Publishing Slants of Light Anthology: An Interview with Memoirist Susan Weidener

Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler

 

A writer’s voice is not character alone, it is not style alone; it is far more. A writer’s voice lines the stroke of an artist’s brush-is the thumbprint of her whole person-her idea, wit, humor, passions, rhythms.” Patricia Lee Gauch

 

It is my pleasure to feature Memoir Author  and founder of The Women’s Writing Circle Susan Weidener in this guest post on creating the newly-released anthology Slants of Light: Stories and Poems From the Women’s Writing Circle with fifteen members of the Women’s Writing Circle. Susan is also the author of two memoirs: Again in a Heartbeat and Morning at Wellington Square.  We met in a  LinkedIn Writer’s Cafe group chat in 2012. In February, 2013 , I had the honor of  co-facilitating a journaling workshop with Susan for the Women’s Writing Circle. I experienced first-hand the power of women’s voices to inspire,  nurture and support the stories of our lives.  The Slants of Light anthology is tangible evidence of this power: a gift to us all. My reviews are on Amazon and Goodreads.

Welcome, Susan!

Memoir Author and Founder of The Women's Writing Circle Susan Weidener

Memoir Author and Founder of The Women’s Writing Circle Susan Weidener

Welcome lovely ladies of the Women’s Writing Circle!

The women of  the Women's Writing Circle and Authors of The Slants of Light Anthology

The women of the Women’s Writing Circle and Authors of The Slants of Light Anthology

 

KP: Please share what Slants of Light: Stories and Poems From the Women’s Writing Circle is about.

 

SW: It’s an original collection of stories and poems never before published. Created by 15 writers from the Philadelphia area, the collection spans fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir and poetry.  The book focuses on the voices of women and their challenging and changing roles in society.  Each story and poem addresses a specific theme of daily life – love, loss, friendships, childhood memories, career decisions, aging, divorce, abuse – with compassion and insight.

 

KP: The Women’s Writing Circle was created by you to help women find and honor their voices.  What are the key ingredients in fostering a safe environment to make this happen?

SW: Without a doubt it’s the support and validation that our stories matter. There’s this feeling in the Circle that: “You’re not alone.  I know what you’re talking about and I recognize this as something I’ve experienced too as a woman. Thank you for sharing.”  The Circle can be very empowering as writers grow and learn from each other’s work.

 

KP: What made you decide to pull the women’s stories and poems into this anthology?

 

SW: The collaboration grew out of a rather innocent question on my part one morning at Wellington Square, which is the name of the bookstore where the Circle meets. For over a  year I had been listening to stories of pain and fear, triumph and tragedy, each woman sharing her life and her memories either through fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir or poetry – and as always I had been struck with the pure power and honesty of those stories.  So I said, “What do you think about sharing some of our stories in an anthology?” A few heads turned to one another.  One woman asked, “Would anyone care what we have to say?”  At which point someone else, said “We’ll never know if we don’t try.”

 

KP: Pulling the stories and poems of 15 women into one anthology seems like a daunting task. How did you make this happen and how long did it take?

 

SW: We had no idea when we started where the journey would lead. Truthfully, it was more arduous than any of us on the core committee anticipated, and if we had known, well…..  We would laugh about that just to break the tension. The committee, which consisted of four of us, directed everything from strategy and implementation of deadlines, opening a bank account for anthology funds, to whom to hire as editor and illustrator.  We also did copy and content edits before we sent the manuscript to the outside editor to lessen her load.  We were working on an extremely tight budget and it wasn’t fair to send her something that hadn’t been fairly well polished in advance.  It took exactly one year from beginning to end.  You have to remember, too, these are all original, never before published stories and poems.  Each piece was crafted by the writers specifically for the anthology and to that end each was subjected to a very rigorous editing process both through group critique and by our outside editor.

 

KP:  The title, Slants of Light, is intriguing. How did you come up with this title? 

 

SW :  We loved the idea of light being in the title because we always light the candle to open the Circle.   Edda Pitassi, who served on the committee and was the editor for my memoir sequel Morning at Wellington Square, has a very literary bent.  She had searched and found this Emily Dickinson quote which she liked.  I particularly loved Dickinson’s’ reference to “cathedral tunes” which I felt was a metaphor for the anthology.

 

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons - 
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

 

KP: How has your role as a journalist for The Philadelphia Inquirer helped you in the publication of Slants of Light?

 

SW:  I always liken working at the newspaper for 16 years as a “day-in, day-out writing clinic.”  So there’s that, of course, working on my craft, which never stops. The synergy in a newsroom of reporters and editors lends itself to collaboration, which is what an anthology is all about.  Plus, as a reporter, you are exposed on a daily basis to catchy headlines and well-crafted press releases.  We had to have a vision for this anthology and that meant incorporating themes that resonated with readers, as well as a message of what made our anthology different from others and why people should buy it.

 

KP: What are your ideas for promoting the anthology?

 

SW Endless!  When you have 15 individuals collaborating on a book, there is an amazingly exponential component created through social media, friends, business associates, libraries, churches, book clubs, etc. We are splitting online royalties 15 ways, and the women will be selling the books at events and venues; so that acts as a built-in incentive for promotion.  As a group, we are constantly brainstorming and right now we have a panel discussion about women finding their voices through writing scheduled at a local library, as well as a public reception and debut of the book on May 11 at an historic book store in our area.  We have plans for open mic nights to read our stories to audiences.  We are also planning meet and greet author events at local community day fairs and author signings at colleges and universities, of which there are many in the Philadelphia area, as you know.

 

KP: Is there anything else you’d like to share about the Women’s Writing Circle or Slants of Light?

 

SW:  I would like to thank the women for their dedication and the wealth of talent they brought to this very unique collaboration.  One of my hopes when we started this journey was that this – creating a published book, would be an empowering experience for the women and a chance for them to go out and affirm to other women the joy of finding a voice through writing.  On another topic, I feel that women sometimes spend inordinate amounts of time volunteering and offering up their gifts, their creations, their handiwork without recompense.  I have done this too.  Due to the dynamics of the new publishing age we are living through, writers have a greater chance than ever to dip their toes into the “entrepreneurial pool” and craft a little extra “income” – both monetarily and creatively by tapping into their talents and taking risks.  That is very exciting!

***

Thank you Susan for sharing the process of publishing your anthology, Slants of Light:Stories and Poems From theWomen’s Writing Circle. It is truly a tribute to the power and joy of sharing women’s voices. 

Cover for Slants of Light Anthology by  The Women's Writing Circle.

Cover for Slants of Light Anthology by The Women’s Writing Circle.

Author Bio:

For more information about Susan Weidener visit the Women’s Writing Circle at:

www.susanweidener.com

Twitter @Sweideheart

Or visit her author’s page on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Susan-G.-Weidener/e/B004G7AXQY

The Slants of Light Anthology can be ordered on Amazon

 

How about you? Have you ever submitted a piece to an anthology? Have you ever published an anthology?

Susan has offered to give away a copy of  the Slants of Light anthology to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing.

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your stories and comments below~

 

 

Thursday, 5/2: Memoir Author Laura Dennis will discuss: “Re-launching  a Memoir in the Digital Book Age.” Laura is the author of Adopted Reality and will give away a copy of her updated memoir to a commenter whose name will be selected in a random drawing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Susan, thanks for sharing the story behind this enticing anthology. I hope it will inspire millions more to begin writing. I’m excited that it emphasizes the collaborative element in both writing and production. Simply reading stories forms bonds between readers and writers, but writing together forms bonds twenty times stronger. Let’s circle the world with story, and write it together!

  2. says

    Sharon, Thank you for the encouraging words. . . and I do agree with Hillary. It takes a village . . . especially when it comes to women supporting and validating each other through storytelling. The “cherry” on the top is that it makes all of us stronger; more “grounded.” When I wrote about that insnace Internet date I went on for the anthology, I realized how sad it is to be older and still hoping to find romance; yet the day is saved by finding my own sense of humor and not taking myself too seriously! Carpe diem! Keep writing.

  3. Diane Yannick says

    When a bunch of strong women who love words unite, it’s a beautiful thing. Watch out world, the floodgates have opened.

  4. says

    What a huge undertaking, Susan, but what a wonderful way to empower women and their stories. Bravo to all of the storytellers in Slants of Light.

  5. says

    Diane, Your story about being the last to know that your husband cheated is a testament to your own risk-taking and the power of your voice. Together, we find in community and collaboration that indeed the floodgates do burst open!

  6. says

    Pat, It was a huge undertaking. . . but as you know having written your memoir, we would have it no other way. An anthology is especially empowering, tho, because we are in this together, supporting each other; and as writers, invaluable in learning different writing techniques and ways to tell a story.

  7. says

    Kathy, I want to thank you for all you are doing to empower women by being such a generous and supportive presence in their lives. You have become more than a guiding light to me, but a friend and kindred spirit. Thanks so much for everything you do to let your readers know about the Women’s Writing Circle.

    • says

      Susan, It is an honor and a pleasure to share the valuable and inspiring work you and the ladies of the Circle are doing. When I first heard about the Circle, I longed to be a part of it. Then when you invited me to co-facilitate the journaling workshop and I did become a part of it, it really was a dream come true. I wish everyone could experience it for themselves. Slants of Light is a window into the Circle and a gift to all of us. Thank you for all you do to nurture and empower women to find and share their voices. I am deeply touched by your kind words and must say, the feeling is mutual.:-)

  8. Jan says

    My life is certainly enriched being part of the Circle and my story in the anthology has brought me close in soul to many women.

    Thank you, Susan, for all you do.
    Thank you, Kathy, love you too.

    • says

      Beautifully said, Jan. We are all enriched, enlightened and inspired when we share our stories. Your story in the anthology is a powerful one, gripping in its honest and courage. And you’re very welcome, love you right back.

  9. says

    I’m a big fan of anthologies, and use them for my own enjoyment and well as for my writing students. They are a fantastic way to get exposure to a number of writers, either writing from different perspectives on a single theme, or included because they share something in common, like geographic (and in this case, participation in the Women’s Writing Circle) location.

    Anthologies offer us a superb way to sample a number of different writers’ works, which quite often leads us to seeking out other works by those writers who really moved us.

    I’m eager to read this anthology, and wish we had a Women’s Writing Circle in Greater Boston!

    • says

      Hi Lynette, Welcome! It is wonderful to have you stop by and comment. I appreciate your thoughts on anthologies, especially as a way of showcasing different voices on common themes. Enjoy Slants of Light. It delivers on its promise to inspire and empower through storytelling. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Maybe you can start your own Women’s Writing Circle in Boston! :)

  10. says

    Dear Susan and Kathy–it’s great that you are highlighting the power of bringing people together to share their experiences in the circle. I ran groups for many years, and it was truly magical what would happen in there–the ahas, tears, insights, and flow of creativity. Alice Miller talks about the importance of witnessing in the healing process, in the process of transformation. In a group you are witnessing each other and being witnessed. And in the writing, you witness yourself, your words hold you up and help you to move into other levels. It’s amazing, and Susan your group is so lucky to have you.
    Kathy, you are doing this same kind of thing on your blog. It’s wonderful and inspiring to know both of you! I look forward to seeing you both in person in October where I can be in the circle with you.

    • says

      Hi Linda Joy, I agree, Susan has set the bar for all of us in gathering women together to share and empower one another. Thank you for your kind comments,too. I am thrilled we will be sharing the Circle together in October. It will be an amazing experience to have you lead a workshop and meet in person (again!)Thanks for stopping by!

  11. says

    Isn’t it amazing how powerful group dynamics can be?! Kathy, thank you for featuring Susan this week, and Susan, best wishes for the success of your anthology! I love your story of how the title came about, too!

    • says

      Debbie, You are so right on the power of group dynamics. The anthology was a tremendous amount of work and it shows in the quality of the anthology. It touches so many chords about women’s issues ,resilience and empowerment. A truly inspiring read. Thanks so much, as always for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  12. says

    Susan, Congratulations to you and all the writers who participated. One year from start to finish is amazing. I think everyone promoting the book in their own way will make it a huge success. Thanks you Kathy for featuring the anthology, and all the hard work by Susan and her team of writers.

    • says

      You are most welcome, Sonia. Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your support to Susan and the ladies of the Women’s Writing Circle! They are definitely a powerful team!

  13. says

    The anthology sounds like it was great fun in spite of it being a mammoth undertaking. It’s a good reminder to enjoy the creative process even when it means having to confront painful memories. Thanks for sharing, Susan and Kathy.

    • says

      Great point, Belinda, to “enjoy the creative process even when it means having to confront painful memories.” I love that perspective. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your valuable insights.

  14. says

    Thank you, everyone for all your support, enthusiasm and good wishes. Our dream is to have this anthology introduced in women’s studies classes or college curriculums. So any help you can give us in that regard . . . . one of our promotional ideas is to contact our high school and college alma maters and ask them to give us a “shout out” about Slants of Light. It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to collaboration, which is one of the reasons I love it.

  15. says

    Once writing is no longer fun or a joy, it’s time to let it go. Many of the anthology writers took the plunge into those unknown waters and came up having felt the healing power of memoir writing. Thankfully, for me, writing has saved my life on more than one occasion, which is why I wrote a whole separate memoir about that. If you get a chance, “head” on over to the WWC site where I wrote a blog about Morning at Wellington Square, with a special shout-out to memoir writer Mary Gottschalk for her insightful review of that book. I love my women’s writing circle here online. I have come to know and appreciate you through your wonderful books, blog sites, guest posts, cheerleading . . . and more. Thank you.

  16. says

    Linda Joy, The Women’s Writing Circle is thrilled to have you teaching a whole-day seminar on October 19. I’ll wait and let you explain it when you are ready. We can’t wait to light the candle, open the Circle and learn from you. This again is the power of our online group of women writers. .. Kathy taught us journaling techniques in February and proved herself a born teacher of writers. All of this – the heartfelt connections, not to mention the resources among us, is so very amazing.

  17. says

    Dear Kathy and Susan, thanks for sharing about the writing and producing and marketing of Slants of Life. It is such a wonderful and inspiring anthology. And it’s so true what monster things a group of talented and powerful women can do – I love that word, exponential. We can all learn lessons from your marketing plan. Congratulations. I wish you all great success.

    • says

      Madeline, I echo your remarks of what a “wonderful and inspiring anthology Slants of Light is. As always,I appreciate you stopping and sharing your thoughts. Thank you.

  18. says

    Thank you, Madeline. Now I just have to get you to the Circle to read from your memoir. You would inspire all of us, of that I have no doubt. Many thanks for your willingness to read an advance copy of Slants of Light and for the lovely review you offered us so generously from the heart.

  19. says

    Bravo to you Susan for creating and managing this group. i bet you all have a wonderful time together, enforcing the truth that our stories do matter. Thank you Kathy for sharing.

    • says

      Hi Grace, Yes, I can vouch for the wonderful times shared in the Circle. It’s my pleasure to feature the creative work of Susan and the ladies of the Circle. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  20. says

    I love this idea that Linda Joy Myers mentioned: the writing circle as witness. We may be our own audiences when we write, but oh how lonely that can be! I can see how gratifying, reassuring and yes healing, it can be to share stories in a strong writing group.

    Wishing the Women’s Writing Circle much success. Thanks to Kathy for the interview with Susan!

    Laura

    • says

      Hi Laura, Our online community has been a source of tremendous inspiration and support. But I have to admit , there is nothing quite like meeting in person to witness each other’s stories. It is my pleasure to feature Susan and the ladies of the Circle in not only their beautiful anthology but also their ongoing work in the Circle. Thanks very much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Looking forward to your guest post on 5/2!

  21. Candice Swick says

    Hi Kathy, Hi Susan-

    Susan your words are right on point. This experience of being a part of “Slants of LIght” has been truly amazing for me. It represents so many different things to me. The most important lesson I learned from contributing my stories to the anthology was that even though my stories are nothing extraordinary, they still needed to be told. Actually the “ordinary” in my stories is exactly why they needed to be shared. All women’s voices need to be heard regardless of their story. All of our stories are worthy, just as we are all worthy women.
    Susan I thank you for believing in my writing and in me when I had my doubts.
    Kathy, I thank you for giving Susan this wonderful platform to discuss our baby, “Slants of Light”.

    Candice

    • says

      Hi Candice, So nice to see you here and read your heartfelt testimony to the power of the Circle in nurturing your writer’s voice. I love your comment about the “ordinary” stories that need to be told and I would add in extraordinary ways. I agree we all have worthy stories. It’s an honor to feature Susan and all you women of the Women’s Writing Circle. Congratulations on your fine work! Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

  22. says

    Laura, Thank you for your good wishes on the success of our anthology. Just holding the book in our hands and offering it to our readers already makes it a HUGE success since it was the commitment of the women of the Circle who stayed true to themselves and their beliefs that their stories and poems mattered . . . and were in so many ways “every woman’s” story.

  23. says

    Candice, You are more than welcome. I believed in your story; a woman’s resolute determination to square her shoulders and accept that her marriage is over – because it was from the heart – and could be any woman’s story. What a gift! Thank you for risking and collaborating with us.

  24. Edda R. Pitassi says

    The best application of the adjective ‘unique’ often come to my mind as I think of our group of 15 and our contributions to “Slants of Light…Stories and Poems From the Women’s Writing Circle.” Thank you, Kathy, for allowing Susan to elaborate on the anthology. Many of us (all?) have learned – and are still learning – that while we search for resolution, harmony, or peace — experience teaches that conflict – and often failure – lead to growth, change, and renewal in life. Writing supports and shapes the journey.

    • says

      What beautiful words, Edda, to describe the healing and transformational journey you all shared so eloquently in Slants of Light. It is an honor and a pleasure to provide a platform for sharing your collective work of art. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your insights and thoughts. Yes, “writing supports and shapes the journey.”

  25. Ginger Murphy says

    Kathy, thank you for featuring our anthology on your website via your interview with Susan! It’s so exciting to share our “baby” with your readers. We hope the story of how it all came together is inspiring in addition to each story making its individual and unique contribution. I feel very lucky to be on this journey with my fellow writers! I am learning much about myself and the craft of writing. We are so grateful to join our community with yours!

    • says

      Hi Ginger,it truly has been a pleasure to feature your “baby” in this interview with Susan! Yes,the story behind the story is as inspiring as the collection of stories itself. It is a labor of love and a gift to all. I share in your gratitude of uniting our communities. It’s so nice to see you here. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  26. says

    Thank you, Kathy, for this inspiring interview with Susan. It is packed with good stuff. You asked “Have you ever submitted a piece to an anthology? Have you ever published an anthology?” Yes, one of my stories was included in an anthology, and another story is included in a book that will come out in the fall. I’ve never published an anthology myself, but one of the reasons your post is so inspiring is because for DECADES I’ve been thinking about an anthology I’d like to pull together. It’s one of those ideas that just won’t go away and leave me alone. Perhaps I need to follow through. Thanks, Kathy and Susan, for your inspiration today.

    Bless you both,
    Linda

    • says

      Dear Linda, How wonderful that you have been thinking of doing an anthology. Yes do it! Susan has provided the template for all of us. I’m a true believer in the saying “there’s no such thing as a coincidence, only God’s way of remaining anonymous.” I’m thrilled Susan’s interview inspired you to take the next step, especially since your longing for it simply will not go away. Best wishes and keep us posted. Blessings and Hugs, Kathy

  27. says

    Linda, There’s a synergy that happens when a group of very special writers gets together and creates something that is . . . or borders on literature. What an experience! I wish you the best of luck. Believe in it and make your dream come true and your stories leap on the page. Take it from us in the Women’s Writing Circle. It CAN happen.

  28. Vicki McKeefery says

    Hi Kathy and Susan: Thank you so much for your interesting discussion about “Slants of Light”. We have all learned so much from our book journey together. I think it is a remarkable story in itself that 15 separate women could come together and produce such honest words about life from their points of view. “Slants of Light” is a book with a voice for everyone. Heartfelt thanks to you Kathy for this blog entry and to Susan for her leadership.

    • says

      Dear Vicki, You are welcome and thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your lovely thoughts about Slants of Light and Susan’s interview. I appreciate your comments and am happy you enjoyed the post. You have described the anthology so beautifully… “a book with a voice for everyone.” Best wishes, Kathy

  29. says

    How lovely to have two of the most inspiring and motivating women writers together in one blog post! Susan and Kathy, you each do so much for the rest of the writing community that it is amazing at the work product you keep presenting to us.

    Susan, congratulations on Slants of Light! I envy your writing circle, as I have told you before. Writing is a lonely endeavor but one we choose because we must tell our stories. To have founded this group and watched these women share their stories freely and then be willing to have them included in an anthology must be a feeling as warm as the flame from the candle you light each time you gather. Kudos to you and to each woman who is a part of this anthology.

    Kathy, you asked if any of us had been published in an anthology. I have and it was a great experience but nothing like Susan’s group. I responded to online call for submissions and was fortunate to have my work accepted. Recently, I was notified that I have had a second submission accepted for an anthology coming out in the next few months. It is good practice for the bigger projects we write and the acceptance motivates you to keep the fingers to the keyboard!

    • says

      Dear Sherrey, Your kind words are greatly appreciated. Thank YOU for all you do to show us all the healing power of writing. The support we experience from one another is soul-nourishing and validating. Priceless. Congratulations for your contributions to two anthologies. I agree Susan’s Women’s Writing Circle is a model group and one we’d all love to be a part of. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your valuable insights.

  30. says

    Edda, Vicki and Ginger . . . my wonderful writers and muses. I couldn’t do this without you. . . I couldn’t do it alone. None of us can. Thank you for sharing our Women’s Writing Circle dynamic which created our anthology.

  31. says

    Sherrey, Thank you for understanding and for your own contributions of writing and healing along this journey of the feminine . . . and for understanding and appreciating how freeing this is and how much we appreciate the support of other women no apologies for being a part of the “Sisterhood.”

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