Wednesday, March 27, 2013


For this week's Celebrate the Small Things Blogfest, I celebrate daffodils peeking out from a blanket of snow.

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

When I was fourteen years old, my friend Paul’s younger brother was struck by a car and killed. Two months later, my friend John’s older brother drowned. And two months after that, my friend Judy’s older sister died in a car crash.

After I had attended three funerals in this short period of time, I overheard my mother’s telephone conversation with a friend. Mom said she was worried because I had “witnessed” too much death for someone so young. But these siblings of friends were no more than nodding acquaintances to me. What I witnessed was not death, but the effect death has on those who are left behind. I ached for Paul, John, and Judy. I watched the way each of them dealt with the sudden death of a sibling.

These were not the last funerals I attended. And the losses have hit much closer to home. Death is part of Life’s cycle. At some point in our lives, each of us will lose someone close. It’s how we deal with that loss that makes us who we are.

Death is also a universal theme in books. Even books for young readers often handle this subject well. From Walk Two Moons to Mockingbird to The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, readers are touched by characters who have to deal with loss.

My husband grew up in a motherless home. His father never remarried after his mother died. What books do you suppose would have most appealed to him as a child? Books about characters with two happy parents or books about children like the one he was?

With the loss in the past month of my brother-in-law and of a longtime friend, I have thought once again about the touch of death. I realized that many of my own stories deal with death—and those left behind.

I like to explore the way each of my characters overcomes the hardships in his/her life. They might hide from reality, dwell in self-pity, or grow stronger in spite of it. A reader can find hope in watching a character rise above a situation Life has dealt with a heavy hand.

Even when my stories cover hard ground, they usually end on an “up” note. I’m a sucker for a happy ending, so I like to provide one for my readers. It might not be a “happily ever after” kind of ending, but I try to show hope for the character’s future.

Many readers of this blog said they were “touched” by the blog post about my husband’s mother, who died when he was an infant. It was a tragic event, but I tried to find a bright spot within it.

Touching readers is what Story is all about. And that is what my writing tries to do.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bonding over a book

In this week's Celebrate the Small Things Blogfest, I celebrate memories made over a good book.

by Kim Van Sickler

Lately I had the incredible experience of sharing a book I love with my local critique group, my husband, AND my two children, ages 21 and 15. Whoa! That's a lot of sharing! Experiencing a moving story together is, I feel, a deep bonding experience. It's an event that transcends age and lifestyles, bringing people closer in a shared appreciation of something beautiful.

The book was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. My critique group was incredibly moved by the plight of the main character, Charlie, and thought the mode of storytelling, through a series of letters Charlie wrote, was a literary stroke of genius. Our discussion moved into the realm of mental illness and sexual abuse, weighty topics, and the sensitive way the author dealt with them.

My daughter, liking the trailer she saw for the movie and thinking the pocket-size of the book looked inviting rather than intimidating, decided to read it before we saw the movie together. Being a ninth-grader herself, she treasured Charlie, appreciating his sensitivity, and wanted him for her friend.

When we watched the movie together, along with my husband, we laughed and cried. I was thankful to have people who loved Charlie as much as I did to share the experience with.

The next evening, my son stopped by during his Spring Break from college to visit, and I watched the movie again with him. He was pleasantly surprised that the movie wasn't as "mushy" as he thought it would be and was moved by Charlie's circumstances. "You really have to root for him," he said. We discussed the letter-writing format of the book and I read the opening page to him. This is the same child I used to read the early Harry Potter books to (before he took them from me and read them on his own) and Goosebumps, and Crispin. In his college life that I'm sure he feels I can't relate to, it was a chance for us to reconnect.

Never underestimate the power of a good story.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


For this week's Celebrate the Small Things Blogfest Kathy says: Two memorial services occupy my time this week, but I'm celebrating two lives and I'm grateful that these two people were a part of my life.

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In honor of Albert Einstein's birthday, tell the world in 100 words more or less, what you would do if you had a two-way ticket to traverse a wormhole. 

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

My husband’s mother died when he was an infant, leaving seven children without their mother. Their father moved them from New Mexico to Cincinnati, where family could help raise them.

Such a tragedy! But if they hadn’t moved, Jim and I would have never met and had our own children. Altering the past changes bad and good.

Through that wormhole, I’d be tempted to eliminate Booth, Hitler, or Bin Laden or save Anne Frank or Princess Diana. But I’d settle for a visit with Helen Wiechman to tell her about her son who became a devoted husband and father.

Helen Wiechman. Taken too young.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Writing is a Team Sport

by Kim Van Sickler

In today's Celebrate the Small Things blogfest post, I'm celebrating every single vote I get on manuscript #63: Muleskinner, for a chance to win a scholarship to the Backspace Writers Conference in NYC in May. If you could add your vote too, I'll celebrate YOU! See below to see how.

Writing is a team sport

I never imagined that sitting at my computer writing stories would turn out to be such a collaborative effort. But it is. Take my current book: Muleskinner. A story set in 1844 on the Ohio Canal, about a 12-year-old mule driver's world turned upside down when a mysterious dog uncovers a box of secrets that lead the orphan to discover his past, escape indentured servitude, and find a sister he never knew he had. So many people are involved in helping me bring this work to life.

There is my local critique group: Tiffany Laufer, Vicki Selvaggio, Jean Daigneau, Judith Leisenring, Mary Ryan, Alison DeBroux and Eric Steinberg, the writing pal who first told me about the Backspace Writers Conference, who have encouraged me with this story, telling me it's my best one yet. There are my fellow writers like Jon Egan, Melissa Kline and Kathy Wiechman who helped me work out kinks in my outline. There is my canal expert Terry K. Woods, and author Marilyn Seguin whose writings about the Ohio and Erie Canal and whose advice and criticisms have strengthened my own story. There are my beta readers: 14-year-old critiquing phenom Nicole Fiorelli, Kathy Wiechman (again!), Marilyn Seguin (again!), Marcia Hoehne, and their incredibly insightful suggestions that I gleefully incorporated into my story, seeing how much stronger my final product became.

But I've only mentioned the people who've helped me write Muleskinner. Next comes the outside-the-comfort-zone part where you put your labor of love out there for people to judge. As I'm sure every published author knows, but I'm just beginning to find out, there's an entire network of people needed to SPREAD THE WORD about your book! 

I'm taking a big chance with this, my third book. My first two books are still tucked safely away on my computer, awaiting life after creation. But Muleskinner, well, this book is special. I've felt from the beginning that this novel IS THE ONE. So I've decided to shake things up a little and travel to my first big NYC writing conference. The conference offers three scholarships for worthy stories. I entered Muleskinner in the contest. Of course it would be nice to win the scholarship, but the real draw is the chance to stand out in the minds of the agents who will select the scholarship winners. Obviously I want this opportunity very badly. So, I've got to get the votes.

I'm cajoling family, friends, acquaintances, begging on social media. Many wonderful people re-posted, voted, and spread the word. I even contacted a couple of canal organizations to see if they could mobilize their members to vote for it. The Ohio and Erie Canalway featured Muleskinner on its FB page, and plans to send out an e-mail blast to its mailing list next week. Metro Parks Serving Summit County tweeted its followers and plans to retweet periodically. I hope all this helps...

It's exhilarating watching the numbers go your way and agonizing watching the other entries pass yours. Every message I get from someone telling me they voted makes my heart swell with gratitude. My resulting roller coaster of emotions leaves me feeling drained. But putting my work out there is the right thing for me to do, now, with this story. There is nothing currently on the market like Muleskinner. So, I humbly ask for you to vote. Here's how you can help.

Go here. Click on the polling feature and vote for #63 Muleskinner through March 15, 2013. And thank you for joining me on this crazy journey.  You are an integral part of the process.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Launching Anything Prose...and Poetry Too!

by Melissa Kline, co-founder Anassa Publications, LLC

For today's Celebrate the Small Things post, I have to confess, I am celebrating something pretty big.

Today Kathy Cannon Wiechman's 9/11 poetry and Kim Van Sickler's ice fishing short story "Adift" are being published in Anything Prose…and Poetry, Too! – a one of a kind collection of works written by 32 talented authors. This project was inspired by a small community of writers and is filled with writings of all genres and styles, giving the overall book a very unique feel.

I wanted to share this exciting news and ask for your support.Today is the day of our official launch and we are aiming to receive “best-seller” status. Your purchase can help make that happen!

This book is the perfect rainy day companion and makes a great gift for just about anyone. Here is a sample of what you will find inside Anything Prose…And Poetry, Too!:

Inspiration - Choose to say "Yes", remember that you are loved and discover how to bring happiness into your life.

Suspense - Attempt an escape from a crazed maniac in a violent storm. Stagger your way through a haunted house.

Memoir - Follow a mother's journey through the joys of parenthood. Discover a man's process of love and loss. See how one woman's relationship with her pet changed her life.

Abstract - Find out what it's like to ride in a paper airplane. Prepare for a journey to the sun.

Chick Lit - A cynical 20-something finds unexpected love... in a hot tub.

Humor - Follow a day in the life of an enthusiastic Jack Russell terrier.

Adventure - Go on a fishing expedition with a teen who saves the day. Trek with a lonely Basque sheepherder.

Spiritual - The importance of simplicity, creation, universal language, joy, love, freedom, peace and bliss.

This is just a taste of what you will find in Anything Prose…and Poetry, Too! Available on Amazon for $14.95. Click here to order your copy!

You can find out more about this book and authors like February Grace, Stephanie Sprenger, Serenity Ray, Nicole Weaver, Kris Jordan, Laurel Jean Becker and many more here.

Please help us spread the news today by letting all of your friends, family and colleagues know about the release of Anything Prose…And Poetry, Too! 

Thank you for helping us spread the word! In the meantime, if you'd like a chance to win a free copy of the new anthology, leave a comment below telling us so. US and Canadian residents only please. We'll notify the winner by Friday, March 8, 2013.