Looking Through the Rearview Mirror

I was flipping through the topic cards of a new trivia game when an idea splashed into my mind: what if my brothers and sisters and I were to use these as writing prompts for a family memoir? That could be a lot of fun and elicit some great memories. Our parents, a sister, and a brother had already passed away, and the remaining siblings lived in various places around the country. Maybe doing a project like this could bring a sense of togetherness and closeness. The concept was to send out one writing prompt per week via email, and then the siblings would write their memories and send them to me.

We started learning about one another and seeing each other in a whole new light, and the conversations that occurred every week became highly therapeutic for us. We accepted one another, and in the process, learned to love each other more deeply than any of us had ever experienced in our family.

Each week, we selected a new writing prompt. Everyone had a week to write up a memory or a personal experience that related in some way to the topic. And then we sent the stories to everyone. My original intent was not to share the stories with everyone until the end of the year. But the group decision to share with everyone right from the start is what made this endeavor the overwhelming success that it turned into. We bonded. We laughed. We cried. We identified with one another. We encouraged each other. We felt each other’s pain, sorrow, stress, and heartbreak. And we celebrated each other’s successes and victories. In essence, we created a safe environment and showed each other the beauty and wholeness of being vulnerable and trusting in an accepting relationship.

The results of this endeavor were fantastic. For the first time in our lives, we’re not divided into the upper half and the lower half. There’s no superiority or inferiority. We all have equal standing in this loving family. And it feels good. We created a priceless collection of family history that our grandkids and great grandkids might otherwise have never known. More importantly, we have grown and deepened as individuals and as a family.

Whether you are a family member, a distant relative, a neighbor, friend, or even a complete stranger, we invite you to join us on this journey as we share our lives with you. We hope you enjoy the stories. Welcome to the family.

The book may be purchased at https://paullinzey.com/books/

or from Amazon.

Reflections: An Anthology of Memoir and Short Story

Cover on EbookEvery life is a series of stories, and each person an endless repository of action, emotion, and relationship. One of the goals of literature is to capture that collection of raw material, and frame the narrative in such a way that those who read the finished product are invited to participate in a vicarious experience. If the stories are told well, readers can feel pain, joy, love, fear, or wonder. They are able to cry when a lover is betrayed, cringe when the hero of the story is under attack, or crawl under a blanket and hide to escape being discovered by the intruder.

I remember coming home from work one day and discovering my wife and children watching a scary movie on TV. All three of my kids were on the same sofa, huddling together under a blanket as the terrifying story unfolded before their eyes. The fear was real. They were experiencing the lives of the people on the screen.

That’s what happens when a good book is placed in front of your eyes, too. The reader can learn, grow, increase in wisdom, or even become a better friend or lover as a result. Sometimes, reading a selection can lead to anger, motivate to action, or inspire a deeper faith. Other times, you come away so afraid you want to lock the doors and shut out the world.

This anthology represents the collective creativity of seven people who met in a creative writing class in Lakeland, Florida. Some of the stories are nonfiction, meaning the experiences described actually happened. Other selections are fiction, short stories that might sound as if they’re true to life, but didn’t really happen. Good fiction usually does ring true, and good nonfiction should read like a quality short story or novel.

Each writer obviously has a unique personality and writing style, and every story has a different theme and mood. Taken together, this anthology should warm your heart, provoke you to action, inspire you to travel to a place you’ve never been before, and entice you to want to read more. Some of the stories will cause you to question what you believe, and others will affirm what you already consider to be true. Perhaps you’ll find yourself sitting in your chair with a smile breaking across your face, or see yourself in one of the scenes.

Several of the stories in this collection deal with sensitive issues like racism, gender equality, elitism, religion, or national origin. One anecdote, written by a person of color, refers to an inappropriate term for African Americans. The author of the story is talking about society’s values, which carry over to a form of institutionalized or enculturated racism. The contributors to this anthology, the editor, and the Rath Connextions and Education Center are not promoting the use of the term, nor are we condoning racism or the demeaning of any person or people group. We desire to honor and respect the experiences of all our contributors and readers.

We offer this anthology in the hope that you are entertained, enlightened, informed, or inspired. And just maybe, all of the above.

The book is available on Amazon.com.