Every writer has a unique path to publication, if they choose to publish what they write. My guest today has a moving tale to share about how became published. Please welcome Trisha Faye! Let’s look at her background and then move on to find out more about her and her stories.
Trisha Faye writes about people, places, and items from the past – when she can tear herself away from researching, which is her favorite activity. But, in true Gemini fashion, she also enjoys writing magazine articles, children’s stories, and inspirational pieces. When not settled in front of a computer screen, she plays with a house full of rescue cats (far too many!) or digs in the garden.
Trisha is a past-Secretary and past-President of Keller Writers’ Association. She gives presentations and holds writing workshops at local libraries and for local writing groups and conferences. She is published in Quilter’s World, Country Magazine, Good Old Days, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Women’s World and in other national and regional publications.
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Betty: When did you become a writer?
Trisha: Writing entered my life slowly. I’m not one that can share that ‘I’ve been writing stories ever since I was a young child’. In the late 1990s, I started a monthly herbal newsletter. But I didn’t feel I was writing. I mostly shared recipes and reported on how to use herbs in crafting and gardening. Looking back, I think I felt that was a ‘safer’ route.
After my Grandma Jones died, I wanted to document some of the family stories and write a book about them. I did dabble with the start of a few stories that featured Grandma and my mom as a young child. But I doubt I ever wrote more than one or two chapters, and that project died a slow death.
The year I turned 50, I moved to Texas and that’s really when my writing began. I started with some articles for our small local paper. From there I started branching and getting magazine articles accepted. Gradually, with each acceptance I felt more confident in myself and started expanding the type of writing I did.
I soon became brave enough to start working on fictional short stories, most of a historical nature, along with some books – both non-fictional and historical fiction, and some children’s stories.
Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?
Trisha: Counting the years when I didn’t consider myself a real writer, to publication of my first newspaper article, was probably about ten years – off and on.
Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?
Trisha: I think what I most enjoy about writing is the creative process. Many of my stories begin from an item from the past – a postcard, a vintage cookbook, a photograph, an embroidered dish towel, or a tattered quilt.
Or, am I simply justifying one of my greatest pleasures – drifting about in a myriad of antique stores on the hunt for ‘treasure’? If that prized bit I discover becomes a story or a book, then it’s all good, right?
I pick up a worn dish towel with its hand embroidered design and think of the woman who stitched this piece so many years before. From the patterned pieces that came from its initial life as a feed sack, I feel that the dishcloth was crafted in the ’30s or ’40s. My mind begins creating the tale of the woman that stitched this lovely towel, thinking of what her life must have been like. What difficulties did she face? What challenges did she overcome? What delights did she find in her life?
And from there, a woman from long ago starts rising from the fragments collected in my brain and I end up creating a lady, her family, a story that surrounds her.
New projects, new characters, new tales – I feel like I’m molding these snippets of the past into new people, creating lives and memories, and honoring past lives when I’m able to.
Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?
Trisha: Oh dear, I remember the first writing class I took. Or should I say, the first class that I attempted? I was about twenty years old, just starting some classes at the junior college in Azusa. I was not one of the bold, young, confident ones. I was one more afraid of my own shadow. One of my classes was a creative writing class. I couldn’t tell you what my story was about. But I can report that when I read my first story aloud to the class – it was ripped to shreds! Along with my fragile ego. I never returned.
About fifteen years later, as I navigated the murky days of divorce, I began going to a counselor who helped me through the process. She is the first one that told me these words – “You are a writer.”
Of course, it still took about another fifteen years before I believed her and began crafting with words instead of fibers and glass and clay.
Alas, by this time I also saw that those cruel, scathing words from my first critique were not all that wrong. Even though the local newspaper accepted several articles for publication, encouraging me in the notion that I could be a writer, I saw that I still needed to learn a lot.
I began devouring books on writing. Fortunately, the internet had exploded by then, and a wealth of writing blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and such awaited me on these virtual airwaves coming straight to my desk.
I felt like a sponge soaking up knowledge. And I’m still learning.
I also joined two local writing groups, where their insightful critiques keep helping me polish my prose as I grow and learn more each week, each month, each year.
Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?
Trisha: I wish I knew then that we are never, never, never going to get it perfectly right the first time out. Our first draft, no matter how good we think we’ve done, is always going to go through several mutations before it ends up as a final product – sometimes with massive transformations.
But every word cut, every word changed, every modification only creates a better product. And the words of critique that help us along – sometimes kind and considerate, sometimes not so much – only help us strengthen our craft.
I wish that I could have had a thicker skin in those days. Because I didn’t, and I didn’t keep going, I wasted thirty years. I think that’s why I like to share my story of that time so long ago when some harsh words halted me on my path and diverted me for far too many years. I want to encourage others who may be feeling discouraged to keep going. Keep muddling through and keep putting the words on the paper.
No, we may not be Stephen King or JK Rowling. We may never even make it close to their level of expertise. But we do get better. Every day we write. Every thousand words we add to a manuscript. Every time we make another editing pass through a story. Keep on writing and we will keep getting better.
Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?
Trisha: Dr. Barbara Sinor, who is no longer the counselor who aided me as I traversed some dark, difficult days, is now my friend and mentor. She has been a huge inspiration to me, both with her encouragement, and the inspiration of her beautiful, lyrical writing.
Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?
Trisha: I know it seems strange to be sharing a book of Christmas stories with you the last week in January. But this is my latest book released last November, 100 Years of Christmas, and it’s perhaps one I’m most proud of. Most of the stories in this book had their beginnings from an object found at an antique store, or in the case of the 1934 quilt squares (Stitching Christmas Memories), a set of 30 quilt squares purchased at a yard sale in California.
Since most of the quilt squares had names on them, I eventually was able to track them to a small, now-non-existent town of Athelstan, Iowa. The squares were stitched by women and young girls in 1934. In 2014, I traveled to southern Iowa and donated the quilt squares to The Taylor County Historical Museum, where I met many descendants of these women and created friendships that continue to this day.
The stories in the book are themed around Christmas. Some of them I started two to three years ago. But they’re not really Christmas stories. They’re stories of seven different women through the years 1849-1948, who struggled to remain strong, to protect their families, to thrive and grow despite the circumstances surrounding them.
A few true facts, along with a few pieces from the past, are woven together with a large dollop of fiction, creating women and honoring those from the past. It’s one of the things I most like to do.
Thank you, Betty, for giving me this chance to come aboard and share some of my thoughts with your readers. I genuinely appreciate it and wish you all a day filled with blessings – and good stories.
Come join us as we travel through the years, peeking in on seven different women as they navigate the Christmas holiday and come to terms with their own inner life struggles. Hannah Tate’s story starts off in the Texas frontier in 1849. We travel through the years and end with Flora Luper in northwest Arkansas in 1948.
Hannah threw another log in the fireplace, plopped down in a chair, and drew her knitting basket onto her lap. Picking up her needles, she continued with her current project, one she only worked on when her husband, Benjamin, was away from the house. Her shoulders sagged with fatigue. How she longed to join the younger girls on the bed. But as every other pioneer woman, she plodded along from sunup to sundown. She was pleased to be able to rest, while plying her needles, and still be productive.
She didn’t like the frosty bite of winter, especially when the howling wind and frigid cold found its way through tiny, unchinked spots. She was delighted the fall harvest was over. That season, with its harvesting and preserving, kept her busy.
Thinking of all the goods put up to last the family through this coldest of the seasons, she sent a silent prayer of thanks up toward the heavens. The tornado that ripped through north Texas earlier in the spring destroyed much of their earthly possessions. She was thankful it came in April, before the crops were sown and the vines and stalks were heavy with bounty.
Knit, purl, knit, purl—the stitches went on, one after the other, the repetitive motion lulling Hannah to a drowsy mood. Shaking her head, she fidgeted in the chair and tugged at the apron stretched taunt across her bulging belly. I’d better finish these up. There’s more I’ll need to be knitting.
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What a fascinating idea for seeking inspiration for a story, Trisha. I’ll never be able to walk through an antique store again without thinking of you.
Happy reading, folks!
Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories
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