Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Coffee with the Poets and Writers in Far Western North Carolina

Coffee with the Poets and Writers, a monthly literary event held at Blue Mountain Coffee and Grill, 30 NC Hwy 141, Murphy, NC will hold a reading at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, September 10 by two outstanding published poets, Carole Thompson of Blairsville and Peg Bresnahan of Transylvania County NC. The public is invited.

Carole Richard Thompson and her husband moved to Blairsville, in the North Georgia mountains, 21 years ago. After being a portrait artist for many years, she began to study writing, and joined the North Carolina Writer’s Network. She credits her love for writing to her friend and mentor, Nancy Simpson, whose classes in creative writing and poetry have been her greatest source of inspiration.

Her first short story, "A Bag of Sugar for Paula," was published in The Liquorian Magazine, and also the anthology, Christmas Presence, published by Catawba Press. Her story, "The Uniform" appeared in the anthology, Clotheslines, published by Catawba Press. Her essay, “The Common Thread” won the 1991 NSDAR Best of Show and National Gold Honors Award in their National Heritage Committee, Literature and Drama Division Contest.

Carole’s poetry has appeared in anthologies, A Sense of Place, Echoes Across the Blue Ridge, and Women’s Spaces, Women’s Places as well as in poetry journals. In 2013, her poetry book, Enough, was published by FutureCycle Press. The title poem, “Enough,” is a compliment to a long marriage which endured ups and downs. She recalls wartime partings, letters, and phone calls – never enough. But in the later years, being together every day is now enough.

Peg Bresnahan’s second poetry collection, In a Country None of Us Called Home, was recently published by Press 53. Peg is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. She received her MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpeliar. Her work has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies. 
She lives in Cedar Mountain, NC with husband, sculptor, Dan Bresnahan. She says she moved to the mountains of western North Carolina and the land of waterfalls from the Door County Peninsula of Wisconsin, exchanging what she thinks of as the horizontal water of Lake Michigan for water that is decidedly vertical. 

Kathy Smith Bowers, former Poet Laureate of North Carolina said of Peg’s latest book, "This is one of the most beautifully crafted and moving collections I have read in a long time."  

Coffee with the Poets and Writers is open to the public at no charge. Bring a poem or short story and read at Open Mic. Those attending are invited to join the writers and poets after the event as we pull tables together and enjoy a social hour.

Coffee with the Poets and Writers is sponsored by North Carolina Writers’ Network West. Contact NCWN West Representative, Glenda Beall, at 828-389-4441 or  for information.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Interview with Karen Holmes author of Untying the Knot

By Glenda Council Beall

Karen Holmes gave me an e-mail interview recently. I appreciate her taking time from her busy schedule to answer some questions for our readers.

GCB: Your book tells the story of someone who has suffered a tragic loss, the ending of a thirty year marriage. The poems are deeply honest and real. Did you set out to create an entire book of poems on this subject?

KAREN: Thank you, Glenda. In my grief, poetry just poured out of me, one poem at a time. I did not know it would turn into a book. I think I wrote “Help Interpret the Symbolism in Mrs. Why’s True Story” the day after my husband left. It was inspired by the dream described in the poem, which was actually kind of a funny dream, so the poem, even though written in the midst of such fresh grief, has some humor in it.

Most poems in the book were written while the topic of the poem was happening to me. I guess that’s why people say the poems are honest – they were written in the moment. Others were written later (but still while I was grieving) with notes from my journal, often jotted down in the middle of the night, when I’d wake up with sudden thoughts. Once I sat straight up at two in the morning and wrote, “I want to be married to a happy man for a change.”

It was quite therapeutic to write, to get all those thoughts and emotions out on paper. At some point, I had the idea of putting together an anthology of divorce poems. I knew how to do a call for submissions for poets around the country and how to get a book like that put together and printed. The thought pepped me up for a while, but then I realized I really didn’t have the energy to do it. After about a year, I was having lunch with poet Scott Owens, who was saying that it’s good for poetry books to be built around some sort of theme or story. I thought, “Well, I’ve got a theme, all right!”  I went home and pulled together all my poems about my marriage ending—surprised to find there were about 60 of them—and realized I had a whole book myself. It was cathartic: to  see something whole come out of my fractured life; call it a “work of art” or whatever, but it was a “something,” a “creation.” Whether or not anyone would ever read it, it felt good. I started playing with the order and sent an early draft to a non-poet friend just to feel her out. She called the next day, saying, “This needs to be on Oprah!”

GCB: The loss of a marriage causes a grief not unlike the loss of a spouse. In fact when the marriage is over, you have lost a spouse, but not from death. Mourning a loved one takes us on a journey with the deepest lows and the most difficult soul- searching moments. You lost your beloved mother, your husband and the life you had enjoyed for many years. How did you focus on writing poetry at that time?

KAREN: Yes, losing a marriage is like a death. For almost a whole year, I expected him to come back, so there was hope, but there was also a delay in closure and moving on. Then there was an attempted reconciliation.
My mother’s illness and my brother having cancer also piled on the distress. I wrote poems about them too.
I didn't set out to write those poems, nor most of the ones in Untying the Knot; they just happened. One of my friends said, “Oh now that you’ve had a tragedy, your poetry will get better.” I wince at that, but it’s probably true. My poems definitely got deeper emotionally and darker in tone. However, I also believe in trying to stay positive, so many poems have a positive spin. Some are even funny. Like I said, poetry was therapy.
When I kept writing divorce poems two years later, I said to a poet friend, “Oh no, another divorce poem,” and he said, “That’s fine. Many good poets are obsessed with one topic.” Then I read Sharon Olds’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Stag’s Leap, also about the end of a 30-year marriage. It blew me away with its grief and honesty, and it inspired a couple more poems, including “Telling My Mother.”

Even after my publisher had accepted my manuscript, I felt the need to add two more poems, both for my therapy and for rounding out the story. The publisher said okay. One was “And So It Comes to This,” which takes place sitting at the divorce table with Ken and the lawyers. That moment needed to be described. The other was, “Komodo,” a poem about forgiving the other woman. It was work-shopped by Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate of Great Britain, at the San Miguel Poetry Week in Mexico in January 2014. When I asked whether I should add it to my book, she said, “Absolutely. Many people will relate to it.”

GCB: Why did you feel you should publish this book, and who do you find to be your most appreciative readers?

KAREN: Many poets start out with a chapbook first, but I had had the thought in my head long before this book, that maybe I’d jump right in and try to get a full-length book published. So there it was: a book. Wow. Friends responded positively to it. It took on a life of its own. I submitted it to two contests but didn’t win. Then submitted it to a publisher who took it. That was very lucky. I’m happy to report that the book seems to be viable poetry that poets appreciate, while also being a story—simply and honestly told—appreciated by even those who think they don’t like poetry. It seems especially to touch people who’ve experienced some kind of loss of a beloved partner.

GCB: Every poem in Untying the Knot hits hard with the pain and uncertainty you went through. It is one of the most personal books of poetry I’ve read and I appreciate that because I am a believer of “bleeding on the page” in order to communicate deeply with your reader. Do you find discussing these poems at readings brings back the hurt you endured?

KAREN: No, I actually don’t think the hurt comes back in that way now. It took me a long time before I could read these poems in public. The book was accepted by a publisher about three and a half years after my ex left me. Knowing then that the poems were going to be out there in public when the book was published six months later, I decided to start sharing some at readings. I found audiences related to me more than they had when I read my other work. I believe that showing my vulnerability makes me more “real” to my audience, and thus they feel a kinship. People often approach me afterward to say the same thing (affairs or divorce) happened to them. Both men and women tell me this.

GCB: Was this book written and published out of spite or to get even with anyone? Did you think long and hard as to whether you should publish such an openly candid view of your divorce?

KAREN: I never had any thoughts of revenge or spite. My thinking was that the book might help people going through a similar situation. Also, by the time Untying the Knot was put together, I felt removed from the story, almost like it happened to someone else. The book became a thing rather than “my story.” However, once it was published, I suddenly got shy, thinking, “My gosh, I have opened my kimono to the world, and even if I close it back up, people will remember what they saw.” It’s an odd feeling knowing that your very intimate thoughts and feelings are out there in the world. When Poet Tom Lux wrote the blurb for the back of the book describing it as, “a courageous, deeply human book,” I thought “courageous?” but now I know what he means. I was naively courageous, I guess.

GCB: You and I were going through serious loss about the same time. My husband’s death ended my long marriage. We must go through various steps as we try to rebuild our lives. Is the finding of another person, who loves you and that you can love, a healing step in recovery?

KAREN: My prayer during the separation was, “Please help me end up with the man I’m supposed to be with, whether it’s my husband or someone else.” I knew I wanted partnership, but I also knew it had to be with the right person. I consider Chris an answer to that prayer. I knew him for about six months, but didn’t start dating him until just before the divorce was final. By that time, I was in the acceptance stage of grief. I had successfully put my life back together and was doing fine living alone. So I never felt like I fell into Chris’s arms on the rebound. Experiencing unconditional love from him made me realize that I’d never accept anything less again.

GCB:You seem to be happy these days with your new guy. Do you still have moments when you feel sad about the divorce?

KAREN: I’d say I feel sad about the loss of 31 years of life as I knew it and loss of my little family: me, Ken, our daughter and our two Welsh Terriers. In the end, I knew the divorce had to happen. I was ready to move on. But it is a sad thing to end a relationship, and I’ll probably always carry at least a smidgeon of that sadness of loss. However, I have a wonderfully fulfilling relationship with Chris now and do not harbor any hopes that Ken and I will get back together. He and I don’t communicate regularly, but when we do it is friendly, and I don’t feel sad.

GCB: You have been a loyal and active member of NCWN and Netwest for a long time. You were very involved in the publishing of the anthology, Echoes across the Blue Ridge. You began the Writers Night Out monthly reading and continue to facilitate that event. Your participation in the Atlanta literary community is extensive. Why do you continue to volunteer and support NCWN and NCWN West?

KAREN: For a long time, I felt a need to do volunteer work and did do some with the children’s hospital in Atlanta. But that wasn’t my thing. When I realized I could do something for writers and audiences, I lit up.

The NCWN, and especially Netwest, had helped give me the encouragement and know-how to become a published poet, and so I wanted to give back. While it’s not “charity” work, it is bringing people together. Writers so appreciate the support and connections: They are constantly thanking me. Yet I get support from them too.
In Atlanta, I missed the connections I had to other writers when I was in the mountains. So I started a poetry group in Atlanta, and most of us are now dear friends, just as I have dear writer friends in the mountains. Wonderful things happen when a group of like-minded people get together. Hosting the open mic gives writers a venue to read their work out loud and for audiences to hear the work firsthand. People are happy at Writers’ Night Out, and that makes me happy!

GCB: Tell us anything you want our readers to know, anything about your book that you want us to know and where they can buy it.

Karen: Untying the Knot is a memoir in poetry about the end of a long marriage and the healing. Most people recommend that the book be read cover-to-cover because it reads like a story. According to Poet Thomas Lux, “it is written with grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity.”

GCB: Thank you, Karen, for giving us this insight into your writing and for your genuine comments about how you came to write Untying the Knot.

Karen’s book, Untying the Knot can be purchased in paperback and Kindle at
Also available at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC. Until Aug 21, you can enter to win one of 10 free copies on Goodreads.
Read a poem from the book below:

Help Interpret the Symbolism in Mrs. Why’s     True Story

 She stares at a pile of her husband’s dirty laundry
while he spends a trial weekend with “Mrs. X.”
The wife has suddenly become “Mrs. Why.”
There can be a fine line between doing the noble thing

and being a push-over. Does she take this heap
of obvious symbolism, wash it, dry it, leave it
in a neat little pile for his return?
He believes Mrs. Why is a good woman.
That’s why he’s loved her for 31 years.

Now, she has bowed aside for this tryst, hoping
fervor will burn out. He believes it might,
but he’s not sure.  X, by the way,
was Mrs. Why’s trusted friend until last week.

Mrs. Why feels a hurricane pounding her.
Knowing she should care for herself,
she blends a protein shake,
anger whirs on high as she tries to forgive.

Last night she dreamed of him with X:
He’s paying for a hotel, $500 a day.
Suddenly, Mrs. Why is on the toilet, but X demands,
Get up! It’s my turn. The bathroom fills with people;
Mrs. Why asks, Am I on Candid Camera?
Yes! And you’ve won fabulous prizes!

Months later, Mr. and Mrs. Why continue to receive
bags of onions they won. The promised cash
never comes. Of course, there’s allegory here,
but what do the onions mean?
An old and useful ingredient?
A taste that stays on the tongue?

—Karen Paul Holmes
from the book, Untying the Knot.

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Writers on the Writing Process," an Interview with Karen Paul Holmes

A chance meeting on Facebook results in a San Fransisco writer interviewing a Netwest member. 

Writer, Laura E. Davis, who lives in San Fransisco, and Netwest Rep for Georgia, Karen Paul Holmes, met through an international women's writers' group on Facebook. Learning of Karen's new book, Untying the Knot, Laura offered to interview her for the series called "Writers on the Writing Process."  Read the interview here

The Lake Chatuge view that inspires Karen Paul Holmes to write
Untying the Knot is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, and also at City Light Bookstore in Sylva, NC.

On August 9, Karen Paul Holmes and Co-Netwest Rep, Rosemary Royston, will be the featured readers at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville. Rosemary also has a new book, Splitting the Soil (available on Amazon and from Finishing Line Press). The two poets plan to try a new approach to their reading: They will pair their poems in some logical/artistic way and read them alternately, rather than each poet reading alone. The event takes place at the lovely Union County Community Center at Butternut Creek Golf Course (map here). Food and beverages (including alcohol) are available for purchase at 6 pm during the social hour. An open mic follows after the reading. Sign up at the door to read 3 minutes of prose or poetry. Writers' Night Out takes place on the second Saturday of every month.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poet Cecilia Woloch to teach the workshop, “Deep Waters, Sturdy Craft” at Lake Logan

Who: Poet Cecilia Woloch 
What: "Deep Waters; Sturdy Craft" Workshop & Retreat for Writers, September 15 - 21, 2014
Where: Lake Logan Retreat Center, Canton, NC - 40 miles West of Asheville 

Enjoy seven days  of refreshment for your creative spirit while immersed in an intensive poetry workshop with internationally acclaimed poet Cecilia Woloch.

Supplementary to the workshop are nature walks, fire circles, mindfulness sessions and movement sessions. Massages can be scheduled in  the late afternoons. Participants will stay in charming private cottages and cabins on the 85-acre  lake, with rocking chairs on the back porches and vistas of wilderness and serenity.

Poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen said, “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often.” Where have you not gone, yet, in your writing — that place that seems beyond language, perhaps, but that language might take you, still?

This workshop will focus on using the craft of poetry to move into deeper waters in the creative process, in order to achieve both precision and depth in our writing. Suitable for those just embarking on a creative journey as well as for accomplished, practicing poets who are searching for new sources of creative energy and new challenges, the workshop will be geared toward exploring both the mysteries of the creative process and the discipline of the writer’s craft. Workshop participants will read and discuss the work of master poets for inspiration, then engage in a series of generative writing exercises designed to take each poet toward deeper sources of material and new approaches to using language. 

They will share that work with one another and offer feedback on revision aimed at bringing the writing to its fullest fruition. The workshop environment will offer a safe place for creative risk-taking and a rigorous but compassionate community. Participants will work together with an awareness of and a respect for each writer’s individual voice and unique vision, also helping each writer to clarify that vision and look toward the body of work that might emerge from the individual poems. They'll replenish the creative well each day and then dive back into it, refreshed, replenished, emboldened to go farther still, to do their truest, most authentic and most compelling creative work.

Cecilia Woloch is an NEA fellowship recipient and the author of five acclaimed collections of poems, most recently Carpathia (BOA Editions 2009), which was a finalist for the Milton Kessler Award, and Tzigane, le poème Gitan (Scribe-l’Harmattan 2014), the French translation of her second book, Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem. Her novella, Sur la Route, is forthcoming from Quale Press in 2015. Recent awards include the Indiana Review Prize for Poetry (2014). The founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and The Paris Poetry Workshop, she has also served on the faculties of a number of creative writing programs and teaches independently throughout the U.S. and around the world. 

For more information about this Cullowhee Mountain Arts sponsored event, click here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Estelle Rice and Glenda C. Beall To Read At JC Campbell Folk School

On Thursday, August 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM, John Campbell Folk School and N.C. Writers Network West are sponsoring The Literary Hour, an hour of poetry and prose reading held at Keith House on the JCFS campus. This is being held on the third Thursday of the month unless otherwise notified. The reading is free of charge and open to the public. Poets Estelle Rice and Glenda Council Beall will be the featured readers, both of whom are well established poets in the mountain area. 


Estelle Rice, author of Quiet Times, a book of poetry, is a well-published writer whose short stories have appeared in The Appalachian Heritage Journal, the 
Journal of Kentucky Studies, and in anthologies and magazines, including Lights in the Mountains and Echoes Across the Blue Ridge

She is a native North Carolinian, born in Rocky Mount and raised in Charlotte. She now lives in Marble, NC. Estelle received her BA in psychology from Queens University in Charlotte and a MA in counseling from the University of South Alabama. She is a retired Licensed Professional Counselor. Although she is a full-time caregiver for her husband now, she still attends writing workshops and continues to create poems and stories. Her poetry has been published in The Back Porch, the Freeing Jonah series and others. 

Estelle has been a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network West for many years and has endeared herself to her friends and co-writers alike.


Glenda C. Beall’s poems, essays and short stories have been published in numerous literary journals and magazines including Reunions Magazine, Main Street Rag, Appalachian Heritage, Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal, The Dead Mule, School of Southern Literature and Wild Goose Poetry Review. Her poems have been anthologized in Lights in the Mountains, The Best of Poetry Hickory Series, 2011, Kakalak: North Carolina Poets of 2009, and Women’s Spaces, Women’s Places, among others.

Glenda enjoys writing articles for newspapers on subjects that are important to her such as indoor air pollution and spaying and neutering pets. She supports animal rescue shelters with her articles. She has taught memoir writing at John C. Campbell Folk School for several years. She also teaches writing at Tri-County Community College.

Glenda served as program director of North Carolina Writers’ Network-West in 2007 and 2008, and is now Clay County Representative for NCWN-West. Glenda is author of Now Might As Well Be Then, poetry published by Finishing Line Press, and she compiled a family history, Profiles And Pedigrees, 
Thomas Charles Council And His Descendants, published by Genealogy Publishing Company.

Glenda is Owner/Director of Writers Circle where she invites those interested in writing poetry or prose to her home studio for classes taught by some of the best poets and writers in the area. Find her online at: and

Rosemary & Karen to do Antiphonal Reading from their New Books

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Staci Bell will read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers August 13

Each month the North Carolina Writers’ Network West sponsors Coffee with the Poets and Writers and invites the public to attend. Staci Lynn Bell, accomplished writer, will be featured on Wednesday, August 13, 10:30 a.m. at Blue Mountain Coffee and Grill located at the intersection of Highway 64 and Highway 141 in Cherokee County, NC.

Bell began writing commercials, editorials and public service announcements for TV and radio. In 1988 her environmental essay won statewide acclaim in Florida. More recently her short stories and nonfiction have been published in the online journal, 234, and in Show Dog Magazine. Her poetry has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, a popular online literary journal.
Staci Lynn Bell will read at Coffee with the Poets and Writers

For twenty-five years, Staci Bell worked in radio and television as a broadcaster, host and emcee for numerous events and concerts. Originally from Chicago, today Bell lives in Murphy, NC with her husband and three dogs. She is a member of NCWN West and the Ridgeline Literary Alliance.

An Open Mic session follows the featured reader, and anyone who brings an original short story or personal essay or poem, is invited to sign up to read. This event is open to all who like poetry and enjoy short prose whether or not they are a writer. Visitors are also invited to join the writers as they  pull tables together and eat lunch. A drawing is held for door prizes.

GlendaBeall, Clay County Representative for NCWN West, facilitates this event. Contact her at or call her at 828-389-4441 with any questions.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Davis Short Story Collection For Nook and Kindle

From NCWN/NetWest member Tom Davis comes this information:

"Just posted my collection of short stories about a boy growing up in the south in the 50s for your Kindle and Nook. Check out Growing Up in Vienna, GeorgiaGuaranteed make you laugh out three times or you have no sense of humor. And it’s only $2.99."

To see more eBooks published by Old Mountain Press, click here.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Who is Patricia Vestal?


One of the NC Writers' Network Regional Representatives,  Patricia Vestal, of Hendersonville, will be teaching a NetWest sponsored workshop titled "Elements of Storytelling", on Saturday, August 2, at the Grove Enterprises building, 7540 Hwy 64 West, Brasstown, NC.

Recently, I asked Patricia for an interview, and she graciously answered some questions.

   Glenda: Patricia, you are a native of Winston-Salem. Did you grow up there and go to school there?
   Patricia: I lived in Winston-Salem until I was 13, when my parents moved us to Jacksonville, Fl.  Every year we visited our close knit extended family back in NC and worked in a mountain visit.  I went to high school in Jacksonville and took some college classes, but got most of my undergrad and grad education after I moved to New York at age 24.

Glenda: Tell us about your early years. When did you develop an interest in writing?
Patricia: My parents took me to movies from an early age, and I developed a vivid imagination.  I recall playing “movies” and directing brother, cousins and friends in fantasy adventures.  Once I discovered books, I devoured as many as I could.  I wove stories in my mind, including what seemed then like a complex world of fairies led by a queen whose name has stayed with me and now populates a novella I’ve just finished.  I have absolutely no idea how that strange name originated in my young imagination.  So I always have been “writing.” In school I became interested in journalism, but I didn’t get the “yen” to really be a writer until I was in my early twenties.

Glenda: You have an extensive resume as an editor, writer and researcher for publishers in New York City. What were your career plans when you were growing up?
Patricia: My family was very traditional Southern.  I was expected to simply get married, have children and be a housewife. That’s what women did. I was sent into the business world to aid in the search for Mr. Right.  I always knew that I wouldn’t be content settling down early into a housewife routine.  A job with a big insurance company could have grown into an interesting and lucrative career, but I hatched another plan to save my money and move to New York, use my business experience to earn a living while I finished my education and pursued writing.  

Glenda: When did your interest in theater develop?
Patricia: My family didn’t attend theater, but I was enchanted by elementary school field trips to plays.  My real interest in drama came from TV: the golden age of drama like Studio One and other shows written by playwrights and from performances of international plays on PBS, including some New York experimental theater that opened my eyes to the possibilities of live theater. 

Glenda: You are a playwright, and earned your M.A. in Drama. Did you perform on the stage as an actor?
Patricia: In childhood, all I knew about drama was what I saw on screen, so I wanted to be an actress; but as I matured, I realized that my interest was really in creating the characters the actors portrayed and the stories they told. I did take acting lessons, but only to help me better work with performers as a writer and director.

Glenda: Your plays have been produced in Off-Off Broadway theaters. Can you tell us something about that? How did you feel when your first play was performed in NYC?
Patricia: I had the good fortune to live in New York in the late 1960’s and 1970’s when Off-Off-Broadway was blossoming.  Many plays were done in “found” spaces that brought small audiences close to the action where they could actually see the actors’ faces and feel the electricity in sharing a one-time performance experience.  I found that very exciting and it motivated my creative and educational direction.  I took classes in playwriting and screenwriting and was in a couple of valuable playwriting workshops where actors read our works-in-progress, and produced staged readings.  My first actual production was in a small theater space in the back of an East Village tavern. I felt it verified my ambition, that I really did have the ability to write plays that would be produced; and it motivated me to continue studying and writing. 

Glenda: It is obvious you are an accomplished writer and storyteller with lots of experience in this field. When and why did you become a writing and playwriting teacher?
Patricia: I got my higher education mostly in NYC while working, so it took years. In grad school at NYU I studied with professors who were involved in experimental theater, but also read the best examples of plays ever written and looked at not only how they represented excellent storytelling but also how they reflected their culture and time.  By the time I got my M.A. I was ready to leave New York.  An offer from a textbook publisher that was relocating to Florida took me closer to my aging parents and into a stable position with benefits, including a much needed retirement plan. 

When I moved to Orlando from NYC, I wanted to maintain a theater connection and was just fortunate to find a group that developed new plays that welcomed me. Theater is very collaborative and I am stimulated by the creative process.  I enjoy working with other writers.  When I got the opportunity to teach various forms of writing to college students it was a privilege to pass along the skills and knowledge I had learned from others. I was encouraged by their enthusiasm and still find nothing more rewarding than discovering  and/or helping to develop writing talent. 
After I retired to Hendersonville, I developed my Elements of Writing Workshop.

Glenda: You also write poetry. Have you always written poetry or did that come along later?
Patricia: I always wrote a little poetry, but didn't focus on it until I was living in Orlando.   The dual lives of my responsible day job and the late night hours of theater began to take a toll and I had to cut back. A friend who was in a poetry group suggested I try that genre, and I began attending their sessions and learning from them, and participated in public readings.   

When I started teaching, I had to brush up on my knowledge of the nuts and bolts of poetry for my Comp II and Creative Writing classes. I formed a school creative writing club and joined my students in reading our work at the school’s student-faculty art shows. I enjoy the discipline of compressing words into imagery that carries some resonance and find it hones my writing skills for all genres.  

Glenda: What inspires you? Where do your stories come from?
Patricia: I have a vivid and weird imagination.  I’m not particularly inspired by everyday problems.  I like to just sit in front of a blank screen, write whatever comes in my mind and go from there.  Sometimes it’s a poem.  Other times stories arise that tend to come from the broad issues that concern me; but they often come alive in a world of magical realism or satire. The novella I just finished fuses fantasy and science, hopefully told through believable, complex characters. 

Glenda: Your forthcoming workshop on August 2, "Elements of Storytelling" covers all genres. Can you help a poet as well as a fiction writer in this workshop?
Patricia: Yes. Poems use imagery, which is an essential element in bringing prose to life.  Poetry may or may not tell a story, but it can have characters, setting, voice and point of view, among others of the elements covered in my workshop.  I edit my own poetry within the context of these elements. 

Glenda: Tell us something personal about yourself that your students might find interesting to know.
Patricia: I am a nature and animal lover. I consider it a blessing to be able to live in these mountains with my cat, Tigress. 

Glenda: Thank you, Patricia, for taking time for this interview. I’m sure our readers will be glad to know you better when they take this class and will have confidence that they will learn valuable information to help them reach their goals as writers.

Glenda Council Beall, is a writer, poet and teacher. She is Owner/Director of Writers Circle Studio in Hayesville, NC.  
She serves as Clay County Representative for NCWN West, and is former Program Coordinator 2007-2009