Friday, March 5, 2010

Words from Margaret Fieland

I wrote Margaret Fieland for information I could use about her today as my VBT - Writers on the Move Guest. Peggy did more than give me "some" information; she gave me exactly what I could post. Thank you, Peggy, for sharing.

Words from Margaret Fieland

I started writing poetry to express teenage angst, and continued for much the same reason. Then I started writing more because it turned my partner on. Then I started writing yet more because it was something special to do for holidays and family birthdays. Then I submitted a poem of mine to a poetry contest on a whim, -- it was over Christmas holidays and all the kids were out, giving me free access to the computer {grin} -- and it was one of four finalist.

So then I felt encouraged and started working on my poetry and submitting it for publication. I joined online groups, got books on writing poetry and worked through them, started reading more poetry, etc. It snowballed. Writing poetry is tons of fun.

I just plain enjoy writing poetry. Occasionally I am touched by the muse. Then, too, it's a nice, portable occupation, and it's nothing like my day job (computer software engineer), so it's a welcome relief to struggle with a poem or a story instead of why a particular section of code is or isn't working.

I also write to get stuff out of my head, where it would otherwise be stuck.

I started writing stories after the first Muse On Writing conference, where I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson. Before that, I would have sworn that I would never, ever, write fiction. I only started because in order to join Linda's poetry forum, you had to join the fiction forum, too. I started out writing children's stories because they seemed less intimidating -- plus I've always loved kids books and read tons of them as a kid as well as an adult. I always read lots of books to my kids -- I love to read, really enjoy reading aloud.

My all-time favorite books are Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." I used to reread them every exam time in college, as I would forgo trips to the library in order to spend more time studying. Then I'd suffer from major book deprivation and re-read "Alice." I also taught myself to wiggle my ears. I eventually taught my middle son when he was ten or so, and he demonstrated it at school. His teachers were less than thrilled {grin}.

Oh, yes, and I can also mirror-write, something else I taught myself during college exam studying. It used to impress the kids when we were waiting to be seated in restaurants when they were little.

I write both rhymed poetry and free verse. I'm 63, and my day job is a computer software engineer. The company I work for was bought by IBM a couple of months ago. I have three sons. The youngest graduated collegelast May, the next one is in the army (Lieutenant), and the oldest is computer software engineer, married and living with his wife in Bratislava. He works for IBM, the Lotus notes group (based in the states, in Cambridge), remotely. He did live over here (near me) until his wife's mother got sick and they moved back there. He works remotely -- modern technology is wonderful -- plus he's been answering a good many of my IBM questions (like "What are the holidays for Massachusetts?" and "How do I get Lotus Notes to send my email out right away?"

The middle one is the only one who has any writing talent or musical ability. I live with my partner, who has a son (in college, living at home ATM) and a daughter. We have lots of dogs. Seriously, like seven, plus the three puppies belonging to one of them (but two are sold ), so if the third puppy is show quality, we'll soon have eight dogs.


I have a collection of poems about mathematics that I'm trying to get published (haven't submitted it to 4rv). They're targeted to ages 12 and up, pretty much. Some of them have been published -- not too many -- I haven't wanted to submit them, but a couple of places were too good a fit to pass up. I started writing them after I wrote 'Round' and Barbara Ehrentreu read it and managed to convince me it was a math poem -- and here I thought it was just something funny about Santa and sphere -- She encouraged me to write more math poems, an idea I initially resisted, but after a while really got into.

A group of us -- we met at the muse conference (year before last) and started "meeting" online to chat , exchange poems, etc -- are putting together a collection of our work. We're in the final stages of organizing the poems.

I play the flute and the piccolo. I belonged to a band up until about a year or so ago, when the evening rehearsals got to be a bit too much for me.

I'm a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. My sister still lives there. I've been living in the Boston area since just after the blizzard of 1978. I speak fluent French -- can read it fine also, but am rather diffident about writing it, as I hate making grammatical errors .. when I do write it, it's comparatively slowly. Both my parents spoke French -- to each other, when they wanted to say something they didn't want my sister and me to understand. Then my father went and insisted I take French in school (I started in 7th grade, continued all through college..) -- I had been planning to study Spanish. Dad spoke French well, Mom not so much. Dad was also a real grammar queen -- he got absolutely apoplectic about pronoun agreement. Whenever we'd make any kind of grammatical error, he'd repeat the rule and correct us. {shakes head}. At the time I thought it was extremely tedious. Now I'm really, really grateful. I can still repeat the whole pronoun thing in both English and French. I learned and remember English grammar because Dad pounded it into my head. We did study grammar in school (not like now, where I'm convinced it isn't taught ..) but that's not where I remember it from.

My father was an attorney and my mother an artist -- portraits -- never showed much, gave most of her stuff away, was a SAH mom. My father was in sole practice for many years. He appeared twice before the supreme court. He knew Abe Fortas from law school and introduced me to him when I was in my teens, I think.

I like to ski, but haven't been this year yet, partly because I broke my wrist just before Thanksgiving, and partly, well, for no particularly good reason.

I'm working on another book, this one written in the first person about a girl who wants to go to music camp and whose parents are getting a divorce. It's going to be a MG -- the main character is 12, in 7th grade. A friend of mine who is a middle school music director has given me lots of good info around this, plus she's generously offered to read the MS when I get done with the current draft.

I'm toying with the idea of writing a non-fiction book on the history of mathematics for children. Well, actually, I'm trying to slap the idea down whenever it nags me, as it would involve a fair amount of research, but it refuses to go away. I have a BA with a major in mathematics and a MS in computer science, so I do actually have the background to write this. It started to nag me when I was writing the math poems series -- looked for books like it .. found one picture book on the story of counting.

Many years ago now, friends (daughter of my ex-husband's mother's best friend and next door neighbor) died in a tragic fire that also took the lives of all four of her children. Only her husband survived. In my story The Angry Littte Boy, (to be published by 4RV Publishing) there's only one child, and only the mother dies. There's also a dog in the book, belongs to the main character. The dog is named after a friend who died suddenly eight or so years back.

website and blog ..

blog specific

Thank you, Peggy. I'm always glad to know more about people, and especially 4RV authors.

Tomorrow, Nancy Famolari is hosting Heidi Thomas.

Books, Authors and Info! Join us for our March Tour:



Margaret Fieland said...

Vivian, thanks for hosting me.

Susanne Drazic said...

Great post. Interesting read.

It was great getting know more about you Margaret.

Rena said...

It's always nice to hear more about other 4RV authors.

Katie Hines said...

What a great opportunity to learn more about you, Peggy! Sounds like you have a lot of irons in the fire, and I'm willing to be they're gonna burn hot. Hope you find a home for your collection of poetry, and best of luck to you in writing your children's book.

Martha said...

Loved learning about you. I'm jealous, I've always wanted to be bilingual.
Martha Swirzinski

kathy stemke said...

Great post ladies. I enjoyed learning more about my friend Peggy. She is extremely talented, versatile, and generous with her time.

I'm glad your writing children's stories. You have so many experiences to share with kids.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Margaret sounds like a fascinating person and her life suggests many ideas for possible future books.

Darcia Helle said...

Margaret, you are one very busy lady! I love the line about your writing to get stuff out of your head so it won't get stuck there. I can absolutely relate!

Angelica Weatherby said...

Hehe Viv is great!

Karen Cioffi said...

Wow, what an interesting post. I learned so much more about PEGGY (hey, I got it Peggy!!!).

And, go for the math project - kids need all the help they can get.

Thanks for sharing!

Vivian Zabel said...

It's been a delight to have Peggy as my guest today.

Peggy, please come back again. Hey, before too long, we'll be promoting a certain book, huh?

Margaret Fieland said...

Vivian, it's been loads of fun. I can't wait to have to worry about promoting something!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Margaret, it feels unusual to know a poet who is also a tech whiz. Having said that, there was an article in the LA Times recently about a bunch of Silicon Valley poets. That might be an angle for you to get some great publicity.

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Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

There's just something exciting writing for children, Margaret, and want to wish you tons of success.

As for poetry, said it once, said it twice, I think you poets are awesome to be able to string words in that form. I have no clue about poetry.

Accountant, Author & Freelance Writer said...

Great interview! It was so nice to learn more about what you write.

lionmother said...

Great post, Vivian! I always like things that have my name in them.:) Seriously, thank you for mentioning me, Peggy, and it was nothing really. It's just that I'm always looking for things that might make math a little more friendly to people like me who think more in terms of English than Math.:) I found when I was teaching that poetry helped kids to understand Math a little better.I'd use poetry to introduce a Math concept.

Peggy, your life is so full of stuff. After being involved in a fire where there were two fatalities I can better understand your MC in the story. If you want to do some research on how people feel after being involved that way just ask me.

So sorry to hear about your mom's best friend.When we lost our neighbors we were heartbroken for weeks. I couldn't even talk about it without tears in my eyes. You might think about that for your MC when he talks about his mother. Just a thought.

Anyway, loved the interview and the format. Did Vivian ask you questions or did you just tell about yourself?

Margaret Fieland said...

Barbara, Vivian emailed me and asked something like "can you send me some biographical information?" and then I sat down and started writing ...

I still have hopes of getting the math poems collection published, but it would help if I could stop writing them {wry grin}.


Liana said...

What an original post! I've enjoyed it so much, great work!

Heidiwriter said...

I'm not a poet, really, but sometimes writing in that form is the best way to express feelings.


Connie Arnold said...

Thanks for the interesting and enjoyable post! I'm also a poet, write some for children and play the flute, so we have that much in common, Margaret! You are very talented, and it's a pleasure to learn about you.

Vivian Zabel said...

Peggy, thank you so much for being my guest for this post.

I enjoyed your write up as much as anyone. You did it all.


Margaret Fieland said...

Carolyn, do you have a URL for the LA times article? I looked for it on the LA times website, but couldn't find it.



Donna M. McDine said...'s a pleasure getting to know you even better. Best wishes for your continued success!

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