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Five Tips to Help You Write Your Memoir

Is there a book in your future? Have you been thinking about writing your personal story? Here are some little-known memoir-writing tricks you can use:

Tip One: Figure out who your readers will be.
Sure, like all of us, you want the world-at-large to read your book. You are certain everyone will be entranced by the details of your life. Alas, the publishing world does not agree. Identify your audience by thinking about a particular person who would love to read your book and assume that person is looking over your shoulder whenever you sit down to write. Write directly to that person and your writing will not stray into irrelevant areas. I do hope everyone in the world will want to read your memoir, but even best-sellers are aimed toward a particular audience -- perhaps a young woman, or a retired professional, or a high school student, or a member of the armed forces, a pet-lover, a dad. Who is your ideal reader?

Tip Two: Create memoir space.
Designate a certain day of the week and certain time of day when you will write - maybe every morning at 7 AM, maybe Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, maybe three times a week at four 'o' clock. Then designate a place -- maybe your laptop at the kitchen table, maybe your ipad in bed, maybe the corner table at Starbucks, maybe the library. If there are times when you cannot think of what to write just sit there and record your thoughts. Stick with your scheduled writing time and eventually an idea will emerge out of your thoughts.

Tip Three: Ignore all rules of grammar.
After your entire book is written you can go back and fix the sentence structure, the spelling, the punctuation, and more. Pausing to do that as you write will slow your memory and may cause frustration. Just write naturally . . . and write . . . and write. Don't worry, don't stress, if you have trouble with language techniques. When you finish your book you can hire an editor to repair written irregularities. Remember, there are plenty of editors out there, but only you can tell your true story.

Tip Four: Geography is important.
The closer you are, physically, to the area in which your story takes place, the more difficult the writing process. Certainly it's a good idea to visit the area you are remembering, but it's not a good idea to stay there and do your writing there. When you write in a place that has plenty of memories for you, your emotions complicate those memories. You will do better by visiting, jotting down all your feelings, all the elicited emotions, and then going elsewhere to do the actual writing. Distance brings clarity. Distance brings perspective. Distance fosters truth.

Tip Five: Shut your eyes.
Whenever you recount an incident close your eyes for at least one minute and picture the scene. Then open your eyes and quickly write everything that was in your visualization. Include the littlest detail. Your reader needs to know all facets, all angles, in order to truly see you there. Then close your eyes again and visualize the scene again, but this time from a different vantage point. What more can you reveal to your reader? Your words should help the reader figure out what season it is and what time of day it is without explicitly stating those facts. Instead, describe weather or clothing or lighting or shadows. The more you describe, without overtly declaring but rather suggesting and hinting, the more engaged the reader becomes. You want an engaged reader. Readers who don't care what ensues next in your life story are readers who will drop your memoir in favor of another. I never want that to happen to your book.

© 2014 Roberta Temes, Ph.D., author of How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating and Publishing Your Personal Story

Roberta Temes, Ph.D. is an accomplished author, editor and writing instructor, as well as a seasoned psychotherapist and psychology faculty member. She lectures around the country at corporate meetings, medical conferences and health spas. Dr. Temes' newest book, How to Write a Memoir in 30 Days is available now on Amazon and everywhere books are sold. She is also the author of the award-winning Living with an Empty Chair and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hypnosis.

Temes lives in New Jersey and Florida, with her husband David Lyons, a university financial systems consultant. Temes is a mother and grandmother, too. For more information please visit http://drroberta.com.

Interview with Kathy Mashburn

What genre do you write and why?

While I enjoy writing across genres, I spend most of my time writing books for children. The stories I write are usually based on an awareness issue like a fear of clowns, a physical disability like having prosthetic limbs or being blind. Of course, sometimes I simply write stories that are entertaining and FUNNY!  I strive to write books that engage children in a positive way, encouraging them to laugh, learn, and to enhance their imagination.

Tell us about your latest book.

Imagine you have been diagnosed with cancer. Now, imagine how you would go about explaining your diagnosis to a young child. Wiggy Wanda is a children's book that I wrote in hopes it might open doors for women everywhere to begin to tell their personal stories to the young children in their lives - perhaps even their daughters.

In Wiggy Wanda, Keri Fields is only seven years old when she learns the reason for her mother's sickness. She has seen firsthand how badly her mother feels when she is sick. Keri listens carefully as her mother tells her about a boo-boo called cancer that is causing her to be sick enough to throw up and tired enough to lie down often. To help explain the things that will happen while her mother is being treated by the doctor, Keri's parents present her with a very special gift. Keri quickly discovers this is no ordinary gift!

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?

For me, marketing is an everyday all-day effort to reach my audience.  I enjoy marketing my books and myself in various ways, including using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, Pinterest, and Goodreads.  I also submit media kits and press releases to newspapers and TV and radio stations (starting locally, and then branching out as far as leads allow).  I am a member of numerous online writers groups and a few local groups in my community.  I am also a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and Georgia Writers Association.

Lastly, my absolute favorite marketing method is participating in opportunities that allow me to network directly with my readers.  I hold book signings; attend expos, fairs, festivals, and community events as often as possible.  The more comfortable you become with talking about yourself and your work, the more successful you will be.

What’s your favorite quote about writing/for writers?

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” – Agatha Christie

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

The quickest way to learn more about me and my work is by visiting my website at http://www.kathymashburn.com and to sign up for my blog or newsletter using the links at the top of the home page.  Readers may also connect and follow me at http://amazon.com/author/kathy.mashburn, or at http://facebook.com/kathymashburnauthor.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

Wiggy Wanda is not just an ordinary book!  It’s a book meant to spark conversations between adults and children dealing with cancer or other serious illnesses.  It is beautifully illustrated and easy to understand.  In addition to the book, Wiggy Wanda dolls were created at the request of many of my readers.   The Wiggy Wanda doll is intentionally sold bald, so that adults and children can experience shopping for a wig of their choice and other accessories, including clothing, shoes, and hats together.

Where can a reader purchase your book?

Wiggy Wanda available on http://www.amazon.com, http://www.wiggywanda.com, or at http://www.createspace/4787429.    My other children’s books, including A Birthday Clown for Archer, Feeding Piggy, and Jilly Loves to Pretend are also available on Amazon.  Readers can simply search my name (Kathy Mashburn), or the title of any of my books to find me.

What is your work in progress?  Tell us about it.

My current works-in-progress include Wooly Gets a Haircut, An Odd Bird, and Santa, Are You Ready?  My lists is always growing and changing as I find inspiration.  A couple favorite ways for me to be inspired is to observe people and to listen to snatches of their random conversations when I’m out-and-about.  A great idea can occur at any moment!

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I began writing in the fifth grade when my teacher, Mrs. Brannock, gave my class an assignment to keep a daily journal about something going on in our lives. As Mrs. Brannock handed me a thin red spiral notebook to use, she could not have known the profound impact it would have on me years to come. That simple wire-bound notebook became a bible of sorts to me as I captured my every thought, idea, and dream inside its pages.
It was much later in high school when another teacher, Dr. Peggy Quarles further inspired me to write. She poured fuel on the fire when she instructed my freshmen class to maintain journals again. By then journaling had become habitual to me, but the renewed assignment caused an even greater appreciation of reading, writing, and storytelling within me. It is because of Dr. Quarles’s encouragement and advice to write about anything and everything lurking behind the doors of my imagination that causes me to keep a pen and paper handy every day.

Does your family support you in your writing career?  How?

Absolutely!  I am blessed to be the mother of three beautiful daughters, Jennifer, Lindsey, and Rana.  They have never failed to encourage me to pursue my dreams and to reach my goals.  Their belief in me inspires me to reach higher than I ever thought possible.  They are especially supportive when it comes to extending my reach to prospective readers.  They never hesitate to tell everyone and anyone about my work, plus they volunteer to do physical work for me as well.  Most weekends, you will find them packing books, dolls, etc. for mailing, or managing tables on my behalf at public events.  They and many others are always hands-on when it comes to helping me grow as a writer.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, crafting, attending church, and spending time with my family and friends.


Is it wrong to fall in love with your heroine?

Somewhere between researching the life of Ka’ahumanu and creating the fictionalized Wai-nani, I fell in love with my heroine. So smitten was I with the fiery, brave personage of Ka’ahumanu (Wai-nani) that I determined to tell Hawai’i’s story through her eyes. Even though born into the rank and privilege of the royal class, she railed against harsh punishments meted out by priests and ruling chiefs invested with the power of gods. She questioned the status quo and confronted authority. She was clever and moved like water around her enemies, solving her problems with intellect rather than force. She faced her fears and pushed through them becoming stronger in adversity. And finally, she lifted the dragon tail from her path and rose to become the most respected and powerful woman in all of old Hawai’i.

She could be seen skittering across the waves on a surfboard with Kamehameha the Great who declared her to be his favorite wife. She was a beautiful dancer, a strong swimmer, and one practiced in the healing arts.  Though she was a childless bride, she remained Kamehameha’s confidant and paramour over his 40-year rise to power. At his death in 1819 he bestowed upon her the power to rule equally with his son.

To me she was the ultimate empowered female and a forerunner to the modern independent woman. I saw myself in her and grew stronger in telling her story. She gave me the courage to publish Wai-nani –A Voice from Old Hawai’i. Is it love, or is it admiration mixed with deep envy of her life in hauntingly beautiful old Hawai’i that I feel for my heroine? I don’t’ think it was wrong of me to fall in love with my character in the process of bringing her to life. In fact it might be required passion in the work for readers to fall in love too.

Linda Ballou is an adventure travel writer and author of, Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i- fabled historical fiction inspired by the tumultuous love affair of Kamehameha the Great and his favorite wife Ka’ahumanu. An informative and lively speaker, Linda enjoys giving power point presentations she has created for each of her books. In “Lessons Learned from the People of Old” she takes you on a journey to sacred sites throughout the Islands. In her “Whet Your Wanderlust” talk she shares destinations in her book Lost Angel Walkabout. Learn more about Linda, her books and articles on her site www.LindaBallouAuthor.com

Excerpt: Awakening Humanity’s Collective Spirit by Josiah Samuel Harry

Book Title: Awakening Humanity’s Collective Spirit

Author Name: Josiah Samuel Harry

Genre: Consciousness & Thought / Philosophy

Purchasing Link: 

Book Description:
This book is about the moral consequences of social tolerance. It examines why intolerance is not only self-defeating, but also detrimental to the ideals of liberal democracies. This book contends that if intolerance is left to run its course, it can poison a nation’s moral climate and threaten its collective identity. Without the compass of tolerance guiding humanity’s spiritual evolution, we will find ourselves floundering in a world of perpetual insecurity and chaos.

Ensuring peace and security for future generations hinge on the choices we make today. We can create a world where intolerance plays out its destiny of conquest and destruction. Conversely, we can create a world where the highest valued currencies are inclusion, relational intimacy, and adventure. This book gives us hope that we have the capacity to create a more peaceful world based on an economy of love, but it requires that you and I choose diversity over division, hope over despair, and love over indifference.

Author Bio:

JOSIAH SAMUEL HARRY is a spiritual philosopher, educator, and author of several books, including This Book Is About Winning, and Winning: Essentials for Achieving Relational Intimacy. Josiah was born and raised in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was educated at Loyola University New Orleans. An original thinker and truth-seeker, Josiah invites each individual inward toward a deeper reality that unveils the fundamental purpose of life, which is to ultimately find truth in our own lives.

Book Excerpt:

“Humanity seems to have fallen out of belonging and community. The light that once lighted our path of progress, hope, and promise has faded into the blackest of midnights. We live in a world where cynicism, apathy, and cowardice seek to take permanent residence in humanity’s collective consciousness.
The spirit of intolerance, like a bloodthirsty mercenary, endeavors to stamp out our freedoms. Those who hold firmly to bigotry disguised as truth brazenly parade their distorted ideologies as the equalizing elixir for the masses. By virtue of self-declaration, sentries of anti-freedom movements have predetermined the standards of decency and morality for all to follow.
For too many, incredulity takes precedence over reason and faith. Our differences overshadow our similarities. Our individual limitations are scrutinized and our collective strengths are overlooked. Our present struggles are rehearsed and relived while our future promises are reduced to a whispering fantasy.
We compete over replenishable resources while our souls wither away. Rather than bearing the emotional, physical, and spiritual infirmities of the weak, we find inventive ways to exploit those weaknesses.
Our hands are stained with the figurative blood of those we trampled over to fill our coffers with plenty. We live lavishly and flaunt the fruits of our labor even as our character lies destitute and barren. The spirit of haughtiness and high-mindedness has supplanted the virtues of humility and relationship.
We celebrate an idealistic view of rugged individualism over a commonsense approach of community. We tout the autonomous actions of individuals as the ideal way of life of democracies when we are really co-opting enlightened narcissism as the standard.
We have taken a punitive stance against those whose values and lifestyles differ from ours and have pompously declared ourselves to be the measure of all things. We censure every practice and condemn every behavior we determine to be unfavorable to our strongly held ideologies.
Flawed models of leadership and followership have become the pattern from which we frame our interpersonal relationships. Smear tactics of condemnation and accusation have become our modus operandi. The dictatorial spirit of selfishness, apathy, and indifference for human potential, human values, and human life has marred every aspect of social decorum, social interaction, and social structure.     
So what do we need, and what are the solutions to our problems? On the one hand, libertarians argue that what is needed is social re-evolution...”


How to be a Bad Guest Blogger

I'm a tolerant person. I like to help others. I try to make everything as simple as possible and offer guidelines and lists to make hosting people as easy as possible. Despite keeping things simple I often get emails from people who act like there are no guidelines. I'm not going to make this post a rant about people who waste my time though. Today I'm going to tell you why these people won't get very far so you can avoid making the same mistakes.

Click to Tweet: “A writer who can't follow submission
guidelines is like a pilot without a plane...
they aren't going to get very far!” (@JoLinsdell) #quote
Bloggers give submission guidelines because that is how they want the content for their site. Follow them. As a blogger I love it when people follow my guidelines. It makes my job easy and quick. I don't have to waste time reformatting or searching my email inbox for missing material. People who make hosting them easy will have a much better chance of being featured on the blog AND a good chance of being invited back in the future too. A person who doesn't follow the guidelines will not.

Many bloggers are like myself. They run their blogs as a side project. This doesn't mean that they don't put a lot of work into their blogs, on the contrary, if they have a good readership they probably put a LOT of work into their blogs. What it means is that they have another main job/jobs. For example, I'm an author and illustrator. I work on my own books but also work for hire illustrating books for other authors. Those are my main jobs. They are the jobs that earn me money. I don't get paid for hosting people on my blogs. I do it because I like helping others and enjoy blogging.

If you want to be hosted on a blog the first thing you should do is read some of the blog posts. Get engaged. This could be by sharing a post using the social media share buttons on site or by leaving a quick comment. Most bloggers check comments and will notice if you're an active follower. 

Do NOT send them an email where it's blatantly clear you've never read the blog. Saying "I found your blog on Google and would like to guest post on it" is not good. Saying "I found your blog on Google and think you should publish my article about living with cats" is just plain wrong. Saying "I loved your recent post about self publishing. I read your guidelines and hope you'll consider this guest post where I share why I choose to traditionally publish" might not be perfect but it at least shows you've read the blog (you know what recent posts have been about) and shows that you read the guidelines. 

Do NOT send them multiple emails. It's seriously annoying when you get your inbox filled up with one sentence long emails all from the same person. If you're not clear on what is required by all means clarify in an email but do it in ONE email. Follow the guidelines and then include any questions you have in the body of the email. Everything in the one place. Annoying the host is a good way of making sure you never get featured on their blog. If you fill up their inbox with loads of emails they will most likely be deleted without ever being read.

Do NOT tell them to send you the link to the post. This shows you have no intention of reading the blog... not even the post you did for it. If they've told you the date your post is scheduled for you should go to the blog on that date and get the link yourself. You should be visiting anyway so you can leave a thank you comment for the host and reply to any comments left by others. They have hosted you on their blog. It's part of the deal that you engage on your post and share it to drive traffic to the site. Don't expect the host to do all the work. Plus there is little point in being hosted on a blog if you don't interact with its readers. 

Something else you should consider is that bloggers network. If I see a guest blogger on another site that clearly stands out, e.g. has written a popular post and gets involved in the comments section, I will be happy to host them on my blog too. I might even reach out to them and invite them to contribute a post. That's the type of guest blogger you want to be. 

Do you host people on your blog? What are your pet peeves that make you say no to hosting people? Leave a comment below and join in the discussion. 


Interview with Louise Amy Kennedy

Tell us about your latest book.
Bailey Boat Cat – Adventures of a Feline Afloat is written from a cat's eye view detailing my cat Bailey's observations about life aboard our boat (a Tayana 37) and sailing in general. Whilst it deals with some of the practicalities and facts about sailing it is done in a light-hearted way designed to appeal to all ages and to sailors and cat lovers alike.

What advice do you have for other writers?
Go for it! Write, read lots and keep writing! I never imagined that Bailey Boat Cat would become a book; it was purely a way for me to get into the habit of writing daily and being creative. Something which started mostly as a bit of fun has turned into a very successful website and book. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing it will shine through on the page and others will take something from it.

What's the best thing about being a writer?
Being creative! I love letting my imagination run wild and actually achieving something tangible at the end! I’m inspired constantly by my surroundings and love to note down ideas for new stories and articles.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Bailey Boat Cat has a daily blog which can be found at www.baileyboatcat.com which chronicles his life afloat.  I also now have a new writer’s website www.louiseamykennedy.com where people can interact with me directly and get updates on new works, interviews and articles.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
I hope readers will enjoy Bailey Boat Cat – Adventures of a Feline Afloat because it is completely unique with a very photogenic furry narrator. I believe that cat lovers, sailors and people with little or no knowledge of either will take something away from the book. It was designed to appeal to all ages and hopefully be shared and enjoyed within families.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
I was approached by Adlard Coles (an imprint of Bloomsbury) to write the book after they loved the Bailey Boat Cat blog. I had never had anything published before so the whole process was a huge learning curve for me. I really enjoyed learning about each stage of the publishing process and working with my editor Jessica Cole and the designer Kevin Knight to create a book that I’m very proud of. I feel extremely lucky to have worked with such a friendly and professional team who made sure I felt at ease and able to ask whenever I had questions. I loved watching the book develop from a manuscript, into a BLAD and finally a book. The day I received my advanced copy of the book I was still finding it hard to believe my dream of being published was actually happening.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
The book has already been released in the U.K and Australia and is due to be released in America on the 2nd of September.  It can be found in most major bookstores or online for the kindle.

Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
Yes very much so. I was always brought up to believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. My mum Ruth was (and still is) a stickler for grammar and is still frequently my first proof reader. My partner James is also very supportive, he encouraged me to take a sabbatical this year to give me the opportunity to really concentrate on my writing and follow my dreams. I’m extremely lucky to have a very supportive family network around me.

What are you currently reading?
I’m currently reading my way through a list of maritime classics as I’m working on a ‘bunk side reading’ piece for Bailey to celebrate the Bailey Boat Cat book launch in America this September.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I live on a boat with Bailey and my partner James. We’re currently based in a marina just outside of Rome. When we can, we love to get out of the marina and sail. Otherwise we enjoy doing lots of boat projects and spending time with friends in and around the marina. I personally spend most of the time I’m not writing or managing Bailey’s projects with my head in a book. I wish there were more hours in the day to get through my ‘to read’ list!

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