Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Betsey’s Bio:

Elizabeth (Betsey) Field has had a rewarding career as a speech/language pathologist and autism consultant for over forty years. She is the author of Building Communication and Independence for Children Across the Autism Spectrum: Strategies to Address Minimal Language, Echolalia, and Independence (2021, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London). She does conference and webinar presentations on autism topics and is working on a creative nonfiction book about a child with autism and OCD.

If you haven't done so already, check out Betsey's story "Echolalia" and then return here for a chat with the author. 

WOW: What was the inspiration for Echolalia?  

Betsey: I wanted to share a bit of these characters’ challenges, hopes, and triumphs with others on the same path and with those unfamiliar with echolalia. In my career as a speech language pathologist, I’ve known many autistic children who communicate like Jeremy and their very concerned mothers. Having used in therapy the same intervention that I describe in the story, I knew from experience what the outcome could be.

WOW:  I have to admit that I've observed echolalia but didn't even know it had a  name.  This story is concise but packed with information.  What advice do you have for writers who may be new to flash and having trouble limiting their word count?

BetseyRemember that there are different lengths of flash fiction and if one contest’s word quota doesn’t work, another might. I first submitted a 100-word version of “Echolalia” to a contest, and it got no recognition. Shifting to the 750-word option and using the very helpful critiques from WOW! Women on Writing was more successful. And a 300-word version was short-listed in Ireland’s Fish Publishing flash fiction contest. Before submitting, I received feedback from my local writing group, which helped with copy editing and clarifying what’s essential and what could be cut. Readers are a tremendous help, and your own editing should consider whether each word and sentence moves the story forward.

WOW:  You write about a situation in which many parents feel despair.  Yet you end your story on a note of hope.  Can you explain how to do this while maintaining realism in your story situation?

Betsey: I have no magic formula for this, but I’m glad you saw it that way. This story was only a small step away from non-fiction. Many parents do feel despair when learning of their child’s autism diagnosis, and Jody’s life was further impacted by the loss of her husband, but autistic children do make progress, parent involvement is crucial, and there is good reason for hope.

WOW: What else are you currently working on?  

Betsey: I am writing a second book, this one a work of creative nonfiction, about my adventures with an autistic child/teen with obsessive compulsive disorder and an extreme aversion to authority. Now an adult, he is collaborating with me on several chapters. The title will probably be “Meet Me Where I Am: Navigating the Intersection of Autism and OCD.”  I’m proud to say that the first chapter of this book, “Speech and the Postmaster,” earned an honorable mention in this year’s WOW! Women on Writing fourth quarter creative nonfiction essay contest.

WOW:  How exciting to be working with this particular co-author!  What advice do you have for writers who are new to the craft in 2023?  

Betsey: Whether you are writing as a hobby or starting a career, just do it. I have been writing progress and consultation reports all my life, but only published my first book (“Building Communication and Independence for Children Across the Autism Spectrum: Strategies to Address Minimal Language, Echolalia and Behavior”) in 2021. Now, I find that I am thinking about the next project before I finish the one I’m working on. I also recommend contests like those at WOW! Women on Writing that offer the option of critiques as a way to learn and improve.


WOW:  Thank you so much for sharing your writing process as well as your encouraging words.  I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that I will be looking out for more of your work.


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