The Number Twenty-Five



Quarter 25 cent piece

Article by Dawn Sooy

Does 25 have special meaning? For mathematicians, it is the sum of the first five odd numbers. If you are a baseball fan, 25 is typically reserved for the best slugger on the team. In England, it is two-bits which equal about 25 cents. If you have noticed, every instance of 25, whether written or in number format is in the color silver.

It’s the Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group  25th silver anniversary, celebrating a quarter century of excellence in writing partnerships. As part of that excellence, GLVWG has hosted one of the regions best writing conferences for twenty-three of those years.

What amazing events do we have at the conference?

  • Presentations to help budding writers and published authors create and strengthen their skills
  • You aren’t alone. Attendees mingle with agents, other writer’s, other attendees all of whom share a similar passion
  • Opened and challenged the minds of the attendees with a plethora of sessions, keynote speakers, and learning by listening to on-the-spot feedback
  • Don’t be a starving artist. Scrumptious lunches and snacks as part of admission including our Saturday lunch with words of wisdom and encouragement from our Keynote speaker
  • Our stories are more than just words on paper. Authors have a vast and glorious history that have shaped the world around us. We celebrate this by the past mingling with the future by appearances from our very own “Samuel Clemens.”
  • Flash Literature contests featuring stories of fiction and non-fiction developed in 100 words of less; and lines of poetry written from the author’s heart and soul
  • Book Fair authors who present a variety of topics sharing resources that cover guides to develop your writing skills, walk you through the steps to publish, and ways to focus the marketing effort. Books containing stories to send shivers down your spine, couples entranced in romance, poetry, and so many other genres expanding your imagination.

In 2018, The Write Stuff Writer’s Conference™ will continue its excellence in presentations, marketing interviews, critique sessions, and of course the included lunch. The only thing our conference needs to be exceptional is YOU! Be a part of a GLVWG historical tradition and make your plans now to attend. Registration begins December 1, 2017. A link will be provided in future postings as this time draws near.

So mark your calendars.

The Write Stuff Writer’s Conference ™

   March 22, 23, 24, 2018

Stay current with updated information on the 2018 Conference by following this blog.

Meanwhile, have a look at pictures from March 2017’s GLVWG Write Stuff Writer’s Conference™.



Dawn Sooy

Dawn Sooy is the Conference Chair for the 2018 The Write Stuff Writer’s Conference™.  She hails from Eastern Pennsylvania and all four seasons the state offers. She received a degree in Computer Science and worked in the field until retiring in 2013.

Dawn lives with her husband, Bob, in a house that is much too big for them since their four children have grown and established lives elsewhere. She is the proud grandmother of four children and a great-grandchild.

Dawn’s love of animals involves volunteering at the local animal shelter. During the years as the children grew, her home hosted a sanctuary for hermit crabs, anoles, Chinese water dragons, a rose-haired tarantula, frogs, and mice. Though the tarantula did like sitting on her shoulder, she prefers the cuddly critters.

Her published accomplishments include two poems, one essay, and eight short stories, the latest anthology “Incarceration” which features her story, “The Black Hole.” Dawn’s works in progress include:

  • From the Darkness – A novel based on a true story about bipolar depression.
  • A horror anthology – short stories about creatures who use people as their hunting grounds

Last but not least, her favorite quote from Albert Einstein, “Learn from Yesterday, Live for Today, Hope for Tomorrow.”




The Archeology of a Story


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In a recent craft discussion at the GLVWG monthly meeting, professional storyteller Charles Kiernan discussed the evolvement of literary storytelling.  Before the invention of the Guttenberg Press, or handwritten accounts by trained scribes, legends, folktales, and mythology were passed down through generations by word of mouth. The following are notes from Charles’ seminar.


 Mythology, legends, folktales, and fairytales can be lumped together as pre-literary.

Mythology: Myths are the creation stories of a given culture, replete with characters representing fundamental aspects of that culture. And yet those characters have personality traits that appear to be individual. These gods and goddesses are both universal and unique. We, as individuals, tend to identify with one or another of these divine beings. Each of us has our primary myth.

Legend: This form of storytelling deals with maybe/historical heroes and heroines, again associated with a given culture. King Arthur, Sigurd, and Roland come to mind. They touch on and converse with mythological figures. The distinction between the two is not always clear.

Folktales: More often stories of the common people, although not always. Legendary figures like the indomitable Irish warrior Fionn mac Cumhaill can appear as Fin McCool, a downgraded, buffoonish giant in the folktale.

Fairy Tales: These are a sub-category of folktales. The distinction between the two is that fairy tales have the element of magic. It hurts me to say “sub-category.” Fairy tales are superior to folktales and perhaps the origins of myth.

There is the argument among folklorist about whether fairy tales come out of myths, or if myths come out of fairy tales. I suggest the answer is “yes.”

 Literary Fairy Tales: These are, of course, fairy tales written down with an eye on the literate reader, one use to literary conventions. His name is Hans Christian Andersen.

Ok, maybe that is not fair, but he does exemplify the literary treatment of fairy tales.

Fairy tales have their own unique structure.

  • Few characters have names. Typically, they are identified by their position—king, queen, youngest son, old soldier.
  • Descriptions are sparse. We are told little of how things look.
  • Tales are in the third person objective. We never get inside the character’s heads.
  • Tales are not dialog driven. Dialog is used to highlight parts of the story.
  • There is more telling than showing. Showing is a wordier process than telling. Telling is succinct, as are the tales.

Moving beyond structure:

  • There is a propensity for the number three. For example, in The Goose Girl we see three drops of blood. Later on in the story there are three stream to cross, and three passages through the dark gateway.
  • Royalty has magical powers. This is always assumed, perhaps a reflection of the times.
  • Animals can talk, and not simply animals talk to animals, but also animals talking to humans.
  • Evil must be punished and good rewarded. Typically, evil is destroyed in rather graphic terms.
  • Story usually ends happily. You can have a fairy tale without fairies, but happy endings are the rule. However, there are cautionary tales that do not end so happily.

Shared traits between oral and literary storytelling.

Both (usually or frequently) have:

  • A beginning, middle, and end.
  • Characters, particularly protagonists and antagonists.
  • Plot.
  • Crossing the threshold.
  • Helpers.
  • Conflict.
  • Rising action.

(Note: The above list is less applicable to literary fiction than it is genre fiction. Also, I did not include romantic relationships as a common trait, although there are plenty of fairy tales ending in marriage.)

Limitations of oral storytelling.

Fairy tales:

  • Are presented in the third person; never first or second person.
  • Lack character development. (Most characters do not even have proper names.)
  • Do not get into the heads of its characters. (It is a hallmark of a literary fairy tale when the story does so. As soon as the tale describes what a character is thinking, you know this is not a traditional fairy or folktale.)
  • Are highly limited in physical descriptions. (Princesses are typically “beautiful.”)
  • Are rarely tragic or melodramatic. (There are cautionary tales that end badly, but do not rise to the level of Greek tragedy.)


My suspicion is that fairy tales are based on the dream structure of pre-literate, oral storytellers.

According to Marie-Luise von Franz (Jungian psychologist) in her Interpretation of Fairy Tales, “Fairy tales are the purest and simplest expression of collective unconscious psychic processes.”


Old Woman in the Wood, Brothers Grimm, Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales)

The Turnip Princess. The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, by Franz Xaver von Schonwerth, Erika Eichenseer (Editor)

The final element I want to mention, that is common to oral and literary storytelling, is the narrator. In the case of oral storytelling we are dealing with real live narrators, who being human are ephemeral. The literary narrators—including those of fairy tales written down—for being virtual, are more likely eternal.

What this means is, for your narrator in your story, who may or may not be you, there is the DNA of long ago storytellers floating beneath your tale.


Samual Clemmens

The GLVWG resident expert on the art of fairytales and the telling of tall tales, Charles Kiernan is the coordinator for the Lehigh Valley Storytelling Guild, the Pennsylvania State Representative for the National Youth Storytelling Showcase, the Pennsylvania State Liaison for the National Storytelling Network, and recipient of the 2008 Individual Artist Award from the Bethlehem Fine Arts Commission.

He loves to tell the Brothers Grimm and other fairy tales. But, be warned, he does tell them in their original spirit, under the belief that the “grimness” of Grimm serves a purpose, and should not be removed.

He performs at theatres, listening clubs, schools, libraries, and arts festivals.

You can contact Charles at, and follow him at his website,,, and his Facebook Page.



Winning Entries – Flash Literature Contest


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The Conference over, the votes tallied, it’s only fitting we honor the first place winners from the Write Stuff Writers Conference™ Flash Literature Contest, held on March 25, 2017.

Bernadette Sukley, who’s been chairing the Flash Literature Contest for seven years, gives us a quick rundown on how the process worked.

  1. Contest is open to Conference Attendees Only.
  2. Participants provide 100 words of poetry, fiction or non-fiction (or all three genres).
  3. Entries submitted via email or in person at the Write Stuff Writers Conference™.
  4. Entries are posted for reviewing and voting by all attendees.
  5. Tally of votes and announcement of winners (first, second, third prizes awarded for each of the three genres) at the end of conference.



For the Fiction Category:

1st Place: Christopher Ochs

2nd Place: Elizabeth Thomas

3rd Place: Judy England McCarthy


Winning Entry – “I Glimpsed Them“, by Christopher Ochs.

Poe saw the Monsters. Lovecraft saw Them. Campbell saw Them as well. They all saw Them, then they wrote about Them.

Last year, I glimpsed Them — and They saw me. Of course, I was stupid enough to write a story about it.

Poe died from opium, or so the legend goes. Lovecraft succumbed to syphilis, which I find curious since the poor slob was a virgin. Campbell died of esophageal cancer — yet he was an avid non-smoker.

When they decide to tear me from this life, what fate shall They choose I wonder, to fool this unwitting world?



For the Non-Fiction Category:

1st Place: Rita Citivella

2nd Place: Ralph Burns

3rd Place: Terry Ingalsby


Winning Entry – “The Line“, by Rita Citivella.

I feel their judgment. I don’t belong here. I haven’t mastered the language. I long to fit in, to be a part of this nation. I’ve gone over the answers a hundred times. Still, my heart beats faster as the line moves forward. Soon they will question me.

Don’t let them intimidate you. You have a right to be here. Don’t say anything to arouse suspicion.

My turn now. I tremble under their steely glare.

Take a deep breath. Answer confidently.

“Tall Vanilla Latte.”



For the Poetry Category:

1st Place: Beverly Botelho

2nd Place: Rita Civitella

3rd Place: Sharon Boudreaux


Winning Entry – “Song of Solace“, by Beverly Botelho.

Your pigments paint me happy, calm, and serene

My pea green turns to blush and

I feel the rush a drug might provide

A balm that Solomon would be proud to claim, bless, and seal Under your brush


I spread red and peach mixed with pine I am proud to say

I am your creation

Under cerulean sky and a cover of violet white

I am jealous of this day, a day filled with laughs and a smattering of night


Paint me again a gallery of todays

Tomorrow may turn black



Bio Bernadette Sukley

Bernadette Sukley, Write Stuff Writers Conference™ Flash Literature Contest Organizer and Chairman of the GLVWG Anthology, ‘The Write Connections’, has been researching, writing and editing for over 25 years. Her work has been featured in national and international publications. Her focus is human interest, health and lifestyle. She’s also written and edited guides, pamphlets, columns, stories, and novels. She’s published two novels (A Saving Hurricane, Find Me a Woman) and a nonfiction book (Made in Pennsylvania) within the last eight years.


Remembering the 2017 Write Stuff™ Writers Conference



The GLVWG Write Stuff™ Conference had probably one of its best years ever.  Headlined by Hollywood’s go-to story master, Michael Hauge, it was three days of learning and fun.

Joan Zachery, GLVWG’s photographer at large, shared highlights of the conference in pictures. She posted them on the GLVWG Facebook Page, but I’ll share a few here on the blog.

Thursday, March 23, 2017 – with Michael Hauge

Friday March 24, 2017

Friday Night Cocktails with Mark Twain

Samual Clemmens 2

Saturday March 25, 2017

Saturday Flash Fiction

The Book Fair

Keynote Luncheon

Thank you, Joan, for sharing great memories. 


And finally, our thanks to Conference Chairman, Charles “Samuel Clemons” Kiernan, for his guidance and leadership in coordinating the event.

Samual Clemmens

Join us next year for the 2018 GLVWG Write Stuff™ Conference, and don’t forget to like our GLVWG Facebook Page, and visit the GLVWG Group Site, where we’ll keep you up to date on all our  events throughout the year.

GLVWG Write Stuff™ Conference Schedule – Thursday, March 23


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Includes “Lunch with the Experts,” and Writers Café

Thursday Overview


Full day Michael Hauge seminar
“Story Mastery”


Lunch with the Experts (included)

1:00 – 

Michael Hauge: Continuation of
“Story Mastery”


 Writers Cafe: Informal Read and Critique (Included with ALL registrations)



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The GLVWG Write Stuff™ Conference – The Fun Starts Thursday, March 23


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Confrencees at Desk

It’s Here!

Greater Lehigh Valley Writer’s Group –  Write Stuff™ Conference

Starts Thursday, March 23.

Here’s the lineup of seminars for three days of awesome writer knowledge. Come early to learn, stay late to rub elbows with the presenters, agents, authors, and fellow writers.


Thursday March 23 : 


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Literary Agent – Mohamed Shalabi


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Mohamed Shalabi

Mohamed Shalabi, of the Talcott Notch Literary Agency, will be attending the GLVWG Write Stuff™ Conference on March 25, 2017. Mohamed took a few minutes to describe what he’ll be looking for during Saturday’s agent pitch sessions.

Interview by GLVWG’s Charles Kiernan.



CK: Can you share with us a bit about your journey to all things literary?

MS: As a schoolteacher, my mother encouraged me to be inquisitive and curious all the time even if it meant I would be the annoying kid in class, which I was. She used to say in accented English that “There are millions of answers to a single question, and millions of questions to a single answer” and she was right.

After ten years in Palestine, I returned to the United States to start college. I earned my B.S. and M.S. from the University of Texas at Dallas and was on a Pre-med track before realizing that medicine was not my calling. So, I taught science for three years while interning at three fine literary agencies, Veritas, Folio, and Talcott Notch where I picked up the skills to become an efficient literary agent.

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Interview with Amy Deardon – Award Winning Author and Publisher


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Amy Deardon 2

GLVWG’s Donna Sooy recently interviewed Amy Deardon, who will be at the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™, Friday and Saturday, March 24 & 25, 2017.

On Friday, Amy will give conferees tips on Insider Self-Publishing: Separating the Amateurs from the Pros. Saturday, she’ll conduct two sessions, What’s the Right Type of Publishing for My Book?, and Does My Book Have What it Takes?



DS:  I read you are an award-winning author, publisher, and budding online entrepreneur. Congratulations. What is a budding online entrepreneur? 

AD: Writing/Publishing is a wide-open field, with more options now for people to create and sell information than ever before. I am constantly looking for methods to deliver helpful products that will allow others to reach their goals… and hopefully allow me to help support our family in the process. A win-win!

DS: There are times when people relax at home, they read, crochet and color in the Mandela pattern books. What is your favorite pastime when relaxing?

AD: I tend toward the crafty side with sewing and needlework, although don’t do nearly as much as I used to. It seems I’m always working on a writing project and the computer is never too far away.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to do a lot of work from home, and since it’s not healthy to be too closed in I get out to exercise, or to meet with friends for coffee, or go to Bible study. Evenings are nice when my husband and kids and I cook dinner together as we talk.

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