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Showing posts from March, 2021

2021 Workshops and Conferences April to June

Whether a one day session, one week conference, or a month-long writing workshop, writing related events are a good way to commune with other writers. They are opportunities to network and get your name out there. In some instances, you can meet and mingle with editors and agents. Some offer critiques or pitching sessions. Nowhere will you find a higher concentration of introverts enjoying each other's company. Local conferences are a good place to meet potential critique groups or recruit members. Some are free. Some require a fee. Some are more social than others. Many are for new writers, but a few dig deep into craft. You should choose an event that speaks to your needs and desires. Unfortunately with the pandemic, many in-person events have been cancelled. Some have been replaced with virtual events, podcasts, or online classes and lectures. Virtual events allow for a wider audience and lower costs since attendance does not require travel and lodging. April 8 - 11, 2021  Book

Writers Gotta Read, Right? — Memoirs and more

To wrap up a month of memoirs, autobiographies, and life-writing/journaling, here is a “list of lists” for your reading pleasure. Let’s start with memoirs. From LitHub in 2019 The 10 Best Memoirs of the Decade Another from 2019, The New York Times with The 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years Reedsy opts for a longer stretch of time and fewer books: 30 Best Memoirs of the Last Century Like your memoir reading short and sweet? Bookriot offers 18 Essay-length Short Memoirs to Read Online on Your Lunch Break Now, diaries and journals. CDN offers Must-read Diaries and Journals that Are Totally Worth Your Time Pan Macmillian came up with its own list of History’s Greatest Diaries   And while not a list of books per se, the site Develop Good Habits has a post on 9 Famous People Who Kept Journals Image by  annazuc  from  Pixabay Finally, Library of Congress (LOC) has some fascinating collections of narratives/interviews available to read/watch online, including  Born in Slavery: Slave Narrati

Sirocco - A French Girl Comes of Age in War-Torn Algeria

Full disclosure: Danielle Dahl, the author of the book I’m about to review and praise, is a member of the Upstate South Carolina Sisters in Crime chapter. She speaks with a pronounced French accent which I love listening to. I tell you this because she wrote her book in English, and it left me in awe of her command of her second language. I’ve read books by authors writing in English, their native tongue, who don’t write nearly as well. Ms. Dahl paints pictures with her words, and once you start reading, you are there, experiencing the joys, fears, and horrors of the time. Besides being a family saga, it is a history lesson that reverberates to this day, not only in Algeria but in many countries around the world fighting for their independence from warlords and dictators. It is a lesson to heed, but as we know too well, history repeats itself, and the world doesn’t listen. Her book, Sirocco , is subtitled A French Girl Comes of Age in War-Torn Algeria , and it reads more like a nov

Memoirs - Reading Them and Writing Them

When I first got interested in writing a memoir, I started reading a lot of them, and in doing so I discovered that there’s a lot of similarities between a memoir and a novel of real life. In both, the writer is relating incidents and experiences that shaped a life, and each has to be written in a way that totally immerses the reader in the story. I came to that realization when I read The GlassCastle by Jeannette Walls, followed by Half Broke Horses , which is a book about her grandmother’s life. One is a memoir, the other is a novel of real life. It actually has the subtitle of A True-Life Novel. They both are compelling stories, and I loved reading them some years ago when I was just starting to write Evelyn Evolving , the story of my mother’s life. When I finished Half Broke Horses, I realized that I could follow the author’s example and write the story of my mother's life as a true life novel and then later write my memoir. As I mentioned here last month, writing my mo

Life-Writing: Merging Feelings, Fact, and Fiction

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing describes it as extending far beyond basic biography ( ). Running the gamut from a full life to day-in-and-day-out living, it transcends the limits of facts, fiction, people, animals, organizations, objects, and promotes embracing them all.  Such a broad application is, to say the least, mindboggling. Breaking it down into single components makes it more mentally digestible; however, it's still challenging to wrap one's head around. For writers, however, it opens doors to a wide variety of possibilities and genres. Beyond personal works such as journals and diaries, it also includes autobiographies, memoirs, and more.  Let's take life-writing down a different path, a step away from basic personal facts and into the field of fiction. Many people keep diaries and/or journals. I intermittently kept a diary as a young teen but never journaled. The older I grew, however, the greater my need for

Memoir: True History One Life at a Time

I read a few memoirs each year, looking primarily for works by writers and other real people. In other words, I avoid the tales put forth by politicians and entertainment celebrities. What is memoir? Memoir is a tiny word for a huge variety of life stories, sometimes comprehensive tales from childhood to old age, other times a few meaningful weeks plucked out of a life that may have changed that life in unexpected ways. We, as readers, often develop the habit of reading only one or two genres, mostly fiction. But real people all over the world have shared something intimate and profound about their lives and times. We can learn something different from memoir than we can from the best of the best in history books because we get a slice of that history from one point of view. History is made up of those unique perspectives. I am grateful to those writers who are brave enough to give us a piece of themselves. I don’t know anything about writing memoir, but I think it’s safe to say that t

Introducing the Fierce and Funny Marti MacGibbon

For memoir month, I am thrilled to introduce you to one of my personal heroes, the amazing Marti MacGibbon. We met one day when she and her husband knocked on our door with a petition to keep a self-storage facility from being built next to the elementary school. We happily signed. They had moved in a few houses down and my husband and I were thrilled to find kindred spirits.  When I mentioned I wrote books, Marti told me about her self-published memoir Never Give In To Fear: Laughing All the Way Up from Rock Bottom . Memoir is not my usual jam, but I purchased it and loved it. With her gallows humor, Marti wrote about her move to California to work in comedy which soon turned into a nightmare of homelessness, addiction, and being sex trafficked to the Japanese Yakuza. Marti not only survived but thrived, using her experiences to help others. She gained professional certifications in ACRPS, (Advanced Certified Relapse Prevention Specialist, and the CAPMS (Certified Addiction-Free Pain

The Lost Diaries of a Future Author

Open Book Gateway, photograph by Clyde Robinson , via Flickr I first read Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl when I was about eleven or twelve years old. In the self-centeredness of prepubescence, what I most identified with was Anne’s difficult relationship with her mother. And I was awestruck at the audacious way she wrote about their arguments and how angry she was at her mother. It wasn’t long before I decided to start writing a diary of my own. It served as a record of things I did and places I went so that I could remember and transcribe the most relevant news into letters to my best friend, who had moved overseas when we were ten. I made a pencil mark at the end of the last entry to have made it into the current letter, so I would know where to begin the next. In those days, it took several weeks for our mail to be delivered, so it was easily two months’ worth of diary entries that went into each letter. And, emboldened by Anne, I also used my diary to vent my frustration,