A Circle Of Women

How the Circle of Writers started: My mother

My father once told me that I taught myself to read at age four. He said he came home one day to find me reading the comics. Humoring me he sat me on his lap and asked me to read to him…I did, and he was astonished.

I don’t recall that memory, although I do recall an early love for books, reading and words, which was no doubt my mother’s influence. She was an avid reader and her love for books spread to her children. Her emphasis on the importance of knowing how to read began before we could talk. Our nighttime ritual included a bedtime story and all six of her children would crowd against her in hopes to see the pictures.

When my oldest brother started school she volunteered at the elementary library. She also wrote. After my father died in 2008, I inherited my mother’s cedar chest and discovered yellowed newspaper articles she had written about community activities.


My Writing Experience

My interest in writing started at age 6. I began writing poems and short stories. I give these to family members as gifts. I won a class writing contest in sixth grade and loved my English class in high school…every assignment became an opportunity for expression. That was also my flower child period, in which I played my guitar singing the songs of love and protest I had written.

But, other than journal entries, I eventually stopped writing. I lost inspiration and confidence. I did not believe I had any creative talent. For three decades I hung onto the belief that I ‘could not write’…until my mother’s death. In my grief my writing intensified; I would dream of her and the spiritual work that I was involved with in California, and stay up into the wee hours of the morning journaling.

In February of 2005 I discovered a women’s writing group that was holding a weekend workshop in Santa Cruz-about four hours drive south from where I lived. The workshop was hosted by IWWG, (www.IWWG.org), the International Women’s Writing Guild. By choosing to attend the workshop I validated my own right, worth, and gift of writing. It was a turning point in my life.

Not one to feel comfortable in large groups of women, I was hesitant and nervous. But, my desire to learn the craft of writing, and the opportunity to have my work critiqued, overrode any reluctance to attend. What I walked into was amazing and nothing less than a womb of transformation.


A warm welcome is never forgotten

On the night of arrival I entered the conference room to find the chairs set up in a circle. “Oh, oh,” I thought anxiously, “Group.”

My experiences with groups of women have not always been positive. In the past, I had some painful, negative situations in which there was much criticism and judgment. It left me wary whenever I was faced with similar situations. I tentatively sat down on one of the chairs aware of the tension in my body.

What unfolded was therapeutic and nurturing. A celebration of being welcomed home. I was bathed in the warmth, hospitality and genuine interest of stranger after stranger who wanted to know who I was and what my writing was all about. And, I had my first introduction to the founder of the guild, Hannalore Hahn, an amazing woman with a fascinating life story, and a sincere love for empowering women through the written word.

By the time I went to bed, I realized I had been initiated into a ‘circle of women’ like no other. Every woman in the group had a voice. Every woman’s work was just as important as the others. Everyone was in process in exactly the place that they were at, and it was perfectly fine. It was a circle of acceptance and validation.

When I left California later that summer, I thought briefly that my ‘voice’ and creative outlet would be stilled once more, thinking that my supportive group was left behind. However, I discovered that my heart had opened to my own worth and my soul was a rich source of creativity that has an endless flow.

My continued desire to hone my craft led me to Hubpages, and in a decisively synchronistic way. Encouraged by a friend to submit my stories to an online site I thought he told me ‘Hubpages’. I later contacted him with the news that my hub: Soul Work: Joywon a Hubnugget Award. I wanted to thank him for encouraging me to investigate the site, but he was confused and claimed he had never heard of the Hubpages website. He denied having steered me in this direction and confessed it was a different website he had mentioned. I am grateful for that turn of events because I have received nothing but positive support from everyone here.

Picture of A Family of Writers

Cara, Danette, Denise, Christa  2005
Cara, Danette, Denise, Christa 2005 | Source

My Family of Writers: Sister and Daughter

To my delight, I have had two family members join Hubpages since my initial start in May 2010. My sister, Hubber Danette Watt, is a freelance writer who writes for the local newspaper in her home town. Danette has been a professional writer long before I ever dreamed of actually writing for a living, and who consistently encouraged me to submit my work. Besides being supportive, she has offered her sharp eye as an editor, on occasion. Danette's profile page will explain her education background and, as a seasoned writer, you will find her writing style is informative and filled with interesting, useful facts.

When my daughter, Cara joined she never whispered a word of it to me. I was pleasantly surprised one day to discover her work after returning from my Christmas visit with her. Cara is an elementary school teacher with two young children whose photos you’ve probably caught in my family hubs. Her writing is filled with valuable information from the perspective of a young mother and experienced teacher. She has some great ideas, not only for her hubs, but for future books. You can check Cara’s work out under the Hubber name: cardelean.

My youngest daughter, Christa, is not currently a Hubpages member. She is a busy mom and home health nurse who has verbalized submitting informative articles to nursing journals. While I gave her all of the support and encouragement a mother offers her child, I also suggested she join the Hubpages community. She too, has a lot to say about a variety of subjects. She declined for the time being, but we’re working on her…

The Author Wins Honorable Mention from Writers Digest

Olivia wins a writing award from Writers Digest 2010
Olivia wins a writing award from Writers Digest 2010 | Source
Olivia receives a wolf to inspire her to finish her story.
Olivia receives a wolf to inspire her to finish her story. | Source

A new writer: My Granddaughter, Olivia wins an award

In the meantime, my granddaughter Olivia, Christa’s oldest child, is a writer coming into her own at age 10. A very creative artist, both in drawing and writing, she has been scoring high in her writing class and was asked to read one of her stories to the entire school, in acknowledgement of her work.

Christa sent me a couple of Olivia’s stories, and I was so impressed with them that I submitted one to the Writer’s Digest 79th Annual Writing Contest June, 2011. Later, I happened to be visiting her during Halloween weekend when Olivia received word that her story had been selected for Honorable Mention in her category. I was thrilled for her and insisted I take her picture holding her certificate.

Olivia has a wonderful story in process about her favorite subject: wolves. In the meantime, Grandma Dee is envious of the little bugger. Olivia doesn’t yet understand or appreciate the raw talent she has or her dynamite potential. And if that weren’t enough to turn me green, my poetry submissions did not win one thing!

I’m so proud of all of the writers in our family and enjoy supporting them in their talent. I believe part of what makes it so enjoyable is the common thread we all share.




My Aunt: a published author, source of inspiration and support

A Final Note: Loretta Giacoletto, married to my maternal uncle, is a published writer and author of short stories and mainstream and women’s novels. Information about her two novels, Lethal Play and Family Deceptions can be found through her blog at www.lorettagiacoletto.com and are available through www.smashwords.com and www.amazon.com Along with my own family members, she has been a source of support and inspiration for me.


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Comments 44 comments

nighthag profile image

nighthag 5 years ago from Australia

Wow, That is a lot of writing talent to be surrounded with, you are very blessed with your family and I wish you all much luck here.

a great inspiring read thank you for sharing


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Nighthag, Thanks for stopping in and reading/commenting. I appreciate it. I'm doing the 30hubs challenge so, I thought this would be a good time to bring in the 'story'. :)


VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 5 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

I add my wow to nighthag's! You have talented family. You are also a talented writer and I am glad to read that you decided to embrace your abilities again through the women's circle. Will check out your sister's hubs.

I am stuck, cannot seem to write, not even for my book. I guess the muse will show up again when I least expect it.

BTW, nice to see a photo of you, you look great! :)


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 5 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Hi Denise, Good morning to you and your excellent hub here. I came from the opposite situation, all I wanted to be was a scientist when I grew up. But, couldn't do the Math...love this hub and your circle of women, brillently write, cheers to you and rate up Love & peace darski


De Greek profile image

De Greek 5 years ago from UK

How wonderful to see the continuation of yourself, your children and grandchildren, practicing such an uplifting, educational and satisfying pastime :-)


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

It is always good to put a face to a writer, so thank you for sharing yours Denise. I could relate to your fear of entering a group of women and instead being pleasantly surprised by the support of fellow writers.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

I hope you and your circle write on!


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 5 years ago from I'm outta here

Now that's a circle to be proud of and embrace always. Great read, well done! :) Katie


cardelean profile image

cardelean 5 years ago from Michigan

Very inspirational! You move me to continue to write, maybe one day on my books.


Taleb80 profile image

Taleb80 5 years ago

Mrs. Denise

I highly appreciate your talented educated family.

My suggestion for you all to start your owm circle of women to support others, like many women supported you in the workshops in Santa Cruz.

Many women need the support from nice active people like you.

Hope to read Olivia works, sure you will succeed to improve her raw talent.

Happy day.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Good morning-I really appreciate and thank all of you who have taken the time to read and comment. I had not realized, until reading some of the comments, how important the 'face' of the writer is. For those interested my hub Independence Day has a clear photo of me with my grandson.

I also did not realize, until writing this hub, how important 'words and communicating through words' are to myself and 'my girls'. I should have realized it...we all like to talk, go figure.

Thanks for all of your support. Writing for me has been very gratifying in many ways. Many Blessings to all of you.


kimh039 profile image

kimh039 5 years ago

You have quite a circle of creative and supportive women - in your writing group and in your family. I like your description of your nervousness as you entered the writing group for the first time... and the fact that you didn't let nervousness and negative past experiences stop you. Thanks for sharing part of your story Denise.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland

What a beautiful circle of women you have in your own family! Writing I think is something you either are born to do or you aren't, like painting or any other art. Sure you can learn it, but the passion to keep going and keep writing is something that is either with you or not. Thank you for sharing your inspirations and your support. Wishing you all success and wonderful days ahead!


amybradley77 profile image

amybradley77 5 years ago

So wonderful of you to share this here, I really wish more people had this kind of support group from there own loved ones. You are all truely blessed, I do believe that I have this support but I am not so lucky as to live with and have these family members so very close to me, I still am blessed to have them however. Very touching, stuff here I adore it! A.B.


CDL Career Coach profile image

CDL Career Coach 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

There sure is a lot of writing talent in your family. I liked the story of your dad finding you reading comics. My son did the same kind of thing to me. I was reading to him and he told me, "shut up mom, let me do it." I did, thinking he'd make up stories about the pictures, but he read the next 10 pages or so word for word. Suprised the #$% out of me. (I'm not that good of mom about reading every day even, just got a real bright boy.)


richtwf profile image

richtwf 5 years ago

A family of talented scribes and writing certainly seems like a family tradition. I enjoyed reading this delightful hub and thanks for sharing these personal thoughts.

God bless you Denise and your scribing family!


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

This hub is awesome and beautiful. How special to have so many talented writers in one family and to be able to share a love of reading and writing with each other.

I will definitely be checking their hubs out as I so enjoy reading all of your work.

It's cool that your discovery of Hubpages was synchronistic and mysterious- something that was apparantly meant to be!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Kim and Erin-thank you for reading and commenting. I agree, it is something that we either feel prompted to do, a gift, if you will, or not. And, I am blessed to have this common thread to share with my family.

Amy-I only wish my family were closer. I'm happy that I'm able to fly up to Michigan as often as I do, to share time with them...but, I sure wish we were all together again. Thanks for your comments.

CDL-that's funny! I bet you're an awesome mom.

Rich-how are you? Good to see you. Thanks for your comments and blessings. Much appreciated. Glad you enjoyed it.

Hi Gail-so glad to see you stopped it. Thanks for your comments. I'm happy to hear you'll take a peak over at the other two. Doing a little push from my end. Thanks. :)


Diana Lee profile image

Diana Lee 5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

Thank you for sharing this story. I enjoyed it very much.

I am new to Hubpages but am so glad I found it.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Diana, Welcome to Hubpages. Thanks for reading this hub and commenting. I'm glad you found it too, LOL Nice to meet you.


Christa  5 years ago

Awesome piece Mom! But what about Aunt Loretta? I've never heard that story about you reading to Grandpa. Olivia started reading around 4 as well and I remember her dictating stories for me to write down before she could write herself. You probably forgot but she received "best writer" in the 4th grade mock elections last year. Her current teacher has mentioned nominating her for Kaleidoscope. She is currently, like her Grandma, very into "dreams". Making reference to flying. I swear she is your twin! Also, do you remember when I won the young authors award in 4th grade in Mr. Brown's class?


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Christa-I do remember that. I believe all three of us won at some point in grade school: me, you and your sister. Oh, four if we count Olivia winning her class nomination. As for Aunt Loretta: I added her at the end of the hub-did you miss it? LOve you. Thanks for reading it, sharing it with Olivia and commenting. Love you. :)


Str8up Hookups profile image

Str8up Hookups 5 years ago

Awesome,awesome hub Denise.

It's just wonderful to have a family interest that you all enjoy and do so well.

Voted up


carrie450 profile image

carrie450 5 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

A wonderful hub Denise, such a talented family. You should be very proud.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Str8up & Carrie- Wow, glad you enjoyed the hub. Nice to see you here and I'm hoping you are both doing well this mid January. Thank you for the comments. :) I feel very blessed in many ways. One, is the shared interest.


Dale 5 years ago

I remember making efforts at astrotraveling, on Mackinac Island. I read a book. Maybe Denise gave it to me. I kept falling asleep before I could get anywhere.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Dale-LOL you have me chuckling. I don't recall giving you a book about astrotravelling, HOWEVER, I could very well have had a discussion with you about the subject, since I have had a couple of experiences with it. Funny man-kept falling asleep before you could get anywhere! Hahaha. Thanks for reading and commenting.


manthy profile image

manthy 5 years ago from Alabama,USA

Wow Denise - you have such a beautiful family, you are truly blessed,I am glad that eveyone is doing well with their writing and I wish you and yours only the best.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks Manthy-I appreciate your comments. Thanks for reading this hub, of course it is special to me. :)


stessily 4 years ago

Denise, Thank you for referencing this hub in your response to my comment on your lovely birthday tribute for Grace Elizabeth. This is fascinating and inspirational. I think that it would be so great for your daughter Christa and all your grandchildren to become hubbers!:-) Writing at a young age is so exciting. I wrote my first (and only so far!) novel in adolescence, and although unfortunately it has been lost over time, I still remember vividly the thrill and passion and focus of writing, of capturing words that flowed and flowed.

That is so fortuitous that you attended that IWWG workshop and that it was a perfect fit. Hannalore Hahn has inspired so many to search within themselves for the words waiting to be expressed. I have been intending to read her memoir, On the Way to Feed the Swans, for many moons now, and I appreciate the reminder, through your hub, to find time for it this year.

Thank you for sharing your journey as a writer, as a poet.


Max Havlick profile image

Max Havlick 4 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

What other people try, Denise, you accomplish!


Charu Bhatnagar profile image

Charu Bhatnagar 4 years ago from India

Wow....quite a reading material for me. Its inspiring really.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Stessily-you are always so kind with your supportive comments. I really appreciate this about you. I'm glad that you are aware of Hannalore and your 'goal' to read her memoir has inspired me as well. She is a magnificent inspiration for so many women. I truly hope my young granddaughter, Olivia, continues with her writing. She has a fascinating story to tell of these wolves of her imagination. I have not heard of anything quite like it and have emphasized this to her. I bought her an electric typewriter for Christmas to encourage her to move ahead with the story. Thank you.

Max-how nice to see you. Your words are too kind; I appreciate your comment.

Charu Bhatnagar-thank you for finding inspiration in the memoir of my writing journey. Many blessings with your own story unfolding as we speak.


stessily 4 years ago

Denise, Wolves have such fascinating mythological associations that they are always interesting subjects; I think that we can never read or see enough about them! Olivia is very blessed indeed to be supported --- especially by her Grandma Dee :-) --- in her creative endeavours. I look forward to one day seeing her wolf story in print! An electric typewriter is a wonderful Christmas present for a young budding writer.

I also meant to express disappointment about your poetry submissions not receiving any mention with Writers Digest. Your poetry is engaging, distinctive, effective, lyrical, so I expect that you WILL receive recognition some day soon.

Thanks again for sharing and for inspiring.

Kind regards, Stessily


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Stessily-first, let me apologize for the delay in my response...when I work my midnight shifts I just eat, work and sleep. Second, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree with you about the fascinating and mythological intrigue with wolves. When I dream of wolves I pay careful attention to what is going on in my life...there is always a message.

Thank you for your thoughts about my poetry, as well as your encouragement. Always appreciated!


stessily 4 years ago

Denise, No apologies are necessary, for I understand delayed responses. My faithful computer of 7+ years crashed towards the end of last year and cannot reasonably be resuscitated (I parcelled its parts to happy homes: monitor to my friends' computer loving stepson so he has his own sleek TV; tower, keyboard, etc., for resale in a nice shop; I kept the hard drive). While I ponder its successor, I'm using library and friends' computers. With such unpredictable access, my responses are unfortunately delayed.

I love your comment: "When I dream of wolves I pay careful attention to what is going on in my life...there is always a message."

That is beautiful, Denise! With their timeless symbolism, wolves make incredible messengers. I am not aware of ever dreaming of wolves, despite my longstanding fascination with them. Perhaps some day! In the meantime, if they aren't too personal, I hope that you may share some of your dream experiences.

Kind regards, Stessily


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Stessily-I shudder to think of what I would do if my computer crashed, although I recently invested in a MAC which I am now getting used to. Still...there are so many things on my computer I need to transfer to other things like: photo cd's or disks, or whatever the resource is, LOL and, hopefully, before it is 'too late'. Back up is always a good thing with so much material.

I have been a dream follower and fascinated with dreams, symbolism and guidance from dreams since I was very young. I remember waking up and talking to my parents about my dreams as young as 4 yrs old, and my undergrad senior project was about the usefulness of dreams in our lives. I was actually even asked to speak about the subject and present the paper to the university student body and faculty.

It would be fun to write some hubs on dreams...take care.


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 4 years ago

How have I not noticed this beautiful new photo of yours ?.....:-}


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

You make me blush, ahorseback. Thank you for your sweet words. I decided to update my profile page with the actual photo shot - a bit of a risk taking here among friends, like yourself. :)


Max Havlick profile image

Max Havlick 4 years ago from Villa Park, Illinois

It is good to see this fine piece of work continuing to get reader attention. Very few have ever done a better job than Denise does here to bring readers into a real-life story of how writing energies can flower forth with just a little sustained encouragement, and in this case not with results in only one woman, but in the whole family of writers she has managed to motivate and inspire, and in her role as mother, who knows what else she did to contribute to these creative results.

Continuing prayers, Denise, and best wishes.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Max-thank you for your kind words...much appreciated, my friend. :)

I recently returned from a trip to IL for a family reunion with my sister and the Aunt mentioned in this hub. It was wonderful to sit and chat with her about her success as an author! Much obliged for your feedback.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

Great hub, it is so nice to have family members with the same interest. It will be great fun reading each others writings and getting feedback. Writing is a great common bond! Voted up, interesting, useful and very inspirational.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Blessed you are to be in a writing family, Denise! A happy thanksgiving!


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hello Vellur, Thank you for your enthusiastic response to this hub. It is fun to share tidbits of writing and also to encourage my grand daughter to continue this talent.

Michelle, I feel very blessed, indeed. Thanks for stopping by. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. :)

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