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Friday, May 12, 2017

Obligatory Mother's Day Post

Planning to perform this piece tomorrow night at GUSA by Victoria, along with a Mother's Day excerpt from #25Reasons.

Chicken Soup for the Transcendentalist Soul

My mom said
"Eat your vegetables -- And
"Get a good night's sleep.
"Don't forget to say your prayers
"Close your eyes, count some sheep," But

Momma never told me -- How
To achieve perfection -- And
Now I guess I understand -- That
It was something she didn't know.

So I -- Ate my vegetables. And
Said my good night prayers. But
Lay awake in my bed
Too concerned with all my cares. Like

What would I be when I grow up
And who would I marry
Would my kids eat their vegetables
Believe the things that I believe in?

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I was fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep

My mom said
"Do your homework now. And
"That's enough TV
"Are you ready for the science fair?
"Did you study for the Spelling Bee?"

And it got so aggravating
Seemed like she was so caught up
There's so much more to life at school
Than Science Fairs and empty cups.

But I turned off the television
Cracked a book
(or sometimes three). And tried my best to do my best
I wanted her to be proud of me.

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I'd been fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep.

My mom said
"Don't you fall too hard. When
"That first boy looks at you
"You must be kind to everyone. But
"Don't let them walk all over you."

Then came the most disgusting part. She
Wanted to kiss me goodbye. At school
In front of all my friends
I couldn't Hide. Or disappear. Or di

So I let her kiss me then. And
She waved as she drove away.
I'm glad I know she cares for me
Even though I'll never say it (oops!).

What would I be when I grow up
And who would I marry
Would I embarrass my own kids
The way that mom embarrassed me?

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I was fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep.

And now that I'm a mom myself. I'm
Glad she doesn't laugh at me
'Cuz my kid won't eat vegetables. And
Dodges responsibilities.

My soul
Could use some chicken soup. And
My son's hug could fill a bowl. Though
I would like to keep him small
Growing up is his main goal.

What will he be when he grows up
Will he ever marry
And if he questions all I say
Will I be wise enough to hear him?

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I'd been fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Just Sew Stories with GUSA by Victoria

I am putting together a short story collection for an African fashion designer for a series of sewing and crafting camps this summer. Victoria has been in business in York for about a year, and this camp is a brand new thing we are trying. In addition to her marvelous fashions, her shop includes art from local artists. She has also been teaching Swahili and sewing classes, which I think is awesome! I think we are going to have tons of fun this summer.

If you are in York, certainly pay her a visit at GUSA by Victoria.

Anyway, in keeping with her theme of African design for these summer camp experiences, I am writing a book of short stories where sewing or crafting is relevant to the story in some way. I know I am rewriting a Kenyan Cinderella story (no prince, no glass slipper, but a talking flamingo) and a Kenyan version of the Miller's Daughter/Rumpelstiltskin (no baby, no talking animals, but a smart young woman having to find a way out of a bad situation with a tricky suitor).

I also wanted to include some modern stories, and I definitely wanted a few stories were boys were sewing, too. I hope you'll enjoy this first one I want to share with you.

Boys Sew, Too

“Drat! The button came off my sweater and I can’t get this thread through my needle!” Evie complained to her friend Nairobi. Classes had been dismissed early, so students were on the playgorund outside the building. Parents would be arriving soon, but not immediately.
“Can I help?” Evan, a boy from their class, asked.
“You?” Evie scoffed. “Boys can’t sew!”
She and Nairobi laughed at the idea.
“We do, too!” Evan insisted. “When I was very young, I watched my grandfather repair fishing nets. Later, he showed me how. Then, my mother said if I fix any holes I rip in my clothes while playing, I won’t get in trouble for them. So I’m pretty good now.” Evan puffed out his chest with pride, and twisted his leg to show some stitches that were not created by the original designer. “See? Lots of practice.”

Image Created by Phyl Campbell using StoryBoard That!

Evie looked at Evan. Then she looked at Nairobi. Both girls shrugged their shoulders. It was worth a try.
“All right. I guess I trust you.” Evie said finally.
“Gee. Thanks. Thanks a lot.” Evan said with a frown.
“Besides,” Evie added, “buttons are easy. I just can’t get my thread through the eye of my needle, and I left my threader at home.”
“Why don’t you just wait until you get home?” Nairobi wanted to know.
“I don’t get home until late tonight. I have a music lesson, and then soccer practice,” Evie replied.
Evan cleared his throat. “Are you going to let me help? Can I see your needle?”
“I don’t know. CAN you?” Nairobi teased.
“Do you want my help or not?” Evan held out his hand impatiently.
Evie handed him the needle. “You MAY have it,” she said.
Evan held the needle with one hand. The eye of the needle was small, but his plan would still work. He slid his backpack off his shoulder and with his free hand fished out a notebook. He tore a small corner of a piece of paper out of the notebook. He folded the small piece in half and held it to the eye of the needle. Unsatisfied, he tore the piece even smaller, folded it in half again, and held it to the eye of the needle once more.
Evie and Nairobi watched, fascinated.
“What are you doing?” Nairobi asked.
“You’ll see. Evie, hand me the thread, please.”
Evie handed Evan the thread. Evan placed the edge of the thread inside the fold of the small piece of paper. Then, he pushed the paper with the thread inside through the eye of the needle.
When he finished, he pulled the paper off the thread and stuffed it in his pocket. The needle was threaded.

Image Created by Phyl Campbell using MS Paint.

“Whoah! That was cool!” Nairobi said.
Evan grinned. “I know.” He handed the threaded needle back to Evie. “You CAN have that back now,” he teased. He put his notebook back in his backpack and started to walk away.
“Wait, Evan.”
“Yeah?” Evan turned back toward the girls.
“That was really cool, Evan,” Evie said. “Thanks for showing us that trick.” She set to work re-attaching the button to her sweater.
“You’re welcome. Glad I could help.” Evan said.
“All done!” Evie said. She snipped the last thread and put her tiny sewing kit away.
“Great! Now you can help me with something,” Evan said.
“Sure. What is it?”
“See, well, I was playing tag over there and I was IT.” He reached over and tagged Evie. “But now you are!”
“Hey! Wait a minute! Evan!”
“No tagbacks!”
Evie quickly reached over and tagged Nairobi. “No tagbacks.”
Both girls got up to join their friends in the game.

I'd love to hear your comments!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Books by Phyl Campbell coming to I-ron-ic in May

Order on today or look for Phyl's titles at i-ron-ic in May!
I-ron-ic is located at 256 W Philadelphia St, York, PA 17401

Do you see the sign for "your book here"? Don't forget my writing and publishing classes

Picture Books

Middle Grades

Adult Fiction


Classes at Creative York and Rustic Cup

Creative York

Teen and Adult Creatives

Find Your Voice
Learn to write and publish
Mondays(4), April 17-May 8 (Adult Class)
6-8pm•$60•Ages 18+
Tuesdays(4), May 2-23 (Teen Class)
$40 Ages 13-17
Flash Fiction After Dark
Community Storytelling / Improv Game
Friday, April 14• 6-8pm • $20 • Ages 16+
Friday, May 19• 6-8pm • $20 • Ages 16+

Younger Creatives
Art with Me: Tell Me a Story
Saturday, April 15•10-11am• $15•Ages 3-6
Saturday, May 13•10-11am• $15•Ages 3-6

Summer Writing Camp
June 19-23 • 1-4pm • $90 • Ages 8-14
July 24-28 • 1-4pm • $90 • Ages 8-14
First Friday
no registration - drop in
5-8PMFree All ages
May 5 June 2 July 7

Creative York Classes and Events will be held at 10 N Beaver in Downtown York.

As a Creative York Instructor
Teen Flash Fiction After Dark Party
Kaltreider-Benfer Library in Red Lion
June 28 – Time TBA

     Rustic Cup 

Kids Publishing Workshop

Saturdays by appointment
2-3:30PM$10 per person Ages 6-16
May  and June
Contact Rustic Cup FB page to register

Adult Publishing Workshop

Six sessions over two days
Learn to self-publish your book
and sell it on Amazon
Laptop strongly encouraged but not required
Summer Date TBD
LIKE the Rustic Cup Page for updates!

Rustic Cup events will be held at
50 W Maple Street in East Prospect

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Date: March 25&26, 2017
Time: 1:00PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Event Description:
Local author Phyl Campbell will hold a two-day intensive creative writing and publishing workshop Saturday, March 25, from 1-4 PM and Sunday, March 26, from 1-4 PM at RusticCup Coffee Shop in East Prospect, PA.

Campbell has been offering monthly creative writing and publishing workshops for young people at Rustic Cup. This is the first time she is offering a workshop for adults in the area. The workshop is geared to anyone who wants to write and does not know where to start or those that have some writing experience but either haven't written anything for a while or are not sure what to do next.

Each session in the workshop will cover a separate aspect of the writing process from how to develop ideas, plot structure, character development, to writing dialogue and preventing "blank page" syndrome.  Some sessions will be geared to self-publishing – cover art, formatting, editing, legalese. Each session will be $20, or attend multiple sessions for a discounted price.

Campbell is a seven-time published author who has already helped students age 6-76 publish their own books on Amazon. Her titles include I'm Not Writing a Book Today, #25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane, and A Muse Meant. Campbell is a member of Pennwriters and the Athens Writers Association. She also teaches literary arts classes and leads literary art events at Creative York

Registration is required and seating is limited. To register or ask questions, email Phyl at or fill out the form at

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Man at the Door

I saw him out of the corner of my eye as I set my purchases on the counter.
He was standing by the door, and when he notices me noticing, he smiles at me.
He was a good-looking guy. Nice build. Nice smile.
And I could feel him checking me out as I was checking out my groceries.
I'm sure he was a nice guy.
I'm sure his mama raised him right.
But my gut told me something was wrong.

So I chatted with the clerk. 
And I bagged my items -- really slowly.
But he was still standing there.
He wasn’t waiting for anyone else. Only for me.
I should have been flattered.
He was a nice-looking boy.
The kind that holds doors open for women
Not the kind that kicks cats when women aren’t looking.
But looks can be deceiving
I didn’t know him
And my gut told me something was wrong.

A million and one thoughts went through the head
Of the girl I had been taught to be, the feminist I knew I was,
And the person who was just minding her own business at the grocery store.
The me that was all of these and none of these and more
Kept waiting for the guy to move.

In a perfect world, I would know
All he wanted was a thank you and a smile
Some acknowledgement that one human being recognized another
And was grateful.
But in the world that I know
A smile is sometimes mistaken for an invitation
A smile can twist quickly into a sneer -- a show of power and contempt
Contempt for me, contempt for humanity
Contempt for my right to be

So I found my voice and I nearly yelled, “What are you doing?”
And waited for his answer.
I wanted everyone in the store to hear, to witness.
“I’m just holding the door for you,” he said.
His eyebrows raised in innocence. Smile fixed on his face.
Another day this could have been the start of a beautiful fairy tale.
But it was also one flipped switch from my death in a horror film.

“I do not need a man to hold the door for me,” I said.
“You need to move. You need to leave me alone,” I said to this stranger to me.
Did he call me a bitch under his breath?
Someone did.
It was not only a thousand voices inside my head
Telling me to get in the kitchen and make that nice man a sandwich.
Give him my number. Marry him.

I didn’t ask him to hold the door.
We didn’t meet by chance
Didn’t approach the door at the same time
He stood there. Like a stalker
And I don’t know him
Don’t want to
And here’s the thing

If I was rude, I missed the guy of a lifetime. That’s on me.

But if his motives were pure, someone else will notice
Because maybe nice guys finish last, but they do finish.

However, if my gut was right
And he was looking for payback
Or to follow me out to my car
To take away my agency
Or worse
Then this was a fairy tale
And I am my own hero
Slaying dragons with my hands full of groceries

And winning.

Written for performance at Gusa by Victoria March 9, 2017
2nd Thursday Nights Open Mic 7-9PM
Gusa by Victoria
252 W Philadelphia
York PA 17401

The Man at the Door was written in response to a man misappropriating a woman's text rant, turning it into a meme, and calling her a feminazi. I could have ignored the online mansplaining, but when a group of women didn't, and attacked the woman and her agency, I needed to re-frame the conversation. 

Visit Author Mother Dreamer Phyl Campbell on Facebook, this blog, or her website.

AMUSing Thoughts for International Women's Day

Wednesday, March 8 is International Women's Day, so it's the perfect time for me to remind everyone of some wonderful books to empower feminists everywhere. Sure, I wrote them. But sometimes empowerment starts with encouraging others to support and empower YOU. This is one of those posts.

First, I'm Not Writing a Book Today empowers everyone to write. An illustrated free verse poem features image after image of children dreaming, doing, and creating. I wrote I'm Not Writing a Book Today in response to the parents of my young authors who apologized to me that their writers weren't chained to their desks all summer. But I chose illustrations to reach an even younger audience. I was reading at three years old and writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. So why not other young people? And when I read I'm Not Writing a Book Today, whether to toddlers or retirees, my audience GETS it. I'm Not Writing a Book Today has become a mantra for so many people doing so many things. And if you haven't experienced it for yourself, your parents, or your kids, you really need to.

Martha's Chickens and the Pirates was the first children's book I was able to publish -- even if it wasn't one of the first ones I'd written or even finished. It is a story I wrote to honor my pioneering grandmother -- the sweet bad ass woman who endeavored to keep the peace even if she had to talk dirty to do it sometimes. In addition to the obvious ways Martha dominates the decisions made by characters in the book, I worked with the illustrator especially to make sure that genders were represented equally. And on International Woman's Day, maybe that's not equal. But as a mother with a son, I needed to see both. I needed people who talked about animals that didn't and I needed people to try new things and to be brave even though being brave means different things to different people. So if you are feeling brave, need to feel brave, or need a change in your life, pick up a copy of Martha's Chickens and the Pirates.

For the adult crowd, #25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane is a hard anti-comedy to beat. In the traditional understanding that women are from Venus and men are from Mars, each vignette highlights ways that two people who love each other very much can still lack basic communication skills or mutual understanding. The idea behind the story and the hashtag was to have a response to the popular fanfic FSOG. A lot of people argued that FSOG liberated women by exposing sexual fantasies. Others felt the lurid sex imprisoned women. I objected to the novel because it took an angst-filled teen drama series that I liked (Twilight), took away the mythological beings that made it so great, and replaced fairly extensive character development with S&M. It wasn't original, but some marketer picked it up because sex sells. How many of the same people boycotting Beauty and the Beast helped rocket FSOG into a bestselling book and movie? Not the book's fault, or the author's. Still, I wanted to provide an alternative. I think male and female feminists want more out of their relationships. #25 Reasons gives readers more.

Finally, of the books I want to talk about today, last but by no means least, is A Muse MeantSamm is the girl-next-door heroine we all want in our lives. Her dreams, her magic, and even her insecurities drive the plot of this coming-of-age story for middle grade readers. The best part is all the things she doesn't realize she's doing. Girls are so often taught to feel insecure -- in the things they are told and the things adults assume they know. So for Samm to be continuously empowered instead -- this was as challenging to write (and re-write) as it was for Samm to experience. Did I get it right?

So in summary, go check out the following on Amazon:
I'm Not Writing a Book Today
Martha's Chickens and the Pirates
#25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane
A Muse Meant

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. Check out her website