Tell me a little about yourself, personally. (Name/penname, hobbies, family life, favorites of any kind?)
I often struggle to describe myself because I’ve worn so many hats over the years. I am a wife, mother of 3, step-mother of 3, grandmother of 5, daughter, teacher, writer, crafter, and artist. I currently use the penname Lily Pens, but I might use my maiden name (Susan Siciliano) when I publish.
I have a BS in Human Development/Individual & Family Studies from Penn State, and a Masters of Education in Multiculturalism from Eastern University. I started my working career in Human Resources, where I created a Human Resources department from scratch and wrote company newsletters.
When my children were born, I stayed home with them for 13 years and devoted my time to them and their involvements. I went back to work after my divorce and decided to pursue my love of teaching. I received Teaching Certifications in Elementary Education, Middle School English, High School English, and Special Education, and I taught grades Kindergarten to High School in both the classroom and online environments.
Over the years, I have been very active in my community in both Boy and Girl Scouts, a Homeschool Group, sold Avon, and taught Creative Writing Classes for 19 years. I currently create greeting cards, chair my Parish Christmas Bazaar, and I am a private tutor to 17 students from Kindergarten to High School.
I live in Pennsylvania with my husband, Bill, who was my high school sweetheart. We reconnected after 25 years apart, and aside from our children and grandchildren, we share a cat, parrot, turtle, and fish.
What is/are the name of the book(s) you have published?
My current book, As It Should Be, is still being edited, and I have been shopping around for an agent.
Where can they be found? (links appreciated)
I have a website www.thewriterscorner.com that is dedicated to Middle and High School students, but the information is relevant for adults, too.
How long have you been an author?
I have been writing since I was 10 years old. I have had my poems and stories published in my high school and college papers, in company newsletters, in local papers, and in an anthology through the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project/National Writing Project, of which I am a Fellow.
Do you have any current WIPs?
While I am editing As It Should Be I have been working on its prequel, tentatively named Betrayal.
What got you into writing?
As a child, I had an active imagination, and I would create stories using characters from TV. As my storylines grew, I started writing them out, and I found it gave me an additional outlet for my creativity. I wrote my first novel when I was 13 years old. It was 100 pages long, but at the time, I wasn’t aware of any resources to get it edited and published. Years later, it was this experience that inspired me to teach Creative Writing to students who wanted to write.
What keeps you focused?
I am not as focused as I should be, but deadlines work wonders! To finish As It Should Be, I signed up for a Writers Conference and an opportunity to meet with several agents. This helped me buckle down and finish a story I had been writing for 10 years!
What gives you inspiration?
Frustration and life provide the inspiration to write as I try to release my energies in a positive way. In high school, I wrote a letter to the editor because I was on the receiving end of a racially motivated prank. My letter was published, and I was invited to write for the newspaper in the poetry corner. In college, I covered problems students faced in dorm housing, and I wrote a regular satirical article about issues on our campus.
As It Should Be started from a conversation I had with my high school students about “wasting paper,” so I focused my story on what would happen in a paperless society.
How do you battle writer’s block?
I give myself a little breathing space and try to redirect my creativity into something else. It usually recharges me and gives me affirmation that I need to buckle down and write.
Did you decide on traditional or self-publishing?
I would like to try to publish my book through traditional routes. If over time, I feel I am not making progress, I will self-publish.
What made you make that choice?
I was a bookseller at Borders Bookstore while in Graduate School, and every day I felt inspired by the authors surrounding me, most of whom took the traditional route to publishing. Perhaps this image, as well as the cost involved in self-publishing, dominates my decision.
How does it feel to be considered an author?
There is a lot of “imposter syndrome” in my head, so the term “author” feels undeserved. I think of myself as a writer, which sounds more ongoing than accomplished.
What advice can you give the writing community?
While at Borders Bookstore, I was fortunate to meet a lot of published authors. Each had a different philosophy about how to write, but each also acknowledged that the writing process is personal.
As a writing teacher, I have never met anyone who couldn’t write. What I found was that people feel they need permission to tell their stories in their own way.
My advice would be:
1. If you struggle to get the words out, try recording yourself or dictating to someone else.
2. Get your ideas out. Write first, edit last.
3. Keep multiple versions of your story. Sometimes an idea that doesn’t work in one place will find a home somewhere else.
4. Find a writing regimen that works for you, and forgive yourself if you play hooky.
5. Give your writing a chance to breathe. Things may look different to you the next day.
6. Don’t let good ideas escape. Write down your thoughts in a spot that won’t get lost. I use Microsoft OneNote.
Are you on social media? Where can people find you?
I have a website dedicated to Middle School and High School students:
I also have Twitter: @thewriterscornr
And Instagram: @the_writerscorner
Note: This article originally appeared on MK Editing’s old website, March 2021.