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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Interview with First Place FF Contest Winner, Rosemary Jarrell

A native Brooklynite, Rosemary Jarrell is proud to call North Carolina home. However, at times she’s still overcome by an unbearable desire to hang out at the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza.

A lover of reading, writing and writing contests, Rosemary has placed once in WOW’s top 20 and again in the top 10. Determined to someday place in the top three, she continues to hone her writing skills in general and her flash fiction technique in particular.

Currently, Rosemary is working on an early chapter book geared for boys ages 6-9, she hopes to develop it into a wacky time-traveling series. Although a sucker for anything concerning the space-time continuum, Rosemary loves writing fiction of all sorts and plans to write in as many genres as possible.

Visit her blog at, and follow her on Twitter@rjarrellwrites.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Winter 2015 Flash Fiction competition. You’ve placed in our contests before, and mentioned that you were determined to someday make it to the top three. You must be excited that you succeeded!

Rosemary: Thanks, I am super excited! Although I was afraid that my saying I would continue to submit to WOW until I won could be construed as a threat-LOL. Seriously, it is a great honor. There are so many talented writers out there and I always enjoy reading the winning WOW entries. I don't envy the judges at all.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “The Williams Women?

Rosemary: Ideas typically come to me in a flash, oftentimes an image pops into my head and that's all it takes to get the creative juices flowing. In this case, I had a vision of a woman creeping out to her clunker of a car on a cold winter's morning. I then asked myself the obvious question, why is she sneaking out?

As a child in New York, whenever I was on a bus or the subway, I'd play a game called Guess their Story. In my game, I'd pick out people that caught my interest and come up with an entire backstory for them. That ability has definitely come in handy in writing. I still play that game, I guess you can say that I'm easily entertained.

WOW: My husband likes to play that game when we go out to restaurants, just for fun. A great activity for writers though! What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?

Rosemary: I love flash fiction because the word limit is a delightful challenge. It forces a laser focus upon your word choice. Each word counts and must propel the story forward. When you complete a flash fiction piece, you have a perfect stand-alone scene. My goal is to continue to hone that skill so that I can lay out a series of perfect scenes and create a much larger piece of work.

WOW: We’d love to know more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?

Rosemary: Strangely, I've never written while at a coffee shop. I find them too distracting and end up people watching instead of typing. My latest and current favorite writing location is my bed. I feel very John and Yoko when I write in bed. I tell my husband not to disturb me because I'm having a write-in.

Since I have insomnia, at night I'll head downstairs to our big recliner, plop my laptop desk on my lap and away I go. I'm not a structured writer, I don't have set times to write because I work full-time during the day and have a part-time Life Coach practice, so I need to be flexible with my time. I have taken to heart the concept of, you don't wait for inspiration, you make your inspiration. So at least once a day, I sit down and make myself write. Oh, I always type my stories. I made the mistake once of handwriting a piece and when I went back to it, I couldn't figure out what I had written.

WOW:  I like writing with pen and paper, but I know what you mean about trying to decipher the notes later on. And good reminder about not waiting for inspiration to strike! Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Rosemary. Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Rosemary: I think all beginning writers should enter contests, especially contests that have a critique component such as WOW. Not only do you get the forced deadline of the submission date, which is very motivating, but you get an expert critique as well. I have learned so much from the critiques I've received from WOW, I can't overstate how beneficial this has been to me.

The beautiful thing about the WOW contest is, you can submit your piece, get a critique, fix your entry and then submit a much better product in the next round. Some contests won't allow a previous entry to be submitted, so this is a big plus for WOW entrants.

My advice to any writer is to enter as many contests as possible. Writing is a craft that requires focus and practice, contests provide you with both.

Our Summer 2015 Flash Fiction is currently OPEN.
For details and entry, visit our contest page.

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