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

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On Writing From Life

Our writing contest guest judge, Molly Tinsley, is now reading and making her selections of three contest winners in the recent Writing It Real contest. While we are waiting for the results, we are reprinting her article about writing memoir. It appeared orignally in the November 2013 issue of Author magazine.  Molly’s words on writing from … Continue reading

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What I Was Thinking

This article first ran January 24, 2008, after a visit from my grandsons. Their visit over this past Martin Luther King three-day weekend had me thinking again about the way watching children’s reactions to our adult judgments and commands can help us become kinder to our writing and our writing selves, so we can better … Continue reading

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A Coming-of-Age Vignette, Sage Advice, and the Writing Exercise They Inspired

When you read the following excerpts from Rhonda Wiley-Jones’ memoir, At Home in the World: Travel Stories of Growing Up and Growing Away, you’ll likely remember incidents from your own youth when you learned important things about yourself, perceptions that allowed you to see yourself in new ways. I’ve included a writing exercise to use … Continue reading

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Writer Tells All – A Narrative About Self-publishing

Are you thinking of self-publishing and wondering what the process is like? It never hurts to hear from one who has successfully navigated the process. With humor and self-awareness, Rhonda Wiley-Jones takes us on her journey as writer turned self-publisher. Reading her narrative is like sitting in the chair next to her. When she’s done … Continue reading

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From Idea to Publication: Rhonda Wiley-Jones on Her Memoir Project

When Writing It Real member Rhonda Wiley-Jones published her travel/coming-of-age memoir, parts of which she had worked on through Writing It Real contests and editorial help, I was eager to hear what she’d learned in her process of moving from the initial essays to a book-length manuscript. What follows are her interesting and thoughtful replies … 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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First Place Winning Essay 2013 Writing It Real Spring/Summer Contest

This week we are proud to publish the first of three winning essays in our recent contest. In choosing Hildegard Hingle’s essay as the first place winner in Writing It Real’s 2013 spring and summer writing contest, guest judge Terry Persun sent these words: This so reminded me of Nicholas Sparks. At first, I’m unsure … Continue reading

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Judith Kitchen on Reading as a Writer Reads Part 2

Applying her method of reading as a writer reads to Pam Houston’s Contents May Have Shifted, Judith Kitchen asks, “So is this memoir, masked as novel? Or novel, masked as memoir? That’s one of the first questions that a reader of this book asks. “What does it matter?” you might venture.   Here is our guest author’s explanation. Reading … Continue reading

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Excerpt from Unbridled: A Memoir

Barbara McNally’s memoir, Unbridled: A Memoir, is, among other delights, a moving and often often funny travel story. Her search to understand her beliefs and live an authentic life instead of keeping her personal desires (which often conflicted with her fundamentalist upbringing) hidden begins in Ireland. Early in her trip, she meets a Wiccan named … Continue reading

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Interview with Memoirist Barbara McNally on The Writing of Unbridled: A Memoir

When otherwise good girl Barbara McNally is caught having an affair (for the second time), her marriage ends within weeks and with it, so does the image she created for her two teenaged girls and the man she married right out of college. In her book Unbridled: A Memoir, Barbara (whose website is here) begins … Continue reading

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“March 9th, Day Zero” — Excerpt from Stumbling Through the Dark

Thelma Zirkelbach describes her memoir as “a story of love and loss and unexpected courage.” In the following excerpt from Chapter 11 of Stumbling Through the Dark, Mazo Publishers, 2013 (posted here with permission of the author), Thelma’s husband Ralph is undergoing a red cell transplant. How does one commemorate what is supposed to be … Continue reading

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Writing the Situations Life Throws Your Way – An Interview with Thelma Zirkelbach

Former romance writer Thelma Zirkelback has two books out now (and a blog) on the subject of widowhood, one an anthology she co-edited of writings by women who have coped with their new life situation (On Our Own: Widowhood for Smarties) and the other a memoir about her interfaith marriage and and the loss of … 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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On Writing Memoir: Obsessions Digressions and Epiphanies

Sandra Hurtes is the author of the essay collection, On My Way To Someplace Else and the chapbook RESCUE. Her essays and articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Poets & Writers, among other publications. You can find links to her work and a link to her new blog, Chasing the Present Moment. … Continue reading

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Our Third Place Winning Essay – Salvation by Pam Robinson

Pam Robinson is our third place winner in the Writing It Real winter, 2012 writing contest. Our guest judge, Shanti Bannwart, sent these words along about Pamela’s essay: The piece begins with a quote that provides almost a summary of the story that follows. And the almost is the trigger here, whetting the appetite of … Continue reading

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I Grew Up in That Place – First Place Winning Essay, Winter 2012 Contest

The contest results are in and we are proud to publish the first-place winning essay in our winter, 2012 contest. Guest judge Shanti Bannwart sent these words about Kate Allen’s “I Grew Up in That Place”:  The essay is a touching example of the mythological Hero’s Journey – or better the Heroine’s Journey: the challenge of encountering … Continue reading

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Talking Recklessly

 “Talking Recklessly” is excerpted by permission of the author, Kim Stafford, from his memoir 100 Tricks Any Boy Can Do: How My Brother Disappeared published 2012 by Trinity University Press, San Antonio, TX. When we were young, our father had a habit of abruptly increasing the voltage by announcing, “Let’s talk recklessly!” This meant any … Continue reading

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Interview with Poet and Memoirist Kim Stafford

Memoirs are high on my reading list. Memoirs that tell authors’ stories of grieving and healing are at the top. This week, I am posting an in-depth interview with writer Kim Stafford, whose brother committed suicide. As a writer, Kim sets out in his book 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do, A Memoir to explore … Continue reading

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A Holiday Letter

After a request from a Writing It Real member to write more on the topic of composing holiday letters, I decided first to write my holiday letter and see what lessons came. I started with the scene of a recent night’s wakefulness and let that scene lead me to associations concerning some of the events … Continue reading

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