Yes! Writing is calming

Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer, published by She Writes Press, is a memoir about how Antoinette Truglio Martin found the courage to navigate her first year of breast cancer treatment. It’s the story of how a community—colleagues, family, friends—rallied to support her. The book is moving, brave, informative, and occasionally funny—and it speaks to us all. I turned to journaling when my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and after his suicide death. The page became a healing balm for me. Eventually I included those  journal entries in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Suicide and Surviving His Suicide. Like Antoinette, my writing kept me calm and focused. Here is her essay on how she benefitted from writing in her journals and emailing her community after her cancer diagnosis. How Writing Calms the Nerves by Antoinette Truglio Martin I don’t run. I don’t sit still long enough to mind my brea … [Read more...]

Why I Write and What I Write

I wrote the article below for the Southern Writer’s Magazine’s Blog a few months ago. It is still very relevant now. Why I Write and What I Write At this point in my life by all rights I should be retired. I’ve just turned seventy-nine, and no where does it say I need to keep sitting at my computer every day and write. But I do sit there – usually from ten in the morning until about two in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll even go back for more later in the day. I got into this habit in the early 2000s when I started writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (Dream  of Things). That expanded to writing poetry, essays for my blog and other people’s websites, and journaling. By the time my memoir was published in 2011, I was already working on my historical novel, Papa’s Shoes, which has just been released by Aberdeen Bay publishers. And that’s not the end of it. I still write poetry – I write at least one poem a week except in November and April when I write a poem a day to me … [Read more...]

Seven days, seven books

I have accepted a challenge from Linda M. Rhinehart Neas to post seven books I love, one book per day, no exceptions, just covers on my Facebook timeline. Each day I'll ask a friend to take up the challenge. Let's promote literacy and share some good reads. Here are the covers for the seven books I'll post.               Of course these are not all the books I've come to love. That would be a huge list. Please share your favorite books here, and let me know if you've read and liked any of the books I've posted above. … [Read more...]

Two not-to-be-missed movies

I think you know this about me already. I'm a movie freak. I'll go anytime anywhere. Besides the interesting things and wonderful acting I see on the screen, I like the diversion - one of the things that helped save me after our son, Paul, died. So with a date with friends on Saturday night and a completely open day on Sunday I had two opportunities to go the movies this weekend. And I felt we really lucked out. Saturday night we saw Official Secrets and on Sunday we saw The Goldfinch. I highly recommend both. Official Secrets tells the true story of British Intelligence whistle-blower Katharine Gun who, during the immediate run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, leaked a top-secret NSA memo exposing a joint US-UK illegal spying operation against members of the UN Security Council. It stars Keira Knightley, who plays the whistle-blower Katharine Gun; Ralph Fiennes, her attorney, and Matthew Goode, a sympathetic reporter. All were terrific. If you don't know the story you'll find a real … [Read more...]

Thank you, Linda Appleman Shapiro, for your kudos

Thank you, LInda Appleman Shapiro, for your five-star review of my historical novel, Papa's Shoes, recently published by Aberdeen Bay. I hope it encourages many of your readers to find out what's between its covers. PAPA’S SHOES by Madeline Sharples A Must Read!  I was invited by WOW! Women on Writing's virtual blog tour to write this review for PAPA’S SHOES. It has been my great pleasure to do so, especially because I am the daughter of immigrants, similar to those who fill the pages of this remarkable story.  On the dedication page of PAPA’S SHOE’S author Madeline Sharples refers to her grandparents’ courage when immigrating from Poland  to America at the turn of the 20th century and apologizes for her audacity in fictionalizing their story. I immediately felt compelled to experience that “audacity.”I was then held in her grip from the very first page, as she immediately brings to life the many complexities common to all immigrants – the adjustment to a new world with its new wa … [Read more...]

Remembering Paul in poems

In twenty more days it will be twenty years since our son Paul died by suicide. Please bear with me for these days. It's going to be hard to live through them. I told someone yesterday that even after so many years the memories of the day we found him dead are still vivid, and the grief is just as ongoing and encompassing. It is with such sadness that I look at this photo of him smiling next to his girlfriend.  It was  probably one of the last times they were together. I wrote a lot of poems about Paul and his death over the years. I still write poems about him. I'll share some here. A Stone Called Son I sleep with a stone. It's gray and small enough To fit in the palm of my hand. One side is smooth, the other Has the word, son, cut into it. And when I put the stone In the crook of my index finger I can read the word with my thumb. I like to place it between my breasts And feel its coolness on my chest. It quiets the pain in my heart And slows down my he … [Read more...]

My Author Learning Center interview clips

Last March I sat down with the Author Learning Center  President Keith Ogorek for an interview about writing, getting published, and marketing. As its website says: The Author Learning Center (ALC) is a one-of-a-kind online author education community designed to help educate, motivate, and support you at every stage of your writing and publishing journey, including marketing your book.  The ALC offers content on writing, editing, publishing and marketing from a variety of industry experts, agents, best-selling authors, publicists, and editors. In addition, the ALC gives you access to unique tools, the Book Launch Tool and Author Circles, to help you reach your goals. Here are the topics and the interview clips. In the future I'll post other ALC interview clips. Getting a Publishing Deal for My New Historical Novel, Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-Town America (Aberdeen Bay). Getting Reviews and Testimonials Through a Virtual Book Blog Tour … [Read more...]

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...]