Barbara Altamirano, Runner-Up Quarter 2 Creative Nonfiction Essay Winner Interview

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Welcome to Barbara Altamirano, who placed as a runner-up in our Quarter 2 Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest. We are excited to pick her brain today! If you haven't had a chance to check out her essay, "Salon-aphobia", yet, then you can read that here.

Here's a little more about Barbara: sometime after leaving the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom, Barbara discovered her love of learning to create art with the written word. She was a runner up in WOW’s 2018 3rd Quarter Essay Contest, and her work has also been published in bioStories, Guideposts, Indiana Voice Journal, and Pittsburgh Parent, among others. She was a finalist in 2015 for Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition. She is hoping to publish her first novel, The Mommy Clique, a work of women’s fiction, and she is also working on several young adult novels. When not busy writing, or avoiding salons (READ HER ESSAY!), she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her husband and three children.

WOW: Congratulations, Barbara, on your essay contest win. We are excited to talk to you today about your humorous essay, "Salon-aphobia." So what made you want to write an essay about this experience that was clearly dissatisfying for you?

Barbara: Thank you. I think it’s because writing about experiences that are dissatisfying can be a good way to work through the annoyance or frustration, and often when you write about unhappy experiences, you can see something good that came out of it, or find the humor in the situation. This was one of those rare times when the essay almost seemed to write itself.

WOW: And you made it so funny! I could relate to exactly how you were feeling while I was chuckling away. So I have to ask: Why did you choose to take a humorous look at this subject? And do you like to write funny stuff?

Barbara: It might have been because when I saw myself in the mirror, I thought that I really did look like I could have been an extra in Hairspray and that struck me as funny. Disturbing, but also kind of funny. And although I didn’t like the haircut, I knew it wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, since my hair would grow eventually and I could try to style it differently until then. And too, I think finding the humor in the situation helped me to be less upset. I do like writing funny stuff. I think its fun to write humor and it can be quite cathartic.

WOW: That's so true. It's almost like the saying: "Looking on the bright side." So what's your biggest tip for someone who wants to write humor because we all know and hear all the time--it's not easy?

Barbara: I’ve heard this advice somewhere: that when writing humor you should write about something that you think is funny even if you’re not sure others will think so. Humor is subjective, so not everyone may get your humor; but if you’re having fun writing something and you think it’s funny, then probably others will, too. And the fun you had writing the piece will hopefully be kind of contagious to your readers.

WOW: That makes perfect sense! Your bio mentions that you have a novel titled, The Mommy Clique, a work of women’s fiction. Can you tell us a little about your novel and what your plans are for it?

Barbara: The Mommy Clique is a humorous story about a group of thirty-something mothers behaving like members of a teenage clique. It’s kind of a blend of Big Little Lies and Mean Girls. I’m looking into options now for publishing it. I’ve sent queries to some agents and publishers, and entered a couple novel contests, so waiting to see what happens and keeping my fingers crossed.

WOW: Best of luck. It sounds like something I would like to read! So as a writer, where do you hang out online to discuss writing, build an audience, or network? We would love to connect with you on there and hear any tips you have for handling the social media/email suck while also producing writing and sending it out!

Barbara: Honestly, this is an area I need to improve on. I am on Facebook; but up until now, I haven't used it much for writing. I just recently signed up for Twitter, so you can find me at @barbaltamirano. I know I should also start a blog and/or a website, so I plan on doing more research on that.

WOW: Thanks for sharing what you do, Barbara. And you know you are doing what needs to be done first, which is building your portfolilo and writing! Anything else you would like to add?

Barbara: I’m honored to have been chosen in the top ten. And thanks so much for the opportunity to do this interview!

WOW: You are so welcome! We are delighted that you entered another one of our contests. Best of luck to you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Thanks for doing this interview and for providing the link.

Barbara--I enjoyed your story, chuckling through it and nodding my head through it. I do the same thing (except I'm 60, not 40-something) when I'm at the salon. I also do the same thing when buying hair dyes and facial scrubs/masks and shampoos and conditioners. I hope the dyes will cover the gray (they do, but only overnight--the next day, the gray pops up, ever-triumphant). The facial scrubs are washed off, only to reveal the same ancient-looking skin I had before I left on the mask or massaged in the scrub. The shampoos and conditioners--no matter what kind of exotic oils and serums are part of them--leave my hair still stubborn and simultaneously springy and limp.

Good luck with finding a home for The Mommy Clique. I've been shopping around a novel for almost 6 months. I'll keep my fingers crossed for both of us. ;)

Connie Koehler said...

That was one of the funniest stories I have ever read! I laughed, so hard that I started coughing and other embarrassing things. I should know better at my age. When reading something as humorous as your "Salon-aphobia," I need to sit on my companion, the toilet seat. Good luck to you and ALL your endeavors.

Renee Roberson said...


This is a great example of writing tongue-in-cheek humor, something I wish I was good at! Congratulations and good luck with "The Mommy Clique." I never experienced a meaner mommy clique than when my daughter hit her teens. The moms were brutal!

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