On January 19, 2023, Carteret Writers member Erika Hoffman will be leading a workshop on writing personal essays for publication in paying anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul. She generously wrote this blog post ahead of time to give members an opportunity to bring a work in progress to the workshop (and to get a head start on submission deadlines). Thank you, Erika, for your contribution.

About the January 19 Workshop

Let’s learn how to write a story like those in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. Our goal is to retell a story that’ll evoke an emotion in the reader. Chicken Soup for the Soul narratives are always inspirational, frequently poignant, often humorous, and sometimes thoughtful. And they’re true! It’s a perfect publication if you want to make your reader laugh, cry, or at least be curious. In addition, mastering the personal essay benefits writers whose goal is publication because many venues are receptive to this genre.

Before our workshop on January 19, take some time to think about the following topics, which you can also find listed with more detail at www.chickensoup.com:

  • Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone (Deadline: 1/30/23)
  • Angels (Deadline: 2/28/23)
  • Miracles (Deadline: 2/28/23)
  • Power of Positive Thinking (Deadline: 2/28/23)

If possible, before our workshop, write one story (300-1200 words) based on a topic of your choosing. After my presentation, we will take a short break and then read and discuss the stories you have brought with you. If you don’t have one, no matter. You’ll learn from hearing the others.

About Me

I’ve been writing with the goal of publication since 2009. I’ve been published over 400 times by paying markets. My niche is the personal essay. Chicken Soup for the Soul has featured my stories 17 times. My nonfiction has appeared in magazines, e-zines, newspapers, and other compilations of essays. Usually, I sell first rights only. After my piece has been published, I am allowed to publish it in my own collection.

So far, I’ve produced seven books of my published stories and essays: My Sassy Life, More Sassy Stories, The Sassiest Stories, Erika’s Take on Writing, Erika’s Take 2 on Writing, Erika’s Take 3 on Writing, and Erika’s Take on Travel – the Places She’s Been. I also wrote a mystery called Why Mama. I’ll bring a few of copies down with me to sell at a reduced price and autograph.

As to my bio, I grew up in New Jersey, went to Duke University for my undergraduate degree and for my M.A.T., taught high school, married, and raised four kids. The year before I became an empty nester, my elderly dad moved in with me, and I became confined taking care of him. That is when I began to pen the stories of my life

I look forward to meeting you all. I joined Carteret Writers when I took my old dad down to Emerald Isle where my husband and I bought a rental property, which is occupied by renters during the entire summer and some of the fall. During the off-season, I visit. When there, more than a decade ago, I heard about this writing group and went to a meeting and met a delightful woman, Elaine Crigler, who lived on Emerald Isle and— surprise of surprise— grew up in Westfield, the town next to mine in NJ. Because of Elaine and her introducing me to others in her writing group at her house, I very much enjoyed when coming down to check on our rental house to visit with the Sea Scribes and attend the Carteret meetings at The Golden Corral.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! See you January 19!