I do outline my books, and see groupings that seem to fit together thematically. I write at home.  For many years I had to use long hand for the kinesthetic sensation that went along with the poem, but gradually I have grown more comfortable at the computer.

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

I was inspired by a newspaper article on Oppenheimer many years ago. Travel and aging are inspirations as well as politics. Sometimes they all spin together.

What are you working on now?

I am excited about my book just released–Wild Fruition. I am looking forward to readings.

 

Sep 142017
 

 

I’m a great believer, especially with poetry, in grabbing the moment. Often poems arrive as if dictated and it can be critical to capture them. Dangerous too in the event you happen to be driving.”

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

From the time I was a young child, I was an eager reader and was also lucky to be encouraged by my father who read to me from Shakespeare, the Odyssey, Dickens, Kipling, Scott, etc. I began to write my own little stories. I think I always knew I would be a writer. In my day jobs, I’ve worked as a journalist, editor and teacher of writing, so it was always a focus.

Describe your writing process.

Process is such an individual thing that I don’t know that one person’s experience is valuable to another. I’m a great believer, especially with poetry, in grabbing the moment. Often poems arrive as if dictated and it can be critical to capture them. Dangerous too in the event you happen to be driving. I advise pulling over, but confess to scribbling down the gist of a poem while haphazardly steering. I tend to be rather prolific so generally I write daily. Of course, much of what one writes is expendable, so it is also important to put a piece on ice for a while before exercising one’s critical judgment.

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

The inspiration behind the Carnival poems was engendered by memories of the many carnivals and fairs that afflict our towns and counties every summer. After writing the first one the rest came in a rush. I already had a potential chapbook manuscript that I’d been working on which I was calling Invented Histories, poems that projected the futures of literary or mythical characters. Renaming that Sideshows made is conceivable to partner it with Carnival and then conclude with some circus poems.

 What are you working on now?

I have a new book that won’t be available in the U.S. till January, 2018–the publisher, Presa Press, has a contract with a U.K. distributor that gives them a 6 month exclusive. The book is called Her Heartsongs–I have my contributor copies already and I have brought along some drafts of the P.R. that is going out.

Sep 142017
 

I wrote “extra credit” stories as a 1960s grade-schooler and won the “Gutenberg of the Atomic Age” award, though that appropriately acknowledged the nuns’ appreciation of my printing ability for school event signage rather than any of my creative compositions.”

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

I wrote “extra credit” stories as a 1960s grade-schooler and won the “Gutenberg of the Atomic Age” award, though that appropriately acknowledged the nuns’ appreciation of my printing ability for school event signage rather than any of my creative compositions.

In high school I filled the first few pages of a notebook with some really bad poetry.

At the conclusion of the college years, three of my best friends and I committed to “keeping in touch” via an annual letter, followed by a gathering several weeks thereafter, a “Symposium,” to discuss the correspondence. Forty-three years later and true to our pledge, our discourses, addressing topics esoteric to mundane, fill multiple volumes. My friends would compliment the humorous bent and laugh out loud moments sprinkled throughout my letters. With a number of those involving fishing related experiences, I acted on their suggestion to submit articles to outdoor periodicals, all of which were published. Further buoyed by those little successes and the availability of extra time resulting from retirement, I embarked on a significantly more involved project—my memoir—playfully told, with my love of fishing woven throughout.

Describe your writing process.

Pour ½ ounce of Rock and Rye cordial into a snifter.

Ascend staircase to loft-located writing desk, taking care not to trip and spill snifter contents.

Light “Dream by the Fire” Yankee Candle.

Load 5-disc changer, alternating Native American flute and Led Zeppelin CDs.

Turn on computer and activate Word program.

Stare at blank screen as its paralyzing whiteness smothers the creative soul.

Answer with a sip of Rock and Rye and begin typing.

(Honest!)

I need a block of several uninterrupted hours to feel comfortable getting started. Time of day does not matter, though if it is morning or early afternoon I’ll judiciously skip the Rock and Rye component. My writing method is slow and methodical (I’m on my second hour just answering this question) with continuous revisions, sometimes to the point of reworking, multiple times, the sentence last completed. I’m amazed anything ever gets finished!

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

In my case, it was “who,” and the answer is EVE. (That’ll make sense if you attend Sunday’s event!)

What are you working on now?

I’m in the early stages of a piece (short story, or maybe longer…) with the working title, The Unusual Life of Logan Mayonnaise.