About Sheila Bender

Sheila Bender has worked with people who write personal essays, poetry, nonfiction books, stories, writer’s journals, and application essays since 1980, helping them acknowledge a place for writing in their lives. Learn about her instructional books, memoir and poetry at About Sheila.

Interview with Suzan Huney on Her Book Women of Strength and Writing Oral History

On August 27, 2010, Suzan Huney began an oral history project with her Aunt Betty Jane Cooper Johnson, her mother’s sister.  For many years, the tight knit clan of Cooper family women had celebrated during yearly reunions, but interviewing Aunt Betty meant learning a lot more about the family as well as more about her … Continue reading

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An Interview with Award Winning Young Adult Author Pete Hautman

 This spring, I lead my town’s 8th graders in discussions about Pete Hautman’s young adult novel Blank Confession, a story based on the novel Shane, which is about a mysterious cowboy who changes the lives of a family while working on their ranch for only a short while. In Pete’s story, a boy arrives in … Continue reading

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In Celebration of Behind Us the Way Grows Wider: Thoughts on a few of my poems

Last week, Pixelita Press published Behind Us the Way Grows Wider, a collection of my poems from 1980 to the present. To celebrate, I am sharing some of the poems and my commentary about them. As the title suggests, the book starts with my earlier poems and continues through my latest poems. Here is one … Continue reading

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Two Old Dogs and a Reverent: 15 Musings on Persona

-1- I am reading Garth Stein’s novel Racing in the Rain. I am drawn in by the narrator, a dog named Enzo. As I read, I remember two other works in which dogs narrate–Billy Collins’ poem “The Revenant” and Eugene O’Neill’s essay, “The Last Will and Testament of Silverdene Emblem O’Neill.” In all of these … Continue reading

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Some of My Favorite Answers For Writers

A good interview calls forth the best from an interviewee, and I am pleased that I have had such opportunities to articulate the thoughts and experiences that shaped me as a writer and writing teacher.  Here are answers I’ve reread recenting and find worth repeating to others as well as to myself: I was honored … Continue reading

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To Write is to Observe: Learning This Again on a Trip to Turkey

To Write is to Observe: Learning This Again on a Trip to Turkey In Mid-May, I took a trip to Turkey with 11 women writers. Susan Bono and I gathered participants who met together for four days of touring Istanbul. Our Turkish counterpart, writer and teacher Yesim Cimcoz and her student Fusun Centinel put together walking … Continue reading

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Writing Memoir and Poetry, Studying with Mentors and Peers: Interview with Anne McDuffie, Recent MFA Low Residency Program Graduate

Have you wondered about the value of MFA programs or wanted to learn what the MFA candidates learn? Here’s an opportunity to receive enrichment from a recent MFA candidate’s experience–Anne has offered loads of links to journals and writers you will want to know about. Sheila I am pleased by the opportunity to talk with … Continue reading

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In Conversation with Midge Raymond, Author of How to be an Everyday Writer: Tips and Prompts

This week author and publisher Midge Raymond, whose newest book is How to be an Everyday Writer: Tips and Prompts, offers us some of her quickie prompts and answers questions about her career and writing. Sheila Midge, you have succeeded in publishing collections of short stories and novels and you have wonderful nonfiction essays out there. You’re … Continue reading

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The Letter Form: To Say It in Writing is to Hear It

Recently, Samantha Smith, a middle school student from our town, placed as a Washington State champion in The Library of Congress’ national contest Letters About Literature. Each year, students are asked to write a letter to their favorite authors, living or dead. The winning essays from each state are sent to Washington DC and national … Continue reading

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Four Tricks that Keep a Writer Going

Don’t Think. Write! Many authors who write about writing say, “Don’t think. Write!” I am one of them. But I also think it is fair to say to those who write, “Don’t think. Play!” If you allow yourself to play when you come to the page, you are more likely to create a unique world … Continue reading

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Images Are What Pop for Readers, Not Telling: Exercises to Increase Your Expertise

Most of us find it hard sometimes to believe that the specifics of what we see, taste, touch, smell and hear relate our inner perceptions and feelings (or those of our characters) without explanation. We may be writing with specifics and then, without realizing it, begin to explain and annotate, argue and attempt to persuade … Continue reading

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Revising Older Poems — It’s Never Too Late to Take Another Look

April is National Poetry Month. Feeling a little badly that I hadn’t started new poems to celebrate the month, I decided to look through old files in a computer folder labeled “archived poems.” I had completely forgotten some of the drafts I’d created. When I read them, I thought, “Why hadn’t I stuck to doing … Continue reading

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Carrying the Raindrops – Journey to Writing Poetry

Just after she’d learned to walk, my 15-month-old daughter and I spent a cloudy afternoon at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo.  Her favorite animals were the birds that wandered the grounds because she saw she could send them into flight by toddling towards them.  A day later, we saw ourselves in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  A reporter … Continue reading

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The Non-Writing Writer

When Writing It Real member Jean Erler sent me the following essay as part of work she wanted to further develop, I knew that Writing It Real members would relate to what she was describing, a stance we writers take all too often toward our role as authors. I helped Jean polish the essay, and I … Continue reading

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Writing Does Make a Difference: A Conversation with Barbara Field On Expanding Women’s Voices Through Writing

I was fortunate to meet Barbara Field when we both presented several years ago at the Whidbey Island Writers’ Conference in Washington State. When I heard from Barbara about recent developments in her writing life, I was eager to share what she’s  been up to in joining new projects. The work she tells us about … Continue reading

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Dreaming a Job, Defining as Essay

On a writing retreat, I read through a manuscripts-wanted listing in an arts commission newsletter and noticed a magazine asking for short essays by women on work. I thought about my work roles and how I felt about them–mother, teacher, co-owner of my husband’s computer networking business, poet. How I wished that my “job” as … Continue reading

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Letter to a Columnist

I have always been a reader of letters to Ann Landers and other newspaper columnists to whom the public writes. Even after my own children were grown, I continued to read the Sunday column in Parade Magazine, in which teens wrote in about their concerns, and the following week, other teens responded with what they … Continue reading

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A New Year’s Greeting

Dear Writers, It’s New Year’s time, time to reflect and encourage ourselves to set goals we long to achieve. For me, it’s also the time of year that marks the anniversary of the snowboarding accident that took my son’s life. At the end of December 2000, friends and family gathered in Seattle and in Port … Continue reading

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Interview with Essayist Joni Cole

Joni Cole, author of Another Bad-Dog Book: Tales of Life, Love, and Neurotic Human Behavior, offers valuable information for writers in her recent interview for Writing It Real members. If you haven’t yet, you will want to read an excerpt from her book. Sheila How did you go about writing and collecting these essays? Joni … Continue reading

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Writing Better Holiday Letters

The holidays are a time of turning to traditions that symbolize our love and connection to our families, friends, communities, earth, and the divine.  With the pragmatism characteristic of Americans, many of us have made holiday card sending into a vehicle for mailing yearly catch-up letters.  These letters allow us to perform the task of … Continue reading

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