The magnificent Author Mieke Zamora-Mackay is a member of the South Jersey Writers Group and we are honored to have her with us today. Join me and give a big welcome to Mieke.
Story: The Walk
Tell us a little about yourself?
I am a mom to two kids who are growing up faster than I can imagine. A wife to a golf pro, and I work full-time as a paralegal. I write, I knit, and I cook. Sometimes, I do laundry and clean the house, which my husband wishes I did with more regularity.
What got you interested in writing and when did you start?
I’ve always felt more comfortable writing, rather than speaking, but didn’t consider myself a writer. I’ve always kept a journal, and actually wrote a knitting and foodie blog beginning in 2004. It wasn’t until 2008 that I allowed myself to play with a little story in my head, and actually write it down. I haven’t put my pen down since.
What type of stories do you enjoy writing?
I enjoy writing love stories for my adult and young adult work and paranormal/fantasy adventures for my middle grade projects. I tend to drift toward stories that explore that power of love that knows no boundaries, whether it’s time, place, or mortal life.
Where did you get your inspiration for your stories?
I find inspiration in almost everything. A picture or a piece of music will often conjure ideas. My most reliable source of inspiration is people themselves. How they move, touch, speak. People watching is one of my favorite past times.
Why did you pick this particular story for our anthology?
The call for submissions mentioned something about looking for stories that portrayed a “slice of life.” I can’t really put my finger on it, but I felt this, of all the short stories I had written was most appropriate for the anthology. I believe it embodies the kind of work I do.
What advice can you give to our readers who are interested in writing and getting their book published?
I have two pieces of advice, which I am sure you’ve all heard already.
Write, write, write. Concentrate on your writing first. You can’t publish what isn’t written. Focus your energy on developing a daily writing practice, with the goal of finishing a first draft of a story. Write several stories in whatever genre, form, and/or theme that attracts you. This is the best way to find your voice as a writer and build the muscle memory required to chum out words regularly.
After completing your first draft, set it aside long enough to almost forget that you’d even written it. Then read and then revise. After that, find a trusted critique partner, and revise again. The revision process is hard and may take longer than you expect, but at some point, you must know when you are done.
Then set it free.
Read, read, read.
Read everything, and anything. If you write in a certain genre, identify what are considered the best, most important books in the genre and read them. Read not only to be entertained, but to learn from the author. Read with a critical eye, not for mistakes, but for how the author utilized certain techniques, devices and language to propel the story forward.
Aside from your genre, read books outside it as well. Try to include at least two books on your reading list that aren’t in your preferred realm. You might be surprised at what you might find in these books.
Is it important for new writers to join a writer’s group and why?
I think it is important for a writer to find her/her own community where he/she is free to discuss their woes and have a safe place where they can just be who they are. Only a writer will understand the lament of another writer over an uncooperative main character, or a plot hole as large as a mini-van.
However, I want to warn new writers, not to lean of a writer’s group as a crutch to help finish writing a story. Sometimes, new writers may rely on the cheering squad the writers’ group dynamic may bring. Writing the story, and finishing it, is your responsibility. A writer’s group can lend an ear to your plight, or offer critique or advice, not push you to finish that book. That is on you.