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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

 

Interview with WOW! Runner-Up Julie Donner Andersen

Julie grew up in rural Ohio where she graduated from the University of Toledo and married shortly thereafter. The stay-at-home mother's writing career started nearly two decades later when, faced with divorce and life as a single parent in 1996, she chose a job with a political action committee as a speech writer. This stint lead to becoming a lobbyist for parental rights at the Ohio state capital, which occasionally took her to Washington DC. Her political networking skills helped to hone her freelance writing career. While researching information about chat rooms for a Christian publication, Julie met her present husband in a chat room for Canadian widows and widowers. After marrying, Julie moved with her two children to Ontario, Canada. At age 40, Julie and her husband welcomed a new baby to their family, and "The Brady Bunch Bonus Family" became a happily blended group of five.

Julie's experience with marrying a widower was the catalyst to penning her first book, a self-help guide, entitled PAST Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman's Journey as the Wife of a Widower. Her personal website hosts a helpful message board for women dating or married to widowers. The following year after her first book was launched, Julie switched genres and wrote again from life experience, this time with humour. Her comically illustrated book Parentally Insane: Insights From The Edge...of Midlife! has been compared, much to Julie's delight, to the writing style of the late Erma Bombeck, her idol.

At present, Julie's works can be read on over 200 websites internationally. She has continued her freelance writing career enthusiastically, with published articles and stories appearing in print publications such as Metro Seven (Australia), Family Digest, and Golden Living magazines. Julie is currently working on her next humour book, entitled Lance Romance In His Underpants: A Girls' Guide to 'Guy Things' as well as a tear-jerker book of letters from a mother to her daughter spanning 30 years, entitled I'll Always Be With You: Memoirs Of A Mother's Love. This is her second writing contest win.

Visit Julie’s websites:

If you have not done so already, read Julie's runner-up entry here.

Interveiwed by: Anne Greenawalt

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the WOW! Fall 2008 Personal Essay Contest! When you saw the topic for WOW’s Fall 2008 contest, did you know immediately what you wanted to write about, or did you need time to mull it over?

Julie: Being that I usually write about my life experiences, I have a library of ideas always floating around in my head, ripe for the picking. Drawing on my early childhood home, as well as my life as a wife of a former widower, helped me pen the two winning articles I submitted for the contest.

WOW: That's right--not only did your essay "Lady of the House?" earn the runner-up prize, but your other essay "Country Fried City Girl" earned an honorable mention. Your writing resume doesn't end there, either. Which of your many writing accomplishments makes you most proud?

Julie: I have written two books of which I am extremely proud. My first book, "PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense! Insights From One Woman's Journey as the Wife of a Widower" has been one of my publisher's best sellers, and continues to help women deal with their relationships and resulting issues. Because of this book's popularity, I have been able to open a message board for wives and girlfriends of widowers, where they can find support, advice, encouragement, and hope among their fellow "sisters."

My second book, "Parentally Insane: Insights From The Edge of Midlife" is an illustrated humour book. After years of researching grief information for the first book, "Parentally Insane" was a breath of fresh air. Penning it allowed me to stretch my skills as a writer. I had a lot of fun with it, and it's nice to hear from female readers who not only appreciate the humour that can be found in aging, but who can also relate to the serious physical and emotional ups and downs of parenting in their 30's , 40's, and beyond.

WOW: It sounds like you have experience writing and publishing in different genres. Do you have a preference between writing fiction and non-fiction?

Julie: As someone who wears her heart on her sleeve and writes from life experience, non-fiction is my genre of choice only because it seems to come easier to me than fiction. Although "Parentally Insane" is fictional, many of the ideas came from life with my own insane family (but don't tell them!).

WOW: Don’t worry--my lips are sealed! Did you enjoy your time as a speech writer? How does speech writing compare to other types of writing?

Julie: Oh yes, I thoroughly enjoyed speechwriting because it gave me personal, intimate insight into the political process. It also gave me a chance to express some of my own political opinions through someone else! I am terrified of public speaking, so translating a like-minded politician's views into my own words gave voice to my deeply held beliefs while, at the same time, remaining true to the politican(s) and constituents whom my speech represented. It is thrilling when the speech you write snags a sound bite by the media, but even more exciting when your speech brings a crowd to tears...or to their feet! To me, that is what writing is all about: moving people emotionally and/or giving them food for thought.

WOW: It must be quite an experience to watch others' reactions to your writing. Eliciting an emotional response in your readers/listeners is definitely motivation to keep writing. What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

Julie: "Write what you know and love." This piece of advice has never failed me. Also, my grade school English teachers deserve a nod for how they demanded proper grammar and correct spelling from their charges. There is nothing more off-putting than reading something chock full of grammatical errors, which brings me to my second best piece of advice: editing is key. I edit my works at least fifty times before submitting. It's amazing just what you can catch, even on the fiftieth edit!

WOW: Thank you, Julie! Keep up the great writing!

To find out more about WOW's quarterly contests, please visit: http://wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php


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