Tag Archives: storytelling

Let the Children Lead

the_S.H.E._Anthology_Cover_for_Kindle (495x640)

Many of my short stories are nonfiction and inspirational tales.  Therefore, I rarely submit pieces for anthologies announced online or through writer’s societies because their editors are usually looking for fictional short stories or poetry.  Recently, a random invite happened; someone offered to add one of my stories or essays to their anthology helping Newton, Connecticut.  I heard about the massacre in their elementary school and submitted a story that I coauthored.  However, the editors rejected my entry because they were compiling adult reading level stories about how it might feel to be a Newton resident.

I appreciated the editors’ candor.  However, I was amazed the compilers of that anthology didn’t realize what the children (and adults) of Sandy Hook Elementary might really need to go forward.  I thought that town might enjoy rhetoric from kindred spirits.  Due to fears and anxieties, I felt that those kids and folks might feel less alienated and alone if they were shown the light at the end of their tunnels.  I wanted to find a way to be empower those children while revealing to them a HOPE that things can and do get better. I felt bystanders including health care professionals might enjoy those types of stories, too. After pondering the anthology rejection, I woke up one day as God illuminated my next step.  Thinking of three books that I had partial copyrights to, I immediately had the title of an anthology in my mind.  I began compiling that book.

By the way, the S.H.E. Anthology is NOT a romance anthology but it was written by all females.  In this book, most of the girls recollect traumas, mostly related to death, that they faced while in elementary school.  Their stories reveal their path out of mourning along with many minor miracles that they encountered.  Their tales of hope and inspiration are true accounts from those children turned authors.

The abbreviation ‘S.H.E’ also refers to Sandy Hook Elementary.  Isn’t God the best at setting up coincidences?  This book is meant to empower Newton as well as others that read it.  Its writers hope that the anthology, also, sheds some new light on grief recovery in the minds of teachers, mental health professionals, and adults handling major life changes.

Speaking of a child in mourning, there’s great insight into being the victim of death and childhood loss.  In fact, Stacey’s saga is an intimate look at a ten year old girl’s personal story about the results of her mother’s cancer death.  She, also, deals with the aftermath that includes her dad going crazy and committing suicide.  Obviously, tragedies, such as the Sandy Hook Massacre, touch home with her.  In her book contained in the anthology, the young girl talks candidly and inspirationally about surmounting her PTSD.  Her honesty through writing is only surpassed by the miracles and guidance from those around her including God.  The book excerpt that follows reveals how God taps into this young girl’s anger and grief to show her hope and HIS love as HE answers her naïve, childhood prayer.

Hail, What’s Next?

Later in another conversation, Cindy told me, “There are a ton of reasons why you need to live.  First, you haven’t even seen all the world has to share with you.  There are some really beautiful places left to visit.”

“I get two weeks’ vacation in December.  We can drive into the mountains and find snow for the holidays.”


Jenny (Cindy’s child) was hospitalized after repeated infections.  Her tonsils needed to be removed, and the promised trip was postponed. 

“I wish it would snow here!” My response arrived.


“Get real!  It rarely snows in Central Florida.  If it does, it falls in January and never hits the ground.  It melts on the way.  It sometimes falls just north of us and stays a few hours but nothing close to snowman weather.  We can drive to see snow next winter, but we are not flying anywhere this vacation.”


“I’m going to pray for snow within driving distance of our house.  I am going to ask for it now,” My style less angry these days converted to belligerent.


“Pray away!  But, it isn’t possible,” She added as the other car passengers giggled.  At age seven and nine, they realized I could be unreasonable at times.



The next day, the front page of the local newspaper pictured the hail storm that happened just south of our home.  Hail stones piled into drifts so high that it appeared to have snowed in Florida….


Since Stacey didn’t see that version of snow in person, she kept praying for snow.  What happened next? You guessed right- more Florida snow in the form of hail and many more miraculous events as God honored the orphan. 


Also, in the anthology, the Evans Terrace girls give their account of what happened when 7 or more parents died within a year or 2 of each other in a small subdivision of about 110 homes.  People started saying their land was CURSED. The children heard those rumors about their subdivision and were scared to death.  Then, when a neighbor lost her dad to a blood clot after surgery, the kids felt the need to help.  When one of the girls heard the rumor that the mourning family ran out of milk, she setup a traditional solution or proverbial lemonade stand.  That day, other angels or young children arrived; many of those neighbor kids ran door to door selling half glasses of hot lemonade.  They raised enough quarters to buy milk and other perishables.

More importantly, they formed a group that became a club and led their neighborhood out of grief.  Find out how by reading their full story.  In the following except, the girls know no limits to miracles and continue their community service buying beds for two, orphaned toddlers that come to live with their aunt.

Tis The Season

One of the boys was just two weeks old and the other was eighteen-month-old when their single mother died in her apartment of an epileptic seizure.  These two miracles survived two days with their deceased mother before authorities found them.  Their aunt’s family was not well to do but had inherited two cribs for the boys.  However, just near Christmas, they needed real beds for these toddlers. 

There were donations of new jewelry and Christmas items to raffle.  We charged a dollar a ticket.  On our little table sat our flyer of community services completed and goals to finish this year.


As one guest read the document, she handed us a five-dollar bill whispering to my mother, “What is their goal?”


“At least one bed,” She responded.


“Well, good luck.  They probably won’t even raise enough for a mattress,” this woman added.


“I’ve seen them sell one hundred and seventy one dollars’ worth of lemonade and still have over half the original gallon.  I bet they can get this bed,” My mother defended.


“Good luck,” The guest reiterated.


“I believe in miracles,” Mom observed smugly.  “ ‘Tis the season!”


The stranger stopped our movement back to our vehicles, “I’ll let you have both beds for two hundred dollars but only if you can pick them up by tomorrow.”


“Sold!” We all screamed as Laura and Mom flinched.  The club was sixty dollars from reality.

Did the girls find the cash? Of course! What other minor miracles happened when these angels joined forces with others to make wishes come true?  The story gets even more fascinating when these human angles (the girls) meet the young boys that shared days with real angels before authorities found them in their apartment with their dead mother.

You should read more inspirational, side stories in the S.H.E. Anthology; it’s available as a book and eBook through AMAZON, Kindle, and SMASHWORDS. See my profile for more details on how to find books I write, co-author, produce, or compile.

By the way, the compilation’s royalties will help charities involved in grief counseling or with mental health issues- especially for children therapies for the types of traumas witnessing massacres produce.  For example, one local group ‘New Hope for Kids’ (Orlando) will get some of the profits from this compilation because the group that started this organization helped Stacey over 20 years ago.

This blogger’s main author page is @ WEEBLY, you can find many nonfiction uplifting books there.

AMAZON author site http://www.amazon.com/Mrs.-Cynthia-Meyers-Hanson/e/B00B28J7L2

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Crafting a Creative Fiction Series in Blogging


Using a blog as my creative fiction outlet has been an amazing journey. Tale Spinning (www.stuartnager.wordpress.com/), my experiment in creative fiction blog, began in February 2011. This was an offshoot of my other blog, BornStoryteller (www.bornstoryteller.wordpress.com/), where I had been, well, bored. I decided to do a little writing, asking people for some prompts to write a short piece, while I was figuring out the whole blog thing. The creative writing part got to be tremendous fun, and very fulfilling, that it became its own entity.


I use Tale Spinning to write when and what I feel like, at any time. I don’t outline my work, don’t write and edit it and then paste it into the blog. What you read on Tale Spinning is what comes out in (normally) one sitting. I might go back to fix glaring grammatical errors, edit and whittle a bit, but…when it is done, it’s done. I come from a background of Improvisational performing, and that seems to fit me well even in writing (which might be why I flit around the three novels I SHOULD be writing).


A few of my stories-normally one and done in my mind-garner enough reader reaction that gives me that gentle “push” to write more in that world. So far, I have about five series that I write about, in between the sonnets and one-offs. The two that have struck home for many of my readers are The Tales of the Abysmal Dollhouse (horror/paranormal) and Kitsune-Mochi, the Fox Witch ( “new” Japanese mythology).  Both have a hold on me, as I return to craft stories in those two worlds. Both could not be more different.


How did I begin to write two very different series? Partly it is because I’m a pop culture and (semi) history/mythology junkie. I have eclectic tastes in literature, movies and TV: I find that my internal referencing covers a lot of ground, and I am very inquisitive. My writing styles reflect this, as I try on new literary voices when I tread new ground.


The Abysmal Dollhouse came because…well, I had just ended a six week program where two…Ahem…Individuals made most of it very, very difficult. I needed to vent. Disposing of the two of them, in the form of a character, was the easiest thing to do. It was very satisfying and very cathartic. The idea of the dollhouses came about as I had recently been talking about that subject (I dislike dollhouses and dolls in general). From there, each story has its own jumping off point: that I should save for “the collection” (hint hint to agents).


Kitsune-Mochi, The Fox Witch, was prompted by a tattoo I found on the arm of a bartender. I took a picture of her arm with my cell phone, came home and did a short burst of research on Japanese Oni (demons) and the Nine-Tailed Fox. From there, it just flowed. What was gratifying here were many of the comments from readers: they said it felt like a traditional tale, and to me that was a true compliment.


The Abysmal Dollhouse is the more marketable of the two series. I know that, and have been told that, but the key thing is: what I write is not to comply with any market or to follow any formula. What comes out is the love of these characters, the stories I get to set them into. What my readers get is what I enjoy and have an affinity for.  What I love is both series, and a few others I haven’t touched in awhile.


Would I like to take both series and have them sold as books? Yes, of course. Isn’t that a goal of any good writer, to hold a book in your hand with your name on it? At this point in my life, I still hope to have that happen. As I explore each of these worlds, I am finding the lay of the land, discovering the hidden doors and opening them, creating new paths in details, backgrounds and more. It is exciting, sharing this exploratory process with a group of readers and receiving comments.


There are larger stories in both series that I am “saving” for the future. My hope would be to take what I’ve already written, expand, enfold, and emerge with a larger work that can be enjoyed in its entirety.


(ps: I also love alliteration).


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Reader Interview Results: Tensing

As I’m finishing my first book and a number of supplemental stories, I’m hearing a lot about this. Some readers can’t get passed the first page because it is written in present tense, while others have been draw in to the point of distraction. Obviously this has had me reflecting on the books I’ve read as well. It’s left me with the question: What tense do most find appealing? To resolve this curiosity, I conducted informal interviews with many avid readers about the topic. I’ve included information from 3 of the lengthier conversations I had.

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