Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Interesting Contest

While surfing around the Internet, I came across a very interesting writing contest. It's The Fifth Annual Bartleby Snopes Writing Contest, and what a creative contest it is. The idea is to write a short story of less than 2000 words using ONLY dialogue. You can't even use any tag lines such as "he said" or "she said." But you gotta hurry. The entry deadline is September 15th. 

How's that for a challenge?    :-)


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Returning Soon

We have been down (blog-wise) for various reasons for nearly a year now. We are working on getting this thing going again, and plan on posting regularly beginning in September.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Broken Hearts

August was a pretty bad month for members of our little group.

On August 20th, we lost beloved group member Walter Rein. He had been "living with leukemia" (as he always said) for several years, and was doing very well on a new series of treatments. But he developed a secondary infection that his body just couldn't fight and within a couple days, he was gone.

Walter was a wonderful writer and spent the past several years publishing many books. You can look him up on Amazon, and purchase his works, there are several. His second and last novel will be coming out soon as well, as his wife Janell is working hard to make sure that happens.

We will always miss Walter, and we are all grateful for having had him in our lives.

On August 21st, group member Alessa Leming lost her mom after a long battle with cancer. (That's Alessa on the left, her mom in the red next to her.) Linda Edwards was a writer as well and also has a book up on Amazon called "After Julia". Please do go and check it out.

Linda was another fun and creative person who leaves a big empty spot in the world with her passing.

It has been over two months since these two bright lights were extinguished, and it still feels like yesterday. But, amid all the sadness and sorrow of these passings, there are many happy memories to hold on to and share.

Friday, April 27, 2012

National Poetry Month - Part 3

One of our group members passed along a quote about poetry that I really like. In a letter to his then 13-year-old son, John Quincy Adams, John Adams wrote: "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket."

Monday, April 9, 2012

National Poetry Month - Part 2

Group member Chrissy McVay says this is one of her favorite poems as she is reminded of it every time she embarks on a new journey. I too have a fondness for this one, and am lucky enough to have a recording of Frost himself reading it. Enjoy. ~SB

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

National Poetry Month - Part 1

Our first featured poem for National Poetry Month was sent to me by group e-member Ron Johnson. He didn't say why he likes it, but I know why I like it. It's a fun poem written about a cat. How perfect is that? ~SB

Macavity: The Mystery Cat
By T.S. Eliot

Macavity's a Mystery Cat: he's called the Hidden Paw -
For he's the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He's the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the flying Squad's despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
He's broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime - Macavity's not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity's not there!

Macavity's a ginger cat, he's very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he's half asleep, he's always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a friend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He's outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard's.
And when the larder's looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke's been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there's the wonder of the thing! Macavity's not there!

And when the Foreign Office finds a Treaty's gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it's useless to investigate - Macavity's not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
"It must have been Macavity!" - but he's a mile away.
You'll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, or one or two to spare:
And whatever time the deed took place - MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!

And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat, who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Favorite Poem

Next month is National Poetry Month. May not mean much to some, but to poets in particular, and writers in general, it can mean a lot. For this blog, it means I'm going to post some favorite poems throughout the month. I will get with members of the group and find out their favorite poems and see if I can post them here, along with any comments the member has about why it's one of their favorites.

Now, I know April is a few days away yet, but I'm going to go ahead and share this, my all-time favorite poem. I first discovered it in high school and have been a big Edgar Allan Poe fan ever since, with this being my favorite work of his. Every time I read this poem, I can feel it in my heart. -Susan Bell-

Annabel Lee

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea;
But we loved with a love that was more than love-
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me-
Yes!- that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we-
Of many far wiser than we-
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee.

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling- my darling- my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Meeting Tonight

Our next meeting takes place tonight at the Spruce Pine Public Library. The usual time, 6pm, but in the room up front instead of the usual meeting room.

Hope to see lots of writers there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Next Meeting: Tomorrow Night

Don't forget everybody, our next meeting is tomorrow night at 6pm in the Spruce Pine Public Library. Also, we'll be in the front room this time instead of our usual spot in the back meeting room.

Hope to see y'all there.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Struggling Writer

Is there such a thing as a writer who is not 'struggling' in some way? I mean, most writers don't make a lot of money at it, so there is that struggle. But then there are those few who makes tons of money but yet still have the struggle of coming up with the next story. Stephen King and James Patterson are the only ones who come to mind when I try to think of a writer who doesn't seem to struggle in either of these areas.

For those of us who live "regular" lives, one of the biggest struggles is trying to find the time to write. I have two businesses going (pet sitting and social networking) and I do some house cleaning. I am also getting ready to become a licensed insurance agent so that will be added to the mix. There just aren't enough hours in the day it seems.

My solution? Well, who needs sleep? I think I'm going to start writing late at night. I seem to get most of my ideas then anyway. I honestly thing when my body and mind are a bit fatigued (or more than a bit), my thoughts just seem to be more free to go off into some really odd tangents that might just make some really great stories.

What about you? When do you find time to write?


Saturday, January 28, 2012


Due to a scheduling mix-up with the meeting space, the regular group meeting scheduled for Monday, January 30th has been cancelled.

Sorry for the short notice.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shirley Phillips' Obituary

I found Shirley's obituary online today, and decided to copy and paste it here, along with the picture they also had posted.

Shirley Styles Phillips

Shirley Styles Phillips, 75, of 389 Orchard Road, Bakersville, North Carolina passed away October 23, 2011 at home after a long illness. She was a native of Yancey County and the daughter of the late Theodore and Zona Harris Styles. She was preceded in death by a son, Robert Scott Phillips.

Survivors include her husband Bobby E. Phillips of the home, and her beloved daughter Janet Kenniasty of Columbia, Maryland as well as three sisters, Teddie Styles Hall of Statesville, North Carolina, Erma Styles of Lynchburg, Virginia, and Doris Styles Laughrun of Midlothian, Virginia.

She was valedictorian of her Burnsville High School class, a graduate of Mars Hill College, Meredith College and received a graduate degree from Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida. She spent 21 years as a teacher in the post secondary schools of Osceola County, Florida.

She and her husband, Bobby, were married in Burnsville June 9, 1956.

She enjoyed active membership in First Baptist Church of Spruce Pine, the Blue Ridge Red Hats, the Mitchell County Extension Homemakers, and the Mayland Writers Club. She loved painting, writing short stories, and singing.

To remember Shirley, a gift to Hospice Of Mitchell County in Spruce Pine is suggested.

A memorial service will be held at First Baptist Church of Spruce Pine, North Carolina on Saturday, November 5 at 2 pm. Following the service, the family will receive friends in the fellowship hall until 4:30 pm.

Henline-Hughes Funeral Home of Bakersville is assisting the family with arrangements.

Monday, October 24, 2011

We'll Miss You, Shirley

We are so very sad to announce the passing last night (10/23) of group member Shirley Phillips.

Shirley was a wonderful woman. She always had a smile on her face (may be a cliche, but so true for her), and her stories always made us laugh. We always looked forward to hearing her read her latest work, all of which drew on her life experiences.

Shirley was also a painter and exhibited her work at local galleries alongside her husband Bobby's woodworking pieces.

There are no words to describe the sorrow we feel at Shirley's passing and our thoughts are with her husband and her entire family.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Carolina Mountains Literary Festival

The Carolina Mountains Literary Festival is fast approaching; September 9 - 10, 2011. (I am posting their press release about the workshops offered below.) It's always a fun weekend so if you've never been, you really should go. And if you've been before, you know you really should go again. Hope to see you there.

Workshops for Visual Artists, Poets & Playwrights at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival

July 20, 2011 - Burnsville, NC -- The Carolina Mountains Literary Festival is offering three writing workshops in addition to their dozens of author readings. This year, they appeal to playwrights, poets learning about prose poetry and, most important to this area, artists wanting become better writers about their art. Each workshop is three hours long, and requires a $25 pre-registration, though participation in other festival events is free and does not require pre-registration. Participants may register through the website or by picking up a form at their local library.

Brenda Lunsford Lilly will lead Can my play be set on Mars? Creating Memorable Characters and Character Arcs

Just like a house furnished with cardboard tables and chairs, a plot filled with one dimensional characters will seem hollow and uninteresting. So, how do you create interesting characters that make your story ring true and make your play entertaining? In this workshop we will

explore exercises and techniques to enhance your creation of characters and bring them vividly to life. This workshop will help the playwright develop accurate character arcs within the story, streamline the number of characters needed to tell the story and allow the characters to naturally inform the story. The importance of dialogue will be discussed, as well, and exercises to enhance this important element of playwriting be discussed. (1:30-4:30 Friday, September 9 in the Yancey Library Meeting Room)

Lynn Ennis will lead What Words May Come: Visual Artists Writing About Art

Have you ever been completely stuck when asked to write an artist statement, a description for websites, information on exhibitions, philosophy of art/creation and/or articles for art publications? Does the thought of blogging leave you frozen? This workshop is designed to use creativity models that will help you connect your ideas and art to words. Come with issues in hand and we’ll explore various creativity models to help you in your writing. You will produce takeaways that you can continue to build on as you move forward. This will be a spirited interactive workshop that draws on a variety of techniques to get words flowing. (9 - 11:45 Saturday, September 10 in Mountain Heritage Center )

Holly Iglesias will lead What is Prose Poetry?

Just what is a prose poem? And isn’t it a contradiction in terms? We will explore the way prose poems overturn expectations of poetry simply by virtue of their appearance. Lacking the lovely curvature of lined verse, they seem like boxy, ordinary, blunt, pedestrian objects. But in fact, prose poems fulfill poetic expectations through the use of techniques common to all poetry—compression, fragmentation, figurative language, repetition, rhyme. In this workshop, participants will create prose poems that are textual equivalents of snapshots and postcards, those tiny, square-ish items that are dense packages of memory. (1:30 - 4:15 Saturday, September 10 in the Mountain Heritage Center )

For a complete schedule of events and to register online, visit

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Meeting One Week Early

Our group usually meets on the last Monday of the month at the library in Spruce Pine. This month's meeting will actually take place one week early, on May 23rd. The last Monday falls on Memorial Day, and the library will be closed. We'll still be there at the usual time, 6pm - 8pm.

So, come on out and join us. Bring something to read to the group, or just bring your ears to listen. We look forward to seeing you.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Small Writing Prompt

The month of February is more than half over. Hard to believe isn't it? Seems like it was just Christmas, and now Valentine's Day has come and gone. WOW!

How about a bit of a writing prompt?

This is a month when many people turn their thoughts to love and romance, whether they write about the wonders or the heartache. So, it would of course be very obvious to put love or romance or even hate out there for you to write about. We're not going to do that though.

Sit down, pick up that pen and write about a world without technology. And use the word "technology" is as broad a sense as you'd like. Maybe you just want to write about a world with no computers, a world with no television. Maybe you want to write about a world where those things were suddenly taken away, or one where they never existed in the first place. As with most writing prompts, the possibilities are practically endless.

So, there ya' go. Have fun.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Creative Ideas

Ever hear of the 365 Project? It's an idea where you document a year of your life by taking a photo every day. (More info can be found here:

Now, as writers, maybe y'all don't think this would be something you'd be interested in, but give the idea a chance. We're not talking super great well-composed pictures here. We're talking just photographing something that illustrates your day; a cloud, a frozen dinner, a bird...whatever. Looking back on these pictures may give you some great ideas for stories, essays, poems, songs...who knows.

I'm starting my 365 Project tomorrow. What about you?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


It is snowing here in the mountains of Western North Carolina. A white Christmas.

We would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday, whatever holiday you celebrate.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What is Writing to You?

This isn't really a writing prompt as much as an emotional exercise. You don't have to write about this at all if you don't want to. Just sit and think about it.

"Think about what" you ask?

Think about what writing means to you. What has it brought to your life? What has it taken away? And is it worth it to you in the end.

I for one write because I have to. I've tried to stop writing, and succeeded for a time, but not for long. I always end up taking pen in hand and starting all over again. It's not just something I do, it's what I am. I am a writer. Whether I am ever again published or not, I AM A WRITER!

And I'm sure most writers feel that way.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Apologies...With A Request

Well, I must make apologies to our group members. I said I planned to post every other day, and here I've already missed that twice. Ah laid plans and all that.

We've have talked off and on over the years about putting together a little chapbook of members' poetry and prose. We've also talked about opening it up to the community, in order to bring about even more goodies for the book. Many years ago, there was a regular writer's journal in our area that came out about 4 times a year. The couple who published it have since moved away, and my big dream has always been to start something like that up again. Ah, dreams....

For now, we are sending out the word to our members to see if the interest is there for a chapbook. Whether you write poetry, prose, essays...even if you take a picture or two...we're open to all kinds of stuff. We just want to gauge interest before we move ahead. We have many email members who follow our little group and check out our writing prompts, plus those who come to the meetings, so we're hoping there will be a lot of interest.

If you are a member, and are interested in our little endeavor, either leave a comment here or send an email. Don't send any submissions yet. If/when the time comes, we will let you know. Just send us a note letting us know you would be interested.

Thanks. I look forward to hearing from y'all.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Writing Prompt #7

The kiss. Has anything else in the universe been written about more than the kiss? A kiss can be celebratory.....


...or just plain loving.

With one simple kiss we can tell someone we love them...or mark them for death. (The Godfather anyone?)

Today's prompt: write about your first kiss. Were you in the third grade kissing little Billy in the coat closet, the smell of modeling clay and paste wafting around you? Or maybe you were 15, sharing a timid kiss with your first boyfriend, hoping your braces would not lock together. Dig out and dust off those memories.

And most of all....have fun. :-)

Friday, February 19, 2010

How About Some Inspiration

Gotta love NPR. They are sponsoring a three-minute writing contest. You draw inspiration from a photograph posted on their site, and write a short story that can be read in three minutes (which is about 600 words). Check it out and give it a try. I know I am.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poetry Blog

Interested in writing and talking about poetry? Check out Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides blog. He puts up prompts every Wednesday, and even does daily prompts during National Poetry Month. It's a great place to go for inspiration.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Writing Prompt #6

OK, so this is kind of an obvious prompt. Write about snow. Well, not just snow in general. Write about a snowflake; one, single, solitary snowflake. Let's see what you can come up with for this one?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Writing Prompt #5

Well, I'm late with writing prompt #5. But, as they say, better late than never. (Ever wonder who "they" are?)

Anyway, here we are with the fifth writing prompt for 2010.

As tomorrow is Valentine's Day, many people will be turning their minds (and hearts) to love. Poems will be written. Songs will be sung. Great soliloquies will be spoken. So, you probably think I am going to tell you to go out and write something about love. Well, you're wrong.

Let's do just the opposite of what everyone else will be doing. Let's write about hate. You can write about someone/something you hate. You can write about how hate is ruining the world around us. You can write about how you can't have love without hate. Anything that comes to mind.

So, you have your assignment. Get to work.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Writing Prompt #4

Close your eyes and think back to your childhood. What were you afraid of? The dark? Monsters under the bed? Or was it something much more real, more tangible? Spiders maybe?

Grab a piece of paper and write about what you were afraid of as a child. You could write a poem, a short story, whatever you feel like writing. Take that fear and run with it, embrace it. Deal with it.

When you're done, feel free to either keep what you've written, or destroy it if you wish. Maybe writing the words down only to set them on fire so the ashes can float away is what will finally banish the fear forever.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Last July, I was privileged to see the musical Oklahoma! at the Parkway Playhouse in Burnsville, NC. I haven't been to a play since high school, and this was my first musical. I had recently watched a DVD of a London performance starring Hugh Jackman, and let me tell you, that man can sing. But I digress...

Myra McCoury (l) and Stephanie Poling (r)

Group member Stephanie Poling and Myra McCoury (daughter of group member Suzan McCoury) were in this version of Oklahoma! so I felt a bit of an obligation to be there. I was worried though, as money was a bit tight. Parkway Playhouse to the rescue. They offered free tickets to the final performance taking place on July 4th. How cool was that. I piled into the truck with fellow group members Chrissy McVay and Judith Smith and off we went.

If you haven't seen a musical live, I highly recommend you do. And if you get a chance to see it on a smaller, local stage, all the better. What fun the actors seem to be having. It really makes you want to get up there with them.

Everyone in this production did a wonderful job, and I look forward to attending many more productions in the future. They're doing Annie this summer, so who knows. Maybe I'll take in a show.


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