Guest writer, Victoria Marie Lees, on the far right.
Since I’ve joined the South Jersey Writers Group at the urging of my granddaughter, Katrina, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how very talented our members are. One of the members is not only a good friend of mine, but one hell of a good writer. I love reading about Victoria’s camping trips with her family and you will, too.
Victoria with her family
I have the pleasure of introducing you to this week’s special guest, Victoria Marie Lee’s.
Welcome Victoria and thank you for visiting Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey. Let me start off with my first question.
What inspires you to write?
My family and our adventures, nature, camping, life in general.
Life itself is an adventure and each experience, a mini adventure with some grander, some more remarkable.
I have always been a story teller. Perhaps I get it from my father. He would tell us stories by candlelight every night in the summertime. Each night one of his four children would be the hero of the adventure, rescuing the others from imminent danger or leading the way back home to safety. We would hold our breath during the climaxes every time, even though we knew the story would end happily. Maybe that was it. Life situations don’t always end happily, but in stories they can.
What do you enjoy writing about?
Adventure, family, I write poetry and contemporary short stories, mostly YA. My stories are grounded in possibilities. Some protagonists have parents, some don’t. But no matter what happens in the story, somehow the protagonist learns to deal with the life situation he or she is living. That’s not to say that nothing exciting happens in my stories. I love adventure and nature, so I usually combine the two to create action in the story. I have children lost in a cave while the protagonist deals with feelings of loss and anger, and another situation where a young protagonist is the only one home to rescue her grandfather from danger. My characters deal with unwanted responsibilities and desires to make others happy. While I realize that these are universal themes, I hope to make my stories unique in their situations.
Have you been published and where?
I sold a non-fiction article to Listen Magazine, a magazine geared to keep teens away from drugs and alcohol. Because I sold only first-time rights to Listen Magazine, I could sell the article again, and I did. A Minnesota school system bought it for their reading test. An essay I wrote about raising my special-needs daughter is included in the anthology Easy to Love, But Hard to Raise; a resource for parents of special needs children. I’ve sold two short stories for teens to Cricket Magazine. A few poems I wrote about nature and family won honorable mention at the University of Pennsylvania’s poetry contest. I won second place in a haiku poetry contest at West Chester Poetry Conference and had a short story published in the University of Pennsylvania’s literary magazine, F-Word, a feminist magazine.
Very impressive, Victoria, what are you working on now?
In addition to short stories and poetry, I’m writing a memoir. I love to learn. I enjoy researching topics and speaking with experts for short articles. I write for South Jersey Mom Magazine. Whether I am learning something new with the students I substitute teach or learning along with my classmates in a new online course I’m taking, I enjoy telling stories of my learning experiences.
That’s what I am doing in my memoir about going to college with five children in tow. My learning stories encompass how to study on the go, attending my children’s sporting events, creating chemistry presentations with the twins, and creating French videos with NON-French speaking camera crew—okay, my younger children.
Do your children mind being part of your book?
It doesn’t seem like it. The children have been listening to my stories about their growing up histories, the camping adventures, as well as my college adventures for years. Whenever a new friend joins the family or a new boyfriend is had, out come the stories with a “Mom, remember the time when…” to let me know which ones to tell.
What advice can you give new writers?
Most times, the journey to publication is long—at least mine was. If you truly believe in who you are and the writing voice (style) you have created, never give up. This doesn’t mean that your stories or writing won’t go through a revision process and perhaps change slightly. It means that your beliefs in your characters and their actions and reactions to situations should ring true and be unique to you. Don’t worry about what is popular. Write what you believe in.
Do you recommend belonging to a writer’s group, and if so, how has SJWG helped you?
Every writer needs writing friends and the best place to find them is in a writer’s group and/or a critique group. This is a safe environment to debut new material and raw ideas and learn about the craft of writing. Writing groups are a place to share learning experiences and help each other grow as writers.
South Jersey Writer’s Group has been instrumental in helping me grow as a writer, from the Blogfests where I could ask technical social media questions to our group’s social media expert to critique groups where I could obtain ideas to strengthen my stories. I would be lost without this writers group and the friends I’ve made there.
Where can our readers find you, Victoria?
Google+ Victoria Marie Lees
LinkedIn- Victoria Marie Lees
http://www.easytolovebut.com/ and search for Victoria Marie Lees to see my essays.
Thank you so very much, Victoria. It was a wonderful visit, and please do keep our readers updated on all your adventures. Oh, and don’t forget…I want to go on your next family trip.