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  • Elemental Conversations: Sherry Beasley

    Sherry Beasley lives in southwest Virginia. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines across the country, and have won numerous prizes, including the Edgar Allen Poe Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of Virginia. She is currently working on a collection of her poems.

    Sherry Beasley

    3ER: Was there a specific element that sparked your story idea?

    SB: I think the word “Terminal” caught my attention the most. For some reason I added the next element on the list, which was a number. That took care of two elements right away. The third, “bare,” was harder to work into the poem.

    3ER: What do you want to tell readers about your piece?

    SB: First, as soon as the title came to me (and that came first, I think), the rest of the poem came pretty quickly. I wrote it in one session, but that is what I almost always do with any poem I write. This was an easy poem relatively speaking, but the word “bare” did give me a little trouble.

    3ER: Describe your writing process.

    SB: My writing process, is really to have a large block of time, the longer the better, and generally not less than four hours, to concentrate on writing. I need to be totally alone and have found that when I am not alone I am not productive. I am a little edgy because I never know when someone might come into the room where I am trying to write. So-a large block of time and total solitude help me.

    If I am experiencing writer’s block, an element or list of elements helps, and also, something visual like a famous painting. I look at a bunch of these online or in a book and at least one will inspire me to write something. Listening to music also helps.

    3ER: Do you write in a certain place? Listen to music? What are your rituals?

    SB: I write in my writing room, which used to be a nursery, then my son’s bedroom – the elder and then the younger – then a laundry room (which is still is) but I converted most of the room to a place where I keep my desk and books, etc. So it is mostly a writing room.

    I resisted composing on the computer for a long time and preferred to write in longhand, but realized only in the last year or two how much easier it is to compose on the computer.

    I used to listen to music practically every time I was going to write. Now, I only listen when I need to help writer’s block.

    3ER: Who are your favorite writers?

    SB: My favorite writers:  I don’t have favorite writers as much as I have favorite poems, and of course, I like the poets who wrote them. Those poems are: 

    Mourning Picture by Adrienne Rich

    No Swam So Fine by Marianne Moore

    A Carriage From Sweden by Marianne Moore

    First Death In Nova Scotia by Elizabeth Bishop

    Flock by Billy Collins

    and others

    3ER: Why do you think writing matters?

    SB: Because it connects us to our fellow man.

    3ER: What is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had? 

    SB: Every dream I have is weird.

    3ER: Where can we read more of your work? 

    SB: Several of my poems can be found online at Your Daily Poem.

    I also have a website that can be found here.

    Here is an excerpt from Sherry’s poem, French Kiss, out now in issue no. 3:

    A kiss on an excursion boat sailing down the Seine,

    Notre Dame cathedral on one bank, black wrought-iron

    railing on the other with an ice-cream vendor selling

    cones of vanille au chocolat. Suddenly, a gorgeous man

    appears behind me, and turns me around. You know

    what happens next. No one told me

    I needed to know the man, or that I should bring

    him with me.

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    Elemental Conversations: Christina Tang-Bernas

    Christina Tang-Bernas graduated with a degree in psychology, fueling her fascination with human motivations. Her work has appeared in Vine Leaves Literary JournalStill Points Arts Quarterly, and a Sirens Call anthology.

    Christina Tang Bernas

    3ER: Was there a specific element that sparked your story idea?

    CTB: “Terminal” has so many different meanings, each with such possibilities, and it was this word I meditated on while developing my story. 

    3ER: Describe your writing process.

    CTB:  I find my writing process is similar to the way I paint.  Starting off with an image or a compelling sentence in mind, I sketch out the barest of outlines: bits of dialogue, the first few opening lines, or perhaps a particular ending.  I then lay in the base coat of color in a mad flurry of writing.  A little here, a little there, in no particular order, until I have the rest of the story.  And, of course, afterwards comes multiple rounds of editing where I put in all the details, tweaking words here and there for emphasis or effect, moving things around to draw a reader’s eye to certain areas, smoothing out areas of awkwardness, until I have the final product.  Not sure if this is the most efficient or practical way of writing a story, but it works for me.  

    3ER: Why do you think writing matters?

    CTB: Writing, more than anything else, is a way for us to record the past so that we can communicate specific messages to the future.  It’s what separates people from almost anything else on the face of the Earth, how we perceive time in such a way as to hope for the future.

    3ER: What is the weirdest dream you’ve ever had? 

    CTB: I often have dreams within dreams in which I go about the normal rituals of my day only to wake up and discover it’d all taken place within my head, so then I go about my day again, only to wake up once again.  When I’m under particular stress, I can have up to five iterations of these dreams, all enfolded into one another. It makes for a rather unsuccessful sleep, to have lived five days in the space of eight or less hours.  Plus, I spend my actual day in reality wondering if I’m still dreaming.  

    3ER: Where can we read more of your work? 

    CTB: You can click around my website at  Not only do I post fun bits of my writing there, I also post my random thoughts on writing as well as news of where I’m published.

    Here is an excerpt from Christina’s short story, Safe, out now in issue 3:

    “Hello Melinda.” Patricia grimaces. She’s never become used to calling her mother by her given name. The person she’s talking to, though, has never birthed a daughter named Patricia. The term “mother” would only confuse her further, something Dr. Lin has cautioned against.

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    An Interview with 3ER’s Advisory Board Chair

    Interview with Carol Roh Spaulding

    Carol Roh Spaulding is the advisory board chair for 3Elements Literary Review. She is also a published writer and tenured professor at Drake University. Some of Carol’s published works include several award-winning short stories, including a Pushcart Prize, best story of the year in Ploughshares, the Glimmer Train Fiction Open award, and her novel, Helen Button. She is also director of the newly-established Drake University Community Press.

    Carol Roh Spaulding, Advisory Board Chair for 3Elements Review.

    3ER: How did you get involved with 3Elements?

    Carol: Mikaela asked me to serve on the editorial board.  I agreed because I’ve always thought it was a great idea for a journal, simple and elegant.

    3ER: What does being a an executive board member of 3Elements entail?

    Carol: For me, I’m afraid not very much. I told her I would be willing to list my name and serve when called upon. When she needs me to decide on a “tie” submission, if you will, or wants advice about anything, I’m there.

    3ER: How do you find time to indulge your creative passions?

    Carol: I don’t find it. I make it. It’s the only way it ever happens, otherwise. Save for designated periods of time that you give yourself to write, such as a retreat or a writer’s colony, it’s about making the time on a regular basis.

    3ER: Describe your writing process. How is it unique?

    Carol: It’s not magical. On the outside it looks the same every day. I get up in the dark when I have the house to myself, start coffee, and sit down to resume where I left off the day before. Some days, I fall asleep at the table or feel miserable about what I’m working on. Other days, I’m flying inside. The point is that I’m there every morning, rain or shine, as it were.

    3ER: If you could choose any three elements for a future issue, what would they be?

    Carol: Helmet. Squeeze. Purl. Those are just the first 3 words that came to mind. One noun, two verbs.

    3ER: What is the best piece of advice you could give a fellow writer?

    Carol: Writing, like any creative undertaking, is just a series of problem solving. But when you’re creatively connected, you don’t see the problems as problems so much as decisions you find intensely absorbing in that tip-of-the-tongue-on-your-upper-lip sort of way. Hours pass and you realize you’ve been Elsewhere working. You’ve given yourself over to something larger than you are. Other times, it’s just a slog. It alternates. It’s the regularity, the process, that matters most.

    3ER: Why do you think writing is important, specifically creative writing?

    Carol: I don’t think all creative writing is important. I think a lot of it is self-indulgent. But I think anyone who takes that “journey” I described above is doing something cosmically (not religiously) sacred. That matters.

    3ER: What book/story/poem do you wish you had written?

    Carol: I don’t have anything I “wish I had” written.  I have several books I “can’t wait to” write.  🙂

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