Sheila K. Collins Website



May 2014  

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My schedule has been spinning me out recently, to Atlanta to teach InterPlay, and reeling me back home to my regular life. Then spinning me out again for family occasions like grandson Ethan's graduation from TCU, then back home to Pittsburgh. It's caused me, as travel is supposed to do, to appreciate my home by the river.      


Rather than traveling to attend a writing conference, I signed up for a conference sponsored by Pittsburgh's hometown journal Creative Non-Fiction. It's the 20th anniversary of the journal edited by Pittsburgher Lee Kutkind. I've written about my experience below.      


And here's another special conference invitation. If you can get to Pittsburgh the weekend of June 6-8th check out and register for this women's conference, SisStars Gather 


Our InterPlay-based troupe Wing & A Prayer Pittsburgh Players will perform Saturday on the theme Warrior Mothers emphasizing how we help one another make it through life's tough stuff. We'll also teach an InterPlay playshop in the afternoon.If you believe as I do that when women gather to support and encourage one another, powerful and magical things happen, join us for all or part of this unique weekend.


As the summer spreads out before us, I wish you relaxation and joyful play, something that summers were designed to encourage.   


I hope to see you in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Racine, Wisconsin, or wherever your summer travels and mine may take us.


Best Regards,




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Thursday May 22, 2014
It's a tremendous accomplishment, though I've often wondered, whose accomplishment is it? If it takes a village to raise a child, when the eldest child of my eldest child was scheduled to graduate from college a couple of weeks ago, our family determined it would take at least that many relatives and friends to help him celebrate. . .


Saturday May 3, 2014

I left the church where my book club had been discussing Pema Chadron's When Things Fall Apart and drove north to a book club where I was to be the special guest. I was the author who would be meeting in person with ten women who had read my book, Warrior Mother: Fierce Love, Unbearable Loss and the Rituals that Heal...  CLICK HERE


Thursday April 24, 2014

My focus on eggs started with the picture my daughter-in-law sent of my twenty month-old granddaughter, Kyra Joy. She's outfitted in a pink princess-like dress and tiny white shoes. She's standing in a park in the high desert of California to participate in her first Easter Egg Hunt and she's holding an empty basket... CLICK HERE



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Making Art Out of Our Lives   


"We have art in order not to die of the truth" --Friedrich Nietzsche


I spent the weekend immersed in a writers' conference sponsored by the leading journal in my genre, Creative Non-Fiction. I felt at home among members of my tribe, writers who write from their own life experiences, inspired by the motto, "True Stories, Well Told." And after all the time spent in airports and planes recently, I especially enjoyed that I didn't have to leave town.


People came from around the country, many of them with ties to Pittsburgh, including our workshop leader, Dinty W. Moore, editor of the online journal Brevity. He was a major attraction for me since after spending so many years writing a book, my goals for this year are to write, submit, and hopefully publish shorter pieces.

Common advice to writers is "keep your butt in the chair," and we certainly did plenty of that over the weekend. But the lectures, power points and panels were worth it as a hundred or so writers sat at long tables facing the podium, and staff members jostled microphones around the room as participants asked questions of the experts.


We started out focusing on the new world of publishing and how to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the destruction of the old system of literary gatekeepers. We learned that 40% of the industry's editorial and design staff has lost their jobs in recent years due to mergers and consolidations. This means that many experienced,  talented people around the country are available for hire at reasonable rates.


Sunday's format involved meeting in small groups to workshop our pieces and systematically learn from the difficulties and flaws our work samples demonstrated. Moore's handout, which was worth the price of admittance, easily divided our works into categories of how artful writing goes wrong. A couple of us had trouble with Scene, a couple more with Point of View and another with Interrogation and Discovery which relates to the questions the writer is raising and the answers that emerge. The issue in a number of pieces was the Invisible Magnetic River, which flows under all writing. This is the unstated reason for the story's existence, which in our writers' group we deal with by asking one another, "What is this story really about?"


It didn't take long after the conference for me to have an opportunity to act on one of the suggestions book agent Emily Loose made. I had asked her what might help me promote my book and she responded, "Have you ever heard of the Moth? I had, but didn't expect I'd be a participant in a moth-like storytelling event at a local pub,Riley's Pour House two days hence. I learned of this Writers on Writing storytelling opportunity from my hairdresser who was a friend of the emcee, writer and musician Larry Connolly The chance of this unlikely occurrence happening is why we say when writing about our real lives ญญ- "you can't make this stuff up."

Sheila K. Collins, PhD 

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