Epic Group Writers founder Judith Works began the session with a question for each author about what stories they like to tell. Dorothy Van Soest, a past UW Professor of Social Work answered that she explores how experiences and problems are impacted by a complex world. Her life experiences, and social activism have led her to explore the death penalty, Indian child welfare, inequity in school and charter vs. public schools and lastly nuclear power.
Like Dorothy, Mindy Halleck had extensive experience publishing nonfiction works prior to turning to fiction. Her fiction is meant to challenge the reader. In her award winning short story, A Mother’s Confession explores what a terminally ill mother will do to protect her mentally disabled adult son. In her novel Return to Sender, Mindy writes about a small group of people who will protect each other no matter what and then asks the question would you cover up a crime to protect someone you love?
Next Judith turned the conversation to where and how each woman chooses to write before closing the interviews with talks of social media and marketing
Mindy writes in her office using a standing desk, and also likes to write in museums, coffee shops and churches when she travels. These locales and her observations can find themselves into her fiction. She sees writing as a lifelong apprenticeship and recommends that a writer needs to know where one is in the process, learn the fundamental and only follow blogs of published authors who know what they are talking about.
Dorothy starts writing in her office by 8am after an early morning walk. Writing brings her pure joy and she describes it as a team sport. She participates in writers’ groups; an annual writer’s retreat has a writing coach and gives her work to early readers to get feedback.
Each author has to market her own books and emphasized the importance of having a website. Both authors have worked or plan to work with PR or marketing firms. Mindy shared that interviews sell books. Both authors appreciate good Amazon reviews, the site helps to sell books and followed that with a request to please buy the books at a book store.
Judith, Dorothy and Mindy gave FEL a fascinating program. They were generous, warm, interesting and kind.