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Pagoda Writers Circle

Encouragement and Inspiration

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Our Pagoda Writers gathering was held on Saturday, June 11, 2022 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Barnes & Noble, Broadcasting Square Shopping Center, Wyomissing, Pa. Our featured speaker is Dr. Santo D. Marabella, our very own local Practical Prof and retired professor of management at Moravian College and hosts the podcast “Office Hours with The Practical Prof… and Friends.” His latest book, “The Lessons of Caring” is written to inspire and support caregivers (available in paperback and eBook)

Brief Bio

Santo D. Marabella, MBA, DSW, The Practical Prof®, 2018 Reading Eagle Entertainment Newsmaker of the Year, is an author, playwright, filmmaker, speaker and educator who creates, produces and distributes “edu-tainment that makes a difference". He is author of two books: “The Lessons of Caring,” (2018) and, “The Practical Prof: Simple Lessons for Anyone Who Works,” (2014) and his newspaper column, Office Hours with The Practical Prof has appeared in the Reading Eagle’s Business Weekly since 2012. Marabella is a trainer for the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance since 2015. He is writer and producer of a musical, 3 short films and six plays; creator and writer of a TV pilot; producer of five short films and a TV pilot; and, director of more than 25 community theatre productions. His most recent project, THE CAREGIVER, is a short film about the challenges of caring for a loved one. Dr. Marabella is Professor Emeritus of Management, Moravian University; President, Marabella Entertainment & Education Enterprises LLC; co-founder and former Film Commissioner, ReadingFilm; Co-Founder and Past Chair, Greater Reading Alliance of Community Theatres. His professional memberships include The Lambs®, the Dramatists Guild of America, the Theatre Communications Group, the Academy of Management and the National Association of Social Workers. Dr. Marabella earned his DSW from the University of Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice (1991); an MBA from St. Joseph’s University (1984); and, a BS in Business Administration from Villanova University (1982).

Our Pagoda Writers gathering was held on Saturday, July 30, 2022 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Barnes & Noble, Broadcasting Square Shopping Center, Wyomissing, Pa.

Our July speaker- Nancy A. Hughes writes character-driven crime solving mysteries. A Penn State graduate, she followed her dream from journalistic business writer to a life of crime. Her amateur sleuth/suspense mystery novels, published by Black Opal Books since 2016, include two series: The Dying Hour and its sequel, The Innocent Hour; and her trust mysteries: A Matter of Trust, Redeeming Trust, Vanished, and Buried Trust.

When Nancy isn’t committing murder—on paper, that is—she’s a devoted shade gardener and volunteer at the VA and Reading Hospitals. She lives with her husband in Spring Township. She’s a member of the Mystery Writers Of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Penn Writers.

Our Pagoda Writers gathering was held on Saturday, August 20, 2022 from 1:00 to 3:00 PM at Barnes & Noble, Broadcasting Square Shopping Center, Wyomissing, Pa. (Please take note of the date; a previous email listed a different date).

Our workshop leader was Teresa Messineo. Teresa is a graduate of Reading Central Catholic High School, and DeSales University where she majored in English, minored in Biology and Theology, and earned her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Publishing (MFA-CW), the terminal degree in its field. She is an adjunct professor of English at Drexel University, and is certified to teach English at the 7-12th grade, college, and graduate levels. She spent seven years researching The Fire by Night (HarperCollins), her historical fiction novel about frontline military nurses of the Second World War. The Fire by Night is currently available in three languages in seven countries, opening in the number one slot on Canada’s Best Sellers List. Her newest book, What We May Become (Severn House), is set in Tuscany during WWII and deals with themes of betrayal, survival, and rising above our darkest selves. The foreign print rights – and film rights – for both novels are currently being marketed worldwide.

Teresa is a Berks County native (Caernarvon Township) and the mother of four children, whom she home schooled for twenty years. She is passionate about social justice and giving voice to the silenced. Her other interests include swing dancing, foreign language, hunger relief, travel, distance swimming, and hiking. She can be reached for book signings, book club appearances, public readings, lectures, and school, college, and community presentations at

September 17, 2022 at 1:00 PM at Barnes and Noble in Wyomissing


John Yamrus on A 50-Year Project: The Director's Cut

John will be sharing his personal experience building a successful literary career that includes 35 published books and nearly 3,000 poems published in magazines around the world. Most recently, a volume of his poems was published in Albania, translated into that language by Fadil Bajraj, who is best known for his translations of authors and poets like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, Eliot and more. He will be talking about his new SELECTED POEMS: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT (542pp, Concrete Mist Press), and also suggesting writing prompt ideas as a challenge.

Bio: In a career spanning more than 50 years as a working writer, John Yamrus has published 35 books (29 volumes of poetry, 2 novels, 3 volumes of non-fiction and a children’s book). He has also had nearly 3,000 poems published in magazines and anthologies around the world. A book of his SELECTED POEMS was just released in Albania, translated into that language by Fadil Bajraj, who is best known for his translations of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Bukowski, Ginsberg, Pound and others. A number of Yamrus’s books and poems are taught in college and university courses. His most recent book is SELECTED POEMS: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT (Concrete Mist Press, 542pp)..

Here's a link to the most recent review of his SELECTED POEMS: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT, published in The Compulsive Reader: Review Of Director's Cut
Surprisingly, the review was written by Robert Fillman, a professor at nearby Kutztown University

October 15, 2022 at 1:00 PM at Barnes and Noble in Wyomissing


Mary Arguelles on Where to Begin

In addition to sharing her literary experiences and insight, Mary would like to invite the Pagoda Writers to use one or all of the following prompts to do a little writing and bring it to share at the meeting:
-Describe someone by what they can’t take their eyes off of
-Describe someone who has to kill something with a shoe
-Describe someone inappropriately dressed for the occasion
These may sound strange, but they are a way into a story or a poem or whatever genre you may be working on. Mary found these prompts during her memoir explorations in the book, "Safekeeping," by Abigail Thomas.

BIO: Mary began writing poetry and song lyrics in childhood before branching out into short stories and non-fiction essays. Her non-fiction has been published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Wild Onions, Newsweek, New Mother, Baby Talk, and Salt magazine; her poetry has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review and the Healing Muse. A short story, “Memorial Day” was published by the Central PA Magazine, as the winning entry in a writing contest. Recently, Mary has explored the memoir genre with Melissa Greene's online Zoom course, “Write from the Heart.” A Bethlehem, PA, native who lived in NYC for a time, Mary has been a Berks County resident since 1980.

December 10, 2022 at 1:00 PM at Alvernia University, Upland Center Room 103


John Kissinger on Workshop in Two Parts

Part 1: Not “write what you know”: Rather, “learn what you write"
Part 2: Facing the Fiction: How models and photographs can bring life to your fiction."
Workshop description: In Part 1, we summarized the various activities and steps I’ve taken to teach myself how to narrate fiction from a female character’s point of view.
In Part 2, we examined the process of finding a model, scripting a photo shoot, tapping into the creativities of the photographer and the model, plus the business of taking photographs for use in book promotions.
In March, 2022, John was a guest on the BCTV show, "Artists Speak Out" to discuss his fiction and learning to narrate as a woman. The replay can be viewed at the link below: Artists Speak Out.

BIO: John graduated from Blue Mountain Academy in Hamburg PA, has degrees in theology from Southern Adventist University in Tennessee, and in library science from Kutztown University. He managed the book department of Moyer’s Book Mart in downtown Reading for twelve years, was a librarian at Alvernia College for fourteen years, the director of IT at Alvernia University for thirteen years, and the library director for Kettering College and Kettering Medical Center for five years. And all that time, what he really wanted to do was write books. Since retiring, he concentrates his time on completing a series of novels, mostly mysteries with a little science fiction and a little more romance, set in Chattanooga, Tennessee. These self-published books, Sanguinary Angel, Revenant Angel, Inclement Angel, and Angel Provocateur, are centered on the exploits of Wayne Hoyer, private investigator, and Cheyenne Grigsby, high school senior. About ten years ago, he discovered one of the series’ main characters, Cheyenne, who has absorbed one of the series’ main narrative roles, in which she explores such issues as love-at-first-sight, age-gap relationships, extraterrestrials on Earth, and graduating from high school with honors while leading her school’s cheer squad. For John, the challenges Cheyenne presents include how to arrange and execute photo shoot sessions, and how to narrate as a woman, tasks he expects to continue for the rest of his life. John is a Berks County native still living in the house where he grew up and where he raised his family of three amazing daughters with his amazing wife.

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