May 15, 2016 by Dianna Graveman
For writers who wish to learn more about penning and publishing personal essays for Chicken Soup for the Soul and other anthologies, classes are now forming at Coffee House for Writers (coffeehouseforwriters.com). Author Linda O’Connell is the instructor.
Linda is a former teacher and a multi-published freelance writer who has contributed to 24 Chicken Soup for the Soul books and many other anthologies. She also created an anthology, Not Your Mother’s Book on Family (along with the editors and publishers of Publishing Syndicate). Linda’s inspirational essays and prose have been widely published in regional, national, and international markets. One of her heartfelt personal essays was published in singer Gloria Gaynor’s anthology, We Will Survive, which is based on her #1 hit song, “I Will Survive.”
Here’s what other writers have to say about Linda’s brand of writing instruction:
“Linda, aka the Queen of Chicken Soup for the Soul Books, will be teaching the fine art of essay writing and I can’t think of anyone better suited for the task. If you’ve been trying and trying and trying to get your essays published, try taking this class. I promise you’ll improve with Linda leading the way to publication.” ~ Cathy C. Hall
“I’ve seen Linda―in a matter of minutes―deftly rearrange someone’s essay, along with giving suggestions on how to rework the beginning and end. And it’s all doled out as suggestions and padded with praise.” ~ Sioux Roslawski
I caught up with Linda to ask a few questions about her upcoming course. Here’s what she had to say:
1) You’ve been a teacher for a long time. Why did you decide to also become an online writing instructor?
Jennifer Brown Banks contacted me and invited me to join her team of professionals. Years ago I read her article in a writing magazine about breaking the rules. I took her advice and became a successful freelance writer. We have followed each other’s blogs ever since. I find it rewarding and fulfilling to help others find a way to publication. This is an ideal position for me.
2) Information at Coffee House for Writers states that students will submit one piece of writing to you for feedback and guidance. Can you provide a few more details about the class?
Students will submit one personal essay which we will work on together. Enrollment began May 1st, and classes are forming now. I look forward to having a full class of 15 students. My class interaction will be on an as-needed basis, so we will work around schedules.
4) How fast can students expect to receive feedback on their rough drafts after they’ve submitted them to you?
I enjoy editing, critiquing, and revising, so the turnaround should be fairly quick. I co-created an anthology, Not Your Mother’s Book on Family, and I found working with contributors enjoyable.
5) Will you make other suggestions not related to Chicken Soup for the Soul if an author has a different market in mind for his or her personal essay?
I intend to help students develop essays that are publishable. A Chicken Soup-type story has a certain formula and is marketable elsewhere. I do intend to suggest other personal essay markets. Everyone is always seeking more markets.
6) Do you have a story coming up soon in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book?
My latest story is about the horrific 9/11 event, which happened when I was in school. When no one knew what to say or do, I provided a way for the students to express their emotions. My story, “The Feelings Flag,” will be released June 7th in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America. I have stories in 24 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I submit regularly.
Thank you for this interview. I look forward to helping other writers develop marketable stories.
Readers: If you would like to learn more about Linda, read her blog, Write From the Heart. For more information about her class, “Beef Up Your Chicken Soup,” see the “Our Courses” tab at Coffee House for Writers.