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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Smoking With Rhonda Belt

(Read the Story) March 15, 2004

Rhonda Belt

Art by Marty D. Ison

I understand you write a great deal of poetry. Is that your first love, and do you feel it has much in common with flash fiction?

While writing poetry fascinates me, story writing is my first love. I wrote many stories as a child and have kept them to this day. When I was a kid, I remember going to a best friend’s house after church Sunday afternoons and we sometimes co-authored stories. A lifelong dream has been to write a book and, so far, I have written fifteen chapters of a first draft.

Poetry and flash fiction have a lot in common, I believe. They both utilize creative word pictures and the writing is tight, concise, and packs a quick punch. I find them both challenging and exciting because they’re innovative and deliver a message the reader can interpret in his own point of view.

Your job as an RN working with teens, although rewarding, must take a great deal of energy, and you’re also a wife and mother with two sons. How do you find the time to write, and the willpower?

I work as an RN part-time and utilize my one hour drive time to think and formulate story ideas in my head. Until I’m available to focus on developing an inspiration, I’ll jot a brief note on a piece of paper, napkin, or whatever is handy. My best writing time is at night when the kids have gone to bed and all is quiet. My strong willpower whets my appetite to write, and read, with an unrelenting craving.

What makes a story sizzle and jump off the page for you?

I love a clever story or one that has an ironic twist. It must have suspense and intriguing dialogue or monologue. I want to know and be involved with interesting characters and be left in want of more. Creative, spellbinding writing will absorb me into a well-developed and flowing story.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what influences your writing now?

I have favorite authors from many different genres. In young adult, I would include Laura Ingalls Wilder and Lucy Maud Montgomery. In mystery, Ellis Peters and Agatha Christie. In poetry, Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe. In religious fiction and nonfiction, C. S. Lewis, Frank Peretti, Beth Moore, Janet Oke, and Dr. James Dobson. In classical literature, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Homer/Greek mythology, and George Eliot. In general fiction and nonfiction, Tara Elgin Holley, Lolita Tademy, Norah Lofts, Anya Seton, Conrad Richter, and Lisa Whelchel.

My writing is influenced by many of the above authors as well as writers on the Internet Writing Workshop (IWW). The IWW is for writers of all genres and all levels of writing knowledge, from beginners to the well-published. I learn truckloads from participating in the workshop. Everyday experiences and unusual situations also influence my writing.

Do you remember any particular moment when you discovered the power and beauty of language?

I have always been intrigued with books, stories, and poetry. In elementary school, I loved listening to the teacher read from a “grown-up” book. My personal reading increased as I grew older, reading two or three books at a time. The public library became my second home. In high school and college, I received a great deal of encouragement in regard to writing from teachers in English literature and English composition.

In the last year and a half, an unquenchable desire to write has grabbed me by the collar and caused me to delve within myself, putting into practice the art and love of writing. Words are very powerful and picturesque when composed in harmony. Language is to the writer what clay is to the potter. It starts as a dull, untamed heap and molds into something vivid and functional. I give glory to The Word, the Author of life, for the gift of writing.

About the Author

Rhonda Belt is a registered nurse in the field of adolescent behavioral health. She participates in the Internet Writing Workshop (IWW) and enjoys writing short fiction and poetry. Some of her poetry has been published in various anthologies. Rhonda lives in central Illinois where she is a wife and mother of two young sons.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This interview appeared in Issue Three of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Three
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