Sherry D. Ramsey is a Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer and Editor/Publisher of The Scriptorium Webzine for Writers, now in its tenth year of publication. She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband, daughter, and son, and steals whatever spare nanomoments she can to write fiction, publish The Scriptorium, network with other writers, and sleep and eat once in a while. Every November she disappears into the strange realm of National Novel Writing Month and emerges gasping at the end, clutching something resembling a novel. Sherry is a moderator for her local writers’ group and a member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia and SF Canada, a founding editor of Third Person Press [www.thirdpersonpress.com] and a copy editor for the Internet Review of Science Fiction. You can visit her on the web at www.sherrydramsey.com
Speculative Realms: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way gathers together thirteen original stories by authors around the world, including Sherry D. Ramsey’s “Summer of the Widows.” The stories in this collection cover the speculative spectrum from fantasy to science fiction to horror. Sherry’s story is a murder mystery in a medieval fantasy setting—served up with a twist of humor.
First, I have to tell you that I LOVE The Scriptorium [http://www.thescriptorium.net]! What possessed you to create the site?
When I first began The Scriptorium, having a website was the latest “thing,” and I was very interested in the growth of the Internet and where it might be going. I decided that it would be fun to create a site that reflected what I was interested in–writing–and that might help other beginning writers by passing on the little bit of knowledge I’d already gleaned. I’ve found that in the writing community, especially among genre writers, there is a great tradition of “paying forward,” and helping newer writers. I suppose I appreciated the help that I’d found myself, and wanted to be part of that tradition. The first incarnation of the site consisted of a weekly writing tip and sometimes a writing exercise. Since then it’s been through several redesigns and an exponential amount of growth! But the reason for the site has always stayed the same–to help and support other writers.
What are some of the more popular sections of The Scriptorium?
The “toolbox” section is a very popular one, where we feature a glossary of writing terms, a quick writing Q&A, and printable forms and worksheets for character building, scene and plot development, world-building, critiquing, and submission tracking. Sue Lick’s monthly Everything But Writing column is a favorite as well; as the title suggests, Sue deals with all the “non-writing” bits of the writing life. Our “on writing” section is also popular, where we strive to include articles every month that cover a wide range of writing interests. Beyond that, I think readers tend to surf around the site, check out the latest book reviews and features, downloads, try the freewriting exercises, delve into the archives…a little bit of everything. There really isn’t an area of the site that doesn’t get hit!
Are there any ways in which writers or writing organizations can connect with you – in regards to collaborations, writing articles, advertising, etc?
I’m always open to hearing from writers or the writing community, and anyone can email me through the address at the bottom of each page of the site. We’re always open to article submissions, news items, advertising possibilities, or simply feedback or questions from our readers. I love hearing from our readers, especially if they have a question I can help them out with. Our submission guidelines are at [http://www.thescriptorium.net/submissions.html].
I notice that you also offer workshops through The Scriptorium. What are recent/current classes you’re teaching?
In the past few months we’ve added something new to our offerings–email courses. So far they’ve been very well-received and seem to be popular with our readers. I believe folks like the email format because it offers them great flexibility as far as time is concerned…they can, of course, do each lesson as it arrives, but if they get off-schedule for some reason it doesn’t matter. They can finish the lessons at their own pace. Right now we have two email courses, The Two-Week Short Story and The Short Story Workshop for One, and I believe they’re very reasonably priced.
Several times a year (depending on the level of interest) we also offer an in-depth workshop course called Write That Story! This workshop is designed to help participants write a complete short story and finish a full initial revision of it. Participants also critique each others’ work, so it’s an introduction to critiquing as well. Although it requires a fairly time-intensive six and a half weeks, participants emerge armed with a story, considerable feedback and constructive criticism, and tools and advice to keep improving their work, in the form of the workbook used in the course.
You offer a webzine for young writers, Scriptorium Scribbles. How successful has the webzine been? How important do you think it is to foster a love of writing in the younger generations?
I love our young writers’ section, because of the great feedback and writing submissions we get sometimes. It’s another popular section of the site. I think it’s very important to encourage young people who are interested in writing, and I think the Internet offers more opportunities than ever before to write and to share writing, especially for young writers. Blogs, forums, online communities and publications offer young writers ways for their voices to be heard, and I believe many of them want to be able to communicate effectively–in fact I think effective communication skills are more necessary today than they’ve ever been. We often hear chatter about how the Internet is “killing” reading and writing skills, but I think it’s actually making them more vital, and more frequently used.
How do you see The Scriptorium expanding in the future?
Oh, my goodness, I can barely keep up with it as it is! Seriously, though, I’d like to be able to do more with our young writers’ section, and possibly add more regular columns. As with any “for the love” project, though, all our contributors are volunteers–and I think the site has reached the limit of what we can handle right now. We’re always happy to hear from people who’d like to get involved, though, so you never know where we might go in the future.
Do you still feel as excited now working on The Scriptorium as you did when you first created it in 1998?
Like any writing project, that depends on when you ask me! I admit that there are times when an issue is late and I’m scrambling to put it together, and I wonder “why am I still doing this?” But that’s only once in a while. I love the site and I get great satisfaction from the knowledge that I’m helping other writers work toward their dreams. When I get an email from a reader thanking me for a particular article, or asking me a question about writing and trusting me to help them out, I know I’m doing something worthwhile.
You’re also a writer. Tell us about your latest publication…
I have a story called “Summer of the Widows” in a new anthology just out from Speculative Realms, a small independent publisher in Australia. The anthology is Speculative Realms: Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way, and if anyone is interested they can find out more (and order a copy!) at [www.speculativerealm.com]. The collection includes science fiction, fantasy and horror stories from authors around the world; my story is a humorous fantasy-murder-mystery. It was an exciting project to be involved in!
What genres are you interested in writing in? Why?
I write mainly speculative fiction–science fiction and fantasy. Maybe I’m drawn to write in those genres because I grew up reading and enjoying them, but I don’t really think that’s it as I’ve always read in a wide variety of genres. I think perhaps it’s because I’m energized by the idea that speculative fiction allows us to push the boundaries of imagination, to ask the vital “what if” of fiction writing in so many ways. Speculative writing allows us to view ourselves, our cultures, our relationships, through a different lens, and to uncover truths about ourselves in a different way. It also allows us to start with an idea and take it beyond the limits of what’s currently possible, to stretch it, twist it, turn it inside out and see where it might lead. That’s always exciting.
What are you currently working on?
For the past number of months I’ve been working with two other writers, co-editing a regional anthology of speculative fiction stories under the auspices of our small, independent publishing venture, Third Person Press [www.thirdpersonpress.com]. I’m also writing several new short stories, and I’ve been working steadily on polishing up the final draft (at least I hope it’s the final draft) of a science fiction novel I wrote several years ago during National Novel Writing Month [www.nanowrimo.org]. Once I’m satisfied with that, I have a young adult fantasy novel waiting for me to tackle it with the red pen. One thing I never lack is projects to work on!
Here’s a final question to muse over: why do you write? what does writing do for you?
I suppose I could say that writing gives me something constructive to do with all these people and ideas rolling around in my head. It’s probably closer to the truth, though, to say that I can’t imagine not writing. I have other creative outlets, but storytelling is the one that I find the most rewarding, and the most compelling. It’s hard work sometimes, but worth it for the moments when you write that sentence that just feels perfect, or when your characters do or say something unexpected and amazing, or when you type “The End.” Personally, I love that one. It doesn’t matter what will happen to the story in the future, how many times I’ll rewrite it or how many times it might get rejected; at that moment I always feel that I’ve achieved something wonderful.