Thursday, October 21, 2010

Interview With Author Floriana Hall

Q. Please tell us a little about yourself, your background and any important accomplishments. (If you have a website, book(s), etc., please list them and tell us about them.)

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. to a saintly mother and a father who I remember as loving the first seven years of my life. When I was five years old, he was hit by a streetcar and told us he had a tumor on the brain. There were other circumstances involved but he changed after that accident. Of course, the Great Depression had something to do with us moving eleven times to different cities and changing schools. We were all happy children regardless of the lack of food and the necessities of life when our father was gone for weeks at a time. Our mother baked homemade bread and even though there was not much else to eat, we never starved. She gave us her share of food when needed.
Throughout the years, she was our rock who taught us manners, morals, character and cleanliness. She taught us to forgive. And there were many things to forgive our father for, such as his lies about our Christmas gifts, his lies about his life and about us - the complex life of trying to juggle three families at the same time which he could not do. His letters of remorse to me in later years are very touching, but were they true? Or more lies? Only God knows!
One of my earlier accomplishments was that I was almost always the head of my classes and I always had many friends wherever we moved. I graduated from high school at the age of 17 and was ranked 11th in a class of 167 in June 1945. As a senior, I wrote articles for the high school newspaper. In later years, I was honored as a Distinguished Alumna of Cuyahoga Falls High School. I am recognized by several WHO'S WHO.

My family of five children, nine grandchildren and two great-granddaughters are my most important accomplishment. My husband and I have been married for 61 years.

I founded and coordinate THE POET'S NOOK each month at Cuyahoga Falls Library. I have edited and published four books for my nonprofit group of 23 talented poets. We hold a Children's Poetry Contest each April and have a donor for the monetary prizes which will help continue the art of poetry in the future.

God, family, friends and service are very important to me. You might call me a philanthropist. Because I did not have much, I want others to have more and I love to help people, sometimes anonymously.

Here are the books I have written:
THE SANDS OF RHYME - Inspirational Poetry, out of print
SMALL CHANGE - True story of my life as a child during THE GREAT DEPRESSION, out of print
DADDY WAS A BAD BOY - My Memoir (to be bought from me)
OUT OF THE ORDINARY SHORT STORIES - Inspirational stories about Angels and God-Incidences. I had an out of body experience as a child or seven.
HEARTS ON THE MEND - 12 different stories about heart disease and the aftermath.
FRANCIS, NOT THE SAINT - Memoir with a surprise ending,,,
FRANCISO, NO EL SANTO - Spanish translation of FRANCIS, NOT THE SAINT, CCB Publishing, Canada,
GATHERING GRACES - Winning poetry -
SELECT SANDS OF RHYME AND REASON, Poetry and Short Stories -
SIMPLE PLEASURES - a young children's book -

Websites: under YOU, ME, AND POETRY

Q. How long have you been writing? What made you put those first words down on paper?

I have been writing since I was a child of seven, but the poems were lost in our many moves during The Great Depression. I always loved nursery rhymes as a child and tried to write my own.

Q. Do you write in a particular genre? If so, what genre is it?

Mostly family and poetry

Q. Have you been published?

Yes, all twelve books, and in many magazines and poetry books. Special is my story THE ROCKING CHAIR in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL - Living Catholic Faith.

Q. How long did it take to write and publish?

Each book took about a year to write.

Q. What was the process?

When my daughter, Cindy, who teaches fifth grade in another state, asked me to write SMALL CHANGE, my life flashed before me like a TV screen. I wrote it down, typed it and edited the true story, found a printer, and typed it myself on the printing machine. The printer passed away a long time ago and that is why I published THE ADVENTURES OF FLOSSIE, ROBBIE, AND JUNEY During The Great Depression.

Q. Who’s your favorite author and why?

One of my favorite authors is Maeve Binchy because she writes in a wholesome manner, which I always try to do.

Q. How did you deal with rejection letters, if you received any?

Actually, I have never had a rejection letter except some poetry websites have not accepted my rhyming poetry because I presume they like free verse. I also write free verse but prefer rhyme.

Q. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

In my opinion, writing in an easy to understand manner is important because the 75% of people who do read do not comprehend beyond the eighth grade level.

Q. How do you develop your plots/characters, ideas/concepts ? Do you use any set formula?

It seems that most of what I write has happened. Of course, I change names and add some fiction to the nonfiction. However, I have found that truth is stranger than fiction.

Q. What do you do to unwind and relax?

I do water exercise at the local Natatorium at least three times every week. I sit in the sun and meditate. I love to attend church and find it spiritually inspiring.

Q. What do you like to read?

Mostly, I like to read the Bible, the newspapers and biographies.

Q. What does your family feel about your writing? Are they supportive?

Some of them are very supportive, and a few do not read books.

Q. What inspires you? Who inspires you?
I have been inspired in church and at five AM some mornings. Poetry literally pops into my head upon waking. I have to type it up on the computer immediately just so I do not forget it. It is sometimes said that angels come at five AM. Credit for my poetry belongs to God.

Q. Are you working on any projects right now?

Yes, I am starting to write a sequel to my small children's book, a SIMPLE PLEASURES 2.

Q. How do you handle Writer’s Block?

Take it with a grain of salt because it does not last long. I am so busy trying to fulfill my mission of making a difference in the world with my stories and poetry that I never dwell on negatives. I have been that way since my childhood. It is a waste of time to dwell on anything in the past or to worry about anything, especially writer's block. Today is what counts.

Q. What is most frustrating about writing? Most rewarding?

The most frustrating thing about writing is when my computer freezes or acts up. The most rewarding thing about writing is when I receive letters from fifth grade students telling me they learned to appreciate what they have after they or their teachers read my book THE ADVENTURES OF FLOSSIE, ROBBIE, AND JUNEY During The Great Depression. I love speaking at schools and answering the student's questions.

Q. Do you have any kind of writing schedule?

I tend to write in the morning before I go to water exercise. I spend about one and one half hours a day on the computer.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given as a writer? What’s the worst?

Best advice - to write with feeling and use some metaphor, but not too much.
Worst advice - to change one of my winning poems into free verse.

Q. If I were sitting down to write my very first story, what would your advice be?

Perhaps the best way is to make a draft and/or outline and decide which tense works best for the particular book. Start with an eye catching first sentence.

Q. What is your best advice for getting published?

For a first book, my personal opinion is to self publish and get your name out there. If you are young, perhaps it is a good idea to send out manuscripts. At my age, time is an important element.

Q. What has been the single most important part of your success?

If I am successful, it has been at living my life in the best way possible, to be of service to others, smile and always be kind. My motto is 'The secret of life is not to take it personally.'


Success can mean so many things,
Diplomas high school or college bring.
A job obtained, a job well done
Means satisfaction for everyone.
A chance meeting, the person of your dreams
A happy ending to any schemes,
A perfect party without any glitches,
A singing voice without stray pitches.
Putting puzzles together with all the pieces,
Solving a problem, war that ceases,
Listening to others with empathy,
Saying right words of sympathy,
Smiles as warm as the sun above,
Hugs and kisses to show true love.
A pleasant greeting, a pleasant time
Though there are many mountains to climb.
Success is meeting opportunity half way,
Doing your best, with dues to pay.
A prayer answered, return to health,
Making ends meet, spiritual wealth.
Success is coping despite adversity,
Making the most of diversity.
Success can come to everyone
Like sleep refreshes when day is done.

Floriana Hall – June 18, 2006

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