Saturday, January 28, 2012

World of Writing

-- Quote of the Day -- 
"Words are sacred.
They deserve respect.
If you get the right ones, in the right order,
you can nudge the world a little." 
~ Tom Stoppard

 -- World of Writing --

It is time for another World of Writing interview! 

Mary Hitchcock Cone is a fiction writer specializing in short stories and mystery novels. She began writing in mid-life while on staff with the Trust for Public Land and Nature Conservancy. In 1997 Mary joined a Marin County–based writing group inspired by author Anne Lamott, whose members met weekly to share and critique their original fiction works.
Mary was married for fifty-three years to the late Russell Cone, a journalist for the San Francisco Examiner, and raised two daughters. She instilled in her children the idea that living a life of meaning is an art. Mary currently resides in Sacramento, California. Moose Mash and Other Stories is published by FolkHeart Press,

Q: Why don't we start by having you tell us about the writer's group you belong to? 

A: I was very fortunate to belong to a writing group in Larkspur, California, for almost eleven years. The members — students of author and writing teacher Anne Lamott — were very enthusiastic about Ms. Lamott’s honest approach to writing. We focused on bringing stories to life and supported each other to get our work into print.

Q: How long did you belong to this group, how did you find them, why did you join, and what was the process of becoming a member? 

A: I was a member from 1997 to 2009, until I moved to Sacramento, California. The members had been students in a writing course taught by author Anne Lamott. When the course ended, Ms. Lamott advised them to form a writing group, which they did. Shortly thereafter, I met one of the members at a writing conference, and was invited to join. I was thrilled and it turned out to be a significant experience.

Q: Where did you meet? How often? What did you do there? 

A: We met religiously every Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. at the local bookstore called Book Passage. We eventually arrived at a format that worked — taking turns reading and editing ten pages each week. I think we lasted so long, as my writing buddies would say, because of “our love of writing and the intricate process of working a piece to its fullest incarnation, along with a willingness to leave egos at the door.” When a member had a big work, like a novel or collection of short stories, we would meet for a longer working session.

Q: What was your path to publication?

A: I had just finished getting feedback on a collection of my short stories from the writing group, when a family friend, Karen Pierce Gonzales (who owns a small publishing company called FolkHeart Press) said she was looking for new material. She asked me to send her my short stories, liked them, and produced my first book in December 2011. It was a team effort: my daughters Chris, a book editor, and Lucinda, an artist, prepared the manuscript and book cover design, a family friend and prepress pro formatted the book, and Karen is handling promotion and distribution. The book is called Moose Mash and Other Stories,

Q: What advice would you give for aspiring authors? 

A: What they say is true: Write about what you know. And I would add: Write about what you love. Writing is really about chipping away the lies and half truths to get to the heart of a story. Being honest and patient with yourself and working with a trusted group of fellow writers are key to discovering a story that rings true to the reader. 

Q: Tell us a bit about your passions in life. 

A: My greatest passion was my late husband Russ, to whom I was married for fifty-three years. We were lucky to be in love all our married life. I am passionate about my two daughters and feel blessed to be a parent of such remarkable people. Writing is, of course, a great passion; I’ve always been fascinated by the compelling humanity within seemingly ordinary lives. I also love to travel, swim, and play music.

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