Please welcome P.A. O’Neil to The Clog Blog! Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I was born in southern California but mostly raised in a small town in Washington State. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but it was only recently that I decided to try my hand as a professional. In fact, it was six years ago this month I wrote my, as yet unedited, novel, Finding Jane.
How do you make time to write?
When I was working, I would squeeze my writing time between my shift work. My husband was still working then, so I found it easy to write between Noon and 5:00 pm. I never wrote on weekends out of respect for him. Now that we are both retired, I write whenever I can, provided he doesn’t call me to hold something while he nails, glues, or clamps something in his workshop. I never write in the evening because I find it difficult to see, no matter how many lights I have on.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, I don’t, for there is always something to write about. Just because you haven’t had the opportunity to compose your “magnum opus”, doesn’t mean a poem or a journal entry can’t be written. Using my own personal experience, writer’s block is actually a form of writer’s laziness. Even if all you did that day was send out a submission, you wrote. Did you write a review? You wrote.
Did you jot down some notes for your WIP or a future project? You wrote.
Tell us a bit about the genre you write and why you love it.
After monkeying around with what I thought were various genres, I discovered they actually were variations of Literary work, just set in different genre themes (Western, Romance, Cozy Mystery, etc.). I write so that the reader will recognize the character as someone they might’ve known who now must face an unusual situation to overcome. If I can resolve the protagonist’s difficulties satisfactorily, then my story will have been a success.
How are you publishing your recent book and why?
I have only had one book published so far, Witness Testimony and Other Tales, and that was done by a traditional publishing house as I had won the contract. The majority of my stories have been published in anthologies and online journals. I am presently working on a three-story book that I would like to have traditionally published but just might offer it on my own.
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? How does this affect your work?
I am a loud person. I have no qualms with talking to strangers or speaking before a large crowd. Truth is though, I consider myself an introvert. Being larger-than-life is a shield, and that crowd frightens me if I have to be in it instead of in front of it. My public persona, P.A. O’Neil, has an image to maintain that is a job in and of itself. My personal persona, though very loving with lots of friends, is far from an extrovert.
What is your favorite motivational phrase?
“There are no accidents.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
If you want to be a writer, then write! Don’t allow doubt to hold you back. Learn all you can from other writers. Share your work for review, improvement comes from the recognition of repeated errors. Above all, if you chose to set your writing for publication, hire an editor!
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07BF2D8SP This is my Amazon Author page. https://www.facebook.com/p.a.oneil.storyteller This is my Facebook Author page. https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17994233.P_A_O_Neil This is my Goodreads Author page.
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
From the story, “Witness Testimony”:
As we approached the light of the street with its foot traffic and vehicles, Bill said, “Well, that’s not exactly what I had planned for the evening.” I believe he was trying to make light of the situation, hoping it would ease the stress of witnessing such a violent and deplorable act. It was then, that I started to shake. Shake like I had been in the deep snow without a coat. The hairs on my arm began to stand up as all I felt was a wave of panic flow from top to bottom on my body.
“Hey, hey there … it’s going to be all right.” He wrapped his arms around me, not out of any romantic gesture, but more to prevent me from running away. That’s when I started to cry. Not bawling like an angry baby, but silent tears which ran down my face as I looked to him for direction. “C’mon, there’s a park up ahead. Let’s find a place to sit down.”
We walked a short block and a half until we came to the wide grass-covered expanse of Beacon Hill Park. The shadows had begun as the sun approached the horizon. We sat down on a park bench under an unlit streetlamp. His arm was still around me as I buried my head in his chest, this time allowing a fountain of tears to flow onto his shirt. All the while, he rubbed my arm and back and said, “… Atta girl, let it all out.” Eventually, I pulled up my head and apologized for making a scene. “Naw, you didn’t make a scene. Here—your make-up is a little smudged.” He handed me his handkerchief and smiled that soft smile I had so wanted to be meant for me alone.
“Thank you. Oh, look at your shirt. I hope all that color can be washed out,” I said with sadness as I wiped my face. “Looks like I’ll have to work on getting the color out of the handkerchief as well.” I gave a soft laugh, “Oh your poor wife; she’s going to think you’ve been playing with circus clowns.” Then it hit me, “Your wife, does she know? Did you get a chance to call her yet?”
“No, I’ll call her when I get back to the hotel.” He leaned forward with his elbows on his knees. “I wouldn’t know what to say to her.” He put a hand up to his face to mime a telephone receiver, “Hey, Honey, yeah I got here all right. Do I like the city? Yes, I got to see three people die today.” Then he stopped, dropped his hand, and stared at the grass at his feet. “I don’t feel so well, excuse me.”
“No please, I have to go.” He got up fast and walked twenty feet towards some nearby bushes where he leaned over and began to throw up. I could hear him wretch, again and again, but with his relatively empty stomach, it soon became dry heaves. I cautiously walked towards him but stopped at a respectful distance as he stood up and turned back to me. Instinctively, he began to pat down his hip pocket as he reached for his handkerchief.
“Is this what you’re looking for?” I handed back the once-white cotton cloth now stained with tears and makeup. “It’s a little soiled; sorry.”
He took it without question and wiped his mouth, turned away to spit into the grass, and then wiped his mouth again before pocketing the cloth. I reached up to touch his cheek. He didn’t pull away. I put my arms around his neck and pulled him close. He, in turn, put his arms around my waist to hug me back. We stood there for several minutes; just holding each other, supporting each other was more like it. A young couple quietly laughed as they passed. They must have thought us aged lovers. Little did they understand that we were just survivors.