Monday, September 28, 2015

Stories of Our Veterans Offer Powerful, Common Message

If you signed up for this job as a writer, you have to go back to the earliest stories. Stories of power, redemption, of hope and of grace. Sometimes the most important and potent stories are right in your own backyard, in the legacy of your family.

In my life, a memoir containing the psychic wounds my husband suffered at West Point sat for years gathering dust in a closet. Within those pages . . . the heart of a story. It would turn out to be a story with repercussions devastating to me personally . . . repercussions that continue – as a widow, and the mother of two sons who were 7 and 11 when their father died.

John M. Cavalieri entered the United States Military Academy at West Point “perfectly healthy”; upon graduation from the academy, he was a broken man, a physical wreck. It is why, as his widow, I receive VA benefits.

John was a good and loving husband and father, a man my younger son never knew. “I wish I had memories,” my son said.

As writers we are in the unique position not only to preserve, but share for future generations these stories of our veterans. My talk yesterday at the local library may have touched only a few – but one person's story can spread a message, and like ripples in a pond, gently lap onto the shores of another's heart and soul.

When I read John’s story, as told through the eyes of Jay Scioli in A Portrait of Love and Honor, I am doing so 23 years after John wrote it. It is emotional for me, but mostly it is a joy. His writing is being appreciated and heard; it is a triumph over death . . . his legacy remains imbued in the written word.

Has West Point officially responded to the book? No. Nor did I expect them to even after I hand-delivered copies. There is a culture of silence at the academy. That said, I am grateful for all the members of the Class of ’71 and others who served in the Long Gray Line who have added A Portrait of Love and Honor to their libraries and/or publicly endorsed it (or contacted me privately).

I had the great honor yesterday at the library to present with author, Charlene Briggs. We discovered a powerful and common message in our books. And as the women telling the stories of the men in our lives, there is emotional resonance.

Her book, Letters to Lida, is about her father’s experiences in World War II. The psychic toll on him continues. . . his memories of men dead or dying on the beaches of Iwo Jima, long held under the surface, erupted during Charlene's wedding, 50 years after the end of the war when he broke down, weeping, "please don't make me kill anymore" and had to be rushed to the hospital.

She told me yesterday about the migraine headaches her father suffered since returning from the war . .  they recurred every Saturday, when he wasn’t consumed by work and had time to think, she said.

Stories of our veterans offer powerful messages for all of us.
Psychic wounds are scars on the soul. Who has not suffered them? Yet there is something about taking impressionable young men and women and putting them in the most terrifying situations that sets this apart from other trauma. When they sign up for service, they don’t realize, as Charlene said, it is a lifetime contract. At the age of 22 and 23, they are still impressionable, still children in many ways.

My late husband’s devastating encounters at the United States Military Academy are much like Charlene’s father’s – both young men came up against a cold and calculating system where tending the individual soul and spirit was inimical to the business of war.

The power of story touches us all . . . and it is truly important to preserve their stories while we can. As Charlene noted, her 94-year-old father is part of "The Greatest Generation" – a generation quickly vanishing. According to the Veterans Administration, 492 WWII veterans are dying each day.

The scars of Vietnam also remind us of the toll that incalculable pain exacts on impressionable young people. John was enlisted in the military during that war. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a mental health disorder triggered by a terrifying event, is too great to be estimated in terms of lost lives and how those lives impact ours. I have no doubt that if the diagnosis had been prevalent in John’s day, he would have been diagnosed as such.

If you have a diary, journals, letters to share, consider doing so. Stories offer hope and healing to those who desperately need it. When we share our stories  - yours and mine -  we realize that at the end of the day, we are not alone in our suffering and a common message offers light and hope.

I invite you to share your own thoughts about the power of stories, or the stories of family.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Memoir Writing Workshop and 'The Power of Story'

One of the great things about memoir writing is that everyone can "find" something in the genre, either as writer or reader.

The memoir "landscape" can take you beyond the craft of writing into the creative power within  . . . one that lies just beyond the horizon. That's why I'm happy to share what I've learned as a memoirist over the last five and half years.

In some way, I hope that the "power of story" can touch and change you, as it touched and changed me, and many that I have known and loved.

I'll be teaching a free four-week class beginning Oct. 19 at Lower Providence Community Library in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. My goal is that by the end of those four weeks, everyone who takes this class will leave with a rough draft of their own memoir.

I'll also be sharing on this blog the curriculum I devise, as well as the writing prompts for this class. I hope that those who follow this blog and live in all parts of the country - indeed, the world - can join in and partake as well.

Memoir Writing Workshop

Presented by author, journalist and experienced book editor Susan G. Weidener

4-week session includes:
What is a memoir and how does it differ from an autobiography?
Plotting out the narrative arc of your story through timeline exercises.
Avoiding “sidetrips” and getting to the “heart” of your memoir’s message.
Using writing prompts to find and honor your authentic “voice”.

Leaving with a rough draft.

Susan G. Weidener received her BA in Literature from American University and her MS in Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She joined the staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1991 and worked as a reporter in the Inquirer’s suburban bureau until 2007. Susan started the Women’s Writing Circle, a critique and support group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. She is the author of two bestselling memoirs, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again and its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square. Her debut novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, based on her late husband’s memoir, takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to an inspiring love story between two people destined to meet. Susan offers writing workshops and talks on memoir and has appeared as guest speaker at universities and libraries throughout the Philadelphia region.

To register, sign up at the circulation desk or for more information, contact Barbara Loewengart at 610-666-6640, x25 or email

This program is free and open to the public. Registration is requested.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Memories of Sept. 11 and Writing To Change the World

September 11 is a day of remembrance. It also marks my late husband’s birthday and the birthday of our son who was born on his father’s 40th birthday. My reflections on this day are many – the blessing of my son’s birth, the bittersweet and sweet memories of my husband’s life, shortened far too soon. My work as a reporter on Sept. 11, 2001.

On the anniversary of  those attacks, I think how writing is a transformative tool . . . as writers we ought to think about things that change the world for the better – women’s rights, empathy for those in poverty, offering hope to the hopeless.

It is the reason I became a reporter, filled with naïve idealism to report on the serious and meaningful and change the world in my own small way.

It was also the reason I started the Women's Writing Circle - probably the main reason. I hoped to offer women a forum to write the stories of their lives, to become activists for change, to make the world a better place through personal anecdotes, exploring what is right and wrong, become passionate advocates for what matters most as many heal from the wounds of the past and move forward.

The hope was to explore the who am I and what enriches us and our lives. To facilitate a safe and supportive place to make connections and to encourage idealism and inspiration. To change the world in a small way for the better. Some days I am feeling that this is a thankless job. Then I try not to be discouraged. I try and keep at this work.

I will never forget the day the planes struck the Twin Towers. I had walked into the newsroom of The Philadelphia Inquirer and there it was on television – on full horrific display on a brilliant sunny day, just like the one when Daniel had been born 14 years earlier.

On that Sept. 11, John had spent the morning undergoing chemotherapy. He had just returned from Bryn Mawr Hospital when I told him I was in labor and we had to turn around and go right back to the very same hospital – although, this time, for a joyous occasion. It was an easy labor. We got to the hospital around 1 p.m. Daniel was born at 4:12 p.m. He looked like a miniature version of John’s father, Mike.

Even on that day – especially that day – John was a hero. Exhausted and beat up from the chemo and the cancer, my husband never once complained. He just went home, passed around cigars and then went upstairs to the bedroom and fell into an exhausted sleep. He died seven years and almost one month to the day after Daniel was born – seven painful years . . .  much of it we spent in denial, although toward the last couple years, John wrote about the battle, about being a “true grunt” in the trenches . . . about how adversity makes us stronger . . . about the importance of honor.

As a single mother, I had plans to celebrate with Daniel and his older brother, Alex . . . order takeout pizza and Carvel ice cream cake on Sept. 11, 2001. That was quickly scraped so I could do man-on-the street interviews . . . stay as long as the newspaper needed me, which I did . . . funneling quotes and other information to the news desk in Philadelphia.

At least the boys had each other; they told me they weren't scared and not to worry.

What do you ask people after something as horrifying as planes being driven into office towers . . . towers filled with pregnant women, sons and fathers, mothers and daughters? Excuse me, sir, can you tell me how you feel about what happened today? I remember the dazed looks, the numbness on the faces, juxtaposed with sidewalks in downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania where the first bright yellow leaves of autumn skittered aimlessly in the breeze.

None of us knows what awaits us next. Time is short.

In these times of turmoil and strife does our job as writers became more important than ever – to make a difference with an eye toward hope, love and change for a better world?

How about you?  What inspires you to write? Do you write with an eye toward change and making the world a better place in whatever small way you can? 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Art of Memoir By Mary Karr - A Review

It’s been 20 years since Mary Karr’s memoir The Liars’ Club debuted, landing on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year. In her new book, The Art of Memoir, which comes out this month, Karr recalls her excruciating journey to mastering the genre.

“In some ways, writing a memoir is knocking yourself out with your own fist, if it’s done right,” she writes.

The Art of Memoir serves as cautionary tale, as well as clarion call to anyone who, as Karr admits, has the chutzpah (she uses a more colloquial term) to write a deeply emotional and personal story. It’s no easy task and is as much about risking the ire of family, as willingness to plunge into the depths of your own emotional quirks and peccadilloes, and “disrobing” (self-discovery). But its value lies in how it can “change us one by one.”

Karr first wrote a version of The Liars’ Club as fiction. The decision to write a memoir, instead, was eased by her mother’s absolution, although Karr admits she was “rattled” to the core when her mother read the book, cried, and said, “I didn't know you felt this way.”

It is this vulnerability – as well as honesty – that makes The Art of Memoir a primer for women contemplating writing their own life story. Karr emphasizes the incalculable importance of voice and truth, which, for many women, is the whole ball of wax. If we can accomplish that, we’re on our way to writing a story that not only changes us, but possibly our readers.

Karr’s abhorrence for “inventing stuff” (“it breaks the contract with the reader”) is something in which I am in total agreement. Writes Karr: “We can accept anything from a memoirist but deceit, which is – almost always – a shallow person’s lack of self-awareness.”

A professor of Literature at Syracuse University, Karr also goes hard on memoir writers who bring their own angst and lack of introspection (especially emotional) to the written page, thereby shortchanging the reader.

But it isn’t until Chapter 18 entitled Truth Hunger: The Public and Private Burning of Kathryn Harrison that Karr attempts to tackle head-on the discrimination women have faced in writing what male memoirists have always enjoyed – honest, in-the-trenches stories about sex, mothers, and the role gender plays in creating a meaningful life . . . without caring what others think.

Karr’s example of women’s “bravery” is Harrison’s memoir, The Kiss, in which Harrison “breaks a universal cultural taboo” and writes about sex and “being seduced at the age of twenty by her preacher father entering into what she calls an affair with him.”

At first, just as Karr had done, Harrison wrote her story as fiction. “I’d obeyed the cultural silence to keep quiet about incest,” Harrison says. When she did publish the real story as memoir, Harrison was roundly “blistered” by the press and male reviewers, who called the book “slimy” and “repellent,” accusing the author of “fabrication” and enjoying the “rapt attention of the gods of publicity.” One called her “a tease” for “not making herself smutty enough.”

“Harrison is a study in the courage a book can demand from its scribbler,” Karr writes.

It is here that the perfect segueway presented itself for Karr to open up about the current explosive trend of women finding their voice through memoir. Although with nods to Cheryl Strayed, Maya Angelou, and Elizabeth Gilbert, she doesn’t. Karr is soon back to exploring what makes for great memoir, devoting an entire chapter to Michael Herr’s Dispatches on which the movie Apocalypse Now was based. Karr also gives lavish praise to Vladimir Nabokov, Frank Conroy and other men who wrote memoirs, making the book gender neutral for graduate and undergraduate programs.

Karr admits to first writing about her troubled childhood and alcoholic mother as a fictionalized account because fiction "was what women aspired to". The unwritten credo that women keep silent about family secrets seems missing from her personal account of her memoir journey, although she does devote pages talking about how she eventually found her own distinct "voice".

I wanted so much for her to emphasize that memoir is the perfect literary vehicle to showcase women’s changing lives and tell their stories; or,at least, give a gracious nod to the popularity of independent publishing where women’s memoirs are stoking dynamic conversations and reflections on social media, blogs and writing conferences across the country. It didn't happen.

That said, in The Art of Memoir, Karr explores the right questions and, in my opinion, makes the correct conclusions about memoir. She offers wonderfully honest and educated insight into what makes memoir an art form.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

When writing about others: “be generous and fair when you can; when you can’t admit your disaffinity. My general idea is to keep the focus on myself and my own struggles, not speculate on other peoples’ motives, and not concoct events and characters out of whole cloth.”

Or this: “A memoirist forging false tales to support his more comfortable notions – or to pump himself up for the audience – never learns who he is. He’s missing the personal liberation that comes from the examined life.”

“To tap into your deepest talent, you need to seek out a calm, restful state of mind where your head isn’t defending your delicate ego and your heart can bloom open a little.”

“Great memoirs sound like a distinct person and also cover a broad range of feelings. The glib jokester becomes as tedious and unbelievable as the whiner.”

Susan G. Weidener is the author of two memoirs, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again and its sequel Morning at Wellington Square. A former reporter with The Philadelphia Inquirer, she started the Women's Writing Circle in suburban Philadelphia in 2009. She teaches writing workshops and offers talks on memoir. Her website is:

Monday, August 31, 2015

Father and Daughter Collaborate On Story of War

Some of the richest stories come to us through family. In A Portrait of Love and Honor, ideals, the meaning of the Vietnam War and a man's belief that honor should never be compromised are explored. That story was based on memoirs left behind by my late husband, John M. Cavalieri.

In this guest post, I’m featuring author Charlene Briggs whose book, Letters to Lida, represents a unique collaboration with her father, David J. Lemal, who served as a tail-gunner in a B-29 during World War II. His letters sent home to his mother, Lida, and his reflections on those letters, form the book's narrative. 

Although our books are quite different, both are testament to how preserving letters, memoirs and personal history often pave the way to tell a deeply human story.

I first met Charlene when our children attended elementary school and I was a journalist. We got reacquainted when she came to the Women's Writing Circle. Now, she and I will be teaming up in our local community on a book talk: A Tale of Two Wars.

Please welcome Charlene to the Women's Writing Circle as she shares the 'story behind the story' of Letters to Lida. ~ Susan

It was a hot August day at Springton Manor Estate in 1996 when World War II showed up uninvited at my garden wedding. Three hours into the reception, Dad collapsed from a heat stroke and layer after layer of combat trauma bubbled up to the surface.

Dad was a B-29 tail-gunner and was stationed in the Pacific where he flew 22 missions over Japan. In the fifty years since his discharge, he never spoke of the war. Now, WWII permeated the air. Kneeling on the ground in my wedding dress, I held the hand of a 23 year-old young man and had the privilege of peering into the world of hell etched on the pages of his heart.

Through his dialogue I saw dead bodies washing up on the beaches of Iwo Jima, I saw his plane in a nosedive falling toward the Sea of Japan with engines on fire and him pinned in the tail of the plane facing his last moments of life, I saw him feeling for his legs that went numb when flak tore off the plane on both sides of him, scene after horrific scene…. He pleaded, “Please, I can’t kill anymore” and I felt the torment I never knew existed.

Dad did not return from the war until the next day when he recovered in the hospital. It was then, I realized that war is never over. The resonance of conflict takes up residence in the heart and lives of those who serve. It was then that I began to grasp the depth of gratitude we owe our service people. The daily privileges of freedom we enjoy exist by virtue of their sacrifices. And how little we know of those sacrifices of service.

Several years after my wedding, Dad’s WWII letters surfaced in the attic. Dad wrote 150 letters to his mother, Lida, from the first day of basic training to his long ocean voyage home from the Pacific. Lida kept every letter. I asked Dad to read them to me and share his war experience.

So Letters to Lida was born and is the product of 5 years of collaboration with my father. It is the story of a war hero. It is the story of everyone who serves. Letters to Lida demonstrates, through my father’s story, why war is never over. It also demonstrates the very significant role his mother played in his ability to keep his heart open in the midst of conflict and return home with his great capacity for compassion intact.

Letters to Lida contains all 150 letters Dad wrote to Lida, the transcriptions of those letters and Dad’s reflections on the real story as he read the letters to me. It highlights the silent costs of conflict, when secrets cannot be shared.

At the beginning of our journey into his war story, I asked Dad if he ever thought about the War. He looked at me with his gentle eyes and calmly said, “There hasn't been a day that I haven’t thought about the war." No one would ever know it. He kept his concerns to himself and never let on in any way that WWII still lived on inside of him. Seventy years later, Dad still has nightmares.

Letters to Lida is a war story, told with a feminine twist by a father and his daughter. Readers will catch a glimpse of a bold generation. At 94, Dad has a fully-intact memory and is pleased to answer questions and share his war experiences at book signings. Please visit for information on book orders and upcoming book signings by S/Sgt. David J. Lemal.

CHARLENE BRIGGS is an environmental scientist and educator. She teaches Environmental Science at Temple University as an adjunct professor. To promote ecological literacy, she facilitates the development of outdoor classrooms, local food networks and sustainable landscapes.

Charlene is one of 110 Internationally Registered Bach Flower Essence Practitioners. In her Flower Essence Therapy practice, she uses integrative plant medicine to help individuals and families relieve stress, heal trauma and restore emotional balance and vitality.She lives in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

How many of our service personnel suffer in silence? What are the costs to them and to society? Your comments and thoughts are welcomed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Writing Memoir With Family Members - Denis Ledoux

Please welcome memoir writer and teacher Denis Ledoux to the Women's Writing Circle. In this guest post, Denis offers his own experience writing a memoir about his mother, along with tips and insights for those interested in family history memoir projects.

In the fall of 2009, my mother was 88 years old. I decided that it was time for her to have a memoir. Of course, I knew she wasn’t going to write one herself and so I simply began to write those memories of her that I knew well. Then I told her that I was writing her memoir. Since I had been writing other people's memoirs for many years, she was not surprised that I should be writing a memoir—only surprised that I should be writing hers. Like many people, she thought of a memoir as something that belonged to the rich and the famous—to someone else who was not her.

But, I was not interested in a life of the rich and the famous. I was interested in this woman whose life had spanned most of the 20th century. I felt that I could do an “every woman” memoir—a memoir that could be of interest to readers who did not know her. Perhaps not to readers who wanted titillation certainly, but to the many readers who wanted insight and history

What I learned:

I have written many memoirs of people who have approached me. Writing a memoir is of utmost importance to them. My mother, on the other hand, had not approached me to write her memoir. While she was not averse to having her memoir written, it was not a priority for her.

Certain types of people have an inherent interest in stories. Myers-Brigg Type Indictor categories vary greatly in their interest. An Intuitor is generally interested while a Sensor wants to know why anyone could possibly be interested. My mother was a Sensor. My brother who is a Sensor once disparaged the idea of hiring someone to help write a story. "Who's got that much money to throw around?" The interest is in the genes!

(BTW, if "Sensor" and Intuitor" seems mumbo jumbo and makes a person think "everyone is an individual," then s/he is a Sensor. If the concept is hugely exciting, s/he is an Intuitor.)

This difference in priorities — of my usual clients for whom I am doing an enormous favor in taking them on and of my mother who considered she was doing me a favor by allowing me to write her story — is a major factor to take into consideration when writing someone else's memoir.

The two kinds of memoir subjects:

As you undertake to write the memoir of a family member, keep in mind that there are two kinds of people you can be writing about:

1) Some of your subjects will think that you are offering them an exciting project. They will be as enthusiastic as you are about writing this memoir. They will cooperate with you and be very agreeable to meeting with you and to gathering information to expand on their memoir.

2) Another sort of relative will perhaps shrug her shoulders and say, "What in the world do you want to write about me?” She may use the time you have set aside to sit with her to answer a phone call or two or to do another task which "needs doing." This can be frustrating as you try to move the project along and your subject is, in fact, not cooperating

The second sort of person is not “owning” the project. Sometimes this sort of person can become enthused after you have written a bit more on the project and have shown him what you have gathered. But, it is just as likely that this person will never get enthused.

What to do?

This is your project—yours not theirs

Here’s how I would proceed with a reluctant interviewee:

1) I would continue gathering information from my subject. A memoir requires detail, documentation, and development. I would continue to interview informally—in chitchat, in one surprise focus question, in an observation that calls for a response. Accept that the concept of a formal interview with this person is probably impossible. Use your social time together to gather as much information as possible. In your own subtle way, be directing the conversation to information gathering. Sometimes your subject will find this amusing or she may find it annoying. You will have to play it by ear.

2) The person who is not finding your project to be immensely interesting is likely to be a person who does not provide much detail. This person, while not antagonistic to what you are doing, is not particularly cooperative. Her statements are often in generalities: “In those days everyone did…” “It was really nice to…”

You cannot write a memoir with generalities. Mirror back to the speaker a statement that takes the generality and makes it particular by way of an extension of the thought. “In what year did YOU do…” “When you say ‘nice,’ do you mean you were good at skating?

A conclusion:

In my mother’s case, I kept telling her how much her grandchildren would appreciate knowing more about her life. This kept her “in line” as an interviewee. Even so, she would reach a point when she would insist, “Let’s not do this any more right now.”

Yes, that was the end for that day. While I had hoped to bring my mother’s memoir to a much later date, I had to wrap it up in 1951.

Good luck with writing the memoir of a family member. It’s worth the effort.

Did I succeed with my mother’s memoir? Is We Were Not Spoiled an “every woman” story? You can receive a free PDF version of the book for your perusal. The PDF has many photos, but if you prefer the e-reader version, I can send that. The e-reader version has no photos. If you would like a copy, email The hard copy is also available, but for purchase.

DENIS LEDOUX has ghostwritten dozens of books. He started off writing autobiographical fiction and that morphed easily into memoir. His books are both legacy memoirs which he defines as aimed for family and friends and as literary memoirs which are aimed at a larger public. He is a prolific memoir writer, coach and editor and will be leading the Write Your First Memoir Draft Course for which registrations are being accepted until September 11.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Reflections As a Book Blog Tour Concludes

Have you debated whether or not to invest in a book blog tour?

As the author of three books in five years, I went back and forth on it. I listened to authors who urged “invest in your book" and said, “I want to give my 'baby' every chance to succeed." Others admitted it was a lot of work, but in the end, it helped them hone their marketing message.

My decision was based on how best to try and get the word out to a targeted audience about my novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, as well as promote my memoirs. All three books comprise a trilogy.

So I took the plunge on a virtual tour, assuming, too, that many who had read my memoirs would be interested in the novel.

The first question I asked the blog tour organization: Can you provide me with any statistics on whether book sales increase due to a tour?

Their answer: ‘no’. The 'perk'; they said: they took over marketing the book, “freeing up the writer to write or spend time with her family.”

I hired Women on Writing (WOW!) a blogging tour service I had become familiar with after hosting authors of memoir and fiction who used them for their tours.

I chose the $350 package, which I felt offered the most "bang for the buck". This bought me 12 to 15 guest blog spots over four weeks, including a lengthy interview and review on the Muffin. I also got shout-outs on Twitter from WOW!  One week after the book review is posted on The Muffin, the same review was supposed to be posted to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads.(For some reason, the review of A Portrait of Love and Honor was never posted on Barnes and Noble.)

My targeted audience  - widowed people between the ages of 40 and 65; and people who served in the military. One blog stop was on a site written by a widow. And while I was assured they could find blogger/book reviewers in the service, I suggested the stop where military members might read about my novel. No other stops targeting that audience materialized.

My tour began July 20 and ended last week. Here are my reflections:

My main criticism: Blog tour managers need to vet bloggers before they schedule your tour.

It tends to be a very small circle of people who are blogging and hosting bloggers through this tour service. Like any small circle, some are very professional, some not so much, One blogger who actually does PR for WOW! let us know at the 11th hour that she had “criticisms” about my novel. My blog tour manager was “puzzled” by her reaction. I had my theory on what happened. We let it go and found another stop. 

Another blogger agreed to be part of my tour. Despite several emails trying to firm things up, she never got back to us with a date to run my post. Since I had already written the post, we quickly found another stop.

Despite those "hiccups", most of the bloggers were fabulous: their sites are appealing. They showcase your interview or guest post making it readable and eye-catching. I thank all of them. And I hope to return the favor when their books come out. 

Other Tips and Insights:

Be creative. Offer readers more than a 'buy my book'' tour. My goal: to offer writing tips and other information that complements my work with the Women's Writing Circle and women finding voice through writing.

Repurpose some of your blog posts. You don’t have to invent the wheel all over again. I added to, enhanced, or offered new information on each of my repurposed posts, which on average ran 500 words.

Write about the 'story behind the story' which is what I did with this post, “a romance not in standard form". I also discussed that in my Muffin interview.

Some bloggers offered space for excerpts from the novel. This is an added plus.

Provide your own photographs tailored to each site. I began doing this mid-way through the tour. For a post on writing groups I sent my own photo of a candle holder we use in the Women’s Writing Circle.

I received one review of my book from this blogger.
And this one from another.  Fantastic!

We offered one giveaway through the Rafflecopter on the Muffin interview. I agreed to offer ebooks or PDFs for review to each blogger, but no takers.

Would I do it again? The exposure resulted in more followers on Twitter and the Women’s Writing Circle Facebook page.

The time supposedly freed up for writing was spent in writing the blog posts, not on new creative writing.

It's a luxury having a marketing professional pitch your work.

($350 may not sound like much to some; for others, it can pay groceries for a month. In other words, you have to do it because it feels right.)

The blog tour was an experiment . . . an adventure. I owed it to myself to invest in my books. It would have been more "fun" had sales been less disappointing. Who knows? Perhaps,someone will run across a post on the Internet and take a chance on my books.

In the end, each author has to decide whether sales, reviews, or exposure is most important.  I'm giving the whole book blog tour experience a little more time to percolate . . .was the tour 'worth' it? The jury's still out.

Love to hear your thoughts or comments about book blog tours. Have you tried one, or are you considering it?