Terrie Leigh Relf: What types and forms of writing do you do?
Guy Belleranti: I write fiction, poetry, articles, puzzles, and humor for both children and adults. In the past, I also had a dozen or more greeting cards published; now, however, I’m concentrating on the other writing.
TLR: What is your area(s) of subject matter expertise? How did you discover this niche? What intrigues you about it?
GB: I’ve always have been a huge mystery reader, so I feel it’s a logical progression that I would write, and eventually sell, many short story mysteries for both for adults and children. Over the past 10 to 15 years, I’ve also branched out into writing speculative fiction, sometimes combined with mystery elements and sometimes not.
The same holds true with some of my poetry. Back in the mid to late 1990’s, I wrote and sold many poems to mystery markets. Then, looking for more places to submit my work, I began writing speculative poetry. I also enjoy writing funny poetry/light verse for both children and adults.
Another area where I have some expertise is animals. Like mysteries, animals have been a love of mine since childhood. I have a degree in conservation with heavy experience in the animal end, and I’m also a long-time docent (volunteer educator) for the local zoo. Combining this animal background with my day job (school library assistant) has strengthened and widened what I write for children. I’ve sold hundreds of articles, short stories, poetry and puzzles featuring animals (real and imagined) to both children’s magazines and educational websites.
TLR: How do you balance your creative and work time?
GB: That is always a challenge. Creating and writing is very important to me. I liken it to eating food, drinking water, and breathing oxygen – they’re all something I can’t imagine not doing. Having a day job obviously leaves less time for writing. Still, I try to do something writing related almost every day or night.
TLR: What tips do you have for other writers?
To be a writer you have to do it, not just talk about wanting to do it. Since I write in many areas and for many age groups, I seldom experience “writer’s block.” If I’m working on a certain piece and it isn’t flowing, I set it aside and concentrate on something else. I suggest keeping your eyes and ears open for ideas. If you wake up in the middle of the night with a glimmer of what might be a great idea (or might not!), write it down. If you don’t, you’ll probably forget the idea or lose the magic of it. Keep file folders for your ideas and go through them periodically.
TLR: What challenges have you faced as a writer and/or with a particular project? How did you meet them? What did you learn from these challenges and how did they make you a better writer?
GB: The first good story I ever wrote, one that I really believed in, presented me a great challenge. It was a mystery/suspense story in the style of Hitchcock. I sent it out many times, but it didn’t sell. Mystery magazines told me it was better suited for a horror magazine, and horror magazines told me I should send it to a mystery magazine!
Discouraged, but not ready to give up on it, I put it away. Years passed, and one day, I took a deep breath and pulled that old story out again. I did a few minor edits, sent it out to a mystery magazine and, boom— they bought it! This was at least 12 years after I’d put it away. A year later, I resold it to another publication as a reprint and earned another $100. What I learned from this is that if you believe in a piece of writing you should never give up on it.
TLR: Who are your favorite characters? How did they come into being, and what do you love – or loathe – about them?
GB: My favorite characters are usually the ones I’m writing about in a current work. However, there is one police lieutenant who appeared in several of my short mysteries who I did like a lot. He was a big guy, kind of sloppy and uncouth, but with a soft heart for women in distress. He also thought he’d enjoy his job in homicide a lot more if there weren’t any dead bodies involved. I don’t know where this character came from. I just had a story in the beginning stages and the next thing I knew, he was jumping in and taking over. Then he made me write a couple more stories with him as the main character. I certainly wasn’t going to argue, for by then, he’d convinced me “great detectives” know best!
TLR: What poetic forms do you love to write in?
GB: Short forms like ku, tanka, and haibun, and humorous verse for children and adults.
TLR: Are you currently, or have you ever, been in a writing group? Your thoughts?
GB: No, I’ve never been a member of a group where we meet to talk writing. However, I have attended several workshops at the annual Tucson Festival of Books led by successful authors. I’ve also attended a few workshops through the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), of which I am a professional member. I have a long-time membership in the Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS), an online group, as well. However, I haven’t been very active there for a number of years, probably because I’m writing more for children and less for adults.
TLR: I know our readers would love to hear about your networking, marketing, and promotional experiences – including tips.
GB: I do have a website (which I keep current) and a LinkedIn account, and I spend some time on SCBWI’s online blue board (where lots of children’s writers, and some editors, post marketing news, etc.). Other than these, I’m not very active in networking and promoting. The time I have left after my day job, volunteering at the zoo, and other life issues, I prefer to put to use in writing and submitting.
TLR: Where have you been published? Upcoming publications? Awards and other accolades?
GB: I’ve been published in over 200 different publications. Woman’s World, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, The LA Times Kid’s Reading Room, MysteryNet, Liquid Imagination, White Cat Magazine, Scifaikuest, Grievous Angel, Trysts of Fate, Big Pulp, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Capper’s, Midnight Echo, and The Saturday Evening Post are a few. I’ve also had around 200 pieces purchased by educational markets such as SIRS/Proquest, Super Teacher Worksheets, EdGate Total Reader, Educational Testing Services and Schoolwide.
In 2014, and then again in 2015, I had level reader fiction books published by Reading Reading Books. Both were for young readers grades K-2. And I’m excited to announce I have just signed a contract for a third. All three feature the same three farm animal characters, so I guess you could classify this as a series.
Upcoming publications include poetry and puzzles in Highlights; fiction, articles and poetry in Kid’s Imagination Train; puzzles and poetry in Fun For Kidz; and a poem and some animal related articles in several educational publications. I also have poetry accepted for publication in future issues of Scifaikuest.
TLR: What are you working on now?
GB: Several new animal-related articles, some speculative poetry, and a couple of short stories.
TLR: Thank you, Guy, for creating the time in your busy schedule for this interview. Please read his bio bellow and visit his website.
Guy Belleranti writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, puzzles and humor for both adults and children. He’s been published in Woman’s World, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Liquid Imagination, Big Pulp, The Saturday Evening Post, Every Day Poets, Scifaikuest, Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty, and many other places. He has also written children’s material for many educational publications. When he’s not writing, he works in a PreK-8th grade school library. Click here to visit his author’s website.