Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Defining the "why" of our story

These last two months I have had the pleasure and challenge of editing a memoir about the impact a pedophile priest had on the narrator from childhood into adulthood.  As I edit memoir, I realize how personal a journey this is and the courage it takes to put a life story on paper.

Then comes the next part - crafting and honing the story so that the "why" of our story becomes clear to the reader.  Often, new and even experienced writers begin the process of storytelling by "dumping" everything on the page. While this can be cathartic - my late husband, John, called it "scriptotherapy" - it can cloud the story.

I also urge writers to show rather than tell.  Having your character perform an action - from the way he simply takes off his wedding ring and places it on a table, rather than telling the reader he has given up on his marriage - is more powerful.  

In the coming weeks and months, I will share other writing techniques and tips.  I will also be posting "tidbits" of my memoir, AGAIN IN A HEARTBEAT in hopes of attracting a following as my book nears publication. This is a very exciting time for me.  I have selected CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon, to publish my memoir.

In the meantime, continue to experience the joy of writing and let the words flow. Hope to see you at the Circle on April 10.
All the best to my sisters in the writing circle,

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Library Wants You

It amazes me how opportunity comes when you least expect it. I was posting the April notice for the Women's Writing Circle at Henrietta Hankin Library in Chester Springs yesterday when the branch manager, Andrea, suggested a collaboration of the Circle with the library. The library is seeking local authors to give talks and hold book signings. Did I know of anyone?

The Hankin Library recently acquired the vacant office space next door.  It seats 100 and is the perfect venue for lectures, workshops and signings, Andrea, said.  So for those of us getting ready to publish or already have a book in hand, here's a terrific opportunity to possibly preview your work with the public. Check out the link below for more information about all the great libraries in Chester County.

Spring Into Words

Let Spring inspire your muse. The Women’s Writing Circle will meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 10 at Wellington Square Bookshop in Exton. We share the joy and love of writing through a readaround. What is a readaround? Each writer reads aloud their work. Then members of the circle read back lines they enjoyed and offer critiques and input the author seeks.

Directions to the bookstore in the Eagleview Town Center are available on the link to the bookstore on this page. This is a free event and a chance to meet with other writers in the Philadelphia area. Bring at least one extra copy of the piece you plan to read. If you have questions, please contact Susan Weidener at 610-304-5370 or at:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Surprising voice

The March meeting of the Women's Writing Circle offered a chance to meet with other women writers in the Philadelphia area.

Lori read about her daughter. We loved her voice, her beautiful descriptions of  Lacey, who died at the age of 14. Lori's resilience as  mom and as a woman whose Christian faith has given her strength shines through her memoir.

Cindy, my good friend and fellow Inquirer reporter, read her beautiful piece about a young boy who climbs trees to feel free and escape the depression of his parents' home. Thank you, Cindy, for your support and your friendship.

Arleen read her story about Farmville; yes, all of you on Facebook know about that!  Arleen's fantastically gifted sense of humor shone through once again.

I read from my memoir, "Again In a Heartbeat."

Next month, our Circle meets same time, same place.  Please mark April 10th on your calendars. By then the dogwood should be blooming.  Welcome spring with your muse!

Thank you women writers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

About the cover

John planted the forsythia bushes when they were just scrawny little twigs. Each year they usher in the spring with their bright yellow glory. How many springs since he has died?  How is it possible they can bloom when he is gone?

At night I go out on the deck and hear them  rustling in the breeze.  They are brown and lifeless in the winter.  Is he out there?  Does he hear me?  Can he see me? 
The image of forsythia in the book is one of life, death and rebirth.

That's why I like the photo..... the clouds, but the brilliant blue sky peaking through...hope... the branches so slender and beautiful.... sort of like the fragility of life...

Marketing your book

This morning I talked to a publisher.  It seems writing is just one step - now comes the hard part - marketing!  Know thy audience should be every writer's 11th commandment.  After all, what good is a book if no one reads it?  And how do you connect with your audience?  Yes, you've got it - marketing. 

Meanwhile, you might want to consider asking an attorney about incorporating yourself as a publisher. Give yourself any name you like - Heartbeat Publications sounds good, don't you think? Apparently, becoming your own LLC is a terrific tax write-off.

And if you self-publish, don't forget that bar code. That way you can sell your book in stores and shops.  The things we writers never knew.

For now, though, here is the possible (very probable cover) to my memoir, Again In a Heartbeat.  Hope you like it! 
All the best to my sisters in the writing circle,

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A good copy edit

As you get ready to submit your work to a literary agent or editor, don't forget the importance of a good copy edit. It may sound obvious, but just a few run-on sentences, misplaced commas and misspellings can signal an amateur. The same is true if you plan on going the self-publishing route. Copy editing services for those who attend the Women's Writing Circle as well as line-by-line edits are offered at reasonable rates. Just ask.

Services are also available to write a query letter and synopsis. This month I'll be talking about how to keep the query down to three paragraphs. And I hope you enjoy the excerpt from my memoir, AGAIN IN A HEARTBEAT. Please post comments or let me know your thoughts when we get together at Wellington Square Bookshop. See you on March 13.

Thanks and have a great day writing.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Excerpt from Again In a Heartbeat

If my life were a movie, how would I change it? The answer is I wouldn’t. Unless, I could have saved John.
Before John, I had little experience with men. It was John who taught me about myself. You aren’t as strong and confident as you want people to believe, he said.
It was John who gave me everything a woman could want in a man. A bouquet of yellow roses with a hand-printed card. “Happy Wednesday.”
John came to me when I least expected it. John left me when I least expected it. Not that it was his fault. But I blamed him anyway. Ghosts of regret haunt my memories. That day in the kitchen, me shouting, “I wish I’d never met you!”
Perhaps, I have been too hard on myself. John said I was. But being hard on myself is part of the woman I am. “I should have done more,” I told my friends. “I could have been kinder.”
To escape from my grief, I tried to fill the empty space left by John. Much of the time, I wasn’t escaping anything – just changing places, changing skirts, changing months, changing nothing.
The first time I saw John he was standing under white dogwood trees at Washington Military Academy. He held himself very tall with a presence.
Arrested by his ease and confidence, I felt a jolt as John’s dark eyes locked onto mine. I wanted to look away but he wouldn’t let me. Who was this man? From this, arises my story.