2008 Flash Fiction Winter Contest Runner-Up, Allie Comeau, is a freelance writer living in Fort Collins, CO with her wonderful husband and two extremely energetic dogs. Allie studied Creative Writing at the University of Arizona and feels truly blessed to be able to make a living doing what she loves. Allie writes an active lifestyle blog for Sierra Trading Post and has been published in print magazines and online. She enjoys writing of all kinds – both fiction and nonfiction. Right now, she’s working on several projects and hopes to finish her first novel very soon.
If you haven't read Allie's winning short story yet, "Staring at Soles," please do so at http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/downloads/printable/20-FE1-Winter08Contest-AllieComeau.html . Read on to see where Allie gets her ideas and inspiration for her writing!
WOW!: Allie, congratulations on your story, "Staring at Soles", winning runner-up in the Flash Fiction contest. Your story is full of emotion. Was it hard to fit all that emotion into a story with limited words?
Allie: Thank you! When I wrote this story, it just poured out so quickly I didn’t really have time to think about it. It’s just an emotional subject. The moment when a woman decides to leave her husband – I can only imagine it would be one of the most emotional moments in her life. I just tried to convey that. My copywriting experience definitely came in handy here – I’ve learned to write tightly and leave out unnecessary words.
WOW!: That is very important in writing flash fiction or any kind of fiction, really--leaving out unnecessary words! You also were able to add quite a bit of back story into this flash fiction piece since it is important the reader knows that Laura has been through this before. How difficult was working in the back story?
Allie: I knew I wanted this story to be about a woman deciding to leave a man, but I wasn’t sure why she was going to leave him until I started writing it. The back story just came to me and it was easily told in her thoughts and her realization that the situation was never going to change. It had happened before, it’s happening now, and it would happen again. It just worked.
WOW!: It seems like several authors work the same way as you. They know where they are going with the story but not quite sure how they are getting there. It is AMAZING and worked well for you when an author watches the story unfold before her eyes. Was it easy for you to come up with your title? How do you usually choose titles for your work?
Allie: Actually, I used to be petrified of titles. They’re so important – if the title is bad, readers might never get to the first page. But now I look at them as opportunities to intrigue the reader. Someone told me the best way to title your work is to find a statement, image, or description that really stands out within the story and steal it. If there isn’t one, then you need to worry about more than the title.
WOW!: Great advice. Thanks for sharing that tip with us. What themes do you like to explore in your fiction? Do the themes in "Staring at Soles" exemplify what you typically write about?
Allie: Ah, that’s my problem. I like to explore everything. Lately, however, I’ve become fascinated with specific moments in time – life-changing moments when someone makes a decision that radically alters the course of his or her life. What are the motivating factors behind the decision? What was the impetus? I just think it’s so interesting.
WOW!: And that theme probably supplies a lifetime of writing ideas. We'll look forward to reading more of your work, exploring the life-changing moment theme. In your bio, you stated you enjoy writing fiction and nonfiction. What other fiction pieces have you written? What types of nonfiction pieces have you written?
Allie: I enjoy writing nonfiction pieces about things I’m interested in, like health & fitness, the environment (I’m a total tree hugger), animals and travel. But writing nonfiction about things I’m unfamiliar with is fun, too. It can be extremely educational. My dream job would be to write for National Geographic – that would be it for me. As for fiction, it’s all over the map. I’m working on a little collection right now about those moments in time I mentioned above.
WOW!: What a great way to look at writing nonfiction. It does give us a chance to learn about something new or explore a topic more in depth. Have you had luck publishing or winning awards with fiction and nonfiction work?
Allie: I don’t know if there’s much luck involved in publishing – more like plain old perseverance. I sent out query after query for a year before I landed my first article. It’s tough to get assignments without clips. But it’s finally starting to happen. I have an article slated for the August issue of Delicious Living Magazine, a national health magazine that sells in Whole Foods, and I publish regularly now in a Northern Colorado magazine called Style. I’ve also been published in the local community paper and various websites online. This is my first published fiction piece, though, so I’m pretty excited about it.
WOW!: Congratulations on your perseverance and success! That is very exciting, and we are glad that WOW! could publish your first fiction piece. Your bio also states that you write a blog. Please tell us about it.
Allie: I write an active lifestyle blog for an outdoor gear retailer. I publish seven days a week and cover all the things I enjoy writing about – health & fitness tips, green tips, outdoor news, adventure travel, etc. It’s so fun that sometimes I forget it’s a job. I really enjoy it.
WOW!: What a great writing job. We will definitely need to check that out. You write full time for your career, according to your bio. What is your daily routine like? What types of writing help pay the bills?
Allie: I love the freedom that comes with freelancing. I work more than ever, but it’s on my own terms and that, to me, is well worth it. I start the day off researching and writing that day’s blog post, networking a bit online, and then I use the rest of the afternoon for other projects, assignments, querying, creative writing, and marketing my writing business. People are surprised that I can stay so focused working from home. It’s not difficult in the least because I love what I’m doing and want to be successful. As for the bills, copywriting and blogging are taking care of those for the time being.
WOW!: Thank you for sharing with us your typical writing day. Many freelancers wonder how other writers organize their day and stay focused. These tips are great! You are also working on a novel. Can you tell us a little about it?
Allie: I would like to, but the same person who taught me how to title also told me that you should never talk about an unfinished work before it’s time. If you let the cat out of the bag too early, it may never come back. Plus, I don’t really know what’s going to happen yet myself. I’ll keep you posted, though!
WOW!: Thanks for keeping us posted, and for letting us in on the advice that a mentor gave you. We can all learn so much from each other. What advice do you have for other writers who would like to enter a WOW! writing contest?
Allie: Rewrite and rewrite until you’re happy with each and every word. With only 500 words, each one has to count. Other than that, just go for it and don’t be afraid to put your writing out there. Oh, and good luck!
WOW!: Thank you, Allie, it has been fun and interesting getting to know you. If you want to read more about Allie, check out her blog at http://blog.sierratradingpost.com or her website at www.alliecomeau.com . You can also email her at email@example.com .
Happy Writing to everyone!