Category Archives: Creative Essays

Journal Write to Discover What You Know (plus a BIG Giveaway!)

Today, please welcome back, Mari McCarthy, as she talks about how to discover what we really know and spinning this into our writing. BUT, the BIG NEWS is…today, one lucky commenter will have their choice of THREE COOL PRIZES:

Giveaway: Winner’s Choice (either an eBook copy of Dark Chocolate for the Journaler’s Soul, a spiral-bound copy of Mari’s Most Musefull Journaling Tips, or a Dark Chocolate T-Shirt)

RULES: You must leave a comment or question after today’s post before midnight tonight! I will use Random.,org to select the winner, and the winner will then select their prize!

Option #1: ebook

Journal Write to Discover What You Know


“Write about what you know.” If you’re into writing, you’ve heard this a zillion times, and you believe it makes sense. After all, if you’ve always been rich, protected, and pampered, you’re probably not a good candidate to write about growing up in the ghetto. If you’re a cowboy, you probably don’t know much about high society manners. Sure, you can understand why it’s important to write about what you know.


So what exactly is that? What do you know well enough to write about it? Seems like such a simple question, but when you seriously examine it things get complicated, quickly.


For some (even me, many days) it’s challenging to come up with anything at all that you truly know. Other days, you may mistake raw experience for knowing, thinking that since you endured something, you then know it.


You might know what it is to lose a job, for instance, or to become a mother, but what do you know about those things that you would write about?  There’s knowing that is simple cognizance, and then there’s knowing that is worth sharing.


Here’s a key point: You Do Know Something Worth Sharing. Don’t ever believe you don’t. You may, however, find the search for that Something to be interminable. Hang in there. You will find it. Your whole life may be about the search. That’s okay; there are few more noble endeavors.


Want a shortcut to finding out more about your unique knowing? There actually is a way to speed up the progress of your expanding awareness. It’s called journaling.

Option #2 spiral book Museful TIps


When you keep a journal, you take the pause that refreshes, you slow down enough to contemplate, you give yourself a chance to put the pieces together and create something new. The result? Appreciation, inspiration, and a much better idea of “what you know.”


Establish and wholeheartedly commit to a practice of writing regularly. Journal for self-discovery, which means

  • Hand write in your notebook. A keyboard doesn’t yield the same direct self-perception that hand writing does.
  • Do a lot of stream-of-consciousness writing.
  • Be extra stern with your inner critic: this is one place that tyrant doesn’t belong.
  • Be faithful to the process and to yourself; be willing to grow; be willing to be surprised.
  • Ask your journal questions: Where am I going? Who am I? What do I want? What do I know? What don’t I know?


If all the introspection makes you dizzy, use a journaling prompt now and then and enjoy the revelations that kind of writing affords. Following an impartial lead can often lead to personal treasures, just as direct soul searching does. Keep your practice fresh and on its toes by mixing these two approaches.


Option #3 T-shirt


Mari L. McCarthy, journaling therapy specialist and author, owns Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling. The site includes hundreds of journaling prompts, personal journaling stories, interviews, a blog, and many other resources. Mari has published nine books to date. For more on ways that journaling brings self-knowledge, see Who Are You? How to Use Journaling Therapy to Know and Grow Your Life.


Don’t forget to Leave your comment!!


Filed under Believe, books, Creative Essays, Give Aways, Inspiration

5 prompt Friday

         Here we go again…

  1. The empty feeling in my stomach spread to my chest and head, threatening to pull me inside out.
  2. How do I say this to you?
  3. On her wrist was a bracelet made from multi-colored paperclips.
  4. His voice crackled through the walkie-talkie, “The Eagle Has Landed.”
  5. Are you ready to do this?

Have a story or prompt to share? Post it here : ) Happy writing!


Join my tribe—subscribe. Yo!

Leave a comment

Filed under 5 Prompt Friday, Advice, Author Interviews, Believe, books, characters, Commit to 3, contests, Creative Essays, Deadlines, Education, emotion, Events, Fiction, Friday Finds, Fun Stuff, Get Published, Give Aways, goals, Inspiration, Little Things, Lost Things, Markets, NaNoWriMo, Non Fiction, Novels, Organization, Perseverance, Platform/Marketing, procrastination, Queries, Reader Wednesdays, Rest, teaching, Thankful Thursday, The Motherhood Muse, Uncategorized, Voice, writer markets, writers, writers block, writing inspiration, Writing prompts, Writing Space, Young Adults

Guest Post & Giveaway: “Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey”

Today, we have a special guest post by Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN, author Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. Ms. Raab talks about the affect depression has on our writing.  Please leave a comment or question (to be entered in the book giveaway drawing!) and Ms. Raab will be stopping in to reply. Winner will be announced on Friday!

Creativity and Depression

There’s no doubt that the numbness and sense of helplessness which accompanies depression can have a profound affect on the creative impulse. Psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison of Johns Hopkins who herself battles with bipolar disorder and is the author of the wonderful book, Touched With Fire, says that depression does not necessarily promote artistic talent, but in some people it might enhance or otherwise contribute to creativity.

Historically, many esteemed and creative individuals have been plagued by depression, including Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, William Styron, and more recently the novelist, David Foster Wallace. Earlier this year, a feature in the New York Times Magazine section entitled, “Depression’s Upside,” by Jonah Lehrer offered a fascinating new slant on the subject. A study by a Yale Psychologist, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, showed that those with ruminative tendencies are more likely to become depressed. I found this to be an interesting factoid depicting those prone to this illness.

The article certainly validated some of my own depressive moments. When everything is going extremely well in my personal life, I am more prone to writer’s block. As a journaling advocate and writing instructor who frequently lectures on the healing power of writing, I was thrilled that Lehrer referenced a recent study citing that ‘expressive writing’ leads to a significantly shorter depressive episode.  Writers are well-aware of this, but it’s refreshing to see it addressed in this reputable reference, for the masses to read.

Depression is common in the general public and the article states that seven percent of the population will be affected by depression and this number tends to be higher amongst creative types.  So fellow writers, don’t worry so much about your depressive moments  or disregard your analytical ruminations, because you just never know what the outcome will be! Oh no, a literary drought!

Learn more about Diana Raab by visiting: (She has a really cool website!!)

Weekly blogger for
Bimonthly blogger for


Want a very special wake up call in my deep raspy morning voice? How about a cuppa coffee made the way you like it? Kidding. Seriously, though if you want to be one of the first to know when I’m hosting authors and book giveaways – Subscribe to this blog!


Filed under Author Interviews, books, Creative Essays, Give Aways

Book Giveaway & Guest Post: on Essay Writing

Please give a warm welcome to today’s guest author, Barbara Barth. Barbara shares with us her passion for Essay Writing.

Barbara Barth likes a lot of things: turquoise jewelry, surfing the ‘net, margaritas. Then there are the dogs. Six at last count. But who can keep it straight with all those tales wagging? This Georgia antique dealer and jewelry maker published a hobby newsletter for 13 years. After her husband died she recorded the year that followed in a series of essays. When she isn’t writing you can find her at the local thrift shops or pounding another nail into the wall to hang the paintings she can’t resist.

The Unfaithful Widow is the memoir of a 59-year-old wife who suddenly finds herself a widow. She’s the member of a new club where she doesn’t fit in, trying to create a new life for herself. Along with the grief there are plenty of awkward situations, new experiences and just plain silliness. The Unfaithful Widow delves into everything from condoms to memorial services to dog companions(and a few human ones).

Leave a comment or question for Barbara before the end of the day and be entered to win a copy of her book: The Unfaithful Widow: Fragmented Memoirs on my First Year Alone

Discovering I Was An Essayist

I like to observe the world around me. I make mental notes of what I see. If I were better organized I’d have paper and pen handy at all times so I could have written notes to refer back to when I start to write. As a member of the senior moment generation not having a hard copy could be a problem. But somehow I manage to keep my impressions fresh. A talent I’ve relied on many times over many years. When I was an antique dealer I didn’t keep a log of what I paid for an item, but I could tell you to the dollar what it cost me. I remember most conversations word for word. Yet I can’t find my keys after unlocking my door. It seems I only remember what interests me and the rest is catch as catch can.

After my husband died I started writing late at night to have something to do and to clear my head. My house was so quiet I couldn’t relax. The title widow seemed surreal to me. It was shocking to me that I was suddenly alone. The mental images in my head were overwhelming me. I had to write to come to terms with the changes in my life.

I kept a journal of my feelings and experiences. Sometimes I would write the same thing over and over trying to purge the loneliness and sadness I felt.  As time passed my journal entries grew and became short stories. I decided to write a book about my first year as a widow but had trouble trying to figure out how to expand my stories into a novel.

Then one afternoon I had a quick critique session with A New York Times Best Seller Author. She read the first twenty pages of my book, put down her pen and looked me straight in the eye. “Barbara, you are not a novelist, you are an essayist.”

I wasn’t sure how to take that. So I asked her. “What is an essayist?”

I really knew the answer to that question, but I had to quiz her since she was so emphatic with her statement.

She answered, “One who writes essays.”

Cool, I thought. Now let’s go to Google for some details and figure out how this applies to me.

An essay can be defined as a short literary composition on a single subject, usually presenting the personal view of the author. It can include observations of daily life, recollections and reflections of the author.

The essay is, first and foremost, essentially true, a piece of non-fiction. Once the author starts making up characters, and fabricating a plot, the piece is no longer an essay it becomes a fictional story.

Most essays are short and all essays have definable beginnings, middles and endings.


She was absolutely right. The burden that I was trying to write a novel was taken from my shoulders. My book, The Unfaithful Widow, is a collection of essays. Each chapter is a separate story. I would finish one, then move on to do another. Once I realized that I was writing essays on my life everything fell into place for me to complete my book.

The Unfaithful Widow is my first book. I was not an English major and my writing experience was limited when I started my book.  I like to think I have a flair for words and I am a storyteller at heart. Always have been. Friends used to tell me I should have been a stand up comic. I knew that wouldn’t work, I like to sit too much.

My writing style was developed through a screenplay course I took midway through my book. I happened on a class at the back of an independent bookstore close to my house with the help of a bad online date. I didn’t get a second date, but I signed up for the rest of the class.

The teacher was a horror/zombie writer, which was intriguing to me the gal who was writing a widow book.  His genre may have been a world apart from mine, or not of this world, but his writing skills and teaching style were just what this widow needed to give life to her essays.

Arrive late and leave early, the phrase which stuck with me. Start your story with something to pull the reader right in and then wrap up and leave before it gets stale. It was like a light bulb flashed in my head and I got it. I knew how to work my essays.

As I went through my journals at home they were pretty boring. I changed my writing style to catch the reader’s attention with my first sentence, weave my story and then wrap it up tying the ending in with the beginning.  That kept me from rambling and tightened up my essays. The addition of dialog gave the punch I was after. My book flows with my fragmented memories of that first year. Each essay stands alone as a small short story, but together they form a book that is my story of that first year.

Now that I’ve finished writing my book I have time for some changes. Time saving changes. I have finally purchased a laptop so I can be mobile. There is a pencil tucked in my purse and a small pad for notes. An antique hook is screwed tightly in the wall next to my kitchen door. I can toss my keys on it when I enter and find them when I leave.

 Armed and dangerous I am going about the business of writing essays on life as I see it.

Barbara will be answering your questions all day! Leave them in the comment box.

Barbara’s website:

Barbara’s blog:

If you would like to receive email updates of the latest guest posts and giveaways – subscribe to this blog! (Click the link at the top of the page and chocolate morsels will rain down from the heavens)


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, Creative Essays, Give Aways

The Ick and Awe of a Nature Journal: Guest Post by The Motherhood Muse

One lucky reader will win a FULL YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to The Motherhood Muse just for leaving a comment today or tomorrow! Winner will be randomly selected! (Scroll down for info on The Motherhood Muse)

The Ick and Awe of a Nature Journal

guest post by Kimberly Zook, Editor, The Motherhood Muse

Despite taking numerous photos of insects on family vacations and collecting caterpillars for my pet turtle when I was a little girl, I did not begin ‘collecting nature’ in a nature journal until I was in college. I had plenty of diaries and journals throughout my childhood, but the idea of a nature journal had never been presented to me. But the experience of creating my first one at the age of 21 inspired me to continue making and using nature journals, because they are different from the typical writing journal.

Whether you come to Writers Inspired today as a follower of this blog, a student of Mary Jo’s, a reader of The Motherhood Muse, or a blog surfer, I hope this post will inspire you to begin a nature journal, even if being in nature isn’t one of your top favorite things to do!

{courtesy of Sierra Club}

Nature journals can take on a number of appearances and can be used in a variety of ways. My first nature journal stinks, literally. My second and third ones are hardbound, store bought. My fourth journal is stained with juices used to preserve frogs for dissecting. And my fifth nature journal is in the shape of a belly.

Like the range of smells and shapes projected from my nature journals, each journal has its own unique meaning and usefulness.

During and after college I lived in a tropical rainforest in Costa Rica. This is when I began my first nature journal, so I could record the overwhelming biodiversity that captivated me yet left me dizzy with confusion. Stepping into the rainforest is like seeing Disneyworld for the first time. To the untrained, novice eye, it is hard to know where to look, what you are looking at and where to go. In the rainforest I first tried drawing every creature I saw and writing a description about it. But I soon began seeing too many things to record it all: a dung beetle rolling a ball of dung along, a leaf cutter ant carrying a leaf down a tree, a capuchin monkey screeching at me, a flower that smelled like a dead mouse, a leaf as furry as a lamb . . . I started taping leaves and flowers into my journal. I wrote short poems to describe the activity buzzing around me. I searched the forest floor for feathers and fur to place in between the pages. It’s been several years since I created my first nature journal, and I still open it occasionally to read through it. After all it is sitting only five feet away from me, tempting with the smells and textures of the rainforest.


My next two nature journals I purchased during graduate school as it was a time in my life when I did a lot of technical writing. The two journals, however, are catered towards young writers, so I found the style and layout inspirational after spending several hours a day writing pages that consisted of words like statistical significance, alpha and beta, fitness, experimental design, and ‘in conclusion.’ The two journals, My Nature Book by Linda Kranz and My Nature Journal by Adrienne Olmstead, gave me a structured space to observe and think about nature when I didn’t always get a chance to step outdoors.

A few years later I created over 100 nature journals for my students. I was teaching biology to 9th graders and wanted to introduce them to nature through writing. We used our journals outside to record our observations of the community of organisms in the pond. We drew diagrams of our dissected frog in the journals. We painted chemicals (the safe ones) on the pages and wrote about the relationship between chemistry and nature.

{photo: Spirittibee Blog}

My latest nature journal is more of a ‘human nature’ journal as it consists of my musings during my first pregnancy. The pages grow in size for each month that my belly grew bigger. The words question and wonder about the new life that grew inside of me. I worked through my concerns and anticipations on the pages until the journal expanded into motherhood. I wrote letters to my daughter, making wishes and promises to her for her future.

Now that my two daughters, ages three (almost) and 10 months, are accompanying me on nature hikes, helping me grow flowers, watching squirrels hang upside down on tree trunks, splashing into puddles, and searching for rocks to skip, I am looking forward to starting my sixth nature journal, our first nature journal together. I wonder what shape and size and smells it will take on?

As a writer, nature journals have created entire worlds of ideas for me to write about. My writing has improved, because I’ve learned to incorporate and develop all five senses into my writing as well as elements of nature. As a woman and a mother, nature journals have deepened my connection to the environment and given me the freedom to explore the ick and awe of Mother Nature.


We’d love to hear what you have to say about nature journals on this blog here today! One person who comments will be chosen randomly to win a free subscription to the 2010 issues of The Motherhood Muse literary magazine! Please stop by our blog for the blog tour so you can continue reading more about motherhood, writing and nature.

We also hope you’ll consider entering our first writing contest by May 1st! There are two categories, both open prompt: essay and short story. Winners will receive monetary prizes, publication, free subscriptions, and more. Please click here for contest details.

The Motherhood Muse offers mothers and writers the opportunity to dig beneath the surface of spilled milk, Band-Aids, and crayon-scribbled walls to explore the depth of their nature. Children nourish our souls while words nourish our minds.

Enter the enchanting world of motherhood literature to nurture your inner writing voice. The digital magazine shares literary pieces on motherhood written by mother writers across the globe.

The Motherhood Muse is about connecting two worlds (the writer and the mother), creating one voice, and crafting words into an infinite number of worlds. We come here to reconnect with mother nature through writing to share the beauty of our world with ourselves and our children.


Filed under Advice, Creative Essays, Fun Stuff, Give Aways, Inspiration, The Motherhood Muse

Book Blog Tour & Giveaway: Celia Rivenbark

CeliaPhoto2Celia Rivenbark dishes essays about the old south, the new south, and everything in between in her fifth book You Can’t Drink All Day If you Don’t Start in the Mornin’. In addition to a collection of essays so funny you’ll shoot co’cola out of your nose, Celia gives readers a treasure trove of Southern recipes and the hilarious stories behind them.

For eight years Celia wrote for her hometown paper, the Wallace, NC Enterprise. She covered everything from weddings to funky fruit to dead bodies(sometimes all in the same day). But the big city beckoned so Celia packed her bags and headed to Wilmington, NC and the Morning Star. More weddings but eventually she achieved every Southern girl’s dream. She was paid to be a smart ass(a.k.a. write a humor column).

Along the way she found herself a husband(the sports writer, of course– they are the cutest guys at the paper!), a beautiful baby daughter, and a gig as a stay-at-home mom. After her 3,000th diaper change, Celia starting writing a humor column for the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, SC. After all, what’s funnier than 3000 dirty diapers? Laugh along with Celia on her WOW Blog Tour– dates are listed at

YouCantDrink_coverCelia will be popping in today (between Bloody Marys) to answer your questions and comments about her books or writing in general.  One lucky winner will be randomly selected to win a copy of You Can’t Drink All Day if You Don’t Start in the Mornin’. (Posts must be made before 12 midnight CST and winner must live in U.S.)

Interview by Mary Jo Campbell:

MJC: Your humor and “voice” are so distinct. Can you share why it is so important to have a distinct voice and how you have worked to develop your own?

Celia: Everybody has a distinct voice. The difference is that I’ve been lucky enough to be able to practice mine every single day for a living for a long time. I discovered after writing “Bless Your Heart, Tramp” that a surprising number of readers really enjoyed the Southernspeak. They didn’t always understand it but they didn’t seem to mind. More than a few have written over the years to ask what a particular phrase means. The copyeditors who review my manuscripts always have questions because they didn’t grow up talkin’ “Souther-ren.” So they stumble through life like a blind mule in a punkin’ patch without so much as an “I swanee” or “pea turkey squat” to comfort them. One of my favorite writing exercises is to write a few pages of dialogue with different voices. Then I read it out loud and, if it sounds, authentic, into the book it goes.

MJC: I love your raw and sarcastic comments and tone, but not everyone shares the same sense of humor.  Have you had much “mommie backlash” from things you’ve written?  If so, how did you handle it?

Celia: I haven’t had much mommie backlash at all. Most of my friends feel the exact same way I do about the Crazy Mommies. Then again, I might not recognize a good stink-eye aimed in my direction. By and large, I think most mommies understand I write humor and, yes, sometimes I exaggerate for effect. If I’ve gored your ox with something I’ve written, it’s important to remember that this is supposed be for laughs.

MJC: This is your fifth book of humorous essays, but the first to include recipes.  What made you decide to add recipes and how did you decide which ones to add?

Celia: Sooner or later, everybody starts putting recipes into their books.  (Well except for Paul Krugman or smart people like that but then you just know he just eats Kraft blue box mac and cheese over a hotplate every night don’t you?) Jill Conner Browne’s “Knock You Naked Margaritas” were stuck in my mind along with Mary Kay Andrews’ chicken salad recipe, which is good but a bit labor-intensive. I figured if they could do it, so could I. My mother-in-law, to whom the book is dedicated, is a phenomenal country cook so it seemed even more appropriate. I wrote the book first, then added the recipes, which I selected based on how well I could tie them to a particular essay and, more important, how good (or how mom-friendly) they were.

MJC: Like many of my readers, you began (or continued) to write through the throes of new mommy-hood. Can you offer any tips to those who are struggling to make time to write as a new mom?

Celia: I always used naptime for writing my column. Sophie napped for exactly 2.5 hours a day, and that’s about as long as I can sit still and write anyway.

MJC: Your essays are so very current. How do you use the “power of observation” to gather these ideas into essays with universal appeal?

Celia: I’m a huge pop culture and news junkie. If something strikes me as something I could riff on and customize (as in The Southern Mama’s take on Paris Hilton going to jail), then I let it marinate for a day or two and then start writing.

MJC: You’ve written about celebrities, mommies, the South. Will you write a collection of humorous essays on the life of a writer?

Celia: No, because others have done that and done it very well. For instance, right now I’m reading “And Here’s the Kicker.” It’s a new book of interviews with humor writers that I’m just slightly bitter about not being included in. What’s interesting is how many of the writers were misfits and sad sacks growing up. Hmmmmm.

Feel free to tell us about any of your upcoming appearances or events:

Celia: Thanks for letting me yak. Please drop by for information on real and virtual book tours and more.


Filed under Advice, Author Interviews, books, contests, Creative Essays, Give Aways, Non Fiction, Voice, writers

Invisible Contest

ffw logoEach fall, Hope Clark hosts a Funds For Writers Essay Writing Contest, with a theme (hint: the theme is important if you want a shot at winning!)  Here are brief details to enter. Check out her site for the full details and to read previous winners. Good Luck!

Annual Contest: Funds For Writers

THEME: Invisible Writing

TOPIC Suggestions:

  • If you couldn’t publish, would you still write?
  • Do you write words you’re afraid to publish?
  • Do you hide words you hope no one will see until after you’re gone?
  • Do you write words so you can rip them up and destroy them?
  • Do you prefer to write anonymously?
  • Do you prefer to write and fear to publish?

Do you wish to fade away from the world and write?

Sometimes we write words to exorcise demons. We type or write them on paper then fear someone may read them. Whatever your issue, whatever your thought, whatever your habit, the general theme is INVISIBLE WRITING. Make the theme your own and let us know how INVISIBILITY works into your writing world. If you know anything about FundsforWriters, you know that we like lessons learned and motivational ideas.

We offer the same two categories – the $5 FEE category and the NO FEE category. Many writers do not believe in paying while others have no contrary opinion about an entry fee. Here we offer both so everyone has a choice. This way no one has an excuse not to submit.

Those that pay the $5 entry fee receive the Tweetebook of their choice.

What’s a Tweetebook? A Tweetebook is a mini-book of 20 markets that suit your specific writing genre/market/interest – a new FundsforWriters product. With the world on the run, living through electronic readers and smart phones, FFW designed a product to suit your fast-paced writing agenda. Take a peek! You receive a free one with your PAID contest entry – one to whet your appetite for more.

These are new to FundsforWriters, and our library will continue to grow with them, using popular as well as unique writing niches. So be on the lookout for more.

Remember…this is an essay, a nonfiction entry. No fiction, no poetry, no writing about someone else. We want this to be all about YOU. Entries are welcome from any race, religion, gender, nationality or other diverse group.


$5 ENTRY FEE Category

<!–[if !supportLists]–>· <!–[endif]–>First Place – $200

Second Place – $40

Third Place – $20


First Place – $50

Second Place – $20

      Third Place – $10


Filed under contests, Creative Essays

Uber Opportunities

uberessay Have you worked hard on that argumentative essay for English Comp?  Feel like it  deserves more reviews than just your professor’s?  Share it on – a site which provides inspiration and education for its readers and a valuable place for writers to share their works.

Editor, Rosalind Chu wrote me:

“We are trying to compile a database of excellent essays written by students for reference and inspiration. Each essay is copyrighted and put in a password-protected PDF, set only for viewing. Uberessay does not in any way condone cheating. We want to encourage academic honesty and integrity in students, from high school freshman to graduate students and anything in between.

Writers Inspired is a great community inspiring writers, and I feel Uberssay could be an outlet for their writings, from fiction to nonfiction and anything in between.”

Check ‘em out and tell them Writers Inspired sent you!

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative Essays, Education, Markets

Writing of loss


A writer friend of mine had the esteemed honor of being published in Literary Mama, recently.

I say “esteemed honor”, because among our online support group of  women writers, we share near misses and not one of our group had made it into Literary Mama, until now.

Not only did Stephanie Dethlefs get the coveted byline, but had a remarkable story to share about a mother’s love and loss.  Please follow the link to read her essay, “Beautiful Friend.”

And, if you have a story of mother’s loss to share, follow this link to a call for submissions for a miscarriage anthology, being printed by Catalyst Book Press.

1 Comment

Filed under Advice, Creative Essays, Deadlines, emotion, Non Fiction, writer markets

My Tribute to my Dad

As promised, here is my essay, written for my dad, Don Stepps.  Love you Dad, Dad-daddy-o!

Death Missions

At my grade school Halloween costume party, my dad was the guy weaving through the crowd of Catholic school kids and nuns shouting, “Adrienne!” Not only was he dressed as Rocky in his gray zipper hoodie, boxing gloves and fake shiner under his left eye – he was Rocky Balboa.  Dad always played the part, from his silly or scary folktales to the pranks he pulled with costumes or props. 


I adopted Dad’s sense of adventure and often joined in on the fun: in Tomahawk, WI where we vacationed with aunts, uncles and cousins, Dad and I finished up a day of fishing with a little “surprise.” I knocked on my Uncle’s cottage door and when they opened, Dad threw a very wet, very alive fresh-caught fish onto their kitchen floor then slammed the door closed. Off we ran leaving a wake of shrieks and screams as that poor fish flip-flopped on their floor!



Flash forward 20 years and here I am, Little Miss Big Eyes (as Dad calls me), mom of two boys who adore their Grandpa. Even at age 61, Dad still plays pranks, in the form of “death missions” with my boys.  Sneaking into the kitchen to “steal” more candy for their movie night or sending my boys to smuggle the toaster and waffles out to the pop-up camper for a midnight snack, all without getting busted by Grandma, is the essence of a death mission.


Adventurous, risk-taker, spontaneous and creative are all great traits for a dad or grandpa of young kids. But Dad’s knack for fun has also been my inspiration as an adult. As I take risks in my writing, be creative in my teaching and find the adventure in Mommyhood.  I only hope that the stories I tell are as memorable as Dad’s.


Words: 299


BIO: Mary Jo Campbell, married mom of two, is an award-winning published freelance author who has been inspiring young writers to reach their potential through writing workshops, classes and speaking engagements. She teaches for FRoG (Friends of the Gifted & Talented) through their Super Saturday Programs, hosts on-going monthly young writers’ workshops and was the key note speaker for the Chick Chat event sponsored by HGNA (Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence).   Mary Jo is also an Executive Board Member and the Secretary for Capitol City Young Writers.


Filed under Creative Essays, emotion, Inspiration, Non Fiction, Perseverance, Voice, writing inspiration, Writing prompts