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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Take Ten with the Fastest Red Pen West of the Mississippi: Alice Muschany

Move over guys, the latest Coffee and Critique Take Ten Interview is from none other than fast walking, fast talking, fast writing, and fast editing phenom: Alice Muschany.

Alice is always on the move, and her spectacular writing, editing, and photography skills are in great demand. She has been a treasured member of Coffee and Critique since its beginning. Her sweet and funny stories warm our hearts and tickle our funny bones.

Earlier this summer I was able to get her to slow down a few minutes to answer my interview questions.  

1. What inspired you to become a writer?

Growing up, I enjoyed creating silly ditties for family and friends. I also kept a notebook filled with humorous sayings. After my kids were born, I continued to jot down silly stuff they said and did. To this day I use it against them when they complain about their own offspring. 

2.      What is your writing specialty? 
While most of my writing buddies are liars and murderers (they write fiction), I pen mainly personal essays. My year-long battle with breast cancer also netted me a memoir that I readily share with women fighting the same battle. 

3 How would you describe your writing process?  
My writing is totally dependent upon my mood. If creativity strikes, I can whip out a story in no time. I’ve also been known to capture ideas on napkins, receipts or scraps of paper to be used later. The weather plays a big part. If it’s pretty (or not), I’m outside. For me, the hardest part of writing is to sit down at my computer. Family and friends call it ADHD, but they’re just jealous of my ability to multi-task. 
4.      What is the best part of being a writer?  What is the worst part of being a writer? 
Best: Capturing memories that take me back to a special place and time. Rereading old journals and being able to recall every vivid detail comes in handy, especially now that I have trouble remembering yesterday.

Worst: Finding out the fabulous story you submitted didn’t make the cut. I try using Scarlett O’Hara’s motto, “Tomorrow’s another day.”

5. What is the best writing advice you’ve received?  The worst?

Best: Polish, polish, polish. 

Worst: Suggestions to change my style of writing or take out all the parts of the story that make it me. An author needs to listen to constructive criticism, but she must also remember to remain true to herself.

6. Which books on writing can you recommend for other writers?

 I just read. A lot. Mysteries, romance, non-fiction all teach me what works and what doesn’t. As for grammar issues, I leave commas, (colons not allowed, colons, right Lou?) etc. up to my writing buddies. If the nuns failed to reach me after twelve years of Catholic school, I’m afraid it’s too late for me now. (I could, however, diagram better than the rest of my class).

7. How has belonging to Coffee and Critique affected you as a writer?

My writing group is the best. Some of us have been together for years. We’d recognize each other’s masterpiece even without a name on the paper. Having others critique my work makes my stories so much more powerful—adding a stronger verb, deleting repetitive words, filling in the blanks all make a huge impact on a short piece.

8. If you’ve been published or have won awards, which are the most special to you?
My breast cancer essays are special to me. Knowing my published stories are being read by other women fighting cancer makes me feel like I’m right there offering my sisters love, laughter, and support.

9. What three words best describe you?

My husband’s description would be: hyper, hyper and hyper.  Mine would be happy, humorous and maybe a little hyper.

10. What is your writing dream? 

I’d like to publish my breast cancer memoir one day. I’d also enjoy writing a weekly column (read all over the world, of course).

Bonus question: If you could interview one or two famous writers or historic figures living or deceased, who would they be and what would you ask them?

I’d interview Erma Bombeck and ask her two questions. Did your family actually read your articles? If so, did they hold it against you for poking fun at them?

More about Alice:
Alice Muschany recently retired from her day job after 43 years of blood, sweat and tears. She now works even harder flitting from one grandchild’s event to the next, but she wouldn’t miss it for the world. Her eight grandchildren, along with her husband and best friend, make wonderful (but not willing) subjects for her camera and her stories. In her spare time she hikes, swims, and rides the Katy Trail for enjoyment (and peace and quiet).

Her essays have been published in Cup of Comfort, Chicken Soup, and Not Your Mother’s Book. One of her stories will appear in Gloria Gayner’s “How We Survived” anthology. She is also currently an Opinion Shaper for the Suburban Journals.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rest in Peace, Nick Nixon

Words can't express the sadness the Coffee and Critique writers feel at the loss of our cherished friend and fellow writer, Nick Nixon.

Nick will always be remembered for his beautiful writing, kind heart and kind words.

This photo of Nick was taken during his visit to Coffee and Critique earlier this summer.

Please keep Nick and his family in your hearts and prayers.