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

 

TH4Today’s installment of January’s Three by Five conversation with Poet Trish Hopkinson is about the writing life.

VAH: Are you a full-time writer?

TH: I have a full-time job as a project manager for a software company. I’ve been with the company for over 15 years and I love what I do, but writing poetry is a necessity for me. I just am not happy unless I make time for it.

VAH: What gets you writing?

TH: I collect writing prompts, but I rarely refer back to them. I almost always have something in mind or on a list that I want to write, and since I have limited time available to actually do the writing, I’m usually ready to go when I do sit down to write.

VAH: I’ve got a whole book of prompts and ideas and even have them land in my email box. Like you, I rarely refer back to them. What is your “process” when working on a new piece of writing?

TH: Once I have a topic, I start composing the first lines and edit as I go. Once I have the first draft done, I’ll go back and do the first revision immediately—look for better word choices to add alliteration, assonance, and/or consonance; take out all the line breaks and then put in new line breaks, etc. If I do get stuck mid-poem, I’ll look for a form to help me move it along, such as a villanelle or a sonnet.

VAH: Do you have a submission system or plan?

TH: My process for submitting has really evolved over the last year. Essentially, I rely on Duotrope to track most submissions, I put deadlines in my Outlook calendar, and I keep a spreadsheet of the poems I want to submit, have submitted, and whether or not they’ve already been published and where. Since my time is limited, it’s important to me to be as efficient as possible. I have templates for cover letters and several bios of different lengths to help the submission process go more quickly.

VAH: Duotrope has been very helpful for me. I found I’m able to keep better track of where I’ve sent a piece that has gone out numerous times and not yet found a home. I’m trying a spreadsheet this year, after years of a pen and notebook tracker as well as Duotrope. What does your typical writing day include?

TH: I usually try to spend a few hours a few days a week. I get the urgent stuff out of the way first—submissions with deadlines and blog posts. If I am writing something new for a submission, I make sure to give myself at least a couple of weeks to write and revise before the deadline. If I have an idea for poem, sometimes I just have to stop everything else that I’m doing and get it written.

 

More Trish Hopkinson later in the month. Till then, enjoy this poem – Footnote to a Footnote via the Chagrin River Review.

Bonus question: What is a little known fact about you that will amaze and/or amuse?

TH: I’m a Deadhead. I love the Grateful Dead and used to go to concerts whenever I could before Jerry Garcia died.

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

TH1

VAH: Welcome back to January’s conversation with Utah poet, Trish Hopkinson. In this installment, let’s talk a little about what the writer reads. Trish who would you say is your favorite literary character?

TH: Dean Moriarty from Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road. I really loved the free spirit and mystery of Neal Cassady, of whom the character was based upon.

VAH: What about a favorite author?

TH: I really love Ernest Hemingway. His writing seems accessible, inspiring, and entertaining. I need to read much more of his work.

VAH: He was once my favorite also. I’ve moved on to Diana Gabaldon now as my all time favorite. Trish, imagine you’re stranded in a snowstorm, stuck on a deserted island. What books would you hope to have with you or find?

TH: Moby Dick. Because I still haven’t finished it! I just never seem to have the time I want to spend reading it as carefully as I’d like to.

VAH: Your likelihood of being stranded in a snowstorm there in Provo is probably higher than on an island. That’s a good long read to have on your phone or tucked in your bag. Do you have a most memorable book, story or poem you’ve read?

TH: “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath. I discovered her work when I was in my early teens and it fascinated me. I had never really read confessional poetry until then and I was hooked immediately.

VAH: There’s a lot to unpack in that one. And what is your favorite book, poem, or story?

TH: “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, (340)” by Emily Dickinson. I love her concise style and the power she packed into every syllable.

VAH: That’s an interesting one to spend some time with.

Thanks Trish, for this delightful look into what the writer reads.

And now, a bonus, random life question. If you had a super power, what would it be?

LH: Well, to stop time of course!

More Trish Hopkinson later in the month. Till then, enjoy this poem – A Poet Searches for ‘Sex’ in the Salt Lake Tribune.

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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Emerging Writer Prize Winner Announced

The 2015 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize winner is:

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.

Kristen will receive a scholarship for her registration to attend the 2015 San Francisco Writers Conference, February 12-15. She will also receive a signed copy of No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups and Critique as well as the E-book version. Her winning entry will post here in February.

Congratulations Kristen!

This year there were 37 entries for consideration. There were more semi-finalists than ever before and competition for the final four was quite strong. Each of their entries are expected to post here over the next few months.

Competition for 2016 opens on September 1st.

 

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Emerging Writer Prize Runner-up Announced

Runner-up and Honorable Mention for the 2015 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize goes to:

Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

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

Caroline Sposto began writing poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in earnest four years ago when her daughters went off to college. Her work has since been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Family Circle Magazine, and an assortment of literary magazines and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K and Canada. She is a Memphis correspondent forBroadwayworld.com, and Poetry Editor of the Humor in Americablog. In 2011, she was chosen to participate in the Moss Workshop in Fiction at the University of Memphis with author Richard Bausch. In 2013, she won second place in The Great American Think-off––an amateur philosophy competition that culminates in a public debate in New York Mills, Minnesota. In 2014, she was chosen to spend the summer as a writer in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She feels grateful a wistful turning point in life became a happy adventure!

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Finalists for the Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize

Introducing the four finalists for this year’s Emerging Writer Prize.

Kristen Falso-Capaldi

“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.

Ali McCart

“I write because I will no longer censor my narrator.”

Ali McCart’s first publishing job was collating and saddle-stitching a quarterly travel journal before she could even read—that’s what happens to a child of printers and publishers. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in English from Willamette University and a master’s degree in book publishing from Portland State University. She’s the founder and executive editor of Indigo Editing & Publications, where she’s helped authors hone their craft since 2005. Despite all this experience in publishing, she only recently began her journey as a writer.

Phylise Smith

“I write because why I write is an essay, an essay of life, an essay on writing. Why do I write? I write Because.”

Phylise Smith is a dancer storyteller who is transitioning from speaking through movement to speaking through the written word. Before attempting fiction, she published scholarly articles on dance in Choreography and Dance Journal and other dance periodicals.

More recently, she has worked with fiction writers, Ayana Mathis, Leslie Schwartz and Debra Dean. As evidence of her emerging talent, Phylise has been awarded several writing scholarships including scholarships to participate in the Eckert College Writers’ Conference in Florida and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference.

Phylise has studied writing at UCLA Extension Writer’s program and is currently working on a novel on how tradition impacts women’s lives.

Caroline Zarlengo Sposto

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

Caroline Sposto began writing poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction in earnest four years ago when her daughters went off to college. Her work has since been published in The Saturday Evening Post, Family Circle Magazine, and an assortment of literary magazines and anthologies in the U.S., the U.K and Canada. She is a Memphis correspondent for Broadwayworld.com, and Poetry Editor of the Humor in America blog. In 2011, she was chosen to participate in the Moss Workshop in Fiction at the University of Memphis with author Richard Bausch. In 2013, she won second place in The Great American Think-off––an amateur philosophy competition that culminates in a public debate in New York Mills, Minnesota. In 2014, she was chosen to spend the summer as a writer in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. She feels grateful a wistful turning point in life became a happy adventure!

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I Write Because I am a Coward

Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize Semi-finalist Augustine Wetta’s response to the prompt – Why I write…

I Write Because I Am a Coward

I write because I am a coward. I am aware that this sounds like false humility. It is false humility. But it is also true.

Twenty-­‐four years ago, when I was working as a lifeguard in Galveston, Texas, I had to pull a corpse out of the water. The body had been drifting alongshore among the crabs and sharks
for three days. When I arrived on the scene, there was a crowd gathered at the water’s edge, jittery and hushed and expectant; and I remember that I was very frightened because no one knew exactly where the body was. That meant I’d have to swim out there and just keep swimming in circles until I bumped into it. I remember calling into my radio for backup, but knowing that help would be a long time coming because Tower 53 was seventeen miles from Headquarters. And I remember how warm the water was that day, and how every tendril of seaweed that brushed against my skin made me gasp and grit my teeth.

But most of vividly of all—and this is the part that still gives me nightmares—I remember realizing that at any moment, I might just…come unglued. There was a real chance that, in front of all those people, I’d throw my buoy in the sand and run away. That was a real possibility. And I remember saying to myself as I pushed deeper into the water that if I could just set one foot in front of the other, eventually it would all be over.

I am a monk now. I have lived as a Benedictine monk for seventeen years, and I think the reason I write is the same as the reason I pray. Frightening and lonely as it can be, I find that more often than not, one foot follows the other. And I take
consolation in this act of writing, because on that day in 1990, when I stepped into the surf to retrieve the body of an unidentified thirty-­‐year-­‐old Caucasian male, I never found him. Deliberately. I shuffled around in the shallows where I knew I’d never find him—and I stayed there until my supervisors showed up. Then they swam out and retrieved the corpse while I pretended to help.

So you see, I’ve thrown my lot in with the cowards. And although I don’t imagine that I’m much worse of a sinner than anyone else, the fact remains that I’ve stood in the shallows while someone else swam deep and did my job. And I’ve done this more than once. My soul is littered with corpses: unspoken apologies, unwritten letters, unpunished wrongs and unanswered prayers.

Twenty years later, alone in my cell, looking out over the cloister garden, I sometimes think of these failures, and of that day at the 53rd Street Beach, and I am ashamed. But then I begin to write. I put one foot in front of the other. And out of the depths, the corpses begin to surface. I drag them to shore and I give them names.

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