ILLINOIS AUTHOR HELEN VANECK HOLUB AKA POET PUMPKIN
AN INTERVIEW WITH ILLINOIS (USA) AUTHOR HELEN VANECK HOLUB
1) How did you first become interested in writing?
I have been writing poetry since childhood, but became more interested in poetry after taking a Poetry Workshop and have been on several poetry sites since the Workshop changed its form on its site. It was fun as a child to write songs or poems for certain occasions. For instance, I was extremely fond of animals and birds and if one died, I would write a whole little liturgy for them and sing my own little hymns for them so they would go to their own Heaven with God. It seems rather unusual, I know. But I've always had such a soft heart for them and for people as well.
2) Why did you want to become a writer?
After raising 4 children and they were all married or had left home, then I began to go back to writing poetry.. After our daughter Lori Ann, died from Leukemia in 1992, I found that writing in poetic form was very helpful in dealing with the grief. She was only 34 years old.I've always had a feel or sensitivity for writing even for children. As I wrote, I became more fond of it and it helped me to cope in many ways with sensitive issues in my life. Especially when we also lost our son in 2006 at work. The poetry once again helped me with the grief I felt as I wrote about the two of them, it came straight from my heart and soul.
3) Do you currently write to support yourself or family?
I'm not so sure about being a huge support as far as financially is concerned, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it and I love writing for children. I began writing for our Hometown Newspaperon "The Poetry Corner" and also been in many Anthologies since 1980. I've had some health problems in between but I have still managed to write quite a great deal, besides enjoying our 10 grandchildren, who were my little critics when they were little. Now I have 12 great-grandchildren, with some being of the age to enjoy my writings.
4) If so, what titles have you put out and where can we find them?
I have written 4 books. Two are out in Amazon.com and I had some signings for them. "Guided by the Spirit" and "Echoes of Love" are both poetry books. The first being an inspirational Christian book with 4 stories included using the Psalms. The second"Echoes of Love"is about all the kinds of love we experience in our lifetime. Romantic love, married love, nature, the Ocean, Holidays and such. Those were written in 2007 and just recently beginning in Feb. of 2011 I wrote my first children’s’ book entitled "The Peanut Butter Caper" about 3 wild animals and a large pail of peanut butter. I had a great article in our Newspaper about it with my picture and showing the book. It is a caper because the pail of peanut butter disappears from the porch to be found in the driveway, sitting upside down, empty. The children must go by clues given in the book as to who stole the pail. The second children’s book is entitled "Beloved Companion" which is about a boy and his dog(s). It deals with the guilt that the boy feels when his first dog has to be put down. He is given a new puppy by his grandparents, but because of the guilt he feels, can't accept the new dog. The children read what happens and why he does finally accept the new dog, Lady and why she becomes his beloved companion. Thanks to Daveda Gruber and Publishing with Passion, I was able to have the last two books published. I go by the pen name 'Helen VanEck Holub, so the books can be found by my pen name. I'm now in the process of editing my 5th book, "Touched by God" another inspirational and other poems book to be published soon with Publishing with Passion. Joree Williams of the PWP staff is helping me with whatever editing needs to be done. She is a marvelous writer and knows many styles of poetry. Helen McManus, also of P.W.P. did all of my illustrating and book cover on a fully colored version, 8 and a half by 11""Peanut Butter Caper, and Daveda Gruber did a 6x9 version of the same book using the same pictures, but making them black and white. So there are two versions of that book available. You can also find those books in Lulu.com but they should be in stores.
5) Who is, or was, your inspiration?
Christian books inspire me very much and I love writing about my Savior and Redeemer.But I also enjoy writing about all kinds of other subjects. Children inspire me, too. I find that at the age of 78, I am kept young at heart by them and that's a good thing, I believe. Family is very important and my husband, George, has always been right there with me, when I write. My children are, as well. I sometimes feel my muse whispers to me at night and of course, I have to get up and write what has been started in my mind.
6) Whose writing style does your work most resemble?
I like to think that Helen Steiner Rice has influenced my writing. She was a superb writer and I always enjoyed her form of writing. She always reached out to people with her warmth and kindness and her love of God, too. I am also related to John Greenleaf Whittier the poet, on my grandmother's side. So perhaps that is also something that is ingrained in me. I like to believe that it's a talent given to me by God and I intend to use it.
7) Do you write on a schedule?
That's a good question. I never know when a new piece of poetry is going to come into my mind. It can just be sitting in the car waiting for someone and a few lines begin and I am prompted to complete it.I really don't have a schedule, per sae. I just seem to get that little tap in my mind and I write from my heart and soul, as well. I do some different styles but usually, it just comes out as it does. I'm very fortunate in that way.
8) Do you write in one particular place?
Not really. Sometimes I write when I'm on the computer and I have a thought or two, or I have a pad of paper that I keep by my side, so I might write on the sofa or at the dining area table. At times, I'll write my own cards for special people...birthday cards, anniversarycards and such. I have a disc that I use, too.
9) Do you write from home?
Most always, I do write from home. If I'm on vacation, I'll find myself writing wherever I am. It's when the muse strikes, I guess you could say, or when words seem to be whispered in my ear. Or when I'm looking out of my dining area window and I see the little animals out there in the tree or birds on the seed feeders. There is so much beauty to be seen, if you just look for it and then use your imagery or your imagination.When I'm relaxed i find it much easier to write or if something that is bothering me, has to come out. It usually comes out in poetic form.
10) Do you prefer to work in a quiet environment?
Most definitely, although I can write if the TV is lowered. But yes, I do prefer a quiet, serene environment. Probably the reason I write much of the time after my husband is in bed and there's total quiet. I think most poets like a quiet environment in which to write.
11) Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type of music do you listen to and why?
I do once in awhile but it has to be the old songs that mean something and I like orchestral music, where it's just in the background. I sometimes write poems using titles of songs and make a story from them. It is a great deal of fun doing that, I think.
12) Are you an avid reader?
Yes, I do love reading. Everything from love/romance to mysteries that have good endings!
13) Who are your favorite Authors?
Jan Karon who wrote the Mitford series. Excellent writer. Thomas Kinkade who not only paints but writes along with Katharine Spencer, also a series of books called "Cape Light novels", "All Creatures Great and Small" the series by James Herriot, who was a Veterinarian’ . There are just too many others to name.
14) What is your goal in writing?
My goal in writing is to be respected by those others who write and especially, to please all the children when I write books for them. I know I will never be rich but I do think I can be called a great writer, some day. At least that's what I hope. Though starting as late as I have, it may be a bit difficult.I was told by a dear friend of mine who read "Beloved Companion" that it could well be another 'Lassie' story. Who knows? My poetry means so much to me and I would feel sad if they were never read by anyone. It's my way of inspiring others who may want to write poetry or other books.
15) Describe yourself in 5 words.
Loving,kind , passionate,compassionate andintelligent
16) When do your ideas for writing come to you. At work; at night, where and when?
I believe I have explained that. I'm retired, so not at work. Nights are excellent, and just about anywhere I happen to be at the time.
17) Tell us about the best poem, in your opinion, that you have written. What inspired it,
This month I wrote "An Angel So Pure" on the PWP site. I saw a picture of a lovely angel with her arms held above her and her beautiful white wings spread out. I felt if any Angel was God's favorite, it would have been her. I guess the picture inspired it, but I have always loved angels and have ceramic collections of angels that I dearly love. This poem was about God's special Angel who emitted glory and pure joy and could make us feel worthy when we didn't feel worthy but I also ended it as this special Angel being the one who came to the Shepherds and told them of the birth of Jesus and ended with her also being the one who appeared to the women and told them after He was not found in the tomb and told them that "He had arisen, He is not dead!" I felt it to be a fitting ending to the poem. There may be others that are better, but I really enjoyed writing that one and it just felt right.
And has it been as well received by others as it is in your mind?
Yes, it has been. We're writing about 9/11 right now in a contest and we've been getting great opinions about those, too. PWP will give a beautiful statue to the winner and it is lovely. They do much of that. And everything has always been so well done. It makes the site special and Daveda, Helen McManus, who is a wonderful illustrator for the books and book covers and also does graphics, also Joree who is also on the Adminstration and Mary Ann Duhart who does many of the reviews on the many books that are published on PWP. We have so many fine poets on our site, too many to mention in one interview, but they are all kind and excellent writers of both poems and books. I hope they will all know that I am thinking of them and saying thank you to you all for being the wonderful people that you have been and always will be to me in my heart.
18). What are your hobbies when you are not writing?
To be frank, hobbies used to be great, like knitting or crafting, and sewing quilts, but my eyes aren't as good as they were, but I do enjoy helping my daughter with her twin granddaughters, Alayna and Mikayla, who are now 11 months old. They are here at the house during the week and I so enjoy them. As I said, they keep me young!
19. Did you like school and what was your favorite subject?
I loved school. I didn't get further than High School, but I did excellently and learned the Business World very well because of it. My favorite subject was English. Plus spelling which has helped me enormously with writing my books and poetry.
20) What did it feel like when you found out you would be published for the first time?
I was ecstatic! I felt that I had something for all the following generations and my own children and their children, etc, to have from their Mom, Grandma, Great-grandma and on down the line.
21. How do you come up with your titles?
I look for the best line or the subject that I'm writing about. It isn't always easy to come up with just the 'right' one, but so far, I've done pretty well with titles. I feel titles and imagery in the poem are both very important. Sometimes I write in free style, but mostly in rhyme. At times, I find myself even talking in rhyme and I sing a lot to the children, which they love.
22) What would you like to say to aspiring writers who are reluctant to share their work?
If you really have the feeling to write, if you can feel the words coming from your heart and soul and not just your mind, then you will do well. Watch others works and see how they form their poems or words in books and use imagery, always. It's so important to the person who is reading it. Write it so even without a picture, they can see it in their minds. Reluctance is just feeling a bit scary or afraid of what others will think of your work. Remember, you are not the only person out there who doesn't have the same feelings, but with love and a real ability, you can make it.
23) What thought would you like to leave with the readers of this interview?
Try, try, try again. I have found that as I have written, I have become a better writer and poet. I have learned from others and I hope that I can still learn. You can never have enough knowledge and you can use that knowledge to help others along the way. Be proud of your work and if you make mistakes, don't be irate if someone who is reviewing you says you have a word spelled wrong or a typo. They are only trying to HELP. Any assistance is wonderful. Believe me, I am always pleased when someone says, did you know you have a typo on such and such a line. Wonderful...you can re-edit it right on your poem. It can be a tremendous help for you.
24) Most poets I have talked to belong to more than one poetry site. Is it the same For you, and how do you; choose which site you will join?
I have never been able to be on more than one site at a time. With email messages coming in, Facebook, when I can and other things that must be done on the home scene, I can't be on the computer constantly. It's just too much for me.
25. Do you have some links to your homepage, books i. e. Lulu.com or Amazon.com;
No, I really don't have links, I just go into Lulu.com or Amazon.com and check under my pen name. I'm still not sure how to do certain things. But I do try.You may find them on my Facebook where I'm under Helen Holub.
Or You Tube videos that you would like to display here?
There are a few You Tube videos from times I was Poet of the Month, and also "The Peanut Butter Caper" is shown on Daveda Gruber's PWP videosand "Beloved Companion".
26) Do you have a special poem you would like to add here to show your writing?
(In memory of our daughter Lori and son, David)
Memories of treasured days long past
Remembering those precious moments that always
seem to last.
The joy of carrying those babies beneath my breast
The heartache of losing not one, but two...
I feel as though I'm walking through a deep,
Will I ever see the shining light that beams above
Until, once more, I see the standing by me...
those two of whom I so dearly loved.
No longer will I ever, at this time, see
I know the Lord will hold them very close to Him
But, oh Lord, my arms ache so to hold them
My heart feels the lingering, awesome pain
that fills my eyes with tears that fall in vain.
Why did they have to be taken at such young ages
I saw too few of their lives' ever-changing stages.
I keep praying every day, but deep inside my heart
Oh Lord, I can't stop writing all this sorrow on
Please cleanse my angry heart of such intense
that causes my brokenness and sends me reeling.
I know I'll always have my cherished memories...
Except sometimes remembering them just seems
When all I really want to do, dear Lord, you see
is to hold them always in my arms, close to me.
As I did when they were youngsters, such
Remembering now, makes me ache more, don't
I close this poem of sorrow, with just one thing
Hold your beloved children close today and
When their time should come, only God will know
Always hold them tight, be sure to show
the love you have for them and God's love
just as much.
So they not only feel your love, but also His
tender, loving touch.
©Helen VanEck Holub
27. Have we missed anything you would like me to include In this interview?
No, I thank you very much, Bob. Blessings, always!