Hope you're coming to our next mini-workshop - tomorrow in Shelby Township. Click here for the details!It's time once again to get to know another member of the GLC chapter. Read below to learn more about our chapter's education director, Peggy Bennitt.
JOANNE: Thanks, Peggy, for the interview. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
PEGGY: My name is Peggy Bennitt and I write under that name, as well as P. L. Bennitt. My firstborn once asked me if dinosaurs were around when I was a girl, so that tells you a bit about my age. I was born into a large, loving, Christian family, which was probably one of the greatest blessings of my life.
My work experience is certainly eclectic, having encompassed various jobs from church custodian to writing and editing positions, sewing instructor to fabric store manager, copy writer to graphic designer. I am currently working on completing my first novel, with ideas and fits and starts on several others. That, and working with the other Board members on the October Conference for GLC, keep me plenty busy. Add to that at least one day a week with grandbabies, and volunteering at our church; I really have it all! I am truly blessed!
JOANNE: What a full and fun like you have! What do you like to write?
PEGGY: I just plain like to write. I often write apologetics, (which are not a very popular venue nowadays) and topic-based faith/devotion articles for Bible studies and the church newsletter. Family life issues and educating parents, especially in regards to faith teaching in the home are areas I’m passionate about, and figure heavily in much of my writing. Human nature and the challenges of living a Godly life with that “human element” challenge is a huge part of why I write. Being a degreed Family Life Educator feeds my love for family and the concerns I have for the steady decline of family life, particularly in America. This also drives me to include a lot of family life challenges in my fiction.
Poetry was my first love, established with me by the nursery rhymes my Mother shared as naturally as breathing, and the stories “told out of her mouth” when I was little. That has fueled my fierce love of books and writing, and eclectic taste in those venues. There are very few types of fiction I haven’t read, and most of those I like. Sci-fi (speculative fiction), historical and historical romance, contemporary, steam punk, mystery, suspense, and on and on. I love the written word. If left in a room without a book to read, I’ve been known to read sports magazines, graffiti, bottle and can labels, or anything else with words on it...and often find humor there. Like the warning on children’s toothpaste that says, “Keep out of the reach of children.” Hmmmm.
Contemporary fiction is my present concentration since joining ACFW, and the GLC almost two years ago when it first formed.
JOANNE: What a variety! Have you had anything published?
PEGGY: No novels as of yet, but for several years I wrote a family advice column for a magazine called Kids In Common. Ask Aunt Peg was challenging to write, and often controversial, as I responded to questions asked by readers—much like the Ann Landers’ advice column of years ago. I also wrote an occasional book review for a local newspaper.
Technically, I am published monthly in our church website newsletter at www.redeemerjackson.org, which is also archived there. As editor, I usually write the front page topical article to set the tone for the publication.
JOANNE: What are you working on right now?
PEGGY: Right now I am working on a contemporary fiction novel with a hunky body builder and an embittered journalist as the male and female protagonists. After meeting, each must face and readjust some of their personal biases and face past family issues and mistakes in order to accept their growing attraction to each other. A child’s deadly disease complicates the story, and glimpses into the world of body building, academia, and newspaper journalism add interesting perspective to the story. Family, with all of its complications and joys, is at the core of this novel.
JOANNE: Sounds fascinating, Peggy! What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
PEGGY: Write what you know, but show your readers what they need to know without telling them how to think. The only way I’ve been able to do that effectively is through dialogue with my characters. Their voices and personalities drive the story, even as I attempt to control it.
JOANNE: Great advice! To you, what is the best part of the GLC chapter?
PEGGY: The best part of our Great Lakes Chapter is the opportunity to meet and connect with those members who are closest in proximity to each of us. Holly Wolfe’s (our Chapter President) idea to concentrate on local teaching/learning opportunities was an inspiration, and has really helped our members to acquire inexpensive but foundational writing education. My hope is that this will also challenge more of our members to hone their teaching skills and volunteer to share their knowledge in these cluster/group workshops. I believe there’s another such opportunity coming up in July. Right?
I love being able to get online with a writing question to our GLC and usually, within a very short time, I have an answer. That is so awesome! And usually, that answer will come with a list of websites or books and other print materials that will help with more in-depth answers. Incredible sharing community we have in the Great Lakes Chapter!
JOANNE: Absolutely - I LOVE our chapter! So, how can folks connect with you?
PEGGY: The best way to connect with me these days is through email: email@example.com. I started to build a blogspot website, but it was so sad; it embarrassed me, so I took it down. I’m thinking that web design is NOT one of my fortes. I’m really wondering if I have enough to say to make it worthwhile to have one. I like to write to encourage or edify others, but to just blather on because I’m supposed to post something on a regular basis—that would be insulting to any poor hapless reader who stumbled upon it. I think a website may have to wait until I finish this manuscript, which I hope will happen before summer’s end.
JOANNE: Makes sense to me. And I'm sure your blog wasn't as bad as you think :). Anything else you want to add?
PEGGY: I’d like to suggest that each of us encourage at least one other writer on a regular basis, whether it be a critique partner, someone we know can write but is afraid to show anyone and be vulnerable by doing so, or anyone who wants to write but insists on no time to do it. Most writers need encouragement on a regular basis, and many of us do not get that through our families or a local group. Even though many of us (maybe most of us?) are private people, it can be lonely just being with our imaginary friends, our characters, all the time. No one can understand a writer like another writer, so we need to be gracious and available to support those who come to us for advice or reality checks.
One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25 What a neat promise!
JOANNE: I LOVE the folks who encourage me - you are so very right, Peggy! What question do you have for GLC members?
PEGGY: Are we sharing enough writing information with each other? Is each one of us willing to share our knowledge with our chapter members in order to help each one be an even better writer? Sharing resources and knowledge and being willing to share, both online and/or in a workshop or even a brief classroom situation, could go a long way to growing us all in our skill levels. Maybe even partnering with another writer to offer a more thorough perspective of a topic?
Just thinking/brainstorming on paper right now, kind of in answer to my own questions. And, I guess that was two or three questions, not one, wasn’t it? Sorry ‘bout that, Joanne.
JOANNE: Absolutely no apology necessary, dear Peggy. I think you've posed some great questions. Thanks so much for sharing today. I've loved getting to know you better, and am sure our other members will too!
If you're interested in being featured on "meet the member," email me and I'll add you to the queue.