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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

My novel cover! Voila!

Here it is. What do you think?   Cover art by Jen Jenkins Dohner … [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...]

My novel, Papa’s Shoes, has a publishing contract

I'm very excited to announce that I've signed a book publishing contract with Aberdeen Bay to publish my historical/romance/immigration story novel, Papa's Shoes. They've given me a lot things to provide to get it ready, including: 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 Aberdeen Bay's next steps are to do the design, layout, and production of the book so it is ready for publication this coming spring - April or May 2019. WOW! that's fast! I'm also pleased to say that Aberdeen Bay found my book just about ready to go. I guess it helped to revise, revise, revise and give it to a professional copy/line editor for a last editing shot. I'm forever indebted to my editor Pat Zylius - a very meticulous person. Here's a bit of information about Aberdeen Bay, taken from their we … [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...]

Traditional or self-publishing: that is the question

  It's time to report back about the status of my novel. First of all, I'm happy to say I've completed revision nine. The purpose was to cut out unnecessary words and bring my word count more in keeping with the number agents and publishers suggest. After I added a lot of needed new material, as suggested by my critical assessment editor, my word count grew from 85,000 to 103, 052 words. So, my goal was to cut at least 5,000 of them. I'm happy to say I exceeded my goal, and cut 5,675 words. Hopefully I didn't cut anything that I'll have to put back later. My next job is to break up several long chapters into smaller ones. That is an easy fix. And now I feel I'm at a point to think about getting my book published. The question is, should I shop around for an agent or publisher or should I self-publish? That's a question I never thought I'd be asking. I've always said I didn't want to self-publish. I didn't self-publish my memoir, so why go that route with my n … [Read more...]

How my novel is progressing

I haven't written about my work on my novel for quite some time. So, I thought I'd bring you up to date. Yes, you're right. I'm still working on it after all these years about seven at least. However, I think I'm finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. After all, I'm working on draft number eight. A few months ago, I hired an editor to do an assessment critique, and after a thorough reading, he provided me with ten pages of single-spaced notes, with many rewriting assignments. Before I embarked on any of it I asked him to honestly tell me if I should put the book on a shelf and forget about it, or keep on working. He suggested I keep working, and that's what I'm been doing. For the last several weeks I've been working steadily to accomplish the editor's suggestions. And while I work on the novel, I totally ignore social media of every kind. That was hard at first, but it gets easier with time. The first thing I did was abide by the editor's suggestion to change … [Read more...]

The Yiddish language is making a come back

An October 2013 article in the Huffington Post discusses the revival of training in Yiddish that is helping to keep the language alive for the next generation. This is of great interest to me since I chose to use Yiddish words in my novel, Papa's Shoes. My resources were online Yiddish to English dictionaries and a wonderful old book called  The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten. My mother gave my husband a copy back in 1970 when we got married. I think she was trying to entice him to convert. One of my novel's beta readers, who is also not Jewish, did a study of the words I used in the book, dividing them into three categories: Words he uses in his own vocabulary, for example: Goy a person who is not Jewish Kibitz to offer unsolicited advice as a spectator Mazel tov good luck Mensch a special man or person, someone respected Nebbish a nobody, simpleton, weakling Schmooze talk, conversation, chat Shtup push, vulgarism for sexual intercourse Tokhter da … [Read more...]