Tag Archives: creative writing

Do You Have a Story to Tell? Join us on September 21 for a Flash Essay Workshop!

writingDo you have a funny story you’ve been itching to put down on paper? What about a poignant memory of a first love? The history of a cherished family recipe that you’d like to share? Or did your dog do something that simply cracked you up?

Of course you have a story! Every human being is simply brimming with fascinating true-life tales, and yours is probably even better than the ones I just described. From “Tiny Love Stories” in The New York Times to the food essays in Saveur magazine to family memories in Carolina Country, there are more markets than ever that would love to publish your stories. And many of them will happily pay you for them. Or you could win a big prize!

From my writing experience, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have published essays in places such as Romantic Homes, The Raleigh News and Observer and most recently, in Women on Writing and Mental Papercuts, I’ve learned that there’s a trick to taking an anecdote and turning it into a marketable short-form (or flash) essay. It’s not enough to simply relate your story as it happened. Readers long for what’s known as a “takeaway” – a little nugget of wisdom or insight that they can apply to their own lives. And it’s not hard to mine your stories for this tiny gem; chances are, it’s been there all along!

If you’d like to learn more about how you can turn your life experiences into memorable and compelling flash essays, I hope you’ll join us at Central Carolina Community College on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. We’ll read some of the best flash essays being published today, draft some of our own, and explore the various markets for publication.  Click here to register online or call 1-800-682-8353 (or 919-545-8044) to register over the phone.

As we always do when we gather at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro, home of state’s only community college-centered Creative Writing Program, we’ll have a boatload of fun doing it.

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Creative Writing Events Near You!

Are you wriwritingting short stories? How about creative nonfiction or true-life essays? And let’s not forget about the third leg of this literary stool — poetry! Are you ready to submit your work?

No matter what you’re writing, revising or preparing to submit, you’re bound to find a local special event that may help you in your creative endeavors, from readings to classes, talks, and more! And some events are free! By attending, you’ll also meet other like-minded writers who can help you in your journey. Writing is by nature a solitary act, but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.

As a special note, in addition to teaching a class at Central Carolina Community College this fall, I’m also honored to be presenting two workshops at Charlotte Center for Literary Arts, Inc. later this fall and in January. I look forward to working with and meeting writers in the Charlotte metro area.

Hope to see you at one of these events. In the meantime, keep writing and delighting!

Click here to view the latest list of Upcoming Events.

Bring back the hand mixer….and the thank you!

mixerI recently inherited a host of kitchen gadgets from my beloved Grandma Wilma. They seemed like virtual antiques–a box grater, handheld lemon juicer, and, of all things, her First National Bank apron! But what surprises me is how often I end up using these “old” things and how practical they seem now.

Like my hand mixer. I love my pricey stand mixer with the planetary action as much as anybody, and I count myself very fortunate to have it. But when I need to mix up just a simple batch of mashed potatoes, I’m much more likely to use this old standby. It’s so convenient and far more lightweight.

A meditation on kitchen gadgets led to me muse on the other things that we should bring back. Next on my list: the common courtesy of a ‘thank you.’

Earlier today I retweeted a killer essay, Dating After Divorce, Which One Would You Choose? (Rebellious Magazine) by good friend Joy Wright. Although I didn’t expect it, she immediately thanked me, and I was touched. You see, and I know I’m not alone, but I’ve done much more for other people and received far less. Not even an acknowledgment. Seriously.

Yeah, yeah, I know people are busy, busy, busy. I’ve pledged that excuse myself. And I’m sure that I’m past due on a few sincere thank yous myself. Guilty! So whaddya say? Could we bring back the simple thank you? Maybe even a handwritten note sent by mail (perish the thought!).

The time has never been better. Study after study shows that in spite of the many connections we make on social media, and the whirl of activities in our lives, people in modern society are lonelier than ever.

So let’s bring back not just the hand mixer, but the thank you note, phone calls, and the act of leaving actual messages and returning them! Maybe even the potluck and the sock hop. Okay, maybe not the sock hop. (I’m showing my age, and even I’m not ready for another dose of that awkward adolescence.)

Lest I forget, I do THANK YOU for reading this.

Gratefully yours,
Ashley

 

A Day of Poetry at Weymouth

Ashley-podiumBefore the deluge today, we enjoyed a wonderful day of poetry at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in lovely Southern Pines. The N.C. Poetry Society held its annual awards day, and I was honored to join both old and new friends to read “Eulogy of a Northern Red Oak,” a finalist for the Poet Laureate Award.

“Eulogy” will be one of the poems in my forthcoming collection to be published by the kind and generous Finishing Line Press in Georgetown, Kentucky. After much deliberation, and a conferral with reviewers and friends, my chapbook of 30 poems is now titled “Waiting for the Wood Thrush.” This title makes the most sense, given the book’s strong focus on nature as well as love.

In addition to hearing my fellow poets read, another highlight of the day was the dedication of Pinesong to my friend and celebrated author Ruth Moose. She was regaled for her unwavering support of the poetry community, her love of stories, and, of all things, the exclamation mark! Here’s extra just for Ruth!!!!!

The exclamation mark is both joy and urgency, delight and a bit of fright, a paradox unto itself.  It underscores the words of W.H. Auden, recently shared by a friend. The revered poet’s definition of poetry? “The clear expression of mixed feelings.”

 

What makes a successful writer?

flowers.jpgIn this particular order….

1- Love of language

2 – Internal burning desire to write, write, write….no matter what’s going on in their lives

3 – Abiding curiosity (obsession!) for the human experience

4 – Significant body of work to draw from so there’s always something in circulation — plenty of pieces to submit and re-submit when the times are tough.

What do you think? Am I missing something? It’s entirely possible!