A Reading and a Print Interview with What Love Feels Like Authors Dave Cunningham and C.K.Tyler

I am delighted to introduce authors Dave Cunningham and C.K. Tyler who have collaborated on a newly published novel entitled What Loves Feels Like: The Dawn of Human 2.0. In the video below and the Q&A following, the two speak to their experience of writing the book in collaboration and its short journey to publication. … Continue reading

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Beating Artlessness to Heal and Save Ourselves and Hopefully, Our World

Emma Lazarus’ 1893 sonnet engraved on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty has been made famous again this week. The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,With conquering limbs astride from land to land;Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall standA mighty woman with a torch, whose flameIs … Continue reading

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Writing About Grief, Writing to Protest and Take Action

Three mass shootings within seven days. Since January 2019, 979 people injured and 246 dead in such shootings. Waking up each morning to learn what new trick the current administration has for lowering morale in our country and treating people like rodents (that word, “infestation”). The rise in the number of cases doctors in our … Continue reading

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Listening to Writers–New, Emerging and Well-Published

Every month, two of my 30-minute interviews with writers air on  KPTZ 91.9 FM. Over many years now, I have interviewed not only well-published poets, journalists, novelists, memoirists and other creative nonfiction writers, but those who are at the beginnings of their writing lives or have just had their work accepted by literary journals and … Continue reading

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In My Opinion: Letter to My Husband’s Uncle

5/9/19 Hello Harlan, We had a wonderful time recently celebrating my mother’s 92nd birthday with my daughter’s family and her in-laws, who have moved from the Midwest to a town just north of Seattle to be near their son and grandsons. They are originally from the southern part of India and came here years ago … Continue reading

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“In Honor of Mr. Alfred Scott,” by Jean Peelen

As Black History Month ends and we have learned more about black religious leaders, scientists, politicians, professors, film directors, sports figures, journalists, poets and authors, among many other professions, those of other ethnicities have had an opportunity to reflect on how learning of the strife of an oppressed group changed the trajectory of their own … Continue reading

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Writing Our Personal Stories for Others: Susan Smith’s “My Heart Attack Saved My Life”

I haven’t posted in the Writing It Real category of “Writing Makes a Difference” in a while now as I’ve concentrated on writing exercises to keep you inspired. This week, though, I am returning to that category to share Susan Smith’s account of having a heart attack. She wrote this piece because little is discussed … Continue reading

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A Gander at Propaganda

“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis: Protecting Democracy in Pre-World War II America,” an article authored by Zachary Reisch and kept in the Bryn Mawr Institutional Library, offers clarification about the exploration of propaganda in our country. “What is democracy?” Reisch asks and he goes on: This is the question that liberals in late 1930s America … Continue reading

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Hiring the Journal Keeper (and/or the Writer Within)

  …the heart…and the learned skills of the conscious mind… make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen. Mary OliverA Poetry Handbook Whether you are someone who sets out to write poems, essays, stories or articles or keeps journals, the thinking and analogy I make in this excerpt from my … Continue reading

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Sheila Reads Her Poems for National Poetry Month

For National Poetry Month, tonight I am reading from my own poetry at the link below. For me poetry is an everyday experience and so there aren’t any huge production values or perfect lighting in this video. Just me sharing my poems and talking to you about what I hope poetry accomplishes for humanity. You can … Continue reading

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A Writer’s Role Models: Canadian Author Miriam Towes and Her 15-Year-Old Character Elfrieda

This week, I have made a video for Writing It Real’s Weekly Article. In it, I share a passage from Canadian author Miriam Toews’ novel All My Puny Sorrows in which a talented 15-year-old piano player exercises her genius against the unwelcome authoritarianism of the Mennonite elders, who “willy nilly” as the girl’s mother says, … Continue reading

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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

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An Ode to the Author of Blue Willow

I was reading a magazine article recently in which authors wrote about pivotal books they’ve read. What book would I name, I wondered. Immediately, I saw myself at my fourth grade desk in the 1950’s at Franklin Elementary School in Union Township, New Jersey. I am unwrapping a book I ordered from the Scholastic Book … Continue reading

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Digesting World News

This essay originally appeared in Writing It Real August 2006. The question I was exploring is still one many of us ask when we consider the world’s situation: Where is our writing in all this? How should it matter? Every time I open my computer, I look at the upper right-hand corner of the screen to … Continue reading

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The Strangest of Theatres: A Poet Writes Across Borders

Three accomplished writers have as editors acquired a collection of essays in The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders in which poets explore the way their journeys to foreign lands helped them add to literature’s great conversation. Susan Rich, one editor of the three, whose newest poetry collection Cloud Pharmacy is just out from … Continue reading

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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

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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

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A Keynote Address Using Personal Experience

As the writers among our circles of family, friends, colleagues and associates, we are often approached to write addresses and eulogies, toasts and speeches. On September 19, 2013, I presented the keynote address at Providence Hospice of Seattle’s annual Pediatric Luncheon. It is a fundraiser for the organization’s work with grieving and terminally ill children and … Continue reading

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On Writing and Publishing Poetic Memoir, An Interview

Nancy Smiler Levinson set herself the goal of writing about what she was living through during her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The result was a powerful, filled with love, and ultimately affirming memoir, all in free verse, Moments of Dawn: a poetic memoir of love & family, affliction & admiration.  A professional writer for decades, Nancy … Continue reading

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Facilitate Poetry’s Ulterior Purpose

April is National Poetry Month. That means nationwide, the month of April is filled with even larger numbers of poetry related events than other months of the year. Hopefully, reading about them in your local newspapers and on websites will encourage you to attend, and listening to poets will spark your interest in participating in … Continue reading

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A Children’s Book From the Heart: Interview with Penny Holland

Creating stories to delight children and help them understand sophisticated social concepts is a primary objective of children’s book authors. But it is often hard to cut to the essence of situations in language children understand. Penny Claire Holland had the story for a children’s picture book many years ago, but let her manuscript sit … Continue reading

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In the Presence of Wonder

Today as my co-instructor and I taught a course called “Teaching Poetry to Help Students Meet Literacy Standards,” something remarkable happened, something that often happens with poetry. I’d like to tell you about it because talking about what happened will help those of you who write from your heart affirm the value of what you … 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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Lifesaving with Oral Histories

After reading Nancy Rekow’s oral history works, I wrote to her with questions, hoping for an article that allowed Writing It Real subscribers access to the thought process and background that fed her desire to write oral history. In response, Nancy wrote the following article and sent me this note: “Thanks, Sheila, for sending me … Continue reading

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On The Evolution of a Columnist

[Writing It Real subscriber Tina Traster used a time of great change in her personal life to build a bridge from her work as a newspaper journalist to making money with her passion for writing personal essays. This week we hear from her on what writing in the new genre has meant. At the end … Continue reading

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Writing About Place

In graduate school, at California State University-Fresno, Eileen Apperson began what was to become a longer creative non-fiction project when she wrote one short essay about the eradication of Tulare Lake, which was once the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. She found that her classmates and professor had never heard of the … Continue reading

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Journaling Workshops for Parents

In Lucy Rector Filppu’s journaling classes for parents, men and women gather together to write, cry, laugh, listen, discover, and to learn about themselves and support one another. They arrive in class hoping to find themselves as parents — but they leave with much more. In the last two years, Lucy has inspired over 200 … Continue reading

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Whit Press Founder Claudia Mauro Empowers Community Through the Literary Arts

Last year, poet Susan Rich, a Writing It Real in Port Townsend Writers’ Conference faculty member, told conference goers that she was asked to become a Board member for Whit Press in Seattle. She was pleased about helping a press specifically dedicated to benefiting community groups through the publication of books. This winter, Susan suggested … Continue reading

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An Interview with Kate Kelsall

Although trained as a clinical social worker and as a Certified Public Accountant, Kate Kelsall is currently writing and speaking and inspiring many with her twice weekly blog. Kate has Parkinson’s disease (PD) and through her efforts, many others with the disease are finding support and activities and coming to understand how much they can … Continue reading

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An Interview with John Nemerovski

In this week’s article, we interview John Nemerovski, who writes about technological subjects for a non-technical audience. His online articles, and now podcasts, are filled with personal anecdotes, quirky observations and bits of his own life including activities with friends, family and his much-loved dog Butzie. John’s articles and reviews almost always take on aspects … Continue reading

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LiveJournal Blogging

My daughter Emily is a Computational Linguistics Professor. One thing this means is that she spends a lot of time on the computer. She has found a way to keep a diary about her two little boys and the life of her young family using blogging software available free on the Internet. She’s given her … Continue reading

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The Pocket Poetry Parenting Guide

Last March, I attended the annual National Association of Poetry Therapists conference in Boston. Browsing the vendor tables, I discovered Jennifer Bosveld’s offering, The Pocket Poetry Parenting Guide. It presents a short but impressive collection of poetry for use in helping parents with the most important and perhaps hardest job of their lives. The collection’s … Continue reading

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Excerpt from On Austrian Soil: Teaching Those I Was Taught to Hate

The following is excerpted with Sondra Perl’s permission from Chapter 2, “History Becomes Real”, of her memoir, On Austrian Soil: Teaching Those I Was Taught to Hate, published in 2005 by State University of New York Press, Albany, NY. Writing It Real reviewed Sondra’s first book about writing, Felt Sense: Writing With The Body, December … Continue reading

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Writing, Reading, and Revising: Soul Work

Before I started studying poetry writing, I littered my work with the word soul. What was poetry but the soul making itself known?  How else to talk when making an exploration of emotions but to use the word?  John Donne, who I had studied in college, did: Our two souls therefore, which are one, Though … Continue reading

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Grace Jackson Creates a Community of Voices

In 2002, Grace Jackson wanted to start a community-based literary magazine filled with the voices of her women neighbors on Bainbridge Island, WA. To find her contributors, she distributed a flier at coffee houses, bookstores and libraries near her home. The flier asked women to: Tell me where you are in the world right now. … Continue reading

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Niche Dating Essay Yields Results

Last Valentine’s Day, I read an essay in The Seattle Weekly by Marilyn Meyer, a friend of mine who had raised a family in Seattle the same years I had and who, having survived remarriage and divorce a time more than I, was single again.  Dating was getting harder as she got older, and at … Continue reading

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A Fortunate Meeting with Helen Mitchell and her book, Helen’s Garden

On a sunny day in mid-July, I visited a lavender farm in Sequim, WA with my friend Judy from Northern California.  She was beginning to grow lavender herself, and as a merchant at her local farmers’ market, she was eager to add lavender products to her offerings. At the small organic farm, we met Helen … Continue reading

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Notes on chixLIT: the Literary Zine for Chicks Ages 7 to 17

When I was a girl of 10 and already a writer in my own mind, I was frustrated that no one took my writing seriously. I nevertheless decided that I would be a Rhodes Scholar and a winner of a Pulitzer and a Nobel by the time I was 30, at which point I would … Continue reading

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Interview with Joni Cole, an Editor of the This Day: Diaries from American Women Project

At the May 2003 Book Expo America in Los Angeles, Joni Cole handed out advance copies of an exciting book, eventually released this September. Joni is a freelance writer with a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies from Dartmouth College with a focus on fiction.  It is second nature for her to imagine and create … Continue reading

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What I Learned at the Halfway House

When my daughter told me to read a personal essay in her school’s alumni magazine, I did.  I enjoy finding the many places personal essays inhabit and I appreciate their great value.  In this case, Stanford sophomore Sheena Chestnut wrote a narrative about using a personal story to help others learn a sophisticated use of … Continue reading

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Migael Scherer’s Writing Made a Difference to Journalists

When writing moves us to struggle against a taboo, especially one that demands silence, we can expect powerful resistance.  It is natural to feel alone, even besieged.  The resistance to our words comes both from ourselves and from others.  If we respect the struggle of our readers to understand with us, so also may come … Continue reading

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