This edition of my author interview series features Anna Chiapetta. It’s always interesting to see what questions each author selects for their interview. It definitely gives us insight into what makes them tick.
Now, without further delay, please enjoy this interview with Ann Chiapetta.
What is the first book that made you cry?
Wow, this one has a two-part answer: “Are You My Mother?” By Dr. Sues and as I got older, I read “Where the Red Fern Grows” by Wilson Rawls. Needless to say, animals get to me.
What common traps to aspiring writers fall into?
I can only speak for my experience. I fell into thinking friends and family would support me, be my sounding board. Wrong. After my friends and family made it fairly obvious providing more than trivial comments about my work, I made the decision to find critique groups to help me become a better writer. It was the best decision I made early on and would not be where I am today without the honest and often uncomfortable yet productive feedback (for me) from other writers.
Another trap is not understanding the effort it takes to rise above rejection. It sucks and it is part of being an artist. I found developing a mental strategy to lend strength when the subjectivity of others hurts most takes time and practice and sometimes a cheering squad.
Describe your writing space.
My writing space is a converted dining area that used to be my son’s bedroom. It is 8 x 9 feet, has windows, and I wish it was not half designated as a storage area. I love it, though; my desk, dogs, and books fit with a little room to spare. Others dare not enter or risk my wrath.
What writing advice have you found to be the most useful? (Book, blog, etc.)
I don’t have one moment of advice that rings like an epiphany, but I do recall snippets from other writers over the years. Author Michael Crighton said to be a better writer, write. Stephen King states, “I write to find out what I think,”. One poetry instructor said to say as much as possible with as little as possible. Each of these statements are just the top most in terms of advice and clarity I’ve gained over the years. Making each word count is what I wish to achieve when writing poetry and nonfiction. I subscribe to writing blogs and email lists to keep on top of calls for submissions and the craft and to stay connected with other writers.
What tools do you use to write? (Computer, notebook, software, etc.)
The tools I use are a Windows laptop, external Bluetooth keyboard, and assistive technology because I am blind. Since I cannot navigate visually, the mouse stays on the shelf and I navigate with keyboard commands and speech output. My manuscripts are formatted in Word and I don’t use any proprietary writing software. I use spreadsheets to keep track of submissions, expenses and income. I try to keep it as simple as possible and back-up my work with Carbonite and Drop Box.
How effective do you think social media is for authors? How should it be used?
I think social media is useful but only if one is immersed within the social media bubble. For example, I find Face Book to be useful. It pays but one must also invest time and money for boosting posts. If I don’t post weekly to all the pages and groups, sales drop. Keeping on top of a Twitter feed is similar. It is a constant pull on my writing time and this is what I find the most frustrating as an independent author. If only I could afford to pay a person to promote my books
Do you write in only a single genre? If so, what genre? If not, what genres?
I write poetry, both free and formed verse. I also write essays and nonfiction. My new book, “Words of Life: Poems and Essays” will be out in March 2019. I write short stories and I am working on a collection which will hopefully be done for 2020. I am working on a romance/suspense cross-over novel and a creative nonfiction novel based on my life growing up in the early 1970s. I write short articles and find them challenging and satisfying. I’ve also done some content writing for websites and also find it fun especially when collaborating with others.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I just finished “Becoming” by Michele Obama. I also read “The Cycle of Arawn” by Edward W. Robertson. I read different genres and don’t limit myself and I find it helps me with creativity and thinking outside the creative box.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to travel, shop, and cook. I am involved in civic-minded groups like the Lions Club and the American Council of the Blind of New York. I volunteer for my guide dog organization/school Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I work full-time as a trauma counselor for veterans and families.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I write whenever I get the chance. Being a mental health counselor, one writes progress notes. Being involved in leadership roles in organizations one writes email and other letters. The act of writing is not an issue, I get to practice all the time. The time to write a poem that has been percolating in my head for a while is the most difficult to do, though; it requires solitude and concentration. The same goes for the other works-in-progress. I write in blocks of time during the weekend or at night after work. I sometimes will put-off the urge until I can honor the Muse without the outside chance I will be interrupted. My husband is understanding about my writing life and gives me the space and time to pursue it. My kids are older and have their own lives now, so only my dogs tend to poke at me to remind me it’s dinner time or time to go for a walk.
Find Ann’s Books:
My books, UPWELLING: POEMS (2016 and FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST (2017) can be purchased from all eBook’s sellers at http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta
My nonfiction book is also available in alternative formats from Bookshare.com and as an audio book from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Ann Chiappetta M.S. is an author and poet. Her writing has been featured in many small press publications and collegiate journals. Ann’s nonfiction essays have been printed in Dialogue magazine. And her poems are often featured in Magnets and Ladders. Her poetry is also included in Breath and Shadow’s 2016 debut anthology, Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow. Her first collection, UPWELLING: POEMS and FOLLOW YOUR DOG A STORY OF LOVE AND TRUST, released in 2016 and 2017, are available in both e book and print formats from www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/.