Yup! I drove 185 miles last Wednesday to have lunch with the delightful Amy Newmark, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame! She graciously treated me, along with 5 other women and a few husbands and a friend in the mix! We dined at Bonefish Grill in Arlington, VA on the best Lump Crab & Corn Chowder, Fish Tacos with steamed spinach/garlic and too full, I brought my cheesecake home for later indulgence. It was just great to chat with the other authors and to hear Amy’s story of the Chicken Soup books. She started telling us from the beginning, about buying the company when other book publishers were fading from sight; into the process of reading all those stories that come in, sorting them out, finding titles for a new series, etc. Ms. Newmark is a woman who exudes happiness as she talks and who leads an interesting life loving what she does.
Her cool assistant Maureen put together gift bags for each of us with Chicken Soup books and a charming mug & matching spoon with the CS for the S logo. It was a lovely 3 hours with a smart, informative and imaginative woman. THANK YOU AMY NEWMARK! You offer opportunities for writers to stretch their writing muscles and get published!
H-m-m-m. My 185 mile ride home gave me plenty of time to think about another story to submit.
Category Archives: writing
A Nosegay of Violets is more about my psychic awakening than about my day-to-day life as a young housewife and mother. Although the story that includes the strange happenings to me could not have been written without tapping into my normal life, too. So I continue adding chapters, one at a time, about my daily doings during the years of my first marriage. It’s a story that needs to be told. I know that I will not be completely healed from the pain and sorrow I suffered through that time until my entire story is revealed. It was a journey of learning lessons needed in this lifetime. Now that I look back, I see the growing process that has brought me to be who I am today.
So I return to the guidelines I share with others in my workshop about telling their stories. As I write, my memories will make me relive those moments again, tears will spillover but by the end I will see how far I have come on my journey and be thankful for what I have learned.
That’s what we at WAM (Warren Artists Market) do and have been doing it since our first gathering in 2012. In February 2013, we sponsored an Art & Poetry reception where we poets wrote poems about the art exhibited by hometown artists and read the poetry while standing next to the artwork. It was great! The art and related-framed poems remained in the library (by request) for 2 months!
The artists were the late Jay Person, Wheeler Smith, and Ronnie Williams. The poets were Thomas Park, Sherman Johnson, and me. And so it began.
We hosted FFP open mic nights at the Warren Food Works, moved a few times when they were closed, and came back again. Their crew was always helpful and encouraging, supplying us with food and great liquid refreshments. Special nights were held, sometimes honoring particular holidays, sometimes featuring live music, sometimes dancers performed. Singers performed a cappela. Other special nights were held sponsoring Book Release Parties & Signings. Sterling Cheston added music selections to our events. Guest readers were featured. Often it was standing room only!
We facilitated a writing group at the Senior Center resulting in Chapbooks published; hosted play readings, and held workshops.
WAM began publishing an annual anthology in 2013 with SITTING WITH A DRUNKEN SORCERESS Poems and Prose to invite you, to incite you, to delight you, followed by Life Preserved: Memories An Anthology and INSPIRATIONS, an anthology on Warren County, and THIS I KNOW an anthology. Presently we are accepting submissions for HOME an anthology.
WAM is a writer’s collective and offers after school creative writing-arts programs. It was founded by writer, teacher Thomas Haywood Park.
We continue to grow and improve, to draw participants from greater distances, letting artists and writers know that our door is open and the mic is on.
TO DIE BUT ONCE- Jacqueline Winspear and WRITING YOUR OWN STORY
This latest book in her Maisie Dobbs series has just as much excitement, tension, human interest, and knowledge about WW II as her earlier books. Like most of her others in the series, I began to read it as soon as it came into my hands. Oh, to find out what was going on in Maisie Dobbs life since her last story! I read it in one day.
In reading about the author, she discusses how, as a child she grew up listening to the stories about the war from her close and extended family. Her family was large with many uncles, each with their own version of what they experienced. This meant that they covered most of the areas involved in the Second World War. The women of the family had their own stories about home life, their volunteer work and the struggles they lived through.
In 2003 her first book in the series was published with the story based during WWI coming from growing up listening to her grandparents talk about their life during those years. The stories included many of the social changes going on in England that would become permanent.
You may not realize it, but your stories of growing up and the stories you heard from your family and their friends are just as important and exciting to someone else as what Ms. Winspear has built a writing career about.
Writing your story, telling it as it happened to you, how you saw it, maybe differently than your siblings, is important. As you write, you will relive moments you thought you had forgotten. Unhappy experiences will be seen and felt differently, healing old wounds as you write.
Writing is beneficial in so many ways whether you write with pen in hand or on a computer. This is the excitement in why I offer workshops on Memoir . . . . Writing Your Story.
MY HOUSE ON THE CHURCH SIDE
Being different is not the same as not belonging. It may be a cause for not belonging but being different stands alone. I grew up being told I was different, not because of being the only girl in a neighborhood of boys (and I had two brothers, no sisters) but because we were the only family without a father in the house. It was quite unusual in those days and in our neck of the woods.
We weren’t confined to the back yard but allowed to roam as long as we didn’t cross the busy streets that defined the neighborhood. I didn’t have an ounce of shyness in me then, not even internally. That came later when I would have to push myself forward.
A half block up Liberty Street was a neighbor who also lived in a semi-detached house. He owned two lots alongside his house that were planted in vegetables but mostly in flowers. At 7 years old I would stop my bike and talk to him through the fence while he worked. He never encouraged it but he didn’t reject me either. One summer day I asked, “How come I always see you outside working but I have never seen your wife. You have a wife, don’t you? And how about kids. Do you have kids? I’ve never seen any.”
He explained to me that their children were grown up with households of their own and that his wife was very ill and liked to be quiet. I quickly followed up with, “Why did you build a swimming pool if you don’t have kids?”
These were the days when the only swimming pools were community pools that you needed to pay to get in. Woodlawn was the pool we went to once a week in the summer with the school playground program. It was a 2 mile walk, one way.
He patiently explained that he built his pool (a wooden structure 5 feet high, about 10 feet long and 8 feet wide) for exorcise, told me to never come in the yard without his invitation. I think this came after I told him about my climbing adventures on the church fence. He also invited my brother and me to come swim in his pool on a day he selected, with a written consent from my mother. We went two or three times and loved it, respected his rules and never pushed ourselves on his generosity.
His generosity expanded to giving me fresh flowers for my mother on Mother’s Day after I told him that I rode four blocks away to the cemetery to pick some flowers from the gravestones for Mom on Easter. He kindly but firmly explained why I should never, ever do that again, that if I needed flowers to come ask him. I never picked flowers from the cemetery again.
Telling Your Story- Writing memoir is many things to the writer. It’s often a trip down a path that got you to where you are today, showing the result of sometimes funny things that happened to you and sometimes not so funny. You can write parts of that path, starting out at a bend in the road and ending at a bend further down the road. There is no need to try to start at the very beginning. That may overwhelm you, especially if you are older than 30 and have lived a full and varied life. I can promise you that if you write everyday, even if it is only a half hour, you will begin to remember moments you thought you had forgotten forever. It’s true, the more you write, the more you remember without effort. It just comes, sneaking up on you like a kitten trying to get your attention with a soft, tiny paw tapping on your knee.
About a year ago, I began writing about the 15 years of traveling Angelo and I did stopping at horseracing tracks from as far away as Australia, across our country, Canada, and even the Curragh in Ireland. So, look for RUNNING WITH THE HORSES, expected publishing date is August of this year.
HAVE I TOLD YOU? Booksigning for Ellie Newbauer went beautifully well today at the Rosemont Winery. A good turnout of friends from near and far on a lovely, sunny afternoon raised glasses in tribute to our 92 year old leader of the pack. Many HAVE I TOLD YOU? Conversations were carried on. We each read a page from Ellie’s book before we asked her to do the same.