Today a Writing Prompt

If you could invent a device that would fix a problem you are facing right now, how would you use it? What problem would you like to solve?

A robot secretary and personal aid; I’ll call her Optima. She will be a simple to operate robot because I shudder at learning one more piece of technology. Optima’s main job will be to sort me, and all my stuff out. Because she has experience as an executive secretary the file system she sets up saves me hours each day. I gain the hours I usually spend looking for things.

I’ll say, “Optima take Sophie for a walk, one mile, and remember to wash her muddy paws before you bring her back in.” I am in desperate need of her this morning when so much delays me. I need to find a prompt for today’s writing session with Pat, so I Google ‘writing prompt’ and come up with hundreds which I begin to sort through—the coffee pot dings—my coffee is ready. I pour a cup of my morning delight, Sophie, paws clean sits at my feet. I am ready.

I reach for my cup and knock it over. Sophie yips and runs, oh no, the hot coffee hits her, I grab my pooch and run to the sink where I splash her with cool water and then dry her. She’s shaking, I rub Arnica on her, hold her close to stop the shivering and see that she isn’t burnt, just scared.

While cooling her I notice in the bathroom mirror a long hair protruding from under my chin— I hate that—when was the last time I’d taken a good look at myself? I spend the next twenty minutes looking for my tweezers; I can’t find either pair although I know exactly where they should be.

Time to go. I grab my purse, notebook, and the prompt and head out the door. I really dislike being late, keeping someone waiting. Now the door won’t lock, what’s wrong with the key? Has someone tampered with my lock?

I stop, breathe, and mentally turn the clock back two hours; here is how it goes.

  • Optima take Sophie for a walk, wash her muddy paws, and feed her breakfast.
  • Optima find my tweezers.
  • Optima find the list of prompts I already have and select one for today.
  • Optima thank you for setting up the perfect filing system so we can find anything.
  • Optima call maintenance to come and fix the lock.

Now I have extra hours every day. Time to read, to write, take long lingering walks and reflect on life. Thank you Optima.

What is your invention?







Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, growth, Learning, memoir, personal stories, stories, Story Circles, writing | 2 Comments

Not Getting Any Younger

Mumblings of an Aging Writer

When I woke up my neck hurt and my right hip stung and burned. I had to leap out of bed anyway because I had a charlie horse in my right leg. Then I stumbled when my leg gave way (sciatic nerve) as I raced to the john.   Phew.

Mug of coffee in hand I sit to write my morning pages, I’m a page and a half in before my writing hand goes to sleep. I quit to do some stretching.

Now, at my computer I try to print the pages I wrote yesterday for editing. Error message; printer can’t be found. I’d hoped it might heal itself after many unplugging’s, restarts, and a night’s rest; I’d even made a trip to Wal-Mart yesterday to buy a new router, maybe that was the problem. Nope. Meanwhile, a few more stretches and I pick up my iPhone because my VOIPO (voice over internet phone service doesn’t work either because it can’t find the internet). I make the dreaded call to customer support.

I know they will tell me to unplug and restart everything, which involves getting on the floor behind the TV with the flashlight and magnifying glass; then the biggest challenge at my age – getting up off the floor again.

Well, Canon customer service was wonderful. They are in America! We had no trouble understanding each other. Problem fixed!

Next, I need to call Brighthouse to find out why my internet isn’t working and then I still have to call VOIPO (voice over internet protocol) where they will tell me to get back on the floor and unplug everything again. I just want to go back to bed, but then I think of everyone else who is facing their day, especially the workers who try to lead me to technology nirvana, and most especially all my aging soul sisters who think I’m their computer guru. They leave me no choice when they call me their shining example.

Boot up and write, i’m going to unplug and restart!


NAMW – National Association of Memoir Writers

June Roundtable Webinar- FREE to All

Rifka Kreiter



June 15, 2017

We are so pleased that Rifka Kreiter will be joining us. Her book Home Free will take us back to the era of the sixties, and the adventures that were life changing for Rifka. We all go on a journey into the past as we write our memoir, and we discover and uncover surprises, ahas, and “oh, I did that?” moments along the way. It’s a journey that ultimately is rewarding, and I’m glad that we get to speak with Rifka about the life story that has become her book, and her challenges along the way to write and publish her memoir.

sign up on FaceBook or recording provided if you can’t be involved at the specified time. Consider joining NAMW it is a fantastic organization with many learning opportunities. Tell them Jan Golden sent you!

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, essay, finding yourself, growth, Learning, memoir, personal stories, Story Circles | Tags: , | 3 Comments

How Do You Define Yourself As A Writer

I have been missing you and I hope you have been missing my blog posts. Today, I am going to suggest that you do some big picture thinking.

April Assignment

Let’s set goals and define our writing selves. Are you a ‘writer’ or a person who writes for a hobby or for the love of writing? Neither makes you a more valuable person,  both are wonderful.

Your goal may be to see your writing in print or even get paid for it. Either way is fine but it helps to know. My old boss and mentor, Micki Bartges, was fond of saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, how are you going to get there?”

Writing professionally is a craft and it takes learning and preparation; in our Story Circle you participate in a writer’s group and have written many good pieces, some very publishable.

Take some time to think about and write down your goals for writing, both short and long term. Remember, goals must be clear, specific, and measurable. Then, write a new piece or find one you feel is your best work.

Here are three steps to take this month to begin on your road to being seen in print:

  1. Do a Google search on publications that are accepting submissions, in a genre that fits, for example, if your story is about a pet you need a pet-friendly publication. If it is about gardening then follow that thread. Doing this exercise you will learn a lot. Remember, there are also digital publications looking for writing. It will be great if you bring your lists for sharing!
  1. Download and follow their submission guidelines – to the letter!
  1. Bring your piece, 600 words or less, ready to submit and we will help each other edit, or polish it if needed.

If you don’t physically attend our monthly group you may want to start your own, or pair with a writer friend to work together on #3.

*                                               *

I received this from a writer friend, Warren Firschein, you may want to try this one.

I am the managing editor of Odet, a local literary journal that recently marked the release of its first edition. We’re thrilled with the final product, and are now actively soliciting submissions for our second volume to be published in the first quarter of 2018. We are seeking stories, poetry, essays, and memoirs for possible inclusion, and especially want to invite members of FWA (Florida Writers Association) and The Safety Harbor Story Circle group to submit some of their work for consideration.

The theme for this edition is “Discovery.” There is no entry fee and accepted written works will automatically be considered for a simultaneous contest facilitated by Safety Harbor Writers & Poets with a cash prize for first and second place winners in both prose and poetry, as well as a separate prize for art or photography chosen as a cover image.

The submission deadline is July 15, and participation is limited to Florida residents only. Complete submission guidelines are on our site,

Happy Writing. Jan

Categories: Story Circles | 1 Comment

Permission Slips

I’m sharing this post with permission from a Story Circle Network writer friend; I loved it and think you will, too.

Posted on by Jude Walsh Whelley



Every Sunday I meet with my tribe of four women writers for a morning of what Eric Maisel calls Deep Writing. It is a lovely, centering time where we sit side-by-side and write. During occasional breaks, we share information on craft, submission, and building platform. The shared writing energy keeps us focused and productive. On my drive home, as I process what I wrote and what we shared, I am frequently inspired. At those moments, I use the voice memo function on my phone to record my thoughts. I may listen to that voice memo and transfer it to written form immediately or, if life grabs me when I get home, the memo may sit for a while.

In a recent burst of decluttering energy, I decided to review the waiting memos. I found this gem and want to share. I was looking for ways to honor my muse and prioritize time for writing. These are the permission slips I wrote for myself. Perhaps you might like to take a few moments and write some permission slips of your own?

I give myself permission to do what I love

I give myself permission and encouragement to pursue my writing dreams

I give myself permission to devote time to my writing first

I give myself permission to buy the things I need to help me accomplish my goals

I give myself permission to say no to favors or meeting someone else’s needs that distract me from my purpose

I give myself permission to do this without guilt

I give myself permission to write my truth without concern for how it makes anyone else feel because it is my truth, my writing, my story, and no one is going to keep me from speaking my truth.

I give myself permission to put myself first

Jude Walsh Whelley writes fiction, memoir, and poetry. She lives in Dayton, Ohio. This post was previously published on her blog, Writing Now

Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, essay, finding yourself, growth, Learning, personal stories, reflections, Story Circles, Writing | 3 Comments

How Does Technology Influence Our Lives

my best pic copyI love technology but sometimes it drives me nuts! After a long day of teaching, shopping, and picking up a few groceries, I found my car in the huge parking lot and pressed the open-door button, tossed my parcels in the car and headed home, exhausted.

At my front door, arms loaded, key ring in hand, I pushed the open-door button again and stood there waiting. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at my silly mistake. Hey, after all, I push a button on my car radio to hear music, another on my TV remote control to see the news, another on my iPod, iPad, and iPhone. Why not for my front door? No wonder confusion reigns when I have a lot on my mind.

Years ago as a career woman and mother of seven, I’d  needed something to save time. A newsletter would improve communications and cut time on the telephone. So, I got a typewriter and a mimeograph machine. My son loved to crank the handle and spew out copies.

Mimeo-User-1-GuyYears later I was doing training classes and still using the old typewriter to prepare handouts. Never a good typist, I wasted a lot of paper, so I bought a word processor, a big improvement, I could make corrections on the screen. When I was asked to write a weekly newspaper column I needed something more. I bought my first computer in 1989 and taught myself how to use it. 

I designed a 3-fold brochure for my company, Golden Solutions, in 1992, it took me three days to make. Today, with a newer computer, (4 since then) and many new systems and new software, I have spent lots of money and time to learn all the new stuff. It took me years to realize the only way Apple or Microsoft can make enough money is to tempt us with newer technology, which, of course, is more complicated and more expensive and has a longer learning curve. Colleges teach us how to use Microsoft word, for Pete’s sake. Now, I don’t update unless really necessary.

I am re-doing  my Golden Solutions brochure again and so far it has taken me seven days, I think I may soon be finished with it. What happen to all that time I was going to save?

About social networking:

Good News – Because families have scattered many of us don’t live in the town or neighborhood we grew up in, our relatives may be in Ireland, Texas, Australia or the Cayman Islands. We can afford to talk with them frequently, they instantly see the pictures of our family.

Not so good news – Our kids don’t call, or listen to our voice messages – they text.

Good news – We have Skype, FaceTime, video conferencing, and teleseminars for unlimited learning, see a few in my last post. You can even take college courses.

So much is done on the information highway, that hackers abound! One new worry is, voting machines can be hacked, this has sent many states back to using paper ballots. Is this progress?

Check out www. StorageCraft to see the likely life of what we save digitally. A few holes have been poked in my love for technology for saving some precious stuff.

The Dead Sea Scrolls have survived for many centuries, by contrast, today’s digital files are in danger of being lost to us within a matter of decades, or even years. How can a fragile, physical object such as a papyrus scroll be more robust than a modern digital document?

Categories: creative writing, energy, essay, growth, Learning, memoir, personal stories, stories, Story Circles | Tags: | 9 Comments

Independence Day

Fourth of July

I had an unusual kind of Independence Day it was a different kind of freedom.

The kids are grown, so are the grandkids, the family has scattered like many families so there was no picnic this year. Instead of feeling sorry for myself I celebrated in a new way.

I spent the weekend inside my air-conditioned apartment, avoiding the ninety-two-degree summer temperatures, and high humidity of Florida; my laptop and me, or sometimes my iPad, when I got tired of sitting at my desk. Content and excited, I felt like I had been at a three-day Writer’s Conference!

I’d listen, take notes, and learn, continuously amazed at the breadth and variety of teleseminars, teachers, and successful writers available to me in my living room. They were free, and this is particularly pertinent to those of us with tiny incomes and small budgets: Such as senior citizens, students paying college fees, and people who earn minimum wage.

Among those I learned from were:

  • Joseph Michael Scrivener Coach – Scrivener Basics, and How To Use Scrivener to Accelerate Your Writing
  • Brooke Warner and Joy Myers – Scene The Master Tool Of Writing Webinar much needed portions for me were transitions and narrative.
  • Mary Karr Interviews (two) – Point Loma Writers, and Mary Karr in Conversation with Brooke Warner

These are all now available on YouTube

I re-read Stephen King book On Writing, I liked it even better on the third read. Then I read a memoir just for fun, A Trip To The Beach – Living On Island Time in the Caribbean by Melinda and Robert Blanchard. I wanted to feel myself back in the Caribbean to re-excite myself about my nine years on Grand Cayman and the memoir I am writing about it, An Unfinished Woman.

I’m charged and ready to go!






Categories: creatiity, creative writing, dreaming, energy, finding yourself, growth, Learning, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Story Circles, travel, women, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Story Corp Struggle

This turned out to be a tougher assignment than I planned, some people had a bit of a panic, a few got it done, and some including  me are still working on it.

I guess I wasn’t clear enough that it was a two-fold job, one to conduct the interview, and two to write a six-hundred-word piece about your experience. And nobody did the uploading to Story Corp yet.

The people interviewed and the stories were interesting. Molly asked her Aunt to tell her a story about her Mother because she hadn’t asked those questions before her Mother died. So she got to know her better through the eyes of her Aunt.

Ruth interviewed an old guy who is an excellent golfer, she asked his advice on golfing. The punch line was that he always sought to score his age. He finally made it. He is eighty!

Ralph interviewed his Granddaughter-in-Law. She told him stories of the many years of studying and degrees she had received, the main one being a Degree in Questions! Ralph, a Minister, had the pleasure of performing the marriage ceremony for her and his Grandson.

Kathy’s title was I Flunked! She interviewed her neighbor, she had her questions prepared, but he kept changing the subject. She was afraid of being too personal and he thought her questions were too general. We were all surprised at her ending.

Ani interviewed a woman wearing many hats among them developing a program called Keep St Pete Lit and raising a daughter, as a single mother. She loves her work for the non-profit but needs more money!

I’m off to Sarasota to interview my son, Kris, who is always too busy for the interview. He loves flying and he just built another airplane. More later.

I Invite you, readers of this blog to look at the last entry and see the instructions, then participate. I promise an exercise in thinking, interviewing and writing.



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The single most important key to success is to be a good listener.

We had a great variety of stories about keys, last months assignment. There were so many readers we barely had time to let everyone read.  Here are some of the themes.

  • After a long journey, a hotel key card that wouldn’t work no matter how many times it was exchanged left the traveler frustrated and angry.
  • a typesetting class where the letters or ‘keys’ have to be set a certain way; a p and a q look the same upside down, we learned that mind your p & q’s refers to typesetting.
  •  A key to a safe deposit box left to a son by his father and its mysterious contents.

Surprised that no one thought of this. “More than once, I’ve wished my real life had a delete key.” Harlan Coben

Jan has a new project that she is excited about. She’s setting up a new way of earning income from writing and will use her extensive workshop and training experience to make it successful. Here is how. Home Parties are here again! Invite four or five women to your home for a Writing Party! Choose either Memoir, Life-story Writing, or Advanced Writing Skills.The one and one half hour session can be daytime or evening. The fee is $25 per person and you are free, it’s your gift for arranging the gathering. Call Jan now for dates and details. 727-254-1997

Assignment for June 15th: Story Corps, NPR

We discussed interviewing skills. And asked you to think of your favorite interviewer.Who do you listen to? Like? Why? Listen to some Story Corp segments including the TED TALK by Dave Isay, founder of Story Corp. Then …

  • Download the Story Corps App for instructions.
  • Choose someone to interview.
  • Pick great questions.
  • Record the story. Find a quiet place to record. Listen carefully.
  • When you are finished, upload the file from the app to share the conversation with the world or just our class.
  • Story Corps wants you to help create an archive of the wisdom of humanity.

You will find plenty of good tips here: https//

Remember, you can use a smartphone, iPad, tablet, or any recording device. Download the Story Corps App then use it to upload to the Library of Congress. Yes! The person you select will be in the Archive of the Library Of Congress for generations to read.

For class – Write about your experience in 600 words or less to read in June. Remember to title your piece and give us the word count when you read.We will continue this project in months to come. The point is good interview skills are important to a writer’s work.

Write! Publish! Sell! In her most recent issue, Joan West highlighted our group and published the story Maria Mason wrote for our key prompt. We appreciate her support.  To sign up for her terrific FREE newsletter send Joan an email to   Check out this comprehensive newsletter.


Categories: creatiity, creative writing, essay, finding yourself, memoir, personal stories, stories, Story Circles, women, writing | 2 Comments

Choose a Key, Any Key


The Story Circle Creative Writing Class will meet next Wednesday, May  20th (note new starting time 5:30 to 7:45 PM) and the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library. We have added an extra half hour to the meeting.

keys for prompt.jpgAssignment: Jan bought a big bag of keys at the flea market and thought they would make a good topic for our writing assignment this month. Everyone in attendance selected a key from the pile. If you weren’t there imagine a key and write about it. We suggested everyone try to stretch some by writing fiction instead of memoir.  See what your creative mind can imagine about a key. Write in 600 words or less. Give your story a title, give us the word count when you read.

All Writers Welcome: We invite all writers to attend the class. It is a wonderful opportunity to associate with other writers and keep motivated. It is one of the reasons Jan and I continue to do this each month. Seventy months so far! You may learn something new that will help you with your current project or your next one. If you have friends who write, please forward this email to them.

Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone has an opportunity to read their story and is given gentle feedback from the group. After all the readings we provide you with a short lesson on some aspect of writing.  Dialog, editing, creating the scene and opening paragraphs are a few of the topics we have covered.  No reservation required and no cost to you.

Third Edition of our Chapbook  is published! Diane Persall put the books together, we have two, this time, so many stories were submitted. The books are wonderful with color photos and a beautiful cover designed by Jill Barber. Many thanks to both women and to all of the contributing writers. The book sells for $3.00 each or four for $10. We still have a few of first two books you can purchase at the meeting.  You want to make sure you have the entire set.

One of our writers wrote an interesting blog post about the assignment. With his permission we share it. Our guest blogger writes,  Jimmy Pickett.

“I don’t write fiction.”   Another lie!

The leaders or conveners of the monthly meeting of the writers circle at the end of the meeting always challenge the participants with an assignment for the next meeting.   The assignment is usually a topic. For example, this month the assignment was to write something (600 words or less) on “falling.” Various individuals wrote wonderful pieces of prose or poetry. Some were stories of events in the writers own life journey. Others were metaphorical and still others were deliberate fantasies or fiction.    For next month our assignment is to take a key from a pile of old keys one of the leaders had brought and write a 600 word or less fictional piece.   My immediate thought was, “I do not write fiction.”  As I thought more about this statement I was aware that it is not true. Of course, I write fiction.

What is fiction?  Oxford Dictionary states:

  • Literature in the form of prose, especially short stories, and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.
  • Invention or fabrication as opposed to fact.
  • A belief or statement that is false, but that is often held to be true because it is expedient to do so.

I began to think about the fact that when I talk about an event in my own life or about an event in the life of someone else I witnessed or was told it is never more than a piece of truth which has been filtered through my accumulation of biases, prejudices, expectations and fears. There may be some kernel of truth, but it is wrapped in the fabric of what is now my story.  I am well aware that if the story begins as something which happened in my life it has now been kneaded, shaped and left to rise over time in the warmth of my imagination or, perhaps,  out of the bin of regrets to an invented reality.  Often I cannot identify the original kernel.

What is the difference between my stories as I now “remember” them and those which I might deliberately imagine or invent.  What is fact?  What is fiction?  I know that some of what I think is a fact can be “fact checked” much as the political fact checkers are constantly checking the “facts” of what  political candidates say.

I have framed degrees from various academic institutions. They each attest to the fact that  from x date to y date I completed a required course of study to the satisfaction of the particular institution of so-called higher learning.  That is the extent of fact.  What happened between x and y other than I enrolled in and completed the requirements for certain courses to someone’s satisfaction is not recorded anywhere.  What I think I remember may bear very little resemblance to what someone else may have witnessed or heard.

Even if I deliberately set out to compose a fictional story, I may have consciously or unconsciously incorporated an event from those stored in my memory bank.

Another form of fiction is described by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her Ted Talk “The danger of a single story.”    In this Ted Talk she discusses the danger of only telling “a single story about another person, event or country.”    She reminds the listener or reader that a single story only tells a small piece of the truth and perhaps not even that.

All this went through my mind as I thought about the lie I had been telling myself about what I write.  I had said, “I do not write fiction.”   This is not the truth.  It may or may not be a partial truth.  Even when I have my fictional niece and nephew exploring some subject or concept, I invent not only Sam and Paul but the circumstances which will fence in the exploration.  Even the concept which I have these fictional characters exploring are my version or definition.   The characters, Sam or Paul, are loosely based on some very precocious young people that I know.  Yet, as Ms. Adichie reminds us, no one story or even ten stories about these characters will give one a complete understanding or picture of who they are.  They are always more than that.   As is true of all of creation not only can I not give a complete picture of who they are  at point A in time, they are never the same from one moment to the next.   Everything and everyone is constantly evolving. This is true whether they began as an invented character or a historic one.

This morning I was reading a letter from Frederick Douglas to Harriet Tubman written on August 29, 1868.   The truths he relays to Ms. Tubman about his impression of her which  says something of him, gives us a tiny window into the lives and souls of these two human beings.  He says, “I know of no one who has willingly encountered more perils and hardships to serve our enslaved people than you have.” (Quoted in article in the Wall Street Journal, opinion section, A11, April 21, 2016 from Sarah Hopkins Bradford’s “Scenes in the  Life of Harriet Tubman.” a letter dated August 29, 1868.)

The long and the short of it is that I must now replace the lie, “I do not do fiction” with a new truth. This truth presents new challenges and opens new windows.   I will want to be more careful in presenting my offerings as either “the truth” or even “a truth.”   Perhaps my imagination can now be allowed new wings. Ahh!  What color of wings would I like?  How big should they be? Where will they take me?

Check out Coach Pickett’s blog at the above link.

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I Can Walk Again and I Feel Like Dancing

If you know me personally the news that I took a bad fall on January 19 is not a surprise, I’ll tell you briefly what happened. My co-facilitator and good friend, Sheila and I were on our way to the Safety Harbor Library to do our monthly Story Circle Creative Writer’s Group. As usual, we stopped at Starbucks for coffee. Back outside we saw Maria, our friend and fellow writer headed toward us. She was excited and waving her notes,  “Look, I found the perfect cover for my book!”

As she stepped toward me I stepped back, and suddenly I was flying through the air. If you have had a big fall, you have had the same feeling. Time stood still as I sailed through the air and watched the tarmac get closer. Crash! I hit the ground hard, on my left side. I couldn’t move. I was numb from my shoulder to my ankle. In a subconscious move, my arm flew up and protected my head and face.

“Don’t move! Don’t try to get up,” Maria, who is a nurse said. “Take a deep breath, then another.” Meanwhile, a crowd gathered. Can I help, what can we do? I did try to get up but I couldn’t use my elbow or knee to help, they were skinned and bleeding. Then as luck would have it, there were two strapping, handsome men standing over me. In one swift move, they lifted me to my feet and helped me into Sheila’s car. I insisted we go and teach the class.

Sheila ran into the library and came out with a wheelchair, Maria helped me get into it and we went in for the class. We had twenty-eight people that night, the largest group we’d ever had, until the end when I couldn’t stand up by myself, most didn’t know what happened. A couple stayed behind to talk and gave me hugs and said they’d send me healing energy.

I wish I’d taken Maria’s advice and gone to the emergency room. When I still couldn’t walk ten days later, I finally did go. I had a triple fracture of my pelvis. I was pretty much out of commission for three months. Yes, I admit, my fingers still worked and I could have written. But I took advantage of the time for solitude and contemplation.



Categories: creative writing, memoir, personal stories, reflecting, Story Circles | Tags: , , | 11 Comments

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