Profiles of Word Weaver Writing Contest Honorable Mention WINNERS: “Andy” by Laura Holian, and “Autistic Girl and the Killer Lawn Gnome” by Dabney Farmer

img_2351-11What goes on inside the writerly mind?

Let’s sit down with our Word Weaver Writing Contest

Honorable Mention winners, Laura Holian and Dabney Farmer, and find out.


Laura Holian

Born and raised in South Texas, Laura Holian had the unique privilege of growing up in an area rich with the convergence of two cultures.  Surrounded by a family of teachers, Laura developed a love of learning and a passion for reading.  But the greatest lesson she ever learned came from her mother who taught her the value of an education, “It’s something that no one can ever take from you.”  

As a child, one of her fondest memories was when her aunt, who was a librarian, would come home with a tote full of books for her.  As a teenager, Laura would raid her sister’s closet for more books to read.  And in high school, she was fortunate enough to have an eccentric teacher, Sir Novo, who introduced the class to the joys and challenges of creative writing.  His enthusiasm for learning, writing and life was contagious.  His teachings encouraged her to stretch beyond the hum drum book reports and delve into the heart of a story.  Encouraged to excel in school, Laura graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University.  After graduation, she worked as a cost analyst for over ten years before resigning her position to stay home and raise her children.  

Moving from Texas to Colorado and most recently Florida, Laura uses social media to connect with her friends sharing amusing posts of life with her family.  Their positive feedback inspired her to continue and even use writing as a catharsis for her personal life.  She hopes that through her writing journey, her children will be encouraged to venture out, try new things and keep reaching for those stars.

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

LAURA HOLIAN: I wrote the story for the contest. Writing a mystery/murder/suspense story was a new challenge for me. As the story evolved, it became a larger piece of work because I wanted to emphasize the relationship between Dahlia and her daughter, Andy.

Andy is an excerpt of a larger piece, but this being my first time doing that, it made me anxious not to be able to tell the reader, “But wait! That’s not the end!”

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

laura holian
author Laura Holian

This journey was interesting because Andy was my third submittal idea. The first story was quite sinister. I began that story with the character development and discovered that getting to a pivotal three-thousand-word section would take me longer than the contest window so I set that story aside and started writing Andy.

Part of the way through my writing I got stuck, so I shared my ideas with my husband. He liked the core of the story and we brainstormed to find a better way to deliver the plot. I then rewrote Andy with a clearer path of how I wanted the story to evolve.

I wrote what I needed to submit the story and let it go, but a part of my brain continued to mull it over. A few days later an unfinished business sensation persisted, so I grabbed my laptop and continued writing Andy.

Where do you do your writing?

I converted a guest bedroom into my office. It has worked out very well. It has a bright, cheery window and it’s upstairs, which gives me a quiet environment to work at. Sometimes, though, I do take my laptop to my kids’ activities like their ballet and music classes. I figure it’s essential to gain the ability to work in both a quiet and a highly noisy environment.

Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

My short-term goal is to finish writing Andy. I love to read and I would love to give other readers what authors have given to me. Whether it be a glimpse into another’s world, an escape, comfort, fear or thrills; there is an intangible joy in getting completely immersed in a story.

What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

Zoning out. I find I get ideas for my stories when my mind lets go of the busy thoughts that sometimes seem to consume our days. There are times when I am cooking, that I stop and sprint up the stairs to jot down an idea. If I am out running, I grab my phone and send myself a text. Then there are life inspirations. My son started taking music lessons and that gave me an idea of something to add to a future section of the story.

What does writing success look like?

Writing success is having a captivated reader. If a reader is interested in my story and I can surprise them, make them laugh or relate to my writing, then I would consider that a success.

What are you working on now?

I’m continuing to work on Andy. I want to see where the story goes. I have an outline of the main elements, but I love the process of sitting at my computer and just letting the details evolve on their own.

There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?

I was drawn to this contest because the topic was intriguing.

It was something I had considered writing in the past, but I lacked the nerve to plant my dark thoughts on paper and watch them grow.

– Laura Holian

The writing contest also gives me an opportunity to dabble into new genres. The Word Weaver contests are easy to submit to and the critiques are very helpful.

How did you hear about our contest?

I heard about the contest during the November Word Weaver Blog posts.

Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

Word Weavers have been the first contests I have entered.

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

Summer, with both kids at home? I’ll give a definite maybe. That might prove to be more challenging than writing stories during their extracurricular activities.

Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

The piece I submitted was special in the sense that I experimented with writing techniques in the story, such as point of view and writing trends where you make the story more active than narrative. Andy was my compromise of meeting the theme criteria without being as sinister as my original draft.

What’s next for you?

Next for me is continuing to create, experiment and refine. There is a lot to learn and I want to absorb as much as possible and put it into practice.

What was Dan’s critique process like?

Dan’s critiques are fun. He gives useful feedback with examples, but

one of the things I most enjoy (about Dan’s critiques) is that he also puts in little comments that tell you if he found something funny or surprising.

Feedback that gives an insight into a reader’s mind is probably the most valuable thing of all.

– Laura Holian

Laura’s links are below


Dabney Farmer

Dabney lives in Charlottesville Virginia. “I’m dyslexic, which can make writing a challenge, but I still enjoy it nonetheless. I enjoy writing new and unique kinds of stories in my spare time as well as illustrating for fun – although someday I hope it will be for profit. Most of the stories I works on are short, graphic novels, comic strips, fantasy fiction or children’s books.

For her written interview, Dabney made the comment: “I’m dyslexic, so please let me know if I misspelled anything.”

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

DABNEY FARMER: I wrote this from my own chapter story titled “Autistic Girl Solves a Murder and the Killer Lawn Gnome.” Which is still a working title.

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

Hmmm, well the best I can say is I get an idea and I toy around with it in my head before writing it out.

Where do you do your writing?

At home on my laptop.

Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?

Oh yes. I strive to get a certain amount of pages done each day, depending on what story or chapter I’m working on.

What helps you the most when it comes to writing?

I find just being in a nice quiet room helps, which isn’t always easy as I have a father who lives with me, who for whatever reason thinks its helpful to walk in a room singing (off key).

What does writing success look like?

I would say, just getting something written out your proud of. That’s a great feeling.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on “Life with Lee”  a  memoir book about growing up my Autistic Brother.

There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?

Well, and

I know this will sound like I’m sucking up, but Dan Alatorre was one of my favorite writers to read back in (an online critique group). 

He was always so funny in his writing, and I wasn’t always sure where the story was going, but I always found myself wanting to read more.

– Dabney farmer

I sure hope he goes back soon, wink wink. 😉

How did you hear about our contest?

I saw a link online.

Have you ever entered a writing contest before?

Yes, I entered the change/ women’s workshop contest last year. Here’s a link/

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

Oh, yes. Please. Wait, what do you mean if there is one? There  just has to be another one, I’ve already got another story idea in mind.

Gotta bait the hook a little with a tease.

Did you know the piece you submitted was special?

Well it sure felt special to me. My little brother is autistic, so many of my characters actions and mannerisms were based on him, as well as myself. I’ve also wondered what it be like if I was autistic.

What’s next for you?

My next story will be a memoir of growing up with my “Life with Lee”

What was Dan critique process like?

Great, and very helpful, really appreciated his feedback.

 


Gang, join me in congratulating Laura Holian and Dabney Farmer for their terrific stories!

Here’s where you can read more of their work:

LAURA HOLIAN:

Come follow my writing journey on Facebook: Laura Holian – Author

 

DABNEY FARMER:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MyLifewithLee?lang=en

Artwork: https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/life-with-lee-/list?title_no=1013 and

 

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