About

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Columnist and freelance writer since 1979, writing instructor and conference speaker since 1982, pre-publication book editor (including fiction and nonfiction like the LA Times Outstanding Travel Book of 2002 and for the re-write of The Pea-Pod Kids Pop-Up Book, a Christmas best seller in ’86, and Allah’s Garden, 2009), and editor for over a dozen magazines, journals, and newspapers since 1980.  Columns Poetry Corner and Writing Corner appear in Northwest Prime Time News. Sharing Stories, hosted website segment for NWPrimeTime. Author of over twenty eBooks and Publish on Demand paperbacks. 
What follows is a story that happened to me. I've fictionalized it to demonstrate how we can use our own experiences to write narrative nonfiction short stories.
 
The Church Choir
 
Cindy was raised in the Methodist Church and had been attending the same white-steeple, brick courtyard place of worship since her early Sunday school days.
            She had gotten her zippered white bible for good attendance and another black one the following year.  Always passionate about her involvements, Cindy was thrilled when the church invited her to join the choir. 
            At 12, Cindy assumed the choirmaster had some kind of inside info about her musical ability.  In fact, this was somewhat implied over the phone.  Cindy’s mother kept to herself the opinion that the church was simply trying to keep its youngsters busy on Sundays.
            But, to Cindy, the invitation was a real compliment.  In her 12-year-old mind, she took on an importance totally out of proportion to reality.
            With unfettered zeal, Cindy attended choir practice for a month, favored her family with continuously perfecting of her share of the hymns, and called all her friends to announce her singing debut on a very special Sunday – Easter Sunday.
            Although the choir robes were nothing unusual, hanging dark drapes with a white collar, Cindy could not have been more impressed by Cinderella’s ball gown.  The uniform of her calling, the garb of her importance was, in biblical terms, honey and mead to her.
            Finally, the big day dawned with beautiful sunshine.  Cindy had a new haircut and a new dress beneath her choir robe.  Even Easter baskets, eggs, and chocolate hardly held her attention. 
            Back stage at the church, the choirmaster fussed over everyone, re-adjusting collars and hems, playing an A on his pitch pipe so all voices would be compatible.  The air was electric.  Cindy peeked out at the crowd.  All the pews were filled to overflowing, and she could even spot her own family and several friends.
            The choir director began to assemble the group to march decoratively up the center aisle. 
            “Cindy, would you like to lead the procession?”  It had not escaped his notice that Cindy was his most enthusiastic participant.
            Cindy blushed and nodded wordlessly, but with sparkling eyes.
            The organ music began and the door to the gathering was opened.  Cindy stepped gracefully and confidently out before her adoring audience, raising her voice loudly in the first hymn, her hymnal held high in her hands before her.
            Majestically, she walked, in perfect rhythm with the music.  Everyone turned and watched.  She noticed this out of the corners of her eyes.
            At the podium, Cindy made a smart, military turn on her heel to the right where the organist was playing.
            Suddenly, she felt a tug on the back of her choir robe and realized to her horror that the tiers built for the choir to stand on were up the left staircase.  Stepping carefully backward into her stretched out robe, Cindy re-directed her steps to the only somewhat muted chortles of the congregation.
            The side benefit to this embarrassment: Cindy’s vocal performance was more subdued than usual. 
By Ariele M. Huff
 
 
FICTIONALIZING TRUE STORIES
 
Write in 3rd person.
 
Give yourself a fictional name.  (Also other characters, if you wish)
 
What can you show more objectively in this kind of writing than you can in 1st person?
 
This is more like an outsider’s viewpoint, allowing you, as the author, to express sympathy for the character, something very hard to do in 1st person.
 
Reading to my grandfather.
Reading to my sister and cousin.
The book is titled
I Can Fly.