Tag Archives: Write Your Story @ the Union City Library

Write Your Story…Prompts

CHILDHOOD MEMORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

by Vanessa Mason/Library Member

“You are going to hate school!”  I can still hear my sister’s voice.  She was one year older and had started kindergarten the previous year.  My own first day of school was rapidly approaching.

 

She painted a scary picture of the school experience.  But this was only her perspective and somehow I realized this and it brought me comfort.  “Don’t get Miss Benson.  She is mean.”  How did she know?  She didn’t have Miss Benson as her teacher.  She had Miss Fox.  Oh well, my first day was here and I knew that from this day forward, my life would be different.

 

I was the youngest of six and all my siblings were already situated in elementary school and junior high.  I vaguely remember entering the school building with my mother.  But at some point, she disappeared and I found myself sharing a large room with several other children.  I don’t remember their faces.  The only face I do remember is the teacher’s.  Finally, I was able to put a face to her name.  Yes, I got Miss. Benson.

 

She was old and somewhat stern, but I stayed out of her way so I never experienced the wrath that my sister spoke of.  Maybe she exaggerated.  I hoped that was the case.  I got through the first day of school.  It felt like a great achievement…the first down payment on a lifelong investment.  That’s how it felt to me.

 

When I got home, all I could say over and over was, “I love school?!  Amazing that I can remember saying this.  Maybe I do because it so sharply contradicted my sister’s warning.  I did love school from that first day of kindergarten to this present day.

BUCKET LIST

by Dennis Smith/Library Member

I just found out what that is, I had never heard the term before.  It is a list of things you want to do before you die.

I had never considered making such a list and am not sure what I would put on it.  Hopefully I will have time to compile and complete a very long list.

There are a lot of places I would like to go, but probably won’t.  There are a ton of things I would like to do, but most are not really important.

I suppose I would be happy with one noteworthy thing, something people might remember.

                                

 

 HERITAGE…DNA STORY

by  Terry Connelly / Library Member

My mom was not a great storyteller. She didn’t read books or magazines or even the daily newspaper. She did watch television news, but only those stories that weren’t about war or killing.
There was one death that intrigued her, that of Princess Diana. For some reason, the tragedy of her death touched my mom.
I think she saw in Diana heritage lost. A genetic pool which would not be carried on. And that was important to my mom.
From the time I was a little girl, my mom bragged about her Native American roots, although she did not use that term. According to my mom, almost everything she did could be attributed to her being “Indian.”
She loved bread because she was Indian. She tanned easily because she was Indian. Her hair did not turn gray and she did not wrinkle because of….
The foods she fixed were, according to her, based on her Indian roots. Her rhubarb pie was a good example, as well as her apple dumplings and fried chicken.
When pressured, she could not name the relative from whom her heritage came. She believed it was from her great-great-great grandmother on her mother’s side, but that person had no name or place of birth.
No matter the lack of concrete evidence, I believed her. I loved the idea of being part Native American, no matter how tiny that part was in reality.
When I was in fourth grade I discovered that the nonfiction part of the library held a treasure trove of information on Native American tribes from all over the country. One by one I devoured the books, looking for any similarities between my mother and a specific tribe.
When I read about the Shawnee, a tribe that lived in the same Ohio region where I did, I was elated. Here was my connection to the past. My heritage that I could pass on to my children and grandchildren.
I drew out a map of their homeland, memorized Shawnee terms, dreamt about their foods, and romanticized their lifestyle.
When looking at old black and white photos of the Shawnee people, I saw a clear resemblance in my mother’s face. Satisfied, I grew up believing that I was part Shawnee.
Well into my twenties I attended my first pow-wow, something in the keening of the songs and the pounding of the drums resonated deep within me. I felt a kinship that I had never felt before, and I really wanted to join in the dance. Until I realized how very white I was compared to all the other dancers.
I have been continued to be intrigued by all things Native American. Several years ago I began collecting artifacts. None of them have any historical value, but I love the dolls, the vases, the baskets and the jewelry. I have enough stuff that it fills an entire cabinet and enough black and white prints of old photos that my walls are covered.
My daughter began researching our genealogy several years ago. As she delved into the past, she was unable to locate a single relative that appeared to be Native American. This was disappointing in so many ways!
Over a year ago she asked me to submit a DNA sample for study. Because I was still interested in finding the familial link, I did so.
A few weeks later the results came in. I have zero percent Native American heritage! This was a disappointing discovery.
It destroyed my beliefs about who I was. It meant that all those years of reading and dreaming were wasted. It also meant that there was no truth behind my mother’s stories, which was devastating.
I hated losing that part of me because it was ingrained by sixty years of believing.
Sometimes I wish that I had not done the DNA test. If I hadn’t, I could continue to naively believe that I was Native American. However, even though I lost a huge part of what I saw as my link to distant peoples, I am glad that I did the test.
It is better to know the truth than to be spreading falsities.

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month:   September 19 , October 17  , AND NOVEMBER  21                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

 

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Write Your Story…DNA

“Al & Bill’s DNA”
a plausible fiction by Bruce Haase – library member
July 2017
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Twin brothers are not totally the same, sometimes they can even be different looking. Not only that, but their personalities can be very different too. Take Al & Bill for example…

At the big family Thanksgiving gathering last year, Al was once again pontificating about how proud he was to be 100% of Austrian / German decent. He believed that his genetic background made him naturally a bit better than most. His twin brother Bill, and the rest of the family poo-pooed that entire idea. Alice, a relative by marriage asked, “How do you know what you are? Have you had a DNA test done?”

That remark led to Al & Bill getting their DNA tested at different labs. At the family gathering, on St. Patrick’s day weekend, the results were opened and announced to all.

Surprisingly the two labs gave almost identical results. It turned out the twins were only about 46% Austrian/German, they were around 48% French, Polish, English, Italian, Balkan, Palestinian, Mediterranean North African and Spanish. The rest was Scandinavian and Mongolian, and other, with even 0.4% Neanderthal mixed in.

Bill was thrilled to be such a mixture and was telling everyone present little stories he quickly made up, about how centuries before these various genes became mixed into the stew that had became the Bill of today. He couldn’t wait to tell everyone he knew that he was only 0.4% Neanderthal, and 1.8% of his blood came from a powerful Viking Warrior King who had spread his seed for a thousand miles into hundreds of villages on the banks of central and eastern European rivers. Bill regaled the diners with an impromptu Viking War Dance. He looked like a fool, hooting and hollering, hopping around with gravy and mustard all over his laughing face. Shouting about Swedish Meatballs, Volvos, Saabs, and skijumping, which was all the Scandinavian that he knew.

Al, on the other hand, was quiet and withdrawn. When he finally spoke, he complained that this whole DNA testing thing was a scam, and scientists were a bunch of BS-ing con men that will make up anything to make a buck. He was furious to have been accused of having any blood in him that came from Mongolia or Palestine or Northern Africa… He opened his shirt and ordered everyone to look at his white and pure skin. Al defied anyone to see a speck of non-Austrian/German coloring there. He yelled at Bill, “What is wrong with you? You’re proud to be the offspring of Viking Rapists and murdering Mongol Hoards? You must have lost your mind!”

Al’s wife Debbie, told the gathering, “Oh just ignore Al, his Neanderthal side is taking control today.”

The table cracked up with that, even Al had to laugh.

It’s remarkable how different twins can be, even though, Al & Bill are twins, they’re not identical twins.
***

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month: August 15,  September 19 , and  October 17                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

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Write Your Story…DNA

DNA Manipulation – A Love Story

Submitted by Patricia Eng , Union City Library member

When I was a kid, I remember watching Lola Falana on a talk show.  She was a Vegas-type entertainer who was popular in the 70’s.  She spoke extensively about choosing a husband to maximize the physical beauty of her children.  Even at age 8, with my crooked teeth and glasses, I thought that was silly and shallow.

While I was in college, I took an anthropology class that required us to read a book called The Selfish Gene. It said something about how we are compelled to make life choices to assure that our genes survive and multiply.  My classmates and I were skeptical and joked about how our genes decided who was hot.  I laughed as I adjusted my glasses, my retainer wire shining as I smiled.

At the age of 28, I was single and starting to feel the bloom of youth fading.  My friend Jinah and I drove down to L.A. seeking adventure and escape from dead end jobs and relationships.  We ended up at a Korean boarding house that she found in the newspaper.  The main house had a communal living room and a kitchen where a huge pot of soup sat on the stove and rice stayed warm in a restaurant sized rice cooker.  When you opened the refrig

erator, a deliciously pungent aroma of garlic and kimchee smacked you in the face.

There were four cozy bedrooms in the main house.  We stayed in one of three make-shift rooms in a converted in-law apartment in the back yard.  The other inhabitants were a mixture of business people and secretive wanderers.  I was the only one who didn’t speak Korean.

One day, Jinah and I were lounging in the living room when a new boarder arrived.  I was immediately attracted to him.  Kwang-Min had big brown eyes and perfectly aligned teeth.  Later I found out he had 20/20 vision.  He was in America seeking business opportunit

ies.  Little did he know that he would find a new life…with me.

It’s been over 20 years since we met.  Our daughter has straight teeth and perfect vision.  Our son has braces and glasses.

 

Redesigning People

 

Submitted by Dennis Smith, Union City Library member

Probably every parent has at some time wished that they could change something about their child.  Parents of children born with a disability surly wish there had been a way to prevent it.  But many parents of healthy “normal” children are not satisfied with them and whish they could have changed something in their child’s make up.

Fathers often wish that their sons were taller, faster, stronger, generally more athletic.  Mothers hope their daughters will be attractive, with nice hair and not prone to weight gain.

Science is close to offering us both, prevention of many congenital disabilities, and perhaps customizing a child to the parent’s preferences.

No one would argue with eliminating a disability.  In a family prone to diabetes, a little genetic adjustment could end it.  Many other birth defects might be circumvented as well.  That would be wonderful if it works, but disastrous if the fix goes wrong.

 

Even if genetic alterations can eliminate some birth defects, it is the “next step” which should concern us.  Should parents be allowed to determine any of their child’s characteristics?

 

Suppose a father is allowed to design his son to be the football player he always wished he had been.  The son grows to be strong, and a fast runner, but his intellect and psychology lead him to pursue a career in music or medicine where his athletic abilities are not important.  A surgeon’s hands need dexterity not size.  What if he developed a love for horse racing?  Linebackers don’t make good jockeys.

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month: August 15,  September 19 , and  October 17                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

 

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Write Your Story…Alen Alda’s quest for a better communication

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? : My Adventures in the Art and Science of Relating and Communicating

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Award-winning actor Alan Alda tells the fascinating story of his quest to learn how to communicate better, and to teach others to do the same. With his trademark humor and candor, he explores how to develop empathy as the key factor.

Alan Alda has been on a decades-long journey to discover new ways to help people communicate and relate to one another more effectively. If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? is the warm, witty, and informative chronicle of how Alda found inspiration in everything from cutting-edge science to classic acting methods. His search began when he was host of PBS’s Scientific American Frontiers, where he interviewed thousands of scientists and developed a knack for helping them communicate complex ideas in ways a wide audience could understand—and Alda wondered if those techniques held a clue to better communication for the rest of us.

In his wry and wise voice, Alda reflects on moments of miscommunication in his own life, when an absence of understanding resulted in problems both big and small. He guides us through his discoveries, showing how communication can be improved through learning to relate to the other person: listening with our eyes, looking for clues in another’s face, using the power of a compelling story, avoiding jargon, and reading another person so well that you become “in sync” with them, and know what they are thinking and feeling—especially when you’re talking about the hard stuff.

Drawing on improvisation training, theater, and storytelling techniques from a life of acting, and with insights from recent scientific studies, Alda describes ways we can build empathy, nurture our innate mind-reading abilities, and improve the way we relate and talk with others. Exploring empathy-boosting games and exercises, If I Understood You is a funny, thought-provoking guide that can be used by all of us, in every aspect of our lives—with our friends, lovers, and families, with our doctors, in business settings, and beyond.

“Alda uses his trademark humor and a well-honed ability to get to the point, to help us all learn how to leverage the better communicator inside each of us.”—Forbes

“Communicating is at the heart of connectedness. Alda, with his laudable curiosity, has learned something you and I can use right now.”—Charlie Rose

“Sit back and enjoy Alan Alda’s scientific journey of communication.”—Barbara Walters

Write Your Story @ Union City Library

Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Third Tuesday of the Month: July 18 , August 15, & September 19                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

 

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Write Your Story @  the Union City Library….Getting Published


Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Meetings take place

Third Tuesday of the month: June 20 & July 18 and August 15  1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published : How to Write It, Sell It, and Market It Successfully

Presents a guide for aspiring writers on all aspects of getting published, including writing the query letter, getting an agent, signing contracts, working with publishers, assisting in prepub publicity and marketing, and doing book tours.

 

 

 

 

101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists : Insider Secrets from Top Writers 

This title focuses on the behaviors necessary to succeed in the dog-eat-dog world of fiction writing by asking successful authors how they practice their craft. Readers will learn how to adopt those habits on their quest to become novelists. The book will inspire, nourish, and provide the needed kick in the pants to turn the wannabes into doers! The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Novelists is full of “aha” experiences as the reader uncovers the collected wisdom from the cream of today’s fiction writers.

 

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Write Your Story…Bob Dylan The Lyrics 1961-2012

 

 

The ultimate collection for every Bob Dylan fan: A beautiful, comprehensive volume of Dylan’s lyrics, from the beginning of his career through the present day.

As it was well put by Al Kooper (the man behind the organ on “Like a Rolling Stone”), “Bob is the equivalent of William Shakespeare. What Shakespeare did in his time, Bob does in his time.” Christopher Ricks, editor of T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, Tennyson, and The Oxford Book of English Verse, has no argument with Mr. Kooper’s assessment, and Dylan well worth celebrating and studying in this authoritative edition of his lyrics. Ricks says: “For fifty years, all the world has delighted in Bob Dylan’s books of words and more than words: provocative, mysterious, touching, baffling, not-to-be-pinned-down, intriguing, and a reminder that genius is free to do as it chooses. And, again and again, these are not the words that he sings on the initially released albums.”

This collection changes things, giving us the words from officially released studio and live recordings, as well as selected variant lyrics and revisions to these, recent revisions and retrospective ones; and, from the archives, words that, till now, have not been published. The Lyrics, edited with diligence by leading Dylan scholars, is the ultimate, definitive source for unpacking Dylan’s enormous, varied, and rich lyrical catalog. As set down, as sung, and as sung again.

Write Your Story @  the Union City Library


Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Meetings take place

Third Tuesday of the month: April 18 &May 16

and June 20  1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

 

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Write Your Story…. San Francisco Writers Conference

San Francisco Writers Conference Take-aways

Submitted by Terry Connelly, Library Senior Member.

February 16-19 I attended the San Francisco Writers Conference at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. It was a sold out event, with hundreds of “wannabe” authors as well as established publishers, authors, agents, editors and author coaches.

There were many interesting sessions, in fact, too many for one person to attend.

I took notes, so as to remember the bits and pieces of advice given. Following are those things that seemed most important.

  1. Creative nonfiction is now called narrative fiction. Memoir falls into this category. The nice thing about the title change is that it allows for the recalled essence of dialogue that most likely took place.
  2. Book Club fiction are those pieces that inspire discussion and tends to appeal to women readers. Think JoJo Moyes. Commercial fiction are titles that appeal to a wide range of reader. Think Gone Girl.
  3. In terms of what agents want to see and don’t want to see, here are a few tips:
    1. No prologues or epilogues for debut authors. They feel this is “a lazy way to jumpstart tension”
    2. No first lines of dialogue.
    3. Skip flashbacks altogether unless there is something about the memory that adds to the emotional history of a character.
  4. Be careful about including diverse characters unless you are well informed about the particular group. For example, when including an African-American character, verify with a trusted source to make sure that you are not typecasting or stereotyping. Avoid writing in dialect unless you are very familiar with that dialect, and it is important to the essence of the story.
  5. Within each scene, look at how the flow of time is reported. How much time has elapsed? But avoid terms such as “three days later”.
  6. Within scene, also be aware of change. In each segment, there must be a starting place and then an ending place, and change must have occurred. There is external change, in which a character moves from one place to another. Internal change is the most powerful, as this lets the reader see how it impacts the character.
  7. When editing, it nothing is happening in a scene, no forward movement, no choice-making or risk-taking, then delete.
  8. Characters should behave in a logical way, unless strange behavior is part of the character’s M.O. People come to story to see logical human behavior, verified with an underpinning of evidence. Must believe that the character is a living human being. People do stupid things all the time. Readers question what in their lives forced them to act that way.
  9. Be watchful for the “dreaded middle”, which is the part of a scene where things get too slow. When this happens in your work, cut the scene or condense it into another. Ask yourself if the scene needs dialogue or action. Make it fast and punchy to keep readers engaged. Introduce a new obstacle that must be surmounted.
  10. Make sure there are no passive characters. Empower them by putting them in situations that force them to take action.
  11. Avoid dreams, waking up and overheard conversations.
  12. Your villain, whether it be a person or a force, needs to arrive early.
  13. Create a history for each character before you write the first scene. Know who your character is, what he/she wants, what motivate him/her, and when confronted with a problem, does the character feel trapped or betrayed.
  14. When writing an emotional scene, try to channel that emotion before beginning. Feel the anger or the hurt. Remember what falling in love feels like.

I hope these tips help!

Write Your Story @  the Union City Library


Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an   informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it!  We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.

Meetings take place

Third Tuesday of the month: March 21 & April 18 ,

and May 16  1 p.m. — 3 p.m.

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