Diane Smith credits the turmoil of the '60s and hormones with curing a childhood shyness, the only residual being some embarrassing poetry. In addition to having fostered a lifelong free-floating anxiety, she raised various children and animals, while working as a teacher. She has published several articles and received accolades for speech-writing, but prefers the humor genre. Diane is married, with grown kids who are currently spread out over the three states that make up the west coast, naturally causing her some concern. After a 25-year career in education, she retired to the Central Coast to continue writing. Her fervent wish is not to float away when an earthquake causes her region of California to break off from the rest of the country. After all, she has her poodle to think about.

Join a writing group, listen carefully to the feedback, and spend as much time studying the market as you do writing. Diane Smith

Leodegraunce: Diane, please tell Leodegraunce readers a bit about your background.

Diane Smith: I survived a duck-and-cover childhood, growing up in the '60s with two older brothers. Despite their dire predictions for me, I am married, with grown kids, and I recently retired after a mostly successful 25 years teaching secondary school. I live on the Central Coast, where I enjoy reading, writing and playing music daily.

Leodegraunce: What drew you to flash fiction?

Diane Smith: I taught high school English for many years, during which time I watched the average attention span shrink to sound-bite level. Since my students were reading only the first and last chapters of novels anyway, I often skipped the middle man and assigned the Cliff Notes directly. When I started teaching creative writing, I found that poetry and flash fiction provided the best way for the students to tighten up their writing. Now, I stick to short fiction and nonfiction primarily, and I run a flash critique group as part of SLO-Nightwriters, an organization of talented writers in the Central Coast region of California.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your recent works?

Diane Smith: Retiring last year allowed me to really focus on writing. Since then, my work has been accepted by Tolosa Press ("Bingo at Belly Acres") and Greenprints ("A Garden of Personalities"), the latter scheduled for publication within the next year. Both are creative nonfiction pieces based on my experiences with children.

Leodegraunce: What are some of your writing plans for 2011?

Diane Smith: Currently, I'm working on plays, poems, and stories for children, as well as continuing to write humorous flash pieces. I am also excited to be introducing the microfiction genre to 4th through 6th graders in a local after-school enrichment program this year. My goal is for these students to not only read flash fiction, but also write it and submit it for publication.

Leodegraunce: What is your top writing tip for aspiring authors?

Diane Smith: Join a writing group, listen carefully to the feedback, and spend as much time studying the market as you do writing. Also, eat chocolate. For some reason, it helps.