Linda Apple, current president of OWFI (Oklahoma Writers' Federation, Inc.), amazes me with all she does and her leadership. When the person I was to host on the Mystery We Write Book Blog Tour for this week dropped out of the tour, I knew Linda was the person to fill the spot on Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap.
Please meet my friend Linda Apple.
Linda, let's sit here in the air conditioned living room and have iced tea. It's way too hot to be outside. Thank you for agreeing to allowing me to interview you. My first question concerns your writing, history, and home background. How did/does your history and home background affect your writing?
Since I was a child, I’ve had a knack for encouraging people, coming up with ideas for them to succeed. I’ve been dubbed everyone’s cheerleader. Believe me, while raising five children, I had plenty of practice
When my children grew up and I was downsized from Mom-in-charge to Mom-advisor, I needed a new career, so I decided to write. I tried several genres. After thousands of words, I noticed a golden thread that ran through everything I wrote, whether fiction or nonfiction. My articles, stories, essays always had an encouraging tone, a hopeful voice, something to inspire the reader.
I like that, Mom-advisor. Tell us something about your educational background that has made you a better, or more caring writer.
Academically, I’ve had some college. However, I left early when I received my MRS. Degree. From that point I’ve been in the University of Life. I’ve learned far more in the U of L than any brick and mortar building. As most writers know, life imitates fiction. We are all the heroes of our story and we have goals. But life keeps throwing us curves to keep us from reaching our goals. It is during these times we grow and change. We mature and our characters deepen. Sometimes we actually reach our goal, or our goal may have changed.
When I see others struggling down a path I’ve already walked, I want to help them with their journey, warn of pitfalls, and help them overcome. I understand the frustration and confusion. I’ve found that helping others helps me.
Please fill us in on your hobbies, interests, or activities you participate in during your leisure time, well, if you have any?
I love anything nature: gardening, watching birds, star-gazing, taking long walks. I learn my best lessons from out-of-doors. Of course, I also enjoy a good book. The only problem is that I have to keep a pen and paper close by to take notes about an intriguing style of the author. It has been a long time since I’ve been able to mindlessly read a novel.
Mindlessly reading a novel is my escape. Therefore when things become too hectic, I have to read something. Of course when I was able, I'd go out to the garden and pull weeds. But ...
Authors are often asked when they started writing or what triggered their interest in writing. I like to know that also, but I would especially like to know what keeps you writing.
When I was a junior in high school I elected to take a creative writing course. My teacher, Emily Kelso, encouraged me and made me believe I’d be a great writer one day. As the saying goes, life happened, and I forgot all about writing until I was 48. My dear friend, Lois Spoon, began a writing group and I joined.
There are days I throw up my hands and vow to quit writing. That lasts about an hour. There is a deep sense of purpose in me. In my opinion, our written words are as eternal as anything can be on this earth. Long after I leave this world, my stories can still make a positive impact on someone’s life.
You have so many projects going all the time: working on books, traveling, etc., president of OWFI. How do you manage?
My mind is like the wind swirling all over the place. In order to focus I make lists. I also have days that are dedicated to a project. There is also a lot to be said for making yourself accountable to someone else. I’ll tell my husband, “Today I am working on my book. Call me and check up on me, just in case.” He takes great delight in this.
Do you have a particular writing process or technique that you use, if so, what?
My internal editor is fierce! I recently discovered a trick that short-circuits this evil nuisance quite by accident. While in my hotel room, I worked on my novel rewrites. While typing I watched this woman out my window. She had her two little boys shut in the car while she stood outside chain-smoking and speaking on the phone. I kept writing not looking at the screen, but keeping my eyes on the children. She finally let them out and they went inside. When I looked down I had written pages. By keeping my eyes on something other than the screen, my mind was free to roam. I can always clean it up later.
Clean it up later? Your mind or the writing? *grin*
How do you feel when you complete a book?
Ambivalent. I wonder if it is good enough? If I need to change anything? It is hard for me to let it go. But, all of us have to take that leap of faith.
What are your writing achievements and goals?
I’m the author of two how-to books: Inspire! Writing from the Soul and Connect! A Simple Guide to Public Speaking for Writers. I’ve also been published in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, as well as several devotion guides and fiction anthologies.
My goals are to finish my novel rewrite, to compile my messages that appear on my Inspire with Linda Apple page into a weekly devotion book, and to start creative nonfiction workshops. I’d also like to fill up my calendar with speaking engagements.
Hmmm ... speaking engagements. Wish Pen and Keyboard Writers had funds to invite you to speak to us.
How do any writing groups benefit you and your writing?
Also, we might tie some information about your involvement at conferences with this.
I belong to Dusty Richards’ and Velda Brotherton’s critique group. The members of this group are supportive and sharp. It is always a good idea to have “fresh eyes” look over our work for content, structure problems, confusing passages, and errors in general. And we also get and give quite a few “atta girls/boys” too. Dusty and Velda have taught us how to be responsible in our critiques and not, as Dusty likes to put it, put out the creative flame.
Our critique group has a lot of members. So a few of us have also started meeting once a month in order to give more time to review our manuscripts. This is working beautifully.
Conferences serve many purposes. I’ve found that no matter how long we have been writing, if we are smart, we will remain teachable. Conferences offer many opportunities to learn whether it be in class or as we socialize and exchange ideas and information. This is the place to network and meet people. After all, where else will we find so many people who understand us?
Does writing help better you as a person? How?
Definitely! Writing is cathartic to our soul. We write out our anger, disappointment, frustration, fear, anxiety, and dismay on the screen. Then we read it and somehow it unravels the tangled spaghetti thoughts that fill our heads.
I like to write about the struggles I’ve overcome. After all, by helping someone by sharing what we learned somehow redeems some of what we feel we’ve lost.
What advice would you have for a new author?
Write. Never give up. Don’t compare yourself or your accomplishments (or lack of) to others. Write. Never give up. Attend conferences and learn the writing craft. Try all kinds of genres to see which give you energy. Write! Never give up!
What lessons has heading the OWFI conference and organizations taught you?
I’m learning to trust my instincts. Being a people-pleaser to a fault, I was paralyzed with fear that I would disappoint someone. The truth is that I won’t make everyone happy, but I can make it my goal for everyone to have a great experience and to learn something that will make them a better writer, as well as offer many opportunities with agents.
I’ve also been reminded of the value of organization. Juggling speakers, travel and airfare needs, volunteers, schedules, classes, contracts, hotel meeting rooms, menus, the budget, just to name a few responsibilities, is daunting. Daunting but doable with a spreadsheet!Most of all, the importance of acknowledging others for their sacrifices and a job well done is imperative. None of us are on the payroll. It is out of our dedication to the craft (and art) of writing, and to the members of OWFI that we do this. It is so easy to complain. It is much harder to be involved and make a positive contribution. Everyone who takes hours, days, months, out of their life to this conference deserves respect and appreciation. This is not only true of the OWFI conference but all conferences.
Thank you, Linda for visiting with us this week. Those who want to know about Linda, links for her website and blog are below.