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Blogging By the Sea
Saturday, September 18 2021

The question posed this month for our merry band of Round Robin Bloggers is -- Besides novels what other genres do you write in? Any nonfiction?


My first reaction to this question was, “But that’s what I write! Novels!!” Then I sat back and realized that wasn’t quite true. It isn’t even true that fiction is the only genre I’m published in.


It began on the first day of Junior English in High School when my new teacher handed out a homework assignment to write 500 words on something you can smell. I really thought I was doomed. I’d always enjoyed English and especially writing, but how on earth was I supposed to come up with 500 words on a scent? That evening I dragged out my theme book – those were the days long before computers when everything was written by hand or on a typewriter which I didn’t own – and sat there, my mind a total blank. But then my brain kicked into gear and memory from my afternoon swept in. I know I’m dating myself, but I’m really old and back then we didn’t have dryers either. I think some existed somewhere, maybe in commercial laundries, but certainly not in my home or that of any of my friends. It had been my task that afternoon to collect the sheets my mother had washed and hung outdoors in the sunshine that morning and bring them in so she could remake the beds. With my pencil poised, I recalled the incredible scent of those sheets billowing around my head as I struggled to keep them from touching the ground and wrestling them into the laundry basket. All these years later, I have no recollection of what I put on that paper, but I got an A+ and perhaps that’s were my writing career got started.


Over the years since then I got involved with writing newsletters, which unlike the media today, had no slant or agenda. It was all non-fiction: reports of events upcoming, or debriefs on things that had happened already, appeals for donations or applications and an occasional anecdote I thought whatever group I was writing them for might find amusing.


While I was still a stay-at-home mom, once my kids were in school I got to writing more seriously – at least I thought it was more serious. I was going to write a book! I did write a few. They languish today written on yellow lined paper in pencil in thick file folders tucked way in the back of my file cabinet. I have a feeling my kids will laugh themselves silly if they ever decide to read them after I’m gone. Or maybe I’ll toss them before that event comes along.


But when I was in the last days of preparing to leave the country for more than two years to share my time and the talents I’d gained over my years of employment as a volunteer with the American Peace Corps, it occurred to me that I might like to submit essays about my experience. I contacted the local paper where I lived at the time and they were excited about the idea. Hopefully I’d have internet access and could submit my adventures via email. If not, there was always snail mail and believe me, that would have been SNAIL mail since it took over a month for anything in an envelope with a stamp on it to arrive from the South Pacific where I was sent to my kids and parents back home. As it turned out, while I didn’t have internet access as we all expect today, I did have the ability to communicate via email. As unbelievable as some of my experiences were, like swimming with whales for instance, they were all non-fiction and I really did go swimming WITH whales. Some of those adventures are currently mounted on my website and you can check them out here:  One other thing I learned how to write while in the Peace Corps was a Grant Proposal. Now there's a challenge - how to have your hat out asking for money and make the other guy feel like he's doing a good thing. 



My recipes are not fiction, but none of them have been published except perhaps one or two in the previously mentioned newsletters. Like how to cook a turkey overnight, or how to make jelly. In my role as chairman of various organizations, there were numerous reports that had to get written, but nothing I’d ever brag about and I’ve served as secretary in other groups so writing up the minutes could be considered non-fiction, but only of interest to the groups involved and probably not even read by the members voting to accept them as presented.


Then there is my website where I already mentioned my Peace Corps articles, but I also have a page for short stories I've written, another page for interesting tidbits of history I've discovered while researching and my blog. Lots of fun stuff on those pages. My publisher, Belle Bridge Books has also released two short stories of mine that are available in e-book format at no charge. 


My most recent foray into non-fiction is a short story I wrote that began with the idea it was a “story” – a fictionalized story based on my faithful pooch, MacDuff. But in the end it was a totally non-fiction memoir of my time with him and the hole he’d left in my life when he passed just short of his 15th birthday. That memoir/short story, entitled Duffy’s Footprints was one of those chosen from over a hundred entries for publication in the Florida Writer’s Annual Anthology which will be released next month. I’d include a buy link here, but since it’s not yet available, you’ll just have to wait for Florida Writer’s Association Volume 13: Footprints.  


In the meantime, why not check out what a few of my fellow Round Robin Bloggers write besides novels:

Marci Baun

Victoria Chatham 

Connie Vines 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Judith Copek 

Rhobin L Courtright 

Posted by: AT 12:02 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Oh, yes, newsletters, recipes, guest blogging. I'd forgotten all about those times at the keyboard. We are busy, busy. great article by the way.
Posted by Connie Vines on 09/18/2021 - 02:18 AM
I do remember your story about your dog, and it's a heart-wrencher. I never thought of minutes as writing, but of course it is. I've been secretary to an endless list of groups since the 1960s, and yes, people don't take much in from minutes.
Posted by Bob Rich on 09/18/2021 - 06:25 AM
Your essay about sheets brought a memory up of me aged six being on 'train duty.' At that time a train track passed very close to our house. If Mum had sheets on the line, I had to be out there listening for the train, then we'd have to get the sheets in quickly before they got covered in soot as the train passed. Yes, those were the glory days of steam trains so I guess we age each other.
Posted by Victoria Chatham on 09/18/2021 - 09:56 AM
Minutes are important records even if not ever read. Recipes, even if never published in a cookbook, allow us to recreate the perfect apple pie or sloppy joe. And congratulations on your memoir/short story!
Posted by Robin Courtright on 09/18/2021 - 12:47 PM
I have one story that languishes in paper format. I'm unsure if I still have it (I wrote it when I was 10), or, if I ran across it, was horrified by it, and threw it away. LOL Your teacher did you a great favor in that assignment. It taught you to focus on a sense. I imagine that's reflected in your books now. I've only ever uploaded a few recipes on my blog. I wouldn't claim any of them because I'm not that creative when it comes to cooking. (I want in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. LOL) How fun to have your short memoir included in an anthology. What a wonderful way to remember your pooch. :)
Posted by Marci on 09/19/2021 - 06:59 PM

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