Incredible new resource for African American History

Incredible new resource for African American History

According to a story in the Guardian published last Saturday, a huge archive of handwritten records about slaves who were newly freed in the 1860s is now coming available. Not only can you access the records for research purposes but you can also volunteer to help digitize them.

Here’s the article:

African American family records from era of slavery to be available free online

“A major project run by several organisations is beginning to digitise the 1.5 million handwritten records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, which feature more than four million names and are held by various federal bodies, for full online access.

All the records are expected to be online by late 2016, to coincide with the opening of the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington.”

And here is a video about the Freedman’s bureau and a link to project, where you can help enter the handwritten records and digitize this incredible archive.

Freedman’s Bureau

AWWG Summer Camp, Coming Soon!!

AWWG Summer Camp, Coming Soon!!

August 3-7

AWWG Summer Camp will be happening August 3-7, and your Camp Counselors are very excited about the lineup we have for you.

Stay tuned for the full schedule of events coming soon. One or more events planned for every day, Monday through Friday, with a celebration dinner party Friday evening. Workshops, Tele-seminars, work, play, food, fun, special guests and more!


Happy Birthday Allen

Happy Birthday Allen

Today is Allen Ginsberg‘s birthday.


I must confess, the naive midwesterner I once was once dismissed him as a pervy sensationalist. That was before I read his work. Like this one:


The weight of the world
is love.
Under the burden
of solitude,
under the burden
of dissatisfaction

the weight,
the weight we carry
is love.

Who can deny?
In dreams
it touches
the body,
in thought
a miracle,
in imagination
till born
in human–
looks out of the heart
burning with purity–
for the burden of life
is love,

but we carry the weight
and so must rest
in the arms of love
at last,
must rest in the arms
of love.

No rest
without love,
no sleep
without dreams
of love–
be mad or chill
obsessed with angels
or machines,
the final wish
is love
–cannot be bitter,
cannot deny,
cannot withhold
if denied:

the weight is too heavy

–must give
for no return
as thought
is given
in solitude
in all the excellence
of its excess.

The warm bodies
shine together
in the darkness,
the hand moves
to the center
of the flesh,
the skin trembles
in happiness
and the soul comes
joyful to the eye–

yes, yes,
that’s what
I wanted,
I always wanted,
I always wanted,
to return
to the body
where I was born.

Allen Ginsberg
San Jose, 1954

Next Meeting Monday June 8

Next Meeting Monday June 8

MayaWritingOur next in-person meeting is June 8th, and once again Fearless Leader Carol will be on the road, so you are stuck with me.
I’m looking forward to it! I know you’re busy with your news articles about slices of life, and I’m looking forward to them. Please reach out if you want to discuss what you’re working on, or would like to meet for coffee. You can ping me anytime, or email any of your AWWG sisters for writerly support. That’s why we’re here!
I have a fun assignment in mind for next month, and was even considering using some of our time to work on it in the meeting.

ALSO – it’s time for the AWWG Summer Camp team to meet and plan! I’ll send around a rallying email.

See you there on Monday June 9!

Short Story or Novel?

Short Story or Novel?

from the excellent blog Write on, Sisters, I offer you 

Is Your Idea a Short Story or Novel?

This is a question I ponder when plot bunnies come to me, as characters settle in and begin to unfold. Do they have enough ‘something’ in them to go the long haul? How do you know when a story has the potential to grow into something larger?

Author Heather Jackson suggestions it is just ONE of these basic story elements that determines long form potential:

  1. A Protagonist – who leads the story.

  2. A Goal – what the protagonist wants.

  3. A Problem – what prevents the protagonist from achieving the goal.

  4. Objectives – how the protagonist tries to solve the problem.

  5. Obstacles – what/who prevents the protagonist from solving the problem.

  6. Stakes – what disaster will happen if the protagonist fails to solve the problem.

  7. Resolution – how the protagonist overcomes the obstacles to solve the problem and avertdisaster.

Which element? take a guess, make your case, then go read the rest of Heather’s blog. It makes a lot of sense!

PS: also check out this cool post on 6 things every short story should have

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Mother’s Day Proclamation

Julia Ward Howe, 1819-1910 abolitionist, activist & poet

by Julia Ward Howe, 1870

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!

Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.

We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

“From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –

In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Monday’s Meeting

Monday’s Meeting

Monday May 11

is our Main Monthly Meeting at the Accokeek Branch Library. We start the meeting at 1:30 sharp, and wrap up at 3:00. Moderator will stay after for help with blogs and other projects.

This Month’s Assignment

Please bring your revised paragraphs to share. We want to hear what you discovered when re-writing!

Summer Plans

Let’s discuss the Wednesday meeting, and what we should do about it. Also, summer plans! Our next meeting will be June, time for a BBQ or a pool party. And, is anyone up for an AWWG Writer’s Camp?  We could plan a week (or more) of writing activities around town that take advantage of our beautiful location, get us together and working, and boost our skills while having fun in the sun! Think about it…

Finally, Some Good Advice

Eight tips on writing from The Invisible College:

Useful quotes from Vonnegut, Hemingway, CS Lewis, Elmore Leonard, Eudora Welty, Henry Miller, Ted Hughes & Ray Bradbury

Prompt and Inspiration: Philip Schultz, “What I Like and Don’t Like…”

Prompt and Inspiration: Philip Schultz, “What I Like and Don’t Like…”

There’s nothing better for inspiration than finding a poem that inspires you to try something new. I love this poem; it’s simple, plain and sometimes surprising. It makes me think about what I like and don’t like and how some of those things are the same as Philip Schultz says….

What I Like and Don’t Like
by Philip Schultz

Listen Online

I like to say hello and goodbye.
I like to hug but not shake hands.
I prefer to wave or nod. I enjoy
the company of strangers pushed
together in elevators or subways.
I like talking to cab drivers
but not receptionists. I like
not knowing what to say.
I like talking to people I know
but care nothing about. I like
inviting anyone anywhere.
I like hearing my opinions
tumble out of my mouth
like toddlers tied together
while crossing the street,
trusting they won’t be squashed
by fate. I like greeting-card clichés
but not dressing up or down.
I like being appropriate
but not all the time.
I could continue with more examples
but I’d rather give too few
than too many. The thought
of no one listening anymore-
I like that least of all.

“What I Like and Don’t Like” by Philip Schultz from Failure. © Harcourt, 2007.

So, do you like the idea of writing your own “What I Like and Don’t Like” poem/essay/meditation/play? I hope so! Go for it, and share it here!

If you’d like support as well as inspiration and prompts, contact me now — I’m a writing coach that helps you get your work done your way. My services include regular coaching to keep you and your project on target, and editing, developmental, manuscript evaluation, and marketing services to help you get it out into the world.

Wednesday Meetings: CANCELLATION tonight

Wednesday Meetings: CANCELLATION tonight

Wednesday meetings have experienced very low attendance. This is not to say we haven’t had some good ones! I will be reviewing the schedule for changes in May.

But tonight, I need to keep working on an important project. If anyone wants to run the meeting, the room is ours. Just go to the reference desk and let them know you’re with AWWG.

See you NEXT WEEK, Weds. April 29th at 1:30pm 

When writers “hear what’s going on/not in my own head?” Inspiration and prompt from Louise Erdrich…

When writers “hear what’s going on/not in my own head?” Inspiration and prompt from Louise Erdrich…

I’m proposing this poem, posted today by the Writer’s Almanac as both inspiration and as a prompt. First, it’s an amazing poem — simple, layered, evocative. But it also proposes something radical, even paradoxical. What if we listened to the world instead of our own brainheart ramblings? Could we write about what is not in our heads?

Well, see what you think…

two-horses-3Spring Evening on Blind Mountain
by Louise Erdrich  

I won’t drink wine tonight
I want to hear what is going on
not in my own head
but all around me.
I sit for hours
outside our house on Blind Mountain.
Below this scrap of yard
across the ragged old pasture,
two horses move
pulling grass into their mouths, tearing up
wildflowers by the roots.
They graze shoulder to shoulder.
Every night they lean together in sleep.
Up here, there is no one
for me to fail.
You are gone.
Our children are sleeping.
I don’t even have to write this down.
“Spring Evening on Blind Mountain” by Louise Erdrich from Original Fire. © Harper Collins, 2003.

Clearly, words written down map the world and the world inside. Today, try the exercise she models. Sit and observe, and write the world down on your page. If you want to share your experiment, post it in the comments section so we can all see what you’ve seen!

Write on!


If you want more inspiration and support, contact me at to find out about how writing coaching, editing and manuscript evaluation services can jumpstart your creativity and get that project into the world!