Introducing Karen Levy and her new book, My Father’s Gardens

Karen Levy's book, My Father's Gardens, was released last April to rave reviews. I'm pleased to introduce her and her book to you. My Father's Gardens is the story of a young girl who comes of age in two languages, and on two shores, between warring parents and rules that change depending on the landscape and the proximity of her mother. Struggling to find her voice and her place in the world as a result of her frequent travels between her native Israel and the United States, she feels that she must choose a place to call home. As her scenery alternates between warm Mediterranean and snow capped mountains, loud-mouthed Israelis and polite Americans, so do her loyalties: Is she more Israeli or American? How will she know when she has arrived? And while she chooses she is slowly transplanting bits of her father's gardens on foreign soil.   This story will appeal to young adults, people with duel citizenships, those who live in dysfunctional families, and those who are … [Read more...]

Welcome to my guest blog fest

For the next three and a half weeks I'm going to turn Choices over to the voices of other wonderful and experienced writers. I've asked twelve people whom I've either met personally or online to tell you about their lives, their writing, and their marketing experiences. I feel so fortunate that they have agreed to be my guests and participate in this blog fest. I hope you will keep coming back to read more and more as the days go by. You'll find the information interesting and very helpful. Here's my guest blog fest lineup in order of appearance:   August 24: Susan Weidener An author, editor and former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Susan leads writing workshops and started the Women's Writing Circle, www.susanweidener.com a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia.       August 26: Deborah Kalan Deborah has been writing about real life since she was in the fifth grade and received a diary with lock and key … [Read more...]

Fun poetry prompts

View from Highway One, Big Sur, California Getting back to my poetry workshop in Big Sur a couple to weeks ago, I'll give you some fun prompts where we were asked to write poems using a list of prescribed words. We also discussed: Controlling image poem where an image, such as a tree or a broom, is something for the readers to hang onto while the poem takes us for a ride.   Long armed poem scoops in a lot of information, goes on and on, and is tied together in the end somehow. Leap poem where the poet leaps into seemingly unrelated material and then ties it all together by asking a question or making a statement over and over. It's also possible to write a leap poem by telling a story and then leaping into metaphor. Lyric poem it has a song-like element that uses repetition of words and sounds, also asks a question or makes a statement over and over. Rhyme could definitely work here as well. Persona poem a monologue in the voice of the character the … [Read more...]

Poetry revision is no different than revising our other writing

Every morning during the poetry workshop I attended last week at Esalen, one of our three instructors gave us a poetry craft talk. The workshop, which was called Writing and Knowing and was led by Ellen Bass, Dorianne Laux, and Joseph Millar, gave me a lot of new information about how to write - and revise - poetry. As promised, I'm going to try to relate some of the things this wise trio of poets taught us. Ellen discussed revision - and this information sounded very much like what I've heard about revising memoirs, novels, and works of non fiction. Revising poems takes a lot of work. As she said, we must work at it. In fact, she said, good poets like to revise. Here are some of her hints: Keep original versions so you can go back and compare Simply cut out the bad parts - easier said than done Distinguish between the essential and non-essential Pretend it isn't your poem when you sit down to revise - I love this idea   Delete unnecessary opening lines, … [Read more...]

Kindle Nation newsletter applauds my publisher, Dream of Things

Kindle Nation Bargain Book Alert: Four Best-Selling Memoirs for 99 Cents Each Plus Three Bonus Books! August 15, 2013 By Kindle Nation Publisher Mike O'Mary Dream of Things is an indie publisher with a reputation for finding and publishing high-quality memoirs. Each of the memoirs offered today for 99 cents has 50+ reader reviews and ratings of 4+ stars. We focus on memoirs and creative nonfiction, says publisher Mike O'Mary. Our goal is to provide readers with distinctive voices, meaningful books. So far, it looks like Dream of Things is succeeding. Check out this great line-up of memoirs all at ONLY 99 CENTS August 15-17. * * * Everything I Never Wanted to Be by Dina Kucera (159 Reviews, 4.6 Stars): How come people who have experienced such trauma write so well? So raw and funny that it almost makes me want to have horrible things happen to me so my writing will improve. Joel Stein, Time Magazine co … [Read more...]

Live radio and a rave review

I was thrilled to be interviewed by Cyrus Webb yesterday on his live blog talk show, Conversations LIVE! Radio. We discussed mental illness, suicide, and finding meaning in life after unthinkable tragedy. What I took away from that conversation is the importance of having these conversations openly and truthfully without pretense. That these are hard subjects is a given. But we must bring them into the light so that others will benefit. If we say the mental illness and suicide words often enough we will have a chance of erasing stigma. Only then will people begin to acknowledge their illnesses and seek help. Only in that way can we save lives.   I was also most impressed that Cyrus acknowledged his failed suicide attempt almost at the start of our interview. This shows the extent of the honesty in our discussion. Here's the interview. Please listen. As my publisher at Dream of Things, Mike O'Mary said: Could be the most important 20 minutes you spend today. And … [Read more...]

Southern Writers Magazine Suite T Blog

I was honored to be asked to write a post for the Southern Writers Magazine Suite T blog this week. For those of you who haven't seen it, I've reblogged it here. Please go over and read some other blog posts - actually explore the whole site. It's a wonderful place to promote your book. You even have an opportunity to post an audio excerpt from your book and showcase your book trailer. My audio excerpt is at Take Five and my book trailer is at Must Read TV. Also find out about guest posting here.   Writing to Heal and Save Lives   By Madeline Sharples   I aspired to be a writer since grade school, and by the time, I was in high school I was determined to be a journalist. Working on the high school newspaper made me even more determined. As it turned out, I attended the University of Wisconsin School of Journalism and took all the courses necessary for the degree. However, I transferred to the University of California at Los Angeles for my senior year because of … [Read more...]

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 can … [Read more...]

I have to brag

Emma, one of the three founders of the blog Book Geeks Unite, posted this review of Leaving the Hall Light On. It's so awesome, I have to share it. "Madeline Sharples' Leaving the Hall Light On chronicles one woman's challenges, grief and ultimately her healing as she and her family battle one son's seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder and his untimely death by suicide. As I was searching for words to describe this book (words usually come easy to me), I could not find them. What to say about this book? Where are my words? Can you say you enjoyed a book about a mother's grief over her son's death? Not just his death, his suicide? I cannot say I enjoyed reading about her pain. What I can say is that this book completely engulfed my emotions. There were several times while reading, I realized I was not breathing. I had to remind myself to breathe. I realized that is a sign that I am in the book. The author had somehow allowed me in. I realized she had written me … [Read more...]

Mormon Diaries by Sophia Stone

I am so pleased to tell you about Sophia Stone's wonderfully brave and informative book, Mormon Diaries. I'll provide a brief summary of the book, a few questions and answers, my review and a couple other blurbs, and a brief bio of the author with information on how to contact her. Plus her beautifully creative book video is at the end, so don't go away until you've watched it. Brief Summary Brought up in a religious home, Sophia believes the only way to have a forever family is by following church leaders and obediently choosing the right. She goes to the right school, marries the right man in the right place, and does the right thing by staying home to raise her children. But when she starts asking questions about grace, love, and the nature of God, she realizes her spiritual struggles could rip her family apart. Sophia and I exchanged a few questions and answers about her book and her current struggle. Here's a few that resonated with me. MS: Your book cover and video … [Read more...]

Happy Birthday, Kenny

It's my brother Kenny's birthday today. He would have been 75. I can't believe he is gone over four years already. I miss him more and more. Here are a few photos with him and my sister and mom. Madeline, Kenny, Mom, and Sheila - 1993  Madeline, Sheila, and Kenny - 2006   Sheila, Madeline, and Kenny - 2007 … [Read more...]

Writing in Times of Grief – Join our roundtable tomorrow

I'll be participating in a roundtable discussion tomorrow afternoon with my dear friend, Eleanor Vincent. Sponsored by the National Association of Memoir Writers, we'll discuss Writing in Times of Grief. And we'd love for you to join us by listening in and asking questions as well. In the latest NAMW newsletter, founder and discussion moderator, Linda Joy Myers, wrote: In preparation for our September 8th Roundtable discussion, I have been busy reading the books by our featured authors for the September Roundtable. Eleanor Vincent wrote Swimming with Maya and Madeline Sharples' memoir is Leaving the Hall Light On. Both books are about their beautiful children, how the death of a child leaves a scar that can't be completely healed. Each mother had to find her own path to become re-engaged with life and the rest of the family, and try to heal from such a heart breaking tragedy. Eleanor Vincent lost her daughter in a freak accident with a horse. Madeline Sharples' son suffered … [Read more...]