Excerpt from Route 66, a Nonfiction/Fiction Book Project by Jack Heffron

In this excerpt from Jack Heffron’s book project?that combines fiction and nonfiction, you’ll notice the strength of Jack’s?scenes and dialog, exactly the craft skills?he?will be teaching this year at the June 9-12 Writing It Real conference. In the book, Jack told me, the protagonist, Jack Finney, is a retired advertising executive who recently has been … Continue reading

Continue reading

Excerpt From The Third Law of Motion, a Novel by Meg Files

The opening of Meg Files’ fine novel The Third Law of Motion?introduces the?book’s first-person narrative as we enter protagonist Dulcie White’s life as a college-bound high school student. In alternating chapters throughout the book, the young woman’s sometimes boyfriend, a confused and needy?young man, also narrates, but in the third person. Meg does an expert … Continue reading

Continue reading

Excerpt from Good Morning Sam by Phyllis M. Washburn

The following is an excerpt from Phyllis M. Washburn’s book Good Morning Sam. In this part of the story, Phyllis and her husband Ralph rescue Sam, a mute swan, from bleeding to death. In all, the couple shared twenty-four years with mute swans and the book documents their time in narrative and photos. To read my interview … Continue reading

Continue reading

Third Place Winning Essay — Winter Contest 2014

This week we present the third place winner in our 2014 Writing It Real Essay Contest. Our guest judge Midge Raymond selected Lisa Hunter’s essay, “Twelve Random Cards: A Self-Portrait in Archetypes.” Midge wrote this about her selection: “This clever self portrait, while a memoir of self-examination and brief stories, also allows us as readers … Continue reading

Continue reading

Second Place Winning Essay — Winter 2014 Contest

We are pleased to post the second place winning essay in this past winter’s Writing It Real essay contest. Our guidelines said the number 12 was to be somewhere in the essay in honor of Writing It Real’s 12th Anniversary. Our guest judge, Midge Raymond, co-founder of Oregon’s Ashland Creek Press, chose Maureen Mistry’s “The … Continue reading

Continue reading

First Place Winning Essay — Winter 2014 Contest

We are pleased to post the winning essay in this past winter’s Writing It Real essay contest. Our guidelines said the number 12 was to be somewhere in the essay in honor of Writing It Real’s 12th Anniversary. Our guest judge Midge Raymond, co-founder of Oregon’s Ashland Creek Press, chose Gillian Herbert’s “Three of Twelve” … Continue reading

Continue reading

Excerpt from Susan Bono’s Collection What Have We Here

The following essay by Susan Bono is the title essay from her new collection What Have We Here: Essays about Keeping House and Finding Home. We reprint it this week with her permission. To learn more about Susan’s writing and the place of the personal essay in her writing life, please see last week’s interview. What Have We … Continue reading

Continue reading

Letter to My Son

Writing It Real members and students know my love of the epistolary (letter) form in literature and the many examples of it I offer as writing models. During the holiday season, a time of letters from those near and far, I am especially inspired to write to my son, Seth. At the letter’s end, I … Continue reading

Continue reading

Grandma’s Fridge

Years ago, Jennifer Wagley entered a vivid, funny account of her perceptions of her grandmother’s attitudes toward food — buying, keeping, and serving it. It turns out she did this in 12 paragraphs, and as you know, we are celebrating our 12 year Writing It Real anniversary asking for essays that use the number 12. Check our contest guidelines … Continue reading

Continue reading

The Honor of Writing a Foreword to an Anthology

The following is the 2013 foreword I was honored to write for the anthology Times They Were A’Changing: Women Remember the 60s and 70s, edited by Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire and Kate Farrell. Paying tribute to the vibrant decades during which I was a college student and next a mom to two young children was certainly a … Continue reading

Continue reading

Last Words, Glenn Fleishman’s Essay on Loss

Glenn Fleishman’s expertly executed and moving personal essay about the his mother’s death and the last time he saw her will resonate with any of us who are striving to write the details of loss and our lives at the time of our loss. Notice the mix of medical information and terminology, with personal medical … Continue reading

Continue reading

My Marital Status

After reading that I’d mentioned an interview he did with Marion Woodman in a Writing It Real article, James Kullander contacted me. After reading the whole article, he offered permission to share another essay originally published in the December 2007 issue of The Sun magazine. “My Marital Status” takes a moving look at love and commitment, at what … Continue reading

Continue reading

Writing Your Way in the Back Door: The Painting as Entry

Christine Hemp offers us her thinking about how we may find our prose and poetry’s true subjects followed by a writing exercise for practice and two sample poems. [This article and exercise were originally published in Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers, from Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, edited by Sherry … Continue reading

Continue reading

Celebrating and Learning from Three Wonderful Poets

It’s National Poetry Month and I am celebrating poets I know whose work I have been following both in their books and by attending readings in my town and surrounding areas. Each of the next weeks, I will publish a poem by each of three of these poets along with their own words about their … Continue reading

Continue reading

Michael Shurgot’s 2nd Place Winning Essay “The First Time I Should Have Died”

Our guest judge Molly Tinsley’s notes about choosing Michael Shurgot’s essay for our second-place winner are these: “Great propulsion. The building of tension, the sense of time running out, the hints of questions left unanswered — all are the strategies of an accomplished story-teller. The detachment of the retrospective voice hooked me in further, the … Continue reading

Continue reading

First Place Winning Essay – “Why I Write” by Mary Kurtz

Our fall/winter writing contest judge, Molly Tinsley, chose “Why I Write,” a personal essay by Mary Kurtz, as our first-place winner. Molly said in her notes about this essay: “Emotional control of the narrative makes Mary’s experience all the more riveting and poignant. I was swept up by the vivid flow of habitual action interrupted … Continue reading

Continue reading

On Meeting the Lost Boys of Sudan, Personal Writing at the Intersection of History

Writing It Real member Betty Shafer met five of the Lost Boys of the Sudan during a time that she was mourning personal losses and considering a major life change. Entwining their story of tragedy and survival during an historic upheaval with reflections on events in her own life, Betty arrives at clarity, strength, and … Continue reading

Continue reading

New Year’s Thoughts and Advice From My Correspondence With My iPad Mini

December 31, 2013 Dear Mini, Today marks our six-month anniversary of being together!  Six months! And you, my love, remain ever fresh and surprising, ever so original! We haven’t parted for even a day since that July afternoon when I gave in to the gleam in your eye and brought you home. I want to … Continue reading

Continue reading

Foreword to Times They Were A-Changing

It was an honor to be asked to write the foreword to the newly released anthology Times They Were A-Changing, edited by Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire, and Kate Farrell, whose selection of forty-eight powerful stories and poems by women about life changing experiences in the ’60s and ’70s vividly re-creates those two decades … Continue reading

Continue reading

Writing a Eulogy Starting with a Remembered Trait

When asked to write a eulogy for a family member you cared for, you may find that your memories and those of others who knew the person you are writing about might span a lifetime but with gaps. Thinking of a physical trait you strongly associate with the person who has died and opening the … Continue reading

Continue reading