As part of my ongoing “Writing Family” series on this site, I approached the lovely Jo-Anne Teal with some questions about short fiction, flash fiction, independent writers, and what draws her to support indie writers and artists.

An advocate for Alzheimer’s citizens in British Columbia, Jo-Anne has distinguished herself on Twitter and in the blogosphere as a champion of overlooked beauty: in people, in prose, and in independently published books. So of course I had to ask her about her passions, and especially what it is that draws her to the indie arena:

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I would consider you a “buy local” champion of indie authors. What is it that draws you specifically to subset of the publishing arena?

That’s an interesting observation and question.

When I began fiction writing and posting stories on my blog, I also started on Twitter. Social media opened up my world and gave me (gives me) the opportunity to meet writers from diverse backgrounds and at various stages of their writing journeys.

Several of the writers I encountered at the beginning were self-publishing their work but I didn’t know what self-publishing was. It was in that first year, through a writer currently on hiatus (my friend KD Rush) that I found out about Indies Unlimited website and learned about Amazon, Smashwords and the various resources available to indie writers.

However, I must say that It isn’t self-publishing which interests me as much as it is the stellar writing of several authors I’ve been honoured to meet and read.

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You frequently tweet about your favorite independent authors, and clearly have some favorites. What would be those favorites, and why did they resonate with you?

There are indeed a group of independent authors who I try to tweet and Facebook about as frequently as possible! The quality of their work is exceptional and they explore genres which expanded my reading life. This group of writers, in particular, write with such competency and passion, I’m very keen to get their work in front of other people. All of these writers deserve a wider audience. In the past I’ve described my kind of promotion as holding something shiny up to the light for others to see. I love reading quality, powerful writing and you’ll most definitely get it with this group:

Chris James: http://www.chrisjamesauthor.com Chris writes complex, well-woven pieces. His work ranges from action-packed page-turner novels to quiet, reflective short stories. He writes in several unique genres but the most prevalent would be counter-factual history/science fiction He’s a British fellow living in Poland; I mention this because living in Europe has given him a global perspective, a world view, a sense of what’s going on politically, that grounds and informs the unique plots of his stories.

Chris wrote Class Action, the first indie book I ever bought, and I’ve been a fan of his beautiful storytelling ever since. I could say so much about his writing but I encourage your readers to check out his blog or visit his author page on Amazon.

JD Mader: http://www.unemployedimagination.com I discovered JD’s writing through Indies Unlimited. His flash fiction spoke to me; I knew the characters that populated his stories. His style is dark, urban, real. He shines a flashlight on the dark corners of our internal worlds. Besides flash fiction, he’s written a variety of novels and collections. Joe Café is a terrific introduction to JD’s style, as is his collection of stories, Please No Eyes.

David Antrobus: http://www.the-migrant-type.com/blog/ David has the most extensive, lyrical vocabulary of all my writing friends. He writes gorgeous and frightening stories, uses rich language to describe desperate people and situations. He has written a book but for me, his short stories and flash fiction are where his writing absolutely leaps off the page.

 

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A photo prompt for what turned out to be one of my favorite VisDare entries from Jo-Anne.

Most of what I see on Twitter focuses on longer fiction – specifically, fantasy/scifi/horror/romance novels of 50K words or longer. Yet you’ve often told me that you prefer short, true-to-life writing. Why does short fiction appeal so strongly to you?

Short fiction appeals to me because of the concentration of time, story arc and character. I love all formats: flash fiction, short stories, poetry, even micro-fiction. To me, these forms are like paintings. So much can be conveyed in one or two short scenes.

I surmise from your blog, posts, and tweets that you are a short fiction writer yourself, focusing more on vignettes and life snapshots rather than longer works. I’ve also noticed that you’re focusing more on your own writing right now. What sort of projects are you working on right now?

I am trying to focus in on my own writing and on writing stories which I hope will be considered for publication in the future. I was reminded last summer when I had a health scare (I’m fine now) that I have a limited amount of time to get my writing in front of people. So I decided I would do less flash fiction and more short stories with a view to submitting those stories to online journals.

The tales I want to tell are character focused and (I hope this doesn’t sound pretentious) focus on some aspect of the human condition. I write about individuals who are hidden, hurt, silent and often unheard.

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As with many of my writer friends that I’ve met online, I first encountered you through the world of flash fiction blogging. I would imagine that flash fiction plays perfectly into your writing style and preferences. What would you say is the greatest benefit for you – or any writer – when participating in flash fiction?

I wouldn’t have started writing if it wasn’t for flash fiction. Lillie McFerrin’s 5 sentence fiction, writing challenges, your Visual Dare weekly photo prompts and Trifecta (which sadly isn’t going anymore). All of those provided me with a chance to discover my writing voice and hone my writing skills. Flash fiction compels a writer to not only write but also to read flash fiction written by others. Wow, that is the best way to understand what works and, sadly, what doesn’t.

What is your ideal avenue for publication, when that time comes? Will you pursue an indie course, or something more traditional?

If I had my druthers, I would have a combination of traditionally published work and independently published work. Right now, I’m concentrating on submitting work to literary journals. At this point, it may all be wishful thinking.

To follow Jo-Anne and know more about her writing, she can be found on Twitter at @jtvancouver. And as for her writing:

The best place to find my limited published writing is on Amazon.com A larger selection of my writing is available on my writing blog: www.goingforcoffee.net
Who are YOUR favorite indie authors? Favorite flash fiction challenges? Let me know in the comments!
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