Interview with Runner Up Contest Winner, Gayle Beveridge

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Congratulations to Gayle Beveridge, who was one of our runners-up in the Winter 2011 Flash Fiction contest. If you haven't had a chance to read her story, "Unnamed," you should click over there and read it now! 

Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. She has a bachelor's degree in business and a diploma in company directorship and earns her living as an accountant. After allowing her career to consume her for nearly thirty years, she started to write in earnest just prior to turning fifty. Gayle writes short stories and flash fiction for relaxation and uses writing competitions to help maintain momentum.  She participated in NaNoWriMo last year and is currently editing her first novel, Petals in the Dust.  Also an avid fan of Twitter fiction, very short stories told in 140 characters, Gayle tweets a story daily @GayleBeveridge on Twitter. 

Gayle lives in Narre Warren North in Australia with her husband Roger. She has two step children and three wonderful grandchildren. She loves her family, dogs, sunsets, chocolate, and bird watching. More about Gayle and links to some of her award-winning stories can be found on her website,

WOW: Congratulations, Gayle, on your win in the flash fiction contest. "Unnamed" is such a cute and touching story. Where did you get the idea for the story?

Gayle: I'd been reading some half page stories in an over 50s newspaper--most of them about some aspect of people's lives in retirement, and I wanted to write a story dealing with retirement issues. Being alone and isolated is a common problem for the elderly, and this was the spark for the story. I love dogs, so solving the problem with a pet was a natural progression.

WOW: This is actually a pretty long story for you, huh? I noticed that you like to write 140-character stories for Twitter every day. How did you get started with these? Can you give us an example of one?

Gayle: I became involved with social media to promote my writing, which I'm showcasing on my website, Once on Twitter, I noticed a number of people writing stories within the 140 character limit and fell in love with that medium. I started posting daily in August 2010; and so far, I've only missed three days. Here's one of my more dramatic stories which was also published by One Forty Fiction:

"He had only one kidney left when his daughter needed a transplant. He shot himself at the hospital; a note in his hand read, 'Take it now!' "

WOW: How cool! I'll have to look into that on Twitter. What's the secret to writing an entire story with low word counts? How do you develop characters or move the plot along?

Gayle: I jump straight into the action; and since the low word count doesn't leave a lot of room for character development, I use their speech and actions to show them to the reader. I introduce tension early, often in the first paragraph, and build it quickly. I know exactly how I want the story to end before I start, although I rarely put it on paper; and I step through the story plan paragraph by paragraph.

WOW: Those are all great techniques for anyone who wants to write short stories or flash fiction. Thank you for sharing those with us! You like to enter contests to keep your writing momentum going? How do contests help you do this?

Gayle: Because I work full time and have to fit my writing around my job, I need goals to work to, something to keep me going when I'm tired after a long day; the contest deadlines cater to this. I keep a list of what's coming up, select what I want to have a go at, and work towards it. I get cross with myself if I miss a contest I planned to enter. I usually target contests with an open theme, but occasionally, I'll write a story to a set theme; and this can take me in a direction I might not otherwise have explored.

WOW: That sounds like a great method and a way to stay disciplined. You have also participated in NaNoWriMo. How was that experience for you? What are you currently doing with that novel?

Gayle: NaNoWriMo was a physical as well as a mental challenge. When I first heard of it only three weeks before starting, I had no plans for a novel. I bought the book, No Plot No Problem and also read How to Write the Breakout Novel and Write Away and started plotting around three articles from that week's local newspaper. I was overjoyed to reach the targeted 50,000 words in November and to have a complete story on paper. The novel, "Petals in the Dust" is now in need of serious editing--more work on characterization and some plot strengthening. I've bought some books for editing and redrafting advice; and once I'm done, I'll send it out for a professional critique. This has been and continues to be a mammoth learning exercise.

WOW: You had a different career for nearly 30 years before you started writing. What makes writing so special for you?

Gayle:Writing is a retreat, as good as a spring holiday in a lake side cottage; it takes me away from the everyday. Because it requires concentration, it leaves no room for worries and concerns, and the research I do for my stories enriches my life.

WOW: Well said! Thank you, Gayle, for sharing your story with us today. Good luck to you with all your future endeavors!

interview by Margo L. Dill; 


Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Very nice interview. Congratulations on your success in the Winter 2011 Flash Fiction contest, Gayle.

KH said...

Wow! I am looking forward to reading the book. I love novels set in other cultures and/or times. It is a more personal way to learn about the world.

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