joanne Weck Author Page

Saturday, July 27, 2013


“Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don't abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book."  Patti Smith

JOANNE (Liebhauser) WECK 
I wrote my first poem in a school tablet in pencil. I bought a special notebook for my first diary (which I insisted on calling a "journal" to ensure the serious nature of my entries) and I wrote with my special,  favorite ball point pen.

When I got my first after-school job (as a waitress) I saved my tips for a my first typewriter, a portable Smith-Corona. I taught myself to type on it. That little blue machine made me feel like a "real writer" and served me through  high school and college.  I even used it to write my first novel. The only problem--every draft (and even every edit) involved retyping--the entire page, even the entire novel. Perhaps that was good for my writing education but when I got my first word processor  I was ecstatic. I could actually edit in the machine! 

I understand that some very successful writers still write on yellow legal pads or in notebooks with pens and/or pencils. They say it makes them feel closer to the words.

But I'm in love with my MacBook! I'll say it again. I"m in love with my MacBook!

I love the ease of working on it and editing and printing from it. I love hearing the words I've written spoken (albeit in a robotic voice) to me. But I love it not only for writing but also for downloading and reading ebooks, and for listening to audiobooks. Technology has changed my (reading and writing) life. 

Don't get me wrong, I'll still love the feel (and smell) and look of a real volume or even a paperback in my hands. I want my own novels and short stories published in hard copy as well as electronically, but to my mind, technology has only freed me up to concentrate on the ideas, not the physical effort of getting it down! WRITE ON!

Friday, July 26, 2013


This is the email I got yesterday, a lovely surprise since I had almost forgotten that I had submitted the story.firstwriter is an online journal on a website that lists nearly every opportunity for writers and includes its own contests. Through the information they've supplied I've submitted (and published) about 14 stories including several previous first place wins  and runners up in their contests. CHECK IT OUT!

Dear Joanne Weck,

I'm pleased to let you know that your entry, The Killer's Kid, has been chosen as one of ten Special Commendations in our Ninth International Short Story Contest. Your name is currently listed in the previous winners section at (follow the link for the Ninth International Short Story Contest), and your work will be published in a future issue of firstwriter.magazine. At the time of publication, you will be sent a voucher which will allow you to take out an annual subscription to for free -- or, if you are already a subscriber, you will be offered competition entries up to the same value.

Congratulations, and thank you for entering our competition.

Kind regards,

J. Paul Dyson
Managing Editor

Monday, July 22, 2013


“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”  Ray Bradbury

This is my aim and goal but it can be quite a challenge, especially when traveling or on vacation. There are times when I want to leave the journal or the computer behind and spend the day on the beach, sailing, exploring, hiking, going to plays, films, or concerts, letting the wind blow through my hair.

However, if I spend a day without at least a journal entry I feel a certain lack, as if I've forgotten to take my vitamins or brush my teeth. Something important left undone. Before the end of the day I find myself ferreting out my journal and scribbling a few lines, or opening my computer and rereading and editing my previous day's work.

Does this insure "a pleasant career"? I couldn't say. What I can say is that is satisfies something in my soul. What it does is remind me that  I write first of all for my own satisfaction. What it says is that a habit perpetuates itself. So, even though I am in Florida, instead of my home state(s) of Pa and NJ, trying to play and forget about "working" I find the writing bug still biting. It's like a mosquito's bite, creating an itch that has to be scratched. WRITE ON!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates, one of the most prolific writers of our time, must know. I know I try to write the story or novel that I would want to read--one that transports me into someone else's skin and soul. I generally attempt to create an empathetic protagonist, one the reader can comfortably identify with.

 However, at other times I also enjoy inhabiting the persona of persons very different, people who are capable of total self-absorbtion at the expense of others,  who are capable of conniving, of wicked behavior. Perhaps this is why I get the criticism, at times, that my characters aren't "likable" enough. However, as an admirer of the works of Oates,  Zoe Heller and Nabokov, I aspire to accomplish what they do--drawing the reader under the spell of even a most repulsive characters.

I am currently (re) editing a novel to minimize the less attractive traits and increase the likability factor of the two main characters in my work-in-progress because my agent's assistant suggested that neither was likable enough.  Although my purpose was to portray two difficult people (each with a great deal of baggage) forced to engage with one another and adjust, and in the process to learn to open their hearts and become more empathetic, apparently (to her at least) it is necessary to draw the reader into the story with characters who start out with more immediately engaging qualities.

I'm walking a fine line now between writing the novel I wanted to write and writing a novel that my agent will want to represent, thereby giving it a better chance of going forth into the world to actually be appreciated by readers, who of course, have the final judgment. It's a challenge. But I'm up to it. (I think.) WRITE ON!

Thursday, July 11, 2013


“It is only through mystery and madness that the soul is revealed” 
― Thomas Moore

Why is it that everything we strive to avoid in real life--screams, violence, bloodshed, gunshots, robbery, kidnappings, and murder are so fascinating when they appear between the covers of a book or on the screen?

What is it about suspense that makes us sit up late at night, turning the pages unable to put the book down or clutching the remote, unable to click off that terrifying late night drama?

Is it because our ordinary lives are too sedate and we crave to vicariously experience the thrill of danger without actually being in danger? Or is it, as some experts have suggested, a way for humans to deal with their guilt at our current existence at the top of the food chain?

Whatever it is, I love the thrill of reading a well plotted mystery, identifying in turn with the person in danger, the sleuth who cleverly interprets and connects the most fragmentary and elusive clues, not to mention the ruthless villain who perpetrates the most vile crimes. 

That thrill, however, does not match the thrill (and challenge) of writing a well plotted mystery full of ruthless villains, evil deeds, screams, gunshots, kidnappings, bloodshed and murder. In the process of final editing my second mystery I find it difficult to regain the perspective of the first time reader, trying to decipher the clues, discovering who will be the victim and who the perpetrator. 

At this stage I have to depend on friends to give me feedback--is the protagonist interesting and engaging, the plot twists believable, the outcome satisfying? Another edit. Writing is rewriting. WRITE ON!

Thursday, July 4, 2013


As a child I had a vivid imagination. I loved to invent my own stories of animals that were smarter than humans and imaginary folk who lived underground. I created characters who were brave and beautiful, who had incredible adventures, defeated monstrous enemies, saved others from destruction and, naturally, lived happily ever after.

My younger sister was enthralled by my tales, but before I began each one she would ask me, "Is it a really true story?" To ensure her interest, I had to say it was.

Some would have perceived not only my assurance that my tales were "true" but also the stories I spun for her as telling lies. To my mind the truth included not only things that had happened, but also things that could have happened.

This obsession planted the seed of my desire to become a writer. At some point I began to write my stories in a notebook, filling up school tablets with my dreams and lies. Sometimes I wrote them as plays and forced my siblings, cousins, and friends to perform.

Writing was the most gratifying of my activities, as gratifying as reading everything on the family bookshelves. To this day I am grateful to my grandmother (who died when I was five months old) for her eclectic and generous tastes. The library she bequeathed us held books of adventure for boys, fairytales and romantic stories for girls, as well as poetry, most of the classics and Shakespeare's complete works.

I'm sure my early stories were highly derivative suggested by my reading, but I formed a habit of writing. I never doubted that I could join the ranks of "real" writers. I still suffer from that compulsion and that delusion. WRITE ON!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


“A deadline is negative inspiration. Still, it's better than no inspiration at all.” 
― Rita Mae Brown

How does a writer keep herself inspired? Can she even depend on "inspiration" to keep her writing? In school I frequently put off my assignments until the night before they were due, then "pulled and all nighter" to get it in on time. Generally I surprised myself with the rush of creative inspiration that resulted from putting myself under such pressure.

Since those days I've learned to get the nudge that I need by giving myself an assignment--I will write at least three blog posts per week. I will write for at least two hours per day.  I will finish editing my novel by August. I will have an outline for a new book by October. I will send out three stories by Friday. I will contact my agent (again) this month.

 Although I am both the teacher and the pupil I find that writing down my goals makes me take them more seriously. Even if the two hours of writing does not always produce the marvelous results I hoped for, I feel successful because I've met my commitment. More often than not, however, I find I am truly immersed in my writing and I go on to complete the page or chapter I'm working on after my alarm rings to say I've completed my assigned minutes.

Inspiration comes from just showing up, sitting in the chair and getting it down. WRITE ON!