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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

 

Interview with Jodi Henry - Third Place Winner!

It's interesting to see the variety of writers who enter our quarterly flash fiction contest. Some are established writers and some are aspiring, and some are non-fiction writers like Jodi Henry! We love the diversity of writers who enter, and just because you come from one background or another doesn't mean you can't come up with a great story! In reading Jodi's story, Jag Meets Iguana, you'd think she'd been writing fiction for years, but that isn't the case, which you'll see in this interview. Amazing!

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WOW: Jodi, congratulations on winning third place in the WOW! Winter Flash Fiction Contest! How did you feel when you found out you won?

Jodi:
I was absolutely thrilled! I am a non-fiction writer and this was my first foray into fiction so winning this prize not only pleased me beyond belief, but it has given me inspiration to delve into the world of fiction writing.

WOW: Well we hope you do; you have a real talent for it! In fact, Jag Meets Iguana has all the elements of a great story: fun characters, conflict, and a super ending. What was your inspiration behind it?

Jodi: I wrote this story while on a month’s vacation in Mexico. My husband and I have gone to Zihuatanejo for the past four years and we both manage to get a lot of writing there – no phone, e-mail, TV, etc – all the distractions of everyday life. Our condo was on the second floor and right below, on a stone wall, an iguana would sun herself every day. I guess that’s where the iguana thought came from. I live about two hours south of Portland, and the highway that goes up the Columbia Gorge is beautiful and the one you would drive on your way to Yellowstone. Briggs Junction is such a typical truck stop, I just had to include it! In a previous life, I was also married to a pretty controlling guy so a woman’s get-a-way sounded delightful.

WOW: That's the beauty of fiction. You can make this magical world to get away from the reality of controlling ex-boyfriends. ;-) So tell us, if you were to continue the story, do you think Sandra would meet up with Officer Reed?

Jodi: Good question. If she did, that would seem too predictable. And I’m not sure they’d be a good fit. I think he’s a pretty straight laced dude and she’s just beginning to feel her wings.

WOW: (laughs) That's cool you should mention that because our theme next month is "The Wings of Self-Promotion." I think we all need to feel our wings and remember to fly every once and a while. And that's what you did with the prompt, took it and soared! Did you find writing on it challenging?

Jodi: Well, having a background in journalism, I like structure, including deadlines and I like a certain guidelines. I guess that’s why I write non-fiction pieces. Fiction really makes you use your imagination, and trying to pull ideas out of the air was a challenge – guess I’m too structured. But after I did it, it really felt good – especially when I won a prize!

WOW: Considering your background, did you do a lot of editing?

Jodi:
Not too much. I brainstormed in my head, wrote a rough draft on paper and then wrote it in scenes on the computer. Being an editor, I tend to edit myself as I go along, not always a good idea.

WOW: That's right. From your bio we know that you and your husband are the founders of Writers Welcome. When did you start your website, and what kinds of services do you provide?

Jodi: We started Writers Welcome about six years ago. We are basically “book doctors”; we edit and critique manuscripts. John works with the fiction writers, mostly novel and some short story manuscripts. I work with non-fiction writers, a lot of how-to books, but some thesis’ and children’s books (though these are fiction).

WOW: That's super! I also noticed on your site that you have a Mentorship Program. Why is this good for beginning writers?

Jodi: The Mentorship Program is a comprehensive, personalized program designed for beginning writers. It is features one-on-one consultation and support and is available for one or three months time periods. (if this is stiff it’s because I took this from our brochure!)
I think this is a great program for beginning writers because, as writers, most of us are insecure and often lack support. This is especially true for beginning writers, who are also unfamiliar with a lot of the basic writing principles. But I think the best part of the program is for the writer to be able to call or meet face-to-face with either John or I for advice and encouragement.

WOW: That's a really great benefit. Most online writing workshops don't have the option of getting to talk on the phone, or meet for that matter! You also mentioned that you work as a journalist, copywriter, and publicist. Can you tell us about some of the projects you've worked on?

Jodi: I used to be a reporter for a small town daily newspaper. I was in the features department and covered mostly soft news. It was a great experience and I had a wonderful editor. After I left the paper I worked for a public relations firm that specialized in political campaigns – exciting, but not really the kind of PR I wanted to do. I moved on to a firm with a wide variety of clients. I worked with environmental firms and the one of the plumbers unions.

WOW: I can see why you have an editing website -- you have a lot of experience! What are you working on right now?

Jodi: Right now I am working with two clients, both of whom have similar books. One is a book about leadership and the other is a book aimed at business professionals about a different way of dealing with stress.
I’m also very much looking forward to attending the Taos Summer Writers Conference this July. This is my first writers’ conference, except for a weekend workshop I attended in the San Juan Islands several years ago on nature writing.

WOW: That sounds exciting! You're going to love writers' conferences. You'll have to tell us all the details... maybe even write an event recap for WOW!
In closing, do you have any tips for writers who may be hesitant about entering a writing contest?

Jodi: Just do it! I think most people are hesitant to enter because of the fear of rejection or that their work just isn’t good enough. But finding a contest that looks like it might be a good fit and is in an area of interest is something to look for. Your contest appealed to me because it was a quick turn around and I liked the prompt.

WOW: Thanks Jodi for taking time to answer our questions! We adore your story Jag Meets Iguana and expect great things to come from your corner of the fiction, non-fiction, and website worlds.

If any of you want to enter Jodi's Mentorship Program, or need editing or critiquing, please visit: www.writerswelcome.com

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