by Dawn Alexander
Tell us how you came to be a writer. Did you start penning stories with a number two pencil and a Big Chief tablet in kindergarten or is it something you can tapped into recently?
It's been a pretty recent endeavor. I've always been an avid reader, but when I graduated from UT with an English degree I was pretty burnt out on all things literary. Years later (I won't say how many), when I started to get the itch to write, I denied it for a long time because I knew it wouldn't be easy. I was right.
The question we all have to ask ourselves. Are you a pantser or a plotter?
I'm a plotting pantser. What? It can happen.
How did you become involved in NTRWA? What do you remember about your first meeting? What do you like best about the organization?
I entered last year's Great Expectations contest on the last day when I saw one of Roni's tweets about it. When Wendy and Angi contacted me to say I finaled, they invited me to a meeting. I didn't know unpublished writers could join. I remember meeting a bunch of gorgeous women and feeling like I was way out of my league. I love the community of NTRWA and how generous the published writers are to the unpublished.
Tell us about GOOD LIARS. Did you have any particular source of inspiration? Is the story what you thought it would be when you set out to write it or did it take several twists and turn itself into something different?
I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I might get into big trouble with my family. Just kidding. I think. I read in Betsy Learner's THE FOREST FOR THE TREES that you should write about what scares you. Both my grandmothers died in nursing homes, one peacefully. The other? Not so much. Dying miserably in a nursing home scares the holy Life Alert out of me. GOOD LIARS opens with a woman who is full of regrets over how she lived, dying in a nursing home and surrounded by her children who are glad she's dying. Uplifting, right? It can be pretty dark, but it's got some humor, too. I knew how it would begin and end, but the middle was a bit surprising to me.
I know you received an honorable mention last year in GE and finaled this year. What was your reaction to the news you made the final round? What do you think is the greatest benefit of entering contests like the GE?
I was surprised and elated when I got the email that I finaled. I knew my category, Mainstream with Romantic Elements, was a hefty one, and I kept thinking about all the little details I missed when I sent out my entry. The greatest benefit is definitely the thoughtful feedback. After judging this year, though, I think I got just as much out of giving the critiques. When you have to articulate what's not working with a story, it forces you to understand the problems with your own writing.
What is something about yourself you think would surprise your chaptermates? (That you are willing to share, of course:) )
I don't like babies. I'm also very judgmental of bad ponytails.
You have a whole weekend to write. Where do you go? What do you take with you? Do you go alone or take someone to bounce ideas off of?
A whole weekend to write? Assuming the Apocalypse hasn't come, I would go to a hotel or resort with a suitcase full of comfortable clothes and my laptop. And I'd go alone. If the Apocalypse has come, I'd go to Walmart.
If you could chat over lunch with any author, who would it be and why?
Brennen Manning. His book, RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL, changed the way I look at my life and faith.
What are you working on now?
Still getting GOOD LIARS ready to send out. I'm also working on reworking my first novel. I've learned a lot since I wrote it, and I think it's salvageable.
Random person in the waiting room at the doctor's office tells you she is writing a novel. What is the one thing you would tell her?
Wait. Why am I in the doctor's office?