Interview with Peggy Rosen, Fall 2014 Flash Fiction Runner Up

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Peggy Rosen’s plan to be a writer was declared early--in the “I want to be...” line of her eighth-grade yearbook. Many years and career twists later, with a BSN in Nursing and a Master’s Degree in Health Education, she frequently puts pen to paper in a professional capacity as Director of Quality for a rural community health center. Outside of her workplace prose, Peggy has crafted press releases for local organizations and contributed non-fiction feature articles to several regional magazine publications, including Heart of New Hampshire Magazine, Natural New England, and NH TODO Magazine. She is also at work on more than one Young Adult novel. Soon to be an “empty-nester” in New Hampshire, with two sons away at college, she expects to have more time to hike, ski, and mountain bike with her husband and to continue fulfilling her early writing intentions.

Check out Peggy's story, Choice on Kissing Bridge, and then come back for some great writing advice and tips.

WOW: Congratulations, Peggy! From your bio, we can tell you are a very busy (and productive!) writer, as you do a lot of writing in both a professional and creative capacity. Do you have a favorite type of writing as far as non-fiction articles, essays, flash fiction, full-length novels, etc?

Peggy: While I enjoy weaving facts and information together to create interesting non-fiction pieces that result in my learning something new, the challenge of telling a compelling story in a very short word count has hooked me into flash fiction. However, full-length novels present the opposite challenge--going the distance with character, plot, setting, dialogue, and all the other components of the writer's craft.

WOW: You mention that you are working on "more than one YA novel." Can you share some more details with us?

Peggy: I currently have two novels in the works. The first is a contemporary YA story featuring a female high school hockey player with a temper that lands her in hot water on and off the ice. Her tough-girl exterior hides an ache in her heart. When she encounters a secret that threatens to destroy her team and her relationships, she must decide which part of herself she needs most to lead to the ultimate win. The second is also set in present day, but a 200-year-old manor house is central to the story. Influenced by the novels of Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt, it has the flavor of a gothic suspense romance, updated with a paranormal twist.

WOW: You had me at gothic suspense romance. Best of luck with both of those novels! Since you work full-time, how do you carve out time to work on your writing projects?

Peggy: I script a great deal of my work in my head first. A lot of my best ideas seem to emerge during exercise walks around the neighborhood, on a trail in the woods, or on the treadmill at home. To take advantage of that creative time, I use a note-taking app on my mobile phone to capture those thoughts as a word or phrase. Then I do the actual writing and revising on the weekends, when I'm less distracted by my full-time job.

WOW: Your entry, "Choice on Kissing Bridge," is full of emotion, earnest characters, and sensory details. What inspired you to write this particular story?

Peggy: In horse-and-buggy days, covered bridges were often referred to as "kissing bridges", or "courting bridges." The enclosed space afforded couples an opportunity to exchange an unobserved kiss or endearment. I live close to Blair Bridge in New Hampshire, a wooden covered bridge that was constructed in 1869 and is over 290 feet long. It is a major thoroughfare and is used extensively. I drive through it at least twice a day, and often more than that. If you are a romantic like I am, you can't help imagining, as you slowly pass underneath the timber arches and through the shadows cast along its interior, what emotional scenes must have taken place along the worn planks. "Choice On Kissing Bridge" is the result of one of my imaginings.

WOW: What advice do you have for writers looking to break into writing for regional magazines?

Peggy: I want to share three things:

1. Many regional magazines will have "Dining Out" or "Where To Stay" columns. These can be a way to break in, as they are shorter than a feature article and lend themselves to a casual tone and first-person point-of-view. They can be a good introduction of your work to an editor.

2. Editors will often have a list of topics that they want to cover in the future. They will maintain an email distribution list of writers, generally people who have contributed to their publication in the past, and send out an email request for volunteers to write on topics for a specific issue. It is worth contacting an editor to see if they maintain such a list and ask that your name and contact information be added. Offer to send a writing sample, as an additional writing introduction.

3. The general rule of "Do your homework" applies here. Examine the publication for the type of feature articles they publish, the magazine's tone and focus, and filler material they use. Find a unique angle on a familiar regional item or issue and pitch it. A busy editor with a monthly publication sometimes needs to squeeze a lot of material out of a limited geographical area. I have always felt that, as a contributor, my job was to make the editor's job easier. It can help you to keep that in mind as you develop your story idea.

WOW: Thank you so much for all this great advice, Peggy, and again, thank you for entering the contest!


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