Miriam Sonn Raabe

BIW Member Interview

Miriam Sonn Raabe is a retired nurse living on Whidbey Island in Washington State. She has a Ph.D. in Sociology which she hasn’t used much and is a registered nurse. She has been married to the same man for 33 years and has two grown sons – one living in Hawaii, the other in NYC. Born in 1944, she grew up in Queens, NY, then went to graduate school in Ann Arbor and Boston and has worked mainly as a nurse in psychiatry, community health, and school nursing. Since retiring two years ago, she has been trying out many new things – drawing, choir, languages, travel – as well as doing lots of volunteer work – meals on wheels, cashier at the local community thrift store, hospice care, fostering kittens, etc.). She loves to write but is still working on defining herself as a writer.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Miriam Sonn Raabe: I’m still not sure whether to call myself a writer or just someone who loves to write. I knew I wanted to write when I was in graduate school in Sociology back in the late sixties. I would spend time in coffee shops and pancake houses writing poetry (at least it didn’t seem to be prose). It came out of a need to get in touch with a deeper part of myself, more of a spiritual journey.

The only published writing I did in those days was academic and professional. There was my PhD dissertation, “A Case Study of a School of Nursing.” While going for my PhD in Sociology, I decided to become a nurse, took some time off to go to nursing school and then worked part-time as a nurse while I wrote the dissertation.

About three years after finishing it, as a stay-at-home mom, I joined a weekly writing group and played around with turning the dissertation into a novel. I still have the rough draft of that somewhere. I also wrote a chapter in a nursing text that summarized some of the dissertation. I tried my hand at a few short stories that I submitted for publication. No luck. I gave up easily any time I got a rejection.

After graduating from nursing school, I did some research on the in-patient psychiatric unit where I worked. Out of that came an article for a psychiatric journal that I co-wrote with the director of the unit as well as a chapter in another book on psychiatry.

For several years when my kids were still very young, I wrote a monthly health column for our local paper.

I kept going back to poetry, in part because I could write a poem in 15 or 20 minutes, before going to work, as a kind of meditation.

The confusion about writing versus being a writer, continued. Meditation as writing was such a private thing, certainly nothing I needed to share with anyone or certainly not with a large public. On the other hand, I was never sure that my feeling of not needing or wanting to share it widely wasn’t a cop-out, a behavior born of fear and shyness. I still struggle with that.

Miriam Raabe, writerMiriam Sonn Raabe:

  1. When I don’t write for any length of time, I get very grumpy. I NEED to write for the sake of my own health and well-being. I have learned to take that need seriously. While I am writing, especially poetry, it is as if I go to a special hideout and tune into a different frequency, one that nourishes and sustains me.
  2. I have a fear of publishing and trying to get published. I need to get over that. I think it is basically a form of ego masquerading as shyness.
  3. Be specific and go with the inner flow. Nail down the details and don’t be afraid of the wild ride on the rapids. If I am not a little uncomfortable with what I am writing, I am probably not being honest enough.

Tips about writing and my own personal lessons:

The concept of ‘free writing’ has been helpful. No matter how uninspired I feel, I can almost always convince myself to do 10 minutes of free writing, and I usually feel better for it.

Stop worrying about whether you are writing poetry or prose or what specific genre or form you are using. Some of the most interesting writing has crossed those boundaries and entered new territory.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Miriam Sonn Raabe: I am going through all my notebooks and typing up my poems. The plan next is to review them and choose my favorites for a book of poetry.

I am translating a book (from Hebrew to English) that my brother-in-law wrote. He lives on a kibbutz in Israel and was, for many years, the head of the orchards. In 1997, he suffered a severe stroke which affected primarily his expressive language skills. Since then, he has been clawing his way back to being able to communicate, mainly through using one hand and a computer. The book is about his experiences as a stroke victim. It has been used in Israel by health care practitioners who work with stroke patients.

I have started a blog focused on health issues. It is called Two Retired Nurses. My friend (the other retired nurse), who is now a librarian, meets with me about once a week. For now, we talk about universal health care and health care reform.

Moe: Do you have a favorite writing related book?

Miriam Sonn Raabe: Natalie Goldberg’s book, Writing Down the Bones, was my favorite for a while. But the one I dug out of my pile and have used more often lately is called Anybody Can Write by Jean Bryant. Back in the late seventies, I attended a weekly writing group that Jean led on Bainbridge Island. She is very down to earth and unintimidating, and the book includes many useful writing exercises.

Moe: What is your favorite writing website?

Miriam Sonn Raabe: The only website I have used of late is Moe’s BIW site. When I am stuck, I go there. Nice.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Miriam Sonn Raabe: Not exactly a tip – more a compliment for BIW. I love the concept and the simplicity of the process. I like the fact that all I have to commit to is the number of pages I will try to write during that week. There are clearly many levels of writing experience in the group that sign up each month, but all we get is encouragement rather than judgment or critique. And that, after all, is the bottom line, no? The more you write, the more likely you are to succeed in whatever form you choose.

Visit Miriam’s Blog: 2 Retired Nurses

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Vicki Kissinger

BIW Member Interview

Vicki Kissinger lives in Erie, Pennsylvania with her best friend and husband James, his four cats and her two German Shepherd Dogs. Burned out after working eighteen years as a registered nurse she started a new career as a canine obedience instructor working with pet dogs and problem behaviors. Recently disabled due to severe arthritis and other health issues she has been combining her knowledge of dog behavior and care with her writing and has had canine or training related articles published in local magazines and websites.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Vicki Kissinger, writerVicki Kissinger: I started writing very young. As soon as I started reading I thought it would be fun to make up my own stories and I began to write them down. Looking back I will admit that my first attempts were often my version of stories that I had read. It did not take me long to start finding my own ideas. I discovered early that I am a perfectionist and I would spend hours rewriting the same paragraph over and over so that writing a short story or poem was a long and painful process.

Writing and reading were not considered to be “useful” activities by my mother so I often had to hide what I was doing. Fortunately I had many supportive teachers that appreciated my writing and encouraged me to keep up with my endeavors. I put off my writing for several years while I pursued a career in other areas but my regrets and the very strong urge to write have finally come together so that I am writing seriously now.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Vicki Kissinger: The most important lesson that I have learned about writing is that you have to write! Excuses and procrastination do not make you a writer. Writing is learned and improved by writing. The second thing that I have learned is that letting your internal editor run loose while you are writing makes it difficult if not impossible to get any words down on paper. So lock him up tight and ignore him while you get words down on the page. Once the words are down you can take the time to turn your editor loose and let him do his thing. The third thing I have learned is that ideas can be found everywhere and at anytime. I always carry a notebook with me so that I can jot down ideas as they pop into my head, observations of the people and places around me, quotes, etc. I never want to be in the situation of having a great idea and having it fade away before I can get it written down.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Vicki Kissinger: I am working on a few different projects. One is writing a monthly column for “Front and Finish” magazine about training dogs for competition while disabled. Since becoming disabled I have discovered a need to become a strong advocate and protestor for disabled rights with my service dog Kai. My mantra has become, “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. My experiences have given me a great idea for a mystery novel that is now under construction. I continue to send out queries with article ideas to various magazines. I am also doing research and putting together a proposal for a non-fiction book.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Vicki Kissinger: It is not fair to make me pick only one writing related book! I would have to say that one of my favorites is The Power to Write by Caroline Joy Adams.

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Vicki Kissinger: There are so many writing websites that I check out at regular intervals. Of course one of my favorites is the BIW site. If I had to pick a favorite it would probably be the Toasted Cheese website. You can find a monthly calendar of writing prompts, writing contests and a supportive community of other writers.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Vicki Kissinger: The best thing that BIW has taught me is to get my butt in the chair and write something. I can be the world’s best procrastinator. The discipline of setting a goal and working to achieve it or better it is something I have carried over to the rest of the month. I have a goal set for every day of the week and I set aside time every day to achieve that goal.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Cynthia Hudson

BIW Member Interview

Cynthia Hudson is a freelance writer and novelist originally from New England. She has completed two fiction novels, dozens of short stories, and several non-fiction articles that can be found on the web. She is also working on an online novella that will be completed this fall.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Cynthia Hudson: I actually started writing when I was about ten years old. When other young girls were playing with their fashion dolls, I was writing ghost stories and mystery plays that I would con my nieces and nephews to take part in. I’ve never really wanted to be anything else.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Cindy Hudson, writerCynthia Hudson: First, that no one can make you sit down and write every day, you have to be self-motivating. Unless you are a famous, published writer no one is waiting with baited breath for your next work.

Second, I treat my writing as a job. When I am working on a book I get up every morning and get ready for the day as if I was expected at work. I try to be at my desk at 9:00 a.m., coffee in hand, ready to go.

Third, that writing is a gift you give yourself. It really doesn’t matter if anyone buys what you have written; although all of us would love a best seller that is not what makes you a “writer”. When you put the words on a page and love what you have written, you are a writer.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Cynthia Hudson: I just finished my second novel and while I am working through my second draft I am writing some short stories for publication on the web.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Cynthia Hudson: I have two but if I can only pick one it would be Stephen King’s On Writing. Practical advice and it makes me smile.

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Cynthia Hudson: I love Writer’s Digest. They offer many of their how-to articles from the magazine for free online. There is a free newsletter that you can subscribe to, links, prompts, online conferences, and a bookstore that offers many writing related books at discounted rates. It’s also how I found BIW and NaNoWriMo!

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Cynthia Hudson: I always try to figure out what I need to get done for the week, whatever project I am working on, and then set my goal. I also find it easier for me to set my goal a little low so I am not constantly beating myself up for not getting enough done which is simply wasted energy.

Visit Cynthia’s official website.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Jerry Ackerman

BIW Member Interview

Jerry Ackerman shares a townhouse in northern Virginia with two cats. When not doing the bidding of his feline owners, he spends time with his fiance’ watching old movies and reading. His alter ego, Alistair Kimble enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Jerry Ackerman: The first twinkle that I had stories inside me waiting to be told was in the fifth grade. A friend and I wrote a story that was a complete rip-off of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Throughout my teens, all the way up to my early thirties, I dabbled with writing–starting, but not finishing anything. It wasn’t until this past January that I knew I was supposed to be a writer.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Jerry Ackerman, writerJerry Ackerman:
1) On the first draft let the words flow, do not stop to revise or edit yourself.
2) Write every day – even if it’s only a page, it’s better than nothing.
3) Once done with the first draft, let it sit for awhile to gain perspective–then revise, and revise again and again.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Jerry Ackerman: I recently finished an epic fantasy novel and a science fiction short story, but I am currently writing another epic fantasy. It’s essentially a follow-up to the already completed book. It’s a story of a man struggling to unravel the mystery behind the death of his father. It is set against the backdrop of a kingdom being slowly torn apart by religious and political treachery.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Jerry Ackerman: There are so many, it’s hard to choose! I’d say Stephen King On Writing. Not only does it provide insight on his life and what shaped him as a writer, but it provides great tips on the craft of writing, and the business of writing.

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Jerry Ackerman: I enjoy Writing Excuses. It isn’t a traditional website, but it’s a blog that also acts as a site for a weekly podcast by three published authors. The podcasts are once a week and only fifteen minutes long. The podcast is a little skewed toward sci-fi and fantasy, but the tips on writing and the business of writing are outstanding.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Jerry Ackerman: I think others have all ready given this advice, but it’s all about keeping your butt in the chair and letting the words flow.

Visit Jerry Ackerman’s official website

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Nancy Evertz

BIW Member Interview

Nancy Evertz is a romance writer living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes – Minnesota. She has five children scattered around the country – and sometimes around the world. She is a gardener, cook, singer, golfer, dancer, skier and avid reader.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Nancy Evertz: Although I sporadically kept a journal from my teen years on – my mother was the journalist, poet and playwright and my sister – the poet. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college when my English professor suggested I try and publish a short story I’d written for an assignment. I was astonished and failed to do anything with the work – but the seed was planted. Now a retired pharmaceutical executive at a reasonably young age, I write full time.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Nancy Evertz, writerNancy Evertz: Write everyday no matter how you feel. Malcolm Gladwell’s theory is that you need 10,000 hours of practice to be a success. Since my background is accounting – I keep a daily Excel log of my writing so I don’t lie to myself about how much time I spend.

Read your genre. I want to be published – if you don’t know what is selling – why would a publisher take a chance.

To improve, other writers need to read your work – so take a risk, join a critique group. Everyone has insights that might improve your writing. They are all on the same path – but may have taken a different detour – so they can help you over that next road block.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Nancy Evertz: I am editing book two of a completed trilogy — the first book that has been requested by an editor. During Book-in-a-Week – I work on new projects. I have a series set in Savannah that I finished the second book during the May BIW. I started the third book in the June BIW.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Nancy Evertz: Since I’ve just begun pitching – the book I reach for most is Making the Perfect Pitch by Katharine Sands.

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Nancy Evertz: Well of course BIW!! But I also take on line course – WriterU has been great. I am also amazed at the amount of info you can get by Googling.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Nancy Evertz: I’ve found that I have more productive writing times – since I am retired – I can write three pages an hour in the morning – but it might take me an hour at night to write one page. Write when you are most productive.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Amy Krasnansky

BIW Member Interview

Amy Krasnansky works part-time as a software engineer. When she’s not tracking down bugs in cyberspace, she enjoys quilting and gardening. She ranks writing as slightly less odious than coming up with something for dinner, and almost pleasant compared to cleaning her house. She lives in Baltimore with her husband, two children, a cat, and a menacing horde of dust bunnies.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Amy Krasnansky: When I was a kid, I loved drawing and painting and crafts of all kinds. I dreamed of being an artist when I grew up. Somehow I became a software engineer instead. Writing never even crossed my mind until about six years ago. At the time I was reading lots of picture books to my son who was four years old. His obsession with dinosaurs to the exclusion of all rational thought was apparently contagious: one day I sneezed and out came an idea for a picture book, starring dinosaurs, of course. So I wrote it.

When I had revised it to death, I thought I should try to get it published (oh, how naïve I was). Off I went to the library to bone up on publishing. The more I researched children’s literature, the more I wanted to write it. Thus began the long line of picture book manuscripts, poems, and novels-abandoned-partway-through that I have produced since that time. And some of them are not even about dinosaurs. In answer to your question: I’m still not sure I want to be a writer, but I can’t seem to shake the fever.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Amy Krasnansky, writerAmy Krasnansky: 1. It is harder than it looks.

2. Just write. Fix it later. If you get stuck trying to figure out what happens next, list the possibilities. Then pick one and move on. You can always rewrite it if you change your mind. It’s hard to steer the car while it’s parked. We all write both better and worse than we think we can. I’m embarrassed to read my first drafts, but then, after many revisions and a few light bulb moments, I read the final version, and I can’t believe that it came from me. That’s what keeps me writing.

3. Make your writing stink like Fifi’s litter box, throb like a toothache, bite like vinegar, irritate like a wailing baby, and leave psychedelic spots before your eyes with its flashes of insight. In other words, make it specific and sensory. But don’t use five similes in one sentence (four similes and a metaphor is acceptable.)

Moe: What are you working on now?

Amy Krasnansky: I am about halfway through a middle-grade fantasy novel, mostly written during BIW weeks. My commitments to BIW force me to work on it. Otherwise, it would be just another neglected file on my computer. It’s so hard to figure out what should happen next, how to keep the tension rising, and how to resolve everything at the end.

I also have several poems marinating at any given moment. For some reason, I actually enjoy working on them.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Amy Krasnansky: I like The Plot Thickens by Noah Lukeman. It is packed with questions to ask yourself about your characters, and clues about how to put those characters into action, maintain the suspense, and come to a satisfying resolution. Maybe I should read it again…

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Amy Krasnansky: I don’t really have a favorite, but this Absolute Write’s forum was in my “Favorites” folder. It contains some interesting conversations on writing. A good place to procrastinate or better, get revved up to crank out some pages.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Amy Krasnansky: I like to set a goal that I know I can make, and be completely committed to reaching it. Not very ambitious, but that is what works for me.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Betty Wong

BIW Member Interview

Betty Wong is an ordinary person who writes because she thinks people actually want to read what she’s got to say. When she’s not writing, she’s usually singing, because she thinks people actually want to hear her when she sings. Fortunately for the people around her, she also enjoys reading, and so they provide her with all the books she wants, in exchange for some peace and quiet.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Betty Wong: I started reading when I was very young, but although I already loved books, I never really wanted to be a writer until I read Christopher Pike when I was eleven years old. His books were the first I read that impressed me so much with their depth and intelligence, although they were listed as Young Adult books, and I knew then that I wanted to do what he did.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Betty Wong, writerBetty Wong: I think one of the most important lessons I learned is that you have to switch off your internal editor when you’re writing creatively. I tend to edit myself every few pages, and of course I never get far when I do that, but BIW has helped me to shove the editor aside and just allow myself to write.

Another lesson I’ve learn is that it’s important to write. Write anything, write everyday, just write. Writing is something you have to practice at, just like with any other craft. An artist starts by learning how to mix paint and put the brush onto the canvas, he doesn’t miraculously paints masterpieces the first time he paints on canvas. He’ll create a lot of crap, but the more he practices his art, the sooner he creates his masterpieces. It’s the same for a writer. I used to unrealistically think that I’d produce a masterpiece the first time I sat down to write, but now I know I’ve got to practice.

I’ve also learn that not everybody writes the same way. I read a lot of books about writing and how some writers write. I’ve found that they’ve all got their own techniques and ways of writing and they don’t necessarily apply to me. I started out trying to follow exactly what they did, but I’ve found that their ways don’t always work for me. I learned that I had to find my own techniques and do what works for me.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Betty Wong: A couple of books actually. One is a fantasy-type story, a light-hearted fairy-tale with a happy-ever-after ending.

The other is a biography about my grandfather who passed away a couple of years ago. He left me his diaries, written in Chinese, which tells about his life when he was a young man; how he came to migrate from China, how he made his fortune in the rubber estates, and his many initial encounters with gangsters who eventually became his friends.

It’s slow going, because I don’t read Chinese and have to rely on my husband to translate for me, but it’s an amazing story.
Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Betty Wong: It has to be Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. It is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read about writing, and the best because I haven’t finished it yet! Every time I pick up this book and read a couple of chapters, it gives me such a strong urge to write that I put it down again and go write! Every other book I’ve read about writing makes me want to read more, instead of write more!

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Betty Wong: WritersDigest.com. I can spend hours there, reading their articles, browsing their books, and of course, checking out the 101 best sites for writing.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Betty Wong: The best BIW tip, I think, is already the catch phrase. BIC HOK TAM: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard, Typing Away Madly. Do that, and BIW will be a breeze for you. What I do is I make sure I’ve got everything I need near me, water, or something to snack on if I get hungry. I close the door and turn on some new age music, sit at the computer, remind myself why I want to write, then I write.

Visit Betty Wong’s blog.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Dawn Compton

BIW Member Interview

Dawn Compton, from Bellville, TX, writes that, “Living in Texas on a ranch is my best motivation to write. My family is kept busy with many animals that my son shows at all the major state livestock shows. Since I do the hauling and dead time before the shows, my favorite place to people watch for inspiration is at the stalls. Inspiration is everywhere, we just have to slow down and see it.” Dawn lives with her husband, college junior daughter and freshman son on the ranch with numerous assorted animals.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Dawn Compton: I have always wanted to be a writer. As a youngster, I remember scraps of paper with scribbles on them. But in January 2004, I made a New Year’s resolution to submit something to a publisher. I was lucky enough to find a publisher to self publish my two children’s books in November 2004 and September 2005 respectively. The greatest blessing was finding an illustrator that was a friend of a friend who did an awesome job.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Dawn Compton, writerDawn Compton: You can’t be a writer only in your mind. You have to practice the art. I don’t do this enough and it shows. Making the time is as important as eating in some cases.

Find inspiration in groups. Friends and family that know what you do can be proud of you but groups of people with ‘the goal’ will inspire you to find the time and get the words down. I have grown so much by surrounding myself with writer’s groups and learning from them.

Be ready for ideas when they hit you. I find I am most inspired during busy times at stock shows and rodeos. Why? Because this most often is the setting for my stories. Why be ready? I am usually hit with a unique and wonderful idea but it is when my hands are full of buckets, feed or the halter of a 1200 pound steer that needs to be walked. I am considering a voice recorder! I have called and left myself a voice mail but sometimes you lose the moment.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Dawn Compton: Well, working on is the operative word. I have several children’s stories kicking around and am hoping to get them on paper in the next two months. I have about three weeks of travel to stock shows with animals and quite a bit of downtime once I am there so I am optimistic I can be productive. The novel that I submitted to 3daynovel.com was not picked. I wasn’t ‘dark’ enough for the picks so I am finishing and editing it because as God as my witness I will submit that to a publisher by May! Or I may self publish because I think (and the few readers that have seen it as well) it is worth it.

Moe: Do you have a favorite writing related book?

Dawn Compton: Actually I don’t have a favorite because I am still reading thru all of them. Anytime someone mentions a book, I have to try it out. I’m currently reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Jennifer Basye Sander.

Moe: What is your favorite writing website?

Dawn Compton: I get information from several websites regarding writing and children’s writing. But you know, I love Children Come First. They have a monthly contest that is free to enter. The contest gives you the first line and you have to come up with a story within 200 words. Winners are posted on their website but I try to do it monthly because it challenges me.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Dawn Compton: My tip is none other than to find a way to BIC HOK TAM. Find some way to get that done. Oh, and remember to post your totals ‘cause Moe doesn’t let you slide!

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Judy Powell

BIW Member Interview

Judy Powell is a Jamaican Writer living in Mississauga, Canada. Judy, who loves to learn, holds a Bachelor’s Degree and three Master’s Degrees and is a member of the USA honour society, Phi Beta Kappa. Her novels – Hot Summer, Hot Chocolat and Coffee, Cream and Curry (two of which have received awards) – are available in bookstores across Canada, and in selected stores in the USA and the Caribbean.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Judy Powell: Since childhood, I’ve loved to read. I got my first library card at the age of 5 and have been devouring books ever since. This love for reading evolved into a love for writing. However, I did not give writing serious thought until, several years ago, a college instructor told me she thought I had a genuine talent for writing. It boosted my confidence and I finally wrote my first novel in 2003 – Coffee, Cream and Curry – which was awarded a silver medal in the 2005 National Creative Writing Competition (Jamaica).

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Judy Powell, writerJudy Powell: I’ve learned: Not to be a perfectionist when writing my first draft. I just try to get the novel done, then I go back and revise, revise, revise. This method ensures that I don’t get so bogged down with perfecting the early chapters that I never finish the work.

If I genuinely want to be a writer I have to take my writing as seriously as a nine-to-five job. I have to be disciplined and stick to my writing schedule. I can’t shirk off or put my writing at the bottom of my list of priorities for the day or else I will never get my novel done.

I have to hone my writing skills by taking advantage of as many classes and seminars on writing that I can, and by reading widely (books on the craft of writing, works by other writers). Constant training in the craft of writing (while being conscious to maintain my own writing “voice”) should go a long way in enhancing the quality of my work.

Moe: What are you working on now?

Judy Powell: I am working on an erotic romance novel entitled Delicious and a literary critique of the works of Flannery O’Connor, a renowned American author from the South.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Judy Powell: One of my favourite books on writing is Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. It contains a myriad of ideas for getting your novel to stand out from the crowd by effectively using techniques including characterization, setting, emotion and tension.

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Judy Powell: Outside of websites where I can get writing tips, my favourite is Thesaurus.com – so many new and fresh ways to say the same thing!

Moe: What is an important BIW Tip you would like to pass along?

Judy Powell: The first, and most important, tip in my opinion: BIC HOK TAM!! Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away like mad! There is no better advice than this. This is the only way we will get our words, and our works, out and onto the printed page.

Visit Judy Powell’s official website.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.

Rita B. Fox

BIW Member Interview

Rita B. Fox writes short stories and children stories. She is always surprised other people like them. She is 49 years old, married and has three kids. She likes to be creative with writing, drawing, and poetry. She loves to cuddle with her 11 year old daughter, who is often her pool of ideas.

Moe: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Rita B. Fox: When someone invited me to join a writing group, when I was with a poetry group. I said yes. Then I thought “Oh, my gawd!” what did I say. I never wrote a story in Dutch, and never in English. But it turned out very well. I did it for two and a half years (from 2002 until 2005). It improved my English and my writing, as they told me.

Moe: Describe three lessons you have learned about writing?

Rita B. Fox, writerRita B. Fox:

  1. I just write what I like.
  2. I write just for the fun of writing
  3. Writing is a good way too deal with things

Moe: What are you working on now?

Rita B. Fox: I write mainly short stories. I am starting a new kid’s story about a little girl and a horse. My daughter is my model.

Moe: Do you have a favourite writing related book?

Rita B. Fox: No, not really. I am a free writer. I write just what I like with as less rules as possible.

Moe: What is your favourite writing website?

Rita B. Fox: BIW and the sites of Dan Goodwin a creative coach from England.

Moe: Do you have an important BIW tip you’d like to pass along?

Rita B. Fox: Just write because you like to do it, write without thinking about what would others think. If others like what you write, yippee, otherwise too bad, but you had the fun of writing it.

Visit Rita B. Fox’s blog.

About Maureen Wood

M. E. Wood lives in Eastern Ontario with her husband of fifteen years. She has been moderating BIW for over nine years and works on the Internet. You can learn more about her projects on her official website.