Busy times – it’s all good!

For the last ten days I was working in my old technical writer/proposal manager capacity - helping a small business write and deliver a proposal to the National Science Foundation. The proposal was due yesterday, and I'm proud to say we got it in electronically as required with two hours to spare. Within minutes of finishing the proposal work,  I changed modes and started thinking about the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference happening this weekend. I'm scheduled to appear on two panels tomorrow, and up until yesterday I had done nothing to prepare. This morning I went into my files and found notes from past panels I've appeared on, and  found what I needed to provide some good information on writing a memoir and building a marketing platform, using the social networks. (This blog was the first thing I did to start building my platform prior to the publication of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.) One more thing that's happening at the conference is an oppor … [Read more...]

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A successful writers conference appearance

Early Saturday morning, my friend Eleanor Vincent (author of Swimming with Maya) and I drove to the Los Angeles Valley College in Van Nuys, California to participate in the Digital Author & Indie Publishing Conference. Tony N. Todaro, CEO of West Coast Writers Conferences invited us to appear on a panel discussing Building a Platform and Social Networking later in the morning. Our first task was to be interviewed separately by Nicole Baker, Manager of Author Education at Author Solutions – for twenty minutes on camera. And even though we were each given a list of questions and knew the answers cold, we each churned the night before about what we would say during the interview. I came up with a bulleted list of notes a few days before and felt well-prepared; however, my answers rolled around my head all night. Instead of taking my usual early morning walk on Saturday, I closed my office door  at 6:00 am and went over my notes for an hour. As it turned out, all my churning w … [Read more...]

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The work-in-progress blog tour: about my novel-in-progress

During this Hanukkah and Christmas season I can't help feeling grateful for all that this past year has provided. I'm especially grateful to my dear writing friends - some I've met in person and some not - who have brought me continued wisdom about the writing process and such joy in knowing them and their writing work. First of all thanks to Kathy Pooler, author of her new memoir: Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, for tagging me to participate in this blog tour. Kathy's memoir is a must read if you haven't yet. So here goes: My Work in Progress Synopsis and story idea : My novel, Papa’s Shoes, is the story of a family immigrating to America in the early 1900s and a daughter’s coming of age in the 1920s in downstate Illinois and Chicago. Some other things going on in the book – life in a Polish stetl, early 19th century Chicago and Illinois, a woman’s role in society at that time, religious prejudice, interfaith marriage, and a feisty mother-daugh … [Read more...]

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One Lovely Blog Award – paying it forward

I’m paying it forward in thanks for the One Lovely Blog Award I recently received from my dear friend Cate Russell-Cole. It definitely made my day to be included in her list of awardees. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m going to pass the award to some of my writing friends who will hopefully take the opportunity to pay it forward as well. Here are the rules: One Lovely Blog Award Rules: 1. I need to thank the person who nominated me. check! 2. Share 7 things about myself that you still may not know. check! 3. Nominate up to 15 bloggers. check! 4. Notify the nominees that I have done so. check! 5. Put the logo of the award on my blog site. check! Now seven things about me that you may not know: I worked as a technical writer/editor and proposal manager in the aerospace industry for thirty years – after getting a degree in English. Both my parents were born in eastern Europe – Mom from Lithuania, Dad from Poland. They met and fell in love in Chicago, wh … [Read more...]

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Summer reading blog hop

I’m so pleased that Susan Weidener invited me to participate in this blog hop and was so generous in her praise of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I'm now paying it forward by recommending a few traditionally and independently published books for your summer reading enjoyment. Please include some of your favorite reads in the comments below. Adventures in Mother-Sitting by Doreen Cox. In this love story Author Doreen Cox shares her experience as a "care bear" during the last three years of her mother's life and how she learned to live with her mother's slow progression from a viable, interesting, lovable, and happy woman to a woman overcome by dementia unable to handle even her most basic bodily needs. And Doreen doesn't shirk away from those details. She repeatedly quotes her mother's mantra: "You just do what you have to do." Doreen gave up her as a career group counselor at an alternative school for at-risk and SED high school students to care for her mother, and she never re … [Read more...]

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Telling Healing Stories Resources

Eleanor Vincent and I had a great time last week presenting our Telling Healing Stories workshop at the Story Circle Network Writers Conference in Austin Texas. I'll be sharing about the experience in the weeks to come here and at The Memoir Network. In the meantime I thought you'd be interested in the list of resources we offered our workshop participants. Hopefully they will be useful to you. TELLING HEALING STORIES RESOURCES BOOKS Writing Resources Sheila Bender, Writing Personal Essays Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones Vivian Gornick, The Situation and the Story Stephen King, On Writing Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird Denis Ledoux, Turning Memories into Memoirs Sharon M. Lippincott, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, The Heart and Craft of Writing Compelling Description Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life Maureen Murdock, Unreliable Truth Nan Merrick Phifer, Memoirs of the Soul Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman, The Emotion T … [Read more...]

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Introducing Denis Ledoux of The Memoir Network

I'm so pleased that Denis Ledoux, founder and president of The Memoir Network, found me. I am now a subscriber to his newsletter and a huge proponent on his thoughts about writing as a way to heal. I am definitely going to mention his guest blog post tomorrow when Eleanor Vincent and I lead a workshop called Telling Healing Stories at the Story Circle Network's writers conference. His network is also on the list of resources we'll give our participants. If you don't know Denis and The Memoir Network, I feel honored to introduce him to you now. Writing Painful Memories: Three Tips To Make It Easier by Denis Ledoux Memoir writing is a generally pleasant experience and, by its very nature, promotes healing and growth. But, there are times in writing when pain arises spontaneously and surprises us or times when we know the experience will be painful even before we start. What to do? Sooner or later, pain seems to come with memoir writing. Sometimes we can handle this pain easily … [Read more...]

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How writing a memoir helped me heal

In mid April Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya, and I will lead a workshop titled Telling Healing Stories: Writing A Compelling Memoir at the Story Circle Network's Writers Conference in Austin TX. I have written and spoken much about writing to heal.  In the next couple of weeks I'll again share some of these thoughts. How Writing A Memoir Helped Me Heal Writing has been part of my life since I was in grade school. However, when my son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and after his suicide I needed to write down my feelings daily. Writing in my journal became an obsession and a balm. It gave me a way to organize my fears, pain, and thoughts. I had used journaling during an earlier stressful period of my life to rant. So I felt that writing would help me again during what turned out to be the most stressful time of my life. Early on during my son’s illness I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), and her suggestion to write morn … [Read more...]

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7 awards in one – paying it forward

I am thrilled and  honored to be nominated by author and blogger Kathy Pooler for the 7-in-1 Award—a collection of seven shiny awards all rolled in one. About Kathy: Kathy retired as a  family nurse practitioner  in 2011 after forty-four years as a registered nurse. She and her  husband, Wayne have a blended family of six children, ten grandsons, ages 5-24, and a Golden Retriever, Max. They live on the 135-acre land that used to be Wayne’s grandfather’s dairy farm  where he grows organic vegetables. Life is good. Kathy's goal for 2014 is to publish her first memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead: A Memoir About Choices and to complete my second memoir, Hope Matters: A Memoir of Faith. Thank you so much Kathy for nominating me for the 7-in-1 blog award (and thank you for allowing me to use some of your words here). Now it's my turn to nominate some of my favorite blogs for the award as well. First things first: Here are the rules for the 7-in-1 awards: Display the logo on your b … [Read more...]

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Please join me in welcoming Eleanor Vincent back to Choices

It’s wonderful to have Eleanor Vincent back on Choices on the last day of her WOW Women on Writing blog tour. I’m delighted to share about her memoir, Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story with you. (See my review at Goodreads.) Eleanor’s work hugely inspired me to write my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Swimming with Maya had been released a few years before, and I felt if she can do it so can I – as hard as writing about the death of a child is. As soon as we met in December 1999 I felt we were soul mates – the deaths of our eldest children bound us together, and we have been friends and writing buddies ever since. Just last weekend my husband and I visited with her in northern California. It was such a treat to meet her two grandchildren for the first time. I wrote a blog piece about how we met earlier this year – you can find it here. About Swimming With Maya; A Mother’s Story Swimm … [Read more...]

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My writing life is heating up

Here’s what’s going on. This week I learned that one of my poems was accepted to appear in the Story Circle Network’s 2103 Anthology, and that the proposal Eleanor Vincent and I wrote to present a workshop at SCN’s 2014 conference was accepted. Our workshop is called “Telling Healing Stories: Writing a Compelling Memoir.” Added to the excitement is that the conference takes place in Austin Texas next April 11 through 13. I’ve always wanted to travel there, so here’s my chance. I also began attending a weekly poetry workshop – recommended by my writing friend, Chanel Brenner (see her guest post here). My first assignment was to bring in six copies of my portal poem – which means that I read the first version of it at the first meeting and then I am required to rewrite and share the rewrites at each of our next five meetings. This poem had to be a first draft and one that makes me cringe when I read it. So I picked one I wrote at Esalen last summer that really got slammed by one of … [Read more...]

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Back to work

First of all I want to thank all my friends who participated in the Choices Guest Post Festival from the end of August to mid September:  Susan Weidener  Deborah Kalan  Viki Noe  Ace Antonio Hall  Meryl Hartstein  Chanel Brenner  Eleanor Vincent  Jerry Waxler  Sherrey Meyer  Linda Joy Myers  Karen Levy  Kathy Pooler  You all certainly raised the bar over here. During the last three and a half weeks the number of views more than doubled because of your contributions. So it’s time for me to get back to work. I need to keep the momentum going by posting myself and hosting guests as much as possible. Please let me know if you’d like to share your writing story on Choices in the near future.  On Wednesday, my guests will be Cami Ostman and Susan Tive who will share about their anthology, Beyond Belief: what happens when women of extreme relig … [Read more...]

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Eleanor Vincent’s lessons on finding balance

Eleanor Vincent joined me here on Choices last March 16 for a long interview about writing, grief, and healing. Today she gives us great advice about finding balance between writing and doing the necessary hard work writers need to do to market our books.  I hope all my writing friends will benefit from Eleanor's wise words. She is a great example for all of us.   Author vs. Writer: Finding your Balance by Eleanor Vincent "Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony." Thomas Merton In our hyper-connected, ping-me-now world, an author’s work is never done. You could spend 24/7 promoting your book and never check off every task. So how do you keep your writing vital and alive while also promoting a book Since Dream of Things reissued my memoir, Swimming with Maya, it’s been a whirlwind. And yet, somehow I’ve completed the last chapter of my new book, written several long essays, and a few shorter ones, as well as a raft of blog po … [Read more...]

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So what’s the bottom line on the conferences?

Just a few observations after my panel appearances at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference on Tuesday, June 11 and at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference Friday and Saturday, June 14 and 15. Venues: Santa Barbara was much more upscale. It was held at a lovely hotel that overlooks the beach. GLA was obviously done on a budget at LA Valley College. The meetings were held in classrooms instead of conference rooms. Linda Joy Myers, Marla Miller, me, Eleanor Vincent Panels: However, I think the panels went well for both. In Santa Barbara I was a panel member discussing building a platform with a master moderator, Marla Miller, presiding. At the GLA I moderated three panels: memoir, platform, and poetry. Excellent experts were on all panels so we had lively discussions and lots of questions from the audience. Since the poetry workshop was a roundtable everyone participated in a give and take discussion throughout. In the end I think we provided useful information with lots of … [Read more...]

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A couple of busy weeks

My writing life is becoming very busy these days. This week I’ll be featured on three websites:    Today my post on revision and editing is featured on She Writes where I urge writers to Make the Decision to Do the Hard Work Before You Start to Write a Book. I learned the hard way during the time I wrote and revised my memoir, so now I’m following a long arduous edit and revision process for my novel. On Wednesday June 5, I’ll have a post about writing as healing up on Southern Writes Magazine’s Suite T blog. Here’s the link though I’ll remind you again on Wednesday. In the meantime, go over and look at my book trailer on their Must Read TV site and listen to me read a five-minute excerpt from Leaving the Hall Light On, on Take Five, presented by Southern Writers magazine. On Friday June 7, I’m so excited to be a guest on Laura Dennis’ The Adaptable (Adopted) Expat Mommy blog. She gave me some tough questions to answer, and I hope you’ll come over and join in the conversatio … [Read more...]

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Happy rebirthing [via Eleanor Vincent]

[This is a reblog of Eleanor Vincent's post today - by permission] I’m throwing a party for the rebirth of Swimming with Maya. Thanks to the power of networking, it has a new life as a paperback and eBook. But in 2010, the future of my book did not look bright. Capital Books, the independent publisher that issued the hardback in 2004, was closing its doors. My beautiful book about raising daughters and rebounding after loss would be pulped. I tried everything I could think of to sell the remaining hardback copies – and had some success. But even if I sold them all, the book would still slowly fade and die. I considered the Author’s Guild program “Back in Print” that creates print-on-demand books for authors in situations like mine. But I’d have to live with a generic book cover and format, and no marketing support for the book. Sadly, this story is not uncommon. Small publishers close their doors with alarming frequency. And big publishers – those consolidated megaliths – … [Read more...]

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Please welcome Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya

I first met Eleanor Vincent, memoirist, essayist, and award winning author, in a writing workshop at Esalen in Big Sur California. It was in December 1999, four months after my son Paul took his life. While I was just getting my writing fingers moving again. Eleanor was already writing the first parts of her wonderful memoir, Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story. We have been friends ever since. And I am so pleased that Swimming with Maya was just re-released in paperback and eBook by my publisher, Dream of Things, this past February. Join me in welcoming Eleanor Vincent to Choices as she discusses her life since Maya died, the writing of Swimming with Maya, her writing work now, and some of her favorite books, authors, and things to do on a Sunday afternoon. MS: You have experienced one of life’s greatest tragedies. How can people who have experienced a personal tragedy find peace and meaning in daily life? EV: I think it’s different for everyone, but in general the thi … [Read more...]

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It takes a village to write a book

When Eleanor Vincent and I were at pages: a bookstore the other night discussing our memoirs and how writing helped us heal, we continually mentioned how it takes a village to write a book. I’m now in the process of writing a novel, and I continue to believe in the importance of many helping hands in the process. I’ve just completed a novel revision workshop and got useful comments from my instructor and classmates. I also belong to a writing group, and I’ve used the resources of The Next Big Writers website to get reviews of my book as I review the work of others. Here I discuss how I got my memoir written and published, not only once but twice. A member of my village helped me connect with my current Dream of Things publisher when my first publisher went out of business. Even though writing is a lonely business, a village of resources helped and nurtured me from the time I started writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I started with journaling, at first sporadically a … [Read more...]

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A successful bookstore reading and discussion

My friend, Eleanor Vincent came down this weekend to fulfill our commitment to do a reading and discussion at my local independent pages: a bookstore. She arrived on Saturday afternoon, and after much stalling we got to work planning the event Sunday morning after breakfast. We quickly decided to alternate two or three readings with short chats related to them, and then open the discussion to the audience. We chose on our reading portions – I chose two and Eleanor chose three – and then we practiced and timed the whole piece, including our remarks. I also created an agenda so we could each have one at the ready as we sat in front of the attendees later in the afternoon. I had already purchased a few bottles of wine and sparkling water and some veggies and dip to serve. Mike O’Mary shipped us books to sell. Eleanor’s went directly to Pages. Mine came to my home. With all that we declared ourselves ready – mainly because we are very knowledgeable about our books’ messages and the co … [Read more...]

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The Look Challenge

Linda Hoye, author of Two Hearts, invited me to take part in The Look Challenge for writers. According to Linda, “The premise is simple: find a passage in your manuscript or book that contains the word “look,” post it on your blog, and tag five other blogging writers to do the same. Seems to me like a great way to introduce readers to other writers, so I’m all in.” And I’m all in too. Here is a one of the poems included in my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On – it even has the right title for this challenge. The Look (inspired by the movie “Revolutionary Road”) She looked toward him from the counter and offered him a glass of orange juice freshly squeezed. She was fully dressed in blouse and skirt and little wedgie shoes, Her makeup was perfect. Her long blonde hair just so. She then invited him to sit down at the table. “Scrambled or fried eggs?” she asked. He said whatever is easier, scrambled probably, and unbuttoning his suit jacket sat down, looking at … [Read more...]

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