Interview with Marilyn Paluszak

What are you working on next?
"Can you see her now? ... and other poems" will be my next offering. Poetry is one of the purest forms of expression. It allows the writer to take a snippet or two and create images lighthearted enough to amuse or thoughtful enough to ponder. I enjoy the craft in a poem; the lyrical elements and repetitions of theme if not word. For me, poetry is not so much about rhyme as it is about the art of selecting words to fit the mood.
My poetry will be followed by a book about the journey my husband and I took round the world. "400 Days, 155 Beds" will not be a travel guide in the truest sense of the term. There won't be reviews of hotels and restaurants. Instead, readers will be able to join us as we smelled the roses of the world and lived our dream. In sharing our adventures we'll hope to encourage others to expand their universe.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'd like to be erudite enough to say Voltaire, but let's face it, I'm not. I enjoy authors who can pull me into a story and who write believable characters. People like Jonathan Kellerman who not only understands a good mystery, but who writes about what causes people to act the way they do. I also admire those who can write witty dialogue and that award goes to Georgette Heyer. Back in the 1930s, she wrote numerous little novelettes about the ins and outs among the ton in London and rural England. Some of those stodgy authors we were forced to read in school would have been remembered more fondly if they had her skill and sense of humor. Martha Grimes merges the works of Kellerman and Heyer through a series of mysteries all titled after some local pub in England. I enjoy many poets, too, but am a particular fan of Ted Kooser. The 13th Poet Laureate of the U.S. (2004-2006), he authored one of my favorite books: "The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets."
What is your writing process?
I am not disciplined enough to have a process. The computer is my friend, though, as I can backspace nearly as fast as type. Generally, thoughts or actual words start in my head and it then becomes a rush to find a keyboard or a napkin to put them down before they float back into the ethos. Once on a screen or paper, I edit until I'm happy. It is fun to move words and sentences around, to add and subtract.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I'm an android fan because it has a large enough screen that I can pretend it is a paperback. And it doesn't ring (no phone!) so I am not interrupted. That means I can read any manner of formats, from Kindle to PDFs.
Describe your desk
Oh, dear. My desk is actually a pull-down affair as my office is also our guest bedroom. The wall to my right looks like a giant bookcase divided into four sections: the center two are all book shelves and on either side, recessed, are open shelves over cabinets (that have doors). When guests come, the center sections move left-right (hiding the things I've stuffed on shelves when no one is visiting) and a bed pulls down. "My side" of the room faces all that and is comprised of more shelves and cabinets to match, except the center door opens to allow a plain tabletop to drop down. My computer and monitor are stored behind that when not in use. I always have papers strewn around my desk: recipes I fully intend to copy onto my Android, calligraphy pens and inks in case a need arises, notes about upcoming events to put on a club website, etc. When I look up and over the monitor -- a big, wide one that allows me to easily split-screen -- I look west out my window to palm fronds wafting in the ever present breeze. Okay, that was more than just my desk. Couldn't help myself.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up around the Capital District of Albany, Troy and Schenectady, New York. Well, that is where we lived and where I went to public schools. But I think I grew up on weekends visiting my parents' neighborhood and school chums from the nearby, rural county of Schoharie (sko-harry; the Mohawk word for driftwood) and while camping in the Adirondack Mountains each summer. My father was an amalgam of Daniel Boone and Walter Matthau (of "Grumpy Old Men") and a grand storyteller, to boot. He hunted and fished, he told stories about the first settlers and the Indians who befriended them and then ran off with their wives -- my dad had a way of recounting history a lot like he told great fishing stories. One never quite knew how much was truth and how much fiction. I've always thought it was sad that every child couldn't have a Mom like mine. She was a mother when I needed one and, as I matured, she became my great friend. She had a simple take on life and a strong sense of right and wrong. So my writing isn't about where I grew up so much as who I grew up with.
When did you first start writing?
This is a hard question. I had to do research reports as far back as in elementary school and my first poem was written as a freshman in college. During my career in state government I learned a lot about the craft of writing. Back in the day, a woman named Peg Albright was a copyeditor for the NYS Department of State and she taught me a whole lot about that craft. I often felt guilty that I was her supervisor when she was, in fact, the one who was so generous with her time and knowledge.
In 2005, as we embarked on our travels, a friend suggested strongly that I keep a journal and share that with those we were leaving behind. All those years writing business letters for myself and others, not counting articles for government flyers and more, came into focus. Those journal entries provided a forum for a more creative sort of writing but it is only in the past eight years that I even attempted creative writing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I always have loved words. For me, the joy of writing is being able to pick and choose words and move them around like paints on a canvas. I love to lose myself in a good book and there would be no greater pleasure than to know that someone would feel that way about something I've written. Words have the power to touch people from afar. It's as simple as that.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am not a fan of deluding myself; I know my little short stories and poems are not hitting the top 10 on anyone's chart, tomorrow ;>) Well known, previously published authors have a difficult time marketing their work. Most successful authors have to go on what are often referred to as grueling book selling tours, doing countless interviews and book signings. Being an independent will allow me to share my work and publish it electronically, opening it up to a world of possibilities.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
As a beginner, I'm not counting my successes quite yet. That said, I wouldn't be publishing anything if not for Smashwords. I especially enjoy the ease in which I can turn my writings into manuscript suitable for electronic publication through their system. This is a gift to new writers.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Over the years I have done many things: from riding horses, to gridding race cars, to traveling the U.S. and abroad. More recently, I quilt and write and am learning all about book folding. Isn't YouTube marvelous? I can split screen my monitor to write or play word games on one side while learning how to roll newspaper tubes to be woven into incredible baskets on the other. Oh, and I'm working on calligraphy and making Christmas ornaments out of string, using balloons and glue. Then there is the Worldwide Foreign Travel Club website to update ... and so much more. Today we walked two miles to enjoy lunch out; and then completed the circle home in a tad less than that. And there is my new blog, too. Such is life as a retiree!
Published 2016-02-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Maybelle & Mattie: Each with a story of her own to tell
Price: Free! Words: 3,790. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Two very short stories: In "Maybelle," we spend a lazy summer afternoon as she muses on odd pairings, be those involved in breeding horses or forming more human relationships. "Mattie" is a traveler who we discover as she makes up lives for fellow passengers on a special flight to Rome, on her way to Istanbul.