“The president and first lady stopped in each room and told a reporter about the histories of several items — vases, rugs, statues, paintings, etc. It was interesting to me, and I realized that the items in my own home had histories, too. Many of the items we had on display in our home spawned memories of people, places, events, etc., which made them special — the memories and stories behind the items made them ‘keepsakes,’” Nagle said. “Our house was kind of a museum of our lives, and it still is. Years after seeing that television show, I began writing family stories, and sometimes I used one of our keepsakes as a writing prompt. For example, one of the stories that I shared in my book is about my buckeye collection. The story is really not about the buckeyes — it is about my father ... I used the buckeyes as prompts to tell about my father and his death.”
Nagle, who has published two ebooks and magazine articles, took the keepsake idea and used it during writing workshops she directs.
“At every workshop, an aspiring writer would say, ‘I want to write, but I have nothing to write about.’ And that’s when I started asking them about their keepsakes,” she said. “Everyone has a reason for holding on to an object. Every souvenir, every heirloom, every memento has a story. And so, in my workshops, I started walking attendees through the process of writing a ‘keepsake story.’ It worked. The people who attended my workshops began writing wonderful stories based on their own keepsakes. I told my friends and family members and they started writing keepsake stories, too, and then I started collecting the stories. And, then I thought, ‘I should publish these in a book.’ The rest is history.”
Cartersville Public Library will host an event Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. where Nagle will discuss her book and the process of writing a keepsake story. Other writers who contributed to Nagle’s project will also be on hand to read favorite excerpts and sign their stories.
Cartersville story contributors include: Audrey Andersen who wrote a story about a scrap of paper with some lottery numbers scribbled on it; Bob Wright who wrote about his mother’s guitar; and Anne Cowan who wrote about an old, clay vase that witnessed the Civil War. Carmen Slaughter and Renea Winchester also will share with library guests their keepsake stories, according to a press release.
Comprised of 55 stories and a chapter on how to write a keepsake story, “Project Keepsake” took more than four years from concept to print.
“I collected stories for about three years before completing the draft manuscript ...,” Nagle said. “I tried for a while to find a publisher on my own, but I didn’t have a lot of luck and I was spending so much time searching. So, instead, I found a literary agent who loved the idea. She found a traditional publisher for ‘Project Keepsake’ in about eight months. The book was published five months later. So, from start to finish, it took about four years for the idea to become a book.”
Currently working on her first fiction novel, “Daylily,” Nagle hopes Thursday’s event stirs up interest in storytelling.
“First and foremost, I want to reignite an interest in basic storytelling — verbal and/or written storytelling. We need to share our stories with one another. We especially need to share stories with our children,” she said. “I also want to inspire others to pursue the craft of writing. I know that the thought of writing terrifies some people, and I want to help them realize that writing is not as hard as they think it is. And, in fact, writing is a very therapeutic, spiritual, rewarding endeavor.”
The author also is available for workshops at club meetings, schools, writing groups, churches or residential gatherings.
“My workshops are fun and informative and most people leave with a draft story or a really strong idea they are excited about developing,” Nagle said. “I love working with writers of all skill levels. I love being present when aspiring writers realize that they wrote something great — their ‘aha’ moment.”
“Project Keepsake” is available online or during events. The book’s website is www.projectkeepsake.com. To learn more about the “Project Keepsake” event at the Cartersville Public Library, call 770-382-4203 or Karen Barnhart 770-382-4779.