On Nov. 16, I will take part in Mount Holyoke College’s annual Write Angles Conference, a daylong series of offerings for creative writers in the Valley and beyond.
I’m sitting with two others on a panel called Jumping Genres: On Reinventing Yourself as a Writer, to be moderated by Joan Axelrod-Contrada, the author of SIZZLE, a teen novel.
Joan writes for the Boston Globe and has authored more than 15 nonfiction books for young people; when I was reviewing children’s books for the Daily Hampshire Gazette some years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing several.
Serving on the panel with me will be Debra Immergut, co-author of Improv Sewing: 101 Fast, Fun and Fearless Projects, and a freelance journalist and editor; and Joan Robb, author of There’s a Princess in my Living Room, a children’s book, and a singer/songwriter and theater director/playwright.
We three panelists were asked to answer these questions for registrants to read in advance:
Why did you become a writer?
I have always been a big reader, and I think loving to write stems from knowing that I can create interesting stories for other people to read and enjoy. I get a kick out of entertaining people, and stories entertain.
My passion for storytelling traces back to my mother, Evelyn Beetle, who can turn anything into a tale – a conversation she overheard at the grocery store, an interaction at the bank, an afternoon at the bridge table. All of life is good fodder for her stories, which are rich in detail and told to evoke laughter, shared indignation or sympathy.
I like to think the tales I produce are as entertaining as my mother’s, and my stories tend to educate as well.
What is the most rewarding part of being a writer? The most frustrating?
When people tell me they read something I wrote. That always surprises me still. They don’t often know what they read or where they read it, but they can always articulate why they remembered it – because it taught them something or made them laugh or made them cry.
The most frustrating? Not having the time to write about the things that dance inside my head because I need to write about the things that allow me to pay my mortgage.
Can you tell us about your latest release?
My first book, Divine Renovations: A Carpenter, His Soul Mate and Their Story of Love and Loss. This book is about my late husband, Ed Godleski, and is a poignant love story full of irony and transformation.
The book tells the story of falling in love with Ed and losing him only eight short years later to metastatic lung cancer. It is raw and personal and shows what a grief journey can look like.
What inspired it?
Ed’s death was the first real loss I experienced, and it completely undid me. In the months afterward, I could not put my hands on a book that helped me to recognize what grief looks like. I found books that told me about grief, but not books that showed me what grief looks like in a person’s life. I decided I would write the book I wished I could find. I wanted to help others. I wanted to offer hope.
You’re sitting on the Jumping Genres panel at this year’s WriteAngles Conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?
I’m planning to talk about my work as a journalist and my jump into PR and then my later jump into creative nonfiction.
I will also talk about what it’s like to jump genres on a daily basis as a business owner, freelance journalist and blogger and the fact that I am considering yet another jump – into fiction.
What are you working on now?
A series of blogs on leaders in the Pioneer Valley that I hope will evolve into a book.
I also have a love story and a book about interesting nuns in my mind as well.
Where can we find you online?
JaniceBeetle.com and BeetlePress.com
And on Facebook at Janice Beetle Author and Beetle Press
Is there anything you would like to add?
I wish I could spend every day in the warm dunes of a beach, reading and writing.
I’m looking forward to this panel and being able to discuss my career as a writer. If you’re interested in attending, please visit http://www.writeanglesconference.com/program/. Registration is required.