Posted by: krpooler | February 13, 2011

Writing for the Soul


     I just returned from Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild(CWG) annual “Writing for the Soul” Conference in Denver,Colorado. From Thursday through Sunday,I have been swept up in a wave of learning, singing, praise,worship,laughter,crying,soul-affirming networking, reuniting with old friends and forging new friendships.

     I met  face-to-face with six editors,one literary agent and one CWG mentor. I submitted two pages of a manuscript for the “Thick-skinned Critique” and learned from the masters, best -selling author,Jerry Jenkins and Editor-in-Chief, Michael Ehret about ferocious editing. I was inspired and entertained by best-selling author,Liz Curtis Higgs; best-selling novelist,Brandilyn Collins; motivational speaker,author and humorist, Ken Davis; author,playwright,actor and humorist,McNair Wilson and author and director of the professional writing program at Taylor University,Dennis Hensley. As if that wasn’t enough, America’s tenor, Steve Amerson,held us spellbound as he regaled us with Broadway tunes. Songwriter and guitarist,Shawn Wesley Graham had us swaying to his praise songs before each meal.

"Writing for the Soul" Conference

     Here’s what I take away:

     Story Rules~ in both fiction and non fiction

     Be Your Own Ferocious Critic~ edit and re-edit until you get it right.

     Develop a thick skin~ all editing is subjective

     Find Your Hook~  capture the reader’s attention in the first sentence. Time is precious for both editors and readers.

      Get to Your Main Point Quickly~don’t make your reader have to dig for the purpose of your sentence.

      Keep your writing crisp, tight and purposeful~ give your reader credit for filling in the blanks.

      Ask yourself: How can the reader relate? What can I give the reader? What do I want the reader’s experience to be?

       Believe in your story~only you can write your story.

      Be willing to do whatever it takes to get your story out there~ learn your craft, be open to critique and ways to improve, keep writing.

      Have fun~ find humor in your life and learn to use it in your writing.Treat yourself to this post from Search for the Soul on humor and healing by fellow writer, Sampatron.

      Have an attitude of excellence in all you do~find your edge.

     I went to Denver with the main goal of practicing my pitch, refining my focus. Each time I pitched my story, it became more alive. I walked away with a clearer perspective of how my story needs to gel,an idea for another book, plans to submit articles to magazines as a way of building my platform and to enroll in a “Writing Essentials” course as well as two editor requests for a book proposal.

But,most important,I walked away with the sense of soul nourishment and dream affirmation through the friendship and fellowship. So everytime I sit down to write, I will write for my soul. I will honor God’s presence in my life through my writing.  


Marjorie and I meet in person for the first time at Lookout Mt,Co. We've been fellow NAMW Memoir Workshop students and only knew each other over the phone

How about you? What nurtures your soul?

Libbye and I first met at another writer's conference in 2009

Posted by: krpooler | February 5, 2011

Match Point~Can it be Achieved in Memoir Writing?


Publishing a memoir is  like achieving a” match point “, the final point needed to win a match, as in tennis. I pondered the question of achieving this after reading this New York Times  critique of memoir as a genre. The critic claimed that “the glut of memoirs needs to be stopped as we don’t have that many trees left.”  OUCH! My writing circles have been abuzz with responses both acknowledging the drawbacks of publishing memoirs  and defending the  legitimacy of them in the current publishing environment .  It’s always good to know the “devil you are dealing with”~ What is very clear to me is that  in writing about our ordinary lives, “platform”(what makes you qualified to write this book?) has to be established and visible and the writing compelling and flawless. Understood.

 But isn’t it really about writing a good story, no matter what the genre is? And isn’t the truth sometimes stranger than or at least as compelling as fiction?

It just so happened that I was in the midst of reading   Andre Agassi’s memoir/autobiography,”Open” when I read the NYT article. I was enticed to read “Open” after seeing  Jerry Waxler’s review , “When is a memoir by a celebrity not a celebrity memoir ? ” on his blog,Memory Writers Network. As soon as I read the first few lines  , I was hooked and  couldn’t wait to get back to the book to find out what was next. If only I didn’t have to go to sleep and get up for work the next day! I became very invested in not only Andre as the main character but in his family, in  the people who surrounded him, his “team” as he described and in his story. It had nothing to do with his celebrity status. It had everything to do with his inner journey. He had a story that flowed like a novel  and literally kept me turning those page until the end. And then I felt disappointed when it was over. I admit , I used to love to play tennis so I felt the suspense of all his matches  through his agonizing detail actually feeling his pain when he lost and his elation when he won. Alexis Grant of The Traveling Writer has a  great blog post on this topic of finding the right” momentum” to sustain the reader’s attention until the end.

So I wonder what I can learn from reading this memoir that will help me in writing my own, a choice I’ve made despite the naysayers and critics:

The main character (protagonist) needs to be believable, ie. , flawed, human

The voice needs to be authentic~ Raw honesty adds to this authenticity

There needs to be a desire to achieve something

There needs to be a conflict and obstacles to that desire~ this should be done without disparaging anyone else.

There needs to be  a “story arc”~ beginning, middle and end”

There needs to be  a resolution  of the conflict and an achievement of that desire by the end of the story

The reader should be intrigued ,  entertained and feel pulled into the scenes throughout the story and  then needs to feel relieved at the end.

Andre Agassi showed me how this is done not only on the tennis court but in his memoir; he showed me as a human not as a celebrity.

I will keep these lessons all in mind as I prepare my logline, synopsis and a few sample chapters for the “Writing For the Soul ” conference I am attending next week in Denver.

How about you? What are some of your thoughts on  achieving “match point” in your writing or in your life?

Volley for serve!



Posted by: krpooler | January 28, 2011

Tribute to a Memory


On January 28,1986, the world watched in horror as the Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral,Florida. Anyone over the age of  thirty-five will remember what they were doing on that day. School children everywhere tuned in that morning to watch the launch of the first schoolteacher and ordinary citizen bound for space,Christa McAuliffe. While this high-tech catastrophe was unfolding on live TV, life was unfolding in living rooms,kitchens and offices around the world; moments in time when life events will forever be connected with the Challenger explosion.

For my Mother,Kathryn, it was the moment that she asked her Mother,my Nan, for forgiveness. She and Nan seemed to have a tentative relationship at times. From my point of view, Nan was a wonderful,loving grandmother, but there were times I would sense from my mother that there was friction between  Nan and her children. I never really knew why. Nan had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer  in November 1985 at the age of  83. She was living with my Mother’s sister, my Aunt Rose and my Mother was visiting to help care for her.  My Mother recently shared the following story of that day in January,1986 with me:

     “ Mama and I  were sitting in the living room of my sister, Rose’s home watching TV. Mama  was in the floral upholstered rocking chair in the corner and  I  was on the blue Broyhill couch across from her. A Special Report on the Launch of the Challenger Space Shuttle interrupted the Maury Povich show. I looked over at Mama. She looked so frail and thin.  Her eyes were sunken in and her skin had turned yellow .  I thought to myself,

” I have to go back home soon and I may not see her alive again.”

In the background, the seven astronauts, one of them a young school teacher from New Hampshire, flashed across the screen,smiling and waving  before boarding the Challenger.

I got up from the couch and knelt before her  as she sat still and quiet in the chair. Holding out my hand,I put her tiny ,wrinkled hand in mine and,sobbing, said,

“Mama, will you please forgive me for all the times I may have hurt you or was mean to you?”

Looking surprised, she said,

“Kathyrn,  you have nothing to apologize for. You have never hurt me.”

I felt her small,weak hand rubbing my shoulder as I  sobbed uncontrollably ,my head bobbing in her lap.

We remained in that position for while. With my head  resting in her lap,I watched  the smoke from the space shuttle furl up in the sky out of the corner of my eye. I sat straight up and we both glared in shock at the scene.

The moment of the Challenger explosion was the moment my Mama forgave me. “

This memory is precious to me  because I realized that my Mother allowed me to have a special ,loving relationship with my Nan even though she was not able to experience that same special relationship with her, until the end. When Nan died on May 28, 1986, my Mother had the peace of forgiveness in her heart.

So today, on the anniversary of the Challenger Explosion, I pay tribute to  the seven astronauts who sacrificed their lives as well as to my Nan who showered me with love  my whole life and who showed compassion , love  and forgiveness to my  Mother when she needed it the most and to my Mother for  allowing me to have a lifetime of precious memories with my Nan, through her love.

These memories are  a treasure.

What memories do you have that you  pay tribute to?

Posted by: krpooler | January 23, 2011

Defining “The High Concept”


Before I can shape my individual scenes and vignettes into a story  structure, I have to be able to identify an overriding story idea, the “high concept” . According to James Bonnett  high concept involves” being able to reduce your story idea into something powerful that the reader will be able to make an emotional connection with~ a logline with a twist”  He goes on to explain that  defining your high concept will “force you to come to terms with what your story is about”.

Distilling the complexities of life into a few words is not something I view as simple and I am realizing through my memoir-writing journey how challenging this simple-sounding task really is. How do I pull all my ideas together and come up with a few sentences that describes my story succinctly?

 What is my” logline with a twist?” 

The essence of my memoir is  the power of hope through faith;  overcoming extraordinary challenges in the midst of my ordinary life;  finding joy,peace and learning to live life on my own terms.

The “twist’?  How does someone from such a secure, happy childhood take so many  self-defeating detours and then how does this person find her way back home again?

Last week, we talked about defining author brand in this post, being  able to define oneself to the world. I defined my brand  as sharing the  power of hope through my memoir. My high concept needs to flow from that.

James Bonnett points out that high concept requires:

* a fascinating Topic~ Is my high concept fascinating enough so far?

* a great Title~ TBA

* an “Inciting Action”~ Lots to choose from~TBA

* a “Hook”~ do you sense any intrigue here?

I am keeping all these components in mind as I move forward writing stories through NAMW Memoir workshop with Linda Joy Myers and preparing for The Christian Writing Guild’s “Writing for the Soul” Conference in Denver in February.

I would love your input and discussion on my story idea so far. You can be honest! Your input will help me refine my message and maybe even pitch to an agent or two at the conference.

Do you think the” high concept” is intriguing enough? 

 Do the few words tell you what my story is about?

Have you defined your own high concept?

Posted by: krpooler | January 16, 2011

Who Am I,Really?


When I think of MartinLuther King,Jr, I think of his overall message of hope. His words, his faith,his message have lived on through the decades since his untimely death. We all know who Martin Luther King is and what he stood for.

Now,at the risk of comparing myself to a legend, I know I need to take my lessons from him . I have to ask myself:  Who Am I , Really? I need to answer this question first before I can promote myself  as an author. It’s called finding your author brand, building your platform and marketing yourself. These have all become necessities in today’s publishing environment.

I take my lead from the experts, experienced writers and authors, who have walked the walk  ,like Copyblogger lists 125 ways to build a  brand..among some of the tips are:





And here is a listing of links from other personal branding experts that I found to be very helpful in understanding why personal branding is important:

Joanna Penn,Author and Publishing Consultant , “How to Discover and Build Your Author Brand”

Chris Brogan, Author and Social Media/Business Consultant,”My Best Advice About Personal Branding”

Dan Blank, Online Media Consultant, “Be Your Own Brand”

Cindy Ratslaff, Author and Social Media Strategist.”5 Secrets of Creating a Brand”

Joel Friedlander, Publishing Consultant and Blogger,”Author Branding the You That is Everywhere”

Dan Schawbel, Personal Branding Expert, “An Introduction Into the World of Personal Branding”

These are all questions I have to answer as I move forward in my memoir journey this year. 2010 was my year to learn as much as I could about writing and publishing; to read, study,experiment and ,oh yes, write. 2011 will be my year to hone in on my message. I’m no Martin Luther King,Jr., but I am a person who has survived a thing or too and has lived to tell about it. It will be a story of my faith in God and the miracles I have experienced as a result of that faith. It will be a  story of hope that I intend will touch those who need to be touched. My brand will be hope. That’s all I know right now. It will be my guiding light through the upcoming year as I unfold the layers of my story. Someday, I will have a memoir and it will help someone out there believe in the power of infinite hope in the midst of finite disappointment.

And Who Am I ,Really? I am an ordinary person who has lived an ordinary life and  feels a calling and a passion to share my faith in God and my hope through my writing. It’s up to me to turn my ordinary lifestory into an extraordinary memoir that will keep my reader turning the pages.

As Lucius Annaeus Seneca said”  If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

 My direction is set and I know which port I will be sailing to. The winds that get me there will vary and I promise to keep you posted along the way.

I hope you will keep sailing with me. Your presence on my journey will help me reach that port.

If you were to build your brand, what would it be? Who Are You,Really?

Posted by: krpooler | January 13, 2011

Have”Blogs” ,Will Travel


Sharon Lippincott posed this question on the Yahoo Lifewriters Forum “Is any story too trivial?”. That led me to a special memory about my father . I’ll let you be the judge as to whether this bit of trivia lends itself to a story that would be of interest:

Over the past few years as Dad grew more frail,it became important for him to have just the right shoes to support his frail and wobbly legs. When my husband ,Wayne and I came to town, Wayne would take him on little adventures around town:  the hardware store to find a fixture for the bathroom, Wegman’s to buy lottery tickets and have a cup of coffee or his favorite, a trip to Tallman’s , a local shoe store. Dad would peruse the shelves carefully. Walking slowly  down the aisles,every once in a while , he would stop to pick up a shoe , examining it at varying angles. During one of these shopping trips to Tallman’s, he came across a table with rubber shoes(Crocs) in a variety of colors. I can see him now,holding the shoe in front of him and telling himself,

 “These are different. Never saw anything like them before. They look comfortable”

 Sitting down,he untied his sneakers and slipped his foot into a tan shoe he had picked up. Liking the feel, he tried them both on and walked around. Pretty soon he met Wayne at the checkout counter to pay for his new find. He dubbed them his “blogs” and they became the rage. He wore them as much as he could get away with wearing them~  to Wegman’s to  buy lottery tickets, to the family cottage on Keuka Lake, in the house. He even wore them when he took a nap in his recliner,often remarking how comfortable they were. I can still see him napping peacefully in his chair with his tan “blogs” peeking out from under the  multicolored afghan that enveloped him.

These are sweet memories of trivial details that serve to console me . My Dad has been gone for nearly two months now and I miss him more everyday. When I write about these little details about him,it makes me feel like he is still with me, like I am back at Tallman’s waiting for him to pay for his shoes, or sitting at Wegman’s having

My Dad & Mom on their 67th Wedding Anniversary Sept,2010

a cup of coffee at the small round table in the cafe. I am watching him walk back to the table to join me after he buys his lottery tickets for the week, his tan “blogs” getting him where he wants to go.

He was buried in his tan “blogs” and we feel certain he found his way home…

Tell me, do these bits of trivia matter ? Do they tell a story worth reading?

Posted by: krpooler | January 9, 2011

Winter Dreams

Winter Dreams


 When I woke up this morning , I looked out at  our first real  snowfall of the season. The fluffy white snow laced the trees giving them a shape, accentuating each branch while giving an overall picture of a winter wonderland. You might say, they told a story of winter in the Northeast and all that conjures up~ visions of happy children and fluffy dogs romping in the snow, grandsons bobbing on sleds pulled behind the Kubota, cherry-cheeks , giggles and cold noses. Then coming inside to warm up with a cup of cocoa

Grandsons Carter and Ethan sledding behind the Kubota with Max (Happy 1st Birthday,Max!)

and some homemade pasta fagiola.

 The vision of those snow-laced trees provided a structure for the stories that evolved and will remain in our memories.

Now that is what I am dreaming of for this year~to build that structure that I will then fill in with stories that  matter. I spent 2010 learning as much as I could about writing and publishing while collecting stories and memories that now sit around me like a pile of treasures ready to be sifted and sorted through. One of my dreams for 2011 is to shape them all into a story that will be the backbone of my memoir. This excellent post by Larry Brooks of Storyfix really brought it home for me. Rather than writing and letting the story lead the way, he suggests that  developing a structure which the stories eventually fit into needs to happen first. In the words of Carl Sandburg,”Nothing happens unless first a dream”..

But on the other hand , dreams without action are just dreams , like soft flakes of snow landing aimlessly from the sky:

So I have a plan for transforming my dreams into accomplishments:

* Lynne Spreen  has prompted her readers(i.e., me ) to list their dreams for 2011 and plans to check in quarterly to assess our progress on her blog , Any Shiny Thing . Jump in if you want to participate in some lively discussion about Boomer issues and need a nudge to  hold fast to your dreams . After all ,“Goals are dreams with deadlines’ (Diane Scharf Hunt).

 Amber Starfire is conducting an experiment to evaluate the impact of computer -generated vs handwritten journaling which I am participating in. The results will be interesting. I am hopeful that getting back to journaling will help me connect the dots in my story. Check out Amber’s article of writing letters to yourself as a method to stimulate creativity.

* I am looking forward to  participating in another NAMW Memoir Workshop with Linda Joy Myers and in reconnecting with fellow writers from around the country.In sharing  our stories , we discover our own stories as we  learn and grow together.

* I will be attending the Christian Writer’s Guild “Writing For The Soul” Annual Conference in Denver where I am thrilled to be meeting up with several writer friends whom I have met at previous conferences or in NAMW workshops. It is all about fostering community,nurturing connections and sharing our talents with one another.

What are your winter dreams and how do you plan to make them come true?  Where will your wings take you this year?

 I’d love to hear from you~



Winter Garden

Posted by: krpooler | January 2, 2011

“Write On” Blog: 2010 in review


I found this summary of my 2010 blog performance from this AM:

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 52 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 57 posts. There were 30 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 64mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was December 2nd with 78 views. The most popular post that day was On the Wings of a Snow White Dove...

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for, jamesport mo d string, on the wings of a snow white dove, go the second mile, and november.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


On the Wings of a Snow White Dove.. December 2010


Storytelling as a Craft February 2010


About December 2009


The “Achievement Temple” February 2010


The Puzzle of Memoir Memories August 2010

 When I started this blog in December,2009,  I took a flying leap of faith and discovered a whole new world, like a traveling adventure.

Flying with has been one of the easiest and best things I have done for my writing journey in 2010. If you are thinking of starting a blog, is the place to be.

Thank you for launching my flight and thank you readers for flying with me this year. I hope you will continue to join me in 2011!

Posted by: krpooler | December 30, 2010

Resetting Your Inner Compass in the New Year

Resetting Your Inner Compass in the New Year.

Posted by: krpooler | December 30, 2010

Resetting Your Inner Compass in the New Year


There is something cleansing about reviewing the past year for all of its ups and downs, twists and turns, lessons learned and then deciding what  goals to set for the New Year. For me,it is all about starting fresh with a blank slate, taking the lessons of the past into planning for the future, taking personal  inventory: What have I accomplished? What have  I learned? What will I do differently? What will I do the same?

My WritingYear in Review:

Participated in three NAMW Memoir workshops with Linda Joy Meyers over the phone totaling 24 weekly session~ approximately 30,000 words toward my memoir, including stories about my father , my grandmother, my great-grandmother and my friend ,Judy.

* Participated in” The Hero’s Journey” Workshop with Jerry Waxler where many scenes from my childhood and adult life popped up during the “Places I”ve Lived ” exercise.

* Made many connections with other writers from all over the country and the world through my blog,Write On , through NAMW teleseminars and through forums such as Yahoo Lifewriters Forum moderated by Sharon Lippincott and Jerry Waxler.

* Followed my favorite blogs: (here are some: Joanna Penn; KMWeiland; Jane Friedman; Lynne Spreen; Linda Joy Myers; Sharon Lippincott; Rachel Gardner; Jerry Waxler;Alexis Grant;Debbie Pierce; Sue Rowland;Larry Brooks,Mary Carroll Moore, Jerry Jenkins)

* Met a local fellow writer,Ritchie White, through the online Writer’s Digest Community and joined the Amsterdam Writer’s Group that he established.

*Attended two national writing conferences:

       – Story Circle Network ” Stories From the Heart V” conference in Austin,Tx February,2010

       – International Woman’s Writers Guild “Finding the Magic” conference at Brown University in Providence ,RI ,August,2010

* Submitted stories to the Writer’s Digest 79th Annual Writing Competition; a  Story Circle Network Writing Contest on Letting Go; and  The Woman I’ve Become Anthology byPatLaPointe  ~ I’ll keep trying until I get it right.

* I even joined Twitter @KathyPooler and have kept an online presence on Facebook ( things I never thought I would do!) Lots more to learn about social media..

* Some of my favorite reads: The Liar’s Club, Cherry and Lit by Mary Karr; Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; The Writing Circle by Corinne Demas; Bird by Bird by Annie Lamott; On Writing Well by William Zinsser; Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg;Writing Life Stories by Bill Roorbach: On Writing by Stephen King; One Year to a Writing Life by Susan Tiberghien; Unreliable Truth by Maureen Murdoch; The Power of Memoir by Linda Joy Myers;Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer; Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.

* I journaled my way through the pain of losing my beloved father and in doing so have found much peace and solace. This blog post had the most views of any to date.

Through all of this, I have learned, among other things, about the art and craft of writing: finding my voice, the narrative arc, storytelling, character development, sensual details, book proposals, agents, publishing options, building an author’s platform, experiencing the healing power of writing..only to be left with the feeling that the more I learn, the more I realize I need to know; that I’ve only just begun..

I am resetting my inner compass for 2011. I want to keep building on what  I have learned throughout this year~ to keep doing what I am doing~to keep digging until I find my story, to keep building my platform through social media, to keep putting my stories out there, to keep my inner critic at bay, to keep listening for my muse,Rosalulu, and to remain open to honest critique so I can revise and perfect my craft. And a specific goal-nail down a title.

I will just keep writing until I get it right~

How about you? How will you reset your inner compass in the New Year?




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