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 lovely ladies of the Women’s Writing Circle!
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.
For more information about Susan Weidener visit the Women’s Writing Circle at:
Or visit her author’s page on Amazon:
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.