Posts Tagged ‘memoir’
What a week! My husband and I have both been hit pretty hard with bronchitis. I think (hope and pray) we are on the road to recovery, finally.
Last Friday I didn’t post because I was at the hospital with my granddaughter Allyson. She’s an Education/Special Ed major student at a University close to where I live. A mass was found under her ribcage. Hopefully its nothing but it does have to come out. It was decided it can wait until her semester is over because all the markers point to it being benign.
I am enjoying putting together a six-week seminar series for my church, based on Matthew Kelly’s book, Resisting Happiness. When I was asked to work on this, I had no idea how much I needed to read that book and to work on this project. I really do resist happiness but I am on the road to recovery! The series is going to be fun.
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any suggestions or questions please feel free to leave them in the comments.
I think it is so important for all of us to find a way to document our lives for those we are going to eventually leave behind. Not only our personal and family stories but- history. Our first- hand accounts of historical events and how we reacted to them.
Wednesday is the day I like to share information, tips and inspiration with writers and bloggers. The kind of information that I wish someone would have shared with me back then.
For those of you participating in NaNoWriMo can you believe we only have one more week to go? I am a little less than ¾ of the way to the finish line. Whether I make the 50,000 word goal or not isn’t concerning me. For me making writing urgent again leaves me feeling like a winner.
Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.
Most of us believe our lives are boring but the truth is everyone does have a story to tell. We all have that one thing that happened in our lives that changed our course in either a positive or negative way.
What exactly is a memoir? Let’s start with what it is not. It is not an autobiography which is the story of your entire lifetime. Unless you are somebody famous that has many accomplishments to your credit readers will not be interested in your entire life. It also is not a biography, which is also the story of an entire lifetime.
What a memoir is, finally clicked with me when my editor said, imagine someone is taking a walk around the block and they see your house and walk up to look into your large picture window. This day happened to be the day that “it” happened. The “it” is what changed or altered the course of your life for either the good or the bad. What would that person, who is walking by your house, see? Whatever it is that the person would see is the place you start your memoir. After the “it” event there should be some brief back story, the resolution and how you arrived there and a bit about where you are now.
A memoir is about an event, an incident, something that changed you in a positive or a negative way. It explains how you dealt with the “it,” The author questions what happened, tells the lessons learned and where you went from that moment on.
The memoir can be written in first person from the author’s point of view. It can also be told as Narrative nonfiction which is written like fiction-in story form.
There is little dialogue.
The reader should learn something and their life should also be affected in some way.
Memoirs should never be about revenge and should not be a book length rant.
They are between 90,000 and 100,000 words.
When writing nonfiction it helps to start with an outline.
Make a list of any research you will need to do
If you are writing nonfiction, you need to write the truth. Real names and places should be used unless using them will cause great harm. If you are planning on using fake names and places consider telling your story as fiction, instead of non-fiction.
If it happened to you, it is your story, you own it and have every right to tell it in your own way.
An outline starts with a brief description of your story. The description should include the beginning, the middle and the end in a concise three paragraph’s. Next, write a paragraph or two on each chapter. Name your chapters and choose a title for your memoir. Nothing is written in stone, this is just the starting point.
I find it helps to have some photo’s and personal items that remind me of the time period I am writing about on my desk.
While writing The Stranger in My Recliner I kept a photo of Sophie, a few Peppermint Patties and a can of peas, all of which reminded me of her.
Once your outline is finished the next step is to write your proposal. Once your proposal is written you will have a solid foundation to write your book.
On Wednesdays I like to share what I learned, what worked and what didn’t work for me when it comes to writing, publishing and marketing along my journey to publication for the first time and as I prepare to be published for the second time.
I was always more a sit down and write kind of writer until I started writing books and taking on freelance work. I found myself procrastinating and easily distracted by new and shinier things that came across my laptop screen.
If I wanted to do this book writing thing full time I needed to get organized and get writing.
I now start with an outline for whatever I may be writing. A blog post, article, a book or a ghostwriting project all start with an outline.
Once I have a simple outline, I start working on the proposal. I do NOT like writing proposals. That is, until they are done. Once they are done I feel like my book could write itself. Trust me you will thank me later.
If you are writing or planning to write nonfiction you will need a very, very good proposal to send to agents and or publishers. If you are writing fiction you should at least have an okay proposal, for yourself. It will help you stay focused.
The first rule of proposal writing is to take your time and get it right. The second rule is it should be written before you write the book. I know, bad news but again you will thank once it’s done.
* You will first need a one page cover letter. Think business, resume etc…
* Next you will need an overview. It should answer these questions: What is your book about (think about what will be on the back cover of the book), who will care about this book, who are you and what credentials do you have that make you the best person to tell this story? No more than two pages.
* Table of contents. You may have to finish this once the proposal is finished but this is the place for it.
* Target Market: Who will buy this book and why. Do not say everyone. Pick one demographic and then one or two sub-demographics. Do not use statistics that are not specific.
*Chapter Outline: The title of each chapter and a paragraph on what each chapter is about. Take your time and try to come up with paragraphs that tell a condensed version of your book. A beginning, middle and an end. If you are worried someone will steal your idea, don’t.
* Competition: Pick three or four books that will be direct competition. Competition in the book business is a good thing. It means people are reading what you are writing. (think vampires) Do careful research here and explain why your book is different and will stand out from the competition.
*Author bio and platform: Your bio should only pertain to what you are writing and your experience. Leave personal information out. It should be short and sweet. More on platform’s next week. It basically means who you know, organizations you belong to and your online reach.
*Marketing Plan: You must convince an agent and or a publisher that you can bring the audience for this book not the other way around. Do not write what you hope to do but specifically what you can and will do. Be confident, realistic and firm. Use real numbers. Cleary define your market. List your accurate online stats for all of your sites. Do not just list followers, list your Google analytics. List your offline following, organizations or groups you belong to and any media contacts you have. Don’t get depressed you can do this. Get out and meet people in real life. Read and leave comments on many other blogs to increase your own comments and stats.
*Last but not least, in fact extremely important, add two of your meatiest chapters.
Now sit down and write that memoir, novel, instructional, health or whatever story you were born to tell!
June is another one of those months that seems to pull the rug out from under our feet. It seems to be over before I give it a chance to start. I’ve been buried in my editing cave, trying to manage some DIY projects in the house, putting together fall schedules, marketing plans and juggling family stuff, while still grieving and the whole month my mind and body have been screaming for me to slow down and allow things to happen the way they are supposed to happen in June, slower.
My plan for July is to slow down and be conscious of each and every minute.
The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG. This is one AMAZING group of talented, wanting to start writers, beginners, and professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.
To find out more about the IWSG or to join us, visit:
I have also started ‘Writing Wednesday’s’ here. Every Wednesday I am going to share some of the things I have found that worked and some that didn’t work so well along my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. Being insecure at times is one thing I had to and still deal with in my writing. Learning to listen to other writers, taking their advice and learning to write through those insecurities is a must.
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I have run into a dilemma with The Stranger in My Recliner. It is the true story of Sophie, a homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She ended up staying with us for nearly three years.
I believe wholeheartedly that when you are telling a true story you should be 100% honest, unless that honesty could egregiously and irreparably hurt someone. Someone, that may or may not be completely innocent.
Sophie made me promise to tell her story. That story revolves around people in an anonymous group. I am not part of that group, so I didn’t give much thought to using their real names if they were part of Sophie’s world. Perhaps I even had an attitude or a bit of a grudge against a few of them.
My editor pointed out that grudges and revenge are not the best reasons for memoir. She suggested that I reach out and try to speak with a few of these people and try to get their side of the story, to balance things out a bit. I took that suggestion and decided to hit the research trail.
I was feeling depressed and wondering if this book would ever reach, the end. I was having trouble figuring out where to start to find these people. I brought it up in my writers group. This group, Lower Bucks Creative Explorers (amazing group) meets an hour and fifteen minutes from my home. It is on the other side of Philadelphia in another county.
What are the chances that when I mention I have no idea where to start locating friends of Sophie’s in yet another area, the town of Glenolden, Pennsylvania that one of our members would say I have a new boyfriend and that is the town where he lives. Jokingly, I said call him and ask him if he knew Sophie. She did and yes, he knew Sophie and her family. We arranged an interview and he gave me information that facilitated more interviews and suddenly Sophie’s story began to breathe in a way I didn’t see coming.
Drawing on my journalism skills of being able to present both sides of a story in a fair and impartial way I have decided to only use the first names of the members of this particular anonymous group. That way they will recognize themselves in the story and others in ‘that’ group may even recognize them but outside of that, it doesn’t change the direction; the truth or the impact of Sophie’s story in any way.
I think I feel relieved by that decision and yet still a bit insecure.
Do you get frustrated when reading a true story knowing the author has changed the names and even sometimes the locations of the actual story?
Do you want to write a memoir but you are worried about angering or hurting someone?
Does knowing those changes were made distract you at all while you are reading, do you wonder what else is not actually true in the story?
Have a wonderful Holiday,
I would love to hang out with you here too: