Kristen Falso-Capaldi – Three by Five Interview Part III

Welcome to the final installment of an interview with Kristen Falso-Capaldi.

VAH: What does it mean to you to have been selected as the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize winner this year?

KFC: I am beyond excited to be the recipient of this year’s Emerging Writer Prize.  It means so much to me to be recognized for my writing ability and to be able to attend one of the best writer’s conferences in the country.

VAH: Any goals for the conference?

KFC: I’d love to find an agent for my novel, but I’ll feel fulfilled with advice and critique on my pitch and the first page of my manuscript.

VAH: Kristen it was great meeting you at the conference. I hope it the experience was all you hoped for and you have good luck with the agents you spoke with.

Let’d get back to writing. When the page is blank what gets you writing?

KFC: Sometimes there is nothing scarier than a blank page; that said, I just write.  It’s like jumping into the ocean when I first get to the beach. If I think about it too much, I’ll never get to ride the waves.  I just jump in and write without worrying too much about where the story is going.  I know from past experience that I will end up with a messy first draft that I can then edit into something I’m not embarrassed to show to someone else.

VAH: What is your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?

KFC: I often just think of a first line and start writing.  I very rarely outline, though I sometimes make notes about where the story is going if I get a brainstorm and have to stop for the day.  I try not to abandon stories, though I might work on two pieces at once (usually different genres, like a screenplay and a short story).  If I hit a spot of writer’s block, I try to write through it or jump to another piece I’m working on.

VAH: Do you have a submission system or plan?

KFC: I try to send as much of my work into the universe as I can.  I send my stories to literary journals and contests, and I’m currently pitching my novel to agents.  One of my students told me recently that she doesn’t enter contests because it makes her sad when she doesn’t win. Sure, you can’t fail if you don’t try, but you can’t succeed either.

VAH: What does your typical writing day include?

KFC: I get up every morning at 5:00 a.m., feed my cat, Scout, and feed myself, then I sit down and write for about 45 minutes before I have to get ready for work.  I often don’t get time to write again till the following morning, so I try not to fret too much about what I’m writing – I just get the words out. It may not seem like a lot of time, but in a year and a half, I’ve written a generous handful of flash fiction, two screenplays, seven short stories, a final draft of a novel and a first draft of a new novel.

VAH: What words of wisdom do you have for the emerging writer?

KFC: Make writing a priority.  This is something I didn’t do for many years, and it’s no surprise I got very little accomplished.  Once it became important to me, I saw a huge change in both my craft and my confidence.  Another piece of advice I’d give is to experiment with various genres.  This is something I tell my high school creative writing students.  For example, poetry and flash fiction teach us to be powerful in a small amount of words, script writing helps us focus on dialogue and visualize movement, and memoirs are great for helping us find pearls of truth buried in the subconscious.

VAH: Thanks Kristen for taking time out of your busy schedule for Three by Five.

Find Kristen on:

Kristen’s web site.

Twitter.

“ You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese…I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

Three by Five publishes on the days that end in three.

 

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Readers – What Would You Add?

In 2011, No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique was published just in time for that year’s San Francisco Writers Conference. Now I’m looking at completing a revised 3rd edition. I’m interested in what readers of No Red Pen think was missing in the original book or what could use a little more depth of discussion. Now’s your chance to let me know by using the feedback form below. NO RED PEN

Additionally, I have a survey that asks about individual experiences with writing groups and critique. Please take a few minutes and give your thoughts and opinions by participating in the Creative Writing Critique Experiences.

Thanks for your feedback and for participating in the survey.

While you’re at it, have you signed up for the newsletter yet?

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Signup! Free Tips from No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique

E-BookBuried on this site is a copy of nuggets from No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique. This page of highlights is hidden unless you have the link. To receive the link, sign up for my new email newsletter. Once your email address is confirmed, you’ll receive the link for a handy, dandy, helpful one page list of highlights from the book. I hope you enjoy and find them useful.

The book is currently undergoing revision. Everyone on the email newsletter list will receive notice before the new edition publishes and opportunity for an advance sale price. The newsletter will publish infrequently with calls for submission, my publishing news and occasional giveaways for subscribers. This is an additional signup then when you followed this blog/website.Thanks for signing up for my newsletter – Vicki Hudson Writing.

 

 

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Kristen Falso-Capaldi – Three by Five Interview Part II

Welcome to the second installment of an interview with Kristen Falso-Capaldi.

VAH: Kristen, do you have a favorite literary character?

KFC: There are so many, but I love Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird. I love how Harper Lee captured the perfect blend of innocence and precociousness in creating the character.  I even named my cat after her. A close second would be Jay Gatsby, because I can’t help but feel bad for the guy, and I so want things to end differently for him every time I read the novel.

VAH: What about a favorite author?

KFC: Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried because I’ve never read anyone who could make death by land-mine explosion sound magical and heavenly.  I’m also going to go with Fitzgerald, because his description of New York City seen from the Queensboro Bridge gives me chills every time I read it.

VAH: Well, you’ve got me curious to go read Tim O’Brien now. What is the most memorable book, story or poem you’ve read?

KFC: I’m a huge fan of Ursula Le Guin’s short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas,” Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World” and Barry Lopez’s “Emory Bear Hands’ Birds” because all three stories are fantastic and impossible with deeper meanings that we could discuss forever.  I guess you could say I like magical realism.

VAH: And Do you have a favorite book, poem, or story?

KFC: I would say The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, because he writes about war in such a poetic way, he makes me want to cry.  My favorite poem is actually the lyrics to the Simon and Garfunkel song “America,” because Paul Simon managed to capture so much longing in so few words. Plus, he briefly makes the moon a third character in the narrative, and that’s just cool.

VAH: Which reader are you – always finish what you started or put it down and move on if you don’t like it?

KFC: I have to finish everything, even if it’s awful. I think it’s because I’m an English teacher and I feel like a fraud if I don’t finish every book I start.

VAH: For a long time, I was the same way. I felt like I betrayed someone by not completing what I was reading. Now though, time compels me to move on!

 

Find Kristen on:

Kristen’s web site.

Twitter.

“ You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese…I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

Three by Five publishes on the days that end in three. Return for more with Kristen Falso-Capaldi then.

 

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2015 Emerging Writer Prize Winning Essay

IMG_0549“WOULDN’T YOU RATHER MAKE CHEESE?”

MUSINGS ON WHY I WRITE, AND WHY I CHOOSE TO DO IT SO EARLY

by Kristen Falso-Capaldi

2015 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize Honoree

            5:00 a.m. is cold and dark. Trust me on this. In deepest January, when the wind outside is warning me about the bitter walk to the car, I just want to cover my head and snooze.  I do snooze, but only once.  At 5:09 a.m., I am up. I write. Everyday.

I was a writer before I even knew how to write. My childhood was filled with plot twists and dialogue contrived for imaginary friends, dolls and neighborhood kids, the unwitting stars of my theater.  I began a novel after college, then another in my late twenties. In my thirties, I finished a third, then stopped writing for years while I nursed the wounds of rejection.  I wrote a few short stories, song lyrics, kept a journal.  But most of the time, I was doing other things — making jewelry and practicing yoga and learning to make cheese.  Really, my mozzarella was epic.

I loved talking about writing.  “Someday, when I have the time,” I said. “I will write. I’m a writer, after all.” Talking, as they say, isn’t doing.

About a year ago, something happened. I spent the summer of 2013 focused on changing careers. My job as a public high school teacher was taking its toll.  As I sought out the perfect opportunity for an ex-PR-professional-turned-educator, I dug into the recesses of my laptop, hoping to uncover a half-decent resume. I found, instead, a number of fictional pieces I’d left for dead.

This is where I found Blake, the protagonist of novel number four, while he grieved his dead wife.  And Catherine, the teenager who came to work at a factory in the summer of ’87 and left the men there spellbound. And Henry, a weak middle-school teacher who turned into a manly TV character for one day.   They were all there, their stories broken off by imaginary ellipsis.  They needed me.

The job market was as dry as the Sahara, but I was too busy writing to feel badly about it.  By the end of August, I finished a first draft of novel number four and completed three short stories.  I was going back to my classroom, but I needed to write.

Just like talking isn’t doing, needing isn’t wanting.  I’d been at this place before. I accepted I probably wouldn’t fit writing into my life once the school year got rolling.

“You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese?”

But guess what? When you truly want to do something, you find a way to fit it in.

It turns out I wanted to write. It also turns out 5:09 a.m. is when I can fit it in.  365+ early-morning writing sessions later, I have written several short stories and micro-fiction pieces, four drafts of my novel, a first draft of a new novel, two screenplays and a generous handful of song lyrics.

I write because I can no longer picture my life without it.  The rewards have been small, but encouraging. Henry, the weak middle-school teacher was introduced to readers in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and a screenplay I co-wrote received an official selection at the Houston Comedy Film Festival.  So, I keep trying and hoping that someone will want to know Blake and Catherine and all the others who haven’t even been born yet.

I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.

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Literary Piracy Grrrrrr!

My thinking was, as much as I think my chap book Chow and book No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique are enjoyable (Chow) or useful as a resource (No Red Pen) these works are not well known. I’m a small fish in the ocean of publishing, traditional or otherwise. Who would pirate my books? So when I first saw Molly Greene had posted Has your eBook Been Pirated, I didn’t read it. Then when part two was posted and the topic came across my email for the second time, I thought I’d check it out.

Who would pirate my eBooks?

Well, I’ll tell you who – General eBooks. And the reality, they don’t care about my books or yours or anyones. They care about who would use General eBooks’ website to download books because when their site is accessed, reportedly what is also downloaded is malware. So, STAY AWAY FROM GENERAL eBOOKS! If not because you have integrity and won’t read a pirated copy of someone else’s hard work, then because you are smart enough to know that malware will attack your system, steal your passwords, and infiltrate your public and personal life and potentially your finances too.

Honestly, the cost of my eBooks is not all the much and there are quite a few coupons out in the wild for free downloads and really, if you are that financially strapped, I’ll spot you a coupon to download the book.

What have I learned from this – yes, even a small time, independent emerging author can find her works on a pirate’s website. What will I do from here on out? Formally register copyright on anything I independently publish.

And thanks to Molly Greene for hosting Kathryn Goldman’s posts about the piracy and to Kathryn Goldman for her assistance in getting my work off  the pirate ship. Sign up for her free report for digital artist on how to protect their work and found out what you can do to protect your digital work. And if you still aren’t sure about registering YOUR copyright, read this post by Kathryn Goldman on Why and How to Copyright Your Self-Published Book.

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Kristen Falso-Capaldi – Three by Five Interview Part I

IMG_0549This month Three by Five’s guest is Kristen Falso-Capaldi, who will attend the San Francisco Writers Conference February 12 – 15 as the recipient of the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize.

VAH: Your response to the “why I write” prompt echoed in my mind when I was reading the submissions for the Emerging Writer Prize. That will post on the site later. But if you had only a few words, how would you respond to the question, Why do you write?

KFC: Honestly, I write because it feels good. It’s by no means easy, but it feels pretty magical to create people and places and have them come together to mean something and hopefully touch someone or at least make someone see the world in a new way.

VAH: Why did you become a writer and when did that seem true for you?

KFC: I think I’ve always been a writer. I was the kid with lots of imaginary friends, and I grew into an adult who spends a good percentage of my time inside my head.  I have been writing on and off for years, but it wasn’t until 2012 when I attended my first writer’s conference – the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference at my alma mater – and joined a writer’s group that I started feeling like a real writer.  I began writing daily in August of 2013 and have been going strong ever since.

VAH: Is there anything or anyone that you’d say influenced your development as a writer?

KFC: My sixth grade teacher, Mr. Swann encouraged me to write my first novel, Why Me? by teaching my best friend (also the book’s illustrator) and me the art of book binding.  My high school English teacher Mrs. Sweeney, paid me a compliment on an essay I wrote comparing The Great Gatsby, Death of a Salesman and The Glass Menagerie. I had worked so hard on it, and I remember thinking it was so great that she recognized that.

VAH: Our early teachers so often have such far reaching impact upon us. Mine was my third grade teacher, Mrs. Worthy. What do you remember about your first story or poem?

KFC: My earliest writing memory is of a short story called “The Easter Celebration,” which I wrote after rereading Charlotte’s Web for the umpteenth time.  All I can remember is that it involved talking barnyard animals and it received an honorable mention in a short story contest sponsored by the 4H Club.  I was maybe nine or ten. I believe I illustrated it as well, though I can’t draw at all.

VAH: And what would you say is your favorite piece that you’ve written so far?

KFC: I’m proud of a flash fiction piece I wrote called “Importance,” which was recently included in The FlashDogs Anthology.

Find Kristen on:

Kristen’s web site.

Twitter.

“ You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese…I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

 

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Emerging Writer Prize Honorable Mention: Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

I WRITE BECAUSE

I write because it is the first thing I recall ever wanting to do.

It was a time when paperboys threw Sunday newspapers on to damp lawns from early morning bicycles and children skinned their knees on playgrounds and their mothers painted the
wounds with coral red Mercurochrome and no particular concern.

Before I was old enough to go to school and labor over the alphabet letters in a Big  Chief pad with an over-sized pencil, I sat at home making loopy shapes on old paper grocery bags with a crayon. Then I lined up my stuffed animals and read them my stories. They looked on with serious, plush faces and rapt, unblinking plastic eyes, giving no indication they were wise to the fact that I was improvising with the help of scrawled gibberish.

Once I was six, inches shy of four feet tall, barely forty pounds, and compelled to wear dresses to school, even on snow days, I learned the letters and how to attach phonetic sounds to them by rote.

Having to walk in this manner, before I could run, was a painstaking process for me, and not an easy one. I wanted to use all of those tools but did not know how, and for long months,
I felt consigned to the margins.
A lifetime later, and near the mid-­‐century mark, my own children are grown, and I am, at long last, able to stop doing work-­‐for-­‐hire corporate communications and instead write
from my heart.

My little shelf of small anthologies with my essays, poems and stories is growing. So is my list of urls.
I keep scrawling, keep improvising, keep sorting and parsing my thoughts – often not knowing what I think until I read my own words.

My little dog sits on the sofa beside me, wagging her tail, and looking at me with blinking eyes that give no indication she thinks her owner is anything less than a wit and a thinker.
I dream that perhaps one little verse or essay or tale might remain alive when I am gone.

I write because writing is the final thing I want to do.

For more about Caroline Zarlengo Sposto, visit her website.

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Introducing Kristen Falso-Capaldi for February’s Three by Five Interivew

Kristen Falso-Capaldi

“ You always stop writing eventually,” my inner voice said. “Wouldn’t you rather make cheese…I’m going to make some coffee now. It’s very early, and I’ve got lots to say before I leave for work.”

Kristen Falso-Capaldi is a writer, musician and public high school teacher. The latter position has led her to believe she could run a small country if given the opportunity. She is the singer and lyricist for a folk/acoustic duo Kristen & J, she has finished a novel and has co-written a screenplay, Teachers: The Movie, which was an official selection for the 2014 Houston Comedy Film Festival. Kristen’s short story, “Of Man and Mouse” was published in the December 2013 issue of Underground Voices magazine, and several of her micro-fiction pieces have received accolades in various contests. Kristen lives in a small town in northern Rhode Island with her husband and cat.

 

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Three by Five Welcomes Back Trish Hopkinson with Three by Five Part IV

 Today wraps up the conversation with Poet Trish Hopkinson.

TH1VAH: What words of wisdom do you have for the emerging writer?

TH: The same I’ve been told by so many writers and professors—read more, write more. Beyond that, I like to share any other writing tips I come across and typically post them on my poetry blog.

VAH: What part does social media play in your writing career?

TH: It plays a much larger part than I originally expected. I follow the blogs and Facebook pages of lit mags and journals I like most, stay in touch with literary organizations, learn about opportunities from other poets and writers, post my publication successes, share poetry and other writing tips, promote fellow poets, and otherwise use my blog to support poetry and writing.

VAH: Do you belong to writing or author organizations and what benefit have you found in doing so?

TH: I am a member of the League of Utah Writers. So far, I’ve had too many conflicts to attend their meetings and gatherings, but I plan to attend their conference later this year and they have been supportive of work.

VAH: Do you have any favorite online sites or blogs that you find useful or interesting?

TH: Many! My favorite for inspiration and learning about new things is Brainpickings. They are constantly putting out new articles on a wide variety of topics. I also have several listed on my blog under Writing Resources, but my favorites are probably ErikaDreifus.com, The Review Review, and Winning Writers.

VAH: What was your writing education (formal or informal, structured or self-developed, etc.) and what were the pros and cons of your experiences?

TH: I was a nontraditional college student and spent several years taking one class at a time to gradually work toward my Bachelor of Science degree in English with a Creative Writing emphasis. Once my children got older I was able to take up to three classes at a time and finally graduated in December 2013. I’m now just staying active in continuing that education by writing, reading, and learning whenever I can—I call it a personal MFA. I may, at some point, discover I need a more formal community to continue progressing as a writer, but for now, I take an occasional workshop class online with Rooster Moans, go to a weekly open mic, and stay in touch with as many poets and writers as I can to build my writing community. Getting my undergrad really gave me all the tools I needed to continue learning and developing as a writer on my own. I don’t think I would have been able to learn all my education provided nearly as quickly on my own and I met some incredible writers and friends along the way.

VAH: Writing conferences, retreats, seminars – any favorites and why?

TH: I’d like to attend a writing conference at least once a year, but since this was my first year out of school, I haven’t had a chance to do so. I will likely check out everything I can locally before travelling to go to others.

Thanks so very much Trish for participating with Three by Five. For more of her published work, visit her publication list.

Bonus question: Three random, non-writing facts about you?

TH: I am a beer connoisseur, I have run two half marathons, and I volunteer at the Sundance Film Festival, 2015 will be my second year.

Provo, Utah poet Trish Hopkinson contributes to the writing community with her blog where she shares interesting writing tips, articles, calls for submissions (no fee only), and other info to help promote writing and poetry in general. She has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including The Found Poetry ReviewChagrin River Review, and Reconnaissance Magazine. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures online at her website, or Facebook or visit her on Linkedin.

Three by Five interviews publish on days that end in 3!

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