Category Archives: writing

Parenting Book Story Deadline

Parenting Book Story Deadline

The deadline to submit stories for the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Parenting” is December 3, 2012, so hurry! And if you don’t get your story in on time, don’t worry because we have more than 30 books in the works that need your true stories! Too late for the Parenting book? Try “Moms” or “Family.” The funnier the better! And if they are a little edgy, great! Give us a good laugh. If it’s no racier than PG-13, it’s not too edgy for us. Story length: 500-2500 words. See for story guidelines and a list of books seeking stories. I have two more books in the works: Not Your Mother’s Book on Grandparenting and a new title: Not Your Mothers Book . . . on Working for a Living. I’m waiting for your stories!

Two of our books are already published, and a third will make its debut in December. Already available in bookstores and as eBooks: Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Being a Woman and the hilarious Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Being a Stupid Kid. Can you believe I’ve read each one THREE times? Seriously, I have! And I’m still laughing. I can’t wait for Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Dogs in December, NYMB . . . on Travel in January, and then MY first book in the series, on Parenting in March!

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November 28, 2012 · 1:29

Writing with My Daughter and Granddaughter

I love to write, but what’s even more fun is to write with my daughter and my 12-year-old granddaughter. Writing with your children pays off. My daughter and I wrote together when she was a child. She won an essay contest when she was around the age her daughter is now. I run into her essay from time to time when I clean out the file drawers, and it always brings a smile to my face.

My daughter surprised me last year by writing a book. I didn’t even know she had ever considered writing a book, and suddenly there it was . . . all 300 pages of a young adult fantasy. Wow! I didn’t think I cared much for fantasy, but this one grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. It wasn’t just that my daughter wrote it. I forgot all about that as I got lost in the story. After I read it, the characters and their lives stayed with me for days. I thought about them and wanted more. I’m helping my daughter edit, and then it’s on to the publisher!

Speaking of publishers, Publishing Syndicate has a really unique publishing offer. They have designed a program to help you get published, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, either! We will definitely see what they can do for my daughter after we polish her book. This company is worth checking out:

My granddaughter and I have written stories together for several years. When I edit our creations, she watches and sees how I think about a writing project . . . how I move things around, delete unneeded words and even whole sentences, and look up a word when I’m unsure of the spelling. We talk about the changes I make. She’s becoming a good writer, and is developing the skills that she needs to become a great writer.

This summer, my granddaughter will try writing for publication. Publishing Syndicate ( has three new anthologies: One for kids, one for pre-teens, and one for teens. It’s called OMG. My Reality. This will be a test of the skills she has learned, because she will be on her own; parents and grandparents cant help.  Whether or not her stories are published, writing with the hope of publication will strengthen her skills even more. And if she is published, it will look great on scholarship and college applications, along with her other activities and her good grades.

Write with your kids and grandkids. I do, and it’s great!

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Filed under Anthology, books, Family Memories, grandchildren, kids writing, OMG My Reality, Parent, pre-teens writing, Publishing Syndicate, submitting stories, teens writing, writing, writing for publication,, young adult fantasy, young adult writing

Anthology? What’s That?

An anthology is a collection of work which is often published in a single volume. Chicken Soup for the Soul is an example of a well-known anthology. A new anthology series called Not Your Mother’s Book is about to be unleashed.Writing stories for anthologies is a great way to grow your writing platform, and it’s something that should be considered by all aspiring writers.

What is Not Your Mother’s Book (NYMB)? It’s a new anthology series by Publishing Syndicate, and it’s made up of more than thirty non-fiction titles like Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Travel, on Parenting, on Grandparenting, on Being Actively Retired, and more. There’s a great range in story length, from 500 to 2500 words. All stories must be told in the first person.

What’s different about the Not Your Mother’s books? The edginess! The publisher is seeking edgy, humorous, and entertaining, stories for the 21st century.

What can you do to have a better chance of being published in  anthologies? Submit your stories as soon as possible after you receive a story call out. Why? Because as the best stories arrive, they begin to fill the book. Once there are enough great stories, the book will be closed. If yours arrives too late, it can’t be included.

Should you quickly write a story and submit it the same day? Never! Let it rest, at least overnight. I almost always make changes to my stories after letting them rest.

How can I earn more royalties if my story is accepted? If your story can be submitted to more than one book-in-progress (for example “on Family” and “on Grandparenting,” submit to as many titles as you can find that are a good fit. If the titles aren’t being released  too close together, and if your story makes the cuts, it is possible that it will be used in more than one book and that you will earn royalties based on things like sales and each book in which it appears.

What can I do to increase my chances of my story being published? Follow all of the submission guidelines. If the guidelines call for a story 500 to 2500 words in length, do not turn in a story that has 3000 words. Proofread carefully.

I am currently co-creating Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Parenting and Not You Mother’s Book . . . on Grandparenting. Go to for complete guidelines and to submit your stories to these titles. Then look down the list of other titles and see if the same stories can be submitted to other titles. If your stories are selected for NYMB books, you’ll be glad to know that you will still own the rights, so you can submit the same stories to other anthologies.

What can you write about?Look through the book titles. Jot down ideas and start writing. I’ll be watching for your submissions.

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Filed under Anthology, Publishing Syndicate, writing, writing for publication

Publishing Syndicate is actively accepting non-fiction submissions, written by individuals 18 years and older, for these two books that I (Pat Nelson) am co-creating: Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Parenting and Not Your Mother’s Book . . . on Grandparenting. This new anthology series, featuring more than 35 different titles, will be targeted at a mature audience and, as such, many, but not all, of the stories will contain language and situations with a rating of PG-13 or TV-14. Stories must be entertaining, humorous, or inspiring, not sad, sappy or preachy. And please, no death or dying stories. Royalties will be paid. For more information, go to

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April 18, 2012 · 1:29

Volunteers have something to give. Students thrive with extra help.

By Pat Nelson
For The Daily News, Longview, WA, reprinted with permission 2008


A thin girl with straight brown hair and dull brown eyes sat down beside me in a classroom twenty-some years ago, put her head on her desk on her folded arms, and shut her eyes. I was there as a volunteer, helping elementary students to improve their reading skills. This little girl’s eyes weren’t dull every day, but she often arrived at school sleepy, and sometimes she hadn’t eaten breakfast. On those days, she started school with two strikes against her.

Another child I worked with was alert and attentive, but lagged behind some of the other students in his reading skills, which undermined his confidence. He needed a little extra attention.

Every elementary classroom has students like these who can benefit from one-on-one help. Teachers can’t always provide individual help, so they must count on volunteers.

I’ve volunteered in my granddaughter’s classroom for the past two years. She attends  a small country school, with only 18 students in her class. Because I’m a writer, I chose to help with writing. This September, I will start my third year with the same group of kids. When I first decided to volunteer, I cleared it with the teacher and then filled out a form at the school office to have my background checked.

Two years ago, as I sat at a low table in a little chair, students brought their folders to me one by one. I checked to see that they had completed their homework, and helped them if they had not. I listened to them read, and worked with those who needed extra help. Because I worked with the same students each week, I came to understand their individual learning styles or difficulties, and as time went on, I became better at directing my help towards the students who needed it the most.

Other times, the teacher allowed me to present a writing lesson. One day, the students all sat on a carpet in front of me, cross-legged, as I talked to them about what goes into making a book. I had written a book many years earlier, so I showed them the manuscript, the editor’s copy, the page proofs, the galley proofs, the cover design, and the finished product. I explained to them that each of the books in their classroom had gone through the same stages. They were especially interested in learning that even authors make mistakes, and enjoyed seeing the red proofreading marks on the edited manuscript.

Parents, grandparents, and other interested adults can help students boost their skills, interests, and confidence by volunteering in a classroom on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to take long. Last year, I helped with writing just thirty minutes a week. The children knew me and I knew the class routine, so I slipped into the classroom quietly just before the writing segment, and observed to see who needed help or a little extra encouragement.  As students got to know me, they started voluntarily coming to me for help, and they were proud to demonstrate their accomplishments. They liked showing me that they had hung my newspaper columns in their classroom, and they talked to me about my articles.

Last year, I presented an exercise on observation. I brought a basket full of items from home, and each child drew one item and filled out a description of the item based on using their senses. Those descriptive words then became part of a short story.

Students from the classroom  won first, second, and honorable mention in a county-wide writing contest, and I was excited to celebrate their achievements with them.

If you would like to share your own time, skills, and experience with a classroom at an area school, plan to sign up soon. Woodland’s school offices open August 18, and other school offices are about to open as well. By calling now, you can get the background check started, and you and the teacher can discuss your schedule. You’ll be giving a lot more than time. You will be helping youngsters thrive. If you would like to make a difference, this is a great way to do it.


School Volunteers Checklist

1.       List your areas of interest and expertise.

2.       Note the days of the week and hours that you can be available on a regular basis.

3.       Contact a school of your choice to sign up as a volunteer.

4.       Arrive at class a few minutes early and enter the room quietly, disrupting the classroom as little as possible.

5.       Sign up again next year. You’re always needed.



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Filed under elementary students, grandchildren, school volunteer, The Daily News, Woodland, writing, writing contest, writing lesson, writing mentor, young adult writing

Writers, get the most out of your stories

box of lettersbox of lettersIn February, I wrote “Century old love letters go home for Valentine’s Day” for The Daily News, Longview, WA. (See the story on this blogsite.) My writing teacher said it was a great story. I didn’t know how great until, the morning it came out in the paper, Channel 2 News from Portland, OR called and wanted to use the story as its Valentine feature.

My friends and I had purchased these old love letters at an antique shop on the Oregon Coast. How, we wondered, did they get there from Texas? We were intrigued, and set out to find their family. Thank goodness for the Internet, because without it, we wouldn’t have found the family genealogist who had researched that very family for thirty years. After a few emails back and forth, I sent the letters home to Texas, where their new owner reads them to her grown children.

Any of us who write for publication know that when you have a good story, you should write it for more than one magazine or newspaper. Each version should be specifically tailored to the publication receiving it. Today, I called the editor of the newspaper in that small Texas town and told him my idea. He was interested, and asked me to email the story. I got the correct spelling of his name, and found out how he would like me to send the story. He prefers email, but some editors prefer snail mail. You must know what the editor wants and follow his guidelines, and you must know the editor’s name when you send the query. “Dear Sir” doesn’t sell stories.

Once I had sent the email, I packed the copies of the letters back into their brown leather bag and put them away. As soon as I did, I realized I wasn’t done. What about the towns those long-ago lovers lived in, I wondered? Would their newspapers be interested in the stories too?

I looked up the two towns and found that they shared the same newspaper. There, in the center of the newspaper’s web page, was a notice requesting story ideas for the 150th anniversary edition. It seemed a perfect fit…and I almost forgot to try it!

So often, we don’t carry our ideas far enough. It can be hard enough to find a great idea. When you do, don’t waste it. Write it for all it’s worth.

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Filed under Family Memories, love letters, submitting stories, Texas, The Daily News, Valentine's Day, writing, writing for publication

Century-old love letters go home for Valentine’s Day

Learn more about this love story tonight on KATU Channel 2 News! KATU read my story in The Daily News and came to my home where they interviewed me to find out more about the special story of Miss Millie and J. D. Wright’s romance. Here’s a link to the news segment:

If you enjoy this story or would like to suggest other “heartwarming or emotion-evoking true stories” for me to write, please comment on this blog. Happy Valentine’s Day!

                     Pat Nelson

Thursday, February 14, 2008

By Pat Nelson / For the Daily News, reprinted with permission

Four years ago, my husband and I took a trip to Newport, Ore. with Woodland residents Mary Ann and Ted St. Mars. We visited an antique store where I saw an Old Spice box, browned with age, but in good shape. I held it up to read the lightly- penciled note on its side: “Mama and Papa’s Love Letters. Millie Pirtle and J. D. Wright.”Once I knew the box contained love letters, I couldn’t resist. I called Mary Ann over, opened the box, and carefully removed one of the many little square white envelopes. The cursive handwriting looked like art. The postmark was Aug. 10, 1904. I could picture a lady’s slender hand dipping a fountain pen into an inkwell to fill it before drawing the beautifully curved lines.Mary Ann and I thought it would be fun to read the old letters. “How much are they?” I asked the clerk, holding up the unmarked box.“I don’t know. How about $5?”We each placed $2.50 on the counter and left with our prize.The three of us were caretakers of those love letters for four years, knowing that the $5 we paid didn’t really make them ours. Through those letters, we got to know the correspondents, Millie Pirtle of Salona, Texas, and her beau, James D. Wright of Bowie, Texas, and we believed they wanted their letters to go home.Our job was to find out where “home” was.Millie, a proper lady, began each letter formally with “Mr. Wright.”He began his to her with “Miss Millie.”

It was easy to follow the progression of their romance just by the way Mr. Wright closed his letters. In August of 1904, he signed “as ever your friend,“ but by November, he signed, “I close with all my love for you!”

When the two first started corresponding, Millie shared her uneasiness with her newfound feelings when she wrote: “I hardly know how to answer your letter as I fear I hardly know the sentiment of my own mind and you have asked for my mind exactly.”

Mr. Wright knew just how to win Miss Millie’s heart: “It is your true soul which I admire, your mind of pure thoughts.”

At one point in September, Mr. Wright seemed to question where he stood by signing the letter “I remain your true friend…? & lover.”

But soon, he knew he was gaining Miss Millie’s love when she wrote “Mr. Wright, my heart is wholly my own except what of it is yours. You have stolen a part of it. Can’t say when.”

He didn’t have to wait long for Millie to get in touch with her true feelings. Later in September she wrote: “Tonight I have a feeling towards you I have never felt for anyone else, a feeling I have never felt before, a feeling all so new, so strange, all so quick, so unexpected, and yet so sweet, so calm, I do not care to part with it. Is this the beginning of love?”

When Mr. Wright wasn’t writing flowery love notes, he also had a sense of humor. In one letter, he wrote about a lady who was keeping her eye on them: “If you had looked around some you would have known we were being watched for I could see her large eyes roll around like that of a cow when she hears the hay rattle.”

Once the two had agreed to marry, Mr. Wright relaxed his writing style a bit and added this post script that was less flowery than some of his writing and gave Miss Millie a peek at his evening routine: “I was so interested in this letter that I forgot to take my tobacco so I must sit up awhile longer and read the news.”

Millie may have thought at one point that Mr. Wright was getting a bit too comfortable with their relationship, and in her letter of Oct. 10, she wrote, “The reason I took my hand from you was not that it hurt me or that I was afraid of it for I am not afraid of it at all. I do not know just why I did, only I felt you had no right to try it and that you should not.”

All was forgiven by Halloween, though, when Millie wrote, “I am proud that I love you and that you love me. I am proud ‘twas you that won my love for I feel that the love you return is as pure and true as my own.”

With their marriage only two weeks away, Miss Millie wrote, “Mr. Wright, it is with a strange sweetness that I reflect on the time when we shall be as one.”

Miss Millie and Mr. Wright kept the love letters as a keepsake throughout their lives. Ted and Mary Ann St. Mars and I knew what we had to do.

Ted photocopied all of the letters, and stored the originals in a safe place. Then, we started searching the Internet for their family.

We finally located Jymie Carol Inmon, who had researched the family for 30 years. In January, the 1904 love letters left Woodland and traveled back to Texas where they will spend Valentine’s Day 2008 with Jymie Carol and her four children… second cousins four times removed to James David Wright.


The Daily News reporter Leila Summers added this sidebar:

Jymie Carol Hawley couldn’t believe her luck.

The long-lost love letters sent from Woodland last month provided Hawley, a Texas resident and family genealogist, with rare insight to lives of her distant ancestors J. D. Wright and Millie Pirtle.

“It was very exciting,” she said. “I just think it’s history, and it’s a (love) story.”

How these letters landed on the Oregon Coast remains a mystery, said Hawley, 50, in a phone interview. If Jim’s and Millie’s descendants moved to Oregon, the region could be a new place to search for other lines of the Wright family, she said.

“That’s one reason I’m trying to find the whereabouts of (their) children and grandchildren,” Hawley said. “Maybe the family moved to the West coast.”

Though Hawley herself is a distant relative to J. D. Wright, the Texas resident hopes the letters will someday rest with closer descendants of the couple, who’s eloquent writing whe’s grown to cherish.

“I plan to keep them forever unless I find a member of the family who’s in closer relation and they want them,” she said.

J. D. Wright (who went by “Jim”) is the fourth cousin, four-times removed from Hawley’s late husband.

Just before Pat Nelson contacted Hawley last fall, the Texas resident’s own research recovered a century-old family Bible…a great treasure in itself. Hearing from Nelson nearly put Hawley through the roof, she said.

“I was just thrilled,” she said.

Hawley hasn’t yet read all of Jim and Miss Millie’s letters, but she’s read many of them aloud to her grown children, many of whom are married.

“They’re all young and in love,” she said. They’ve enjoyed hearing the way “true feelings and thoughts” were put into romantic exchanges of yesteryear.

Some of the comments about this article:My Opinion wrote on Feb 14, 2008 6:31 AM:

” This is a great article for Valentine’s Day.A true story of finding “Mr. Wright”.Thanks for running it TDN. “

momof4 wrote on Feb 14, 2008 9:32 AM:

” What a great article. I love to read positive, uplifting things. I am so glad they found the family, what great keepsakes. “

paul wrote on Feb 14, 2008 9:45 AM:

” Incredible story! I love it!! “

Louie wrote on Feb 14, 2008 9:55 AM:

” A perfect story for this Valentine’s Day. I have the letters my father sent my mother when he was stationed off Attu on a minesweeper during WW2. I treasure them. Unfortunately the letters mom sent to dad had to be ‘deep sixed’ due to lack of storage space. A heartfelt loss to our family. I can just imagine these relatives jubilation at receiving these beautifully written pieces for their family’s history. Nice going you sleuths in Woodland. “

Mrs. M wrote on Feb 14, 2008 10:41 AM:

” Sweet “

Michele wrote on Feb 14, 2008 10:47 AM:

” As always you have put a smile on my face with your story. I love reading your articles as they are full of life and sparkle.”

my2cents wrote on Feb 14, 2008 11:13 AM:

” This was a lovely piece! Thanks so much for sharing a sweet story

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Filed under Family History, love letters, Texas, Valentine's Day, Woodland, writing