Monday, March 23, 2015

Novel Offers 'A Portrait' of Connection Between Two People


Two weeks ago, I wrote about the role aggression plays in my novel A Portrait of Love and Honor. Another theme in the book - connection between two people.

What makes for "good chemistry"?  Is it "a mystery," or do valid reasons explain why we are attracted to some and not others?

In the novel, Jay and Ava soon realize that the connection between them is undeniable. Perhaps, by the very fact that Jay approaches Ava to edit his memoir – disclosing who he is in an intimate and deeply personal way sets the stage for connection.
As Jay realizes, The joke about being “an open book” certainly applied, at least to him.
Revealing deeply personal information about ourselves to another person fosters connection – assuming the other person reveals, as well.

We have learned this many times over in the Women’s Writing Circle. Life stories sow the seeds of relationship. Feeling understood, empathized with - indeed "recognized" by another – allow connections - whether romantic or platonic - to blossom.

As I wrote the love story between Jay and Ava, I realized how I often lacked understanding of what had drawn me to some people and not others. Writing memoir and fiction allowed me the luxury of examining my life and searching deep within myself to find answers to questions that have long alluded me.

****

Sometimes, chemistry resides in the “mystery” of another person, that longing to know and be part of something different from our own experience. For example, Ava’s background couldn’t have been more different from Jay’s. 
“We grew up in such different settings,” Ava mused.“In my town, the only Jewish person I knew ran the small retail store. There was one African American, a girl, in my high school classes. I was raised in a true Episcopalian, WASP household. That meant no night went by without cocktail hour. Five o-clock on the dot my father started mixing the martinis.” 
“My family, on the other hand, had dinner at five as soon as my father walked in the door,” Jay said. “My mother had come through Ellis Island from a small village in Italy. She was eight years old. Hell. My grandparents still spoke Italian, and my grandmother never learned English.
Jay finds himself drawn to a woman whose family of origin is almost polar opposite from his own. 
"American traditional versus European provincial; mainstream versus subculture; dependable and solid versus argumentative and hard to please."

Yet here are two people both “activists” in their own way – drawn together by the dream and the desire of a richer and more meaningful life for themselves and the world. Both are naïve . . . and reluctant to compromise their ideals and values and “play the game.”
"Perhaps her reluctance to “play the game” stemmed from innocence and impossible expectations. Her father had been naïve, as well as somewhat lofty and cerebral in his approach to life. The real world took a back seat to books and scholarly pursuits. She had never been taught the upside to having a strategy to get ahead."
The more self-knowledge a person possesses, the more confident they often become, not just to empathize, but open themselves up to others.

Tapping into awareness and unlocking the mysteries of our family and self are the subjects of our upcoming memoir workshop, "Writing Family, Understanding Self."

As writers know, writing is the ideal vehicle to explore life - our own and that of others. 

What about you? Can you share thoughts on connections and how writing has helped establish meaningful relationships?



Due out next month: A Portrait of Love and Honor - Based on a true story, A Portrait of Love and Honor takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.



Monday, March 16, 2015

A Writer's Task - Understanding Family

All family tapestries are rich and they're all varied. Sorting through the "chaos" of memories, the writer's understanding of family dynamics leads to awareness and meaning. It also offers hope and joy for the writer, and inspiration to the reader.

On May 2 the Women's Writing Circle hosts: Writing Family, Understanding Self, a day-long writing workshop for men and women being held in Exton, Pennsylvania. 

Bring your own photos, and let’s explore how you can mine your own family to create a rich memoir that only you can write.

****
In this essay, our instructor, Lorraine Ash, shares her own memories of family and how they influenced her.

Look at the picture of the three chefs. The one on the right is my “Zio Mino,” Uncle Primo. (When my mother was a girl, she mispronounced his name, and it stuck.)

 
Those are three happy guys. They’re standing in Asti’s, the Italian Greenwich Village restaurant legendary for its singing chefs, many of whom were professional opera singers. They’d break into song for the guests. When the place closed its doors in 2000, after a seventy-five-year run, the New York Times wrote, “Say goodbye to pasta with Puccini.”

Zio Mino and his friends were chefs there for many years. I’m guessing this picture was taken in the fifties or sixties. 

Among Italians and Italian Americans, there’s a phrase, un lavoro ben fatto, meaning “a job well done,” a practice passed down through my family in just about every aspect of life. Can’t you see it in this picture? Look at how bright their chef’s whites are. Look at those toques, the sparkling banister on the upper right, and the carefully set tables. If you think the place looks good, you should have seen the dishes Zio Mino used to produce, even at home. They were works of art and you better believe they did not appear before you, even if you were a kindergartner, unless the colors, the balance, and the aromas were absolutely perfect.

I grew up in such environments everywhere I went. In the Blue Chapel in Union City, New Jersey, where my maternal grandparents lived, I’d go with my grandfather, Taddeo, into the cloistered convent and, in complete silence, watch from below as a picture, wrought in mosaic tiles, took form on the ceiling. My Nonno would go up the ladder, lie on his back, and place tiles, piece by painstaking piece, and then come back down to regard the view from below. Up and down he went, ever patient, ever fascinated.

In the same way, my maternal grandmother, who, as a young woman, worked as a presser in an embroidery factory, would devote as much time to ironing the pleats in the skirts of my Catholic school uniforms as, no doubt, somebody spends on Queen Elizabeth’s dresses today.

In the same way, my father would write his legal briefs, my mother would clean the house, and my aunt, the nurse, would take care of the sick—in body and spirit.

Truth to tell, I picked up the habit in my own work as a writer, an editor, and a publisher, and, frankly, as a home cook and in many other areas of life. It took me until recently, however, to understand the role of un lavoro ben fatto in my own psyche. For a time, I mistook it as the pursuit of excellence and, in a way, it is, though, it seems to me, the old Italian way is filled with joy while the pursuit of excellence, always endless, is fraught with tension and questions like, Am I good enough?

My Italian ancestors were a determined bunch, too. When I look at the picture of the three chefs, I remember that Zio Mino, when very young, was a stowaway on a ship that traveled from Italy to America. He was going to come here, and that was that.  He was a man of high personal virtue, which came into play when Eddie, the only son he and Zia Esther had, died of pneumonia when he was a young father. Zia Esther, devoted to her son, almost lost her mind. I’d heard that over and over again, in the family, but I also witnessed Zio Mino’s devotion to her and his constancy and faith in simply carrying on. She followed him in that direction—forward.

Decades later, I, too, lost my only child and, somewhere in my psyche, accessed that story from long ago, complete with the determination, the elaborate nurturance, the insistence on living. It was such a large gift that it enveloped me. That’s why large gifts are so difficult to see or, sometimes, even bring to mind. We actually live in them.

There you have my early workings with an old photo, pulling out two positive strands from a rich but varied tapestry of my famiglia. Just as the power of family bonds was a force on my mother’s side of the family, the power of broken bonds was a force on my father’s side.

What is the importance of understanding our family of origin? How did it influence your story or memoir? Your comments and thoughts most welcomed.
 
Lorraine Ash, MA, is a long-time New Jersey journalist and writing teacher whose passion for the art of a well-told story also has led her into the realms of memoir, plays, and essays. She is the author of two memoirs—Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing, which is about coming to terms with the stillbirth of her only child, Victoria Helen, and Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, a woman’s midlife story about keeping faith in life as it is. Her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary journals. Lorraine also adores editing memoirs and is editorial director of Cape House Books, a boutique collaborative publishing company. She lives with her husband, Bill, in Allendale, New Jersey. For more information, visit www.LorraineAsh.com


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Memoir Workshop: Writing Family, Understanding Self


Everybody comes from a family story and inherits a legacy of love, but also truths, myths, damage, prejudices, passions, and strengths.

In a great family memoir, the writer explores that whole tapestry, consciously plucking and weaving threads that both explain and define his or her identity. In the act of writing and shaping a story, the writer recognizes and makes decisions about the key moments and influences of his or her own history.

Join us for a day of writing, sharing and learning.

Writing Family, Understanding Self

A one-day memoir retreat for women and men hosted by Women’s Writing Circle


When: Saturday, May 2, 2015, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Where: Fairfield Inn
5 North Pottstown Pike, Exton, Pennsylvania 19341
(40 minutes west of Philly | 30 minutes south of Boyertown) 
Cost: $130 includes workshop, coffee and tea, lunch, and mini-reflexology sessions. ($110 early bird rate for those who sign up by April 1)

  1. RSVP to Susan Weidener at sgweidener@comcast.net
  2. Write a $130 check ($110 for early birds) made payable to Susan Weidener and mail to:
    Susan Weidener
    75 Jennifer Drive
    Chester Springs, Pa. 19425
The day will highlight examples from the works of modern family memoirists who have mastered the genre, including Alan Cumming, Mark Matousek, Brooke Shields, Andrew Sheehan, Katherine Mayfield, and more.

Writers will learn to:
▪ Choose imagery from pictures or memory to write the strongest opening and closing scenes
▪ Find the question that rests at the center of their family experience
▪ Explore the use of incident and consciousness shifts to motor a memoir along
▪ Identify their story’s master insight
▪ Arrive at the resolution of their story, which is not necessarily redemption
▪ Mine the tension between the family’s public image and private reality
▪ Tie their story as much as possible into the larger cultural conversation.


Workshop Instructor: Lorraine Ash, MA, is a New Jersey journalist and writing teacher. She is the author of two memoirs—Life Touches Life: A Mother’s Story of Stillbirth and Healing, which is about coming to terms with the stillbirth of her only child, Victoria Helen, and Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, a woman’s midlife story about keeping faith in life as it is. Her work has appeared in a variety of anthologies and literary journals. For more information, visit www.LorraineAsh.com

What to bring:
  • Several family photographs that hold an emotional charge for you, even if you’re not sure why
  • Your favorite writing tools. Laptop, notebooks, journals
Want to stay overnight at the hotel?

Call 610-524-8811 and ask for the Women’s Writing Circle rate:
$89 per room per night/two doubles
$94 per room per night/king
Applicable to: Friday, May 1 and Saturday, May 2
Check-in is 3 p.m. | check-out is noon

For more information about Women's Writing Circle workshops: http://www.susanweidener.com/p/susans-workshops-and-retreats.html

Monday, March 9, 2015

Novel Paints A 'Portrait' of Aggression


In my upcoming novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, aggression is practiced with almost ritualistic delight on unsuspecting  and innocent “victims” – including the novel’s main character Jay Scioli. Within the framework of my book – based on my late husband’s West Point memoir – a detailed portrait of aggression emerges. 

A question the reader might ponder: If the military is thorough in its training of aggression, does it follow suit that the aggressor must find an outlet to release his frustration?

We see in movies how those who fail to “fit the mold” become easy targets by others who feel it is their duty – perhaps their right – to dispense punishment.  And it is hardly news that the movie American Sniper has gone on to blockbuster status. America’s penchant for violence and aggression is well documented.



****
 In a recent Washington Post article on the “moral injury” of war, no mention is made of how aggression is celebrated and rewarded. Yet, it seems to me, ethical discussions can’t take place without first understanding the toll misplaced aggression takes on people and a society.


Examples of aggression: 

· Shouting

· Swearing

· Personal insults and name calling

· Racial or sexual comments

· Verbal threats

· Posturing and threatening gestures

· Abusive phone calls, letters, online messages

· Other forms of harassment

· Emotional abuse

· Sarcasm

Find more at: http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/dealing-with-aggression.html#ixzz3TnO6gHVy

In A Portrait of Love and Honor, Jay wants to be a soldier – it is his dream to graduate West Point and become an officer in the United States Army and to “fight in my war” – which happens to be Vietnam. 

He soon finds himself a target of aggressive cadets and tactical officers who feel he “isn’t a good fit,” at least in their military mindset. The result: stress and depression as Jay begins to realize they need a scapegoat.

Jay recounts in first person narrative how his squad leader treated him simply because he didn’t like the tone of his voice.
McClellan jumped up from the edge of his bunk where he had been sitting while tying his dull, unshined black shoes. “Who the fuck do you think you are talking to me in that tone? Get up against my closet door . . . NOW!”
I immediately strode across the small twenty-by-twenty room and came to attention with my back leaning against McClellan’s wooden closet door. In a move which belied his size, McClellan was directly in front of me, his face no more than two inches away. I could see by the swiftness of that move why McClellan excelled as a baseball player. I quickly feared for my well-being. McClellan must have smelled my fear. He got a small crooked smile on his thin pink lips. He seemed to be backing off and then just as quickly and with a swiftness that made his first move seem slow by comparison, he turned back towards me and raised his clenched right fist. With one swift motion, he swung his fist at my head.
I started to move to the right but stopped; I knew instinctively that McClellan wasn’t trying to connect with my head. I stood my ground as McClellan’s fist with the full force of his two hundred pounds smashed against the closet door behind me. He missed my face by an inch. The door vibrated from the force of the blow. McClellan started to laugh. 
“Scared, Scioli? Still angry? Want to hit me? Come on. Try it.”


We see aggression every day, not only in our personal lives, but in the news, in the statements of politicians, in the office, in social media.

Your comments and thoughts are most welcomed.

ALSO: Please take a moment to like the new Facebook page for A Portrait of Love and Honor, which is scheduled for release this Spring. Thank you! ~ Susan

https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Portrait-of-Love-and-Honor/430619397102404

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cate Russell-Cole On Life Stories

While dozens of useful resources exist on how best to write and market a book, it's not as easy to find strategies to address that all-too-common fear  . . . is my story mundane? Is it worth telling?

As Cate Russell-Cole points out in this essay, writing has value on many levels  . . . and the connections we make by taking that leap of faith and sharing our stories are often surprising. 

"Stories have value. The most mundane one you have is not mundane to someone who needs to hear it," Cate writes.   

"The greater self-understanding you gain from writing will be rewarding, and will assist you through your journey ahead; plus the legacy you can leave for your family, is irreplaceable." 

Cate, who lives in Brisbane, Australia, has researched, written and taught five creativity-orientated courses; worked as a freelance writer and has authored ten non-fiction books. She supports other writers and offers interesting and useful resources through social media.

I was honored to be invited by Cate as a guest blogger recently on her website as she celebrates her 15th anniversary of "Write Your Life Story."  My blog post can be read here:

Please welcome Cate to the Women's Writing Circle

***
There is no such thing as an average housewife, or a boring person. After fifteen years of teaching memoir, I can confidently state that. 

Some stories are more spectacular than others, but everyone has one that I can be inspired by, marvel at and wonder how I'd cope, if I found myself in the same position.

I've taught a number of different courses over the years and after a time, I find I get restless. I keep hearing my voice churning out the same words again and again, and I grow weary of it all. I have noticed though, that I never get tired of the sound of other's voices, telling their unique tales. Memoir is something I have never wanted to stop teaching.

I have heard stories of tragedy that made me cry; I've heard magical stories of childhood that had the whole class enthralled. Those stories often bring back precious memories of my own, that I'd forgotten. 

I have been known to leave a group then go home and write, as my students have inspired me. A group will pick up threads that elude the individual and working together, the wealth of inspiration that can be pulled together is incalculable. 

I will never forget the day when one of my students introduced herself in a new class, saying that she wanted to write the story of her father, who had been a British pilot in the first World War. 

He had made aerial food drops to a town in Poland. Another lady spoke up and asked, "what town?" It turned out to be the same town where she had lived as a small child. Her family lived barricaded in by enemy troops, and starving. 

That British pilot's efforts kept that Polish child and her family alive. There wasn't a dry eye in the room and those two ladies will be friends for life. Even more remarkable, was the fact that this class was taking place on the other side of the world, as both women had immigrated to Australia.

One of the most inspiring approaches to memoir I have seen, came from an Italian mother, who wanted to write down snippets of her story, plus parts of her family history, in a cookbook form. She also intended to include personal photos and recipes. This book was to have a dual purpose, which is why it has stuck in my mind as being a prime example of the power of memoir. 

There was a rift in her family, which had been around for many years; and the desire was to use the book to mend that rift. It would only be vanity published for family members and the hope was that when people read past their current prejudices, the road to reconciliation could be opened up.

I met her again, several years after the course, and she was one of the very few students who was still continuing to work on her book, despite a very busy life. Having such a strong purpose enabled her to push past distractions, and any lack of confidence she may have felt as a writer. I sincerely hope that book did go to print and achieve it’s goal.

Take the time to write your story, no matter what competency doubts, or time roadblocks may bar your way. It will bring you sorrow, joy, laughter and greatly improve your writing skills. 

If you would like to read more on memoir, Cate’s blog, CommuniCATE Resources for Writers is hosting various memoir authors as guests throughout 2015. There are also a wealth of old, but relevant posts on memoir on the blog. Visit and search for “memoir” at: 

Cate’s Facebook Page on Memoir is here: Write Your Life Story, The Memoir Project

You are also welcome to follow Cate on Twitter. Writing resources are constantly shared in her stream.  http://twitter.com/cateartios

Cate’s Bio: Cate Russell-Cole is a qualified creativity coach and social worker, who is fascinated with the psychological and technical aspects of the writing process, characterization and the overall science of creativity. She has a love of the science fiction - fantasy genre and has been writing diaries, poetry and short stories since she was a child. Cate lives in Brisbane, Australia with her husband and two cats and habitually writes everything in Australian English.

In addition to her freelance work and creativity-oriented courses she is a Christian science fiction/ fantasy author who is working on The Chronicles of Mirchar Series, plus a non-fiction book on the life of King David.

Cate writes and coaches online to an international audience, providing both how-to resources and writer support. Cate also teaches in Brisbane, with both local government and private training providers. More information can be found on her web site at: www.cateartios.net    Her quick read books for time starved writers can be found on: http://www.amazon.com/Cate-Russell-Cole/e/B0083MVRJK Most titles are currently 99c.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lessons In Literature For Memoir Author


In her recently published memoir God and Other Men, Myrna J. Smith sets out to love herself, to find an inner place where she can rest and grow.

She writes: I also did what my family members and millions of others all across the world have done when they found the world lacking and their own hearts empty. I began looking for a spiritual path. If I could not find happiness as a wife, mother, and professional, maybe I could find it in religion.

While every writer may have a grand vision for their book, the craft of writing is often developed after reading great literature. A former college professor, Smith, who was 74 years old when she published her memoir, talks about the importance of studying literature with an eye toward honing our own narratives.

An avid world traveler, Smith now resides in Frenchtown, N.J. a small town on the Delaware River. As part of the WOW! (Women on Writing) blog tour, please welcome Myrna J. Smith to the Women's Writing Circle.  
                                                                           

Who could resist continuing to read after the opening line of Flannery O’Connor’s story “A Good Man is Hard to Find”?

"The Grandmother didn’t want to go to Florida. She wanted to visit some of her connections in east Tennessee and she was seizing at every chance to change Bailey’s mind. Bailey was the son she lived with, her only boy."

In three sentences O’Connor provides the reader two main characters, a conflict, and a setting.

Certain pieces of literature, such as “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” appear in anthologies, giving teachers an opportunity to discuss them more than once. This particular O’Connor story lends itself to multiple teachings because her truth is neither pleasant nor obvious. She makes the reader examine her language to find her message. O’Connor’s Christian faith comes through in the story, but she does not impose it on the reader: she lets the reader discover it.

In writing my own book God and Other Men: Religion, Romance and the Search for Self-Love, I knew I could not announce that my main topic was the spiritual search. I had to start with a problem and explore that problem through a story. Like good stories, such as those of O’Connor’s, I wanted mine to say something significant about my own spiritual life and hopefully to help my readers with theirs. Had I not taught so much literature I might have been tempted to over explain why I had come to the point of view that I have.




Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Illych” is another story I taught numerous times yet never tired of reading and discussing it with students. The story begins with his friends learning of the death of Ivan Illych; it then reverts to the story of his life, a life that resembles the lives of so many people, particularly those of us in the middle or upper middle class. The details of his life are ordinary, but Tolstoy makes us—allows us—to become so involved in Ivan Illych’s life that the mundane becomes the universal. 

The story ends with the dying days of Illych’s life where he sees that his life has been wasted in the pursuit of conformity and materialism. This causes him such extreme suffering that only his servant can bear to stay with him through his last three days of wailing. He, like O’Connor, makes a moral statement but does it without stating it directly.


In these two stories and all good literature, every sentence advances the narrative or contributes to the main idea. My concern about over explaining or being didactic may sometimes work against me. My daughter reminds me that I might do better occasionally to over explain. Perhaps I took too many lessons from Ernest Hemingway or especially Raymond Carver, who pared his stories down to the absolute bare essentials. But I would rather leave the readers wanting more than risk putting them to sleep!

What books inspired you? How has reading made you a better writer? 


Captions: Myrna Smith with a Buddhist monk and guide at the Ananda Festival in Bagan, Myanmar, January 2015. Myrna Smith with a Buddhist guide in Bagan, Myanmar.



About the Author:  Myrna J. Smith held a faculty position in the English Department at Raritan Valley Community College, Somerville, N.J., from 1970-2004, where she took leave for two and a half years to serve as Associate Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning housed at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. She received a Ed.D. from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick, N.J. Smith also had two Mid-Career Fellowships to attend Princeton University, one in English and one in religion.

She recently returned from a five-week trip to Asia: two weeks with a small group to Myanmar and a few days in Hong Kong, where she has friends, and Vietnam for 10 days. The year before Smith traveled to Thailand and Cambodia and the year before that to Indonesia, both with small groups. She also travels in Canada and the northeast U.S. with her sister, brother, and their spouses most years.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Finding Hope and Love in Memoir


In a workshop on Valentine’s Day writers came with hopes that they might begin to write their stories.

They shared their dreams and desires that they and those they loved won’t be forgotten.

What is my story about, they asked? Should I write a legacy just for family? Should I consider publishing my story for a larger audience?

Sometimes the journey of self-discovery and establishing meaningful connections suffices.

As one participant said, “I came today sharing what I wrote from my heart. I’m taking away inspiration. Hearing the words and love from others’ stories opens my heart even more to reach deeper within.”



It’s a tribute to the women who attended "Writing From the Heart" in downtown Tucson that they generously shared childhood memories . . . the mother-daughter relationship; the moment a loved one had cancer; the fear of poorly cutting out our first dress pattern  . . . of not sewing a straight seam in home economics class.

The format – a version of the Women’s Writing Circle read arounds where we light the candle, a symbol of the light and empowerment of sharing voice and vision in the safety and support of the “container,” which is the writing circle. 


Writing prompts assist us.

Our prompts drew from Emily Dickinson quotes on life’s fleeting nature  . . . the timelessness of love that even death cannot destroy.

We offered multicultural prompts - finding within our differences – whether ethnic or cultural - a common journey . . . an ‘aha’ moment of recognition.

As I’ve written before on this blog, the main stumbling block with writing memoirs is fear – fear that others might be angry, insulted, demand retractions of “our truth” because it is not “their truth.”

As author Patricia Preciado Martin pointed out when this topic arose, sometimes the best “route” in overcoming fear is exploring fiction. Fiction offers a creative avenue to journey into the past.

If you chose memoir, I emphasized – “If they don’t like your story, let them write their own.” 

That’s not to say memoir is a page dump, a place to vent . . . get that out of the way before you start. That’s why they invented journals.

Memoir has gained momentum as a literary genre all its own - a movement largely powered by women. 

"I'm taking away today a feast of women's greatness  . . . rich, savory contributions from a wide range of palates."

“I came with a hope I might be able to move forward in writing.  I am taking away more hope that now I can - and will - move forward."

How to get started writing your life story?

We provided information on the narrative arc –  there is a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. Good memoir reads like a page-turning novel. 


A memoir imparts some universal truths to the reader, who, by the time they close the book, takes away lessons.

                                           ****


Only you know when or if you want to share your story.

"I brought a little bit of me and shared, something I had not been able to do,” one woman said. “I’m taking with me something I wrote, even if it is just for me. I can always share later.”


Set aside time for you. Writing is a craft and it must be practiced daily.


“I brought my enthusiasm, my listening ear, my presence and my creativity,” another woman said. “I am taking with me energy, knowledge and the wisdom of many wonderful women. I am also excited to have learned techniques to develop my work.”

For me, personally, I came with what I hoped was a  helpful “toolbox” I have developed over the last five years as a teacher and writer of memoir.

I took away with me – as I always do – amazement that no matter where I travel, the desire and longing to tell our stories is a universal thread.
Together, we are united in hope that the written word matters  – “I was here. My life counted for something.”

                                                     ****

A special shout-out goes to Denise Morse. She provided an elegant array of gluten and wheat-free delicacies artfully arranged on tables decorated with our Valentine's Day theme of writing from the heart, as well strawberry plants she donated and awarded in gift drawings.

To my lovely co-facilitators Patricia Preciado Martin and Melanie Mizell ... you know that without your help I never could have offered this workshop.

And, finally, to the Pima County and Tucson Women's Commission, my heartfelt gratitude for providing the most excellent venue  . . . your historic building dedicated to women in the heart of the Old Pueblo.