Leaving an island paradise

Blog Editor, Linda Hoye, recently asked Story Circle Network's One Woman’s Day contributors to consider a place they hold dear and to write about a special day they spent there or, perhaps the day they left. I accepted the challenge and wrote about the bittersweet leaving of our family’s home in the South Pacific. Here's my story, recently published in the Story Circle Network's March Journal: Leaving An Island Paradise From January 1977 to September 1978 I lived with my family on an island in the South Pacific – Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. The island is a military base, and my husband Bob managed a military-funded program there. We had a slow and easy life on the island, filled with all kinds of beach and water activities. When we arrived our sons Paul was five and Ben was two and a half. When we left Paul was seven and Ben four. Ben was glad to leave; Paul could have stayed forever. However, when we first stepped off the plane (a military carrier with no … [Read more...]

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Another novel milestone met

I just sent off draft seven of my novel to another reviewer. I very much value this person’s judgment because of her experience editing books for the Oxford University Press and that she helped me revise and edit my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.   I spent the last two and a half months working on this draft, looking for repetition, places where I told the story rather than showed it, and rewriting in response to some earlier review comments. As a result I cut out almost five thousand words. It’s now down to 85, 485 words. It’s still a little heavy for a novel, but in the right range. I’ve asked this reviewer to especially assess the content - are the story and its characters worth even pursuing at this point. My problem is the more I read and work on this material these days, the less confident I get. I said I don't need her to edit, except for giving me possible suggestions on where to delete/add stuff. After I sent my manuscript off to my reviewer today, my h … [Read more...]

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Tips for leading a conference workshop

Since I participated at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference as both a workshop leader and panelist the end of June, it's time to share a post I wrote for The Memoir Network's Writers Blog in early May on this subject. I very much thank The Memoir Network's founder Denis Ledoux for inviting me to write for his great memoir website. Here's the post verbatim: Promoting yourself as a writer Participating in writing conferences, either as a panelist, lecturer, or as a workshop leader is a great way to get your name and book out in public and to network with other writers like you Being a presenter comes with tasks, but the challenge is not impossible. I’d like to offer you some  guidelines to help you be as successful as you can be to: Respond to a presenters’ request for proposal, Adhere to a list of conference presenter’s guidelines, and Develop a workshop that keeps the promises you proposed – in the specified allotted time. I recently co-led a workshop at the Story … [Read more...]

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Introducing Denis Ledoux of The Memoir Network

I'm so pleased that Denis Ledoux, founder and president of The Memoir Network, found me. I am now a subscriber to his newsletter and a huge proponent on his thoughts about writing as a way to heal. I am definitely going to mention his guest blog post tomorrow when Eleanor Vincent and I lead a workshop called Telling Healing Stories at the Story Circle Network's writers conference. His network is also on the list of resources we'll give our participants. If you don't know Denis and The Memoir Network, I feel honored to introduce him to you now. Writing Painful Memories: Three Tips To Make It Easier by Denis Ledoux Memoir writing is a generally pleasant experience and, by its very nature, promotes healing and growth. But, there are times in writing when pain arises spontaneously and surprises us or times when we know the experience will be painful even before we start. What to do? Sooner or later, pain seems to come with memoir writing. Sometimes we can handle this pain easily … [Read more...]

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Using memoir writing to deal with grief

On Sunday I’ll co-lead a workshop called Telling Healing Stories at the Story Circle Network’s writers conference in Austin TX. One of our goals for this workshop is provide the tools for our participants to address ways to transform a loss or crisis into readable and inspiring prose. It has been proven that writing is healing, and I happen to think that any creative outlet is beneficial to recovering from a traumatic event in our lives. My son Paul killed himself in September 1999 after a seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder, and I signed up for a writing class three months after his death. We sat in the instructor’s living room on couches and big easy chairs in a comfortable and forgiving atmosphere. Each week the instructor told us to write a journal entry. He didn’t specify a subject. This was a beginner’s class. All he wanted us to do was learn to “write like you talk,” and to write in a voice that came from deep within our bellies. And then we’d come back the next week … [Read more...]

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Memorializing Paul’s Tree

I spent some time today taking photos of the tree we’ve had in our front yard for the last thirteen plus years. We have come to call it Paul’s tree because we had it planted on the first year anniversary of Paul’s death. I’ve mentioned it here in the past after a particularly bad trimming job (see December 5, 2010, June 30, 2012, and July 22, 2012). Unfortunately, I won’t have to complain about that anymore. Next week our gardeners are going to remove it completely, and we’ll replace it with a much smaller and less invasive substitute. I’m also memorialized it in a poem just published in “True Words from Real Women: An Anthology of Life Writing by the Women of the Story Circle Network” (November 2013).     Paul’s Tree   It has to be a climbing tree, I say to replace the one he used to climb as a boy, to remind me of him sitting in the wide Vee of the upper branches smiling and proud of his climbing success. I settle on a small cora … [Read more...]

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My writing life is heating up

Here’s what’s going on. This week I learned that one of my poems was accepted to appear in the Story Circle Network’s 2103 Anthology, and that the proposal Eleanor Vincent and I wrote to present a workshop at SCN’s 2014 conference was accepted. Our workshop is called “Telling Healing Stories: Writing a Compelling Memoir.” Added to the excitement is that the conference takes place in Austin Texas next April 11 through 13. I’ve always wanted to travel there, so here’s my chance. I also began attending a weekly poetry workshop – recommended by my writing friend, Chanel Brenner (see her guest post here). My first assignment was to bring in six copies of my portal poem – which means that I read the first version of it at the first meeting and then I am required to rewrite and share the rewrites at each of our next five meetings. This poem had to be a first draft and one that makes me cringe when I read it. So I picked one I wrote at Esalen last summer that really got slammed by one of … [Read more...]

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My six-year old website has a new look

In case you’ve wondered where I’ve been, I’m happy to say I’m back to blogging with a whole new look and a new blog host site. I’ve moved, thanks to a wonderful web master and domain host, from Blogspot to WordPress. I felt after six years it was time for a change. Plus I’ve heard from my many blogging friends that WordPress will much better serve my needs. Come back in a few months and I’ll let you know if I find that to be true. Right now I’m knee-deep in questions and problems. First of all I have no idea how to even post this. It’s like going back to Square One. But I’ve found, via my trusty friend Google, a WordPress support document called: First Steps with WordPress. If it successfully helps me post this, you’ll know I learned something. If not, well, what can I say? Then I have to learn how to edit. When my archives from Blogspot got transferred over, most of my careful formatting went by the wayside. Line spacing is all over the place and the text is no longer wrapped ar … [Read more...]

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I’m inundated with writing information

I get posts from the sites listed below either daily or weekly. They take over my email stream. And if I read each and every one of them every day, I wouldn’t have time for anything else – including what I’m sitting down to do – WRITE! Mind you, this list doesn’t include posts from blogs I regularly follow, a daily poem, and other various emails from the Writer’s Market, Amazon, Powell’s Books, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter – the list goes on and on. So what do you think? Which ones should I continue getting? Which ones should I toss? Also, are there any that I’m missing? I’d love to hear from you. Storyfix is about getting real with your writing dream. About writing the kinds of stories that attract a readership through an understanding of craft and harnessing the power of the underlying principles that make it so. “If you want to publish your work, if you want a career as a writer, then you’ve come to the right place.” ~ Larry Brooks Copyblogger has been teachin … [Read more...]

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A new published poem plus

I’m pleased that the Story Circle Journal has published my new poem, “Writing My Truths” in response to their submission topic Silence. I certainly recommend my women writer friends to look into joining the Story Circle Network: for women with stories to tell. This group has been very supportive of my work. Here’s a little description from its website: The Story Circle Network is an international not-for-profit membership organization made up of women who want to document their lives and explore their personal stories through journaling, memoir, autobiography, personal essays, poetry, drama, and mixed-media. Writing My Truths I have a new room. I write in there alone. I sit at my draftsman table, looking out the bay window to the garden. I see the trunks of the three palm trees, the small cement pond, and the ferns swinging their leaves behind it. Sometimes a bird comes by for a drink, surfing along the top of the pool. Yet, I don’t open the window to he … [Read more...]

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Exciting news

I am so excited that the editors at the Story Circle Network have chosen my memoir as one its November picks. I joined the Story Circle Network last month, and I’m already reaping its benefits. Here is a short description of its mission, which is right up my alley: The Story Circle Network, offering classes, workshops, story circles, reading circles, retreats, and conferences, is an international not-for-profit membership organization made up of women who want to document their lives and explore their personal stories through journaling, memoir, autobiography, personal essays, poetry, drama, and mixed-media. And here is how to get more information: To learn more about who we are, go here. To learn about our many ongoing activities, subscribe to our free email newsletter. For more information, see our FAQ or contact us via email: storycircle at storycircle.org or phone: 512-454-9833 or write to: Story Circle Network, P.O. Box 500127, Austin TX 7 … [Read more...]

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