Friday, November 11, 2011

Q&A with Tee Tate

So delighted to welcome TS (Tee) Tate as my guest on the blog today!  Tee is the Editor in Chief of, a fiction writer, tech writer, and freelance editor. Her short story "Street Noises" will be published in Pine Hill Press's forthcoming anthology Daily Flash 2012: 366 Days of Flash Fiction. Tee earned her Masters of Arts in English at Southern Louisiana University and has worked as a news reporter and assistant editor for regional magazines and newspapers.

It's been such a pleasure to work with you at LitStack. The site is about 3 months old now - how are things going? What have been some of the highlights so far? Where would you like to see the site go, and what are you looking forward to?

Things are going great on LitStack. We have been truly blessed to host so many wonderfully talented writers. They just keep producing quality reviews, interviews and news posts and it's humbling that they have chosen our site to publish their work. The highlights, for me personally, have been the opportunities I've had to meet gifted writers and to gain insight on how the publishing industry works. The contacts we've made (with publicists, writers and editors) have been such a blessing. They've all been incredibly generous and their support of our little site is astounding. I'm looking forward to our massive book giveaway in December and some really amazing Featured Authors in 2012. It's going to be an incredible year!

You host the popular twitter chat #writersroad - how did that get started? What kinds of topics do you cover? When does #writersroad happen, and who should join in?

#writersroad is an offshoot of another Twitter chat started by Lia Keyes called #ScribeChat. Heather McCorkle and I were regulars to #ScribeChat and when Lia decided she needed to revamp her schedule and she'd no longer be hosting the chat, Heather and I took on #writersroad.

We cover any and everything one would need to discover on their journey down the "Writer's Road." (See what I did there? :)) From turning off your internal editor to how to motivate your muse or the importance of a platform, we talk about a huge range of topics related to writing and the publishing industry.

This month, in honor of NaNo [National Novel Writing Month], we've condensed the chat so that the last half hour is for writing sprints. We come back at the end of that half hour and compare our numbers.

#writersroad happens every Monday night, 6pm PT on Twitter. Search for the hashtag #writersroad and you're there. We welcome writers of all levels: novice, intermediate, professional; but the chat really is for anyone who wants to improve their writing abilities.

What has your own writer's road been like - have you always been a writer? What do you love to write? How would you describe your own writing style/genre?

My writer's road has been a little bit bumpy. There seem to have always been a few hurdles in my way, mainly ones of my own making. I have always written, since probably junior high, but I tend not to count those years because all that I produced then was really angsty pre- and post-pubescent poetry. But when I got into college (which wasn't until I was about 25), I took several writing classes with Dr. Tim Gautreaux. He taught me form and technique, and I consider those lessons invaluable. Later, while in graduate school, I sort of adopted Bev Marshall as my writing mentor. I learned so much from her. I always say Tim Gautreaux taught me to write with my head; Bev Marshall taught me to write with my heart. But it was during this time that I had what I needed: a deadline.

It was also during this time that I wrote for the university paper and got the opportunity to meet Frank McCourt. He spoke during one of our arts festivals and afterward, I was invited to the private cocktail party held in his honor. That night changed my life and I knew, without a doubt, that I had to write. I wanted what McCourt had and I knew nothing was going to stop me from getting it.

What I love most about writing is what it gives me. I feel, in some ways, constrained in my daily life: between the 'real job,' LitStack, family and a tiny side business. I'm a very busy person, but I make time for writing because if I didn't, I wouldn't feel complete. Writing, for me, is like stretching my soul- finding the space and energy to shake off the dust of the daily grind and disappear into my own world where I am free, under no obligation to anyone other than my muse. Writing is like breath for the soul and is, therefore, necessary.

I'm definitely a genre writer. There's no way around it. I love the fantastic, the weird, the surreal and thrive under those parameters. Gautreaux, bless him, limited us to literary fiction and I quickly discovered I couldn't do it. I generally believe that fiction should entertain, should provide escape and should inspire and, for me, there's no better source than genre fiction. My style is a weird sort of mash up-sometimes it's gruesome and horrific, sometimes it's surreal fairytale, but it's almost always snarky. To an extent.

Your short story "Street Noises" is forthcoming in a new anthology from Pine Hill Press. Can you tell us a little more about your story and the anthology? What is coming up next for you?

"Street Noises" was a flash piece written last Halloween for Kealan Patrick Burke's writing contest on his blog. I was in 'the top five' with that story (so he says). When I didn't win, I nagged him, asked what he thought of it. Burke then proceeded to lecture me about why I wouldn't get off my butt and start submitting my stories around. Motivated by him, I sent it out and Pill Hill accepted. It's my very first publication.

The story is based on the supposedly historically accurate account of a nameless nine-year-old girl in the 1930's in New Orleans who escaped two brothers after they kidnapped her. When the police got to their apartment, they found several dead bodies, many vats of blood; an altogether gruesome scene. The implication was that the brothers were vampires. I sort of ran with that in a not-so-blatant sort of way.

Upcoming is an anthology I've been asked to write for and the continual journey through my WIP.

If you could give any advice you wanted to new writers, what would it be?

Everyone says it, but there's a reason for that: if you want to write you must read and write every. single. day. At some point, if you're serious about writing, you have to decide if you're married to writing or just having a brief affair with it. If you're married to writing, then it's a daily commitment, one that you absolutely could not do without. If your writing leans toward the "affair" side of things, then enjoy it at your leisure. The bottom line is this: "if it's important enough, you'll find a way. If it's not, you'll find an excuse."

What is one of your recent favorite reads, and why? What's the number one book on your holiday wishlist right now?

Without a doubt, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It's such a beautiful, magical, elegant little book that left me stunned and contemplative for weeks afterward. Ha! My holiday wish list is full at the moment. I'm very, very lucky that, because of LitStack, I get lots and lots of free books. Harper, especially, seems to love to send me books, so there's not a real need for me to add a book to my Christmas list. I do, however, finally want to read The Help and possible start reading George R. R. Martin (I'm a terrible genre baby, I know). I'm also so excited to read Kim Harrison's A Perfect Blood in the new year. I'm so incredibly behind on my [to be read] list!

Many thanks to Tee for taking the time to answer all my nosy questions ;D. You can find Tee at, on her blog, on Facebook, and on twitter (@teetate).


  1. Tee, any advice on how to get your short stories or flash fiction "out there?"

  2. Just start submitting. Is there a particular organization you'd like to join? Do they have a 'qualified publication' list that credits you toward membership? For example, my goal is to join SFWA. They have a list of publications that they will accept as a 'qualifying' journal. I started submitting off that list. Ask around, hit Google. The information is out there. You (like me) might have to start a smaller publication before you can get a few publications under your belt, but it'll be worth it in the end.

  3. Sounds like a great tip, Tee - are there other organizations aspiring writers should know about? Lisa, sites like NewPages and Duotrope (on twitter also) list calls for submissions, they are good places to find out about different litmags and what they are looking for.

  4. Just seeing the comment, Jenn, sorry. I guess that depends on the genre you write. Offhand, I know of (children/YA/MG)and (SciFi/Fantasy. You just have to dig around to find the organization that's right for you.


Thanks for visiting - thoughts welcome.