Mequon — In the midst of a Wisconsin winter, a story titled “The Splendor of Spring” inside the latest Chicken Soup for the Soul book might interest some — especially when it’s by a local author.
The story by Joyce Styron Madsen, a Mequon resident, can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Angels and Miracles. This latest Chicken Soup for the Soul volume, published in November, includes 101 stories relating to angels, miracles, answered prayers, messages from heaven and divine intervention.
“These stories open our hearts to possibilities — that something, somehow, somewhere can work in our lives to make good things happen when we need them most,” said Amy Newmark, author, editor-in-chief, and publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series in a news release on the new volume.
Madsen has been published in Chicken Soup books before. Her first story for Chicken Soup was for the teen and preteen soul. Madsen said she is still getting feedback from that story, most recently from Saudi Arabia. She said once you’re on their list, you hear from them whenever they’re looking for entries for the next book in the line.
Madsen said she doesn’t write for money, she does it for the feeling of sharing and for the feedback. She’s heard from Indonesia, Thailand and many other places around the world. She has already gotten emails from readers saying they enjoyed “The Splendor of Spring.”
“I get a warm feeling from that,” she said. “A little bit of a connection with someone halfway around the world. Hopefully, it inspires someone.”
Explaining the story in this latest edition, Madsen said it is true. Not to spoil it, the story features a garden where something happens some could explain with science but what Madsen says was a “little miracle to show there’s something out there beyond this life.”
Madsen, who has a minor in biology, has a strong faith in God growing up Lutheran her whole life.
“I happen to believe there are some little miracles that go on still today,” she said.
She was inspired to share her story, which she wrote in “maybe a day.” She thought the audience who would buy this book would be more receptive.
She says she still loves planting hundreds of bulbs every fall in her garden.
“It’s the only thing that gets me through these winters,” Madsen said.
Inspiration for fellow writers
Both Madsen and her late husband were teachers. They saw the movie “Babe” about a sheep-herding pig and it inspired them to become vegetarians. Her husband wanted to teach the book. They got involved in writing a publication to help teach the story.
“It was kind of a joy project,” Madsen said.
Years ago, Madsen wrote for a Chicken Soup for the Soul edition to inspire writers discussing how she got into writing.
Madsen said the way you get into writing is “you write, and all it takes is an envelope and a postage stamp.” Now, it’d be a computer and an email to a publisher. She said writers need to find publishers that share their philosophy to aim at the right market.
“It’s hard to force yourself to write for someone else,” she said.
Madsen, an English major, worked at Port Washington High School for 11 years and taught composition at Bryant and Stratton College. She still does online tutoring for graduate students.
Additionally, she’s written many articles for children’s magazines. Madsen said she writes for children because often children’s stories can have awful things happen, but they end with a “note of hope.”
“That’s what I want to do with my writing,” Madsen said. “Somewhere there must be a touch of hope.”
She has also done corporate and medical research.
In addition to writing and teaching, Madsen is also an animal welfare advocate, humane society volunteer, rescue dog foster mom, and handler for Lila Comfort Dog.