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T.L.Sherwood, 1st Quarter-2018 Winner, 1st Place Writer

Can you please tell us about you? Where do you live and how is your daily life?

Thank you everyone on the LISP Team for this opportunity. I grew up in a tiny town in western New York where I spent a lot of time in the Cattaraugus Creek that flowed under a bridge close to my home. Now I live in a slightly bigger town near there. Eighteen Mile Creek is about 50 feet from my kitchen window. I live in the country and see a lot of wild animals. A few weeks ago, there was a red fox in my yard and I was able to watch him for twenty minutes before he wandered up the hill. I listen to a lot of public radio, read, garden, do Pilates, and enjoy Sudoku.

When did you start writing? How often do you write?

My mind was a soundtrack of stories before I learned to print. I still have a few of my first “real” stories written when I was ten or eleven.

I don’t necessarily write every day, as I’m more of a “phase” writer. I’ll spend a lot of time learning new things or indulging in a hobby before working on a longer piece. I’ve worked with stained glass, embroidered, crocheted, and recently, I was mad about origami. Other times are spent just reading novels for pleasure instead of working on my own pieces. For me, I need to “fill up” before writing and sometimes that takes a day, other times it can be months.

My writing has appeared in a lot of venues, including New World Writing, Page & Spine, Dime Show Review, Rosebud Magazine, Jellyfish Review, Vestal Review, Necessary Fiction, Matter Press’ Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Elm Leaves Journal, Connotation Press, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and Coffin Bell to name a few.

How did you come up with the idea for your LISP selected story? Is there a story behind your story? And how long have you been working on it?

At the end of 2015, I was frustrated because the book I’d spent years working on was rejected by 20 some agents. I was done writing novels. I took Kathy Fish’s Fast Flash Workshop in February. On Zoetrope (an online studio), I’m privileged to be included in Kim Chinquee’s “Hot Pants” room. Prompts are posted in there - often a group of 5 random words. I wrote a bunch of them on index cards, then took them out to the screened in tent where there’s no Wi-Fi. Most every day of the spring and summer of 2016 were spent writing flash. I’d pick out a card and write a flash - or three. Two characters from a story I wrote in Kathy Fish’s workshop kept showing up. Actually, they refused to leave me alone. Eventually, I had a new book based on those flashes, which I just finished revising. “The Horrible Heat” is one of the few stories written during that time that wasn’t about Pete and Tara.

Buffalo, New York is an amazing place and on Memorial Day Weekend of ’16, the Arboria Luminarium was there. If you get a chance, go experience it. The accompanying author photo - courtesy of B. G. Mongerson - is me sitting in one of the “pods.” It was the first time I’d been to the Outer Harbor and it made an impression on me. I wrote this story a few days later. This flash evolved as I worked on it, eventually focusing on “signs” - those posted and the ones ignored.

- Can you please give us a few tips about writing a 300-word flash-fiction story?

I work at r.kv.r.y Quarterly Literary Journal and Literary Orphans and reading submissions has taught me a lot about what works in stories, and what doesn’t. My advice for writing a 300-word flash is the same you’ll hear from anyone about writing anything: Read a lot and write a lot. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You can’t revise what isn’t written. I know, all of that is cliché, but it’s also very true.

- What's the best thing about writing competitions? How did you feel when you learned that you were longlisted for The London Independent Story Prize?

Writing competitions are great. I’ve entered several and usually lose. It’s such a thrill to see I’ve made the long list, though. I was incredibly excited to hear I was in the running for the London Independent Story Prize, but I saw some of the other names on there and didn’t think I had a chance. I was at a restaurant when I found out I’d won. I’m a bit sheepish now by my reaction, but shouting, “I won!” was appropriate at the time. I wasn’t expecting it.

-Lastly, do you recommend the writers to give it a go on flash fiction story and LISP?

I encourage other writers to enter the London Independent Story Prize. I’ve been overwhelmed with the love on Facebook and Twitter since it was awarded. I’m humbled and appreciative for the kind words. It’s a tingly, good feeling to know your work touched someone.

Again, I’d like to say thank you for this incredible honor.

To read the LISP winning story please click here!

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