Welcome to the three hundred and twenty-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with poet Wanda Lea Brayton. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Wanda. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Wanda: I’m a former college librarian and construction news reporter, among other occupations I’ve held over the years. I was born in 1958 and raised in Kansas, then moved to Oklahoma City in 1973, and except for 18 months spent in Louisiana (pre-Katrina), I remained in Oklahoma until March 2009, when I moved out of state (still located in the midwest, but further north) so I could marry a brilliant writer I’d first encountered several years before. I tell people this: “I met him because of his words and married him because he could back them up.” True.
Morgen: How lovely, to be with a fellow writer. 🙂 What genre do you generally?
Wanda: I write free verse poetry primarily, although I have written some rhyme and other types of form poetry. I began a short story years ago, but it soon became the makings of a novel instead and so I set it aside. People have often told me I should write a novel, but who has the time? Perhaps one day I will. Poetry doesn’t require much time and I’ve been doing it for so long, it comes quickly and easily to me.
Morgen: I used to think that (I mainly write short stories) but then I found out about NaNoWriMo and have written four novels because of that. I find I’m great if I’m given a deadline. www.StoryADay.org is coming up in May (31 stories a month) so that’ll be great discipline. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Wanda: I have written under my maiden name since 1973 and saw no reason to change it, although I did legally change my last name to my husband’s when we were married. I published a large selection of poems last year titled “The Echo of What Remains – Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton“. Although it doesn’t contain every single thing I’ve written, it does have somewhere between 1000-2000 poems in it (484 pages). I’ll begin working on a new manuscript as soon as I can. I also did a much smaller book through a different publisher in 2006, but I’d prefer to forget about that and let obscurity bury it under the dust of forgetfulness, as it didn’t turn out quite the way I thought it would and my work has improved tremendously since then. I’ve been published in numerous magazines and journals, both in print and online, as well.
Morgen: I think we all look back on our old writing and prefer our new, practiced work. Have you had any rejections?
Wanda: Of course I have; no writer can expect their work to be accepted every time they submit something. Margaret Mitchell, the author of “Gone With the Wind“, was rejected by every major publisher of her time. Some rejection notices are just a pre-printed slip of paper telling you to purchase their magazine and try again, rather impersonal. With other submissions, I’ve had commentaries written by the editors that were very encouraging. I’ve had two very lovely handwritten notes from the editor of the William and Mary Review, asking me to please continue to submit – these are almost as great as my work actually being published in their quarterly. I’m still working on (hopefully) accomplishing that one day. You simply cannot give up when adversity rears its ugly head – not in writing and certainly not in real life, either. I would suggest reading back issues of the various publications that anyone would wish to submit to, as it’s necessary to determine the “style” they seem to prefer and adhere to. Some publications are more open to unusual, unique and new writing (as opposed to the classics or those whose fame and following has already been established), so it’s a matter of being part detective, part researcher and of being especially tenacious and stubborn – since I grew up between two brothers, that tendency (being hard-headed) comes very naturally to me.
I’ve always said a writer’s best friends are a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Writer’s Market – or, in my case, a Poet’s Market. They’re published annually and can be found in the reference section of any library – often, they’ll have the previous year’s edition available for checkout in their regular collection. They list every publisher one could think of and provides their submissions guidelines and whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts or not and if they charge any sort of reading fee. Last year, I made an exception to my own rules and entered a competition that charged an entry / reading fee, The Walt Whitman Award contest held through Poets.org – usually, I wouldn’t consider paying any fee unless there was a year’s subscription to the publication included and only if I was truly interested in receiving it.
Morgen: We have the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and Writer’s Handbook in the UK – both very well respected. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Wanda: Yes, I have, on both accounts. I’ve won first place in the Aquillrelle website’s poetry contest and also won a contest of theirs to have a book published through them. I’ve placed in other contests they’ve held and have been a featured poet in their print magazine and on their site. I also won first place (with a $50 prize) and second place on another site that’s no longer active. I was also a featured poet on the World Poetry site, had my poems displayed at various exhibits they’ve had and have had some of my poems read over their radio station, “The World Poetry Cafe”, based in Vancouver. The poetry site where I post much of my work has contests running all the time, but there’s no cash or “prizes” involved, only points and trophies, both cyber currency at best. I’m really not very competitive, but I’ve had great luck in winning many contests there and hosting a few contests myself, too. I have around 2000 trophies on my author’s page – gold, silver, bronze and green, the colors indicating first, second and third places and honorable mention in the various contests I’d entered.
Morgen: Luck or great poetry. 🙂 Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Wanda: No, I don’t. It’s nearly impossible to find an agent that even handles poets. As Robert Graves wisely said, “There is no money in poetry; then again, there is no poetry in money, either.” I have been my own agent most of my writing career, with others’ assistance in promoting my work and with my husband’s hard work and devotion in putting my manuscript together, since he did the pagination, formatting, indexing and submission of the finished manuscript for me. He’d recently done his own book, so his experience and dedication was invaluable.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Wanda: It’s available in both print or pdf formats. I understand why some would like the various reading tablets that are available now, but I prefer having a real printed book in my hands. Holding a monitor grows tiresome.
Morgen: 🙂 How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Wanda: Not much, really. On the poetry site where I’ve maintained a constant presence since 2004, I have often promoted other people’s work above and beyond my own.
Morgen: I know that feeling but I’ve just freed up Sunday evenings to put some of my shorts up. 🙂
Wanda: I did post a column announcing the publication of my collection of poems and linked it to my Facebook page. However, my name does seem to appear quite often in a Google search, partly because I have done reviews for many other writers. Fortunately, my name is rather unique, so I don’t have a lot of competition there. I’ve posted various columns on a variety of subjects, including famous classic writers, that have received many visitors from outside of the site, as well.
Morgen: I’ve had sites for about three years and feel a newcomer sometimes. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Wanda: My most recent book is my favorite. Since I’ve only published poetry, it would be highly unlikely to ever be made into a film. However, stranger things have happened, so I would prefer a known and respected actress to recite my words – someone who has an excellent voice, strong presence, the ability to know when to pause and when to emphasize – one who has an absolute sense of presentation – Meryl Streep, preferably (I’m laughing here) or perhaps Kate Winslet, Kate Beckinsale, Liv Tyler, Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett etc. – someone with classical looks, with character – and who is very aware of ambience, tonality, how to inhabit and command their surroundings, how to enunciate properly and effectively and how to soothe their way onto the silver screen. I suggest actresses here because many of my poems are actually poems written from the feminine perspective, many of them love poems, but there are others that could easily be read by a man, so in this instance, I would prefer these actors for the same reasons I stated above, such as Sam Elliott, John Cusack, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Sir Anthony Hopkins, etc.
Morgen: All great choices. Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book(s)? How important do you think they are?
Wanda: Yes, I had absolute control over it on my most recent book. I insisted on it or I wouldn’t have done it. On the first book I did, I was able to chose the title and then the publisher chose the cover – which was lovely, actually – it had blue skies, green grass, and cattails in the foreground, which are indigenous to the area I grew up in, so I was pleased with that, at any rate. It looked very peaceful. On my most recent book, I chose a plain cover – a shade of deep blue, almost sapphire, with white lettering barely tinted with a slight silvery color. Simplicity. Striking. Noticeable. I think sometimes people get too carried away with their book covers and it detracts from the work itself – one needs to stand out in a crowded bookstore, not blend in. My book size is also considerably larger than what is considered to be the norm – it’s about 8 x 10″ or slightly larger with 484 pages, so it does catch the eye rather quickly.
Morgen: It sounds great and up to 2,000 poems, wow. At one a day that’s three years’ worth. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Wanda: Trying to catch up. Our computer crashed in mid-October and I was offline for over a month and was actually behind in my work before that happened. Then we moved unexpectedly during the holidays because of a fire in the apartment below us. I’d not fully recovered from the processing of my manuscript at that time, so my writing hasn’t been very fruitful for a while now. However, as I tell my husband, poetry is kicking me in the ribs, trying to get out. I imagine my pen will start dancing again rather soon, now that our lives have settled a bit. Of course, it will be more poetry. As I’d mentioned before, I also post columns, mostly for educational purposes, as there are so many young and new writers just starting out who are not fully aware of the rich heritage of authors at their disposal. I find great inspiration in reading the works of others and have often written poems because of something I’d just read.
Morgen: The great thing about writing is that you can do it anywhere, although these days a computer is fairly essential. I’m lucky that I have two (with an external hard drive) so if I have trouble with one I can just work on the other. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Wanda: Not every day, no. I wish that were possible, but it’s not, at this point. However, I don’t believe in “writer’s block” or even having a “muse”. There is inspiration around us, everywhere and all the time. I think being blocked is, perhaps, an excuse of sorts for not writing. Just my opinion, but quite a few people I know agree with me. One needs only to be aware of their surroundings, of nature, of the majesty and quietude of just being alive in order to find something to write about. My husband says when someone claims to have writer’s block or claims their “muse” has abandoned them, they’re simply denying the divine within themselves, denying their own humanity. We need only be quiet and listen. The poem knows where it wants to start, what direction it needs to go and where it must end. Someone once told me they’d worked on a poem “for months”. I was aghast at the thought. I told them to let go of it – after all, it’s not a sculpture made from stone, but a tapestry woven with words.
Morgen: I met English poet Wendy Cope a few months back and she said she writes a poem a day (but has Christmas Day off!). I was astounded. I’m not sure how relevant this is but do you plot or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Wanda: Yes, there can be plots within plots, I suppose – even sub-plots – there are many layers of metaphors to sift through, a number of images and feelings, a consistency of emotions. Some of what I write has been called prose. I don’t worry about labels or styles, I just write what comes naturally to me. Apparently, narrative writing is well within my grasp, or so I’ve been told numerous times. I’ve always admired a good story and a good storyteller. I like to experiment with language, such as using a noun as a verb or a verb as a noun. It’s very effective when done correctly. Many people seem to have a certain prejudice against adjectives; not me – I’m rather fond of them, yet I’m also aware they can definitely be over-used. It’s a fine line we writers must walk and balance is key.
Morgen: Yes, Stephen King is famous for being adjective averse. What do you think makes writing believable?
Wanda: People are always being told to “write what you know about”. Yes, it’s good advice, I suppose, but it’s also very limiting – it denies the possibility and probability of imagination playing a part. One doesn’t have to have actually lived it in order to write about it.
Morgen: One doesn’t or I’d be a mass murderer (I’m not, by the way). 🙂 So you write mainly poetry, how about non-fiction or short stories?
Wanda: A great deal of poetry – well over 10,000 poems in going on 40 years now, although the first 5000 poems I’d written were (sadly) lost to the ravages of a hurricane in 1991 – perhaps it was for the best, but I was disheartened by it and mourned their loss for a very long time – there were things I’d written when I was very young, all of them typed, copied and filed chronologically, like the good librarian I was. The few pieces that could be found were either completely destroyed, torn and shredded or waterlogged to the point that they were unreadable. I also lost family photographs, letters, things that could never be replaced. More recently, I have written some prose. One short story is still gathering dust and will probably never be finished. I started it when I was in my mid-20’s, added a bit more to it in my mid-30’s, but now I’m 53 and haven’t even looked at it for quite some time. It’s a daunting task to me. I prefer the ease and simplicity of writing poetry.
Morgen: That sounds horrendous. I’m quite paranoid about losing anything I’ve written (only six years’ worth but a lot to me) so have everything in the ‘cloud’ (online) and on memory sticks. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Wanda: Usually, it’s nearly or fully formed when I pick up the pen. Sometimes they will begin with a title, a phrase, a mood or tone, or even just a singular image which I then build a poem around. There is a bit of editing involved, switching words around, changing tenses, occasionally using too many gerunds and the like. Some pieces have had a great deal of editing done on them, as I’d rethought my basic idea and then altered them considerably. Some were edited so heavily, I had to recopy them so I could read what I’d written. It all depends.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Wanda: Not really, as I’m very well read. I was reading at the high school level when I was in third grade; I’ve always been a voracious reader. However, having been a librarian for so many years, research does come naturally to me, should the need arise.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Wanda: First or third person is preferable to me. I either write about myself in an abstract sense or about “the universal you”. Second person, I haven’t dabbled in as much. Perhaps I’ll try it again sometime, to see if the shoe actually fits or if it pinches. I have rather large feet, after all.
Morgen: I’d not really thought about second point of view in poetry, but one of my Monday nighters said she writes a lot in it. I do too, but prose. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Wanda: Hopefully. (laughs) In fact, I spent a great deal of time deleting older poems – I was shocked I’d even considered them worthy of posting. There were some salvageable lines in many of them, but the poem as a whole was beneath my overall capabilities as a writer. That’s what late nights or even sleepless nights will do for you, it seems – it distorts reality. I’ve had people ask me several times if I’d “ever written a bad poem” – my reply was always, “Of course I have! I just try not to post them.” Wise words borne of experience.
Morgen: Oh but it’s all practice isn’t it. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Wanda: My least favorite aspect is my utter lack of time to devote to the creation of it, as I so often get caught up reading someone else or getting bogged down in the administrative side of it; there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish what I’d like or to be able to write as often as I would wish. My most favorite aspect is the ease of flow when a poem actually begins itself; when the subject is easy, comes forth quickly and demands my hand and pen catch up, urging them to hurry and ride the current. I am constantly surprised when a piece is well-received by my readers. I am naturally a humble soul, so praise makes me slightly uncomfortable and feel undeserving, somehow. I often make a self-deprecating joke in response, like “Be careful or I’ll never find a hat to fit!” When people ask me how I do it, how I write as often and as prolifically as I’ve been known to do, I often reply, “I just hold onto my pen – for dear life.”
Morgen: 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Wanda: Read. Read as many different writers and experience as many different styles as possible. Never settle into a routine or a specific style, for that’s the same as putting yourself in a box with a label on it. Stretch your wings at every given opportunity. Learn what you’re capable of doing (which is far greater than you might think). Don’t be afraid to have and use a real vocabulary – never “dumb-down” your writing or “talk down” to your readers – assume they’re educated and well-read. Write in a personal sense, but also write in a universal sense, so your audience can feel familiar and comfortable inside your pages. Listen to other people’s views and suggestions, but stand your ground when you know it feels right. Remember, they’re telling you how they would write it, not how you would. Don’t over-explain yourself. Do the research. Do the math. Most of all, do the writing.
Morgen: Absolutely, you can’t edit a blank page. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Wanda: Oh, wow. Only three? Alright, then, my most favorite poets (of many): Emily Dickinson. Edna St. Vincent Millay. Anne Sexton. I would cook my own beef stew and homemade cornbread. For dessert, I’d either make several loaves of banana bread or perhaps peach cobbler. Comfort food, delicious and filling. I suppose there might be wine involved, but I’m not much of a drinker and never have been. It always stupified me that someone could drink alcohol, then – somehow – compose a sonnet. I wouldn’t even attempt to write under the influence. It would be illegible and not worth reading, I’m sure.
Morgen: Ooh, I love banana bread. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Wanda: I am an avid collector of quotes about all subjects, especially about writing – the art and craft of it, what other writers have to say about it. I have my own copy of “Barlett’s Quotations” as well, so it’s difficult to choose only one. Perhaps this quotation sums up my own philosophy best, its author unknown: “We can complain that a rose bush has thorns or be grateful that a thorn bush has roses.” There’s a lot of wisdom in those very few words.
Morgen: It’s lovely. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Wanda: I have helped more than a few people edit their own manuscripts, either by making suggestions (privately, of course) on a specific poem or story or by proofreading the actual “finished product” for them, at their behest. Sometimes, a fresh eye is needed in order to carve away the excess material from a piece into the true sculpture it was meant to be.
Morgen: My only expense with my eBooks is an editor and she not only finds (thankfully small) errors but also comes up with some great suggestions. What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? 🙂
Wanda: Reading, mostly. I love to cook from scratch, as well. My husband and I both love reading, listening to music, watching movies, walking in the park (weather permitting) – and we both adore animals. My mother was a professional cook and an artist, but was too busy working and taking care of her family to devote much time to it – she was extremely talented (I still have some of her original artwork, but passed on other drawings to my nieces.) I began drawing early on and continued up until the mid-1980’s, but haven’t done as much in the past 20 years or so. I’ve been too busy writing, really. I also used to make candles, do macramé, sewed a bit (mostly stuffed animals and bluejean purses or drawstring bags), even did a bit of crochet for a while, but it was hard on my eyes. No party tricks, per se, but I’m rather good at playing poker, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, dominoes, games like that.
Morgen: I love Trivial Pursuit, especially the pink (arts and entertainment). Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Wanda: As I’d mentioned before, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a book of quotations to inspire, a copy of Writer’s Market or Poet’s Market, Poets & Writers magazine, The Writer’s Digest, etc. There are many writing sites to assist an aspiring writer, actually – and it seems more appear on the internet daily. Facebook has a few writing groups, as does Linkedin. I also visit other sites, such as these well-established and known resources: http://www.poets.org and http://www.poetryfoundation.org.
Also, I’ve posted my writing on one particular site since June 2004, Allpoetry.com – I have been a member on other sites, but they didn’t seem to offer as much activity and AP is where most of my writing friends are, so I still prefer it, even with the various site upgrades done over the years. In my experience, “new and improved” rarely is either – more cumbersome and irritating than actual “improvements”. I want to be able to control the presentation of my writing in all aspects, not just in its formatting, which is very important. For the longest time, poems were always “centered”, it seems – now they’re usually “left-aligned”, which is fine – but it doesn’t mean you can’t format a piece. Line breaks at specific places are a must in order for the word play or continued thought to be read properly, as it was intended by the writer. One line can easily lead into another thought, as well. Stanza breaks are significant in this way, too.
Morgen: I’ve written a few poems over the years (I say a few but about 20) and like the non-formatted ones, especially two I wrote at college; about Ruth Ellis which I wrote in the form of a cross, and another about a tramp in the form of a tramp! Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Wanda: Yes, I am. I’ve actually been using computers since 1976, but didn’t really go on the internet until June 2004 – before that, I was always in a program designed specifically for the job I was doing at the time. The feedback one receives from forums and networking sites can be useful, especially when it’s from other serious writers, but getting caught up in reading too much and writing too little is definitely a hazard. There can also be a lot of drama and ego issues present on various sites, so I try to stay away from conflict, since it merely saps my creative energies and isn’t productive or helpful in the least. Instead of arguing with someone or listening to them belabor the point, why aren’t they busy writing instead? For example, I learned many years ago not to get into debates about religion or politics. An argument will always ensue, even if they basically agree with each other. The same can be said of “form vs. free verse” writers. I don’t like disagreements anyway. I get too emotionally invested. It’s counter-productive. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they don’t have a right to try to convert or coerce mine. Like many people, I’ve had to deal with online bullies and “bashers”- I will call them on their nonsense and insist they behave in a decent manner. Hiding “anonymously” behind a computer monitor is no excuse for being rude. There’s a saying I like: “Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins.” They certainly wouldn’t approve of someone speaking to them that way or if it was their mother, sister or daughter that was being harassed and I won’t tolerate them bullying me or anyone I know. Some so-called “critiques” were anything but that – some resembled crime scenes more. I’ve seen younger writers get run off from some sites because they weren’t emotionally equipped to deal with the negativity and that’s such a shame – it might have been their only space for self-expression. Everyone has a right to their own voice, to their own space in the world where they can speak without being shouted down.
Morgen: Like these interviews, I try and imagine that I’m sitting with the person chatting and I think I enjoy it more. Being mean is no good for anyone and it’s sad to know that some people get a kick out of that. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Wanda: A lot, I hope. I’ve watched as many publishers and bookstores have gone out of business, especially in recent years, and it saddens me greatly. I also know from experience that when there’s a budget crunch, the libraries and the arts are the first on the chopping block. I have long believed that the world needs all the creative and optimistic people it can hold. There’s too much cynicism, too much hopelessness. We need our writers, our artists, our musicians – not only to entertain us, but to lift us up, let us believe in our own humanity, our own ability to be great (or at least better than we once were), to find our own purpose in life, to be useful, to become a source of light, of wisdom and compassion for others. We are all on a similar path, even if the view we have is slightly different. It would be monotonous and boring if we were all the same. I’ve always been an observer, both of human nature and of the natural world. Being a writer (or an artist or musician) is not an easy life to live, but it is definitely rewarding in all the ways that money cannot provide. It’s satisfying, gratifying and makes us feel like we are a part of the world, instead of apart from the world. Being a writer is a solitary thing as it is. We need others like us to converse with. When I started writing poetry, I didn’t know anyone else that wrote – I felt very alone and lonely. I’ve been on my own since I was 16 and spent much of my youth and young adulthood in my apartment writing when I wasn’t busy working. I’m still a bit reclusive. It’s necessary for writers to have “a room of one’s own”, a place to gather our thoughts and create without outside interruptions.
Morgen: I don’t know many local writers outside of the writing groups I belong to, so ‘meeting’ other writers online is fantastic. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Wanda: Thank you for asking. Here are several links.
My author’s page: http://allpoetry.com/WandaLeaBrayton
My columns: http://allpoetry.com/columns/by/WandaLeaBrayton
My book: The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton (484 pages, including reviews by others and preview poems) – available in print or pdf formats: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-echo-of-what-remains/16114406
My Facebook profile page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000075708050
Morgen: I can’t get over how big your book is, that’s incredible. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Wanda: Yes, there is. I wanted to mention that it was my 9th grade English teacher in Kansas that started me on this path. I contacted him several times over the years to let him know I’d kept writing and had worked on the college literary magazine editorial staff. I found him again in March 2009 and learned he’d moved to the same state I live in now. He came to give me away at my wedding. Thomas Wolfe famously said, “You can’t go home again”, yet I felt like I’d come full-circle, somehow. Also, my favorite literature professor in college was instrumental in promoting my writing and encouraged me constantly. Unfortunately, she’d passed on before I started getting some attention from publishers and other writers, but I hope she would be proud of me and my creative efforts. One other thing I’d like to mention is this: I have posted a column promoting the works of others and one with a list of people that I suggest everyone should read, especially new members of the poetry site who are trying to find their way around and figure out who the great writers are; these are the same people that I consistently go to for inspiration and soul-sustenance. There are also people who write specifically prose, form poetry and / or short stories there. They’ve all been infinitely helpful in the evolution of my own writing and they have such beautiful expressions to offer, each one unique.
Morgen: My father died (September 2001) before I started writing but he’d always told me how proud he is of me. The cover of ‘Feeding the Father’ is of him and I. 🙂 Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Wanda: How did you get your start in writing? What made you decide to use your own blog to promote other writers? An admirable thing to do, of course – and I realize that’s actually two questions, if you’ll allow me that.
Morgen: Of course. 🙂 I’d always enjoyed English at school and was an avid reader (Stephen King mostly) in my teens but then life took over and I read less. I used to write limericks for colleagues in my 20s but it wasn’t until my late 30s attending crime writer SallySpedding’s evening critique workshop (which I took over in 2008 when Sally moved to Wales, and still run) that I started writing short stories and was instantly hooked.
The blog came about after volunteering at Oundle Literature Festival mid-March 2011 and chatting with philosopher Nigel Warburton. He has an average of 1,000 hits (although it may have grown by now) to his blog and it inspired me (I’d also heard it was a good thing to get your name known). So 31st March I set this one up and now regularly get 200 hits a day so I’m getting there. 🙂 I was invited to do a blog interview in the June and really enjoyed it so started my own (originally two a day because I put the word out and had a fantastic response but that proved too time-consuming so just do the one a day, plus the other evening posts :)). It’s not only a great way to meet other authors (and publishers, agents, editors etc.) but it does spread my name out into the ether (one of my interviewees actually met someone, in person, at a party who know of (and apparently raved about) me – I still grin when I think about it). 🙂 Plus also, sorry I’m rambling now, aren’t I, I live in hope that people will see that I have some books for sale (although more free than not at the moment) and swing by. 🙂 Thank you, Wanda.
I then invited Wanda to include an extract of her writing…
Flight is precious to those who are earth-bound;
we see this unending sky and covet wild wings
we do not have attached to our mortal frames, yet still,
our souls soar beside the fragile bird who lingers, aloft.
Steadfast, we long to seek those radiant realms
where moonlight swirls without falling; we drift
beside quiet streams and imagine the sea.
We are creatures of gravity,
soliciting the stars.
© Wanda Lea Brayton, 2011 All rights reserved
Wanda Lea Brayton is a former college librarian and construction news reporter. She has written poetry since 1973. Her poems have been accepted by Hudson View Poetry Digest, The Pedestal Magazine, Oak Bend Review, Aquill Relle, Main Street Rag and Clackamas Literary Review. She was the featured poet in March 2011 on the World Poetry site and her work has been read on the World Poetry Cafe Radio station in Vancouver, placed on display at various WP exhibitions (a poem was included on the dvd for the Pablo Neruda celebration) and two other poems were then further exhibited at the John Lennon Peace Tower in Iceland. She has also been a featured poet on the Aquill Relle website and has 18 poems featured in the anthology On Viewless Wings vol. 5.
Update October 2012: I was a regularly featured writer on a site called “The Book Times” for the past 6 months or so, but it doesn’t exist anymore, as the lady who had the site realized she didn’t have any time for her own writing. I was pleased by it anyway – I submitted one poem and she immediately emailed me back and asked me to be a regular contributor. Ah, validation.
I do have another book available of selected poems (372 pages) now. It was published this year by Aquillrelle as a result of a contest they held. They selected five winners who were then able to have a book published by them as their award. My collection (“Echo”) has approximately 1000-2000 poems in it and is available in print or pdf – the selection (“Rumor”) has approximately 200-300 poems in it and is only available in print.
I receive all of the royalties for my collection and receive a small amount from Aquillrelle for the selection, although they receive the majority of the royalties – so, obviously, I promote my own book first and most often. When I am faced with buying a number of smaller books or a single volume with an entire collection of a particular writer’s work, I always go for the bigger book.
The Echo of What Remains – Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton (556 pages, available in print and pdf formats, published in 2011): http://www.lulu.com/shop/wanda-lea-brayton/the-echo-of-what-remains/paperback/product-16114406.html
Author’s spotlight: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/wandaleabrayton1958
My second book, published by Aquillrelle, 2012 is A Beautiful Rumor – Selected Poems by Wanda Lea Brayton (372 pages, available in print only): http://www.lulu.com/shop/wanda-lea-brayton/a-beautiful-rumor-selected-poems/paperback/product-20165556.html
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have http://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
We look forward to reading your comments.