Tuesday, February 16, 2021

New Release and Memoir Writing

If this were a normal year, no pandemic and no restrictions on gatherings, I'd have a party to celebrate the recent release of a new nonfiction book, The Many Faces of Grief: Stories of Love, Loss, and Hope From a Hospital Chaplain. 


In a celebration here in my home office, I'm drinking hot chocolate, with a little something extra for added warmth. As I write this, it is 25 degrees here in Texas. Way colder than a normal February day this far from the snow belt. 

And I may add a cookie or two to my extravagant solitary celebration. :-)

Still, it is important to mark these accomplishments, even if we can't do that in style for the time being. 

This current release is taken from a blog I wrote prior to the release of my first hardcover novel, One Small Victory. This was back when blogging was still fairly new, but my publisher, Five Star Cengage, thought it would be good to build some advance interest in the novel via a regular blog. 

Since blogging is so much like writing newspaper columns, something I'd already done for years, it wasn't hard to decide to give it a try. It was also great that I already had a number of stories from one of the columns that I could use throughout the year of writing the blog. 

Grief is one of the elements of the story of One Small Victory, so it seemed natural to use it, and my years of hospital ministry, as the main focus of the blog, which I called The Many Faces of Grief. In the novel, which has been updated and recently re-released by Next Chapter Publishing, Jenny, the central character, loses a son to an automobile accident in the opening of the book. 

Kind of a downer, I know, but what she did with her grief is inspiring. She forced her way onto a drug task force and helped to take down the main drug supplier in her small town. The story was inspired by a real woman who had done just that, and I was amazed at her strength and courage.

Just as I've been amazed at the strength and courage of so many of the patients I ministered to in the hospital and through hospice. 

Stories of stalwart people, like those in my book, give us hope that maybe we can be as strong when faced with our own adversities, and that is the take-away I hope readers get from The Many Faces of Grief. It is about so much more than just grief, with moments of awe and delight and even bits of humor.

In compiling the stories from the old blog and columns into this latest book, I had the opportunity to reflect on my growth as a person from the earliest foray into ministry, to the final years of being a Hospice Chaplain. That was a helpful reflection that ultimately became the last few chapters of the book, chronicling my own journey of loss and grief and hope. Some of the material in those chapters was taken from my journal, and as with any memoir, one has to decide how much to share and how much to keep private.

Which leads me to my first question for you who are reading this. If you're a writer, have you thought about writing a memoir? Do you know what deep secrets you'd be willing to put out there?

One of the things I've learned in taking some classes on memoir writing, as well as reading some excellent blog posts, we don't have to share everything. The main thing to remember about writing a memoir is that it is not telling your life story like an autobiography. Memoir has a theme, and what is written should illustrate that theme. 

Here's a good blogpost on How to Write a Memoir from Brooke Warner at The Write Life. Brooke includes great examples to illustrate the points she makes about how to be effective at this rather challenging type of writing.

This from Jerry Jenkins: How to Write a Powerful Memoir in 5 Easy Steps, covers some of the same points as the one from Warner, but also has more material worth knowing. 

Now, my final question to my fellow scribes. How have you been celebrating new releases and other milestones during this time of COVID and lockdowns? If you have tips, please do share. In the meantime, I'm going to go get another cookie.

Award-winning author Maryann Miller has numerous credits as a columnist, novelist, screenwriter, and playwright, and also has an extensive background in editing. You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page read her Blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.  


  1. Congratulations on your new book, Maryann! Enjoy your well-earned cookies :-)

    1. Thanks, Elle. I had some homemade chocolate, chocolate chip cookies. There's never too much chocolate.

  2. Congratulations, Maryann! Grief is a universal experience so this book should call to a lot of readers.

    1. Thanks so much, Patricia. The book emcompasses a lot more than just grief, so there is a real universal appeal. I hope. LOL


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