“The LaCharta, created by Laura Lamarca, consists of a minimum of 3 stanzas with no maximum length stipulation. Each stanza contains 6 lines. The syllable count is 8 per line in iambic tetrameter and the rhyme scheme is aaaabb ccccdd eeeeff and so on. “La” is Laura Lamarca’s signature and “Charta” in Latin, simply means “poem”.”
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!
Every so often, I try to update you with the details of my life, beneath the writing, and the subtext behind poems. I don’t think I’ve done this since the end of February, so I’d like to share a bit about my life lately.
One of the biggest areas in life I’m working on is my health. Those of you who have been with me a while know I suffer from a mood disorder (depression) and from that depression, excessive amounts of fatigue.
Psychiatric drugs are evil little pills. I started with Invega which stopped an initial psychosis (which has never occurred again) but also made me ‘flat;’ caused a great deal of pain in muscles of my back, shoulders, and neck; as well as resulted in a weight gain over ten pounds. After switching to risperidone, I gained another ten pounds and using a medication to help me sleep called Gabapentin, added twelve pounds or more. The antipsychotic I’m on now works a great deal better for me then any of the ones I was on before, but as usual, I gained another ten pounds.
Experiencing fatigue most of the time makes it difficult to exercise and do cardio. I have been feeling well enough to walk for twenty to thirty minutes three or four times a week. And on off days, I have been trying to do yoga for twenty minutes.
My big change lately has been a diet and supplement overhaul. I use supplements from a
system called the ‘redbox.’ It is a system of health focused not only on losing weight but living a healthy lifestyle. Different supplements in the system have helped many people lose weight; stop feeling chronic pain such as fibromyalgia or arthritis; given people a ton more energy; and aided people in maintaining a fitness level at the gym or otherwise.
Using the supplements you start with an Eight Day Ignite, a detox in which your body gets rid of bad toxins and resets your metabolism so you can lose weight and function better. In my first Eight Days, I lost 5 lbs and 8.5 inches. I was pleased with my initial result, especially losing inches in my hips, waist, and thighs. Many women lose much more then I lost initially. I’m continuing on the ignite plan for the rest of the month (the detox part is finished) and I’m hoping to be able to lose 9 lbs by the end of this month, to reach my first weight and health goal. After, I will continue on some of the supplements on the weight loss plan.
A meal plan is provided, and the plan includes eating well in small meals throughout the day focusing on eating protein and green vegetables. One day I get to eat carbohydrates such as fruit, rice, whole grain bread (etc.) and on Sunday I can eat what I like, it’s a cheat day. The plan also includes exercise of about thirty minutes a day and using some of the supplements. Many people have had great results on these products. So I’m excited to see where they can take me, especially since losing weight without significant cardio has been a challenge.
Besides my health, I have been up to many other things. I have been working a lot on developing short stories and other pieces for submission. I was excited to submit one of my first short stories developed off a Flash Fiction piece I wrote in the past. And I’m looking also at submitting some pieces of poetry in the future. I keep discovering new ideas and new topics that I would like to write short stories to submit. It’s a bit of a challenge as many of you probably know because each place you submit to has different submission guidelines and wants stories of specific length. Short story for instance, vary widely from 800 words to as many as 40, 000 in some of the places I’ve been looking at.
Work on my novel continues, albeit, at a slower pace then I have been doing. Working on
the novel and working on pieces in-between, often results in the novel being left for a week or two. I do plan to write up a couple of chapters this week if possible. The book is at an exciting part so I have to move onward. I thought initially, I was writing long chapters and would have plenty of length for a full book. But PJ asked me if I was doing a novella or novel, and I thought about it a bit and I think I might have to add some parts into the novel, or weave in a second storyline. I will see where I am at the end of the first draft which is rapidly coming to a close. I’m thankful to have a blogger friend Martin, offering to go through and help edit my book once I have all the chapters together on word, and I will do the same for his book. Then, I suppose I will be doing a whole bunch of rewriting.
In-between this all I’m still working through different forms of poetry, doing the one word prompts provided by The Daily Post , as well as my novel. I will not be doing The Daily Post prompts in April due to National Poetry Writing Month. But, you will still find I do the odd beauty post and other topics that come to my mind.
I’m not sure how completing the POPSUGAR booklist will end up. I read here and there but have only been able to get through two or three books lately. I know when spring finally arrives (in appearance), and I can see the flowers and not see it snowing outside, I will be in much more of a reading mood.
In addition to writing and health, I’m going to movies, catching up on my favourite shows such as Scandal (my favourite right now), watching movies on Netflix, seeing friends whenever I can, doing a bit of dating, and fitting everything else in when I can. Hope all is going well for you.
I know there is an A to Z challenge going on with some bloggers in April but I also wanted to bring up another fantastic challenge I’m doing in April. April is National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo. It is similar to Blogging 201 Poetry except for you’re writing a poem with a prompt provided on the website, everyday for the month of April. You can check it out and add your blog to the list of bloggers participating here if you want to join me for the challenge.