Meet Summer 2016 Flash Fiction Winner, Linda Peters!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Linda Peters is a writer and speaker based in Long Beach, California. As an active blogger, Linda writes, a collection of lifestyle articles that help people who didn’t grow up with computers to successfully navigate today’s technology and impress their grown children.

Linda’s first book of flash fiction, Somewhere to Turn: stories (written as Linda Courtland) is included in the Seaborne Library’s Flash Fiction Special Collection, which was compiled by the directors of the International Flash Fiction Association (IFFA) at the United Kingdom’s University of Chester. Linda is also the author of Way of the Whale: A Novel (2014), a story about finding peace from the point of view of a captive killer whale.

In 2016, Linda and her husband Tom Peters co-authored Our Socially Awkward Marriage: Stories from an Adult Relationship on the Asperger’s End of the Autism Spectrum, a collection of flash memoir stories about the effects of Asperger’s Syndrome on their relationship. Together, Linda and Tom write and lecture about relationships, health and disability issues. They also do business writing, strategic planning and grant consulting for nonprofits and arts organizations through their company, Peters Communications. Follow Linda on Twitter at @WayOfTheWhale.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your first place win in our Summer 2016 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Linda: Thank you so much!

I’ve followed WOW! for many years. In 2008, I entered the WOW! Winter Flash Fiction contest (as Linda Courtland) for the first time and my story, "Change Management," won second place.

I drifted away from flash fiction and wrote a novel about a captive killer whale and also co-wrote a book of essays about Asperger’s Syndrome and relationships with my husband Tom Peters. And I kept reading WOW!’s newsletters.

When the Summer 2016 Flash Fiction contest was announced, I read the bio for guest judge Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary and thought my writing might be a good fit. I edited Difficult Relatives down to meet the word count, crossed my fingers, and sent the story off through the ether for judging. I’m so glad that I did.

WOW: Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, Difficult Relatives?

Linda: I’ve always loved nature and am concerned about what’s happening to the planet right now. If I toss an empty plastic water bottle into a regular garbage can, I can’t help but think, “Hmm, what would the Earth have to say about that.” It wasn’t much of a stretch to give the Earth a voice.

WOW: What’s your revision process like? How much editing did you have to do on your flash fiction piece?

Linda: I had a writing teacher once who forced us to eliminate all adverbs from our writing and he’d only tolerate the occasional adjective. It was a great experience and it turned me into a ruthless editor. When you have to convey information with only nouns and verbs, you’re forced to find unusual ways to tell your story. All these years later, I’m still brutal with modifiers.

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?

Linda: I know it sounds cliché but my stories usually start as a flash of inspiration. When an idea grabs me, I work best when I can take it and run—just sprint to the finish line and then wait until the next idea takes hold. To keep track of ideas as they occur, I still use pen and paper, but if I’m out and about, I’ll use my smartphone to jot down a sentence or two and then email it to myself.

In terms of place, it doesn’t much matter where I am because the story is being told inside of my head. I just scribble it all down. A lot of writers set aside a certain number of hours each day to write, taking a marathon approach to their craft, but that type of routine has never worked well for me.

WOW: Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Linda! Before you go, do you have any tips for our readers who may be thinking about entering writing contests?

Linda: You’re welcome!

I do have some advice: Don’t let fear stop you from expressing yourself. We’re all scared to put our work out there to be judged. It’s totally normal to panic about sharing your stories with strangers. The challenge is to find a way to do it anyway.


Our Winter Flash Fiction Contest is OPEN
For details and entry, visit our contest page


Sioux Roslawski said...

Marcia--Thanks for doing this interview and Linda, congratulations on your win... and good luck with your future projects.

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great advice about working on strong nouns and verbs! Congrats Linda on the win. I loved Difficult Relatives! :)

Renee Roberson said...

Congratulations, Linda! Yes, I too loved your story. Very unique concept and kept me guessing.

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