Monday, November 30, 2009

Welcome Margaret (Peggy) Fieland

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Daughter of a painter, she is the mother of three grown sons and an accomplished flute and piccolo player. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein's “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. She lives in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and seven dogs. Her poems, articles and stories have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Main Channel Voices, Echolocation, and Twisted Tongue. In spite of making her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to format the initial version of her website, a clear illustration of the computer generation gap. You may visit her website,

Q: Tell us about what you write:
A: I'm a professional Computer Software engineer – BA in mathematics, MS in computer science, but I've written poetry as far back as I can remember, though not with publication in mind and not with any level of dedication.

Q: What got you writing for publication?
A: What really propelled me into writing for publication was organizing my poetry. I used to keep the poems, when I kept them, in notebooks. They were totally unorganized, and I could never find anything. Then I wrote a poem I wanted to keep, so I got off the stick and put them up, first on my computer, and after that online, originally in Yahoo briefcase, and later in Google Documents.

Q: Why was the organization such a key factor in moving your writing forward?
A: Once I had the poems organized and findable, I could finally submit, and I could look them over and gain perspective on how I was doing. What ended up happening was that I submitted a poem to a contest on a whim and ended up a finalist. This was so encouraging that I started writing more, working more seriously on growing as a writer, joined critique groups, etc

Q: What are you working on now?
A:Well, there's my chapter book, “The Ugly Little Boy.” I'm also working on a rhymed picture book and a series of math poems.

Q: Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you?
A: Lewis Carroll. My all time favorite book is “Alice in Wonderland,” which I reread every exam time when I was in college, as I made it a habit to avoid the library during exams. I'm also very fond of Carroll's poetry. I've got several stanzas of Jabberwocky and You Are Old, Father William memorized.

Q:How long have you been writing?
A: I've been writing poetry since my teens, but only with publication in mind for the past three or four years. As a story writer I'm pretty much of a novice, as I only started writing stories after I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson after the first Muse online writer's conference three years ago and joined her writing forums.
I'm 62 now, so that's a lot of years of writing.

Q: What made you want to start writing?
A: Good question – I started and became addicted. I really love writing -- and I just plain enjoy writing poetry, rhymed and unrhymed. I've developed my own algorithm for generating rhymes, which means that I often don't have to use a rhyming dictionary at all.
Besides, if I don't write it down it stays stuck in my head.

Q: When did you start writing?
A: Like many teens, I started writing (bad) poetry in my teens as an outlet for my teenage angst. Then later on I started writing poetry for the people I was dating, and after that for family birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, -- basically everything.

Q: What's the strangest thing you've ever written? Why
A: I don't think anything I write is strange {looks innocently up at ceiling}. I have written several surreal poems, and I have one I really like called “Machine A Ecrire” (French for typewriter), unpublished, in the shape of a typewriter. The sentences are “variations” on the stuff they had us all typing when we were in school.

Q: Some authors have said that their parents were supportive of their efforts when young, and some have said they had to sneak around and hide. What was the case with you?
A: When I was young I was studying music, not writing – I play the flute and the piccolo. My mother was an artist and while she was supportive of my music, her advice was “Always be able to support yourself,” so for that and other reasons I didn't become a professional musician.

Q: Who proofreads and critiques your work?
A:I belong to a couple of (online) critique groups and I also exchange manuscripts with other writers.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Darned if I know. Some of the poetry is “inspired,” some is in response to exercises or prompts I dig up, some is from lines that come to me as I'm falling asleep, some from events in my life. Lots of places. One poem I wrote this week was inspired by some words in the comments in the "spam" folder on my website {grin}.

Q: Where do you write?
A: Wherever I happen to be. I have pads and pens everywhere. I even write in the car. At home, my two favorite spots are the dining room table and my bed.

Q: When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?
A: Since I have a full time job, whenever the spirit moves me, and I have (or can make) the time. The nice thing about poetry is that a lot of it is short and taking a couple of minutes to jot down poetry is pretty easy to do. Waiting for appointments is a favorite time to write. I've had good luck being "inspired" by those articles you find in waiting rooms.

Q: If you could take a character from someone else's book on a date, who would it be and where would you take him/her/it?
A: Oh, good question. Some of the characters from Marion Zimmer Bradley's darkover series come to mind. If I could take them anywhere, I think I'd opt for the San Diego Museum of Science (as opposed to the one here in Boston). I was there once for a conference and fell in love with the place.

Q: If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?
A: Lewis Carroll, because I have a soft spot for his poetry, or James M. Barrie, because my favorite book as a kid was Peter Pan.

Q: Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?
A: Are you kidding? The internet. I'm an online kind of gal. My favorite resource is, which has an online dictionary and thesauraus. I make heavy use of the thesauraus when writing poetry, even rhymed poetry. Though I do occasionally resort to a rhyming dictionary, I usually generate the rhymes myself.

Q: When you're not writing, what do you like to do?
A: Read, listen to music, play my flute and my piccolo, walk our dogs, do crossword puzzles.

Q: Do you ever have a problem with writer's block?
A: Not so far, thank goodness {pauses to knock wood}.

Q: Who's your favorite author (other than yourself)? Why?
A: My favorite author for a long time was Robert Heinlein. I am a 'way back sci fi fan. I picked out his “Farmer in the Sky” as my tenth birthday present.

Q: What's your favorite book (other than one of your own)? Why?
A” Alice in Wonderland, which I reread every exam time in college.

Peggy, thanks so much for stopping by and letting us get to know you a little better. Don't forget to check out Peggy's website:


  1. martha, thanks so much for hosting me.

    Margaret Fieland

  2. Very interesting post. Margaret is certainly a multi-talented lady. I remember my mother giving me the same advice -- always be able to support yourself.

  3. Great post, Martha.

    It was fun learning more about you Peggy. Does your music ever inspire your poetry? What you favorite piece to play?

  4. Peggy, poetry has never been a strong point for me and I always tip my hat to writers who enjoy writing it. Loved your comment "Are you kidding? I'm an online type of gal." We must be cousins. GRIN

    Loved reading more about you.

  5. kathy, my favorite piece to play va ries with my mood and my instrument --I love playing Mozart, Bach, Telemann. One of my favorites, however, is the Devienne flute concerto, especially the third movement.

    Music has heavily influenced my poetic ear in many ways. I think a large part of my feeling for meter and word flow in general comes from my experiences as a musician.

    Margaret Fieland

  6. What a great post.

    That's funny, Margaret, my mother never told me to be able to support myself, but after my husband left and I had two very young children to support I learned the hard way.

    I raised my girls knowing they need to be able to support themselves.

    Music and poetry seem to be a natural fit.



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Virginia Beach, Virginia, United States