Last week’s FFftAW is hosted by Priceless Joy. Also, this is not the recent music challenge but the previous one, Music Challenge #19, with the song “Ordinary World” by Green Day Featuring Miranda Lambert.
“Ordinary World” by Green Day Ft. Miranda Lambert
Gemma was furious, she strode to the back yard, grabbing her keys from her purse, sputtering off in her old Toyota. She heard her parents both yelling as she squealed away. She exited onto a highway, then into New York, the city of shining lights.
At sixteen she desired her own apartment downtown, near the train and whichever university fit her design passion. A place where her mom didn’t search through her stuff. She had collected a great deal of buried treasure for her future apartment. Gemma was extraordinarily intelligent and had the marks to attend any university, with a full scholarship, even at age sixteen.
The sunrise blinded her as she drove past the downtown core. At dawn, she got out at her favorite park with the tree with twisted roots. Here she had met Ethan. Together they existed in an Ordinary World of small dreams and endless moments. He supported her but convinced her time and again to return home only for another two years.
When she came home after her advanced high school classes, she was besieged by her mom and dad. She gazed apologetically at their worried faces, trying to find the right words. She knew they had big plans for her. They didn’t want her to be ordinary like them, but it was what she wanted most.
Steve walked into English 311 wearing a toga and a gold spray-painted crown of leaves.
Dr. Lawerence, their English Professor, laughed at the front of the room along with some of the other students.
“Why is what Steve wearing funny?” Ambrose asked Jen, “Its not like this is some party.”
“I think it might have something to do with Julius Caesar. What about you?” Jen said dryly.
“The play we’re studying?” Ambrose’s asked. His friend, sitting behind him tittered. “Shut up, Dan,” he said.
Dan kept laughing, “How can you be reading Julius Caesar in English 311 and not understand why Steve is wearing that getup?”
Dr. Lawerence overheard his student’s conversation. He chuckled, ” ‘Beware the Ides of March,’ Ambrose. Remember what I said in Monday’s class?”
Ambrose shook his head, “Eyes of what now?”
The student’s around Ambrose and their professor laughed. Jen sighed. ” Caesar was assassinated on the ‘Ides of March.’ The seer in the play told him to ‘beware’ of it, but he was still stabbed and killed.”
“I thought Brutus murdered Caesar? Now you’re saying a seer did?”
Dr. Lawerence peered at Ambrose concerned, “Are you sure you want to major in English Literature, Ambrose?”
He looked up and shrugged. The professor sighed and returned to the front of the room. There was always one in every class.
Hi everyone! Wonderful to see you again for this biweekly interview withMicheleVecchitto. 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 calledThe 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. Markis 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 aFacebookpage and hope to add more writing related posts in addition to my own poems. Twitterhas 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 calledBelle 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:
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 blogone 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!
“I know that’s what people say– you’ll get over it. I’d say it, too. But I know it’s not true. Oh, you’ll be happy again, never fear. But you won’t forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him.”
Welcome to the third edition of my interview series. For this week, I interviewed the creative and talented Marquessa Matthews. Her sexy, romantic, thrilling, and relatable weekly fiction stories, always leave me wanting more! She has excellent taste in music as well. Please check-out her blog Simply Marquessa here.
Please Tell Us About Yourself
My name is Marquessa Matthews and I’m from Montreal, QC, Canada.My day job is as a consultant but in the little free time that I have, you’ll find me elbow deep in dirt in my vegetable garden in the summer, travelling in the spring, and probably shoveling myself out of six- foot snow drift in the winter. As with other writers with whom I’ve exchanged conversation with, I consider myself an introvert and an “observer.” I lovemusic and you’ll always find me listening to something such as talk radio, my favorite tunes, or an audio-book.
2. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging?
I taught myself to read at an early age and I think my love of words led me to want towrite them. I would write little poems and short stories. Being in a French language program in primary school, I was lucky enough to have a great English teacher. She not only took an interest in my writing, but she frequently encouraged me with my writingprojects. I continued to write, on and off, until university. Then, I had to put my pen downto tackle life’s responsibilities.
I started ‘blogging’ as an experiment last year, when I decided it was time to pick my pen up again. I was researching creative writing courses and stumbled on a WordPressWriting 101 Course. I took it as a sign and I registered. I decided to tackle each day’s assignment from a ‘fictional’ perspective and to see if ‘blogging’ and ‘fiction writing’could be blended. Needless to say, the Writing 101 course, reignited my passion for playing with words.
“I decided to tackle each day’s assignment from a ‘fictional’ perspective and to see if ‘blogging’ and ‘fiction writing’ could be blended. Needles to say, the Writing 101 course, reignited my passion for playing with words” – Marquessa Matthews
3. What Does Writing Mean to You? Why Do You Write?
Writing is extremely important to me and without it, I would feel like a fish out of water. Now that I’ve started writing again, I’m not sure how I went so long without writing. I write because I love to spin tales and be a puppet-master to the characters I create. There is also the fact that I’ve had certain ‘characters’ living rent-free in my head for a long time and they need to start paying rent in the form of novels!
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
I find inspiration in the day-to-day happenings of life. For me, inspiration can strike from a conversation I’ve had or overheard, from something I’ve seen, and from a place to which I have traveled – inspiration can come from about anywhere.
Creating a character, having them take on a life of their own and run away in a direction I never planned, motivates me. Jotting down an idea, crafting it, and then developing it into something beyond a flash fiction piecesmotivates me.
Also, the readership that I have acquired inspires me. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the number of ‘follows’ I receive. What I do pay attention, however, is the comments readers leave me. I love it when someone asks for more ‘Ella,’ for instance, or ‘Alejandro.’ I enjoy when readers give their reaction to what a character should have done on some of my #TeaserTuesdays. Also, I have always wanted to have my name on a cover of a book, I’m working on it!
“Creating a character, having them take on a life of their own and run away in a direction I never planned, motivates me.” – Marquessa Matthews
5. Do You Find There Is a Time Of Day You Most Like to Write?
I’m a night owl so I always write at night, after dinner with music in the background. In the evening is when I receive my best ideas and the creative juices flow. On the weekends, I could easily break-out my moleskin notebook, my favorite pen, and write until after midnight, but I limit myself to a nightly one hour ‘write.’ If I’m editing a writing piece, I may give myself an hour and a half.
6. What Are Your most Current Writing projects? Any Hopeful Projects If You Aren’t Working on Any?
I’ve been developing scenes around my characters of Delaney, Tyler and Alejandro and wrote many more scenes with them during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2015. My plan is to fill in the gaps during NaNoWriMo in 2016 so I can create a novella or novel.
The next project I have planned is an ongoing online story beginning in 2017 called We Can’t Be Friends.I’ll be introducing two new characters, Isabella and Peter, who will be totally different than the characters I’m writing about now. For We Can’t Be Friends, I’m going tolet the story develop organically.
I think it will be an excellent way to continue my nightly write when I need a change ofpace from my main work-in-progress (WIP). I’m not technology savvy, but I’m thinking about having interested readers sign-up. Hopefully, I can do short weekly installments which readers will look forward to reading. Depending on how the installments go and the feedback I receive, the project could turn into a short story or a novella. If readers are interested, they can check-out the following link to receive a littlebackstory on Isabella and Peter.
” I’ll be introducing two new characters, Isabelle and Peter, who will be totally different than the characters I’m writing about now. For We Can Be Friends, I’m going to let the story develop organically.” – Marquessa Matthews
7. Have You Published Written Works or Are You Planning to Publish Works of Writing?
Hopefully, 2017 will be my year to become a published author. Who knows what will happen with the We Can’t Be Friends online story!
8. Describe Your Writing Process?
I’m not sure I even have a ‘writing process,’ but I can tell you how I develop my stories. I usually get a spark (an idea) from a lyric or a phrase I’ve heard, or something funny which has happened. I jot the idea down on a Post-It and stick it to my ‘writing wall;’ I leave it there to marinate for a while. Then, when I sit down for my nightly write, I lookat the ‘writing wall’ and write whatever comes to mind or I write the exact opposite of my idea to see what will happen when I do.
If I’m working on a fiction piece, I always write all the dialogue which comes to mind first, and then fill in the gaps when I’m editing. For me, editing usually means readingmy writing aloud a few times, tying up loose ends, and removing inconsistencies.
If I’m writing a non-fiction piece, I decide on the message I want the reader to walk away with, then go back to the beginning and start writing and editing.
9. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading and Styles or Genres?
I’ve always enjoyed women’s fiction with a little romance thrown in for good measure, mainly the kind of fiction which could possibly happen in real life. Being of South American heritage, I’ve always leaned towards books with multicultural flavor. In university, a Caribbean literature courseopened up my eyes to the world of anecdotalgenres and culturally diverse characters. I enjoy novels that provide the perspective ofmore than one character, whether it’s in first or third person. I will always prefer a paperback novel that I can take with me to the beach or pool, but also read on my tablet.
” . . .[W]hen I sit down for my nightly write, I look at the ‘writing wall’ and write whatever comes to mind or I write the exact opposite of my idea to see what will happen when I do.” – Marquessa Matthews
10. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?
I’m no expert but I think that I can make three suggestions:
Develop a Daily Writing Habit(either in minutes or in word count):Fifteen minutes beforegoing to bed or five-hundred words per day. You don’t have to write a masterpiece. Practice the BIC method (butt in chair). Jot down an idea and free-write fora set amount of minutes or words, to your daily goal with no editing. You’ll be amazed at what you can come up with in your writing.
Try@NaNoWordSprints: I discovered word sprints last year and they are amazing to help ideas flow. If you can’t join a live sprint, do an old sprint from on theirYouTube channel. Pretend it’s a live sprint and try the method out. I wonNaNoWriMo in 2015 by achieving the fifty-thousand word word count, it was mainly due to word sprints.
Read your work aloud, more than once: You’ll catch all your grammar mistakes and wooden dialogue. Fix your issues before posting.
11. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share With Us You Think is Pertinent to Writing or Yourself?
I would say, prioritizing your writing goals is vital. I recently realized, though I lovejoining in on and participating in various writing and blogging prompts such as #MusicMonday, #WordlessWednesday and #TBT, the time spent working on and preparing for these prompts was time spent away from my work-in-progress. In 2017, I plan on taking a different approach to my blog space, especially by taking a hiatus for NaNoWriMo in November and re-blogging fiction from my archives.
12. Can You Please Share With Us A Few Links From Your Blog With Some of Your Favourite Pieces?
One of my favorite fiction pieces so far is “San Juan” because it was the first one I wrote concerning Delaney and Alejandro.
“Woman to Woman,” shines a light on the toxicity of abusive relationships.
A Note From Marquessa:
Since I’ll be taking a hiatus in November for NaNoWriMo, I have scheduled re-posts of a number of my fiction pieces so unfortunately, if readers are searching for a specific post,they won’t find it at the moment (until November 2016).
Thank you Marquessa for agreeing to be interviewed and providing such interesting andhelpful information concerning yourself and your writing. I look forward to reading more of your fiction, especially with Delaney (she’s my favourite) as well as reading your installments about Isabelle and Peter in your new project. Best of luck having your work published and with your writing goals.
If you liked this interview and would like to be interviewed as well about your writing, please reach me through my contact page.