Friday, December 13, 2013

Steampunk Granny interviews the Fabulous Dawn Byrne

Dawn Byrne and I are both friends and members of the South Jersey Writers’Group and both of us have stories featured in the group’s first anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey We have traveled many places this past year promoting the book, and people up and down the Jersey highways and byways know us as Super D and Super G.
                     Dressed up for the Novel Idea Author Fair                                       

It is quite an adventure for both of us whenever to go to a book signing. We love meeting new people, and this year we have met so many new friends; some have even joined our group. Since neither of us have a great sense of direction, even with GPS, we consider ourselves New Jersey’s version of Lewis and Clark.  
Dawn is a very talented writer, but she’s been so busy promoting others, that I figured it was time to shine the light on her. So, to all my followers out there, please allow me to introduce you to the best sidekick, ever, Dawn Byrne.

              Dawn, Marie and Bob at the Novel Idea Autumn Authors Fair
Marie Gilbert: Dawn, thank you for joining me on Gilbertcuriosities. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Dawn Byrne: In a nutshell: An inspirational writer who also writes memoir, humorous slices of life and family fiction. My four adult children live nearby, and my husband and I are expecting our third grandbaby.  I've taught Sunday School for years, volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, facilitate the Juliette Writers' Group and am also a member of two other writing groups. It's difficult to breath when I don't read daily, and leaving a small carbon footprint is essential.
Marie Gilbert: What type of stories do you like to write?

Dawn Byrne: Writing about families and their relationships comes natural for me.  They say write what you know.  Coming from a large family and raising my own, that's what I know.  I get to tattle on them and call it fiction.

Marie Gilbert: What inspires you to write?

Dawn Byrne: I'm a smelly artist.  Odors trigger my subconscious that spews ideas onto the page.  Then I consciously piece them together like the jigsaw puzzles I put together with my mother and grandmother.  Of course, my family inspires me because that's who I write about.  Memories of my grandmother help me shoot humor onto the page, especially when I'm targeting her in my tale.
Marie Gilbert: You’ve been published in the South Jersey Writers‘ Group’s first anthology, but you also have stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. Tell us what stories have been published and what inspired you to write these two stories?

Dawn Byrne: The piece I wrote for, "Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey" is a series of slices of life that feature Grandma as the lead character.  And Grandma was one quirky character.  My empty nest story in, "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives" is obviously about my husband, who still isn't comfortable with my public tattling.  "Chicken Soup for the Soul: It's Christmas" has my story about being in cahoots with my husband to steal his sister's baby Jesus decoration and saying "nana-nana" to her all year long.  That was fun for the whole family.
Marie Gilbert: Do you plan on submitting more stories to Chicken Soup for the Soul?
Dawn Byrne: Chicken Soup for the Soul may get sick of reading my stories because I enjoy writing for their audience.  My daughters and I have read Chicken Soup stories for years, so we're their audience too.  I'll submit a story to any title this publication is working on that I have a story for.  If inspirational is what you write, send your story to them too.  Chicken Soup welcomes new writers.
Marie Gilbert: You and another member of the SJWG are in charge of the Critique Group. Tell us what is involved? What are some of the rewards of doing this worthwhile project? What makes you crazy? Has this project helped with your own writing?

Dawn Byrne: Critique guru here: I preach to writers how helpful suggestions on specific parts and aspects of their work in progress improves craft and growth.  The South Jersey Writer's Group's critique sessions happen every month of the year.  It's the perfect give and take situation.  Each participant submits their work for that session to either me or the other facilitator via attachment in an email.  We make sure everyone in the group receives a copy of each participant's work to critique two weeks before we meet to discuss the works.
Even though sessions can be humbling, our format has worked well over the last nineteen months.  Participants are sent critique etiquette rules so that everyone's on the same page.  Criticism and a helpful suggestion are two very different things.  One is accepted, the other isn't.  Those who repeatedly don't show, are late or come unprepared aren't serious writers and aren't welcome.  This hasn't been a problem lately.  Our members are great. My devotional piece for Chicken Soup went through critique. As a result, I made significant changes before sending it in. This group is vital for me because it gives me a deadline to come up with something new. Also they point out the holes in my work that I don't see and don't wantan editor to see. They point out information fauxpas I've made that would also embarrass me.  
Marie Gilbert: If you were able to meet with any famous writers; living or dead, who would you pick?

 Dawn Byrne: A critique participant told me that my writing had an Erma Bombeck feel to it. This confirmed my suspicions about my stories.  Would be nice talking with her.  And chatting with James Thurber would be a hoot.  A fellow writer years ago in my first writer's group gave me a copy of, "The Thurber Carnival" for Christmas.  He said these writings came to his mind when he read my first Grandma vignette.

Marie Gilbert: Any advice for a new writer starting out?

Dawn Byrne: New writers, like professional ones, need support and accountability.  Become part of a writing community or start one yourself.  Go to libraries and coffeehouses and listen to author panel discussions and attend book signings.  Talk with the authors afterwards.  At any free or low fee workshop, author-speak, book festival, writing conference or retreat-I'll be there. Hope to see you too.
Well now we all had a chance to learn about the fabulous Dawn Byrne aka Super D. You can find her on these sites and look for both of us and our other sidekick, Super B (Bob Cook). You never know when you’ll bump into us. We’ll be the ones selling books.
You can find Dawn on Facebook, Linkedin and


  1. Thanks for this, Marie. You're so much fun to be with. Hi, Bob. You too.

    1. I'm glad you like it and we'll have to do an interview on Super B too:)