Listed below: Diana Aub-Jaber - Sandi Ault -
Margo Candela - Sherry Halperin - Bonnie Neubauer - Mary Rosenblum - Arlene Uslander - Aury Wallington - Maralys Wills
-Pacific NW Bookseller’s Award
-PEN CENTER USA for Literary Fiction
-Northwest Writer Award
-National Endowment for The Arts Fellowship
-Oregon Book Award
-Nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing.com.
You were drawn to this interview with a promise of love and baklava-Arab-American style. We promise,
before you finish reading, you will love Diana and know where to find the recipe for baklava.
We first met Diana Abu-Jaber at the Orange County Literary Guild, "Festival of Women Authors." We told her of our WOW! dream and she lit up, (now, she had our hearts,
for sure) and said we had to contact her when we were up and running.
As we lined
up our first issue, we called Diana and, as the best laid plans of mice, women and deadlines would have it, she is gracing
our "No One Is Born Published," our second issue.
There's so much to share with you
and the most orderly fashion would be to let you eavesdrop on our memories. Here are some questions and her honest, knowledgeable,
BERYL: "We have popcorn, chocolate, and soda. You said you had some scary
stories about getting published. Go ahead, scare us, please.
DIANA: "Oh, where do I even start? When my agent sent out my
very first manuscript-for ARABIAN JAZZ-an
editor at a big house said that she liked the writing but she didn't think that Arabs were "politically appropriate."
Another editor said she'd take it if I took the word "Arabian" out of the title (she said it would turn people
off). I tried to change it but then I had all these nightmares. Luckily, my agent eventually found a very wise and wonderful
"After ARABIAN JAZZ, I worked on another novel for five years, published all sorts of excerpts,
but couldn't get the manuscript published, rewrote it for another year, still couldn't get it published, rewrote it
for ANOTHER year, couldn't publish, threw it on the floor of my office, now I don't like it any more!"
We had to smile, through the pain, at this remarkable woman and her indefatigable
spirit. Obviously, it takes more than talent to get published.
"That is scary! It's remarkable that you didn't give up. We want
to know if the air is thinner at the height of published? What was your reaction/feeling when you realized that you had done
it-you were going to be published?"
"I remember my agent called and I think I fell on the floor. I was sort of laughing and crying.
It was so great. Of course, I'm an emotional maniac-as my husband will attest. When my agent told me that CRESCENT was going to be published
I started crying for joy, and the she started
crying, then she started laughing and said, 'Don't cry!'"
"You're going to make us cry! That's so great. Diana, when you look
back at all the things you didn't know before you sold your first book, which was the most important?"
"I didn't know ANYTHING. I've
never been one of those writers who's really aware of the biz. Of any biz. I guess one of the biggest things was how powerful
the marketing biases are regarding considerations like the genre you work in-how publishing literary fiction is so much more
difficult than nonfiction, how it's so much harder to get reviews or media attention. But, I think it's probably good
that I didn't know!"
LANGUAGE OF BAKLAVA, we don't see how you could miss. So, tell us, all of us, what's next for Diana? Any
new novels or any events that we should know about?"
"I've got a new novel called ORIGIN that's
coming out from W. W. Norton in June 2007. It's a literary thriller about a fingerprint analyst! I'm
so excited to have tried something so new for me-I just loved it. And it seems that I'm currently at work at a young adult
novel-also hugely fun.
Beryl's closing comments: "We can't wait and maybe we can meet
you in Portland when ORIGIN comes out. We know our readers will be excited with and for you and want to hear
what you have to say at that time."
Diana agreed that it would be wonderful and even suggested that we would love Miami . So, we'll see what exciting things
happen for all of us and where we'll be in June 2007. Until then, may those of you working hard on your books, articles,
etc. get published, and we hope this and our other articles have helped in some way.
‘Thanks so much for this
wonderful opportunity. I enjoyed your questions so much. I feel like we are kindred spirits.” Sandi
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt
on WOW Women On Writing .com
Sandi Ault Author/WILD SERIES
This Edgar© Award is the "Academy
Award" for Mystery Writers. Sandi says: "Thanks to all for your faith in me, and to the Mystery
Writers Association for the nomination and the award. And thanks to my pals and partners, the booksellers and fans, who gave
my work so much support!"
On December 9, 2008 Library Journal named Sandi
Ault's WILD INFERNO one of its Best Books of the Year, the second Best of 2008 list
on which the novel has placed. WILD INFERNO was one of only five mysteries that made the prestigious list. Founded
in 1876, LP is a premier trade journal for librarians and has the highest circulation of any librarianship journal.
Its “Library Journal Book Review” publishes
prepublication and new book reviews. LJ together with the other major insider publication, Publishers Weekly, gave WILD INFERNO a pair of starred reviews.
In November, 2008 PW placed WILD INFERNO on its Best Books of the Year list and listed it as one of only nine in the mystery
Ault also received starred reviews from both for her first novel, WILD INDIGO, which received critical acclaim with the media as well as the prestigious Mary Higgins Clark
– Edgar award, which was the first time a debut novel had received this award.
WILD INDIGO is on Nine bestseller lists
- WILD INDIGO is named one of the 100 most popular books by AllBookstores.com
- WILD INDIGO received STARRED REVIEWS from Publishers
Weekly and Library Journal
- and more
When we were searching
for just the right woman for Inspiration, Betsy of the Betsy Amster Literary Agency suggested that we consider Sandi Ault.
Her words, to be exact, were "She's a lovely writer and a very unusual person (she lived with a Pueblo family, for example, has raised wolves, and fights wildfires--how many women do you
know like that?!).
We had to admit,
not many, uh, not any. We were certain we would be failing you and WOW! if
we didn't take advantage of the opportunity to get to know this woman. When we said we would love to sit down and talk
with her -- cyberspace style, Sandi said,
“WELCOME TO MY WORLD!”
BERYL, happy to accept her invitation: Sandi, you paint with words, doing pictographs in reverse.
What a lovely thing to say!
I'm just so moved by all that I'm learning about you, your life,
and discoveries. I've had to pull back, shake my head, walk my dog, a Shih-Poo--the breeder even says "he's all
Shih-Tzu," which means he is definitely related to the wolf...(when you visit her website and read about Mountain,
you will understand that statement)...
I dig that you are a wolf-woman too!
BERYL, laughing: We
weren't sure where to join you for a visit, on top of a big rock, scaling the side of a cliff or perhaps next to a fairly
intact, stacked-rock pueblo on a wind-swept canyon rim... what is it that motivates you to go to all these places?
mystery everywhere. Who were these people? How did they live? What caused them to build these amazing structures that are
still with us a thousand or more years later? What can we learn from them? Where did they go, and why? Like Jamaica, the sleuth
in WILD INDIGO, I am compelled to find out. I search, I study, I look and listen. I want to unlock these mysteries.
I also see the power and majesty of Mother
Earth in this unsettled landscape: vast extremes. Mountains roll into broad deserts that
are ripped open into deep, winding, red-rock canyons, the up-thrust of long-ago-violent bursts of creation energy leaving
places of great shadow and light.
Well, by blazing this trail, igniting the heart to feed on wonders previously
unknown -- you extend a bona fide gift to your readers. We're so happy you haven't kept your great life all to yourself.
How nice! Life is a precious gift. Sharing it
is a requirement for maximizing the joy. We can all marvel at a beautiful sunset... but the next instinct is to want to share
it with someone, either to have them there, or to tell them about it, yes?
My fictional heroine, Jamaica Wild, leads a somewhat-lonely existence, sharing everything with her wolf. Her life is
a bit like mine-long stretches of communion with nature, and a wonderful sprinkling of human characters to enliven things.
For her, and for me, this is a healthy balance.
Sandi, we hate to see this come to an end. Thank you so much for sharing your heart and life. Is there anything that you would
like to add before we close?
I would like to add one thing, and that is a note of gratitude
to all the people who have given their support and hard work to making WILD INDIGO come to life. There is truly an enormous supporting cast behind every tome, people who
spend months (even years) transforming it from a raw manuscript into a book on the shelves of your favorite bookstore. I have
an excellent agent in Betsy Amster, and a sublime editor in Natalee Rosenstein, and everyone at Berkley Prime Crime has been fabulous. I am so thankful.
When WILD INDIGO started getting starred reviews, I received a lot of congratulatory emails and
phone calls. But I told Betsy and Natalee the story of the Hopi harvest ceremony, and I'll tell it to you as well.
At the end of the Hopi harvest dances, the villagers
throw loaves of bread to the onlookers who have come to observe. And the Hopi don't care if the bread lands in the arms
of a thief or a saint, it is just important for them to throw the bread and give the gift of life back to the world that has
nurtured and sustained them.
And when the reviewers
were throwing their gifts, I was just lucky enough right then to be standing where the bread landed. Those good reviews came
to me while many, many other writers do as well or better work and receive no recognition whatsoever. So it was more out of
the goodness on the other end than anything I did.
important thing was that I showed up for life long enough to get that story written, which is like showing up for the dances.
And I would encourage your writer/readers to do the same. Show
up. Write. And enjoy the dance.
Beryl's closing comments: Sandi, this has been a remarkable time, there
are some good life/writing lessons here; but your greatest gift to us was your heart. Thank you very much from our hearts;
please keep us informed about the WILD Series.
go yet, there's more; there will be a review of WILD INDIGO on
our Book Reviews Page. And I want
to recommend that our readers visit to your website, Sandi; because I know I enjoyed your book even more after I learned about
the incredible relationship between you and Mountain.
|Photo: Alex Ben Parks
“Thanks for your
time and trouble. The page looks great and I look forward to a chance to work with WOW! again.” Ciao,
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing.com.
You never know where inspiration for an interview will come
from. In this case, it was an email from Sulay Hernandez, from Kensington Publishing, recommending
Margo’s book for a WOW! review. She then shared what Publisher’s Weekly, Alissa Valdez Rodriguez (NY Times bestselling
author) and Kelley St. John (National Reader’s Choice Award winner) had to say... It didn’t take long to ascertain
that indeed, Margo was “an engaging writer” (who doesn’t believe PW?!), and we knew we couldn’t stop
at a review. We know you will join us in agreeing we did the right thing by following through on interviewing Margo. Enjoy,
we surely did!
BERYL: When you were a young girl, what did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember
when you realized writing had become a part of who you are?
MARGO: I had no idea what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I didn't grow up with many inspiring
role models, but I do remember really responding to Linda Ellerbee, especially when she did a show where she asked kid's
what they thought about politics and other real issues. I didn't know exactly what her job was but I saw in her a smart
woman who crafted stories and worked with ideas and information and it really appealed to me. The only other time I can recall
really clicking with words was when my fifth grade teacher said we would have to do sentences based on the week's vocabulary
list and I burst out with "I love writing sentences!"
We both share
a dream, not the lofty kind most pursue, but the dreams you have about graduating. I used to do the same thing, so odd, didn't
have the dream before graduating...only after. So, I thought I'd find out if you knew why you dreamed it. It could save
me a trip to a shrink. I wonder if this is more common that we think.
knew I wasn't the only one having the school dream and that it started after I graduated and is still a staple really
makes me think that it, or some version of it, is universal. I once asked a psychiatrist and he said it was most likely a
manifestation of anxiety. A very thoughtful friend said it might have to do with a feeling that I haven't earned it yet.
I have a feeling "it" covers a lot of stuff so I assume I'll be having this dream for years to come.
Beryl, grinning: Probably, since I did for years...therefore,
I won't be telling how long ago the dreams stopped. But enough of that, Margo, even though you embraced writing as an
integral part of you, are your surprised to realize that you are a published author?
I am beyond surprised to find myself where I am.
This path is not one I was supposed to take. My family is a practical, hard working bunch, writing a novel and then expecting
it to be published is way out of the norm for us.
Most of the time people say I seem very blasé about it all, but it's just that I'm so freaked out about
the whole thing I've decided to play possum. I don't take anything for granted since I've had to work very hard
for it and navigate blind a lot of time. There really wasn't anyone I could turn to for advice or help; and I can't
help but give a nervous giggle when people say they admire me for what I've achieved, since I'm still not quite sure
how it all worked out the way it has.
We really can't help but smile at the sincerity, she made us feel really good that she had 'hit
the big time.'
We're sure that is how your
readers will feel, not forgetting some really good laughs. This has really been fun; and yet, you've given us a lot to
think about--Oh, kind of like reading UIA.
Before we close, Margo, are there any closing
comments you would like to share?
Margo, with a big smile: I'm game for book groups; so if any want to contact me about
attending a meeting (via phone or in person when possible) I'd be very happy to do so.
I'm also setting up events with local libraries (mostly in Los Angeles at this time) to reach out to readers and aspiring writers--since libraries played a huge role in my youth.
I hope readers enjoy Underneath It All and,
in the end, that's all that really counts.
Beryl's closing comments: This has been a most enjoyable time for me. I told Margo that
she made my fingers itch to get back to my novel. It is our hope that you feel the same way. And because all writers know
that reading makes them better writers, we would recommend that you pick up your copy of Underneath It All,
as easy as the click of your mouse.
"Hi Beryl - Here are the answers
to your very good questions...It was very interesting to do.”
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt
on Inspiration onWOW Women On Writing .com
Did you ever have just the right person with the right
life experiences, and right words show up in your life at the right time? That happened to me. I was in the middle of WOW! deadlines and the emotional challenges
of widowhood hit me right where I live.
But the deadlines couldn't have cared less and the pages continued to come off the calendar. I called Sherry,
already scheduled to be interviewed next month, and said, "Hey, could you..." and articulated my plight. Her
voice extended her compassion and
understanding as she said, "It's normal and it will pass."
I could feel the assurance I needed. I share this because I want you to know Sherry has a great deal to offer, in
many areas, and I wouldn't want you to miss any of it. What makes this interview inspirational is the strengths, weaknesses,
honesty, and practical wisdom all wrapped up in a great attitude that thrives on a super sense of humor.
She's successful secularly
and you'll pick up some good points there. Because it’s our
response to life's challenges that govern whether or not we'll be successful. What a kick this interview was, I loved
it and know you will, too. Join Sherry and me as we discuss how a woman ends up meeting a man in a moose hat...oops, you have
to buy the book for that one. However, you'll love listening to everything else she has to say.
BERYL: Sherry, considering
your book and such a full life, I think we should approach you slowly and carefully. First, you're born in a city that
proudly declares it has an attitude...though much tamer than your book, Rescue Me, He's Wearing
a Moose Hat!
SHERRY: When I lived in Beacon, NY, it was a tiny village with five thousand people. It totally lacked the culture and sophistication
I craved. My goal was to GET OUT. How things have changed. It's now an art mecca and bedroom community for New York City. I was recently back and spoke at the small local library. It was a very proud moment for me. Many of my high school friends were there and we had a blast. I now appreciate Beacon. It gave me a wholesome basis to draw on as an adult.
I think you just gave
us a peek at the younger Sherry. Was your family surprised when, as a teen, you ended up studying at the Dramatic Workshop
in New York City?
I think my Mom was a frustrated actress so she supported me in my decision to study in New York. How brave of
my parents to allow a 13 year-old to travel by train alone to the big city, take classes, see a Broadway matinee, and then
travel home. It was a safer, more innocent time then. My parents saw that I was different from most of my classmates and encouraged
me to study music, drama, and to be the person I wanted to be.
They set the stage for you to keep an open mind. You've
come from good stock. And, your parents needed to be brave because you eventually migrated west and received your degree from
the Pasadena Playhouse College of Fine Arts with a major in directing.
While you branched out into various areas in the arts, you put in considerable time as a writer, producer, and director of
television shows. You also distributed feature films, agented actors, and produced world music concerts and ballets all over
the US (venues such as Lincoln Center and UCLA's Royce Hall).
With so much going on in your career(s), do
you remember when writing began to take on greater importance for you?
Writing has always been an interest to me. It started with
the Senior Follies my last year of high school—although I think I created the extravaganza just to be popular! When
my children were young, I had to think of ways to be creative and still be a present Mom and writing became the answer.
I began by submitting magazine articles and was astonished when they sold. I then moved on to my local newspaper and wrote a social
page every week. A few years later, I became a staff writer on a weekly ABC children's show. My kids loved coming to the
set and especially having lunch in the cafeteria where they saw tons of stars.
I became serious about
writing about eight years ago when I enrolled in UCLA Extension. It's there that I realized I might have a bit of talent
and began to write almost every day.
You were certainly up for that and more, the careers you
embraced were not for the faint of heart, but one day everything changed. You suffered a blow, losing your husband after 26
years. That would dump you into an unfamiliar world, leaving you in a fog-like state...only sure of the very things that would
change with time. Undoubtedly, this was your biggest challenge ever.
You know, I was in shock for months because his death was sudden and I found his body. Horrible.
But I made a very conscience decision to be strong and to show my two sons who were in their early twenties that life can
go on after a tragedy. I didn't know what I would do with my life. I wasn't poor but I wasn't rich. I knew I had
to follow my passions. After all, I had learned how precious life is and how fast it can be taken away. So, when I was offered
a job working on a pilot for Fox by a producer friend, I packed up and moved from my small beach town to Los Angeles to start a new life. I honestly believe the second year after my husband died was more difficult than the first.
Year one was filled with shock, decisions and lots of sympathetic calls and visits. Year two turned into reality. How will
I handle the rest of my life? Can I take care of myself? Who will fix the toilet when it overflows? I sought professional
Beryl, paused: At that point, there
are way more questions than answers. As every courageous moment of your life came together, your sense of humor must have
re-awakened, becoming a force not to be denied. I say that because it is difficult to reach the point where you know laughing
and having a good time isn't disloyal. When you began to see the laughable dating situations emerging, how far behind
was your sense that you would love to write a book about that?
Dating was very
hard for me at first. I thought I was cheating on my husband. But when I realized I was alive and only 51 and really wanted
and needed male companionship, I dove into dating like a twenty year old on Spring Break. It had changed so much since I was
a kid. And the men - what on earth were they thinking? So after each date, I'd come home and call my girlfriends and we'd
laugh. Laughter is great medicine for an aching heart. What I was really trying to do in those early years was to replace
my husband. Who knew! But, the thought of writing a book about my dating experiences didn't occur to me for many, many
|First sighting of book in B & N
“You did a great
job! ... Thanks for everything, including staying up very late to get things done. With a smile and a bit of a yawn in your
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt on WOW Women On Writing .com
Bonnie was a natural choice to give us the scoop on agents from the all-important perspective of
an author. Not only did she come highly recommended, but her website touted the words, "...delightful ways to make leisure-time
educational and learning-time fun for all ages." A woman after WOW!'s
BERYL: Bonnie, have your always loved writing?
I grew up with a strong dislike of writing.
I often use the word hatred since it was really that bad. But then, in my mid-thirties, during a telemarketing phone call
with a man who published business-to-business greeting cards, I told him I wanted to write cards for him. After uttering
those words, I literally looked around the room to see who had really said them. But I was working from home, alone, so it
must have been me. With a persistence I had never known I had, even though he kept declining, I continued to tell him how
good I'd be at writing cards to help salespeople get their foot in the door and past the gatekeeper secretary.
Eventually he agreed to let me fax him some ideas for cards. That was on a Friday
afternoon. I spent the rest of the weekend generating dozens upon dozens of card concepts. Sunday night I whittled them down
to the best twelve and faxed them. Monday morning, bathed in anticipatory sweat and anxiety over being rejected, I paced,
waiting for the phone to ring. And, when the phone did ring, I heard these musical words, "I'd like to buy eleven
of your ideas." I wanted to dance around the room, jump up and down, and shout my success out the window. Instead I was
cool, calm and collected and thanked him.
Over night (three nights if
you're actually counting) I became a writer. That's when everything started to fall into place for me, like magical
stepping-stones through a beautiful and lush garden.
So, did you jump from writing greeting cards to creating the WBWB, Write-Brain Workbook? What
sparked your genius?
WBWB came from hundreds of writing workshops I ran at chain bookstores in the greater Philadelphia area over the
course of three (or so; I am not very good at keeping track of time) years.
actually answer your question, the exercises in WBWB stemmed from Natalie Goldberg's free writing concept. I added
my own twist of visual stimulation, surprise, quirkiness, and game-like fun. I took the way I see life and turned that point
of view into writing prompts.
It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there; you had to be a little
quote that is too long to memorize sums it up so beautifully. So, here's the short version: by William H. Murray (from
his book "The Scottish Himalayan Expedition") : "... the moment
one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves
too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred."
What a great quote. Armed
with that, did you use your workbook to keep your creative juices flowing?
The one thing I've never told anyone before is that my own exercises don't work for me.
I need prompts that are a surprise, that are unknown. Because I have created the exercises, the element of surprise is gone.
So I have produced exercises that I always wished I could find when I went to
the bookstore in search of exercises, but for only for others. When I need a writing prompt, I open a book to an arbitrary
page and put my finger down on a word or I ask a friend to send me one. It can be as simple as a word or phrase or as complex
as a scenario. As long as it feels as if it has come out-of-the-blue, I am sparked and can write about anything. And writing
about anything for 10-minutes is one of the most fun word games/puzzles and challenges I know.
"Super! I love it! You have done one of the best interviews I've ever had as
a writer. And as someone who does interviews, you all get an A +." Mary
Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing .com
When she's not writing, she trains dogs in tracking, sheep
herding and obedience work and grows all her fruits and vegetables on country acreage. She managed to raise two sons who have
turned out to be pretty cool people.
Mary won the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel, Asimov's Readers Award and has been a Hugo
Awards finalist. Mary has been on the short list for a lot of awards, but she doesn't keep track.
She publishes in mystery as Mary Freeman, teaches writing for Long Ridge Writers Group and at writers workshops.
I knew we were in for
another treat at WOW ! as soon as
we connected with Mary Rosenblum. She's a seasoned pro that is happy to share her knowledge, wit and feelings. Get ready,
because this lady is about much more than writing, as you can tell from her introduction. However, it is her openness to what's
going on around her, as she experiences a wide variety of life's events, that impacts her writing.
Word is, if you stick with Mary Rosenblum there's no telling where you'll end up, perhaps even in outer
space. However, we can promise you this, if you want to become a better writer, this is the woman you want to talk to; if
you want some good reading, you'll be happy with Mary Rosenblum or Mary
had a great time visiting, emailing and chatting on the telephone with Mary. We can't share all the good times and vast
knowledge; but we'll do our best by you.
We met with Mary and Louise Marley and we were delighted to find they are as passionate about learning what readers have to say as we are.
Mary has a great deal of respect for booklovers and works hard personally, and with her students, to write well -- so readers
won't be disappointed.
BERYL: "How did all of this start? When did you
know you wanted to become a writer?"
MARY: "I always wanted to be a writer. However,
I got told by a couple of well meaning English teachers in middle and high school that writers were essentially Born With
Talent and I should aspire to something else."
"I wish I had those teachers' addresses. I could
ship them a VERY large box of books, anthologies, and magazines, COD."
We all laughed as we visualized the expressions on the faces of these teachers with crates in front of them
and the UPS engine purring in the background.
"Never listen to well meaning
people who tell you can't do what you want to do with your life.
"So, when did I decide this was a reality? Well, I wrote a couple of pieces for the science journals, when I worked
in research. That was fun. I was good at it. So I queried a magazine about an article on home dairying (I had goats) and landed
a monthly column. That was even more fun."
We had to grin, feeling the fun and energy build as Mary moved into a writer's life.
"I had never stopped telling myself and my young
sons stories, and rewriting those books I read-that just didn't end the way I wanted 'em to. So I decided, hey, why
not? I sent off a Science Fiction short story to Analog Magazine...which got me YELLED
at by the editor, Stan Schmidt (the story was good, the ending was dreadful!).
"I didn't realize that a personal response from a major editor was actually praise, and I was a bit taken aback.
But I had submitted the story to the Clarion West Writers Workshop and
it got me in."
Mary breaks into a big smile.
I attended in 1988 and sold my first story there, to Gardner Dozois of Asimov's Magazine."
leans forward, "Mr. Dozois terrified me when I first met him. We have since become close friends and he has published
many of my stories. After Clarion, I wrote a lot, got a lot rejected, and began to sell...one here, another there. The pace
picked up, I never looked back, and here I am."
And, we are all so glad she did.
"We know one of the loves of your life is
teaching. Tell us, how did you come to be associated with Long Ridge Writers
"I attended a signing in White Salmon, Washington, to promote one of my mysteries. The woman
who organized the event thought I would be a good instructor (WOW murmurs in agreement), and she connected me with Long Ridge. I decided to try
it, fell in love with the course and the people at the school, and have been working with students ever since."
Interview (by Beryl
Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing .com
writers, we've all questioned what it takes to write a successful article or book, but once we've accomplished that
we are faced with more ‘getting published’ options than ever before. That's the reason WOW! has chosen The
Self-Publishing Travel Guide theme for this month, and other specific publishing option themes previous
I wanted to locate a special author with experience in the various options and having the ability to clearly define our choices,
consequences, etc.--educating us for success. Good as that sounds, I wanted even more; she should exude professionalism, backing
her wisdom with credibility. My search ended when I found Arlene.
She exemplifies how to keep your options open. Arlene is a lady of integrity, completing her work wholeheartedly--even if
the circumstances become frustrating and difficult. Her work can be done under fire and in peaceful conditions. I bring this
up because while Arlene offers great guidance and information; it is of little value if we don't have our work ethics in place.
That being said, make sure your printer is on and let's get started.
BERYL: Arlene, we want
to welcome you to WOW! and thank you for your willingness to share your wisdom and experience. Let's start with the beginning
of your travels through the writing industry. When did the writing bug get to you?
ARLENE: Oh, I would say when I was about nine
years old. I started out by writing articles for my grammar school newspaper.
From a grammar school newspaper to your
“Writeway Editing” website, you have a true lifelong career. That's great! Obviously, you used the time to
hone your skills and along the way you developed a love of editing. How did you get involved in this end of the business?
When I was in
college, my close friends were aware that I always earned excellent grades on the papers I wrote for my literature and writing
classes, and several asked me, as a favor, to edit their term papers and theses for them. I enjoyed doing it, and didn't
charge them, of course.
I graduated from college and started writing for newspapers and magazines, I subscribed to Writer's Digest. Then it occurred to me, as I read ads by professional
editors looking for business, that I might be able to supplement my income as a writer and elementary school teacher by being
a professional editor. Slowly, I built up a clientele, from my ad and through word of mouth, and I now have a successful editing
I love editing other people's
novels, non-fiction books, etc., and have learned a great deal from reading them. I have also worked part-time for several
publishing companies over the years, but gave that up because there just wasn't time for everything, and I prefer working
with individual writers.
You've made an excellent point. We may love doing various things, but there
is a wisdom that determines when we're spreading ourselves too thin.
We're curious, the sometimes not-so-kind internal editor is the bane of a writer's
existence and sometimes leaves us feeling beat up. When you edit, how do you give the needed criticism and not finish the
poor writer off?
Interesting you should ask that question. Just this week, I received an e-mail from one of my
clients in which he said: “I very much like the way you give criticism. You don't soften what you say so that I
miss what you mean, yet you aren't cruel.”
As a writer, I know how it feels to be on the other end, having received some feedback from editors that really stung. I try
to treat my clients the same way I want to be treated, with dignity and respect. I give them constructive criticism, not comments
that put them down condescendingly, as some editors have been known to do.
"It looks amazing! Thanks so much -- it was completely
fun to do -- awesome questions."
Interview (by Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing.com.
Aury's had many well-earned wonderful experiences,
assistant to actor/writer John Leguizamo to writing for TV. Her first
novel, POP!!, has recently been published by Razorbill Books. She's currently working on a new Fox drama called "Wedding
expect such a varied background from one so young. All these accomplishments certainly haven't dulled her exuberance for
life and laughs. That's why we know you will thoroughly enjoy all that Aury has shared with us. Be prepared to learn and
BERYL: Aury, you first realized the thrill
of seeing your own words translated into a performance at Tufts. What can you tell us about 'Billy and Zelda's Last-Chance
Dance' and the effect it had on your career?
AURY: It was amazing seeing the play develop during rehearsals, and of course there's nothing better
than sitting in the middle of the audience during a performance. Writing usually involves sitting all alone at my desk, so
it was a thrill to see people react to what I had written. (Especially since the play went over really well - I'm not
sure I would have enjoyed it as much if they weren't applauding...) I'm a total laugh junkie - all I want is for people
to think my writing is funny. (My friends won't read anything I've written while I'm in the room - because I stare
at them the whole time, going "what part are you at? why aren't you laughing? You just smiled - what line did you
just read?" I know it's annoying but I can't stop.) So doing live theater was great for this part of me.
But, that is an important part of you--the laugh seeker. However, we digress, after graduating from
Tufts, you moved to New Orleans where you spent your evenings bartending and your days writing, what you call "really
bad poetry" and collecting rejection slips. Then, one of your first big breaks was working as a personal assistant for
actor/writer John Leguizamo for two years. How did working with John help you realize that you wanted to write screenplays?
Working for John was awesome. I knew going into
it that I wanted to write scripts, but before he hired me, I'd never been on a movie set in my life. Being John's
assistant was a fantastic introduction to the industry and the process of making movies. It was also amazing seeing the way
John approached a script, both as an actor and a writer. I was really lucky, because he was incredibly generous about including
me in all the various projects he was working on. I learned a ton about how scripts work, and about how to write comedy.
"It looks absolutely great. In fact, it was so good I coaxed my husband upstairs for a rare viewing,
and he exclaimed, "Why, that's beautiful!" and made me print out the whole thing immediately. Thank you
so much. I'm really happy about this. Your interview was super! Really a great job. Again, many,
many, thanks. Maralys "
Beryl Hall Bray) excerpt from WOW Women On Writing.com.
Have you ever read a great book and wished you could sit down and
visit with the author? Angela and I got to do just that! We would
love for you to join us as we review our engrossing conversation over a luncheon with Maralys Wills.
We met at a Wills’ family favorite restaurant and Maralys knew where to find the perfect secluded table. We all agreed
that we could talk and eat at the same time. So, we quickly started discussing one of her books very close to her heart, Save My Son... It openly discusses the trials of the Wills family dealing with a son severely addicted to alcohol and cocaine.
Then Maralys shared how
her writing started, “I started out writing the book that became my sort-of signature book Higher than Eagles. It was about our family and the hang gliding years. But that one took fourteen years from the time that I first
wrote it till it sold. And that was longer than I ever wanted to spend.”
We laughed as Beryl
asked, “So, that was your first book?”
MARALYS: “No. I started writing really seriously in the sixties, seriously
but sporadically.” She laughed, “I had a house full of kids, six kids by then. So, writing was just something
that I had to fit in, if I could. I would jump in my car at times, go up the hill, and sit there with my typewriter on my
“And, I was reading To Kill a Mockingbird, using that as my model for good writing. I still feel it is the best example of
good writing in the world. I was studying it, trying to figure out her technique. Asking, how did she do this, how did she
create scenes, what were the details that went into this? It’s very hard to study it though, because you get swept away
by the story.”
BERYL: “That’s one of the questions I meant to ask you...”
to study good writing? Remember, the better it is, the harder it is to study!”
“Right. Your writing is so smooth and it flows so well, I get
wrapped up in the story, not in the writing, and I have to step back and go, wait a minute, this is well structured, well
grinning: “Thank you...thank you...”
“So, how much time do you spend in the editing process—because
it is so smooth?”
“A lot. A lot...Yeah, I used to create awkward sentences with great
rapidity, I could do one after the other, and they flowed from my brain like water. But, I finally recognized them before
they got out of the typewriter...then I could finally see an awkward sentence coming and I would duck!”
We laughed and felt relief that awkward sentences could be so beautifully conquered with a lot of learning, and willingness
to re-write relentlessly.
“There has to be a balance...So, how do you know which parts to keep and which to cut?”
“It’s very, very
difficult. That’s one of the biggest choices. When I teach my novel writing course or memoirs course, I emphasize this
as one of the biggest decisions a writer has to make...and, you’re constantly making them.
the thing that’s worth keeping is not worth two pages but only two paragraphs. Whereas, there’s another event
that’s huge and I gave it a page and it should have been five pages...you’re writing and living it out, taking
the reader along with you.”
“Learning that is powerful.”
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