North Branch author Marie T Paleck is a woman of faith whose passion for writing has led her to be part of the new “Chicken Soup for the Soul 101 Feel Good Stories An Anthology of Humorous Tales,” from writers around the world. This is one of three “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books that Paleck will appear in.

“The title of that book is ‘Well, That Was Funny.’ And it is ‘101 Feel Good Stories’. All the Chicken Soup for the Soul books are 101 stories. So, on every single title, you’ll see 101 stories about this or these kind of stories.”

The Chicken Soup for the Soul was first published in 1993 when Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen published stories they’d gathered from motivational speakers. It became a best-selling book, selling over 11 million copies worldwide. Readers so loved the book that its become a publishing staple with over 250 “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books on various topics in print.

Paleck considers herself lucky to be one of the authors chosen for this series.

“They get like 3,000 to 6,000 submissions for each book and they accept 101 which I didn’t know until I got in.”

Writing was always on Paleck’s heart. She’s written devotions for different church groups for years, but it was the pandemic that gave her the time she needed to work on and develop her craft.

“COVID actually helped me. I worked all the way through the first year of COVID 2020. And then I semi-retired, starting in 2021. I had attended online (classes) since that was all that was available. I attended a couple of writing conferences and then I joined Flourish Writers Academy. I just attended a lot of classes online. The only way to develop your craft, whether it’s basketball or writing is to do it. So, I just started writing and honing and learning a lot more about how to self-edit,” Paleck said. “Then I submitted some stories. I was excited to hear that they accepted the first one and then the second one and then the third one. I was like, oh my gosh, this is so cool.”

The publishing industry isn’t always as welcoming as the Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers. Paleck notes that publishers are looking for followings these days before they’ll even consider a manuscript.

“They don’t even care about what your book is. They care about your following. How many people do you have? I’m like, I’m nobody, I’ve got no credentials.”

Undaunted, Paleck decided in July of 2022 to self-publish her own book. A Christian devotional titled “Listen for His Voice.”

“The whole goal of that book is for them (readers) to hear God’s voice,” says Paleck. “It’s not something that comes naturally, but once we train ourselves to do it we can all do that. And God has a message for each of us. I want my readers to hear the message from him. Like if you ever sat outside, first all you hear is noise and then once you quiet yourself, you hear specific sounds. That’s what we need to do, listen for something rather than just noise. We listen to too much noise in our world.”

The volunteers

Paleck’s desire to share her faith with others has been a lifelong pursuit. When she’s not writing she’s creating prayer shawls that she gives to others.

“I heard about it (prayer shawls), I don’t know, years ago, and then I researched what is a prayer shaw, what isn’t it? And then a friend of mine went over to Israel and came back with a prayer shawl from the holy land. And then I really was interested. I retired and I spend time in the evening with my husband and we watch Netflix in the evening. I work various things all day and I can’t stand just sitting there. So I crochet. I either give them to a church group and then I posted it on, next door. I was amazed at the people who said, yes, I would like one.”

Paleck actively invites people on her website to reach out to her if they need prayers. “It’s just amazing the hurting people out there. I just pray for them. I also lead a small group online and we are very intentional about our prayer requests. We have witnessed miracles, I mean, absolute bonafide miracles through our prayer. And that is just so, it’s so cool.

I have prayed for people in the soup aisle at Cub Foods and Walmart and Target. I sometimes come out of the store and my husband will go, ‘well, who did you run into this time? Or who did you pray with?’ This happens to me all the time, but it does and it’s so cool. It’s exciting when it happens.”

Part of her mission is volunteering; a life lesson she learned from her grandmother who appreciated self-propagating plants. Plants that she called her volunteers. “It was her tomato plants. When she would get the garden ready in the spring, she was very careful to look for those little seedlings of tomatoes. She would weed around it and just let it come. Her little volunteers, that’s what she called them, ‘my little volunteers’. But her little volunteers generally outproduced the ones that she paid for and she just loved volunteers because they volunteer to come forth and to produce great fruit.”

Over time Paleck has learned that the volunteers she works with are much like those tomato plants. “I work with volunteers. At Eagle Brook Church I serve the volunteers in Children’s Ministry and that’s what they do. They’re just like, I don’t know this, I don’t know that but I’m here and they produce beautiful fruits.”

Overcoming obstacles

Paleck is already working on her next Chicken Soup for the Soul story. Though writing is a passion it doesn’t come easily because Paleck is dyslexic. “I look at words and they get scrambled on a page.”

She’s found ways to cope with her dyslexia using tools like Microsoft Word to read her writing out loud. This process helps her discover errors that because of her dyslexia she can’t see on her own. “It’s like, that’s not the word I put in there.”

But dyslexia won’t stop her from writing. “I love words. I love playing with words and he’s (God) just given me the heart of a writer. He’s given me so many stories through my life. Some of them have been hard and some have just been really cool.”

The money Paleck earns from her next Chicken Soup for the Soul story will go toward her next self-published work. “Chicken Soup For the Soul does help fund my writing and publishing. But I’m definitely working on a second book. Getting a bunch of stories together and then once I get those together and organized, then the Prompts come pretty easy.”

Giving is such an integral part of Paleck’s life that she’s made plans to give away her book Listen for His Voice to local churches to help stock their libraries. “I am going to offer Listen for His Voice to the local churches. I’m just gonna go out and deliver, I don’t know it’ll be probably the first week in June I’ll be doing that.”

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