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The Author Inside You podcast

Feb 14, 2020

So often we need a dose of affirmation about our work. It’s wonderful to receive some feedback from our peers, which is why is a great resource for writers. On this special episode of The Author Inside You, we interview two writers who have both recently won online writing contests. Darlene Peters won first place in the Holiday Poem contest and Adam Down won first place in the First Chapter of a Novel contest. Both Adam and Darlene have great stories to share about their experiences finding support within writing groups.


Christmas Mixes -Darlene Peters

In the stores,
Christmas mixes Thanksgiving, and Halloween;
On the street,
Christmas mixes Santa with a Nativity Scene.

Around my feet,
Christmas mixes dirt with snow;
Around my mouth,
Christmas mixes cold air with hot cocoa.

In our home,
Christmas mixes you and me;
In their home,
Christmas mixes newborns and elderly.

In my heart,
Christmas mixes hope and fear;
On my face,
Christmas mixes laughter and tear.

In my closet,
Christmas mixes solid with plaid;
In my mind,

Christmas mixes good with bad.

In my family,
Christmas mixes mom and dad;
In my memories,
Christmas mixes happy and sad.

Outside the house,
Christmas mixes sleet and fog;
Inside the house,
Christmas mixes alcohol with egg nog.

On their faces,
Christmas mixes smiles and frowns,
In many places,
Christmas mixes ups and downs.

By the tree,
Christmas mixes silence with noise;
Under the tree,
Christmas mixes socks with toys.

Christmas mixes our memories,
with a vinaigrette of lights,
tinsel, and ornaments,
Ugly sweaters, pretty clothes, and events.

Tis the season, in December, again.
We find the reason
To remember again, as Christmas mixes.


interview transcription

You're listening to the author insides you podcast, a weekly podcast designed a, motivates you to finish writing a book, choose a publisher, and have your work build an audience. Keep listening if you're looking to get propelled into the next chapter of your life. And now it's the author inside you podcast with your host, Leah and Matt Rafferty.

Hello and welcome to the author inside your podcast. I'm Matt Rafferty and I'm Leah Rafferty. On this episode of the author inside you, we have two guests. Both winners of writing contests from our sponsor scuba file. Adam down is the first place winner of chapter one of a novel contest. We will speak with him shortly, but first we were asked to judge the poetry contest and it wasn't easy, but we picked the winner and the winner is Christmas mixes by our first guest today, Darlene Peters.

Well, Darlene, first off, congratulations on winning the poetry contest. What a feeling. Thank you so much. I was really shocked and thank you for interviewing me and being a sponsor prescrip of file. I was really in amongst a lot of talented people and . A lot of great entries. So I know it had been hard for you to select one.

It was difficult reading over the entries and picking one that we thought was the best, like yours did stand out. I'm glad. And a lot of that is because of the help of the people on the site. I came across, scrub a file by researching different writing, worst workshops, cause I have some writing projects that I'd like to finish, but I needed some kind of accountability for my writing projects.

So I found this site. And it's free and it's easy and everybody is so welcoming that you're just kind of drawn into it. And everybody is real encouraging. And it works on a karma system where you critique someone's work and then once you weren't so many karma points, you can share a work and there are codes of conduct that you follow for critiquing and for, you know, being a part of the discussion forums.

So it's, it's moderated, which is great. It's fantastic that there really is communities like that online that can be, you know, self-governing and people respect each other. It's nice to hear. It's so encouraging. Everyone is so encouraging. When you get critiqued is very constructive and it's very encouraging.

It's almost like everybody wants everybody else to succeed and that's, that's what I found in this because I'm real guarded when it comes to my writing. If I come up with a poem. You know, I think, Oh, is this good? I'm kind of not that confident about it. How about you tell us about Christmas meal? Well, there's a prompt for the poem that, you know, they ask you, what does it mean to you?

And so when I started thinking, I just had this phrase in my mind that it's December again, and we'll remember again, because when you think back to different holidays and you think about. Maybe a death in the family, and we've come into the holiday missing someone, or, my little sister was born at Christmas around Christmas.

So there's happy times and sad times. And I just started thinking that Christmas, you know, there's so much mixed into Christmas, and that's when I came up with the title as Christmas mixes, because you've got so much mixed in there. You've got happy times, sad times. And that's my bag of emotions. Yeah, exactly.

Different emotions, different people, because you've have people that you may haven't seen in awhile and you're visiting them or you know, just, just different things. So that's why I went with that title, that Christmas mixes, because it really does, it just kind of mixes things up. And when I first started writing it and I started, I actually, the poem got to be very complex.

I started putting in experiences and I thought, you know, I've got so much to do around Christmas and the deadline is the 18th I really just have to simplify this. And at first I just simplified it into two lines per stanza. When I put that up for critiquing, you know, a lot of it's interesting when you get.

Critiques back that there are some things that some people like, like some people might like the repetition and other people like it. When you are not in that repetition or you're not with the structure, I still feel like it's a work in progress. Well, we really enjoyed reading it. To our listeners, we will have the poem in our show notes so everyone can scroll down or scroll left or scroll right and whatever it is on your app, and you'll be able to read your poem, Darlene, so that'll be fantastic.

It's really interesting how you used the community to help. Strengthen your writing, you know, you showed it to other people. Obviously you trust them, even if you don't, you know, you've never met them. And it's really interesting how you get the feedback from them and then it makes it better and better by getting more and more feedback.

Oh absolutely. And I felt kind of intimidated cause there's are S there's so much talent on this site. There are people who have published books, have a long career in writing, so they're just. Encouraging. They're willing to share their expertise. You can kind of let your guard down because you don't feel like somebody's just going to kind of beat up on you, you know?

So that's, that's really a good feeling. I've had some people critique and say, Oh, you're putting too much in it. But then it's like, well, Christmas is Christmas day too much. Know. Like I, you know, um, my holidays, this past season, you know, we've had some desks, we had a wedding, we've had birthdays, I had a lot of traveling.

So when it was all done, I just, I just felt exhausted. So sometimes when you're writing something, it's almost like you're conveying what it, what it really is to you. Is it too much? Well, yeah, it is kind of too much sometimes. So you tell us a little bit about the contest sensor. Grip of file. When I first joined it, the first group that I joined on Scribd file was poetry lovers cause I love, I love to read poetry and I love to write poetry.

And then the moderator invited me to the third door down, which is kind of a mix of everything in. In fact, they say it's stuff that doesn't go in any other drawer. So I thought that was really cute how they described that group. And there's different groups, like I just joined a crime fiction group, so you can research which group you want to join.

And like right now they have like a, an artificial intelligence contest. So they have a lot of contests in this group, which I think is really interesting and kind of gives you that competitive nature, but not in a bad way. It's, it's more in a friendly way, like if you've won before, they encourage you to encourage somebody else to

To enter the contest, which is really sting and in this group. It's just really fun. The moderator, I think, makes it really fun. Well, that's full for our listeners to hear that if they're looking for, it sounds like an encouraging and fun online writing, community scrip of files, a place for them. Yeah. And once you, once you start writing, it's really interesting.

Back in 2011 I started working with an executive life coach, and her name is Chris Kavanaugh. And I was trying to decide if I really wanted to go further in higher education or if I wanted to kind of branch off and find something else to do and in my life that kind of was. A dream of mine. And I said, you know, I'd like to be a writer, but there's a fantasy in reality.

And she says, no, you can. You can be a writer as almost like a, you have to have permission, you know, to sell or to follow a dream. And so I started making time for my writing projects. And once you share that with others, you'll find that everybody wants to write a book. I mean, you start telling somebody about a writing project and they go, and.

They'll say, you know, I've always wanted write a book and they'll tell you a book that they want to write. So I think that anybody who wants to write a certain type of book just should go on the site and explore it. Even if you just like to read other's works. Sure. It's a good salt to be on. Well, Darlene, if some of our listeners are interested in reaching out and finding you, can they search for you on scuba file?

Absolutely. They can just go under the authors tab in the menu. And under there it says, explore authors. And under find a member. You can just type in my name. You can just type in Darlene Peters. My profile will show up. I'm there with my Johnny and Hazel, my pets. While we want to thank you for taking the time to enter the contest because it was fun for us to read your poem and we appreciate you coming on our show today.

That was fantastic, darling. Thank you very much. Thank you so much. I truly appreciate it. So joining us now is Adam down the winner of the first novel chapter of contest with his entry, the Canary in the CHRO. Welcome, Adam. Thanks for joining us today. Well, Adam, I see that you're very involved in scribble file.

How did you choose this writing community? I heard about it through and national novel writing month actually is a phase. The first time I'd heard about the site, um, as a scrip of fathers is a sponsor of that. I tried that a number of times and failed terming for anybody who isn't familiar with national novel writing month, it is a month of November, essentially, where you, it encourages people around the world to write 50,000 words.

Um, not necessarily 50,000 good words, getting people into that writing process and writing regularly. Um, and I've, I've tried that on a couple of occasions. Um, and, and obviously I've seen scrip of fathers as part of that. So, so after. Looking at it in 2018 I joined the, the writing website in the middle of 2019 actually.

Oh, great. So you're relatively new to it. I am. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So, so yeah, we've talked about a national novel writing month, and it is a difficult challenge because a month goes by pretty quickly. You have to write quite a few words each day to keep up with it. It does, yeah. I mean, it's, it's when you, when you break it down, I think it's about 1800 words a day.

Wow. Which is a lot. Um, I'd say now it's probably not for everybody. It's not something I've actually managed, if it, if I'm honest, it's, I think it's really to get people to kind of have that book and want to start trying and, and make a start at writing a novel too, and to kind of make that jump and go ahead with it.

And then if you get to the end of November and you've got. I don't know, ten thousand twelve thousand even even 15 or 20 if that's more than you had it before and it's to start and you've got something to work on, then I think it's been a success, and I think that's what I've used it as. Sure. You're on your way to the writing though.

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. It's like you don't know if you can do it. Unless you try. And if, if national novel writing month is what you need to get started, then, then it's, it's a great resource and a great tool. Excellent unscrew profile. There are so many resources for writers and the contests are really a cool idea.

So is this the first contest you have entered or have you entered other contests? I've entered a few contests on there. I mean, there are. A lot of groups on the website that are run by other members, essentially under irregulars. I mean, sometimes as much as weekly contests on, on, on some of those groups.

And I've entered a few of those. But yeah, this is probably the first, the first major contest that I, that I came into and, and somehow I want, which is still a bit of a surprise. So, yeah, that's the last tack about that. That must've been a very fun day when you found out you won first place. Definitely.

Yeah. I mean, it was boxing day over here and let me just, just got the card and looked at it and went, Oh, well that's made by Christmas. That's, you kind of go through that process of maybe not quite believing and then try to work out well. Okay. Then then, then what does that mean? I mean, how, how many people kind of submitted to the contest and what makes somebody else think that the, what you've written is, is, is kind of worth that second look and, and worth kinda shouting about.

So, so that was kind of a really nice moment, really. Well, Matt and I both read. Your entry and we're both like, okay, we want to hear more of this starring. Let's hear more about the Canary in the Crow. We both didn't want to stop reading. It just kept like there was, and then when it did end, we're like, okay, so I wish we could turn the page and continue reading.

So have you written, written beyond that? I have written beyond that. Yeah. I've got maybe 11 or 12 chapters at the moment, maybe 25,000 but it's kind of the introduction to the characters, to the world, to the story I'm trying to tell is there, it's now getting into the nitty gritty of the actual story. At that point, you never know when you start out exactly how many words something is going to be, but I'm S I'm assuming it's going to be near 90 maybe a hundred thousand words, so, so we're looking at that that quarter of a way.

Their stage. It's, it's been slow going, but as it is for a lot of people, I think when they're trying to write their first novel, we're making progress. And obviously that's that contest win. Um, was, was really something that, that has given me. So some things I've got extra in just an extra, yeah, this is worth continuing with.

And this is, this is something that, that may work out in Illumina. Right. So what's your, what's your writing process like when you wrote that chapter? I, I am a. A very, I'm a perfectionist, which, which is probably not great when you, when you're looking to write the first chapter in the third, the first editor of a novel, I mean, that first chapter has been edited a number of times.

It's like, no, you should be going on. You should be writing more. You should be going on to third year. You've got an entire novel. It's a, you ask yourself, I think a lot of people just starting out as ask themselves two questions, kind of write a novel and kind of write a good novel and they get so caught up in that second question.

Uh, that they never find out the answer to the first, because you end up in a cycle of editing and looking back at yourself. And I've, I've done a bit of that. That, yeah, that, that first chapter came out in probably two or three sittings really of a few hours of time. Um, I don't really plot, I'm someone who really starts a story with kind of even an image or a situation in my head.

So for the Canadian necrosis chapter, it came into my head one day. I got iconic, I couldn't say where I was or what I was doing, but the young woman stood on train tracks and he's like. As a, as a writer, you start thinking about the questions, what's driven it to be there, what is she doing? Um, and for something of a novel live, how is she going to get out of it?

Cause he called.

It could be a, it could be a short novel, right? Exactly. Yeah. If, if. She wants to happen would happen in that

we're not to be here very long, but yeah, I start off with that really that, that initial event, that initial situation, and then really riff off that and go from there. Now I'm at the point where I'm 11, 12 chapters in the plotting is coming into it. Uh, it was obviously the story moves on, you introduce new characters, you go to new places, um, and it's all.

Trying to weave things together and get to the end point that I do have in mind. As soon as I started writing on you how I want to just story to end, but the way there is is to a large extent up to up to, well, the in the chroma novel really where they want to go. As long as they get to where I wanted to.

getting there, that'd be under him more than I'd like. Okay. We'll get there eventually. Well, let us know when you, when you finish the novel, when you have it published, and we'll have you on as a guest. Oh, that would be great. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, my, my plan is to have that, have this, um, first draft finished, hopefully by the end of this year.

Um, use the, the great community of scrip of file obviously to, to hone it to as much of a mirror sheen as, as it can get, and then hopefully send out to publishers. Um, I mean, I'm, I'm at that point now with a lot of kind of short fiction that I've written a very short stories and bits of flash fiction and stuff, which are outing.

The public, the publication grind does. I'm sure a lot of people are familiar with hear back on a number of those and hope, hope for some good news. And then when it comes to, to maybe looking at getting the Canary in the prep and the Crow placed, um, then I will have a nice kind of resume of, um.

Publications in various online, online magazines and whatever to take to an agent and search and look, there is promising I successfully published in places this is worth looking at. So I think you really need that kind of background, even if it is free or for kind of short story publications, flash fiction publications, wherever you can get exposure.

I think it's. It's a great thing to do. Great. That's some very good advice for, for our listeners who are, who are thinking about writing a novel or working on a novel. If you can get a chapter or two published here or there, and then you have an example of. Obviously someone thought my work was, I think so.

Yeah. I mean, it in my mind, I think it, it, it makes people pay attention. I mean, you can't make them light sensitive, but you can, you can demonstrate to somebody that somebody like this works, some of these foods, it's good enough to, for other people to see this, for them to kind of. Put it in front of a new audience.

Um, and I think that's something that you can utilize and make people pay, at least pay attention to you and give you the time of day. Uh, cause obviously I'm not under no illusions for thousands of people every year. Um, looking to get agents looking to get published, looking together first novel. Then you've got to have.

Something behind you is something that really stands out to succeed, I think. Right. While we wish you lock in, congratulations again on winning and we look forward to speaking with you when your book is published. That's great. Thanks for having me on. Great talking to you, Adam. Thank you. The great thing about this podcast for me is that we get to speak to different people and hear their stories and it was really fun talking to Darlene and Adam, knowing that they won first place in a contest is always exciting.

We've been telling you for some time about the Greek community at scuba file, and if you're looking for some likeminded people to share your writing examples with, check out dot com and maybe you'll be a winner of one of their contests. Until next time. All right, on. Thank you for listening to the author inside you podcast with your host, Leah and Matt Rafferty.