Three Port Aransas writers have found themselves in the soup. Chicken Soup, that is. Alice Marks, Richard Mueller and Hope Sunderland, all members of the Port Aransas Pens writer group, have all had stories published in a book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
Chicken Soup for the Soul was the first of what is now a series of inspirational books. Each book has 101 short stories and motivational essays. The series was begun in 1993 by motivational speakers Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. There are now over 200 Chicken Soup titles with over 100 million copies in print in scores of languages.
Alice Marks has an entry in Chicken Soup for the Soul, I Can’t Believe My Cat Did That! with a publication date of September 18, 2012. Originally from Wyoming, she and her husband retired to Port Aransas in 2005 after rearing a family of four and pursuing teaching careers in Minnesota. A chance visit to Port Aransas convinced them that they would like to live in Port A.
Alice says she has been writing stories “since I learned to form letters,” but didn’t become passionate about writing until she joined the Port Aransas writers group. A versatile writer, she’s penned short stories, humor pieces, memoirs, poetry and novels. She’s been published in two poetry anthologies, in religious and trade magazines and has also contributed to an online humor site. She enjoys the challenge of weekly writing prompts from the Port A Pens. Group members encouraged her to submit the cat story to Chicken Soup. Alice found the online submission process easy, especially with the guidance that she received from the publishing company’s D’Ette Corona.
Alice has already had another submission accepted for Chicken Soup for the Soul – The Power of Positive Thinking to come out later this fall. She plans to submit more pieces to Chicken Soup if she can find the time to write in between volunteering at church and making sock monkeys for craft fairs.
Richard Mueller considers himself “just an old-time story teller/pizza person. I decided to write some of my stories down so I could inflict them on a wider audience. Freely translated this means the kids got tired of being my focus group.” He’s had a number of stories posted on www.fanstory.com where he is Richie m, as well as The Castroville, Texas, Library Web site. “Most of my ‘Hawkeye Days’ stories have appeared in Fort Dodge (Iowa) Today magazine.” Also, his original Hawkeye Days Collection received the Humor Award in 2002, from Florida Writers Association. His story, David’s Gift, appeared in Chicken Soup for the Catholic Soul.
He submitted his work “for the money,” he says. Chicken Soup contributors get paid a flat fee of $200 and ten free copies of the book in which their work appears. Richard also wanted the prestige of being published in such a well-known series. He was unprepared for his story to be edited, which it was and he wasn’t all that pleased with the editing. Nevertheless, he plans to submit again.
Richard and his wife Margaret own and operate Pelican Pete’s Gyros and Sno-Cone stand on Cut Off Road in Port Aransas.
Originally from Oklahoma, Hope Sunderland, known to some as Marsha Clodfelter, drives in to Port A from Corpus Christi where she’s lived since 1989. She had taken a writing class at the Port Aransas Art Center which led her to the Port A writing group. She’s been a member for about three years.
A retired registered nurse, Hope writes mostly humorous pieces. “I’ve never met anyone who thinks they’ve laughed too much,” she says. “I love writing humor because I get to exaggerate a lot and am not limited by facts.”
She found the submission request for Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters in a writers’ newsletter. She had a story already written that she rewrote to meet the guidelines. “The Chicken Soup experience was a learning process for me,” she says. “Patience is not one of my strengths and it involved almost a year from start to finish.” However, the editor whom she worked with was very professional, met all the deadlines and changed only one word in the story.
Besides Chicken Soup for the Soul, she has had stories published in ByLine Magazine, Journal of Nursing Jocularity, Bedpan Banter, NewChristianVoices.com, has won or placed in several humor writing contests, and writes for an Internet group, TopFive.com, whose daily David Letterman-type lists have been published in Readers Digest and Playboy Magazine. The lists “have occasionally been picked up as real news stories on network broadcasts,” Hope says, “Hilarity ensues in the form of retractions.”
The Port A Pens, started three years ago by Alice Marks, is a spin-off of another writers group. Gerry Wetterstein and Toni Somers started a writers group at the JELM center in 1998. It’s been a big draw for both local and Winter Texan writers. It became so popular, attendance grew to as many as 40 members representing a broad variety of writing genres. Because some writers found the large size nwieldy, the second group was formed. It’s limited to 12 seasoned writers and is currently not seeking new members.
To read a humor piece by Hope Sunderland, visit http://humorwriters.org/2012/05/21/toe-jammin/. To contact Richard Mueller, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions are being solicited for the 20th anniversary edition of Chicken Soup for the Soul. The deadline is January 15, 2013. For more information visit the Web site at www.chickensoup.com. I’ll see you there.