Demi: Your “Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver” has struck a chord with lots of people caring for aging parents. Did you find yourself writing this book while you were in the midst of caregiving, or much later?
Bobbi: I started it while I was caring for Rodger. However, as his needs progressed there was no time to write. Caring became a full time job. I went back to it a few months after he passed away and found that it was too soon, too painful to relive the loss. I spent more time crying than writing. I went back to it a third time two years later. I still cried when I wrote it but I was able to complete it through the tears having finally realized that because of the care he received with us he had many more good days than he would have had otherwise and that you don’t have to be perfect and sometimes being a little bit crazy is exactly what it is needed in the moment.
Demi: Before this book, I remember you primarily wrote and published short stories, most notably in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “Cup of Comfort” series. Have you always wanted to write longer works, or did the situation with your father-in-law provide the impetus?
Bobbi: I always thought I’d write a novels. I started writing short stories as a way of testing the waters, to discover if my writing would appeal to publishers. Then I found that I enjoy writing short stories and articles. I even write super shorts now and then. It’s a challenge to tell a complete story in only a few words. I am now writing another book and regular articles on caregiving. And, every now then a short story for the fun of it.
Demi: My readers would love to know more about the “Chicken Soup” experience. What was the submission process like, and how did it affect you as a writer?
Bobbi Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul is an excellent way for beginning writers to begin publishing and a wonderful way for experienced writers to connect with readers who enjoy stories about real people. There are always open submissions on the Chicken Soup website and people may submit story ideas as well. Once you submit your story there can be a wait of several months before you learn if your story is accepted. That’s because the submissions go through several rounds of judging before the final selections are made. Having a story accepted by Chicken Soup for the Soul for the first time proved to me that I can write and use my voice to touch people in a positive way. And it still does that. Also, announcement of one of my stories made into the Washington Post Names and Faces column that included stories about Britany Spears and Jude Law. I can’t think of any other circumstances under which that would happen.
Demi: Congrats on your election as Vice President of Pennwriters! Tell us a little about the full-day writing workshop you’re putting together this spring in Leesburg, Virginia.
Bobbi: Thank you, I am very proud to have been elected to serve in this capacity. Being a member of Pennwriters has helped me grow as writer. The workshops and mentoring I receive throughout the years has been invaluable and I want to pass that knowledge on to other writers whenever I can. One way I do that is by organizing the Pennwriters sponsored event, Writers Project Runway, mini conference in Leesburg, VA provides writers of all levels with an opportunity to spend a day having fun, honing their craft and networking with published authors, editors, and publishers. This year the exciting lineup includes keynote speaker, John DeDakis, formerly of CNN and the author of four mysteries, and photo journalist Doug Graham who has traveled the world on assignment. In all there are twelve sessions (two running concurrently thought out the day)to choose from. A complete list of presenters, including Demi Stevens, is found on the registration page. One does not have to be a member of Pennwriters to attend. Authors attending have the opportunity to have their book(s) for sale during the event via Second Chapter Books. Traditionally and self-published books are welcome.
Writer’s Project Runway registration: http://pennwriters.org/area-7-mini-conference-writers-project-runway-iii/