Mary Beth Writes

I can also do a great stand-in for Mrs. Wide-Mouth Frog. 


This week I got this email from the Wisconsin Writers Association

Dear Mary Beth - On behalf of WWA I would like to congratulate you. Your story, How Crow Got Out Of Jail, has been chosen as the first-place winner in the 2023 Jade Ring Fiction Contest.

Click here for the official announcement

I joined this organization several years ago because, well, I’m a writer. I don’t enter lots of writing contests but this one seemed straight forward and worthy. Winners get a Jade Ring because the guy who started Kraft cheese was a wild and crazy guy who invented this contest and award in the 1940’s. (Read here for the story of the Jade Ring Writers' contest.) 

I am especially happy that I will also get to attend a writers retreat at Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts.


My story - How Crow Got Out of Jail - arose from my years working in the Racie County Jail as the coordinator of the employability skills program for inmates. Inmates became some of my favorite people on earth and still are. There are so many ways to fail. There are also some beautiful ways that some people figure out how to rise from the ashes of their own life. Those people are my prophets and heroes.

 I think you will be able to read my story this autumn, possibly in September, in online Creative Wisconsin Magazine. 


PS; To those who haven't explored this website a bit - if you go to Stories you can read some of the fiction I've written over the years.  Plus, the theme of the How Crow Got Out of Jail is in this sermon. Read here. 





Congrats! So awesome. Some day I will be able to say, I knew her when ————
Mary Beth's picture

It's been a long 'when' coming...

Such exciting news Mary Beth! So pleased for you to get this recognition. Dorian

Oh, Mary Beth, I am thrilled for you!
Mary Beth's picture


So wonderful to be recognized and for something you love to do and I love that you write. I remember touring the Racine County Jail with you and learning about the employability skills program. If only our judicial system and our public could understand "inmates" and their potential for change. My heart breaks every time a teenager or young adult is sentenced to life in prison without parole. One action in one millisecond in time and society gives no opportunity for redemption.

Congratulations MB!!! I am very impressed and so excited for you!! I did know you "back when" and even then your creative use of words and images has stuck with me. Phrases like " the newly green trees in spring are like lime green popsicles" !! Your imagination, love of reading, and the knack of charming words onto the page are an inspiration to me. Keep writing wonderful stories and maybe submit your work to a few more contests! Love you, Hedy
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks. I wish we could go backwards in time to meet the relatives from whom we come. I'm betting there were some bored Swedish farm workers who played with words, too.

Congratulation, well deserved....

MB, Yay! That is very awesome! I have loved your writing and you for a long time, and now more of the world will get to know you:) Excited for you to go to the writers retreat. Can't wait to hear about that, and to see where that might lead. Here's to new adventures!
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks a zillion bits and pieces. In fact, thanks six white sneakers full...

I do still love to keep my sneakers looking fresh! OxiClean and I are very good friends!

Congratulations on winning the writing contest. You’ve kept at your craft. Now enjoy the rewards.

I’m delighted that you are receiving this recognition for your admirable writing skills. I look forward to reading the story and seeing you in your jade ring!

I know what your writing means to me, so I am thrilled that you are getting the recognition you deserve! Congratulations! Patricia

MB, Congratulations are in order my dear friend, Jade becomes you.. I've been privileged to have known you for all these many years, and have been reading your writing since the Racine Journal Times days.. I've also been honored to have been one of your subjects on this writing journey you've been on.. I remember when you told me that you wanted to write something about how I've lived my life.. I was hesitant at first thinking my life was small, unimportant, and that there wasn't much to write about.. I was sitting at that very same table where it all started while at dinner last night with Angela at The Taj, and thought about you and me sitting at lunch there.. You picking my brain and asking questions, me sharing the details of my life as you accompanied me around Milwaukee, me still thinking to myself that this was a lost cause.. Then you sent me the first draft of what you wrote so I could give the go ahead.. I read about myself, and I have felt bigger and better about my humble little life ever since having read about myself as seen through your eyes and perspective.. Your vision of the world you live in and the people in it is uncanny to say the least.. I for one cannot wait to read another one of your stories my dear friend.. This honor in my humble opinion is long overdue.. Franc
Mary Beth's picture

I may have slightly wet eyes reading this, Franc. Thank you. For those who never read my interview of Franc back in 2018, this is it:

What a wonderful award and accolade to a writer who earned and deserves it. Looking forward to reading the story when it comes out!

I was excited to see that you won a prize of some sort. At first I read about your wide-mouth smile and thought of my little tree frog we see in our yard. I am so happy for your actual talent being rewarded with the Jade Ring award! Congratulations! I can't wait to read your entry. ribbit.
Mary Beth's picture

I follow your frog on FB! Len and I had a backyard frog one year and when the windows were open we could hear it while falling asleep. The next year it wasn't back and after that, we started talking about moving. Thanks.. Ribbit to you, too!

Years ago, back in our Waldorf days, another parent described you as having , “that Geena Davis mouth”. Beautiful and talented! Love from Lois in Chicago
Mary Beth's picture

You made me laugh out-loud! Thanks...

Congratulations, Mary Beth. That is a wonderful honor! I look forward to reading it ... and maybe seeing the jade ring.
Mary Beth's picture

What a good idea. When get it I will figure out something. Thanks!

Big congrats on your prize and the validation and recognition that comes with it. So proud of you, even though pride was a sin back in good 'ol TC. Paulette
Mary Beth's picture

All those people who, when complimented, would say, "Oh no, it was nothing." Gah. Writing this story took me five weeks and I have no idea how many hours. and it's about six double-spaced pages long...

Yay Mary Beth! It’s about time you got some recognition for your gift of telling stories! My life is richer when I read your words.
Mary Beth's picture


Bravo! I’m so happy you are receiving this recognition! Many more readers will be joining the fan club! Congratulations!

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Y is for Yellowstone


Back in February I asked you to give me topics to write about that would correspond to the alphabet. Sometimes several of you sent ideas for one letter and sometimes I wrote about all of them (I’s and S’s) Here we are at letter Y for which your suggestions are Yummy Food and Yawns. The word yawn absolutely makes me yawn; no way I could write about that - I would yawn for hours. I worked on Yummy Food but could only find a scolding voice about Americans eating too much sugar. Bah. True but not interesting.

So, I gave Y a go again. Y is for?

"I was Scott Simon's teller."


First of all - Thank you to those of you who came to the Wisconsin Writers Association zoom gala last night. I HAD received an email a week ago which said I would be reading my whole story. Cutting it in half while I was reading was awkward! It was still a happy event for me and the other writers. Thanks for being there! 

X is for Xeriscape


Xeriscape is pronounced ‘zeer-eh-scape’ and it means landscaping with little to no irrigated water. Readers in the west already know about this. Those of us who don’t live in arid or desert places need to wake up to the incredible resource that water is - then begin to accommodate ourselves to “water all around and beneath us all the time” is no longer our reality. Nor is it our right. We’ve got to get smarter and do better.

W is for Wonder


To whomever suggested Wonder - Thank You!  ‘Wonder’ has been bobbing in my mind like a frog in a pond.

However, I have FOUR suggestions from you guys for X - but I do not want to write four X essays. These are the suggestions:

1.) X signature substitution

2.) xylophone on a string pulled by a toddler

3.) xenophobia

4.) Xmas. 

If you have an opinion respond with the one you would like me to attempt. I will choose whichever X gets the most comments.

There will be no gerrymandering in this election.



Grownups Noticing Their Lives


Most of you know about my former weird and lovely job of coordinating an employability skills program for Huber-qualified inmates in the Racine County Jail (that’s a mouthful). Early on I realized that most of the people I would work with were people with 1.) huge addiction problems, and 2.) underlying and over-the-top and to-the-side just lying around mental health issues.

V is for Vocabulary


For those who are new here - This year I am writing about topics, in alphabetical order, that were suggested to me by readers. Sometimes this is hard! 


My cousin-in-law Dave has some powerfully thorough avocations (for fun and profit he earned a PhD in biochemistry; you will notice this in his list). This year, among other pursuits, he has been collecting words which have appeared in our culture since 1945, which was the year he also appeared in our culture.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books boy scout Bread BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola groceries Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites ScottSimon sculpture Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress Survival swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing ThreeThings Three Things TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone
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