Interview with Sarah Whiley: Writer, Blogger, Teacher, & Future Author #interview #nonfiction #amwriting #nonfiction


Welcome to another writer/blogger interview. Today I’m interviewing the wonderful, talented, and gorgeous Sarah Whiley who I have come to know through the prompt website MindLoveMisery`s Menagerie (MLMM). Sarah`s personal blog is called: By Sarah. You can also look for her to do the Saturday Mix prompt on MLMM. Here`s the link to last week`s prompt: Same Same but Different December 30.


Sarah Whiley Interview Pic 1
Credit: Sarah Whiley

1. Sarah, Please Tell Us About Yourself? What Are Your Writing and Blogging Goals? What Do You Hope to Accomplish by Writing? 


My name is Sarah Whiley and I live in north-east Victoria, in Australia. My blog is: ‘By Sarah. I’m a primary school teacher of 17 years and have taught all ages from 5 to 12 years old. I have always loved writing since I could pick up a pencil and create. I am passionate about instilling this same love of writing in my students.

In order to do that, it is important that I see myself as a writer – as an author in my own right. This is what I am hoping to accomplish by writing and blogging. I am so fortunate to live where I do. They don’t call Australia the “lucky country” for nothing!


2. Tell Us About Where You Live and What You Love About It?


I’m originally a city girl from Canberra, and later, Melbourne. I have enjoyed the spoils of both cities’ such as the cosmopolitan cafes and restaurants, nightlife, and their unique cultures.

When I met my husband and moved to the country! I love the wide- open spaces, the varying landscapes and the bush. I am now an avid bushwalker and spend most weekends out and about, communing with nature.


“I am a primary school teacher of 17 years and have taught all ages from 5 to 12 years old. I have always loved writing since I could pick up a pencil and create. I am passionate about instilling this same love of writing in my students. In order to do that, it is important that I see myself as a writer – as an author in my own right.” – By Sarah Whiley 


Sarah Whiley Pic 2
Sarah Whiley

 


3. When Did You Begin Writing and Blogging and Why? What Does Writing Mean to You? 


My journey with blogging began five years ago, after a series of personal setbacks and issues. I commenced blogging primarily, as a cathartic experience to help me work through my thoughts and feelings. Once I no longer ‘needed’ my blog, I had a small break, however always felt something was ‘missing.’

After attending professional development for helping me teach writing, I realized, the hole that blogging and writing had left in my life!

I started my blog, ‘By Sarah,’ to explore my own creative writing, to explore myself, and my talent for writing. I have, particularly, enjoyed writing short stories and poetry. An unexpected bonus to continued blogging has been the great friendships I’ve gained in the WordPress community; I have established so many along the way.


4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Continue Writing and Blogging? Why Is It Vital for you to Keep on Writing? 


I have some seeds of ideas stashed away in my writer’s notebook. I tend to work on these pieces over a long period of time. For other ideas, I rely on a range of prompts. I feel it’s important to write regularly in order to develop my skills and continue to write and maintain it as a habit. Also, I experience a great degree of stress relief from writing.

Moreover, as a teacher, it is easy to get stuck in a cycle of hyper-vigilance and not to give yourself enough ‘down time’. I find a variety of prompts extremely helpful for motivating and inspiring writing for myself and in my teaching.

As well, I have a schedule of sorts and I endeavor to write every day aside from Wednesdays (which is my ‘well-being-do-nothing’ night!


 

Sarah Whiley Group Pic 3
Credit: Sarah Wiley

 


“For other ideas, I rely on a range of prompts. I feel it is important to write regularly in order to develop my skills and continue to write and maintain it as a habit. Also, I experience a great degree of stress relief from writing.” – Sarah Whiley


5. What Are Your Writing and Blogging Habits? Do You Prefer Writing a Certain Time of Day? 


I set aside time each day to write. Usually, I can be found on the couch with a dog or two keeping me company, along with some background noise from the TV (I am one of these people who can’t concentrate when it’s quiet). I enjoy writing poetry most. I have a knack for rhyme and rhythm and find it easy to whip up a poem.

As well, I have been challenging myself to explore other types of writing and short stories to extend my skills. I don’t write in the mornings as I am in a rush for time once I wake up. I rush out the door to teach school, but I write after dinner, sometime between 7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. at night. I find Tuesdays and Thursdays to be my busiest and most productive days.


6. What Are Your Most Current Writing or Blogging Projects? Do You Have Projects Outside of Your Blog Involving Writing? Do You Plan on Publishing Any Writing in the Future? 


Currently, I am undertaking Sammi Cox’s  ‘A Month of Mini Writing Challenges’ and have am the new host for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s ‘Saturday Mix’. Outside of my
blog, I keep a writer’s notebook and am busy maintaining a Class Dojo Story (similar to a blog) for my classroom.

I will soon be published as a feature writer in Linda J. Wolff’s upcoming eBook. Linda runs a fantastic Urban Poetry site and I was the winner of her Fibonacci poetry competition earlier this year. At the end of the year, I plan to convert my blog posts for 2017 into a self-published collection for family, friends, and anyone else interested.


Toa Hefitaba Sarah
Credit: Toa Hefitba via UnSplash

“I will soon be published as a feature writer in Linda J. Wolff’s upcoming eBook. Linda runs a fantastic Urban Poetry site and I was the winner of her Fibonacci poetry competition earlier this year. At the end of the year, I plan to convert my blog posts for 2017 into a self-published collection for family, friends, and anyone else interested.” – Sarah Whiley


7. Can you Briefly Describe Your Writing Process? What Do You Think Will Be Your Process of Self-Publishing Your Writing? 


Being a teacher, I find the writing process natural and not something I have to think too hard about. Storytelling and explaining my ideas is something I innately do. Upon analysis of my writing, though, I definitely follow six-traits in my writing process including ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.

After I am happy with a final piece, I often bounce it off my husband or my mum, seeking their feedback. They are a tremendous help to me and improve the end result of my stories and poems and their overall flow. When I self-publish at the end of the year, I am investigating the use of the ‘Blook-Up Service.‘ (As Sarah gave me these answers super-quick back at the end of August or September, please ask her about the progress of her book and her published poem!!).


8. Do You Prefer Certain Areas of Writing and Reading Genres? And Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers and Bloggers Starting Out? 


Well, I’m definitely drawn to the dark, somewhat macabre styles of writing. My pieces often take a dark turn or have a twist at the end. I am not a fan of science-fiction or fantasy, at all, but I prefer supernatural, horror, thriller, crime, mystery, drama, historical, and biographical works.

My advice for new bloggers is:

  • Write what you know. Capturing a small moment in time can sometimes produce the best piece of writing! Also, go with the flow….literally! Don’t overthink it. Go with your ‘stream-of-consciousness’ and see where it leads.
  • Find like-minded people. Better to have fewer blog followers and likes, and better to have more feedback from those few who ‘get’ you and your writing, those who appreciate your efforts! Quality not quantity as they say.

Sarah Whiley Hiking 4
Credit: Sarah Whiley and Her Beautiful Photography!!

Find like-minded people. Better to have fewer blog followers and likes, and better to have more feedback from those few who ‘get’ you and your writing, those who appreciate your efforts! Quality not quantity as they say.” Sarah Whiley


9. Is There Anything Else You Would Like To Share With Us About Writing Or Yourself? 


My experiences growing up in a large family and my relationships with my siblings have certainly shaped many of my ideas and stories! I am the eldest of six children (No, we are not Catholic!). My mum just wanted another son and kept trying until she got one! It’s ironic how she wanted four boys…she ended up with four girls! Despite the large age gaps between some of us, we are reasonably close and hang out together and, at times, travel together.

Also, I LOVE to travel. Whether it be exploring local gems, interstate expeditions or overseas adventures. I am curious and interested in the world around me. I soak up information and facts like a sponge (you never know when they’ll come in handy for a trivia night!) I enjoy nothing more than experiencing new things. I adore the outdoors and take every chance (money permitting of course!) to jump on a plane and go somewhere different.

As well, I love New Zealand and have holidayed there four times now – with plans to go back! I have also traveled to the US (including Hawaii), England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Indonesia. All of these factors have helped develop my writing.


10. Can You Briefly Tell Us About Some of Your Favorite Blogs? What Do You Like Most About Them? 


Gosh, it’s hard to name a few. There are a lot of my WordPress friends whose work I truly respect and enjoy. But, if I have to narrow it down, I would have to say:

  • Jane Dougherty Writes – Jane has a wonderful turn of phrase and is able to use colorful words to create great imagery in her poems and stories.
  • God’s Chair – Jael Sook is an engaging and diverse poet and writer and I thoroughly enjoy her work, anticipating each post she makes.
  • RedStuffDan – Dan is an incredibly artistic photographer. His subjects include Bordeaux vineyards, local village life, architecture, doors, mirrored
    images and digital photography as art.

11. Can You Please Share With Us a Few Links from Your Blogs:

TASI

By Sarah Whiley

*Inspired by “Whiskey In the Jar” Music Prompt

*****

 

Tasi Sarah
Credit: Sarah Whiley

 

*****

My summer holiday in Hobart, Tasmania had not begun quite as I had expected. A thunderstorm, a severely delayed flight, and an inaccessible hostel topped off with some bitterly cold weather that I had most definitely not packed for. Finding myself with a few hours to spare, I decided that a stroll around the CBD to orient myself was in order.

The gathering, dark clouds had other ideas.

I had no sooner ventured out onto the streets when the skies opened and a torrential downpour began. Cursing, I sought cover under the awnings of the few shops that had them.

And that’s when I saw it from across the street. ‘Lark Distillery’.

I have never been a whiskey drinker, but I could not resist the pull of the plume of smoke coming from the chimney, nor the cozy 1800’s building that housed it. I ran across to the front door and pushed it open.

Immediately, a warm, yeasty aroma hit me. Unsurprisingly, I was the only patron. The young man behind the ba took in my sodden, street-urchin appearance, and without a trace of disdain, offered me a tasting.

‘But I don’t really drink whisky,’ I protested. ‘Can I just stay in here until the rain passes?’

‘Sure,’ he replied. ‘But why not have a little taste, just to pass the time?’

He took a glass and bottle from the shelf behind him and sang a few lyrics of the Metallica song, ‘There’s whisky in the jar oh.’ He winked, and with that, I took a seat at the bar.  I felt somewhat lonely amongst the long row of empty bar stools. Clearly, they were used to a greater custom.

‘So what would you like to try?’ he asked.

‘I’m in your hands,’ I admitted. ‘What would you recommend?’

‘Let’s start with the single malt. It’s a classic,’ he advised.

He poured a sample into the glass. The glug-glug and almost syrupy quality of the liquid was mesmerising.

‘This whisky is double distilled in locally crafted copper-pot stills and aged in small, 100 litre oak casks. We store our spirits for 5-8 years in smaller barrels for faster maturation,’ he explained.

I took a sip and promptly spluttered. He laughed.

‘Try throwing it back in one go,’ he suggested.

So I did.

After the initial burning sensation and urge to cough, the most amazingly delicious warmth spread from my belly to my brow.

‘Mmmm,’ I approved. ‘Nice. Smooth.’

‘Well if you like that, you’ll love the cask strength. It’s got the same smoothness but is more full bodied due to a higher percentage of Tasmanian malt. It bursts across the palate with hints of maple syrup and sweet notes of highland peat.’

‘Right,’ I said, not having a clue what that meant. Irrespectively, I nudged my glass forward and said, ‘Hit me.’

And I threw that back too.

This bloke knows what he’s talking about, I thought. It was amazing. My palate was dancing and my whole body was alive. The rain outside had faded away, and I felt all toasty and warm and happy.

‘How much alcohol is in this?’ I demanded.

‘58%’ he replied, with a twinkle in his eye, as if he knew that I was feeling tipsy already. ‘How ’bout we mix it up a little? Wanna try some gin?’

‘Gin?’ I replied with enthusiasm. Now we were speaking my language! ‘Oh yes please! Definitely’.

Again, I pushed my glass forward.

‘Now, here at Lark, we do a gin each season,’ he explained, ‘that way we can capitalise on the unique flavours available at different times of the year. This one is our summer release.’ He poured a more than generous sample.

This time, before I drank, I lifted the glass to my nose. The aromas were incredible. Bold and beautifully sweet, I inhaled a balance of citrus and rosewater with undertones of juniper and coriander. It made me think of the warmth of the summer sun. It was almost as if I could feel it on my skin.

I drank and closed my eyes with satisfaction.

‘That was good.‘ I could hear my voice starting to lilt and slur with the effects of the high alcohol content. I sat with the gin in my hand and sipped from the glass again and again. As if wanting to savour it but devour it at the same time, until every drop was gone. I couldn’t wait to see what was next.

‘This is slainte,’ he declared. ‘This is very, very special. It was developed by one of our owners in response to the strong demand for a unique Australian whisky liqueur. Slainte is the marriage of our single malt whisky and a distilled spirit of herbs and spices. The two are carefully combined to give a complexity of character, spiciness and sweetness, while maintaining the overtones of the whisky.’

I could listen to this guy talk all day! I thought. Such passion for the product.

My head was swirling, and I though I still didn’t fully understand what this whisky was all about, I had decided I liked it. Very much. I slid my glass towards him.

‘Now, Tasi,’ he began, as he pulled out a new bottle from behind the counter, ‘Tasi is something different altogether.’

‘What is it?’ I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.

‘Tasi is a unique herbal liqueur derived from a single native Tasmanian berry.’

‘I know about the Tasi berry!’ I interjected, surprisingly myself. ‘It’s actually called a Myrtus berry isn’t it?’

‘Yes, that’s right. It’s unique to Tasmania. So this really is something you can’t find anywhere else,’ he was speaking almost reverently. ‘Pass me your glass.’

Unlike any of the other tastings, he first scooped up some ice cubes and placed then delicately in the bottom of my glass.  Intrigued, I leant forward as he carefully poured. Tasi was a glorious deep yellow in colour and looked like liquid gold, flowing over iridescent rocks.

I will never forget that first mouthful. It was as if the liqueur curled around every inch of my teeth and gums. It stuck to my tongue and was like treacle down my throat. That liquid gold coated every surface it touched within my body and I felt like royalty. I smacked my lips approvingly and even moaned out loud. I appreciated every last golden drop and licked the ice cubes once my glass was drained.

He smiled.

He knew.

It was THAT good.

I bought three bottles and thanked him for his time, his advice and his expertise. The bottles clinked as I pulled the door open and reentered the world outside.

I did not notice if it was still raining.

And I did not care.

****

Sarah 2017©


12. Here Are Some More of Sarah’s Link’s to Explore!

Some of her favorite Short pieces:

Some of Sarah’s Poetry:


Thank you so much to Sarah for filling out the interview questions and providing such honest and thoughtful answers. I’m so sorry it took so long to put the interview together. This last past year has been crazy. Make sure to check out Sarah’s Blog: By Sarah.


I should have another interview out in the next couple of weeks, with no promises. If you would like to be interviewed and are a writer or blogger or if you blog for a cause, please reach out to me through my Contact Page. If you’re a regular, you’ll notice I’m playing around with my blog to update my theme. The Contact Page info also needs to be updated eventually.

Have a fantastic week!


©Mandibelle16. (2018) All Rights Reserved.

100 Word Wednesday: The New Teacher #amwriting #flashfiction #racism 


Thanks to Bikurgurl for hosting #100WordWednesday. 

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Credit: William Stett via UnSplash

——–

It’s 1962 and Miss Parker’s exotic beauty temporarily shocks her grade seven class into silence. She has lovely dark skin and striking eyes lined with kohl. The boys are held speechless by her attractive appearance. Her bold cranberry lipstick and a fashionably revealing outfit are what her female student’s desire to wear.

Her student’s realize how interesting, knowledgable, and outgoing their new teacher is and walk home each day telling their parents Miss Parker is wonderful. The parents are thrilled for their children. 

Nevertheless, things change when the parent’s realize at parent teacher interviews, Miss Parker is black woman. Race was not a feature of Miss Parker their children noticed as racism is not ingrained within a child — it is taught. 

——-

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved. 

Interview With Deborah Glover #interview #nonfiction #writer #amwriting #blogger


Welcome to another edition of my bi-weekly interviews. I’m sorry this is a week late but better late than never eh? Anyways, I’m excited to share with you the beautiful, kind, and talented writer and blogger, Deborah Glover from the blog: BookyGLover.


Interview DebGlover
Credit: Deb Glover

1. Please Tell Us About Yourself? 

 

My name is Deborah (Booky Glover). I am from Ondo state, Nigeria, but I live in Lagos. I am a Choleric/Melancholic, my parents first child,  and with that position comes responsibilities. I am a teacher by profession and a writer by passion. I’m also a Christian. and a foodie who reads, writes, listens to music and loves to make new friends. I began my blog writing for my eyes only in 2005 but began blogging for anyone to visit starting in July of 2015.


2. What Does Writing and Blogging Mean To You? 

Writing is a means of expressing myself. Whatever I am feeling, thinking of, or going through, I can write about it. Writing became more important to me when I began to experience unpleasantness in life. It became my means of surviving. I wrote down my pain and anger and all this writing made me feel better. It helped me see that the things I was going through were not quite as bad as I thought. Writing my thoughts down also gave me understanding about my situation and a different perspective.


“Writing became more important to me when I began to experience unpleasantness in life. It became my means of surviving. I wrote down my pain and anger and all this writing made me feel better.” – Deb Glover


3. Where do you Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write? Do You Find There Is A Time of Day You Enjoy Writing Most?

Life is my motivation. I see people, I listen to their tales and in the stillness, the words come to me. After I start writing, I don’t stop writing until I feel my flow of thought is cut off. Music is inspirational as well. 

I don’t have a particular time I prefer writing. There are times when I wake early in the morning with the intention of writing and nothing comes out. At these times, writing becomes a chore and I write a lot of nonsense.

But, there are times when I’m walking down the road and a line comes to me, or many words rush into my mind. In those times, I pick up my pen and book and scribble beside the road. Other times I write in the receptionist office while I wait for a job interview. I write at odd times and I’ve learned to keep a paper and pen with me at all times, even at my bed side.


4. What is Your Most Current Writing Project? Have You Published Any Writing or Are Your Planning to Publish Any?

I’m working on a book. It’s a novel. I have been really lazy in working on it but in good time I’ll finish it. I have a complete Novella. It needs editing work, a book cover, and then publishing. However, I feel skeptical about it. I completed the novella back in 2014. 


“Life is my motivation. I see people, I listen to their tales and in the stillness, the words come to me. After I start writing, I don’t stop writing until I feel my flow of thought is cut off.” – Deb Glover


 

InterviewDebGlover2
Credit: Deborah Glover

5. What Kind of Publishing Are You Considering? What Is Your Process of Writing Like? 

I have books I have read on publishing a book and I’ve chosen to self-publish online before publishing paperback novels. The first book I publish might be free.

 My writing process begins when a thought drops into my mind and I write until the flow of ideas stops. Then I leave my work for a while — a few hours, a day or more — then I return to it to edit or see what can be made better in the story. For the stories or poems I write on my blog site, they are mostly unplanned. I write as the inspiration comes. I write for myself and hope that someone out there can relate to what I am feeling or what my feelings manifest as.


6. Do Prefer Certain Areas of Writing or Reading? Do You Have Favorite Genres? Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers? 

I like reading historical romances, detective books, poetry, African writers (mainstream), and sometimes I read Christian books. Apart from these genres, I read pretty much anything as long as it is a book. I only fling a book to the corner of the room when I’m halfway through the book and it is not making sense yet. I like to give every book I choose to read a chance.

Advice for other writers would be: Write. Write to please yourself. No one has written the exact way you write, no one has seen the world the way you see it. No one will put it down the way you would.


  “My writing process begins when a thought drops into my mind and I write until the flow of ideas stops. Then I leave my work for a while — a few hours, a day or more — then I return to it to edit or see what can be made better in the story.” – Deb Glover


7. Is There Anything Else You Would Like to Share With Us Pertinent to Writing or Yourself? 

Every writer shares bits and pieces of herself/himself. We are after all everyday people. I find out that when those bits slip into my work, I produce something beautiful. A work that makes me ask myself, ‘Did I really write something that good?”


8. Please Share With Us Your Top Three Favorite Blogs:  

  • Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha — Jacqueline’s posts vary from poetry, fiction, personal issues, to photography. She hosts blogging parties and I’ve always enjoyed meeting new bloggers through them.
  •  Sweet Aroma — Oneta Hayes is a great-grandma who is passionate about life, living, Christianity, humanity, and most importantly, she shows me how to be a better person through her comments on my blog posts. She’s one awesome woman!
  • Adebisi Olatunji FeminineMaterz — Adebisi does not write so much poetry but she shares the reality of our world in regards to the viewpoints of a woman. She dabbles in story writing and so far, it has been fun following her blog.

 P.S – Most of the blogs I follow are awesome and I could talk about each of them and tell you how beautiful they make my day.


9. Please Share With Us Some of Your Favorite Links from Your Blog:

Keep Moving Forward

By Deborah Glover

*****

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

One-Liner Wednesday.

*****

Thank God, I’ve been a lot better. I am taking each day with all the bravery and courage my little heart can muster. I recently have had issues with my phone and this makes blogging, writing, or reading a chore. I have abandoned my e-books for paperbacks and long hours of chatting has changed into hours of reading my Bible and reading books I have not touched or opened in two years.

The words of Martin Luther King Jr. keep ringing in my heart. I have to keep moving forward. This quote has been my father’s favorite. We have had tough times in the family and he always said the quote below to me. He would quote Martin Luther King Jr words.

I won’t give up. You shouldn’t give up too.

Until next time,

Blessings!


“Booky, I won’t say there are problems so I won’t make an effort to be better. I have to keep investing time in my career, my vision and you have to do the same. If you can’t run, you walk….” — Mr. Glover (Deborah’s Dad)


Here Are Three More Links from Deborah’s Blog to Read:

 


Thank you so much to Deborah for sharing her writing and bits of her life with us. I appreciate her wanting to be interviewed and hope she is happy with the results. I am looking forward her novella and current novel, being published through self-publishing or otherwise. Here is the link to Deborah’s blog one more time: BookyGLover.

If you are a writer or blogger who would like to be interviewed for my biweekly interview series please contact me through my contact page HERE.  See you in a week, I’m going to try to get the interviews back on their every second Monday schedule. 


©Mandibelle16.(2017) All Rights Reserved.

Writing Prompt: Poem – Villanelle – “Becoming ‘The Angel In The House’.” #amwriting #poetry #victorianera 


Thank you to Oloriel of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting the Villanelle writing prompt this week.

—–

Credit: http://www.webexhibits.org – Italian School, The Rustic Concert, The Song

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Teach us teacher, we’re ready to learn,

We’re here to fill our minds, wonder blooming. 

For learning’s life’s opportunities earned.

Oh what problems will we learn to discern? 

Reading, poise, religion; house ‘angels’ singing, 

Teach us teacher, we’re ready to learn. 

How should we serve tea? Keep house, give birth, turn —

On those not good enough? Not with us ranking. 

For learning’s life’s opportunities earned. 

Should our daughters be haughty and learn —

Their goal (as ours), to marry well praying, 

Teach us teacher, we’re ready to learn.

Are we moral centers? Ignoring sperns, 

Spouse with many beds, mistresses stringing. 

For learning’s life’s opportunities earned. 

Our value, our husband, children, in turn —

Their children, their marriages bliss bringing? 

Teach us teacher, we’re ready to learn, 

For learning’s life’s opportunities earned.

—–

Credit: Crosscurrents Writing Gender – Quote from Virginia Woolf
 

—–

Villanelle

A Villanelle is a nineteen-line poem consisting of a very specific rhyming scheme: aba aba aba aba aba abaa.
The first and the third lines in the first stanza are repeated in alternating order throughout the poem, and appear together in the last couplet (last two lines).”

Please see Shadow Poetry for more information.

——-

©Mandibelle16. (2017) All Rights Reserved. 

Interview With Michele Vecchitto


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.


miichelle-interview-4
Credit: Michele Vicchetto

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


michele-interview-1
Credit: Michele 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


michelle-interview-3
Credit: Michele Vecchtto

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


michelle-interview-5
Credit: 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:

“Deerfield’s Ghosts”

By Michele Vecchitto

deerfield
photo: Atlas Obscura

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.

 

#OctPoWriMo – Day 10 – Wrapped Refrain – “Favourite Mistake’s Burn” #amwriting #poetry


Day 10 Prompt: Unfolded
“Has there ever been a time that something negative happened but because of it you discovered something positive? Free write for ten minutes diving into one or more of your experiences and then take us on a journey through your poetry, show us how the events unfolded. Or…

You could take it in a different direction and free write about unfolded and see where it leads. Was there a time when you were doing laundry with someone and they didn’t like how you were folding? Tell us about it.”
———-


http://www.chess.com

——–

Events unfold, burn me apart, 

Thought life was stable; now restart.

Begin again anew and find, 

Inspiration warm and kind. 

Or realize life isn’t nice; it tricks you each time, 

You think you would know, twice shy once burned –but you’re blind. 

——-

Don’t you know my favourite mistake, 

Experience merciless takes —

It’s fire to everyone who thought not, 

To remember their lessons taught. 

It’s the way life unfolds teaching us learning hurts,

What’s worse, relearning leaves scorch marks, worse — blood boils, spurts. 

——

No one feels sorry for you now, 

You’d time enough to figure how. 

You will recall your experience, 

Though vainly hid, it’s your reference.

Walk away, don’t do it, you’ll get tossed out the door.

Change your mind before you regret, choice made poor.

——

You never learn, you have to see, 

If you realize and change key, 

Your life might be more harmonious, 

Less mistakes made erroneous.

Maybe you’ve found peace, where experience led you, 

Events unfold, learning never ends, life drills you. 

——

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved. 

Flash Fiction for the Aspiring Writer: Poetry – Petrarchen  Sonnet – “The Game I Played” #poetry #amwriting #flashfiction


Thank you to Priceless Joy for hosting FFftAW.

——

Yinglan

——-

In Junior high, soccer we used to play. 

Up, down; between goal posts on soccer field,

Learning through error, our feet ball to wield. 

With studies done, we played the entire day.

—-

Our teacher was a pro; swore whole life he played —

Soccer until he was bored at twenty-two.

Taught us, throwing the ball into play through —

Kicking it in when it was offside of play.

—–

Years ago, I gave mean slide tackle away.

I was great at defence; not running entire —

Field; many falls on grass caused allergies ire.

Miss many days spent, stealing the ball rolling, 

Passing it off to a team mate scoring goals.

Game I won’t watch; to play again, desiring.

—–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved. 

Sunday Photo Fiction: Colour Theory


Thank you to Alistair Forbes for hosting SPF.

—–

A Mixed Bag

——

“Today we’re going to learn about secondary colours on the colour wheel,” Miss Michaels the art teacher said to the grade three class.

“For instance, if we mix the primary colours blue and yellow together, we get green.” 

Miss Michaels poured a little blue and yellow water from their respective wine glasses into an empty wine glass. The liquid in the new wine glass was green.

“Depending on how much blue or yellow I add, determines what colour of green I will get. If I add more blue, the green will be a blue-green such as a teal. If I add more yellow, we will get a more yellow-green such as grassy green.” Miss Michaels explained.

“Let’s try another secondary colour. Jennifer, what colour will I get if I mix red and yellow together equally?” 

“Um, you’d get orange,” Jennifer said.

“Correct Jennifer. If I add more yellow to the orange it will be and orange-yellow like flames of fire but if I add more red it will be an orange-red, like some of the lipsticks your Moms with warmer toned skin wear.” Miss Michaels said.

“Charlie, tell me what will happen if I mix red and blue together?” 

Charlie stammered, “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Think about it a moment.” Miss Michaels was patient.

“Oh um, Purple?” 

“Yes Charlie you’re absolutely right. If we add more red to the purple it is more like a red-purple, a plum colour. If we add blue the purple is a blue-purple like. . .” 

Miss Michaels was interrupted by Charlie waving both his hands in the air.”Yes, Charlie?” 

“In the glasses, the water is slanting.” 

“How strange,” Miss Michaels remarked peering down at the wine glasses and then the table. “I think the table . ..” 

It an instant, the table crashed and wine glasses full of food colouring covered miss Michaels who sighed and then giggled.

“Remember what happens when we mix all the colours together?” She asked her grade three class.

“Mud,” they shouted.

——–

©Mandibelle16. (2016) All Rights Reserved.

Saturday Night to Life


I use to think the whole world was alive and vibrant every Saturday night. I looked forward to the rush of excitement, the shouts of joy, the laughter, the dancing, and a few drinks (or more). I remembering going out in a big group and loving every single song they played ( because it was my favorite) and taking my poor dance moves out onto the floor with the lights, fog, and other dancers encroaching on our space made around a pile of purses. It was a soaring feeling dancing to a hypnotic beat and loving all your friends — even though there was drama of one kind or another always. I think when the drama gets too much you start to grow up and not put up with a group mentality.

That’s when you stop getting together as a group first and start living other lives outside of school. It’s when you start to develop a career, start to not just hook up but find a lasting boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s when some of your friends become parents, it’s when your friends become engaged and get married, it’s when you can’t stay hung over the entire weekend, and it’s when things start to go wrong in life. 

Some friends you knew in high school or university die or get into serious accidents, mental health takes on a new meaning for you or those around you, and some parents of kids you grew up with become ill. You may stay home or have a job but things change. The glory of life is no longer yours in the same form it was in your late teens and early twenties. Glory comes sitting at the pub with a few good friends some nights. It comes in the birth of a child or seeing your best friend get married. It comes in finding the person you love and staying in together. It comes in lunch with a dear friend you haven’t seen for ages or an elderly grandparent in their 80’s or 90’s. 

Drama changes from little spiteful fights between girls or brawls between guys to real life problems and issues. You feel alive for different reasons, you dance in your car on the way to work, and your packs include people of all age groups. Life changes because suddenly you’re not preparing for it, you’re in it for better or worse. Now you really are an adult with much greater responsibilities, outcomes, failures, resentments, moments of pride, vulnerabilities, and happiness. 

But then some have said we never ever really leave school we just move up to different classrooms, classes, and teachers. Life is a classroom and we are always pupils. What do you think?