Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers (Part 3).

As promised from my prior blog post, here is Part 3 which dives into my final day at the Midwest Writers Workshop. I wrote this post for readers who are curious about my journey and for fellow writers who would like a greater insight into the business of being an author. This is my experience and not heavily weighted in note taking.

My all-day intensive session with Jane Friedman was aimed at published authors and my best guess at how many authors came together to hear Jane teach was, oh, about forty authors.

Rather than a variety of break-out sessions in this workshop as before, this was bootcamp with Jane Friedman, an author and industry leader. I’ve been following Jane in her blog posts and social media sharing since the early days of writing early drafts to my memoir, now published. I had first met Jane in person when attending a writer’s conference, here in Cincinnati. For anyone who is aspiring to connect with their readers, I can’t recommend her enough.  

      For starters, she had us break up into small teams, each team to a table. Teams were based on genre or the category we write in. At my table, were three other creative nonfiction authors. Going around the room, we had teams in sci-fi, self-help, inspirational/religion, young adult, mystery, romance, children’s, and a few more.  With much of our work for the day being dependent on writers helping writers, teaming up with authors in our same genre worked well.   

SWOT ANALYSIS

In teams, we discussed the SWOT analysis. SWOT is the acronym for strengths – weaknesses – opportunities – and – threats. I was already somewhat familiar with this business tool, having learned it when in a work-related training at my job place, the public library.

Jane takes this acronym one letter further: SWOTF and no, I don’t think I can pronounce that acronym, although she did, somehow. In SWOTF, the F is for fears. It’s a framework for taking an inventory to identify and analyze the factors which can impact the viability of a project, product, place or person—or an author’s book and outreach to readers.

WEBSITE ANALYSIS

We discussed the importance of having a landing page for readers to discover us and our books. For me and many others, the landing page is our website. Jane asked for three volunteers to share their website. I was the first volunteer. On an overhead projector screen, we watched her go through my website, discussing the strengths in navigating it. From her analysis, I learned where and how I could either improve or change things up. Slowly but surely, you may notice some changes in my website and some, as subtle as they are may go unnoticed.

For one, I removed the huge (huge!) picture that my website template defaulted to when setting it up. This gets rid of clutter and moves you, the website visitor directly into what I want to share.

It was suggested I use a pop-up window for inviting people to subscribe. I might do that. As it is now, it is a bit obscure, found under my Contact and Media Page.

It was suggested that on the menu for my blog, I give a detailed blurb of what my blog is about and why I blog. I plan to do this—once I learn how the techy hands-on work to create that.

I updated my bio as found under the About tab.

OUTREACH and LISTENING

Jane shared the many ways we can engage with readers, from on-line to in person. And taking it further, we discussed how to share and what to share, especially when it comes to a world of strangers on the internet.

Regarding listening, our readers are who we care about. Before anyone read my book, I could describe it, but my words of kudos no longer hold their weight. Rather, it is what readers have to say about my book and their words are the most important tools I have for sharing with those who haven’t yet read my book as to what people think of it.

Going a step further, we discussed who comparable authors are. I kind of already knew this, from when I was looking for a publisher— that’s one of the things publishers want to know—who can we compare you to?  One of my comp authors is Brianna Karp, author of The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir. Jane took us through some online exercises, which in part had us look at what readers of comparable books are saying. This information can be helpful in broadening our outreach.

AND MORE

Jane also shared hidden gems with us, from helpful links to other resources. Again, watching on the overhead projector, we followed along as she took us through tools we can use to amp up our exposure as authors.

Learning from professionals in our chosen craft, whether our craft is writing or another art, is an excellent way to continue our education and improve our knowledge and skills. This means getting out of zone, which is often one of solitude or at best small with only a handful of other like-minded friends. It means showing up to a workshop, convention, conference, or the like and meeting new people.

Look forward to Part 4 of this five-part blog series, coming next weekend. In Part 4, I will share my experience in the logistics of getting into the rooms with others. Then, Part 5 will be a wrap-up.   

To get out of our zone and into the rooms with others is an invaluable way to build upon our strengths. Together, we can create a better community. Please share in the comments any suggestions or experience you have for joining others in a common goal and what this connection can or could mean to you. 

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers (Part 2).

We can build on our skilled craft and interests. It takes getting out of our zone, which can often be one of solitude, and into the rooms with others to join forces in a shared unity. Recently, I attended the annual Midwest Writers Workshop (July 22-24, 2019), held at the Ball State University Alumni Center in Muncie, Indiana. This is Part 2 of a five-part series as I share what it was like for me to go to this event.

Learning from professionals in our chosen craft, whether our craft is writing or another art, is an excellent way to continue our education and improve our knowledge and skills.   


I was reminded of the privilege of not only being a writer, but of being a very real part of a community who values writing and who also consider the art of writing to be as essential as living and breathing. Midwest Writers Workshop was a full three days with break-out sessions to choose from, led by an array of industry leaders and authors, all so giving in their time and expertise.

Chronicling Social History
Writing Creative Nonfiction with a Social Justice Lens
Michael McColly

I believe I’m not alone to say I was drawn into the sessions led by Michael McColly, author and journalist. He had a full house of about twenty people in his room for each session I attended. In conversational style, we discussed the seriousness in our role as creative nonfiction authors to educate our readers in the social construct of our communities, whether it is to bring awareness of current social injustices or whether it is to take people back in time to when things were different in order to explore how we got to where we are today in our societal norms.

By his own experience in writing, McColly explained in detail that our narrative reflections speak volumes to our readers, bringing issues out of our own cultural experiences to create a historical account. These issues are often ignored, overlooked, or are considered too controversial to bring to light. Yet, we have a story to tell and we must tell it, uncovering misinformation and unveiling immoral efforts.  

McColly succinctly states (quote) “….we can use our skills to inform, educate, inspire, and hold people in positions of power accountable for their failures to act.”

My own nonfiction writing often centers on what it’s like to be down on our luck and how we can help others and overall our communities. McColly has shown me that I am on the right path and that I mustn’t let go of my passion to encourage others to see a different way of living, whether through empathy or action or both. He and others have taught me skills in research, descriptive characterization when writing and so much more. I will go on to use these tools in my personal narrative essays.

Research:
The Truth That Makes Your Lies Believable
Matthew Clemens

This break-out session gave me insight for the development of the work I am doing to bring my second book alive. You see, Clemens is a fiction author with several mystery and crime books. He also works in collaboration with one other writer to bring the TV hit show, CSI to its success.

With animation to his energetic gait in facing the classroom, Clemens shared that for his fictional stories to ring true, even though they aren’t true, he first does research. He visits locations and cities in which places in his stories will resemble or accurately portray. He talks with people as he goes about his day-to-day activities. By experiencing people and places, he is then able to give credence to his narrative stories.

The book I plan to bring you next is a biography of my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (1904-1987). For those of you who read my memoir, Out of Chaos, you may recall she was an interwoven and integral person in my true story. Marie was a changemaker in a time when women were typically homemakers. Clemens has shown me I must dig deep into the events which shaped our society during the era in which she lived.

Additional Highlights

Switching gears from the depth found in McColly and Clemen’s sessions, Ashley Hope Perez presented the light-hearted Get Inspired: Find Time to Write and Be Happy. Under her guidance, our class explored how to overcome obstacles in our writing life. Obstacles fall into two categories, emotional and logistical, and can vary for each writer.

Aside from Michael McColly, Matthew Clemons, and Ashley Hope Perez, many other authors were among us to share their expertise. One was Dianne Drake, who gave a presentation which centered on her career with Harlequin Romance Books. Drake’s presentation closed out my second day of break-out sessions. Come evening hour, we all gathered in the assembly room for keynote speaker, John Gilstrap, award winning author of thriller novels.

On my schedule for the next day, my final day, was an intensive bootcamp with industry leader and author, Jane Friedman. In next week’s blog post, I will dig in and share about my time with her.

To get out of our zone and into the rooms with others is an invaluable way to build upon our strengths. Together, we can create a better community. Please share in the comments any suggestions or experience you have for joining others in a common goal and what this connection can or could mean to you. 

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Inspiration Abounds at a Writing Workshop: Getting out of our Zone and Into the Rooms with other Writers.

Together, we can build upon our skilled craft.

Do you sometimes find yourself all too comfortable in your zone, wondering if it’s worth it to do something different? I can assure you that yes; it is worth it and much more. Writing in solitude—or from my easy chair with my pet birds chirping and cheering me on—can and often seems to be the norm for me. However, it is well worth it for us to get out of the usual solitary routine by joining forces with others in a shared unity over our creative potential.

Recently, I attended the annual Midwest Writers Workshop (July 22-24, 2019), held at the Ball State University Alumni Center in Muncie, Indiana. After my return, I attended the next scheduled meeting with a local writers group I am in (“A Private Writing Circle”). In our meeting, I was encouraged to do a five-part blog series to explore and share my experience in this workshop.

Today is Part 1 of this series. Next weekend and then the following few weekends, I’ll post again, moving from Part 1 to Part 5. Here’s what to look forward to in the coming posts:

Part 2: Details from the workshop sessions (or “break-out sessions”) in which I gained valuable insight from Michael McColly, author and journalist, from Matthew Clemens (CSI TV crime show writer), from Ashley Hope Perez, young adult author, and from others.

Learning from professionals in our chosen craft, whether our craft is writing or another art, is an excellent way to continue our education and improve our knowledge and skills. 

Part 3: My bootcamp experience as taught by industry leader and author, Jane Friedman. This was an all-day intensive session for authors and couldn’t have been more enjoyable had it not been presented by Jane Friedman.

Part 4: The logistics of getting out of our zone or easy chair and into the rooms with others. This will include some basic how-to in registration, lodging, and more.

Part 5: An overall scope of the benefits in attending a workshop or a conference or seminar. If you go with an ear to listen, there will be speakers who seem to be talking directly to you. Some have overcome great obstacles to succeed.

We, too, can find the courage to succeed! 

Attending Midwest Writers Workshop

In essence, my attendance at this workshop reminded me of the privilege of not only being a writer, but of being a very real part of a community who values writing and who also consider the art of writing to be as essential as living and breathing. Of the themes I noticed which kept being voiced by attendees and presenters alike, is the need for diversity and to use our writing tools to make a real positive change in our communities and with the people who make up our home towns.

Throughout the event, I was ever meeting new people, and often exchanging contact information with new friends made. One such friend was excited to hear me reach out to her a few days out from the close of the event. I smiled when reading her reply email, “my first table buddy.” 

In the days following the workshop, I couldn’t help but notice a renewed spirit in me; an appreciation for this greater writing community. It is something that nurtures me as a person and helps foster the written work I create.

I look forward to sharing more with you. Look for Part 2 next weekend on this blog. For now, please share in the comments as to what it is like for you to get out of your norm. Also share any questions you may have that you’d like me to answer as I explore this five-part series.

If you like what I write, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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Keeping our Family Legacies Alive

Memorial Day:

  • A time of remembering and to honor loved ones
  • A day off from work
  • The time to be with family over a barbecue

The weather is usually warm, as it is right before the summer heat. Some families visit grave sites with flowers for their lost loved ones. This time and these moments invite our stories and make us think about preserving our family legacies, some who had died in war or in service while safeguarding America.

——————————–

FAST FACTS OF THE HISTORY OF MEMORIAL DAY :

The practice of a day of memorial started in ancient times, long before America.

Way back in 431 B.C., soldiers killed in the Peloponnesian War were honored with a public funeral and speech given by Greek statesman Pericles. It was likely the first communal ceremony of recognizing those who had given their life in war. Year after year, ancient Greeks and Romans hosted similar commemorations.

Early memorial celebrations in the United States….

One of the first “Memorial Day” celebrations in the United States was by newly freed slaves. On May 1, 1865, in Charleston, South Carolina, following the end of the Civil War, members of the U.S. Colored Troops and others honored the dead with flowers, prayers, and honorary moments of silence.

By the late 1860s, many Americans had begun hosting tributes to the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers and flags. States and organizations stepped up in action to pause and remember those gone. In 1886, the Ladies Memorial Association of Columbus, Georgia resolved to commemorate the fallen once a year. This day of memorial became commonly known as “Decoration Day.”  

The Poppy Flower

In the spring of 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker, Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to all who died in war. Her action was in response to bright red flowers (poppies) being planted in the ravaged lands of France, war-torn by The Great War (WWI). The poppy remains a symbol of remembrance to this day.

The day of memorial becomes Memorial Day.

Later, in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. At first, it was but a three-day weekend for federal employees to pause in their work and honor those who died in war. Three years later, in 1971, Memorial Day became a federal holiday for everyone in America.  

*Historical facts above, in part, were retrieved 5/27/2019 from History Channel, online.

MEMORIAL DAY:

As we gather with family and loved ones this Memorial Day, let’s regard our family legacies with sweet remembrance and a moment of honor, carrying their stories through our generations to come. If we don’t tell our story and the story of our ancestors–and our own story–who will?

—————————

My father, Robert Wells (1943-2015) served a two-year tour in the Navy during the Vietnam War. If only I could remember him, however I am honored he fought for America.

I remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie (1904-1987). My current writing project, a biography of Marie, involves research in archived newspapers which documented her achievements. Marie was an active participant in the American Legion Auxiliary. Her membership began in the 1940s and she served as Chapter President for her local community and later as District President for her greater area.

As the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, this auxiliary has many committees which voluntarily serve to help war veterans. One is the Red Poppy Committee. Only today, in preparing for this blog post, did I come to understand the correlation between my research discoveries of her and why poppies are a symbol for this national holiday.  

What is there for you to learn about your family legacies? For those who have read my debut book, Out of Chaos: A Memoir, you may remember my maternal great-grandmother, Marie, or Nana as I called her. When I was young, I struggled to live up to her standards, and am now, through my research coming to a better understanding of who Marie was.

There are many ways to keep your family memories alive, not limited to writing a biography as I am. I have a friend (his name is Andrew,) who, often writes a letter about his remembered loved ones, and passes it on to his many friends—I get his postmarked letters in my mailbox.

Please share in the comments how you can carry their stories forward to future generations.

RESOURCES:

American Legion Auxiliary at
https://www.legion.org/auxiliary

History Channel, online at https://www.history.com/news/8-things-you-may-not-know-about-memorial-day

Moina Michael, American Humanitarian at http://www.greatwar.co.uk/people/moina-belle-michael-biography.htm

Robert Wells, my father, U.S.N.R. 1969.
http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/

Marie, my maternal great-grandmother and Past President of American Legion Auxiliary, District 3. http://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/

Have a safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend. I hope you carry these above thoughts into your days following our holiday.  -Elle-

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Stamp Out Hunger.

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 11, please help to stamp out hunger.

What is the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive?

It is a food drive led by our post office mail carriers and supported by people like you and me. It happens once a year, on the second Saturday in May— Donations to ease hunger in the winter months, like near Thanksgiving and Christmas, tend to spike. Now, six months later, those donations have dwindled. Mail carriers pick up our donations from our homes when they deliver our mail. Next, they deliver our donations to community food pantries.

Stamp Out Hunger is the nation’s largest single-day food drive. This is its 27th year.

When is it again?

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 11. The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is held each year on the second Saturday in May. For me, this is easy to remember—my birthday is in mid-May—each year as I look forward to, or otherwise am aware my birthday is soon, I make the connection that so is this national food drive. For you, it may be easy to remember that it is at about the same time as Mother’s Day.

Who does it help?

It helps anyone in need, regardless of circumstance—the homeless, the working poor, persons who have recently suffered loss from losing their job, or perhaps a house fire or natural disaster, and women and children who have fled from domestic violence, among others.

How do I help stamp out hunger?


1. Gather non perishable food items.

While canned foods are a good option, another option, if not better, is dry goods. I like to think of our mail carriers who not only carry our mail but will be carrying these sacks of food. When it comes to gathering food, I didn’t make a special trip to the grocery story. Instead, I opened my cupboards and pulled out a few things, same as I would if someone came to my door in need. The box of pumpkin stuff, I bought on sale, thinking it would be tasty, yet you know what? I never bake, so add that in. I will be okay without a box of rice and so on. What can you be okay without to help someone out?

2. Bag it and put it by your mail box.

Put the food items in a bag and and set it out by your mailbox in time for the mail delivery tomorrow, Saturday. You may have received a postcard in your mail this past week that looks like this:

If so, tape it to the sack. If you don’t have this post card, mark your bag accordingly so the mail carrier doesn’t miss it.  

3. The mail carrier takes it from there.

Our donations are tax-deductible because all the food collected in this food drive is given directly to non-profit charity food agencies in the community where the food was collected. However, when itemizing your taxes, the proper credit goes to your community agency that will distribute the food—you can find out which agency this is from the website for National Association of Letter Carriers.

Why Help in this Food Drive?

It’s a community thing. Together we can make our community better. Together we can help those who need a helping hand. I help because I used to be on the receiving end—today I am on the giving end.

For me, this opportunity of giving causes me to think of the good works my maternal great-grandmother did in her community. For those who have read my memoir, you likely already know a little about her, as I struggled when a young woman to live up to her standards.

She (Marie) was quite active in her community, and in the 1940s and 1950s spear-headed an organization, Polly’s Pantry, to help those in need. She wrote a weekly column for many years, titled “Needs of the Needy” in Lebanon, Oregon, in which she encouraged community involvement to help the needy.  

In my current writing project, I am learning more about this remarkable woman, my maternal great-grandmother. Each day I dig in to archived newspaper articles and other resources that documented her community volunteer work. This research is not only expanding my understanding, but also lending credence to my next book, a biography of Marie.

She made a difference. We can make a difference—you and me, by joining in this food drive to stamp out hunger. Please share in the comments about your community involvement to help those in need.

Resources:

National Association of Letter Carriers  

https://www.nalc.org/community-service/food-drive

United States Post Office: About Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

https://about.usps.com/corporate-social-responsibility/nalc-food-drive.htm

About Marie (Conner) Schmidt, née Gosney (1904-1987)

Found on my Dedications Page at https://ellemottauthor.com/index.php/dedications/


Video courtesy of National Association of Letter Carriers.

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts.

-Elle-

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V-Day 2019: Speak Your Truth

FACT: One of every three women world-wide will be or has been a victim of physical or sexual violence (United Nations).

MYTH:  This is normal. (Common belief, worldwide).

ACTION:  It is time we get informed, get involved, stand up, and speak out. That is what we did last night – 18 of us and an audience of about 50 people with music and spoken monologues: *WWf(a)C V-DAY 2019: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH.

* WWf(a)C is the acronym for Women Writing for (a) Change.

Since 1998, each February, V-Day has been honored and recognized through innovative gatherings, films, and campaigns to educate and change social attitudes towards violence against women and girls.

I’m honored one of my blog followers showed up to the event, leaving with a greater awareness of this social concern through a heart-felt connection.



This event wasn’t free and some folks didn’t attend, expressing it was a steep ticket price. Yet, I say, this price is not as high as the price women and girls pay each day as victims. Proceeds from this event, both here in my Cincinnati area, and in other communities worldwide, fund programs, local to each community, that work to end this violence.

WHAT IS V-DAY?

V-Day, is a non-profit 501c3 corporation and as stated on their website, “V-Day is a global movement of grassroots activists dedicated to generating broader attention and funds to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery.”

In essence, V-Day is an artistic uprising meant to serve as a mechanism to move people to action.

This involvement has educated communities, raised social consciousness, and has changed laws to protect women and girls.

It reaches, inspires, and transforms people. It brings lasting social and cultural change.

VIOLENCE IS OUR CONCERN

Poverty, racism, environmental conditions, and war are often key factors in the ignorance or defiance concerning the safety for all people. Violence against women and girls occurs in the home by entrusted family members; it happens in the streets by strangers; it is created by acquaintances, and it is found in every economical class, from suburban family homes to inner city streets to homeless camps to the White House.   

RECAP OF WWf(a)C V-DAY 2019: SPEAK YOUR TRUTH (Cincinnati/Silverton)

I was especially touched by a message shared through a personal essay, in which it was emphasized we mustn’t remain silent when victimized, otherwise, the violence will be deemed socially normal. We must speak up and say, “No more.” That piece was shared by a woman who dedicated her story to her teen-age daughter.

Another moving piece was a song written and sung by Randy Weeks. It is found at the end of this post.

At my turn, I shared a memory from my childhood; a story which is found in Chapter 3 of my published memoir. Here is an excerpt from my monologue, “Alone in the Dark without my Candy.”

Ebony brown branches from the camellia bush lunged forward, overpowering my sidewalk stride. I put my arm up in reaction. It was too late. Heavy. Dark. A tall lanky guy; tall to my four-foot-one stature was on top of me. I was down. On the sidewalk, butt first. His head at my face. His head is covered with a knit black hat. I close my eyes at the sight of his eyes piercing through two holes in his hat. A hot stench of air reels from the mouth hole in his hat.
He grabs my arm with one hand and my clenched fist with his other hand. I’m holding tight on to my bag of candy. My fight to keep my pride isn’t strong enough to ward him off. With one yank, he has overpowered me. I yell, “Stop!”



STOP THE VIOLENCE

I believe this V-Day movement and the events in honor of it, such as the event I was a part of last night, is our call-to-action. What can you do?

  • Get informed
  • Get involved
  • Stand up
  • Speak up

Please share in the comments of what you can do or are doing to end this violence.  

FAST FACT:

The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.




RESOURCES:

V-Day: An organization with a global movement to end violence.

Women Writing For (a) Change. This was the venue for last night’s event and is the venue for many support writing circles. Link to WWf(a)C.

Blog Post, “Brave to Share, Brave to Change Things” – Feb. 17, 2018. Link to the post which shares last year’s event: WWf(a)C V-Day 2018 Hometown Monologues, Rise Resist Roar.

Music by Randy Weeks, below. Find him at weeks.org

Music by Randy Weeks


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-Elle-



         

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Creativity and Connection

Today’s post is about our creative potential, in that I share an experience without my author-hat to encourage you to let go and get creative. And then, donning my author-hat, I hope to meet you in person at soon-upcoming events.

Creativity and Connection

Google searching the meaning of creativity resulted in this: the act of turning imaginative ideas into reality. [And] Creativity is characterized by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions.

I believe that in each of us, we have this ability; an ability through our own creative hobbies to impress upon others the need for positive change in our communities, thereby encouraging others to act with us in making our world a better place for everyone. It’s a sense of connection; a sense of community.

The dictionary definition of hobby is: “A pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.” (Merriam-Webster).

The word hobby evokes an image of something you love to do, something you ache for and something you never seem to have quite enough time for. These creative hobbies could be most anything: singing, playing an instrument, sewing, knitting, woodworking, painting, drawing, or as in my case, writing.

When expressing creativity through hobbies, does this allow for more freedom, and a sense of free-flow relaxation and fun? –While the rest of us—those of us who perform music for money or audiences, or those of us who have published works—are we tied to commitment or promises? If there is a divide, there needn’t be. Rather, a goal could be to mesh our different venues and reasons for creativity.

Without My “Author-Hat”

Recently, I let go of my “author hat” and reveled in the freedom, relaxation, and fun of simple pure creation. It was with a professional singer who also took off her artist hat. In an online hang-out, several of us spent the evening in collaboration to write a song.

To start our jam/music/writing session, we “went around the room” sharing a few words of how we felt or what we were experiencing in our personal lives. This led to a list of words which got us started and led us to decide what the song would be about.

Meanwhile, our singer-friend strummed her guitar while we created the verses, lyrics, chords and melody. Sharing in part, below is from our created verses and lyrics which may give you an idea of the message we expressed through our creativity:

Music by Shelley Segal.

Stand straight,
Sit still,
Mouth shut,
Do my will,
So many voices say they know what’s best for me
Pressures reeling,
Watch me break through this ceiling
I am who I am,
I only have this time,
I have to make it mine,
And I don’t need your plans, Because I am who I am….

With My “Author-Hat”

My “author hat” will be going back on soon, as I look forward to two soon-upcoming commitments: Tongue & Groove Cincinnati, a Literary Salon and V-Day Hometown Monologues.

Tongue & Groove Cincinnati, a Literary Salon
Sunday, January 27, 2019
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. is arrival time and light snacks
6:00 – 8:00 p.m. is music and readings.
At the Clifton House B&B, 500 Terrace Avenue in Cincinnati, Ohio
Limited Seating. Cost: $20 at the door.
Reserve your seat by email: tconner425@gmail.com

I’m open to ideas as to what excerpt from my memoir to read. If you plan to go and have a special request, let me know this week, and I will consider it. Also, I will have books for sale, cash price of $15.00 each.

-and-

V-Day Hometown Monologues
Saturday, February 9, 2019 at 7:00 p.m.
Women Writing for (a) Change
In Silverton at 6906 Plainfield Road, Cincinnati, Ohio

Advance tickets required, available online, in person, and by mail. Proceeds will benefit victims of domestic abuse. V-Day is a global movement to end violence against women.
Event tickets available from Women Writing for (a) Change.

I won’t have any books for sale at this event, but if you bring your book, I will be happy to sign it. My monologue for this show comes from Chapter 3 in my memoir, Out of Chaos. Slightly reworded, it’s titled, “Alone in the Dark without my Candy.”

Events tab is where you will find event details as available. To keep tabs on me, be sure to pop in from time to time to see any updates. I hope to visit with you.

Resources and credits for this post

Music by Shelley Segal, found on Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/ShelleySegal
V-Day: A global organization dedicated through activism to end violence. https://www.vday.org/homepage.html
Out of Chaos: A Memoir: Read more about my debut book (link here).

Please share about your creativity; I’d like to know more– your comments could inspire others.

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts, at a few times monthly.

-Elle-

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From 2018 to 2019: Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.

Happy New Year to my reading community. My journey through this past year has been one of hard work, and when daunting, you lifted me up with your encouragement.
Reading my newsletters, sharing in my journey through commenting on blog posts, and meeting up with me in person has been invaluable. At the end of this post, you’ll find a video highlighting this past year with you. And, please know that while I keep you in the know of new blog posts during 2019, my monthly newsletters are so-last-year.

The last month of 2018 was engaging. I attended a vigil in honor of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day. Drawn from personal experience, the homelessness plight is one I care passionately about and share about through my creative writing. On the weekend before Christmas, I participated in an author event. On Christmas Day, I shared my time with women at a shelter.

Recent Author Appearance

A Holiday Soiree took place at The Westin, Cincinnati on Saturday, December 22. It was a meet and greet event with local authors sharing their books.
At any time, you can see where I will be next by visiting my Author Appearances and Events Page, found under the tab, Media and Contact.

Recent Blog Posts

Christmas in the Community
Like me, many women at [The Esther Marie Hatton Center and Shelterhouse for Women] are also without the traditional family holiday gathering. This shelter is their refuge. It is a place with resources to regain strength, purpose, empowerment, and stability.
Christmas has passed but the needs of these women and others remain.


Homeless People are Dying Every Day: A Candlelight Vigil and an Excerpt from my Memoir.
Cities across America observe the annual National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on the day which has the shortest daylight hours. This year it was Friday, December 22. It is in memory of those who have died as a consequence of homelessness.

Many people in our communities are in need, whether struggling through homelessness or another difficulty. I hope you find my ideas and resources helpful as I blog about my journey to make our communities safe and inviting for everyone. Each of us may be limited in what we can do, but coming together in these opportunities, we, as a community make a difference.

From 2018 into 2019

As Year 2019 approaches, I looked back in our sharing through this blog. In January 2018, I was working diligently with my publishing house and shared with you my work-in-progress. Revisions on my end and editing on their end where taking off.

Excerpt from Persistence — Power — Positive Attitude…. (New Year’s WIP Update), posted January 13, 2018.

My publisher brought forth a few questions, “Why?” or “Didn’t this happen because of this?” There, I need to clue the reader in. This can be challenging. As a true story, the “whys and “why nots” can seem illogical. My homework is to show how chaos evolved into a new way of thinking or a new set of actions.

end of excerpt

I persisted to get my memoir ready for your hands.
Out of Chaos: A Memoir published in August 2018. This milestone has been momentous for me and I hope a life changer for others, too. Life is good today. Thank you for 2018. Together, we can make 2019 momentous and good.

https://youtu.be/Z54tFccRavI

Video from me to you: Sharing 2018 by Elle Mott. https://youtu.be/Z54tFccRavI

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts, at a few times monthly.

-Elle-

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Christmas in the Community

When a child, I marveled at the lights and ornaments on the grand Christmas tree in the family living room. Fresh pine needles emitted sweetness; wrapped gifts overflowed from under its lower branches. What more could Santa bring? All that remain from my childhood are memories. For those who have read or are reading my memoir, “Out of Chaos,” you might remember that I have no childhood pictures.

This season, on Christmas morning, as friends gathered with their families, I stayed home; just me and my pet birds.

Christmas afternoon then dawned as I stepped outside onto my house’s front porch. Morning frost had since melted, but a chill remained. I pulled my hat over my ears and made my way to my garage. Then I drove to the The Esther Marie Hatton Center and Shelterhouse for Women, where I met up with friends in the shelter’s kitchen.

Their dinner hour is shared with community members who prepare and serve a warm meal for them, cafeteria style in a large dining room. Christmas dinner was no exception. And I’m happy my friends and I could be with them this Christmas.

Like me, many women at this shelter are also without the traditional family holiday gathering. This shelter is their refuge. It is a place with resources to regain strength, purpose, empowerment, and stability.

They lined up at our kitchen counter, accepting a full dinner plate from us. Their faces and kind remarks showed me their gratitude and their hope for better times in the new year. A tall Christmas tree stood at the far end of the room, decorated and lit. Rather than gifts hugging the tree’s lower branches, it was women hugging each other, in friendship and merriment. Although life is tough for these women, the exchange of a caring spirit brightens the season.

Christmas has passed but the needs of these women and others remain.

I hope you will consider sharing your hope and strength with others whenever and wherever you can. Aside from the below mentioned resources, consider calling the shelters in your area to ask how best to be of service. Nationwide, there are no less than 5000 shelters. We have a lot of homeless people in America. Too many!

A great resource for discovering where in your community could use a helping hand is the website for Homeless Shelter Directory. From its front page, click on the map, picking out your state. From there, it links to a page which lists not only places in need, but also the contact details.

Resources:

Homeless Shelter Directory, a nation-wide resource.
https://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/

The Esther Marie Hatton Center and Shelterhouse for Women, Cincinnati.
http://www.shelterhousecincy.org/

Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.
https://cincihomeless.org/

Please share in the comments of your thoughts on the theme of bringing community and holidays together.

If you like what I post, please subscribe to get notified of new blog posts, at a few times monthly.

-Elle-

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Homeless People are Dying Every Day: A Candlelight Vigil and an Excerpt from my Memoir.

Cities across America observe the annual National Homeless Persons Memorial Day on the day which has the shortest daylight hours. This year it was Friday, December 22. It is in memory of those who have died as a consequence of homelessness.

Led by The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless, we met at Washington Park in Cincinnati on this evening for a candlelight vigil and remembrance, naming each person lost. No less than 109 Cincinnatians experiencing homelessness died during 2018.

Over 3 million people are without shelter each night, here in America. These statistics –numbers behind real people— are alarming. It is also unnecessary. For comparison sake, that is a close approximation to how many people live in Los Angeles. Picture that many people homeless!

Lack of affordable housing is one obstacle which pushes people to live on the streets. In Cincinnati, nearly 10,000 people lack a stable, permanent residence. These are individuals and families with children. These are hard-working adults who either go to work each day, yet don’t earn more than minimum wage, keeping them from affording housing. These are also hard-working adults who can work yet are currently unemployed; without money to afford housing.  

Here in Cincinnati, advocates are joining forces through grassroots efforts, lobbying, and educating the public, all with the ultimate goal to eradicate homelessness. Housing should be available and affordable to everyone.

Cincinnati is not alone in these problems and efforts to make a viable change. A YouTube channel, Invisible People, has an ongoing vlog which shows the personal stories of people all across America; people who either go to work or who are looking for work and who do not have a place to call home. They are living out of their cars, in tents on the streets, or in shelters one night at a time when available.

In my job at the public library in downtown Cincinnati, it seems at times that we are overrun with homeless persons who hang out in our lobbies. Often, I catch myself wondering why they don’t use our library’s resources to pull themselves up. Then, I stop myself from judging. Some are not only homeless but also mentally ill or suffering from substance abuse and addiction.

Residential treatment centers for those caught up in the unending cycle of homelessness and substance abuse are limited in their availability. And many treatment places are a for-profit business, with an expense which can bar people from seeking help. Those who are both homeless and mentally ill can easily be unaware of their risks on the streets. They too could be helped; even if moved into an assisted care home facility.

And I see that a few people do use our library computers and help from the tech center. Librarians make themselves available to help people learn how to use email, how to write a resume, how to complete an online job application, and so much more. With the influx of people experiencing homelessness who turn to our library for shelter during the daytime, it is my daily reminder of why I am grateful today and that it is up to me to build upon my life.


An excerpt from Chapter 22 of my memoir, “Out of Chaos”….

I moved into a boarding house in downtown [Klamath Falls] at a flat rate of $350 a month, with no move-in deposits and that month prorated. For a little more than one hundred dollars, I was in my seven-by-ten room to figure out my next move. It came furnished with a twin bed, the headboard at one wall and the foot of the bed butted up to my jimmy-rigged pantry shelf. The shared bathroom was right next door to me, so the toilet wasn’t far, but the shower-head sucked so I bathed in another floor’s bathroom.

The location was perfect. I could walk to the State Career Cen­ter or the public library in under ten minutes. A laundromat and my morning AA meeting were a little farther away, but doable. Fred Meyer’s was the nearest grocery store, which wasn’t so close. I became a regu­lar at the library where I checked out DVDs [for my seven-inch portable DVD player] so I could take a break from my Lost reruns.

Express [temporary employment services] finally called me one afternoon at 2:00. “Can you be on assignment at five?”

It was for two nights, dinner shifts, washing dishes at the hospital.

Mid-shift on the second night, the kitchen supervisor asked me to join him in his office. Even his office seemed bigger than my apartment. He grabbed a dish towel and wiped away a bead of sweat from his forehead where dreadlocks fell forward. His dark brown eyes captured my attention. He said, “Thank you for coming in on such short notice. Our regular guy is out sick, and we can’t go with­out a dishwasher.”

I said, “You’re welcome. I’m glad Express called me to help you.”

He tossed the dish cloth in a dirty rags bin. “Most people could care less about washing dishes.”

“It feels good to work,” I said.

“I see that,” he said as he sat down on his desk. “You’re handling those pots and pans without any complaining.”

“I’ve been looking everywhere for work. I’ve got a college de­gree, but I can’t even get a fast food place to hire me,” I said.

“Yeah, in this town, sometimes it’s a matter of knowing the right person. If you didn’t go to school here or aren’t in someone’s hood, then people don’t know you,” he said.

“Working tonight is a nice change from looking for work,” I said.

“Check in at our personnel office. I haven’t heard of any open­ings at all, but if there is something, they’ve got my word that you’re a good worker.”

“Thank you. I was in here last week, and a month ago. You all have a hiring freeze.”

He grabbed a binder and a pen and got up off his desk. As he walked me out of his office, he added, “Yeah, that’s the recession for you. Keep up the good work. I’ve got a meeting to catch.”

–end of excerpt–



Although it felt good to work those two nights, I still didn’t have a real job and no earthly idea how I was to come up with $350 for the following month’s rent. I was at risk for becoming homeless again.

For us as a community to connect with people who are at risk for, or are experiencing homelessness, our awareness of this issue and our preventive action will help in the fight to eradicate homelessness.

A few ways to make a difference:

*Contact nonprofit organizations in the community which raise awareness of homelessness. Many have events and fundraisers.

*Volunteer where you can, from soup kitchens to shelters.

*Donate. Community organizations which help the homeless most often accept monetary gifts, food, clothing, and hygiene items.

Being homeless is not only an uncomfortable situation, it is also risky. Many people die from lack of shelter. Here is a video recap of the candlelight vigil in observance of National Homeless Persons Memorial Day, 2018.

It was not the first year that my friend, Tommy and I participated. For those of you who have my book, “Out of Chaos: A Memoir,” this is the same Tommy from page 476; my acknowledgements.

Link here for my blog post, Homeless People are Dying Every Day — Remembering Them and Advocating for Change. (December 27, 2017).

Statistics from above were retrieved from https://cincihomeless.org/about/education/fact-sheet/

Resources:
Invisible People: a vlog documenting the lives of homeless persons across America.
Affordable Housing Advocates (Cincinnati)
The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless

Please share in the comments how you will make a difference today. Together we can strive to eradicate homelessness.

If you like what I post, please join my reading community by subscribing to get blog post updates. Link here.

-Elle-


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