Interviews, Uncategorized

Flash Fiction: The Crush that Blossomed into a Love Affair–an interview with Marcy Dilworth

Marcy

Kathy and I are thrilled that we will be working with Marcy Dilworth for the first time this August in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains of Grand Lake. Here Marcy and I chat about flash fiction, best writing advice, and even exchange some favorite quotes.

Nancy Stohlman: The biggest challenge most writers have is finding the time to write. How do you “retreat” in your day-to-day life in order to honor your creativity?

Marcy Dilworth: Argh. I’ve worked really hard to create time to write. And have succeeded. Except for the part about reflexively succumbing to distractions. Whether they’re of the social media variety, or the false necessity of ticking something off my endless list of to-dos (which we all have, whether they’re written or not!), or the household chore that shouts my name (also a false call – if I weren’t writing, I certainly wouldn’t be filling my free time with vacuuming), or fill-in-the-blank, I struggle with shutting them out. But I keep trying! The best motivation to block all that out is to remind myself how good it feels, how satisfying, to be immersed in writing something I value.

Tell us about your relationship with flash fiction?

My relationship with flash fiction? It started as a crush when I met FF in a wonderful class led by Caroline Bock. Over time, it’s blossomed into a love affair, albeit one where I still have much to learn about my partner.

I LOVE that description! What is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Read your writing out loud. Hearing your story amplifies rhythm, tone, awkward phrasing, even logical gaps. Sometimes it’s a happy surprise; nearly always, it reveals things that can be improved, tightened or eliminated.

That is one of my favorite pieces of advice as well! What piece of your own writing are you most proud of?  Where can we read it (if it’s available)?

I’ve published one creative non-fiction piece and the rest fiction. Because the CNF is about my mom, and it’s close to my heart, it’s the piece of which I’m proudest. I’m so grateful to Literary Mama for choosing this, Orange Communion.

Wow, this is gorgeous. And I also know you are also funny–I love the piece you shared with me from the “red sweater” Flashnano Prompt: North Pole BombshellSo, have you ever been to Colorado before? What are you most looking forward to?

I’ve been to Denver a couple times – decades ago for a business conference, and last summer for a day-long layover. I’m looking forward to experiencing the real Colorado, mountains, crisp air, sky clear and unencumbered by suburbia’s light pollution, quiet, green . . . I’ve been enjoying it in prospect ever since I signed up for the retreat!

Yes, Grand Lake and Shadowcliff are really the jewel of all that is “real Colorado. Respond to this quote about mountains: “He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche is not known for being comforting, but that’s how I read this. It’s a suitable companion to a quote I come across in my “Writing Ideas” document every week or two – “There are seven billion people on this Earth and I have the audacity to think I matter.” – George Watsky. These quotes prompt me to let go of the irritations, worries and in-the-moment problems that cloud my vision, and just get on with it – where ‘it’ is doing what good I can and leaving the rest.

I love that Watsky quote, thanks for sharing it (I love quotes if you can’t tell)! Finally–tell us something we don’t know about you?

I love basketball, played in high school, coached my son’s team for many years, and am a feverish fan of the University of Virginia Cavaliers. I’ve got the season tickets (in the nosebleeds) to prove it!

Anything else you want to add?

I smile dreamily every time I think about “High Altitude Inspiration in Grand Lake.” This is going to be great!

Me too! We are so excited to have you and work with you in person, Marcy! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!

Marcy Dilworth has been writing short fiction and nonfiction forever, but only recently started inviting anyone to witness it. Her stories have been published in Blink-Ink’s 10th Anniversary edition, Literary Mama, Writer’s Resist and 72 Hours of Insanity: Anthology of the Games: Volume 7. She earned her English degree at the University of Virginia, and her sense of humor and wonder from her kids. She lives in her recently emptied nest with her husband and their precocious rescue pup, Kirby.

Marcy’s Twitter address: @MCDHoo41.

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Honoring the Voices in Our Heads: Retreat Participant Lisa Trigg Shares a Micro

Do you have a character, a story, a voice that won’t let you go? Likely this is for a reason! Lisa Trigg, who will be joining us in Yviers, France for our French Connection Retreat , shares with us just such a voice in her micro below:

Hazel Currie Asks Who is that Talking?

by Lisa Trigg

Here I am, falling in love with exactly the wrong woman wondering how I have let this happen. And the voice said, in parentheses (well, this is how it works. You don’t know.  You just don’t know what you want until you have it in your arms, smiling up at you, cracking jokes at your books, all those shoes in your basement, how often your watch tells you to breathe and drink water, and how much you talk to Alexa. You start remembering things you never thought of or dreamt about or read in any of your books. Suck it up).

What I want to know is.  Who is it that talks in parentheses?  Just who is it?

 

Lisa has a whole series of “Hazel Currie” stories and explains her inspiration for them:

Hazel Currie started talking in my head when I was about 20 years old.  She tells me stories, points out things that I should pay attention to, remember. She reminds me of things that I have forgotten that might be important, useful, that I should write down. She reminds me if I already have notes on a subject.  She does not usually know where those notes are. She is persistent and does not shut up until I write down what she says and I have done so since the beginning.  It’s the only way I can get anything else done.  I’ve been evaluated, and no, I do not need medication. To learn to make use of what she tells me, I regularly attend master writing workshops with writers that I admire, do close readings, work with a private writing coach, read craft books, other stuff that I have forgotten.”

 

(Note: Our French Connection Retreat is sold out, but registrations are now open for our return to Grand Lake, Colorado in August for High Altitude Inspiration in the Great American West. We’d love for you to join us!)

Interviews, Kathy fish

Flash Curious & Writing as a New, Fun Profession: A Chat with Linda Hahn

Nancy and I are so happy that Linda Hahn will be joining us in Yviers, France this summer for our French Connection Retreat (which sold out in three days!). Linda kindly agreed to let me ask her a few questions. She’s had a fascinating life!

 

Hi Linda! Would you describe yourself as a traveler and/or adventurous by nature? And have you been to France before?

I am not much of an international traveler: Mexico, Canada and Puerto Rico so far. The trip to France will be my first to the continent. However, I have lived in various locations in the US. I grew up in Michigan in the Detroit area. In my early twenties, I traveled to Oregon and lived there for over 20 years, graduating from college with a bachelor’s and a master’s. 

For about two years, I lived in Ketchikan, Alaska, the state’s third largest city on an island with 21 miles of paved road, complemented by 180 inches of precipitation per year. Playgrounds outdoors had roofs. Lots of bars and lots of churches. One movie theater, and if there were three people in line, residents thought the line was too long. No kidding. The scenery was outstanding-never saw more eagles just cruising the skies. I highly recommend traveling through the inside passage from Seattle to Juneau by ferry. You can sleep on cots on the deck under sunlamps and play cards all night. In Ketchikan, I taught swimming in elementary schools and met a lot of nice people, but two years was enough and moved back to Oregon. 

After completing my master’s degree in History of Science, I worked as a Public Historian in Washington, D.C. for about three years. I had previously been living in rural Oregon, and the culture change between Oregon and D.C. was significant. Too many people, way too much traffic. I was there during 9/11 and saw the smoke from the Pentagon burning from my apartment window. A couple of years later, during the sniper attacks actually, I moved back to Michigan. Phew.

What are you most looking forward to at the French Connection retreat?

The presentations on flash fiction intrigue me. I am not very familiar with the style so I am curious. On a practical note, even if I do not become a flash fiction writer, I suspect that the editing skills needed to pare down narrative into a very concise package will be beneficial in writing either short stories, or novels. I am also thinking that Nancy’s presentation on putting a novel together from flash fiction pieces will be helpful in putting together any novel-length piece. While these presentations sound great, honestly, I look forward most to being with people who take the craft of writing seriously and are on a journey of exploration like myself. 

Your favorite book?

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is an all time favorite. Since reading Crawdads, I compare other novels to it and few measure up. Most compelling in Crawdads was the way I immediately felt a connection with the main character, a sense of empathy. Prior to reading that book last year, my fave was Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. Another favorite author is Dan Brown. I have read DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons and am currently reading Origins. I came back to reading Brown because I recently signed up for Masterclasses online and first listened to his presentation. It was so wonderful to hear Dan Brown say that when he first started writing fiction, he didn’t think he could actually complete a novel. Dan Brown. Wow. I used two points he made in a short story of mine. 

And….Stranger things? Something about yourself you’d like to share?

A year and a half ago I retired from a career in prospect research/fundraising. I moved from the Metro Detroit area to the Village of Port Sanilac in the Thumb of the state, population of 600, where I live four blocks from the shores of Lake Huron (pictured on the right). In this new, quiet and remote environment, I will make writing my new fun profession. I took creative writing classes in college but let it go. Actually, I had to let it go because when I sit down and really write, it is all-consuming. My imagination goes wild and I act like a crazy person, staring at the screen, debating a paragraph and ooops, hours have passed, papers would be due and I’d be late for work. I didn’t really pick it up again until I retired, but I still have the same obsessions. I’ll work on a project totally focused for two weeks, and then not write for another two weeks. So now, I am truly enjoying being obsessive but in all honesty, I suspect these are not the best habits and I am hoping someone will magically set me on the right path.

Thanks so much, Linda! Can’t wait to hang out with you in France this summer!

Our French Connection Retreat is currently filled, but let us know if you’d like to get on the wait list. Better yet, check out our August retreat in Grand Lake, Colorado, now open for registrations!

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Know anyone who could use a half-price writers’ retreat? Special deal on Writing Wild in Costa Rica!

Limited-Time Opportunity for a Half-Price Flash Fiction Retreat in Costa Rica, March 2020!

With the purchase of one all-inclusive retreat package, get a 2nd one for half off!

Invite a friend to join you for our Writing Wild in Costa Rica Retreat March 21st-27th & gift them with the half-priced fee (as low as $725 all-inclusive) OR register together and split the savings! We can only extend this deep discount to the first TWO pairs of writers to register. If interested, act soon! 

Your all-inclusive fee includes:

  • Six nights accommodation 
  • Three Delicious, Ayurvedic Meals Per Day
  • ALL workshops + One on One Consultations
  • Airport Pick-Up & Drop-Off
  • Final Night Celebration & Salon Reading Under the Stars
Samadhi Suite

“This retreat EXCEEDED all my expectations. Gorgeous location, perfect weather, delicious food & friendly, accommodating staff. I’m a flash fiction writing newbie and learned so much from everyone. I will carry the knowledge and wonderful memories with me forever!” ~Lucy Merklee

More About Writing Wild in Costa Rica
All-Inclusive Fees & Accommodations
Register / Request More Information 

 

We’ve also just opened registration for our 3rd annual Colorado Retreat. Check it out: High Altitude Inspiration in the Great American West for August 19th-23rd! 

Kathy fish

Creativity & Connection in Grand Lake, CO: Reflections on Our Fourth Flash Fiction Retreat

“This retreat provided such a great learning experience with innovative lessons from some of the industry’s finest writers in a beautiful setting, and surrounded by a supportive bunch of friendly, like-minded people. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will remember fondly.” ~Ryan Stone, Melbourne, Australia

Hard to believe it was just over a week ago that Nancy and I were in Grand Lake, with a fabulous group of writers from both coasts of the U.S. and in between, and as far away as Canada and Australia. It truly was, as participant Ryan Stone put it, “a once-in-a-lifetime experience” for us too!

Maybe it was the setting: Grand Lake, adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park, is one of the prettiest places in an already gorgeous state. And Shadowcliff Lodge is so perfectly rustic and homey. Maybe it was the staff: Friendly, youthful, and energetic, from all over the country, most of them living and working at the lodge for the summer. So eager to help us out and answer questions or just chat about their favorite fictional characters. 

Mostly though, I have to say, it was the writers who carved out this time in their busy lives to come to Colorado and write with us. There was such easy camaraderie amongst this group of 13 plus Nancy and me. It’s what happens when writer/artist types “find their tribe” but especially when you get a bunch of flash fiction writers all in one place (I’m thinking, too, of the Flash Fiction Festival in Bristol last June–same feeling)!

Highlights: The pre-retreat F-Bomb reading in Denver, featuring Randall Brown. All the wildlife: fox, moose, lots of cute chipmunks, hummingbirds flitting around the feeders and…one notable (but safe) encounter with a black bear. Thursday evening around the campfire on The Point, overlooking the town of Grand Lake and the lake itself, nestled amongst the mountain peaks. Talking and laughing and watching the sun go down and the full moon rise, illuminating the clouds. Whiskey and conversation late into the night in the top floor great room of Cliffside Lodge. The gentle sounds of water rushing over rocks in the creek that cuts through grounds of Shadowcliff. We ate and slept well, woke up to coffee brewing in the dining room of Rempel Lodge. Our writing sessions in the Chapel, with that stunning view. And our final night Salon/Reading in that same space, with everyone reading their work, champagne flowing, Nancy’s French pop songs playlist, and a cozy fire in the huge stone fireplace.

I loved that this group was so varied in their experience with flash fiction. Some had been writing and publishing it for years, some were very new to the form and excited to learn more. To a person, they were kind, warm, generous, and fun to be around. Everyone wrote their hearts out. I really believe Nancy and I get as much from these retreats as our participants. I came away feeling so inspired and grateful.