A must read: Students write short stories about life’s most tender experiences

Dr. Tom Frederick holds a copy of LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life written by students from Union Institute & University. Available on Amazon Marketplace.

“Anyone can be a writer. That includes you. Every person has some great idea or experience that is so unique that it can become an excellent story. To become a writer, a person just needs to find that special story, that story that has never been told in that exact way, and birth it into art.”

So says Dr. Tom Frederick, professor and National Chair of Union’s General Education program, in the preface of LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life, a compilation of 46 short stories written over the last five years by Dr. Frederick’s students. The collection, edited and published by Dr. Frederick, is now available in Kindle or paperback through Amazon Marketplace.

The project is the culmination of a vision and some hard work by both students and Dr. Frederick.

“I invite every reader to immerse themselves in these treasured universal memories,” he says. “My students are very special. They are predominately adult learners… average age of 37, and each is juggling work, family, and school. What they have in common is experience. Life has given each of them … a unique perspective on life. As you read these stories, you will relate. Humanity is so diverse, yet so similar.”

Dr. Frederick has been thinking about writing a book for some time.

“At first, I wanted to publish my own collection. Then I realized I was sitting on a treasure of student essays from my classes.”

Dr. Frederick sees these stories as “mind movies,” allowing you to picture the events communicated through the written word, where you substitute the character’s names with the names of your own friends and family. The book will also serve as a handbook of “mentor texts” for future students.

Two other aspects make this opportunity stand out. First, Dr. Frederick has ensured that all proceeds from the sale of the publication will go to scholarships for future students in this class. Second, he was proud to tell each of the 40 student writers included that they are now published authors.

Monica Pugh, a former student in the class and 2018 Union graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Maternal Child Health, is honored that her work “Grandma’s House” was included. Her offering is a loving remembrance of the cherished summers spent visiting her grandmother. “Not a year passed that she did not bestow some pearl of wisdom upon me…Now as I return to pay my respects, I drive by the vastly aged house and tell my children the stories of my youth.”

“I am grateful for the tutelage received from Dr. Frederick.  My stories are as I remember them, cherished memories,” said Pugh.

Former student Kathrina Currie said, “Honestly, I couldn’t have been more surprised. I genuinely experienced more excitement and pride when I was contacted about this amazing honor than I was when I received my B.A. I never thought ‘published author’ would be something I could say about myself one day, and I am so grateful for Union Institute & University, and the phenomenal educators I was lucky to learn from every day.

Cover of LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life

I have three stories in LITBITS 101, and I would like people to know how nervous I was when planning, creating, and writing these stories. I placed a piece of myself in each one, and I feel that they came out as well as they did because of it. Not to mention the guidance of my professor. If you write about what you know and what you love, it is always an accomplishment.”

Alicia Jones an addictions specialist and mom said, “I feel honored. I would write on my lunchbreaks. I am 55 years old and I am proud of myself. Being a published author is a big accomplishment for me.”

Kevin Burden, a 2016 Bachelor of Science with a Criminal Justice Management major graduate, said the book is something to be proud of forever. “Having a publication of your work is an accomplishment that lives on.”

Kristen Quick, said, “My reaction? I am still in shock, I think, but it is such an exciting opportunity. I am happy my story is out there and has the potential to help someone.”

James Tidwell, a 2020 Bachelor of Science with a Criminal Justice Management major, now a police officer, said he had always struggled with writing. “My supervisors frequently criticized my reports. Therefore, I consistently worked hard to improve my writing skills. I remember how frustrated it felt at times because my supervisors did not acknowledge my efforts. Since earning my degree, I no longer have my reports returned for corrections. When I heard my story was chosen, I felt overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of excitement, pride, and a sense of accomplishment because I did it! Being published made the pain, sweat, and tears I had endured to improve my writing worth every minute. It was emotional because I know how far I had come, and being published was the product of my hard work. I am incredibly proud of myself for never giving up.

Simply put, I felt humbled and grateful because I know how easy it is to go through life without acknowledgment for one’s effort. Thank you, Union Institute & University.”

Dr. Frederick was so inspired by his students that he decided to include one of his own stories in the collection. “Ham Balls,” dedicated to his mother, affectionately recalls the memories this unusual recipe awakens in him. More importantly, his memory evokes the wonderful recipe of love his mother had for her children. Like his students’ stories, these memories are universal and speak to our inner souls, he says.

Dr. Frederick challenges other universities to publish student work.

“All of us now challenge other universities to publish their own similar books,” he said. “This is just the beginning for our Union students. We expect to publish sequels in the future.”

Be sure to include “LITBITS 101: Little Bits of Life” as stocking stuffer for that special budding author in your life this holiday season. Remember that all proceeds will provide much needed scholarship funds for future writers.

You can complete your bachelor’s degree by taking general education courses designed for adult learners that match majors and life experience. Find out more at this link.