Meet Amanda Linsmeier, Runner Up In WOW's Winter Flash Fiction Contest
Oftentimes it’s that emotionally-charged story that captures a reader’s attention and won’t let go. Amanda Linsmeier knows exactly how to do this in her entry, Running. Check out her story, then come back and meet this talented lady.
Amanda began writing poetry at the age of fourteen, and ventured into fiction writing less than a decade later. She is currently seeking an agent for her women’s fiction novel, and is also developing a collection of flash fiction which she’d like to publish someday. She enjoys writing at coffee shops, reading, and shopping. Amanda lives with her husband and two children, along with two dogs, a kitten and a fish. Amanda has an Associates Degree from the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc, and hopes to continue her education in the future, with a major in English, and minor in Women's Studies. She dreams of being a writer for a living, and traveling to France with her family. You can read more about Amanda at her blog: http://amandalinsmeier.
WOW: Welcome, Amanda! Congratulations on placing in the Winter Flash Fiction Contest. Please introduce yourself to WOW readers.
Amanda: Well, I live in the country with my husband and two kids. Besides writing I love to read, and I will re-read my favorites over and over again. I have a complete Woman’s Fiction manuscript which I’m currently shopping to agents. It’s my hope to see it published during this lifetime! I’ve also been entering poetry chapbook competitions so I have my fingers crossed to win one of those. As for flash fiction, it’s definitely a favorite of mine. It’s just really fun and lets me be playful. I was so happy to place as a runner-up for the contest. I was really in excellent company so it was an honor to be chosen.
WOW: You certainly seem to have your hands in a few different writing genres. Good for you. When did you catch the writing bug, and how have you developed your talent?
Amanda: I have been writing for a long time--for more years than not. I started writing really horrible, cheesy poetry as a young teenager and as the years went on it get better. Writing became my outlet when life was difficult and my best work is from those periods. I began my first (terrible) novel at about age 20 and thankfully got that out of my system so I could begin writing quality fiction! I didn’t begin writing flash until I was in college a couple of years ago as an adult student. It was part of an English class and really interesting to me. I practiced flash a lot, sometimes super short 25-words or so. I think it has really helped tighten up my work. I’m also a part of two writing circles and a book club. I believe reading strengthens my writing. I think that’s true for everyone.
WOW: Absolutely. Let's talk about your heart-tugging short story, Running. It packed a powerful emotional punch. Can you tell us the inspiration for this story, and how it came to be?
Amanda: It came from a dream. Which is so odd in a way, but it’s true. I woke up one morning with my heart beating fast, just freaking out, from a dream in which I had to pack up my baby and escape while my abusive husband (fictional husband, I might add. My real life one is awesome.) was at work and I wasn’t sure when he’d be back. It could be any moment. I awoke and immediately wrote down how I felt and what I’d been dreaming and started thinking logistics. If he had a car and the character didn’t, how could she get out? A bike would work since she could cut through yards and it would be easy to hide. She wouldn’t be able to pack much, and she’d be physically exhausted, etc.
WOW: Stories that stem from dreams really seem to draw out more of those emotions, don't they? Give us the run-down of your writing routine.
Amanda: I don’t really have one right now. We have a new baby at home so it’s all about survival. I am lucky if I manage to eat breakfast and put on real clothes for the day. I’ve written a new flash piece and am entering those chapbook contests and shopping my manuscript but that’s all for now. I hope to get more consistent in the next few months. Before the baby was born I’d write while my older child was at school a couple times a week. I like writing at coffee shops the best, but that’s not always feasible. When I write at home I like to have things a certain way- computer set up on the kitchen table, a coffee nearby, writing playlist on low, and I get to work. I really get in a zone.
WOW: Oh, I understand fitting writing in around kids and babies! But good for you for plugging away when you can. Do you have any pearls of wisdom for our readers on how to get their own short stories to the top of the contest pile?
Amanda: Keep entering. I’ve entered a lot with multiple stories. And I got the critiques multiple times. My real-life critique groups help me improve my stories immensely. I especially love my small womens writing group- they can be brutally honest which is what you really need when you’re trying to improve. If I give my mom something to read, for example, she’ll tell me it’s brilliant, even if it’s not. To her everything I write is fantastic! Also don’t force the stories. I have one short story which I kept trying to chop down to be a flash fiction story and it lost so much doing that. I accepted that it just wasn’t meant to be short and stopped entering it in the contest. I found other things to write about. And I’d suggest looking around. My prior contest runner-up story Rousseau, was inspired by a lovely red-headed girl. This was inspired by a dream. Just keep yourself open to ideas.
WOW: Awesome insight and advice, Amanda. Thank you for joining us here today and good luck with that novel!
Interview by Chynna Laird