Teresa is one of my writer friends that I met through Blog Battle. I’ve enjoyed her contemporary shorts, and I highly recommend you check them out on her blog, How the Cookie Crumbles. Teresa lives with her cats Dickens and Lady Gaga in Ontario, Canada. She is a grandmother and a student of life with a passion for cooking. Although retired, she’s annoyed with her overwhelming collection of books and lack of time to read them. Her daily life consists of writing, reading, and blogging.
I can totally relate to that last statement. Sometimes I feel like writing is my life. Everything else takes a back seat at times.
I am tickled to be here. Thanks so much, Cathleen, for this wonderful opportunity. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
*shakes hands* Tell me about your most recently published work?
I had a Christmas story published last month in Halcyon, an online and print magazine, a piece completely different from anything I’ve written. What a surprise that was. This is the link if you’d like to take a peek:
http://issuu.com/moniqueberry/docs/halcyon_-_winter_2015?e=1714591/32145288 (Was it Magic? on page 7)
In October, 2015, I was published in Retirement and Good Living Magazine, Why Not China:
Currently, I struggle editing my NaNoWriMo collection of stories. I hoped to complete the process by early spring. No surprise, my plan is not working. I’m long retired, you’d think I have loads of time to do everything. That would be too easy. Life likes to mess with me. No matter. Later is better than never.
Collections are surprisingly difficult. It’s not enough to have good individual stories. They need to form some sort of cohesive whole. Character contrasts can help with that, at least for me. How do you develop your characters?
In my short stories, the characters come about from an idea. A word or a situation sparks a problem and the story unfolds, sometimes a word at a time like knitting. I connect the words and my stories take shape and develop—often at a snail’s pace.
That’s maddening, when the story comes slower than you’d like, isn’t it? Where do you come up with ideas for new characters or stories?
I never know what will spark an idea: a thought, a question, a prompt, anything. The characters always take over the story and I love the surprises along the way. The best part about writing is the unexpected turn here and there. I’m a kid on an adventure; nothing else matters. I never know where we’ll all find ourselves.
How do you come up with character names?
Names must fit the time-period and the situation in the story. I don’t like names I can’t pronounce—why not use something easy but fitting? I don’t write fantasy (if you don’t count my last story) nor science fiction. Tongue twisters take so much energy—at least for me.
How do you decide where to set a story?
The name and the situation / problem will shape my character. I work to capture the setting by involving the character in something right away. I hope this gives a hint about the story and hooks the reader as well.
Do you use a particular story structure, or do you pick and choose?
No, I do not use any story structure. Without apology, I fly by the seat of my pants.
I’d figured out you’re a discovery writer already. 🙂 Do you find it more difficult to write your first draft or to revise?
The first draft is more difficult than the revision. I love editing, although, I can’t seem to stop tinkering and let go, confident I’ve taken the story as far as I can.
Do you have any revision tips to share?
I have no tips other than murdering extraneous words on the page. In addition, it helps to put the story aside for a least a few hours while it cooks for a while. I’m still a greenhorn and tinker till I can’t stand looking at the story anymore.
How did you decide on your genre?
I have a difficult time deciding my genre—I’m not sure I have only one. It’s still confusing where my general writing fits. Any suggestions? Without planning ahead, I’ll write a story, for example, containing humor, or a touch of mystery, but I always stick to everyday situations with which readers can associate—I hope.
I’d say you write contemporary. It’s a useful classification, and it can encompass humor and elements of mystery as well. Speaking of the latter, tell us something that will surprise us.
I may have led my blogging friends to believe I’m a tough cookie. I am an introvert who learned to stand up for what I believed in when I divorced many years ago. As a single mother, I soon learned to stand firm when needed. Of course, all single mothers have experienced a similar awakening—ready or not—you’re it!
Constructive criticism is hard, but I manage to handle it—most of the time. My uncomfortable place is laying myself bare when I press the publish button or send out submissions, which I plan to do more often this year.
At this time in my life, I have less—not more—free time. This year I have outside obligations / interference until noon every day for various reasons. This shortens my writing and blogging time by considerable hours and drives me crazy. Hope my schedule improve soon.
I know the feeling. Where does the time go, anyway?
Thanks again, Cathleen, for inviting me. Now you know everything about me (grin). This has been fun—actually a blast—and a wonderful chance to meet you and make your acquaintance.
Thanks for coming, Teresa. 🙂