Summer 2019 ♦ Volume 4, Number 1

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

Secrets

Secrets – one of the first things we learn as children.

The concept of secrets starts with toddlers being shushed by parents for commenting on someone’s weight or color or disability. They get shushed again for repeating something Mommy or Daddy said. “Don’t tell, don’t say that to Daddy, Mommy, neighbors or doctors.”

As we get older, secrets become more complicated and seemingly more necessary in our lives. We even keep secrets from ourselves by refusing to discuss or cope or change. Yet, we hate secrets too. We struggle to decide which ones to keep and which ones to tell. We bemoan this universal human tendency while we embrace the need for it. We excuse the white lies and feel guilty about bigger ones. We all have secrets we don’t want others to know, private and hidden knowledge filled with power. The secrets might amaze or embarrass, betray, shock or harm. We simply don’t know.

So, what do we do?

Recently, our teenage grandson came into my kitchen just as I finished an edit on a poem. Impulsively, I asked if he’d like to read it. Being both polite and kind, he said he would. The poem describes an incident from my childhood which, through the alchemy of writing, was transformed into something new.

“Did this happen to you?” he asked. “Is it real?”

Then, we talked about prose and poetry being a release for emotions, a release for the demons we all carry or a release for secrets we can’t otherwise share. Those things can be put into words on a page where it may touch a chord in a reader. Through the alchemy of writing, I took an incident and made it new, gave it a different life in a poem. He connected to that and I saw the understanding as it began to show on his face.

Like any art, writing allows you to take a thought or emotion and create something new, something that may or may not have anything to do with the original inspiration. We mine our lives for those nuggets we find useful and transform them into art, music, prose, and poetry. My grandson understood that and likened it to his favorite movies and the stories they tell. Since he enjoys art and music, I suggested he try it himself and one day he may.

Often, writing exposes a deeper truth and the secrets that are kept there. In the act of writing, we may reveal something to ourselves, thoughts or feelings we didn’t know we had. From this, we can learn what themes our life follows and what problems occur the most. That is why writing journals is so useful and why bibliotherapy – the use of poetry or prose to explore feelings — works. We literally see ourselves in words.

Conversely, writing hides secrets in plots or images, which wait to be found by the reader.  That is why mysteries are so popular – we don’t know something, so we need clues to help us find the secret. There’s a reason Law and Order was so popular for so many years. We like knowing secrets, even those of fictional characters. It gives us satisfaction.

Biographies and memoirs reveal the secrets of someone’s life, which can be endlessly fascinating. Even self-help books reveal secrets – Learn to cook creatively! Be a better person! Learn the secret of weight loss!

We chose Secrets as a theme for this issue of the journal because there is something deeply human about them, something that brings out emotions of every sort. It is universally interesting and it inspires all kinds of writing. We have a little bit of everything in this issue, a variety well worth exploring.

So, come – visit our secrets.

Susan E. Wagner
Editor, PSB Literary Journal

(Click title to read selection.
Author’s biography at end of contribution)

Bike Ride

A Poem by Susan E. Wagner

A Sea of a Thousand Shalt Nots

A Memoir by Meredith Betz

A Moment

A Novel Excerpt by Melissa Triol

In the Time of

A Poem by Elizabeth Esris

Secrets – A Play in Four Scenes

A Play by David H. Werrett

The Secret of the Double Knot

A Poem by Anne K. Kaler, PSBVA

Whose Secret Is It?

A Memoir by Linda C. Wisniewski

Secrets Beyond the Windowsills

A Poem by John A. McCabe

Poetry in Brief

An Essay by Susan E. Wagner

In the Garden of the Lost and Found

A Short Story by Meredith Betz

Harry’s Hobby Shop

A Memoir by Fred W. Donaldson

Lost Generation

A Poem by Elizabeth Esris

Winter Roses

A Short Story by Paul Sullivan

Cereal Killers

A Mystery by Ann Nonymous

Ogallala Memories

A Short Story by Bob McCrillis

His Footsteps

A Poem by David H. Werrett

A Women’s Tale

A Short Story by Susan E. Wagner

Nevada’s Light Brigade: A Top Secret Clearance

A Novel Excerpt by John A. McCabe

Keeper of Secrets

A Short Story by Paul Teese

Secretes Continuum

A Memoir by Ronald Scott Price

July Guild Meeting Recap

By Linda Donaldson

Summer heat did not deter fourteen members from attending our July Guild meeting on Sunday, July 21st.  Our editor Anne K. Kaler was not able to attend, so Cindy Louden and your author soldiered on in her absence. Our guest of honor, author Paul Sullivan, was unable to join us, but Paul thinks he’ll be able to attend our August meeting.

Eight selections were shared starting with an amusing story by Jane Bleam about a prank that resulted in her getting caught smoking at eight years old. Disappointing her mother had a profound effect and Jane never smoked again. Listeners suggested starting the story with her childhood experience and then tying it to her adult reaction to medical questions.

Melissa Triol introduced a powerful chapter to her ongoing novel featuring the WWI Battle of the Somme. Vivid and frightening, her story built steadily. Comments about dialogue length during the noise of battle brought suggestions to cover the statements as unspoken thoughts.

In a complete change of tone Paul Teese brought his story of a boy’s confidences to his dog. The relationship to his beagle was pivotal to this imaginative youngster who confessed everything to him.  Everyone wanted to know the ending, and I’m happy to share that the story will be in our upcoming Journal.

Betty Esris brought a poignant poem of unspoken love and loss. Faced with the body and belongings of her recently deceased father who had fled his young family while she was a child, Betty reflects on her mixed memories of him, similar physical traits, his past military history and the final folded flag.

In his poetic introduction to his new short story collection, John McCabe describes seeing ageless children peering over windowsills of row homes along the El line. John also shared a short story about his Dad taking him fishing on Ludlum Bay. Listeners praised John’s use of evocative sights and sounds.

Bob McCrillis shared a scary dystopian story about aging out of this closed society of men and women. Suspenseful and dark, the climax yielding a new leader is unexpected and brutal. Much discussion about the audience – YA vs. New Adult – ensued.

A book introduction by Meredith Betz begins with the thread of one discovered photo and weaves itself into a memoir. Not only Meredith’s memoir, but that of an elderly immigrant from Estonia now celebrating his 101st birthday. A daunting task, but Meredith is on a quest. We applauded her way of imbuing artifacts with life.

Following on that theme, we were treated to a story by David Werrett about his acquisition of a used collectible German camera made in Dresden in 1938. Studying its features and obtaining compatible film, David begins taking black and white pictures and reflecting on what kinds of images the camera had captured during its earlier “life.”

Writers Guild News

By Linda Donaldson

Our next meeting of the Writers Guild will be Sunday, July 21st from 1 to 3pm at Pearl S. Buck’s historic home – Green Hills Farm, 520 Dublin Road, Perkasie, PA 18944. We welcome all writers to join us as we share our work for friendly discussion and critique.

The Guild is excited to welcome author Paul Sullivan and his friend Eileen Gantley to our July meeting. Though Paul hasn’t attended our meetings for awhile, he has been writing and publishing nonetheless. His new book, A Thousand Tears, is about the Great Irish Famine of 1845 to 1849. We include a link here to his publisher’s author page listing Paul’s eight novels with them. Continue reading “Writers Guild News”

Meeting, Swap, Signing & Contests

A full calendar of events is unfolding at the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center over the next two months.

Tailgate Book Swap – Discover and Discard!

We begin with our Tailgate Book Swap at 1:00pm this Sunday September 18th in the parking lot adjacent to the Cultural Center (the big Red Barn). Pack your books – spines up – in boxes in your car trunks to make them easy to browse. Bring shopping bags in which to take home your treasures!

September 18th Writers Guild Meeting

Our September Writers Guild meeting will be held in the Center directly after the book swap from 1:30pm to 3:30pm. Bring 15 copies of any excerpt of your work you’d like to share. Try limiting selections to 3 pages, and add your email address on your work.

Anne Kaler, Cindy Louden, and John McCabe will share their experiences at the Pearl Buck Living Gateway Conference held at the West Virginia University campus earlier this week. They all presented papers on Pearl S. Buck along with other PSB volunteers, scholars and PSBI staff.

REMEMBER: Deadline for Fall Issue of Literary Journal is Sept. 30th!

Irish Festival & Sullivan Book Signing a Good MatchIrish Front Cover Only

Paul Sullivan’s new novel The Irishman’s Song will find a welcoming crowd at the Bucks County Irish Festival on Saturday October 1st. Paul will be featured at this outdoor event with vendors and lots of Irish music! Head over between Noon and 6pm to the Fallsington American Legion, 300 Yardley Avenue, Fallsington, PA, 19054.

Tethered by Letters 2016 Fall Writing Contest

Tethered by Letters is offering $1600 in prizes for our Fall Contest winners! Matt Gallagher will be judging short story submissions; Ken Arkind is the poetry judge; and Sari Wilson will select the best flash fiction submissions.

In addition to a weighty cash prizes, winners of the Fall Contest will be considered for publication in F(r)iction, our tri-annual journal of fine art and literature.

Click here to learn more about submission guidelines! Hurry! The deadline (November 1st) is fast approaching!

Editor’s Note: The Short Story contest costs $15.00 per submission, and both the Flash Fiction and Poetry contests cost $8.00 per entry or $12.00 for 3 entries.

Tweet a Twitter Journal…

Sue Wagner says, “This might be fun for people to try. Would make a good writing prompt for fiction or memoir.”

Can your writing go #viral? Tiny Text is looking for #ViralLit to share with the world!

Tiny Text is a Twitter journal (@Tiny_Text) that publishes #LittleLit: Twitter-length fiction and memoir, as well as serials. What is Twitter-length? 140 characters or less—spaces count! Each section of a serial should adhere to that, as well as be able to stand on its own. We’re looking for stories that amaze us by how much can fit into such a small space.

Please follow us on Twitter for weekly writing prompts and send up to three stories or memoirs at a time (including your name and Twitter handle) via a Twitter direct message or via email to teeny.tiny.textATgmail.com

We publish one piece of Twitter-length prose every other Monday and every publication gets two unique promo Tweets earlier the same day—but we’re hoping to expand that number, so send away! Submissions are eagerly read year-round. Please allow us 4 weeks to get back to you before sending more work or inquiring about the status of your submission.

We at Tiny Text look forward to your words!

Irish Eyes Will Smile on July 12th

The Pearl S. Buck Writing Center is proud to announce a book signing, on Tuesday, July 12th from noon to 2pm at the Lansdale Public Library, by author Paul Sullivan for his new novel The Irishman’s Song – A Story of Love & Rebellion.

Irish Front Cover OnlyA tale of the 1916 Easter Rising and the Irish Civil War, The Irishman’s Song weaves adventure and survival into themes of loyalty, love and friendship –represented by the symbols on the Irish Claddagh ring – the crown, the heart and the hands.

The Irishman’s Song was published by the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center Press. Paul graciously contributed the first chapter to our Spring 2016 Literary Journal. Be sure to stop by and meet Paul and hear more about his new book.

Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Sullivan was raised in Tennessee and enjoyed a boyhood of camping, fishing and hunting in the South with his father who encouraged in him a love for books and education. After a move to Pennsylvania at fourteen, Sullivan became bored and restless in school. He dropped out and began working while continuing to read and learn.

Sullivan’s previous novels have themes of adventure and survival. The Legend of the North. Keewatin, The Unforgiving Land, Maata’s Journal and The Seal Hunters are all set in the Arctic; The Spirit Walker in Africa; A Burning of Prayers in Guatemala; Torn from the Sun in Peru and Spain; and Breaker at Dawn in the coal mines of Pennsylvania.

Sullivan traveled around the world, gathering a wealth of stories to tell. He now resides in Bristol, PA and is a member of the Pearl S. Buck Writers’ Guild.

June 2016 Guild Meeting shared 8 submissions

By Ye Olde Editor,

A sunny day at Green Hills Farm greeted the dozen members of our prolific Writers Guild, who brought eight stories to share! We even received an emailed story from a member who couldn’t attend, but wanted our feedback.

Cindy Louden and I greeted the group and told them that Anne was under the weather, and she would not attend. We reminded everyone to follow our blog, and use the link to submission guidelines for the Fall Issue of the Literary Journal.

Happily for the author, Paul Sullivan is busy promoting his book, The Irishman’s Song. Paul will appear on the radio broadcast of WBCB 1490AM on Saturday, June 25th at noon, during Bristol’s Celtic Days celebration. Tune in to enjoy! Continue reading “June 2016 Guild Meeting shared 8 submissions”

Spring 2016 ♦ Volume 1, Number 1

Pearl S. Buck Literary Journal

It is most fitting that this first installment of the new online Journal of the Pearl S. Buck Writing Center should take as its theme gateways, doors, windows, and openings of all kinds.  For the entire history of human written communication, text of all sorts has provided for its readers portals, entry ways into new worlds of thought, experience and imagination. The newest sort of window – computer, e-reader and cell phone screens –  has expanded exponentially the number of new worlds now available to readers.

This newest journal, with its offerings of essays, stories, and poetry, seeks to publish material that resonates with the values and mission of Pearl S. Buck International and its Continue reading “Spring 2016 ♦ Volume 1, Number 1”