Writing Workshop Wednesdays (3)

Okay, lately I have become absolutely addicted to Craigslist Free Stuff.  Not because I need a dirty mop (yes, I have seen this posted) or am looking for any item in particular (but if I did need a piano or bulky television, I would know where to look), but because some of the items and explanations which go along with them fascinate me.  It makes me wonder what the backstory is behind the item put up for grabs or the sometimes elaborate explanation which accompanies it.

So, for this week’s Writing Workshop Wednesdays, I am posting a picture of an actual FREE item from Craigslist.


PROMPT:  Explain this couch’s backstory.  Who bought this couch, and why?  What memories involve this couch?  A first kiss?  Deep discussions?  What can you infer from the fabric, style, and wear?  Why is the couch being abandoned now?


Sunday Thanks: July 27, 2014

Even with all of life’s ups and downs, I like to take time out each week and reflect on what all I have to be thankful for . . .

VBS Double-Fisting . . . the girls participating in a morning and evening VBS and finding evidence of their learning around the house . . .


Picnicking in the park on a beautiful day.


A heart-to-heart with my pastor . . .

An annual adventure with my squirts. . .

A positive medical report . . .

Much laughter with my buddy at a failed technical attempt . . .

Happy tears at the thought of my family’s summer . . .

My youngest daughter’s excitement over her new haircut . . .



A surprise squeeze from a former volleyball camper . . .

oliviaThe anticipation of a family adventure . . .

For what are YOU thankful?  Share in the comments section.

Donna A. Leahey*

Why do you write? That’s kind of like asking “Why do you breathe?” I just do. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling myself stories. As far back as I can remember, I would tell myself a bedtime story while falling asleep. I still do it, though now it’s often more deliberate, working out a plotting problem or the like… I just have to hope I remember the solution when I wake up! I started writing them down for fun, but then when I realized that people were enjoying my writing, I decided to get more serious about it.

Describe where you write. I have a desktop computer, but unfortunately, it’s not in an ideal location. I don’t have privacy, and I don’t have control over the environment. I can be in the middle of the most perfect scene, and suddenly there’s noise and the mood is ruined. I find I do my best work in a coffee shop. There’s just the right level of background noise, and I’m not tempted to get up and do something else. Plus, coffee shops have given me some of my most popular Facebook or even blog posts when I start people watching.

Who or what is your muse? At the risk of sounding pretentious, the world is my muse. I’m constantly drafting entire stories based off something I saw as I was out driving. A weird mausoleum, a young woman walking on the side of the road, a unusual building…. and my brain is off and running with all the “what if’s” Sometimes those proto-stories make it to the story stage and sometimes they’re forgotten, but I find something out there that gets my creativity going every day.

Three wishes . . . 1. I wish sanity for the world. There’s so much crazy out there right now. I want everyone to take a big step back, get a big, cleansing breath, and realize that we’re all people. We all just want to live. So, yeah, I guess I just wished for world peace. 2. I wish for my son to have a healthy and happy life. 3. I still want to be able to fly!

Favorite childhood book, and why? I recently reread Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonrider trilogy. That’s some fantastic writing there. I always find myself wanting to write stories about telepathic dragons after I read that! I read and reread that and her Harper Hall stories. As a kid, the Harper Hall books spoke to me. Plus, she’s the first female writer I remember reading.

Explain when is your ideal time to write. Anytime. Day, night, morning…. I have chronic insomnia, and some of my best writing happens at 3 am when I should be sleeping!

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why. Stephen King’s The Stand. There’s a lot of reasons. The first is that it’s fantastic. But one of the most interesting things about The Stand is the story behind it. When he first wrote it, he wasn’t all that big and they made him cut 150,000 words from it. They made him CUT more words than is in a normal novel! I read that novel so many times that when he released the uncut version – with the 150,000 words added back in – that I could immediately tell when I got to the stuff he’d added back in. And it’s educational. Some of it shouldn’t have been cut – it was important to the story. Some of it was unnecessary, but interesting. And some … he should have left out. It didn’t help the story and it wasn’t interesting to read. Reading the uncut version of The Stand is like reading a practical demonstration on self-editing!

E-book or print? Why? I miss print books, but I still buy them as ebooks, and that’s mostly just because it’s easier to carry them around. Boy, do I wish ebooks had been around when I was still a student. I always had a novel with me, and it took up weight and room in my backback. So, I buy ebooks just because they’re easier to carry around, but I miss the feel and the smell of books.

Favorite magazine, and why? I’ve never been that into magazines. National Geographic for the amazing pics.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing? Women are people too! Women can be the main character in things besides romance. Women can be tough and strong and smart. Women can be realistically portrayed and still be interesting.


*I used Leahey’s short story, “The Wisteria,” taken from the collection Growing Concerns, in my English 111 class, and my students gave it glowing reviews.

Boobs, Bobby, Books, Burgers, and Brownie Bites

Looking for a St. Louis outing with the kiddos?  Well, how about one free of charge?

After a yearly check with the breast cancer surgeon at Siteman Cancer Center, the girls and I decided to partake in what has become our annual visit to the World Chess Hall of Fame in the Central West End.  Did I mention FREE?

The current exhibitions are Cage and Kaino:  Music and Performance, Strategy by Design: Games by Michael Graves, and A Memorable Life:  A Glimpse into the Complex Mind of Bobby Fischer. We explored the three levels of exhibits and composed music by moving chess pieces as well as challenged each other to various board games set out to sample.

Our final stop at the World Chess Hall of Fame was none other than Q Boutique where we discovered a new book for our collection, Goodnight St. Louis.


After an outdoor game of giant chess, we decided to give Lester’s a try, and we were glad we did.  Ordering from the kiddo’s menu, each of my squirts ordered the Twin Mini Burgers (one order with cheese and one without) while I decided to go Meatless Friday with the Pesto, Feta, Mushroom, Eggplant, Artichoke Flatbread.  Yummers!


To maintain tradition, a short walk to froYo where the girls piled on the toppings (including brownie bites) concluded our latest exploration of the Central West End.

Rebecca Stevenson

Why do you write? I’ve always had stories coursing through my veins, so one day I just decided to start writing them down, and I found pleasure in doing that. Then when people started reading and enjoying them, I found out what real happiness is.

Describe where you write. When I’m at home, I write in a chair in the corner of my bedroom. Many times I can’t concentrate (read: get in my writing zone) at home so I go to a bookstore coffee shop or library. I like to be surrounded by books.

Who or what is your muse? I guess I’d call my potential readers my muse.

Three wishes . . . 1. I wish I had more time to write 2. I wish more people knew about my debut novel 3. I wish people were kinder and happier.

Favorite childhood book, and why? Black Beauty…because I loved horses…and although there was sadness in it, it had a happy ending.

Explain when is your ideal time to write. Early afternoon and late at night

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger…because of the beauty of the prose. I love the way he uses language to paint pictures…the way he makes verbs out of words that aren’t usually verbs.

E-book or print? Why? Print…I just haven’t converted…yet. I like the feel of pages turning. I like using bookmarks. I like bookstores.

Favorite magazine, and why? Victoria…because the writing is as beautiful as the photographs
What would you like readers to take away from your writing? Pure enjoyment. I want them to get caught up in another world. To get to know the characters. To care about the characters.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing? Pure enjoyment. I want them to get caught up in another world. To get to know the characters. To care about the characters.




Welcome to My New Pad



Howdy!  Welcome to my new pad.  I have relocated from AuthorGroupie.blogspot.com.

Join me as we discuss books, writing, teaching, and life in general.  Do not miss Writing Workshop Wednesdays where we will gather for a weekly prompt and Link Partay                or  Sunday Thanks where our focus will be on what we are thankful for in the past week.

Know of someone in need of ANONYMOUS encouragement, praise, prayers, congratulations, make a Card Shower Request.

If you are a published author or aspiring author, take some time for my online interview at Ten Questions.

I am looking forward to meeting you and reading your writing.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Author Groupie



Five Minute Friday: Finish

Finish . . .  Reading Lisa-Jo Baker’s response to Finish makes me think of my own “passing the torch,” so to speak, on a not grand scale at all.

In October of 2011 I went on a women’s retreat with an amazing group of women blessings from Troy United Methodist Church.  Prior to this weekend, I had my first mammogram at the age of 40 which called for an ultrasound and then a breast excision.  So, my upcoming surgery was definitely on my mind.

The women’s group leading workshops at the retreat published Between the Lines.  Inspired and refreshed from the weekend, I read through the magazine and decided I wanted to have a similar publication for the women at my church.  Also, I thought the creation of Ruby Magazine would make for a welcoming distraction for what turned out to be a diagnosis of breast cancer.



The magazine/blog ended up having an amazing three-year run with women blessing interviews, personal essays, recipes, and prayers, but I felt it needed to come to a finish this summer as the contributions dwindled.  It was time to finish.

When I put out a request for someone to take over, woman blessing Steph went above and beyond by creating The Gentle Yoke, an open faith forum and digital magazine.  Now, I have the pleasure of reading her posts and responding to them.  So, my finish was really just a blessed beginning.

Mark Teague’s Pigsty Book Club

Does your squirt’s room look like this?  Is she a huge fan of pigs?  Then, the book to read is Mark Teague’s Pigsty.

Beautiful illustrations painted in acrylic bring the antagonists, the pigs, to life.  Not to mention, the message of this picture book just might encourage your kiddo to clean his/her room.

Once the “pigsty” has been remedied (we are still not there yet . . . not even close), celebrate with a game of Monopoly and a big bowl of Bob’s Potato Chips.

Writing Workshop Wednesdays (2)

I have used this prompt or a similar one with my English 111 class and then discuss whether, after rereading our writing, one would be able to visualize this ideal mate he/she has described.  Would one be able to actually paint a picture or create a video from the information shared?  Did the author exemplify, explain, and elaborate? 

PROMPT:  Describe (PG-13 style) your ideal mate.

My ideal mate is, most importantly, kind and gentle and did not hesitate years ago when asked to carry my terminally ill father to his bed (for which I will forever be grateful) or to empty my drain tubes after my double mastectomy.  When our daughters ask him to play Little People, dress up, or play kitchen, he immediately agrees and follows them to the playroom.  When my friends or I have computer problems, he remedies the situation with patience and much humor in the form of feigned frustration, “I am tired of being the I.T. guy,” or false bravado, “Your friends want me.” 

Perfectly placed punctuation and proper grammar in his writing makes me swoon and anxiously await that next post-it note hidden on my steering wheel expressing his love or grocery store requests.

His lips are plump and perfectly commingle with mine when we kiss while his shadowy overgrowth lightly scratches my cheek.  When he smiles, I look for his faint dimples every time.  

With careful attention, he snags that chin hair I am unable to conquer after many failed attempts and assures me if ever in a nursing home, he will come and tweeze me when I am no longer able.

His muscular arms envelop me and pull me to him when tears fall from my eyes, and he is able to wipe the hurt away and replace it with his whole heart. . . my ideal mate.