Lemons, Lessons, and a Great Writing Opportunity

Dear Mom,

I remember when we found a contest looking for true articles from people who had who faced difficult or even heartbreaking situations but somehow found the silver lining in the cloud.  They went on to make something good of the experience, and the publisher wanted to read their stories.

We both decided to try writing for the contest, but the deadline was only a few weeks away and we got sidetracked. Our best ideas actually came AFTER the deadline. We kept saying, “We should have…” and “If only we had more time…”

That was years ago when you were still actively writing. Now The Chicken Soup for the Soul series books are inviting very similar stories, but their deadline is more than 3 months away!!! That’s plenty of time to ponder ideas, write, edit and rewrite, and submit.  So, in honor of the contest you and I wanted to enter but didn’t, let’s post this terrific opportunity for all our writing friends, okay?

Okay!  Here are all the details:

Chicken Soup for the Soul:  From Lemons to Lemonade
“When life hands you lemons… make lemonade!” And don’t just make lemonade but squeeze out every last drop of juice from that sour lemon to make the sweetest lemonade possible. We are looking for true stories that show how you made the best of a challenging situation and turned it into something positive. Tell us your success stories and how you made them happen.
Here are examples of the kinds of “lemons to lemonade” stories we are imagining:
  • You got fired/laid off and discovered a new better career
  • You prevailed over an illness or medical condition and found a wonderful silver lining
  • You overcame an addiction and found new purpose
  • You lost all your money and possessions and discovered new happiness with your family
  • You went through a difficult time with your child but came out with a better relationship
  • You lost a loved one and created a non-profit that is saving lives so other people don’t go through the same loss
Please remember, we do not like “as told to” stories. Please write in the first person about yourself or someone close to you. If you ghostwrite a story for someone else we will list his or her name as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the “Comments” section of the submission form. If the story was published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it.
If your story or poem is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.
SUBMISSIONS GO TO http://chickensoup.com
Select the Submit Your Story link on the left tool bar and follow the directions.
The deadline date for story and poem submissions is February 28, 2013. 

There are many kinds of chicken soup and MANY challenging experiences and touching or surprising lessons that all of us could write about. Try this, writers!
(All photography by Marylin Warner.)



Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, writing, writing contest with cash prizes, writing exercises

42 responses to “Lemons, Lessons, and a Great Writing Opportunity

  1. juliabarrett

    Wow. Do you plan to submit a story? You have so many beautiful stories about your family.

    • I’m thinking you have some great stories, Julia. Think themes: Lessons learned in Wales; Surviving yellow jackets; Stifling the fear of flying; and retelling MANY of the issues and conflicts in your poems. All take something difficult and triumph over it.
      Are you going to submit?

      • juliabarrett

        Maybe. I’ve been sick for three days and finding it hard to attend so I’ll re-read this when I feel better. Thanks!

  2. Great idea. Stories like these are always so inspiring. 🙂

    • You have so many great things on your blog, Carrie, but one of my favorites is your assortment of quotes. If W.C. Fields were still alive and writing for Chicken Soup, can’t you just imagine what he’d say? I think it would be the quote from your blog: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” Not exactly inspiring, but it gives folks a way out if they don’t feel like trying any more!

  3. Pingback: Of Lemons and Lemonade « What Intelligent Life is Made Of

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Marilyn. I will check into it.

    • I’m glad to hear that, Judy. Your blog post about being a teen and not seeing your real beauty…but then the rose began to bloom; it’s a lovely post and could make an excellent article for CHICKEN SOUP. So many of us had those feelings as teens, and you have a lovely way of telling the story.

      • Thank you, Marylin. I’m glad you enjoyed that story. As I’ve already posted it on my blog, would CHICKEN SOUP still be interested?

      • There are specifics listed on their site, but I think your story would make a wonderful core idea to be expanded into an entry. It’s such a good story, Judy, it really is. You could play with all the possibilities and choose one.

  5. Oh I so want to attempt this. Will do my best. Starting a new job this week and I am going crazy. But will do my best…

    • It’s a perfect opportunity, Kellie. New jobs are famous for challenges and obstacles. Between now and the February CHICKEN SOUP deadline, you’ll probably have a dozen great ideas to write about!

  6. Marylin you must have a million stories to tell. If you entered just three posts in pseudonyms no one would notice. I think it is such a great venture, I will see if anything comes up.
    How is the ol’ lady doing?

    • Thanks, my mom is actually doing pretty well. October is probably my last visit when she’s been able to go for “walks,” even wrapped in jacket and hat and covered with a quilt. Sometimes my visits inspire all kinds of stories, but I’m not sure if any would appeal to CHICKEN SOUP. But I’ll keep thinking and see what happens. How about you? Any ideas you might write for the February deadline?

      • I trust your stories would appeal to CHICKEN SOUP going by what you share, they show courage in the face of difficulty, hope where most people would have lost it and enduring kindness and love.
        As for me, maybe if i give it some that but at the moment I don’t think I have anything that would be as close to being called an entry!

      • Thanks for the compliment. I appreciate it.
        And the good news is that the deadline of Chicken Soup isn’t until Feb. 2013. Sometime if you just jot down possible ideas, your mind does great things. Suddenly it’s an “Aha” moment, and you have a terrific idea to work on!

  7. Oh Marylin, you just keep tempting me. If it wasn’t for this terrible shyness I suffer from and my appalling spelling and grammar …. I look forward to seeing the entry’s when you put up a link

    • This isn’t my contest, Tom, so we’ll all just have to wait and read the winners in CUP OF COMFORT’s anthology.
      The nice thing about writing and submitting is that shyness on the page is different from eye-to-eye shyness (like in public speaking or being the entertainment at a big dinner party). I think you would have some wonderful stories to write for this, Tom!

  8. Thanks for sharing this opportunity. I’ve had my share of lemons in the past couple of years. Unfortunately some of these lemonades are not ready yet as I have still more lemons to collect. So how do I write a personal true story when I don’t know the end yet?

  9. Sometimes the lesson–and the triumph–is in the process. Staying with it, figuring it out…not giving up. Sometimes it’s not the destination, but the journey. You might try writing about these “lemons,” just free writing the situations and feelings and frustrations. You might be surprised to learn that some important “mini-lessons” have already been taught.

  10. Daniela

    Dear Marylin,
    I always enjoy your writings and this one is no exception! Even though I really come to let you know that I have tagged (nominated) you for the ‘look challenge’. It is not a blog award as such, but a fun and promotional opportunity to share your work. If you choose to participate here are the rules: http://wp.me/p2v1s2-HL
    Kind Regards,

    • Thank you for thinking of me, Daniela. I’m still not sure exactly how the challenge works, even after reading about it. I have a novel with my agent, so I don’t think taking an excerpt and sending it in a tag would be a good idea. But I am working on a new short story. When I get it far enough along, then I’ll see if the “look challenge” works. Thanks again.

  11. Thanks, Marilyn. I’ve had several friends in chicken soup. They’ve enjoyed it immensely. It’s a great oppoutunity. Thanks for sharing it.

  12. You are so generous and kind, just like your mother as you have described her to us.

    • Aw, thank you, Deb. During my recent visit with Mom, she never realized who I was, not even for a moment, even when I reminded her. But she liked the time we spent together; she loved the food I fixed and the walks we took. So it was still a good visit even though she never knew I was her daughter. And it means a lot to me to hear that I have some of her qualities. I appreciate it.

  13. oh wonderful, Marylin, you should enter one of your pieces!

  14. This is wonderful of you, Marylin, to share this info! I’ll share it along as well…and will put on my thinking cap to see if I can submit something….I would love to…my husband had his first (of 4) heart attacks when he was 36 and our kids were all very young…perhaps there is a tale there to be told. 🙂

    • Wow, Vivian, an inspiring story about surviving–and thriving–during that time would certainly help readers who are experiencing their own frightening health problems, or the problems of those they love. Your writing style is perfect for reaching out to others.

  15. dianabletter

    Now that 3 of our 6 kids are vegetarians, they would say that chicken soup is not for the soul at all. But I disagree! And these anthologies are perfect to read when we’re feeling down. My suggestion for anyone who is considering sending in a submission is to go back and re-read already published Chicken Soup books to get a sense of what they’re looking for. It’s great writing practice.

  16. I don’t think they have a meatless version, like “Tofu Soup” books, but you make a really good suggestion, Diana. The Chicken Soup series includes topics like For The Writer’s Soul, and for children, seniors, teachers, newlyweds, etc. Reading stories from some of the anthologies would be a great way to study and practice before entering this. Thanks!

  17. Just reading the name of your blog makes me tear up. Everything after that feels like relief.
    What a wonder!

    • And then you can write a wonderful piece for the Chicken Soup contest. Yea!

      • : )

        Okay, I got time.
        This could be fun!
        Perhaps as delicious as eating hot comfort soup on a cold day.
        Cooking the soup- all organic fresh ingredients from scratch, purchased at my local farmers market, following my secret family recipe.
        No, not the poison recipe, the other one. ; )

  18. Love the squeeze it till you get every last drop line. There’s always a silver lining if you’re willing to see it. 🙂 Angie

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