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2014 Writing Wordshops

The Wordshop encourages a fearless approach to creative writing within a supportive workshop atmosphere.

2014 Writing Wordshops
1. Unblocking the Words: Getting Your Voice on Paper
2. Embracing Your Story: Designed for Veterans, Survivors, and Overcomers
3. Soul Letters
4. Revising Workshop
5. Personal Tutoring: Designed for your specific needs.

Each five week Writing Wordshop is designed to “unblock” your writing and take it to the next level. The focus varies, though each is rooted in the Six Traits of Writing. The writing steps: Pre-Writing, Writing, Revising, Editing, and Publishing, are addressed in tandem with the Six Traits: Idea, Word Choice, Voice, Sentence Fluency, and Conventions in the foundational workshop “Unblocking the Words.” The Wordshops include, whether online or in person: workshop materials, weekly assignments, professional advice to revise, edit, and improve your writing or project.

FREE online consultation! Just mention this article. Application Essay should be submitted in advance of free consultation.

*Location: Online Anywhere, Nashville (Coming Summer 2014), U.S. Weekend Workshops

*Costs: The Online Wordshop and Personal Tutoring. Online Tutoring Venue: One-on-one video conferencing via Skype or iChat.

*5 Week Wordshop Sessions 
Limit: 10 participants. Alumni Reading Socials: held annually. Workshop Length: 1.5 hours. Locaton: TBD. Minimum 5 participants.

*Weekend Wordshops: TBD by travel, material, and time costs considerations.

*All participant’s writing is eligible for selection on The Wordshop Blog website. All rights to your writing are retained by the author.

After the 2010 Nashville Flood.

May 2010

“Don’t Stop When It Rains” Shirley Logan.

Just a few hundred yards from Shirley’s home in Franklin, Tennessee, lay an eclectic array of garbage rendered useless by the receded waters of the Harpeth River. Debris lined up along the curbs looking more like inspection time at the county jail (awkward and perfunctory) than remnants of a recent devastating flash flood. A week earlier, the river mutated from an inconsequential, tranquil creek to liquid brown brawn swallowing up homes, memories, and property lines just one street away from my “second” home.

Franklin, TN, 2010

To my more curious Pennsylvania friends, I describe Franklin as a “perfect little town,” so earlier in the month when I’d watched the devastation from my Yankee living room, I experienced the helplessness one must feel when an injured neighbor is in need, but just out of reach. If it weren’t for the toilets, sinks, and warped hunks of walls and splintered floor boards waiting like expectant patients, I would not have believed the reports. Oddly enough, the homeowners had arranged their broken possessions in neat piles for collection. Otherwise, it would be difficult to find evidence of what had taken place two weeks earlier.

Rivers shoveling silt after the flood.

I rambled through town in my rental car after returning from my first songwriting session. I was looking for markings of the violent flood waters–if you’ve been through a flood (mine was Agnes as a girl), you know where to look: under bridges, on houses, in the hedgerows. The flood waters had moved so violently that they swept away much of what stood in the path–even lives. I could see that little remained untouched near the river banks of this quaint, picturesque town, as well as along nearby highways, and downtown Nashville itself.

Shirley and I met at a songwriting conference in New Jersey, and she has opened her home to me many times over the years so I could chase a dream. And, yes, Nashville is host to a long line of dream chasers. Rather than feeling disconcerted, I’ve always felt encouraged and renewed after a songwriting trip. It could be the simple act of creating something that hadn’t existed when you’d gotten out of bed, or maybe the camaraderie inherent to co-writing. After the first few songwriting trips, my visits became more like a mini-relocations and Shirley and I forged a deep friendship. Before long, the Nashville skyline and Franklin merchantiles prompted a strong wave of nostalgia. Something I’ve only felt for a few places: my childhood home, my first house after college, and Colorado. Though these trips scratch a necessary itch in my musical life, the friendships soon overshadowed any creative pursuits. So, as I drove through the Franklin streets near the river, I inspected the damage like an adjuster with a personal, vested interest. What I really scavenged for was the human story behind the vacant stare of the houses. A week into my songwriting trip, I met a lively, witty woman and her daughter in Shirley’s kitchen. She was gathering Shirley’s young daughters for a sleepover; however, she wasn’t taking the girls to her home. During the flood, everything she owned was covered in eight feet of water. “I went to work in the morning and came home to a flooded house. I lost all but 3% of what I own.” Neighbors and friends helped save as many photographs as possible, and offered even more than that: a place to rest and live in a spare room until she and her daughter can sort through the legalities and insurances–or lack there of.

So many people are in the same situation; this is a small slice of the human cost. A surface wound. This is what I was looking for when I drove past the houses willing the walls to speak, but here in front of me was a real story.

Franklin, Nashville, and the surrounding areas hit the hardest have been swift to retaliate against the rain. Behind the piles, lawns perked up. Tree branches and ragged brush quarantined to dumpsters. Neighbors laugh together, standing in long lines for ice cream and songwriter rounds. I should not be surprised, but I am.

Nashville’s lifeblood is music and the only silence it allows is the moment following a great song.

Surprised, but also thankful, because it had been frightening to watch torrents of rain push through places I recognized. I decided to drive this trip, rather than fly (a ten-hour difference), filling the back of my Volvo wagon with the extras stashed in my basement: unneeded clothing, toys, and “stuff.” I asked my children to sort their clothes by “Keep,” “Trash,” and “Nashville.” I loaded my car with anything I thought might bring comfort. Then, I drove 770 miles, happy to do something. In the big scheme of things, considering the human toll and the physical pillage, it wasn’t much.

With Shirley Logan

That’s what my head said, but my heart had learned a valuable lesson years earlier while working with World Vision: doing one simple thing for someone else, whether you know their name or not, makes a difference. To everyone involved.

It’s the doing that matters.

One life brushes up against another and another and another, and if we all just do one thing–something–we can press on together, a little easier and maybe a little further. Sometimes, it is the simple thing that heals, like saying, “I hear you,” and “You’re strong,” and “We’ll figure it out together.”

For Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, the flood of 2010 tattooed a watermark on bridges and fields, houses and hearts, as all floods do. Some will rebuild, forget, happy to put it behind them, and others will commemorate those days with flowers on concrete markers.

So when you hear about another benefit concert in Nashville, push past the temptation to think the industry is “milking” the flood or any other disaster for publicity. The flood ran deep, yes it did; but the ties between the people of Tennessee run deeper still.

Grubbing for pizza in Franklin with Shirley and husband, Harry Tiffany IV.
Rosario de Areco BBQ on the Pampas in Argentina.
On the Pampas at Rosario de Areco, San Antonio de Areco

Rosario de Areco, July 2010

“I have seen the heart of Argentina.  I am in the heart of Argentina.  I am talking and eating and dancing with the heart of Argentina.

This is this country’s “West.”  Gauchos are cowboys.  Cow skin hides stretch luxuriously across the cold, stone floors.  Horses walk, something between a stroll and a prance, claiming the slightly rolling ground.  Pines and unfamiliar trees run in hedgerows and hug the low, adobe houses.

Rosario de Areco

Pride of country exists here much like our own in America.  The contemporary Argentine’s ancestry is a blend of European (mostly Italy, Spain, and Germany) and the native South American Indians.

Their colors of deep terra-cotta and vibrant garnet red thread like ribbons securing city to pampas. Wrapped in my red woolen shawl, I imagine myself a gaucho. And more, I am like a gaucho’s woman.

Argentine women are small and Italian-looking.  Fine bones.  Small eyes.  Tawny skin. They walk like women, so they are all beautiful.

Don Segundo Sombra’s grandson (black hat)

The men of the countryside, the pampas, are hearty, robust. Horse and polo men.  Some tall, some short. Some dress in the country’s rural clothes, something like you’d find a hundred years ago: beret, loose-fitting pants stuffed into knee-length leather boots, buttoned shirts. Teal and tan and black. Handsome. Quiet. Stoic, but, when searched, a smile–shy and boyish–waits.

Francisco Guevara. Owner of Rosario de Areco. Our ranch, a two-day respite from a week in Buenos Aires. He is macho, handsome, and intelligent. Kind and father-proud. Engaged and admiring of America and its history and Argentina’s parallel story. He sings robustly. His gorgeous son (one of nine strikingly similar siblings) joins him as naturally as a river joins the sea.  Confluence of heart, of heritage, of purpose. The harmonies like an accordion in the old musician’s hands. Jousting with the nylon strings of the guitar.

Francisco is like my father, and I am proud to tell him about Dad.  He looks at the fishing brochure and finds my father even before I can point him out. “Ah!” he exclaims, “What a wonderful face, eh? What a fine face your father has?” I nod, my cheeks are hot and flushed. This is a moment I will try to recapture many times over and I know it as he speaks. I miss nothing: his eyes (aren’t they dark like my own?), his great head and hair, his thick, wide palms, his fruit standing nine deep, this great feast of beef and wine. He is at once a mirror and a gust of wind in my flagging life. “Great life and expression in his eyes,” he says, shaking his head. Smiling “He is happy, yes?” “Yes,” I say, mirroring his enthusiasm, eager to display my own before the moment is a mist. “Yes, he is happy.”

With Francisco Guevara, Owner of Rosario de Areco

Dancers whirl, stomping feet, lifting proud chins to frame smiling mouths. A hand reaches for me. Yes! I will dance! I will celebrate and shed the layers of waiting.  This is a moment in my life. An intersection of change where ancient ways converge with a childlike running. Hair flying, chin up, eyes half-slitted by a smile. I know I look like the North American Indian of my own lineage. I am a child again. Heart open. Wide open. Questions far and away. Endings are beginnings. Regrets are just regrets. Nothing more. Nothing less. Today. This place. This moment is perfect. It is the gift of this magnificent country.


p.s. Manual. Oh, Manuel. (I must explain: Manuel is one of his six sons–an identical twin, no less, and the object of every woman’s attention. Age means nothing when one regards a Guevara). How many ways to say the name Manuel? I have seen the most beautiful man in Argentina. Someday he will age like a fine, rich, priceless wine. Like his father. Like my father. Like this new country of mine. Argentina. I will cry, Argentina.

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Karen Chronister, DBA The WordShop, Statement of Purpose: As a marketing professional, I strive to thoroughly understand and anticipate a business’s strengths and weaknesses by knowing its personnel, products, services, and target market, including any unique niches, utilizing intensive market research, strategic planning, and prioritized execution of the goals agreed upon with the business decision makers.

In layman terms: The WordShop has gymnastic abilities, and therefore, makes a great bendable buddy in a less than booming marketplace.

Professional Writing and Marketing Services: market research, market specialist/consultant, branding, promotional media, copy writing, editing, articles, interviews/bios, logo design, slogans, jingles, newsletters, other professional writing services.

Pricing per hour or per project and by contract as marketing specialist/consultant (daily rate).  Call 717-428-6252 or email today to set up a free consultation.