Posts Tagged With: Memoir

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

A Reminder for the February Story Circle

Happy Valentine’s Day Writers,

Since this is the holiday of love we decided our prompt for the month would be about Love, the good the bad the ugly. It can be your love of a person, place, or thing. Maybe the love of chocolate.  Whatever you want to write about love, we want to hear.  Remember to keep it to 600 words or less. We hope you will join us at the beautiful Safety Harbor Library on Wednesday, February 17th from 6:00 to 7:45 PM.   Meet other writers and learn what they are doing, how they are improving their skills and have fun.

All Writers Welcome 

We invite all writers to attend the class.  It is a wonderful opportunity to associate with other writers and keep you motivated. It is one of the reasons Jan and I continue to do this each month.  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.

The Story Circle, a creative writing group, meets the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library located at 101 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695  727-724-1525  from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM.  We would stay longer but the library closes at 8:00 PM.  Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone who wants to can 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

Our assignment for December was to write about a song that means or has meant something in your life. We decided to use music for the theme of our third book. As always keep your story to 600 words or less and give it a title. Dianne Persall is our editor again and is anxiously awaiting your stories. The final deadline is February 14th so you still have time to be included in this edition. Even if you missed the December meeting we want your story. It’s your chance to be published.  Once you have it written, read it aloud and have another writer check for errors. Dianne won’t edit your story but she will put together another fine book for us. Paste the story in the body of the email  Send her your photo and a fifty-word bio.


Categories: creatiity, creative writing, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, reflecting | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Life in Song

Finished my assignment! Did you write one? 

I was sixteen and Nat King Cole was singing, “They tried to tell us we’re too young, too young to really be in love.” Well, they were right, I just didn’t know it then, I fell for it and fell in love with love. Married a guy I hardly knew mostly to get away from my overly strict, but loving, parents.

Our newspaper, the Erie Times, ran an article about our men in the Korean Conflict and how we could support the brave and lonely soldiers by baking and sending cookies, and writing them letters. So began my writing relationship with Bob. A few months later he came home on leave and proposed. Wow, that sounded like fun! I said, “yes” and I moved with him to Texas. Our marriage lasted six months.

I was seventeen when I married again and began my second life as a wife. My first baby was born when I was nineteen and six more were to come.

During the next ten years I was overwhelmed with diapers, feedings, and cuddling and much too busy to listen to or hear any songs. Did we even have a radio?

When my beautiful babies were no longer toddlers, I became the chauffeur. Everyone had something to do or somewhere to go, my husband went to a job he loved, and I drove the kids to little league, brownies or cubs scouts. I watched and waited, or sometimes went home and waited some more, for time to fetch them.

One day, I was thirty by then, I heard Peggy Lee sing, “Is That All There Is?” Well, I bet you remember that song too. Was this a reminder to wives and mothers of what they may be missing?

Oh, I loved “Camelot.” Arthur sings: “It’s true, it’s true. The crown has made it clear. The climate must be perfect all the year.”

Guinevere: “And I suppose all the autumn leaves fall in neat little piles?”

“Oh no, my lady the wind blows them completely away.”

It was exactly the way I wanted my life to be!

Well, by the time I was forty-nine all my husbands had blown away in the wind, the kids were grown up and I was ready to dance. Perfect timing, it was now the disco era. None of my husbands had danced so I was always hoping for my chance, and now I didn’t need a partner. It was perfectly acceptable to dance alone. My favorite song? “It’s Raining Men,” with The Weather Girls.

“Humidity’s risin

Barometer’s getting low

According to all sources

The street’s the place to go


Cos tonight for the first time

Just about half past ten

For the first time in history

It’s gonna start raining men

It’s raining men, Hallelujah.”

One day as I was trying to make up my mind whether or not to move to the Caribbean, it was pouring rain, I was stuck in a huge line of traffic, people were honking and flipping the bird. I took a deep breath, looked up and saw a double rainbow arcing over a white steeple; I took it as a sign, made my decision and moved to Grand Cayman. I named my house there in honor the Muppet’s Song, “The Rainbow Connection.”

“Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me”.

For the next nine years I loved nights in the moonlight under the swaying palms, moving to the salsa, merengue, rumba. My favorite song? Bob Marley and the Wailers, “Three Little Birds.”

Don’t Worry About A thing cause everything’s gonna be alright.”


Categories: creatiity, creative writing, energy, essay, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Story Circles, writing | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

Upcoming Story Circle News

Hello Writers,

The official start of Autumn is only a few days away. It may not be the autumn those up north experience but there is change; it is a tiny bit cooler in the evenings and we have a minor drop in the humidity. For now the traffic is still light as the snow birds have not yet packed to escape the brutal winter weather. As I see it, the months of September and October are treasures to be enjoyed.

Jan and I are still putting the finishing touches on our books (my mystery, You Do Not Know WhatI Have Done and Jan’s memoir, An Unfinished Woman). Editing and adding. It can be a never ending process but the point is to finish. Having made the commitment to go the Florida Writers Conference we have a deadline.  It helps. If you are writing a book, a short story or a poem, it doesn’t hurt to have a goal in mind. It may be to present your writing to someone as a gift or enter a contest. Just remember to keep writing and at some point you have to stop the editing and the rewrites.

Jan and I believe being around other writers gives us focus, helps us learn our craft and provides encouragement.  That is what the Story Circle Creative Writing group is all about.  We want you to join us for the meeting at the beautiful Safety Harbor Library on Wednesday September 16thfrom 6:00 to 7:45 PM.

Writing Assignment for September

We all tell stories of remember when. Remember that kid from school, that new guy on the job, the first home we bought, the dress I wore to the party, the day we drove to Orlando.  Try a different angle. Write the piece starting with the line  “The last time I saw …

Remember to write it in 600 word or less. When you read at the next meeting we will ask for the word count.  If you write by hand, count your words.  If you use the computer the word count is tracked for you. In the Word program I use it is listed on the bottom left side of the screen.  If you are having trouble keeping to the word count read How to Write Short by Roy Peter Clark.

Local Author’s Fair

Safety Harbor Library is holding Local Authors Fair. The event will be taking place on September 26 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Jan and I will be there representing the Story Circle Group.  If you are interested in having a table at the event please contact the library.

All Writers & Story Tellers Welcome 

We invite all writers from just thinking about writing to published authors to attend the class.  If you are just starting out, you will learn a lot from the information provided as well spend time with the wonderful people who happen to be writers too.  If you have friends who write, please forward this email to them.

The Story Circle, a creative writing group, meets the 3rd Wednesday of every month at the Safety Harbor Library located at 101 2nd Street North, Safety Harbor, FL 34695  727-724-1525  from 6:00 PM to 7:45 PM.  We would stay longer, but the library closes at 8:00 PM.  Each month we provide a writing assignment with a maximum word count of 600.  Everyone who wants to can 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.

Hope to see you on the 16th.

Jan Golden                                                                              Sheila  McNaughton

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Racism in 1953

It was 1953, in Hampton Virginia, where we had just moved from Erie, Pennsylvania. My dad had been recalled into the Air force for the Korean Conflict. His “Greeting” letter from Uncle Sam had been a shock. We had to leave our newly remodeled house behind and move to Virginia to be with him.

I was on the city bus riding home from my high school in Newport News. A young man, a college student, arms loaded with books boarded the bus paid his fare and grabbed on to the nearest railing.

The bus pulled out into traffic. “Move to the back of the bus,” the driver snarled. The black student ignored him. “I said now, move to the back of the bus,” he repeated.

“No sir,” the student replied. “I am getting off in a few blocks.”

I watched in amazement. I had heard about the civil rights movement but had never encountered such an incident. I silently cheered for the young man. The driver’s face got redder as his anger rose. He jammed on the brakes and pulled into a fire station. Two burly firemen came out to see what was going on; when the irate driver told them, they boarded the bus and physically threw the student out the door.

I was so shocked that for a moment I didn’t know what to do. Then I got my whit’s about me, opened my notebook and recorded the driver’s name and ID number from the front of the bus and the number of the fire station, then described the event on my paper in a few words. My knees were shaking as I went to each passenger on the bus and asked them to sign my petition. Most passengers, about 20 of the 30 on board signed it.

I really didn’t know what to do with the petition itself … at home over dinner I told my parent what had happened. They praised me and encouraged me to do something with the petition. I took it to school and my English teacher persuaded me to write an article and send it along with the petition to the bus company.

I did. Sad to say nothing ever came of it, no response or explanation ever came.

To this day, I haven’t forgotten the young man and his humiliating experience. As a young person, I became aware that discrimination is insidious and we all must monitor our feelings and actions toward others. Because of it I became a champion of the underdog.

Categories: creative writing, essay, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Writing | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Twelve Wise and Witty Women Gathered

The Safety Harbor Story Circle and Writers Group held on the third Wednesday every month is one of my favorite places. Last evening the stories shared about “Scars” were sad, funny, poignant and beautiful.

Our circle has become a community. We are happy to see each other and share in our lives through story. We missed you if you couldn’t come and hope to see you next month; we have a special assignment, allowing an 800-word piece. The topic is: What is a mistake people often make about you?

We meet, we perceive, we judge, we are sometimes misunderstood and often we misjudge others. Do other people see you as you are? I’ve been reading a book called Take Off Your Mask Change Your Life by Daniel Speraw here is a quote from the book, “With my mask, I keep you focused on the best parts of how I look and what I have done so you will not see that moment of uncertainty, that flash of anger or the mistake I have just made.” He goes on to say, “I work hard to keep your eyes off my balding forehead, my expanding waistline and that recent stain on my pants, As good as I am at it -and I have had a lifetime of practice – we both know that you do see my mistake, my balding and that stain. But thank you for pretending.”

Categories: creative writing, finding yourself, growth, memoir, personal stories, reflections, stories, Story Circles | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

May Story Circle Writing Assignments

Hello Writers,
Please mark your calendar for May 7, Wed.  Our meeting  will be @ Largo Public Library 6 – 8 pm.
Homework:  “My feet were already numb, I should have listened”  in 600 words or less.
To start a story with this sentence or include the sentence in a story. Or as always try the topic if you really hate it bring something else you have written of 600 words or less – to share
May 21, Wed. Safety Harbor Public Library 6 –  8 pm
Last month we read our “Million Dollar Winnings” stories, interesting, touching, and thoughtful stories came out of that exercise. Then we worked on how to write in scenes. Our homework for May: Tell us about a marraige proposal, one you got. wish you’d gotten or one from someone else’s life, even from a play or movie. As always 600 words or less. 
Happy writing!
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Musings on Life and Memoir Writing

Some interesting thoughts from a variety of places, about memoir writing.

We have just one life to find what makes us happy. What memories do we want to share with generations to come? I will not chain myself to the same office chair or job for the next thirty years. To some that is living but to me it is not. Moving to an island worked for me.

I craved adventure. And to my family’s dismay, the unknown. But to me, the unknown, meant endless possibilities. Seeing the world through bright, optimistic eyes.

I don’t want my life mapped out. I want it to rise and fall with every chance I take.

I have failed as much as I have succeeded. I have hated the universe as much as I have praised it. But at the end of the day, when the sun sets and the moon shines bright, that’s when you reflect. What did I do today that brought a smile to my face and satisfaction to my soul?

I like to wonder – what can I do tomorrow to shine my light brighter?

Ram Dass said: Make friends with change. In older years there is change in your body, change in your memory, change in your friends, family, and change in culture.” He sat there silently for a moment, before he quietly said, “wow.” Then he continued, “You might as well be ready for it. Then comes the big change at death.”

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Safety Harbor and Largo Libraries Circles

Switch topics – Largo Picture Frame exercise, Safety Harbor,  Million Dollar exercise. See below for details.

Found some great podcast/author talks sites for you: Maryville Talks Books and Mark – Writing to Heal. You can Google either one of these. Please leave so feedback with your response to these. 



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Story Circle “Table Stories”

Hi Writers,

Last reminder to send me your “Table Story”, if you haven’t already done so. Karen Lopez and Dianne Persall are anxiously awaiting their fabulous tasks of putting together our book. So far the design is top secret. Any one who has attended a Story Circle class or workshop is eligible to submit their Table Story to me at –

Check the November 24th post here if you need a reminder about the topic. 

An essay contest is to be announced January 15 by the library, winners to be showcased at the celebration February 20th.

A Library Lovers Month Celebration will be then be held at the Library February 20, at 6:30 pm. This will be a speaking opportunity for the Library Director, Friends of the Library representative, Jan Golden, and the winning writers to share a part of their works. (This is where we can present/sell/or giveaway our book!)

The Library is inviting local author’s to set up tables so they may share their works as this kind of event has been requested by patrons interested in the local authors. It will give our local authors a way to showcase and share their literary accomplishments with our patrons in national library lover’s month. The Friends of the Library might also set up a table with a small selection of especially nice gift books to further their good cause.

I’m excited. Our book will show the Safety Harbor Library how much we appreciate their support of writers over the last 3 years, and how much progress we have made in our writing. 

Categories: creative writing, finding yourself, memoir, personal stories, Story Circles, Writing | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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