Margaret Fieland Interview

You've published a number of poetry and short story anthologies, which is you favourite and why?

My current favorite is the latest one, “From Freckles to Wrinkles,” published by Silver Boomer Books. You can order it at or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

You belong to a critique group, how useful is this to your writing?

It's been critical. I never would have started writing stories if it weren't for my critique group. I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson after the first Muse on Writing online conference and joined her writing forums. In order to participate in the poetry, you had to do the short stories too.

How did you find the 'right' critique group for you?

I fell into them – not just Linda's but also one devoted to children's stories. My poetry critique group I ended up in after a fellow writer recommended the site.

What are you currently working on?

I'm working on a poetry collection for kids and a chapter book entitled “The Ugly Little Boy.” Excerpt below. I started writing it about a year and a half ago, wrote the first version, ran the first three chapters through one of my critique groups, then set the whole thing aside. Then recently I took an online class on editing and used the book as an example. In the process, I realized I need to chop several chapters at the beginning devoted to backstory and change the character of the grandmother and the father. I think I'm about half way through the current revision. It's going to be a very different book than the first version – much tighter and with more emotional impact.

Excerpt: The Ugly Little Boy

Alvin's eyes burned and his chest felt tight when he remembered the last time he'd visited Grandma he'd driven there with Mom and Dad. Now Mom was dead and Dad still in the hospital. Alvin peered out the window of Grandma's car as they passed through Millbank and down the tree-lined road that led to Pine Crest point. As Grandma drove past the lake with the community beach, down the road and into her driveway, Sam, Alvin's collie mix, put his front paws on Alvin's lap and barked.
"Yes, Sam, we're here," Alvin said, ruffling Sam's soft ears as they all climbed out of the car. Alvin noticed that he was almost as tall as Grandma, and that she looked even thinner and frailer and with her reddish-gray curls more faded.
Alvin, Sam and Grandma followed the flagstone path down the hill, past the rock garden. The marigolds, petunias, and geraniums lifted their faces to the sun.
The house, a ranch, was stained brown, surrounded by several large trees.
"Was there really a fence here when Dad and Uncle Arthur were little?"
"Yes, and your Grandfather and I really did tie the gate shut so they wouldn't fall into the lake." The lake was right across the road.
Grandma opened the front door, and Alvin followed her into the big living room. Paneled in pine, it had windows on both ends, a dining table at one end, couches and chairs at the other and a large fireplace in the middle.
Sam trotted up and dropped a ball at Alvin's feet.
"Grandma, Sam found a ball."
"Sam always manages to find a ball." Grandma stared at Sam, who opened his jaws and grinned a doggy grin. "You two go outside if you want to play catch. No playing ball in the house."
"That's what Mom always said." Alvin's throat felt tight. He frowned and rubbed his eyes.
Alvin pushed open the door and went outside. Standing on a flat spot in front of the house, Alvin threw the ball up the hill and Sam ran to get it.
It was beginning to get dark when Grandma called, "Alvin, time for dinner. Come in and wash your hands."
"Grandma, when will me and Dad have our own house again?" Alvin said when they were seated at the dining table.
"I don't know, Alvin. I don't know whether your father will try to rebuild your old house when he gets the insurance money." Grandma handed Alvin a hamburger and put one on her own plate. Alvin took a big bite. His throat felt almost too tight to swallow.
"I miss our house. I miss Mom and Dad. I wish everything would go back the way it was."
Grandma looked at Alvin and said, "Alvin, you're nine years old. That's old enough to know your mother isn't coming back."
Alvin ate a few more bites. Grandma put down her half eaten hamburger and stood up. "I guess we aren't very hungry tonight. Let's clear the table and wash the dishes. Then you can brush your teeth and get ready for bed."
Alvin picked up his plate and glass. He followed Grandma into the kitchen, Sam at his heels.
Grandma put the dishes on the kitchen counter. "Just scrape the hamburger into the trash and then put the dishes into the dishpan. I'll wash and you can dry."
"We could give the hamburger to Sam. I'll bet he's still hungry." Sam sat by Grandma's feet and panted hopefully.
"Hmmph," said Grandma, but she broke the hamburger into pieces and put them into a bowl on the floor. Sam grinned, then started to eat.
"At home Dad always did the dishes. "I just cleared the table." Alvin looked out the kitchen window at the front yard. He could feel the soft breeze through the open window. The sky was a dark blue with a few fluffy white clouds. Grandma's flowers swayed back and forth. It looked very peaceful. "I wonder if Mom can see the flowers from Heaven?"

You are a contributing writer to a new Zine, Tell us about it.

I've been involved in FemmeVip since the beginning. It's a zine for women, and I'm currently writing a column entitled Lifestyles. Check it out.

Anything else you what our readers to know?

Don't underestimate the importance of being well-organized as a writer. My writing really took off when I wrote a poem I wanted to keep (and see published) and looked around for someplace (online) to put them. I originally used Yahoo briefcase, but switched to Google Documents, which I like much better, because my editor on FemmeVip prefers it. I'm not a naturally well-organized person (I can hear my family snickering in the background – this is really a vast understatement...) but I keep my poems online in folders, keep a list of where I've submitted, etc. Without it I'd go nuts – plus I'd never have gotten anything published without it.

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  1. Nice interview, Jo. The excerpt from Margaret Fieland's The Ugly Little Boy is very nice. Sad without throwing-it-in-your-face sad.

    I want to read more.

    Thanks for sharing.


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