My website is back on the air

After five days of being off-line, my website, Choices, is back on the air. And with the promise that it will never go down again. Thank you to my server and maintenance managers, Francisco Artes and Tom McGuire! These guys have my back. Starting tomorrow, I will resume my normal posts. Hopefully, you my devoted readers, will give let me know what kinds of things you'd like me to write about. Until then, please remember I'm the author of these great books - a historical fiction novel and a memoir, and I'm always looking for more people to read them: and … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Writing a memoir? Stick to it!

Yesterday I participated as a panel member discussing "How to Develop Your Memoir with Appeal to the Widest Possible Audience" at the Genre-LA Creative Writing Conference. Unfortunately the room was not full, but the four of us on the podium spoke from our experience writing, editing, and marketing memoirs to get an interested and inspired response from those who did attend. I think the most important point we made was in answer to this question: Defining a memoir’s theme or focus can be overwhelming – how can aspiring memoirists choose which events, memories, or moments to include, and which to leave out? My answer to that would be: Don’t write a complete autobiography. Pick a subject that’s timely and universal. For example, my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, is about our son’s mental illness and suicide and how our family survived it. And right now mental illness and suicide are in the forefront. Suicide of young men especially is an epidemic though women are more … [Read more...]

Progress report

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about all the products I need to complete and get to my new publisher, Aberdeen Bay so my novel, Papa's Shoes can be published. And I'm definitely closing in on it. The list included the following: 1. Author photo 2. Author bio 3. Cover art 4. Reviews for back cover 5. Book synopsis (short and long version) 6. Dedication 7. Acknowledgement 8. Book cover and synopsis for your previously published books And as of today I've finished all but two - the cover art and all the reviews for the back cover.   I've found several photos that I think could work for the cover but I don't know their source for getting permission to use them. To combat that problem I'm going to meet  with an artist friend of mine and maybe she can reinvent one of these photos so I don't have to worry about getting permission at all. I'm very excited to work with her because I love her very creative and unique work.   Here's one of the … [Read more...]

Yes, seventy is fabulous!

I’ve been seeing in the news that “seventy is the new fabulous.” For example this article in the Los Angeles Times on February 5, names so many over seventy women who are still with it and productive and in a word, fabulous. Nancy Pelosi, Glenn Close, Judi Dench, Betty Buckley, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Bette Midler to name a few. And we mustn’t leave out eighty-five-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsberg who is still on the Supreme Court bench even after recent cancer surgery. She is my all-time hero. That gets me to my success after the age of seventy. I had lunch with a cousin yesterday who congratulated me on writing a novel Papa's Shoes that will come out this spring by Aberdeen Bay publishers. Look what you did and at your age, she commented. Yes, that’s right. Though I don’t work a full-time job anymore I still work every day in my home office,  beginning to market my novel and writing my new memoir (coincidentally about healthy aging), blog posts, poems, and jou … [Read more...]

Writing memoir helped me deal with grief

As I am inching toward December 31, which would be my son Paul’s forty-seventh birthday, I think it makes sense to revisit some of the tools I used in dealing with the grief I felt after his death and still feel now. Memoir writing and writing in general were/are a huge help. Maybe that’s why I’ve turned to memoir again. I’m almost twenty thousand words along on a new one; however it’s not about Paul, as my memoir, published in 2011, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, is. Here’s a piece I wrote early on about how writing memoir, journal entries, and poetry all worked for me. In fact, everything I wrote in the piece below still applies today. How Memoir Writing Helped Me Deal with Grief I signed up for a writing class three months after my son Paul’s death. We sat in the instructor’s living room on couches and big easy chairs in a comfortable and forgiving atmosphere. Each week the instructor told us t … [Read more...]

My thoughts about the film The Wife (spoiler alert!)

The new film, The Wife, with Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, brought up a lot of memories of my writing career. Early on in her studies, Joan Castleman, the character Glenn Close plays in the film, was told she could get nowhere as a female author. It was the year 1958 – the same year I started college as a journalism major. Castleman, already recognized for her writing skills, says she couldn’t live without writing. I too was hell-bent on having a career in writing though I was discouraged as well. My father made it clear I should study to be a teacher – after all that’s what girls in my generation did – or skip college altogether and become a secretary. Of course, the Castleman character in the movie and I were on totally different paths in our writing. My forte was journalism; hers was fiction. I persisted and got a job right after graduating from college at a fashion trade magazine, which I quit after three weeks because my male boss verbally abused and harassed me. A f … [Read more...]

What’s next to write?

Now that my novel is going through a final professional edit and hopefully getting ready to shop around. I’ve been thinking about what’s next for my writing life. For a long time, I’ve thought that there isn’t another book in me, but now I’m not so sure. Could I write another memoir? I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on, so I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for over forty-eight years and living in the same house for thirty-nine years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – at different paces. Yes, another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we're still working at surviving the loss of … [Read more...]

Two new reviews worth bragging about

Pat Seitz and I attend a monthly Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) writing group where we discuss our published books and books in progress plus hear a lot of good information about what resources out there for us struggling authors. I was pleasantly surprised at one meeting when Pat said she wanted to buy and read my book. Since I carry a box of books in the trunk of my car, I was ready to accommodate her immediately, and I happily signed a first edition hardback copy for her. I also gave her a discounted price, something I always do for other authors when we're at meetings and writers conferences. And Pat graciously wrote a fabulous review of Leaving the Hall Light On - unfortunately Amazon wouldn't publish it since she didn't buy it from the Amazon site. Here's Pat: Madeline Sharples' painful, powerful story, Leaving the Hall Light On, is phenomenal. Her fascinating story has turned the light on the darkness in my family's disconnect and … [Read more...]

Yes, I have to weigh in on the most recent celebrity suicides

I’ve been grappling with the two suicide deaths by famous people last week – Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Both successful and productive. Both seemingly having no reasons to end their lives. So what made them do it? I’ve heard that Spade was suffering from depression and was getting help. I've recently learned that Bourdain also had bouts of depression, and that in his early days he had drug and alcohol problems. Needless to say, they both had their demons. However, they say it isn’t only mental illness – it could be what’s going on in our world, including poverty, homelessness and unemployment or stress on the job – that trigger suicide. In a recent "New Yorker" article, Andrew Solomon states: "There is another factor that should not be underestimated. On a national stage, we’ve seen an embrace of prejudice and intolerance, and that affects the mood of all citizens. My psychoanalyst said that he had never before had every one of his patients discuss national politics repeatedly, … [Read more...]

May is mental health month

I've written extensively about mental health and my mission to erase its stigma in blog posts and essays for my own and other websites. I'm also written about my son's mental illness that ended in his suicide in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Today I'd like to leave you with a list of some agencies that provide mental health and suicide prevention services. I've also pulled a passage out of my memoir to share with you - a scene with our son at a restaurant in New York City where my husband and I observed his clearly irrational behavior. We were so distressed at what we saw we plotted to get him into the hospital to be diagnosed and treated for the first (of many) times. I urge anyone who has a similar experience to get help as fast as possible. Some Helpful Agencies American Foundation for Suicide Prevention bringchange2mind Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services … [Read more...]

How I created my book and got it published

I belong to a writing organization called  Independent Writers of Southern California. We meet locally in a  small satellite group once a month, and this last month our leader asked me to speak about how I got my memoir published. Here are my notes from that talk. 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 and later, after reading and doing the exercises in The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron (Putnam’s Sons, 1992), I kept my fingers moving across the pages of my journal every day. I still do. After amassing about three years’ worth of journal entries I began to think about turning them into a book – a book very much different from the one that was eventually published. But, I was not a creative writer. My writing experience consisted of writing, editing, and training engineers to produce reports and proposals in the aeros … [Read more...]

Another pitch about journaling

One of my friends who is still working full time shared with me her desire to do something besides work - something creative. I suggested classes at our El Camino Community College and the South Bay Adult School maybe in jewelry making or to learn a new language. But she said she’d like to get into writing. I asked her if she journaled. With that she pushed herself away from the table and leaned her body against the back of her chair, like she was physically moving away from that subject. After a long pause, she told me she couldn’t write down anything private for fear of it getting into the wrong hands. Of course, that’s a common fear amongst those of us who journal, but it hasn’t stopped me. When I first started journaling regularly back in 1993, I wrote in notebooks – the finer the better. I especially love the ones I bought in France and later found at Banner Stationer’s in El Segundo, CA by Clairefontaine. The pages are very thick and slick and don’t show through to the b … [Read more...]

My memoir still has legs

Three Things: My memoir got its 223rd review on Amazon today. On Saturday 10 am I'll be on a memoir-writing panel called Thanks for the Memories at the Genre-LA writers conference at the Los Angeles Valley College. Sunday I'll be online all day at We Love Memoirs Sunday Spotlight. I actually thought I'd be done with book marketing a year after the memoir was published. Was I wrong! It seems that this book keeps re-emerging and providing inspiration for would-be memoir writers or the right words of encouragement for those also affected by mental illness and suicide. I feel so grateful for that. Here is its latest five-star review from Lindsay De Felix: on Amazon for Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. This is a very hard book for me to write a review on. It is about a subject which I have no knowledge of – a bipolar son who commits suicide. I don’t know anyone well who suffers from bip … [Read more...]