Guest Bloggers

Storytelling: Family Secrets

Today’s Guest Blogger, Kate Farrell, author of Story Power, with her unique experience as a storyteller, shares methods to unlock family secrets, There’s nothing louder than a family secret—it pesters and pokes until someone speaks up. Secrets have a way of hiding in plain sight. There are always the whispered rumors, missing pieces of a puzzle, stories that keep changing. But just as shared family folklore can develop strength and identity, keeping family secrets can destroy trust. Secrets that persist, unspoken and misunderstood, can erode the very foundation of a family. Family members who are perceptive, who sense hidden truths, may become fearful or internalize guilt and shame. At the very least, family secrets isolate—family members from one another and the entire family from their community. Some family secrets are more harmful to keep than others. Those that were traumatic, that violated some taboo, or were life-changing are vital to…

Guest Bloggers

Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp and The Writing Fairies

Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp writes about her struggles and success with Good Fairy/Bad Fairy. 2012 I’ve had a story swirling in the recesses of my mind for several weeks. One that I think would work for a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Last night, I opened a blank page in Word and began to write the story. I wrote for well over an hour. The story seemed to be coming together nicely. I was aiming for 1200 words, and by the time I was ready to call it quits for the day, I had over 700 words and still a lot to be told. I didn’t take time to read over what I’d written, knew there would be time to do that in the morning. I got ready for bed, feeling satisfied that more than half the first draft was complete. I settled down in bed to watch the…

Guest Bloggers

The Gift of Writing

Today’s guest blogger, Nona Smith, relates her experience about how her book, Stuffed: Emptying the Hoarder’s Nest, came about. Eight years after our friend, Al, died, and two weeks after his wife, Linda, was put to rest, my husband, Art, and I stood on their doorstep, key hovering at the lock. As the executor of their estate, Art had every right to be there. But still, we felt like trespassers. He gave a small shrug and turned the key in the lock. We pushed the door open, walked inside, and gazed around at the chaos that greeted us. In the living room, twin oak desks stood in front of a window, their drawers exploding with old mail, catalogues, writing implements, and paper. A couch, laden with a mountain of stuffed animals, was sandwiched between two Tiffany floor lamps. On the floor, handwoven rugs were piled on top of handwoven rugs….

Guest Bloggers

Fiction. Nonfiction. Creative nonfiction.

What are you writing these days? Some people find it difficult to concentrate. Others are filling pages with poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and creative nonfiction. It might be a perfect time to chronicle what is going on in your life . . . if you write this as a journalist would . . . just the facts, that’s nonfiction. If you add vignettes and personalize your story, that’s creative nonfiction. Here’s what guest blogger Nancy Julien Kopp says about fiction, creative nonfiction, and fictional narrative. Most people are aware of the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is made up, nonfiction is true. There is, however, a differentiation between nonfiction and creative nonfiction. Nonfiction is generally expository in that it describes, explains or is informative. If you wrote about leaves in a forest in Montana, your readers would probably learn a great deal about the topic. You would write it as…

Guest Bloggers

Writer’s Block While Sheltering in Place

Guest Blogger Kathy Guthormsen shares her writer’s block woes while sheltering in place. Perhaps you can relate. Shelter in Place Writer’s Block Sheltering in place has taken all the words from my brain Inspiration has disappeared My muses are sheltering elsewhere I am numb I sit at my desk I start my computer and open three works-in-process I drink my coffee I eat my breakfast I read the paper I work the sudoku puzzle I stare at the word jumble trying to make sense of the randomly arranged letters I read my works-in-process and make some edits I write a few sentences on a new document I work an online sudoku puzzle I check email I check Facebook I write items on my to-do list I delete the sentences I wrote earlier and beg my muses to speak to me I look at writing prompts I make more edits to…

Guest Bloggers

This or that. Just do it!

Guest Blogger Ruth Harris writes about the realities of trying to write while sheltered in place. You might have thought because you’re staying at home that you’d have more free time to start/finish a book or take an on-line yoga class. But in reality, because we’re all spending so much time at home, much of that time is consumed by eating which means food prep and cooking (which means there’s a kitchen to clean and dishes to be washed), bathrooms to be cleaned and tidied plus, of course, more toilet paper to be purchased (if we can even scrounge up a few rolls somewhere), laundry duty, garbage and trash removal, dusting, vacuuming and, of course, sanitizing. As one day melts seamlessly into the next, and we can’t tell Sunday from Tuesday, weekdays from weekends. Our moods whiplash between “This sucks” and “It could be worse.” We’re bored, anxious, and tired….

Guest Bloggers

Surviving SIP

Guest Blogger Karen Handyside Ely writes about life while sheltering in place. 2020 has been the longest year of my life, and it’s only April. I really can’t complain (although that has never stopped me before). My adult children, who live in New York City, are healthy and still employed. My husband and I are well, and since I started hoarding toilet paper back in the ‘80s (that is an OCD story for another day) we are literally “good to go.” I’ve noticed as the days drag by, that I’m slowly getting used to this new reality. Getting used to it, and getting fat. In the very beginning, back in “aught March,” I decided that this was an opportunity to actively pursue FINALLY becoming skinny. I’ve now failed four diets in four weeks. It doesn’t help to have a husband who loves to bake. In the best of times, his sourdough…

Guest Bloggers

Write during stressful times.

“We need people who are taking the stress of this time and turning it into art, even if it’s solely for the effect it has on the artist.” — Nathan Bransford Guest Blogger Nathan Bransford shares tips about how to write during stressful times. Writing  is one of the best ways we have to turn darkness into light. Here are some tips that have worked for me [Nathan] when I needed to write and life circumstances were interfering in a big way: ~If you have the means and ability to write during this time, you have it really good. Recognize your luck. Let that privilege sink in. Let it guide you toward being a better and more generous person. ~Self-quarantining and working from home might free up time, which could feel like a huge opportunity that you don’t want to pass up. But paradoxically, having a lot of time to write can actually…

Guest Bloggers

Uneasy? You’re not alone.

Today’s Guest Blogger Lara Zielin:       I often have the feeling I’m in trouble.        It’s this pervasive unease, like I’m doing something wrong.       The problem is, I don’t know WHAT I’m doing wrong. Which means that if or when I get in trouble, it’s going to be a terrible surprise.        Because of this, I have my antennae up all day, scanning, looking, wondering what I could be doing that’s awful. I mind my P’s and Q’s and I try so hard to do everything right. I try to stay busy.       I try to be so, so good.        But some part of me knows it won’t be enough. Trouble is still a-comin’.        Which means by the time I get to the end of the day, there is this exhausted part of me that is BEYOND…

Guest Bloggers

Fertile Ground

Guest Blogger Brenda Bellinger offers inspiration to write: In these quiet days of sheltering at home, I’m grateful to be able to sink my ungloved hands into the moist soil of our vegetable garden and ready it for planting. I welcome the dirt under my fingernails and even the resistance of the weeds. There is so much uncertainty right now about what will happen in the next few months when, I’m hoping, our vegetables will be ready to harvest. There is fertile ground here, too, for us as writers. We are the ones who will be compelled to document what is happening all around us right now in response to the Covid-19 virus and its global effects. Some of us will craft poems to capture the historical significance of this pandemic, its devastation and how it already has, and will likely forever, change some of our behaviors. Others may write…