On a conference panel? Come prepared

Since the publication of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (Dream of Things), and now the publication of my historical novel, Papa's Shoes (Aberdeen Bay), I've been asked to appear at many writers conference panel discussions. Actually I've been asked to speak on my own - which I did once - but I always prefer to among three to four others on a panel. This last Friday evening I appeared on the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference panel "Writing a Best-Selling Memoir" with four other authors. One authored two biographies of well-known television stars, one wrote a book she called a fictionalized memoir, one was an agent and lawyer who discussed some of the legal issues of writing memoirs, and the moderator, who was a public relations specialist and editor. That said, I was really the only true memoir author on the panel. By the way, the agent/lawyer emphatically said there is no such thing as fictionalized memoir. It's either fiction or memoir, but not both. And I emp … [Read more...]

Joan Baez’ new song is going viral

As a teen ager and young adult, Joan Baez' songs were my fave. I even got to hear/see her in person at the University of California at Berkeley  when I went up there to visit my sister. I still listen to her on my iPhone. I have several of her songs uploaded there. So, it is with great pleasure to share the latest song that she recently published. Here's the article that was published on Thursday, April 06, 2017 by Common Dreams. Joan Baez Goes Viral With 'Nasty Man,' a Protest Song for the Trump Era "Here's a little song/about a man gone wrong/while building up his evil empire" by Nika Knight, staff writer Joan Baez performing in 2015. (Photo: Getty) Joan Baez, protest singer of the peace and civil rights movements of the 1960s, has gone viral with a protest song for today's Trump era, called "Nasty Man." The song features roses in the Rose Garden telling President Donald Trump … [Read more...]

Let’s erase the stigma of mental illness

In the aftermath of the mass killings and injuries in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio this past weekend, I've been thinking a lot about the role people with mental illness play in such events. Mental illness runs in my family. My son suffered with bipolar disorder and as a result killed himself almost twenty years ago. But none of the mentally ill people I know (or knew) are violent. My son was a gentle person - so were  my relatives - unless you characterize suicide as a violent act. I don't. I agree with his doctor who said my son had to release the pain he was in and that's why he took his own life. I'm also on the side of a study done in 2017 by MentalHealth.gov. They say: "It is a myth that people with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable." The Fact Is: "The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to … [Read more...]

Some more favorite writing quotes

I think it's time to post a few more quotes about writing. I think they encourage us to keep sitting in that chair and keeping our hands moving on the keyboard or on paper. I collect quotes. I hope you'll join me. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”—Louis L’Amour “Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”—Stephen King “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”—Elmore Leonard *** Thank you for indulging me on this quote trip. I hope you'll share your favorites in the comments below.  … [Read more...]

What is historical fiction?

So many people―especially family members―who have read my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, have asked how much of it is true, I've written the piece below to hopefully provide a coherent answer.  A simple answer is there is a little of both in my novel. However, even though the character's were  inspired by real people and real events, I have audaciously fictionalized their lives. Fact vs Fiction: What in my novel, Papa's Shoes, Is True and What Is Fiction? by Madeline Sharples The characters in Papa's Shoes are fictional though they were inspired by real people in my family. However, the period of time when they lived and locations where they lived are derived from real historical data. So, in my mind, there is a very fine line between fact and fiction―it is definitely not one or the other. With that I think I’ve complied to some rules of historical fiction that I’ve recently read: “Historical fiction is a … [Read more...]

How to build your brand

I recently shared my thoughts about branding building with my publisher, Aberdeen Bay, Author Community in the hope this would be helpful to other authors. Aberdeen Bay published my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, in May 2019. Building A Brand  by Madeline Sharples Before I discuss what I did to create my brand, I need to emphasize why an author – or any business person for that matter – needs a brand. We must market ourselves so that potential readers will know about us and our books. If people don’t know we exist, they won’t know what we have to offer. In addition, a strong brand lets customers know what to expect, represents us, helps us stay focused on what we’re offering, and helps connect us with our customers. As a result of a strong brand, it will provide value to what we are offering. I can’t emphasize this enough. People need to hear about us if we are going to sell our books. And if we’re perceived as experts as a result, we will stand apart even more from our co … [Read more...]

A little bragging is in order

Since my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes, was published by Aberdeen Bay about a month and a half ago, it has received some fabulous reviews. And even a few requests for a sequel - stay tuned about that. Here are three five-star examples: A Love Story with Acceptance, written by Lisa. Oh my goodness, I enjoyed reading this book so much. The story line starts with Ira, father & husband, and his journey of leaving Poland to make a life for his family in the United States of America. Once in America, as he is saving money to bring his wife and sons to join him, he receives news that all but one son died of the plague. Ugh! He returns and takes care of business then returns to America with his wife left to raise their remaining son and the baby on the way. Ruth, his wife, mails a pink string to Ira once Ava is born. When enough funds allow, Ira sends for Ruth, Charlie (their oldest son), and Ava. This is when the story shifts from one of Ira and Ruth to that of Charlie and … [Read more...]

Yes, journaling has therapeutic powers

I have journaled every day since 1993, and I've definitely experienced its therapeutic powers. It has also been very healing during my son's manic episodes and after his suicide. Mari McCarthy certainly validates my thoughts about the benefits of journaling all these years. Please welcome her to Choices while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour and take a look at her new book, Heal Your Self with Journaling Power.   Mari has also shared her thoughts about the roles of our inner critic and inner coach as we travel through our lives. My inner critic has always been very loud in my head. It's good to know we can learn to hush it up. Here's Mari McCarthy. Conversations with Your Inner Critic and Inner Coach by Mari McCarthy You have two voices competing for attention in your head: your inner critic and your inner coach. Your inner critic brings up all of your insecurities and misgivings. They doubt your abilities, judge your actions and … [Read more...]

How do you react to interview questions?

I welcome Rina Z. Neiman today, author of Born Under Fire - a historical novel - while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. As I am the author of a recently published historical novel, Papa's Shoes, I can totally relate to Rina's book about a family's immigration struggles. Rina also struggled to get the information she needed for her book. Here she provides her thoughts about conducting interviews with people who are (and who are not) willing to talk with you. Here's Rina: Interviews are a great way to collect information, and when working on a biography, sometimes the only way to get information. When I started to write my mother’s story, I went to Israel to conduct interviews with my mother’s remaining friends and relatives. My first interview was a disaster. My phone ran out of battery. I couldn’t figure out my recording app. Why didn’t I buy that selfie stick/tripod? I did the interview, but took very poor notes. Yes, this could happen to anyone, … [Read more...]

My reinvention story

How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my age I fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. I studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally with it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism. So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know and where I hardly knew anyone, trying valiantly and unsuccessfully early on to get a writing job. Then I gave up. It was 1962. There were not a lot of jobs for women writers in those days, especially in Los Angeles. Then someone suggested I try the growing aerospace business in southern California. With that, I called Douglas Aircr … [Read more...]

What do you think about these quotes about writing?

One of my friends collects interesting quotes about writing. He sent me these the other day. He must have known I collect writing quotes as well. Though I don't agree with all of them, I'd love to hear your reactions. Please comment below. “It’s a lousy, stupid thing to do. You start out thinking people are going to admire you and love you and respect you, but really, nobody gives a shit. It’s a terrible life.” ~Nelson Algren “Writing is like prostitution. First, you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally, you do it for money.” ~Moliere “If you can’t annoy somebody there is little point in writing.” ~Kingsley Amis "In him [and I'm sure today he would have added "and her"]  no simple feeling exists anymore. All that he sees, his joys, his pleasures, his sufferings, his despairs, become instantaneously subjects of observation. He analyzes in spite of everything, in spite of himself, without end, hearts, faces, gestures, intonations . . . … [Read more...]

Spotlight of Michelle Dim-St. Pierre’s Bloody Coffee

I'm so happy to spotlight Michelle Dim-St. Pierre's new book, Bloody Coffee, here at Choices today. It is a complex, suspenseful, and engrossing tale of doubts, trust, budding romance, and two bullets. Words of praise: “Michelle Dim-St.-Pierre is proving to be a major talent in epic romantic drama!” ~Grady Harp, Amazon Top 50 Hall of Fame Reviewer “A thrilling and emotional psychological mystery-thriller.” ~Detroit Free Press “This book grabbed me at page one and wouldn’t let me go!” ~Pamela Gossiaux, award-winning author and journalist. About the book: Eighteen-year-old Leigh arrives at a Tel Aviv hospital, seeking information about her probable father, Dr. Sloan, who had a cardiac arrest right after they met for the first time. As she stands next to her father's bed and watches him, her past, present and future collide. Despite the advice of those around her, Leigh decides to face the challenges of the legal system in Israel. She obtains a court order for a pat … [Read more...]

A great book launch

Last night {Pages} a bookstore hosted me for the launch and book signing of Papa's Shoes. And it turned out to be a huge success. We used up all the available chairs and still there were people standing while I spoke and read. And we sold a bunch of copies of Papa's Shoes plus two copies of Leaving the Hall Light On as well. i couldn't be happier. and that is saying a lot since I churned about it for days and days. I kept revising and going over my script, I practiced reading the four pieces I had picked to read for my audience, and I woke every morning for the last week or so at three with my heart pitter patting while I went over my script in my mind. Now, just to let you know, I've gone through this exact same thing for other speaking occasions, and I knew from experience that all would go well - it always has. So why should i put myself through this again? Especially the waking up so early in the morning. But now that's over, I'm proud to show you a few of the 144 … [Read more...]

I’ve read a couple of great books lately

I'm sure you've heard me say from time-to-time that I am very compulsive. Once I set my mind to do something, I have to go all the way. Reading is one of those somethings. I signed up on Goodreads to read at least twenty-five books this year. That's really not a lot, but with my writing regimen, it's not easy. I did it in 2018, and so far this year, I've read eleven book - two ahead of schedule according to Goodreads. Right now I'm reading Jane Fonda's autobiography, My Life So Far. Please don't give me a hard time about Jane. Since she became my exercise guru way back in the day, she's been my hero. And she writes about and apologizes a lot about her visit to Vietnam during the war. Besides she's a great actor. So here's a bit about two books I've recently read. The Boston stories in Don’t Mess with Tanya, by Ken Tangvik, are beautifully and expertly portrayed. I liked every one – especially the story about Tanya, the young black woman, who gets back at a store keeper f … [Read more...]

My first steps in marketing Papa’s Shoes

After almost five days off-line, I'm glad to say all is well with this site. It's updated and ready for a steady stream of guest posts and my eclectic thoughts about writing and life. Thanks for your patience. Now for a look at what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks to get ready to launch my new historical novel, Papa's Shoes: a Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-town America, published this month by Aberdeen Bay. There is one word for it: Marketing. They say marketing takes up most of our time once our book has been published. And now that my book is out and available online I totally agree. marketing has been first and foremost even before that. So here's where I am in the marketing path. I've booked a Papa's Shoes launch at my local Manhattan Beach, CA bookstore {Pages} a bookstore, on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm. If you are in my local area, please come. it's a free event; however, Pages would like you to RSVP, so they can get an idea of … [Read more...]

Mindful Dementia Care is an important book

It is so nice to share Mindful Dementia Care: Lost and Found in the Alzheimer’s Forest, a very important book by Ruth Dennis, Velma Arellano, and Luke Nachtrab, with my Choices readers while it's on WOW! Women on Writing's virtual book tour. I've written a review, shown below. But first I'll post a little information about the book, which we all should know about no matter what stage of life we're in. Mindful Dementia Care is a book of stories and a book of love. It is a book without denial, without any papering over of the challenges that can be involved with being a caregiver, and the sadness, anger, and frustration they may bring. It is also a life-changing source of information that can revolutionize relationships with one of the most vulnerable populations in our midst. In her decades as a caregiver, Ruth Dennis witnessed the tragic results of the medicalized and institutionalized way of caring for people with dementia. And equally clearly, she saw a better way. Mindful D … [Read more...]

Al Badre shares his modern immigration narrative

I'm so pleased to host Albert Nasib Badre during his WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. I'm also pleased that his coming of age story, in his memoir, Looking West: The Journey of a Lebanese-American Immigrant, is about immigration. The immigration topic - the one I chose for my soon-to-be published novel, Papa's Shoes, is as Dr. Badre says - "has become front and center in the national discourse." Please welcome Dr. Badre and enjoy his words about why he decided to write a memoir about his immigration experience. The Back Story by Albert Nasib Badre People have been asking me, “How did you decide to write the memoirs? What motivated you?” Well, it all started after my father passed away in 2010. As I mentioned in the book, my father, Albert Youssef Badre, could not come with us to Albany the first three years of our immigration. He had work commitments in Lebanon the first year; the next two years, he lived in the (Belgian) Congo where he was the economic advisor on Cong … [Read more...]

April 2019 poem a day challenge

It's that time of the year again, and already we're twenty-four days into writing a poem a day. This year I got a late start and didn't write a poem a day until Day 4, and I'm still a couple of poems behind. But never mind. Knowing me, I'll catch and finish on time. Plus our prompt maven Robert Lee Brewer, poetry editor at Writer's Digest, gives us a month or two to catch up and polish our poems a bit before selecting a few and submitting them as chapbooks. Right now I don't have any favorites. Hopefully after I finish them all and edit them I'll find some submit. Here are some samples accompanied by the prompt. Prompt 2: On Tuesdays we get a choice of two prompts. The first Tuesday prompts were: Write a worst case poem. What’s the worst that could happen? Write a best case poem. Take the worst and reverse it! Writing a poem like I’m doing now Is the worst case. I’m tired, it’s late in the day But I have to catch up. Today is Day 5 of the April poem a day cha … [Read more...]

Linda Lee Kane is our Choices guest today

Linda Lee Kane, author of fantasies, thrillers, and contemporary fiction works, joins us today while on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour to celebrate the re-release of The Black Madonna A Pope's Deadly Obsession. Before discussing her intriguing book, Linda shares about her life as a writer and some advice about how to publish our writing. Life as a Writer by Linda Lee Kane The same commitment you brought to writing your novel will be critical when facing the publishing world. For beginning writers, the publication can be a difficult path. The steps to publication involve finding an agent, working with an agent to sell your novel to a publisher, working with a publisher to prepare your book for launch, and marketing your book. This process can take years. Self-publishing is another option. You’ll cut out the agent and publisher, and produce and sell a book on your own. It may be a quicker route to publication, but it still requires a lot of work. In either case, … [Read more...]

Some sad thoughts about the Notre Dame Cathedral

Just a few words of sadness about the near destruction of my favorite Paris landmark. Every time I'd visit Paris, I'd see Notre Dame right there at its heart, the Seine river. And the next time I go it will not be the same. I'm sure the Paris natives are even more devastated about this fire and the havoc it caused. Who could blame them? But for us tourists, I cry as well. Let us all hope this beautiful 850-year-old building can be rebuilt to its original grandeur. By Madhurantakam - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5695351 … [Read more...]