PeterNelsonThe following interview with Peter Nelson was conducted by Joan Axelrod-Contrada, moderator of the Secrets of Successful Writers panel at this year’s WriteAngles conference.

Why did you become a writer? When did the writing bug first bite you?

I dictated a book of poems to my mother when I was four or five. It began “Two squirrels collecting pearls . . .” And so on. I also illustrated it. Then I won a poetry contest in second grade and read my poem to an auditorium full of Minneapolis elementary school teachers. The poem was called Hail the Mighty Golfers. Illustrated that one too. I was always writing little stories and skits and making imitations of Mad Magazine or comic books – In other words, I don’t know when I became a writer, but it never occurred to me that I couldn’t be one. Never a day when I had to make a decision to become something I had any doubts about. The decision to try to MAKE A LIVING as a writer came with a week to go in college when my writing professor told me I was good at it and suggested I get an MFA, at which point I was launched on the path.

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer?

Finding out how the stories I begin end. That’s the process, wondering, “What would happen if . . .?” And then writing until I discover the answer.

The most frustrating?

Divining the ways of the publishing marketplace.

Can you tell us about your latest release?

The last book I published, FINDING REILLY; SAVING MYSELF, was in collaboration with a man who rescued a dog from a slot canyon in Arizona and, in the process of rescuing and seeing through to the dog’s full recovery, discovered the origins of his own bullying as a child. Though oddly, I realized, as we worked through his life story, that he was somewhere on the Aspergers/autistic spectrum and unable to see things about himself that were quite evident to me. I was writing his story, but I knew his story better than he did.

What inspired it?

I got a call from an agent looking for a writer to collaborate on the project, and she knew I’d written about dogs before.

You’re sitting on the Secrets of Successful Writers panel at this year’s conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?

I am planning to wing it. That is, I’ve taught and talked about these things my entire life and while I’m not sure I have any secrets, I’ve learned a few tricks here and there.

What are you working on now?

I have, lately, been working with a collaborator in Hollywood on a number of film projects. We have multiple irons in the fire, but to mix a metaphor, it gets to feel like herding cats. I have literary projects in the works as well, including a memoir, and I grab an hour here and an hour there to move everything forward.

Where can we find you online?

You can’t, though if you google my name, there’s another guy with my same first name, last name, and middle initial, and he writes books (and has a TV show) about tree houses. I used to have a website, and I should probably restore it, but it seemed for the most part like a waste of time and money to maintain. There are probably writers who know how to monetize the Internet, but I’m not one of them.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just that I look forward to meeting everybody.

avitalnormannathmanLiz Bedell interviews Avital who will appear on the panel Writer as Entrepreneur: Getting Your Book Out There, on October 17.

Why did you become a writer? When did the writing bug first bite you?

I’ve been writing since elementary school! The fact that I wasn’t paid for it then didn’t stop me and I would fill notebooks upon notebooks with stories. I ended up becoming a writer because that feeling that I just had to write never quite went away.

What is the most rewarding part of being a writer? The most frustrating?

Sparking conversation and debate with what I write, and getting to hear the stories of others who were inspired by something I wrote. The most frustrating is that as a freelance writer it’s a feast or famine world.

Can you tell us about your latest release?

I write non-fiction, so I’m continuously being published both online and in print with articles, interviews, and op/eds. You can read some of my weekly columns at SheKnows.com!

You’re sitting on the Writer As Enterpreneur: Getting Your Book Out There panel at this year’s WriteAngles Conference. Can you tell us a little bit about what you’re planning?

I’ll talk a bit about how social media is instrumental in helping promote a book, and even if it can feel overwhelming — it’s worth it!

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my second book, The Perfect Birth Myth, which will take a look at the birthing industry in the US.

Where can we find you online?

At The Mamafesto.com and tweeting at @TheMamafesto.

mirabartokOnly a few years ago Mira Bartok, author of The Memory Palace, was a panelist at WriteAngles. Now publishers are vying for her uncompleted manuscript and plans are afoot for a movie!

It may not prove that all our panelists will meet with fabulous success but it does provide additional evidence that we attract fine panelists.

Barring any unforeseen obstacles, registration is set to begin on Sept. 8.

Unless, that is, we are able to add a fourth agent. If so, we will let you know. Meanwhile, we have confirmed agent #3 and have complete information about the Writer as Entrepreneur panel which takes place during the conference’s first morning session.

We are extremely pleased that we now have a nearly complete roster of panels, along with our panelists’ writing biographies, and information about two of our agents.

If you haven’t subscribed to our website, please do. That way you will receive notification of all updates.

We are very happy to announce that Susan Stinson and Carol Edelstein have agreed to be the keynote speakers for this year’s WriteAngles conference. As published writers and well-established writers advocates, we know they will have no shortage of encouraging and inspiring words for writers.


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