Profile of Word Weaver Writing Contest 4th PLACE WINNER: “Normal Things” by Barbara Anne Helberg

img_2351-11What goes on inside the writerly mind?

Let’s sit down with our Word Weaver Writing Contest 4th place winners, Adele Marie Park, Barbara Anne Helberg, and Anne Marie Andrus, and find out.

And, no, you don’t have to have Anne or Marie in your name to win.

I’m publishing three separate profiles simultaneously today, so be sure to read all three.

Barbara Anne Helberg

DAN: What makes you so ____ interesting anyway?

BARBARA ANNE HELBERG:  Call me maverick. I have a problem with point of view. It’s not that I don’t understand POV and the importance of not confusing the reader by trying to convey the POV of a story’s every main character, an effort to which I’m very inclined.

It’s that I like multiple POVs and I like inserting them in a challenging maverick-like manner — probably.

So call me maverick. It’s a term I’ve accepted all my life. I like American freedom, baseball, hot dogs, and spice cake. See? I have no aversion to the term maverick. And I have to admit, it so well fits my writing style.

Did I mention I’m old and old-fashioned and technologically incorrect? I enjoy working at my ancient  desk computer, where all my hard copy files and books and references physically surround me and are readily available for my writing endeavors.

It’s so maverick-ish.

Well, maverick, besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

By now, you’ve got to know I beat my brothers regularly playing sports when we all were young. Now at the age of 72, with a little bit of a breathing difficulty, I no longer shoot hoops, or hit the long ball, but it’s the memories that count. They’re forever part of me.

I’m on my fifth rescued canine, a little black and white sport of mixed Schnauzer/Dachshund heritage named Breezi. She’s a treat! There’s no doubt: I’m an avid animal lover.

I’m also an award-winning amateur photographer. Using only a Canon SX410, or my Nikon Coolpix L830, I love to get close-ups of birds and flowers. So far, in 2018 Ohio, I haven’t seen too many of either species!

My photos can be viewed several places on the Internet’s WordPress pages:

Noir movies from the early stars, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, etc. are one of my  passions. Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce are two of my all-time favorites. Great story-telling and great performances from masters of the arts are a treat in these movies. They are timeless treasures.


What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story? What’s the least fun part?

Writing. There is no least fun part for me. I love it all.


Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece of something you had written before?

At this point, I am working mostly on finishing things I started throughout my life, so Normal Things was taken from one of my novelettes and turned into a short story. However, after its critique, it turned into something different from its original form in the way of POV, pace, and ending.


Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece/completed story?

You will, of course, be unsurprised to learn this maverick has more than one writing process.

A title coming from anywhere may inspire a story idea in my fertile head, and I begin writing.

I might come across something happening anywhere that sparks an idea for a scene. Will it fit into anything I’m working on?

A title, a scene idea, a picture, a news article, a quote from someone I admire, or from someone I know only from afar, may set in motion the writing of several paragraphs.

Eventually, I take an idea from one of those sources and try to build a story with a little outling help. It doesn’t always take — my old files of such things runneth over — but sometimes the idea grows while I catch up to it on paper.

I do a lot of hand-writing before my word processor comes into play, adding notes and thoughts on the work as they come to me. Logically sorting them comes eventually, if they fit the scenario.

Trust me: it works out to an ending most of the time.


Where do you do your writing?

Everywhere. Pen and paper always accompany me. Even in my working-for-others days, before retirement in 2008, I wrote story notes in factories, doctors’ offices, under trees, at the lake during free weekends. That’s not likely to end until I expire.


Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

Finishing some projects already started is my main writing goal, but I also like working on my many blogs on WordPress. And Dan’s writing contests and anthology efforts have drawn me to new arenas.


What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

Everything. Being alive, observing, having experiences are always things that provide fodder for writing.

I keep on writing. I keep adding and substracting. I have fun with it. I love it. Did you ever think of writing in its most base terms — putting words on paper — just for the miracle of it?

Words applied to paper by type, or pen, or pencil, create a story, an article, exposed and shared to the world. Wow!

What does writing success look like?

Finishing what I start gives me the feeling of accomplishment and, thus, success in my little world.

Meeting and working with Dan has given me a published success.

Yet, the creative process itself, in all its wonders, remains the most rewarding aspect of writing for me.


What are you working on now?

I’ve been polishing endings on five different novels at present. There are three done, so I have two to go. All of them still have some hand-written portions in them, and I probably won’t get them all final-typed, but all of them will have finished endings.


How did you hear about our contest?

I actually was on the Internet on WordPress one day, exploring other writers’ offerings, when I came across a reference from one blog to one titled Dan Alatorre — Author. At Dan’s place, I discovered his proposed writing contest for July, 2017. I was in time to submit a story to it.


Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

During most of my life, I’ve been content to just write, to know I’m capable of putting a story to paper, and to take joy in that.

Dan’s contest intrigued me because he offered so much more than just a contest. He offered help, encouragement, critique.

And I went for it, entering Interlock, which won one of four Honorable Mention awards.

– Barbara Anne Helberg

In high school, I entered an article-writing contest on democracy, which received a top award.

Writing has just always been there for me; it’s in my blood. I was pleased to discover in 2007 when I finally purchased a computer and learned minimally how to use it that one could actually write articles to be submitted to Internet writing sites.

I consider all my blogs and writing sites to be writing contests, competing against others who love to write and share their thoughts.

In the past, I wrote on such now closed websites as Helium, AssociatedContent, Blubblews, Suite101, and others, and I still contribute occasionally at Hubpages, which is still active.


Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, if there is one?

I can’t say for certain that will happen, and it’s not because I wouldn’t want to, but merely because my health is an issue. I would need to be going well and know I could do a good job with future contests.


Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

Of course, I knew this piece was special, because everything I write is special to me. Can I make it special to others, is the question. After its critique and revision, I think I made it special in a way that was decidedly different from what I originally intended.


What’s next for you?

Blogging, maybe more writing contests here, finishing my other two novels, typing my novels’ remaining hand-written pages are all things that will keep me busy.


What was Dan’s critique process like?

I’m really terrible at receiving criticism, critique, suggestions, and accepting a revision process. I doubt if I ever could work with an editor from some big publishing house. My maverick self would argue too much, and most likey lose. And I’m a really poor loser.

But Dan’s critique spoke to me, not necessarily in the way I wanted it to, but in a whole different way that made my story acceptable to me in a whole different way in a revision born from suggestions he didn’t demand.

I didn’t have to act on his suggestions; the story could have remained as originally submitted — it already had been chosen as a contest finalist — and it could have been sent to the final judges as it was written.

What came of Dan’s process with me was a good and relentless effort fueled by pace, rather than slow thought absorption.

After the award for Interlock, to which I made no revision changes, I realized one good sentence would have enhanced that story’s impact.

So, even a maverick can learn.

Gang, join me in congratulating Adele Marie Park, Barbara Anne Helberg, and Anne Marie Andrus for their terrific stories!

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 50+ titles published in more than 120 countries and over a dozen languages.

12 thoughts on “Profile of Word Weaver Writing Contest 4th PLACE WINNER: “Normal Things” by Barbara Anne Helberg

    1. Thanks, Frank! I didn’t know and I’m happy to find out because I did over 700 articles in horse racing alone on the old Suite101 and I never got the memo about what became of the site. I do have hard copies of my work there, but I sort of wanted to reclaim the articles from the site, unless its completely deleted. I’ll have a look!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you, Dan. It was all fun! That was my Internet rookie start in 2007. I got the vacated spot on Suite101 to herd the horse racing category, happily, since I had followed the sport back to the Grey Ghost (Native Dancer) of the 1950s. They liked my application article, and away I went for about three years before I slowed down. Suite101 was a major player then.
          I was like a kitten in a pate shop when I found out one could actually write articles for recognition on the Internet!

          Liked by 1 person

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