Trisha Faye and I have never met in person, but we connected years ago when she was editing an anthology, and I sent her a submission. Since then, we have floated in and out of the same writing circles, and this month we both have stories in the same Chicken Soup for the Soul collection! Grab a delicious drink, make yourself comfortable, and join us as we chat about story inspiration, justifying purchases, and much more!
Me: What are your earliest memories of being a writer?
Trisha: Let’s not talk about my earliest memories of being a writer. It wasn’t pretty. I remember an early college creative writing class. I don’t recall what I wrote about, but I entered class with my first story, and it got ripped to shreds! Young college students are not always the kindest with their critiques – at least these weren’t. And I was very bashful and had very thin skin. I never returned to that class.
It was probably about twenty years later before story nuggets began pestering my brain. But I still didn’t feel confident. So, I settled. I started a little newsletter about herbs – growing them, using them in the kitchen, and crafting with them. I think the nonfiction element of the topic made it safer for me. I didn’t feel like I was venturing out into dangerous waters.
About 12 years ago, I moved to Texas. And the stories kept prodding me. Since they wouldn’t leave me alone, I decided that I’d better start following that writing muse and see where the journey took me. I ended up submitting some articles to our small local newspaper. As each one was accepted, my confidence slowly grew. I joined a local writer’s group. And with the practice, and the monthly feedback and critique (in a much friendlier manner than the early class experience) my skin gradually thickened and I kept writing and growing.
Me: Tell us a little about your writing routine and your workspace. What is essential for you?
Trisha: I don’t have a regular routine because I also have a part- time job, with hours that vary from week to week. So, I juggle writing around that. Early morning, before I head to work, I use some of that time to interact on Facebook or work on planning. I find that I write better in the morning – but not too early. I need that first hour or so to clear the cobwebs, so it works best to use that for tasks that I don’t need all the circuits working in unison.
Since I don’t work on the weekends, I try to use those two days to accomplish a lot. Sometimes I’m successful; sometimes I’m not. I think one thing I’ve learned over the past few years (with a lot of reminders about it from a dear friend!) is to be easier on myself and not beat myself up if I don’t accomplish everything I set forth to do. Sometimes we are harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else.
One thing that is essential for me is semi-quiet and peace. It doesn’t need to be absolutely silent, but when others in the household are blaring a TV all day long (I’m not mentioning any names!), it disrupts my thoughts. Once we cleared out a room for my ‘office’, so I wasn’t working in the main part of the house, my writing focus improved, and I became better at chipping away at all the projects I wanted to work on.
Me: What is the most unusual topic you’ve written about?
Trisha: I have a collection of journals that I’ve created. Three journals have been out for a while: My Historic Home Journal, My Museum Journal and My Family Heirloom Journal. Two others just became available last week: My Gratitude Journal and My Blessings Journal. But probably the most unusual topic I’ve written about will be in two others scheduled for this fall – My Cemetery Journal and Cemetery I Spy.
Yes, I’m the oddball in the family – the one that loves to spend time in old cemeteries, whether I have family members there or not. Luckily, here in Texas I fell in with a group of friends who also love to explore these remnants of our past. I’ve had an idea for a few cemetery books in relation to this, but I have a feeling that they may find themselves on the ‘B List’ of books that I don’t ever seem to find the time to work on. We’ll see. Time will tell on that topic.
Me: What is it like to publish an anthology? Any unusual experiences working with other writers?
Trisha: I’ve published four anthologies: In Celebration of Mothers, In Celebration of Sisters, Mothers of Angels and Mothers of Angels 2. That experience has been most interesting. What I’ve enjoyed most about it is meeting so many other phenomenal authors. I’ve been blessed and many have become treasured friends. You and I met through the Sisters anthology, with your story, A Sibling Thing, about your sister that you lost due to a car accident.
The Mothers of Angels anthologies are stories about losing children, in honor of my stepson that we lost to cancer at 23 years old. Those two books hold my heart, as it goes out to all the people who shared their pain and heartache with us in their stories.
Me: You have a story in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book that will be out later this month. Can you give us some hints about your story?
Trisha: Yes, I’m in the Be You volume that is releasing April 6. My story is ‘Seventeen Words’. It’s about how a phrase entered my life and ended up shaping many of my actions.
“Let go of anything inauthentic and all activities that do not mirror your brightest intentions for yourself.”
In my story, I talk about how this phrase entered my life and how it came to mean so much to me. I started using these seventeen words as a magnifying glass for what I wanted. Those words changed so much in my life. It ended the five virtual farms I had going at the time – Farmville, Farmtown, and I don’t recall all the names. But I sat on the computer so many hours of the day, farming, farming, farming – while a whole yard in back sat dormant and ignored. These words forced me to look at my life and examine so many aspects, measuring them against this yardstick of authenticity.
Me: What do you like about Chicken Soup and other story collections?
Trisha: As a reader I enjoy the Chicken Soup collections because they have such a variety of stories in each volume. Plus, they’re short enough that you can sit and read a few stories, and then sit the book down and continue on with other tasks, not needing large segments of time to read.
As a writer, I like the topics that they have. In my venture to get more acceptances (I’m still far, far, far behind how many stories you’ve had accepted by them!), it keeps my mind spinning to think of ideas to write about, and it keeps me striving to improve my writing.
Me: What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
Trisha: What I’ve been having a lot of fun with is writing historical fiction short stories based on items from the past. I’ve gathered items from different antique stores, such as books with the flyleaf inscribed by the owner of one hundred years ago. Or I have a collection of letters written by a soldier in World War 2 to his then girlfriend, who he ended up marrying until their deaths many years later. Sometimes it’s a photograph, or an embroidered dish towel and I simply think of who might have owned this, or who might have sat and lovingly stitched the dish towel or quilt square. And then I spin a tale about who I think might have been connected to this piece from the past, and what might have happened. And the story grows from there.
Or, am I simply trying to justify all the wondrous items that I purchase in antique stores and flea markets? Possibly.
Me: What do you enjoy outside of writing?
Trisha: Oh – so many ways to spend the days. I never get bored. There are grandchildren to visit (that I haven’t seen since Covid entered our lives). At home there’s the yard and the masses of flowers to tend to. I’ve given up on vegetables since moving to Texas. They just haven’t cooperated with me here. There’s crafting – stitchery, weaving, glass fusing, papermaking, soapmaking, so many things I enjoy creating. Although the past few years I think I’ve crafted more with words than fibers.
Me: Tell us about some upcoming projects or a piece you are currently writing.
Trisha: I’m excited about a Christmas book I’m planning for 2021. I’m still researching and developing the characters I want to use to tell the story. I should begin writing it by the end of the month. It’s a story that I ran across while researching a short story that was set in Iowa. In Algona, Iowa, during World War 2, there was a POW camp there that housed several thousand German soldiers.
Several of the German POW’s created a nativity scene their first Christmas there and held a special Christmas Eve service, singing to God in their native tongue. The camp commander asked them to make a larger nativity scene for the next year. Four POWs worked all year on it. The war ended before they were quite done with it, so they stayed several months longer to finish it up. When it was completed, Christmas 1945, there was a special service, and they left the nativity scene to the town of Algona. All these years later, the nativity scene is still there and still viewed every year. Last year, 2020, was the first year that the display wasn’t open to the public because of Covid.
Me: What else would you like readers to know about you? What is the best way for them to find your work?
Trisha: I often joke that I was born on the cusp of Gemini/Cancer. My heart loves and nurtures with a true Cancer spirit. But my writing – my writing is pure flighty Gemini. Sometimes I wish I had one interest and passion and all my writing efforts went into that. But, alas, I don’t. There are so many things I like to dabble in with my writing. A little inspirational, a little bit for children, a lot about pieces from the past, a dab of this, and a smattering of that.
I have a monthly newsletter – Trisha’s Tidbits – where I share publication news and story snippets. You can sign up for that here and get a free copy of Following Your Dreams, a workbook with reflections and affirmations. https://my.sendinblue.com/users/subscribe/js_id/2r4s4/id/2
Thank you for having me here today, Melissa. You asked some of the most interesting questions and I’m excited to be able to share with your readers.
Order a copy of I Love You More Than Coffee in time for Mother’s Day.