Meet Flash Fiction Top Ten Winner, Elizabeth Maggio

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Elizabeth’s Bio: I still have the Tom Thumb typewriter on which I pecked out simple stories in childhood. It reminds me of when my writing career began. I never set out to be a fiction writer but looking back, telling stories and an imagination were always a part of me. I got a degree in geology—I love science—but that didn’t get in the way of my writing. I simply turned that degree into a rewarding career in science writing. Switching to fiction was hard. I built my science writing achievements on factual accuracy, and it took a while to give myself permission to make up the facts.

I’m retired now and thoroughly love spending time on my fiction. I’ve been working on a novel since the Pleistocene and switching to flash fiction when I’m in a dry spell helps me move the novel ahead.

I live in Clifton, Virginia, with my husband Ike Ghozeil and a dear old cat named Bailey.

interview by Marcia Peterson

WOW: Congratulations on your top ten win in our Summer 2017 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?

Elizabeth: Years ago a writer friend introduced me to WOW. I enjoyed its articles and I was intrigued by this thing called “flash fiction.” I had no idea what that was but after researching the genre and reading a few winning entries I decided to try my hand. As a former newspaper reporter, I was used to dashing out 1,000-word stories before deadline. So, 750 words would be a piece of cake, right? Was I wrong! It's tough to write a complete story with protagonist, story arc, etc. in so few words. But I found that doing so allowed my creativity to blossom.

WOW: Can you tell us what inspired your story, "A Touching Compromise?"

Elizabeth: This story is a dark departure from my usual genre that touches on magic realism. But I had to get it out of my system. It started as a scene in my novel that I had to jettison because it just didn't work. Still, the scene haunted me. How would such a story line play out? What solace could be offered to a young mother when the body of her murdered daughter is too gruesome to view? I wondered if a compromise solution was even possible. Letting my imagination run free, without the constraints imposed by my novel, I ended up writing "A Touching Compromise."

WOW: What do you enjoy about flash fiction writing versus the other kinds of writing that you do?

Elizabeth: Flash fiction is my go-to therapy for writing blocks. I've been working on my novel for ages, and it's frustrating. But flash fiction is concise and I see a result relatively quickly.

WOW: Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?

Elizabeth: I wish I had writing habits! I do meet with my writing group every Wednesday but other than that, writing habits are nonexistent. I've tried writing at a set time each day or producing a specific amount of text, but it just doesn't work for me. I have finally accepted, after trying all of the aforementioned good-writing habits, that my muse is unpredictable and unstructured. So I write when she moves me. Often that's triggered by something I read in the newspaper (I still read the print version of the Washington Post every morning). I do have one writing trick that has helped me: While reading an ebook on my Nook, I'm constantly highlighting passages that trigger an idea for a scene, a piece of dialog, or a new flash fiction story. I add a note to the highlighted text, sketch a snippet of possible scene/dialog, and then email it to myself. When I see the email, I'm moved to flesh out the snippet. In this way I move my novel or flash fiction piece forward. The downside is that it takes me forever to get through reading a book!

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

Elizabeth: Oh yes. Don't be afraid to put your writing out there. It's not about winning but about being brave with what you write. And ask for a critique, if offered, which the WOW flash fiction contest does. I always do. It's an invaluable add-on to the entry free, both of which are modest. The critiques are always helpful and not put downs. I'm amazed at how perceptive those editor eyes can be. "A Touching Compromise" was dinged in one spot (I'm not telling), which I had felt needed addressing but which I ignored. I've learned now to trust my gut.



WOW! Women On Writing now hosts two quarterly contests: one for fiction writers and one for nonfiction writers. Click on the links below for information and entry:

Quarterly Flash Fiction Contest

Quarterly Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest


Angela Mackintosh said...

Wonderful interview, ladies!

Elizabeth ~ I think your story would make a GREAT scene in a novel. I feel like it's the start of an intricate story that I want to know more about. My mind fills in the gaps, but I want to know who the killer is, how this happened exactly. I'm glad you're writing a novel!

So now I know of two people who read the printed newspaper--you and my father-in-law. He used to be a paper boy, so he respects the newsprint and reads it cover to cover every morning. Print is not dead! :) I also email ideas to myself and then later put them in a Google Doc file.

Thanks for the interview and your kind words about WOW's critiques! :)

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