Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview with Michele Vecchitto. Michele is a friendly and kind woman who has a talent for writing wonderful poetry and engaging stories. I have been following her for a couple of years now, so I hope you will like her writing as much as I do. You can visit her blog here: Steps Times Two – Love and Life . . . The Second Time Around.
1. Hi Michele, Please Tell Us About Where You’re From?
I live in Niantic. It’s a lovely town on the Connecticut shoreline that somehow manages to hold on to the charm of days gone by while still offering all the conveniences I might need.
One of the many treasures in Niantic is a used bookstore called The Book Barn.It now has four or five satellite locations, but the main store is a complex which includes a large barn and several quirky, smaller buildings, each overflowing with books devoted to a particular genre. The few resident cats and some goats, add to its unique vibe. It’s a place to spend the day and get lost in books. Niantic also recently opened a new boardwalk along the beach that offers fantastic views and a place to meet neighbors.
2. Can You Tell Us More About Yourself, Your Everyday Life?
I’m the second of four sisters. My family is especially close and the fifteen children my sisters and I have between behave more like siblings than cousins. My parents are definitely the foundation of our lives. I love everything about belonging to a large family – the support, the laughter, the chaos, and the history we create.
My three children are young adults, busy finding their place in the world. In some ways, they could not be more different from one another, but they remain close. I’m enjoying watching them evolve into the adults they will become. I’m proud of the choices they’ve made and the direction each of them is following in life.
I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.
Our personalities are different but we complement each other well. We are each other’s top priority and do everything we can to support each other in our many endeavors. We’ve intertwined our families and I feel blessed to have his three strong, caring, and talented children in my life as well. They, along with their families, are a vital part of my life.
On a professional level, I teach middle school Literature and Language Arts. I love working with students of this age. It’s my favorite age group of kids. I’ve taught math and science and enjoy teaching each subject, but I’m most thrilled to spend my days sharing Literature with my classes. Preteens and teens this age are discovering their voice and it’s exciting to see the world through their eyes.
Additionally, I work as a freelance editor. I’m working with an audio book company and enjoy the exposure to books I might not otherwise read.
“I’ve been exceptionally lucky to find a man who provides the perfect balance to my life. My husband and I have been married just over five years. Mark is an Executive Chef and extremely creative in his own way.” – Michele Vecchitto
3. When Did You First Start Writing and Blogging?
I started my blog in 2014 as a way of keeping myself disciplined about writing, but I’ve always been a writer. I kept journals as a teenager and still have poems I wrote for a memorable class in high school.
My teacher, Ms. Jordan, helped me discover my voice and probably inspired me to become a teacher. I was a stay at home mom for fifteen-years, and when my children were in school, I’d spend eight or more hours a day writing. I took writing classes and completed two novels and a few children’s books.
When I divorced in 2007 and returned to work full time, I lost some of my dedication to the craft. Steps Times Two is my blog and remedy to not being able to write all day anymore.
4. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
I’ve always been a writer as mentioned earlier. I many of my stories and poems from younger days and used to write tales for my kids, nieces, and nephews.
I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.
Beyond these meanings, I love the way writing connects people. I am so excited to be able to talk with people from all over the world about subjects I have brought up or someone else has written about. It sounds sappy, but I believe people are more alike than different and we all have something to share. I am a big fan of the community writing fosters between writers and readers (etc).
“I find if I have an idea for a poem or a story, it screams in my head until I write it down. It’s a great way to discover new ways of thinking about situations or work through issues which lurk beneath the surface. There were times, when I was going through my divorce, writing preserved my sanity.” – Michelle Vecchitto
5. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
Sometimes motivation comes from pure emotion. I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of it’s own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere: a look between two people; a snippet of conversation I overhear; the expression on someone’s face when they don’t notice I’m looking; and/or an unexpected situation or some mundane activity we all experience. Music also inspires me. My playlist has a bit of everything on it and I love to hit play and let my mind drift. Sometimes I’ll find something to write about immediately and other times, I have to file an idea away and let it resurface when it’s ready.
As well, I’m a huge fan of writing prompts and blogging events. It’s a terrific way to stay involved in the writing community and interact with other people. I love to follow and read what other people are writing because each piece leaves me with something to think about and offers a varied perspective to consider. Prompts for me are similar to a puzzle. Each of us figures out how to put the pieces together in a different way to create authentic images. It’s fun when someone has a completely unique take on the same prompt.
6. Is There A Time Of Day You Prefer to Write?
I prefer to write in the mornings, although, it’s not always possible. During the week, I will write when I come home from teaching school. When I was a stay-at-home mom, I’d write from the time the kids went to school until they came home. I miss those days! I’m hoping to stay home next year and write full time.
“I do some my best writing when I am out of my mind angry or excited about something or someone. I find the best writes are the ones in which I completely lose myself and emerge after I’ve released all my demons on the page. It’s a purge of excess energy which takes on a life of its own. Surrendering to the moment can lead to exciting results.” – Michele Vecchitto
7. What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I have my blog which I try to work on each day. I also post on Poet’s Corner on WordPress and do my best to keep up. I am working on a historical fiction novel based on my husband’s grandfather who escaped from Poland in the early 1900’s. I’m enjoying the research portion of this novel greatly. In addition, I recently cleaned up a YA novel I wrote about ten-years ago. My romance novel also needs editing and I have two short stories to finish.
My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!
8. Can You Tell Us About What Your Publishing Process Has Been for Some of Your Writing?
I’ve had poems published in anthologies and in places like The Reverie Journal. I have self-published two volumes of poetry which can be found on Amazon. I’m considering adding a third volume but I think my next push will be seeking a publisher for a novel.
Years ago, when I had more time, I was organized about sending my work out. I had a contract with Blue Mountain Arts and several ‘good rejections’ from publishing houses. I took classes and attended conferences. I think networking is a huge part of the publishing process and hope to get back to it in the next year.
I’ve been invited to participate in the Austin International Poetry Festival next April. Eight of my poems will be included in their anthology and I plan to travel to the event to do some readings.
“My biggest hope for writing projects is finding time to submit projects again and become more involved in responding to all the blog posts I read. Responding to blog posts is a full time job in itself!” – Michele Vecchitto
9. Are You Able to Describe Your Writing Process To Us?
My writing process varies, depending on the type of project I’m working on, but it always includes music. I have a million playlists and a great pair of headphones.
The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me. If I’m working on a poem, I jot ideas or prompts on post-it notes and arrange them around my writing space.
If I’m working on a formal piece, I’ll have notes on rhyme schemes and various types of poetry. After I write, I’ll look for photos to accompany what I’ve written and then decide on a title. My titles always happen last.
If I’m working on a novel or short story, the music part is the same, but I’ll have notes on my bulletin board or in folders which I can flip through. I also send rough drafts to my sister Maureen. She’s read everything I’ve ever written and offers me honest feedback. She’ll tell me what works for her as a reader and what doesn’t, then I go back and edit.
I set my larger pieces aside, sometimes for days but often for months, and then return to them so I can see them with fresh eyes. My YA book has been through three major revisions already and I think it’s almost ready to send out.
11. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Any Genres In Particular?
I’m not sure you can be a writer without being a reader. I love both equally and will read almost anything. I like to balance my writing with quick, light reads and books which require more concentration. I’m a big non-fiction reader. It must be the teacher in me, but there’s never too much knowledge to learn. I always want to discover new things.
My own writing style has surprised me at times. My YA book is a fantasy novel which is something I’ve never followed, however; a fantasy story was the tale waiting to be told when I tackled the YA book project.
I must confess, I do enjoy writing darker, more provocative pieces. There’s such power there. I enjoy inspirational pieces as well. Both of these kinds of writing have their place.
“The first thing I do is put my headphones on and blast the music so I can disappear from the world around me.” – Michele Vecchitto
12. Do You Have Any Advice For Other Writers or Anything Else You Would Like To Add?
I find the more I write, the better I get. It’s a commitment and like any other craft, needs to be nurtured so, keep writing.
I’ve also started a Facebook page and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitter has been a great resource for finding writing communities and sharing information for me as well.
13. Do You Have Any Favorite Blogs?
I’m not sure I have favorites. I love to read blogs of all styles and content. A friend of mine started a blog in which she combines book reviews and running called Belle of the Book. It’s fun to follow a blog when you know the writer personally. If the writing is good I want to read it.
14. Here is A Piece of Michele’s Writing She Has Shared:
Wandered into a cemetery
surrounded by a stone wall
hidden in the deep wood
The cold winter’s wind
calling the shadows and
whispering my name
Air weighted with sadness
as tombs of sorrow beckoned
like a house so empty
I stood alone, waiting
as voices of the lost
washed me in time’s tempest
My hands embraced each soul
as I traced those crumbling stones
placed long ago with care
Overcome with tears
as I read of Martha. loving daughter
a life lived five short years
And her mother, wife of John
who shared the same last day
in another time, another place
Night fell and mockingbirds
resumed their evening song, playing chords
that matched a funeral march
Chilled to the bone and wearied
I sank to my knees beside a family plot, crying
Tell me where hope lives
Awareness that each stone was marked
with that date, February 29, 1704,
came slowly, deliberately
Echoes of war drums rang
through the silence as fear
electrified the hallowed space
The massacre of yesterday
forgotten as time moved on
still hosts ghosts of the innocent
Every once and awhile
the lost invite someone back
to share their story
And so I did
Michele says about “Deerfield’s Ghost:” “I love this one because it almost wrote itself. When I came to the point when I narrowed in on a subject, I googled “massacre” to find a specific date to use and came across a list of victims from the Deerfield massacre of 1704. The funny thing is, it included the names and ages of people I had included in my poem.”
More Links To Michele’s Blog Pieces:
- Ray holds special meaning for me because it was written for a dear friend who passed away. Reading it at his funeral was the first time I’d read my poetry in public and I feel grateful I had a chance to honor him in this way.
- Small Town Hens is an example of a poem I wrote after I witnessed a situation that made my blood boil. It makes me chuckle now because it captured my disgust at poor behavior.
- Light of Love was written after the nightclub attack in Orlando. I will sometimes respond to current events in poetry. This incident demanded a response.
- The Choice and Metamorphosis are two old ones that I wrote during very difficult times. I try to live my life as described in “The Choice” and “Metamorphosis” speaks to the ability to persevere in even the darkest of times.
Thanks to Michele for thoroughly and thoughtfully answering the interview questions. I wish her much luck with her writing and future endeavours. Here is the link to her blog one more time: Steps Times Two.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s interview. If you would like to share and answer interview questions on writing and blogging of any kind, feel free to reach-out to me on my contact page. See you in two-weeks!
©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved.
Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW.
Belinda was a nasty middle-aged woman, but her behaviours were characteristic of someone older.
She was mentally and physically sound; however, the pucker of her frown never left her face. Wrinkles indented themselves deeply into her forehead, around her eyes, and around her mouth; her skin was pasty white.
She pretended to walk feebly; but when a neighbourhood child or dog was near her property she ran out screaming, wearing stodgy Victorian gowns, no skin showing but her face and hands. Her hair was always severely pulled back in a tight bun.
Besides a cat or four, she disliked everyone. She made known she had cut her family out of her will. All her money would go to a stern Catholic congeragation she had terrorized since she was four.
An old trailer and burned-out truck from a cousin who had lived with her, remained on her lawn, even after the cousin disappeared. No one who entered Belinda’s house came back out, only her cats.
The neighbours thought this had been occurring for some three-hundred years, having heard the same stories from their great-grandparents and before.
Was Belinda a ghost? A banchee? A witch? No one knew. But every now and then someone disappeared inside her doorway and everyone knew that person wouldn’t be returning.
©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.
Thanks to Nortina S for hosting Moral Monday’s one-hundred word flash fiction. This week’s prompt is: ” Always Be On Your Best Behavior.”
Melly lived in an apartment in a senior’s lodge which included a stone terrace. She potted flowers and made an effort to make her terrace pretty.
Melly told her friend Emily: “I can’t stand those boys biking; they unearth my plants at night, when I’m trying to sleep.”
Their friend Brett asked Melly: “Do you think it might be cats? I see those boys on their bikes and they always politely say ‘Hello’ to me.”
Melly made a point of ignoring Brett — whom she secretly liked. She was so obnoxious and rude, he left to go sit in his apartment alone.
Melly awoke that night when she heard noises. Peering outside, she saw the boys ride by on their bikes. Then she flushed when she saw cats digging up her flowers. She mentally composed her apology to Brett.
©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.
I spotted an exquisite Brick house, overgrown with leaves in brilliant red as I walked my dachshund Luna. The house had a turquoise wooden door and it beckoned me inside. No one answered when I called out, so I kept exploring.
I spied a small sitting area with two mugs of tea cooling on the coffee table. A tired man appeared smiling and said, “I’ve been waiting for you, Kayla. My house has chosen you as its new owner.”
“How do you know my name?” I asked the man alarmed.
“The house told me who you were and that you would visit today. It has ancient magic and has existed in some form for thousands of years. A sourcerer created it. Remember, until the house chooses another owner, you’re its keeper. You and Luna are also gifted long life.”
Before my eyes, the man disintegrated with a sigh.
I wandered my new home finding all my possessions. The house had also taken on the appearance and decor of my ideal home.
In the back was a deck with a white sand beach and a rolling ocean shore. Luna escaped my grasp and ran out to the water. The house had fulfilled my wildest dreams.
Thank to the wonderful Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW. Apology for the length.
©Mandibelle16.(2016) All Rights Reserved.
Prompt: Of all the awful possibilities, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you today? Now, what about the best?
Don’t ask me what’s the worst of all the possibilities that could be today. It isn’t a good idea to tempt fate like that.
Don’t ask me all the horrible terrifying things that could happen to myself or my loved ones. Don’t wonder about things you never want to be. Don’t ask for the worst.
It maybe superstitious but you see, worrying about terrible happenings doesn’t help you get through the day. It doesn’t help anyone you love either.
Wondering about the terrible things that could happen, well it’s bad juju. It’s bad Karma. It’s whatever you’d like to call it. But it isn’t safe, and it isn’t worth the time or effort
The tears it inspires. The rage that could implode. The nightmares caused by this kind of thinking. No don’t think of the bad things in this world and imagine even worse.
What if the worse happened? Well you’d only blame yourself for thinking the thoughts you did that occurred. Is a thought worth a lifetime of misery? No, it isn’t.
Think of the good times you had in the past. The parties and meetings with friends and relatives.
Think of Christmas think of snow. Think of watching movies curled up on the coach. Think of your favourite things, as Julie Andrews once sang.
Thing of beautiful clothing made of silk and cashmere in a rainbow of colors. Think of jeans that fit perfectly. Think of a flat stomach.
Think of the endorphins you feel rushing through you after you’ve done 50 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical. Think of walking your dog as he bounds and leaps for joy in the snow.
Think of meeting the one you love the most. Think of weddings, the birth of a child, think of Birthdays and summer vacations at the fair. Eating cotton candy and going on frightening rides and through haunted houses.
Think of little girls dressed up as Princesses at Disneyland. Think of camping,hiking, and drinking beer. Think of drinking wine with friends by the fireplace.
Think of finishing all your work for once. Think of travelling and fantastic art work. The Cistine Chapel, Monet’s Water Lillies, Andy Warhole’s Soup Cans and print of Marilyn Monroe.
Think of Yoga poses that calm you and stretch out all your tired muscles. Think of how it smells after it rains and how clear the scent of air feels.
Think of summer nights walking in the night, with your guy or gal. Think of dancing until dawn. Think of conversations about trival and universal topics at 3:00 a.m.
Think of the place you grew up. The place you call home now. Think of your first pet. The cat that was morbidly obese on farm mice. Think of all your joys and all your trials and how good you felt after facing the latter.
Don’t think of all the terrible things that could be in this world. Think of better things. Be an optimist. Better yet drink the water, and live life to the fullest.
©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.
Thanks to Madeeha who left #ItsStillOkay as an open challenge to bloggers. I am doing the same. If you want to participate feel free to and see the rules below:
The task is to write a
which ends with the #ItsStillOkay and marks a perfect end to it!
Here are the rules:
1. Copy the logo and description
2. Write your perspective for #ItsStillOkay
3. Spread the challenge by keeping open nomination or by nominating at-least five fellow bloggers.
There are terrible things occurring in this world.
There are many mean people, and more who are apathetic.
There are too many people suffering in their lives; the sad truth is, everybody suffers.
That’s what I think. But it’s hard to see through our own suffering, to see that someone else hurts much worse.
It is getting bad out there. I see many people who do not care about people. They care about pets, but ignore when a human has woes or dies.
And there are litters of animals getting the bad end of things too.
Rhino’s going extinct. Tiger’s disappearing. Dog’s left on the side of the road because they got to big and kind of smell.
Didn’t you google your breed of dog before you got him? Or put in the search engine: “cat’s that don’t cause allergies.”
Don’t you know that when an animal loves, they don’t see why you left them, what they did to make you leave them.
Animal’s don’t understand abandonment; they are meant to be cared for and they love you without fault.
And people who can think and reason cannot reason what they did wrong either, to have such a miserable life.
Why some should be so blessed and why others would have such deep sorrows? I don’t know but I know, there’s a God who takes care of us all.
Sometimes he tests us, sometimes he is using our suffering to teach us or help others see that there life is not so bad.
Sometimes we are at the end and he is saying, we are going home soon.
But I don’t know why there has to be suffering? I never understood it much until I suffered myself.
I don’t understand why there is so much affliction. Why there is sorrow and grief.
I just pray God keep me close to you, when I feel that I am so far away from His Glory.
I think that people need to be kinder, to help each other out more. I think we need to not forget about each other, as we move on with our lives.
I think we need to show more forgiveness. I think we need to forget about the past and take an apology not given from those who did us wrong.
We need to have more time where we just be together and appreciate each other.
Time where can be generous and help those who are more unfortunate in whatever their circumstance
I don’t understand many things in this world but I do believe that mankind (and woman too) can do good and be the change the world needs.
We need the good to balance the evil taking place. To help ourselves and our neighbours find a safe place, for in the end #ItsStillOkay.
©Mandibelle16. All Rights Reserved.
All around my house are wild cats. Cats with bushy tangled fur and some with one eyelid completely closed and covering their one eye. They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors of fur – tawny, black, grey, blond, mixed – , and they all have kittens throughout the year. Now this is not a problem when the weather is warm and sunny like today. The cats and their kittens hide in the bushes, strut about ours and our neighbors yards mingling with the domestic cats with collars. They play and hunt for mice running occasionally from my dog who will never catch them. When our cat infestation does present a problem is when the weather turns cold.
Coyotes start to pick off the smaller cats. Once healthy and fat cats become so thin you can see their ribs. Worst of all cat mothers who do not mother their kittens well enough leave us humans to peel their kittens from the frozen ground. I was particularly horrified to find one such kitten this past winter. So thin and so cold I could feel his tail unstick from our patio as I picked him up. We brought the kitten inside fed him milk from a dropper and watched him just try to stay warm, watched him be grateful to be inside a nice room temperature kitchen. We took this kitten to the Humane Society but I do not think he made it.
This is when wild cats running around becomes a problem. When they run around leaving their poor dying young to fend for themselves, because they have kittens in fall and winter, and when they use the neighbour’s flower beds as bathrooms. For this reason, our neighbour Linda started to take kittens and sometimes their mother’s into a place who will adopt these kitten’s out. The city will not do anything about the plague of cats so we are left to take care of them. Linda waits until the kittens are old enough to be weaned off their mother, then they go hopefully to their happily forever homes. If you have a similar problem in your neighborhood you can contact the Edmonton Humane Society and take kitten’s there as my dad and I have done: http://www.edmontonhumanesociety.com at 780.471.1774 or you can research on the Internet places such as my neighbour Linda goes, to take wild pets and have them adopted out.