Smallwood: Please describe your website and your duties as editor/writer.
Goodwin: Writer Advice has grown from an e-mailed research newsletter for writers into an e-zine that invites reader participation. We’ll celebrate our seventeenth year in October 2014. Our quality interviews, reviews, articles as well as our contest winner’s pieces reach readers around the globe.
The primary focus has always been author interviews, and I have had the privilege of corresponding with over 100 well known and debut authors who have shared their experiences, insights, and inspiration with readers. Recent interviews are archived.
Today WriterAdvice, www.writeradvice.com, not only promotes authors through its interviews but also publishes the reviews of both experienced and emerging writers, and the winners of our Flash Fiction and Scintillating Starts Contests. My duties are to solicit articles, write articles, gather illustrations, prep the content for the webmaster, make sure that new issues come out quarterly, and let the world know when they do.
Check us out at www.writeradvice.com. Consider sharing your work in one of our contests.
Smallwood: Tell us about your career.
Goodwin: I started my career as a high school drama teacher. I learned about action, reaction, and especially motivation while helping my actors develop three-dimensional characters. I also learned to ask questions and let the characters (not the actors) answer. I reviewed plot, structure, theme, character arcs, and grammar teaching 9th and 10th grade English. I also learned how to complete projects rather than throwing up my hands in despair.
In English teacher workshops, we tried new techniques, and I loved the positive feedback that my fellow teachers gave me on my writing. During a leave, I wrote a series of 10 articles that were accepted at the only place I submitted them, Dramatics Magazine.
In 1997 I co-edited a research newsletter called Haven’s List, run by a website called Blue Shingles. The website did not survive, but I was allowed to keep the 35-person mailing list. The mailing list grew and so did the e-zine, which now includes an author interview, book reviews, a website review, a markets and contests page, the results of our own contests on the flash page, announcements of reader achievements, a Journaling for Caregivers page and a Manuscript Consultation service.
During the nineties, I also wrote articles for EWGPresents and did weekly author interviews, arranged by the site’s founder, on The Other Side of Creativity. I also published two small books with them, From an Author’s POV: Tips on Writing, and From an Author’s POV: Tips on Editing. Those books came out shortly before my mother died in 2001.
After my mother passed away, I found time to take some writing classes, joined an exceptional free writing group, and wrote a book called You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers. I wrote a column about journaling for Caregiver Village, was a Luminary and blogger for InspireMeToday and am both a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network. I also do manuscript consultations through Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com/manuscriptconsultation.html.
I recently signed a contract for my YA, Talent, in which 15½-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver’s license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, Bri, who disappeared in Afghanistan. It will be out sometime in 2015. I’m currently working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at age 62.
Smallwood: Which recognitions/achievements have encouraged you the most?
Goodwin: I love the responses I get from the writers I work with, whether I’m teaching a journaling workshop or doing a manuscript evaluation. Their discoveries and appreciation validate me as both a writer and a teacher. Several reviews for You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers showed me that people understood. Read them on Amazon, if you want to. I’ve received some honorable mentions, which are nice, and of course my latest contract was a huge validation, but so is the praise of those I work directly with. We become partners in the process of telling their story.
Smallwood: What writers have influenced you the most?
Goodwin: I love Jodi Picoult’s subject matter and the depth with which she explores the tangles of human life. I love others writers who follow her probing look at multiple motivations. But I like so many authors that it’s hard to single them out. I often fall in love with the ideas or pacing or language or plot twists or some other part of each author’s work. When I listen to books while driving I get a good feel for building suspense and keeping the writing tight.
Smallwood: How has the Internet benefited you?
Goodwin: It gave me a chance to create a website that would benefit authors, to share my work much more expansively than I could have otherwise, to connect with people through contests and other means, and to be a viable presence in the writing world.
Writer Advice serves authors and gives me a chance to hone my non-fiction writing and my evaluation of other writers. Other sites give me a place to get published. The Internet has allowed me to carve my own, unique path.
Smallwood: What classes have helped you the most?
Goodwin: Any class where I can expand my skills and gain new insights helps me. I particularly recommend the online classes offered through Stanford’s Continuing Studies Online Courses and Media Bistro as well as those offered through Story Circle Network. I also recommend any class offered by someone experienced in the Amherst Writers methods.
Smallwood: What advice would you give others?
No one can tell your story as well as you, so keep writing.
Ask yourself, “What do I really mean to say?”
Ask yourself how each scene contributes to the outcome of the story.
Ask yourself what can be tightened.
Ask yourself what makes this story unique and what makes it universal.
Trust the process. Writing is a gift we give ourselves and share with others.
Smallwood: What is your favorite quotation?
Goodwin: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” is tied for a favorite quotation with “You don’t lose until you quit trying.” The first is attributed to John Lennon, and the second is attributed to many veterans according to the Internet. I heard it from my husband, Richard T. Brown, Jr.