Why I added photos, poems and quotes in my memoir

One of the first reviewers of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, said, “….The poetry and photographs add an extra dimension that is missing from most memoirs like this since as a reader you get much closer to the reality of what is being described on the page….” (Mark Shelmerdine, CEO, Jeffers Press). Another reviewer said my book is “poetically visceral.” Those statements helped validate any misgivings I had in adding other creative works into my manuscript. I really hadn’t thought of putting photos in my book until my publisher suggested it. And of course I was delighted. At first she suggested photos interspersed within the chapters, but my book didn’t lend itself to that. So I picked out photos in groups: of my son Paul – the main subject of the book, of him and his brother, family photos, views of my office, garden, and one of the memorials to Paul – a bench dedicated to him on the greenbelt outside our home. At the time I had no idea what an impact th … [Read more...]

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Another book launch – oh my!

I now have a paperback edition of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, in my hands. It just arrived. Getting it to this point has taken just short of three months, but well worth the time and effort. The edition looks great. I decided to keep the same cover design because it has been my brand for the last year. I felt changing it could be confusing to my followers and even to me. Plus I love the front cover photo, taken by my young girl friend, Madison Poulter, whom I’ve known since she was eighteen months old. Can’t believe she’s off to Lewis and Clark College in the fall. So both my publisher, Mike O’Mary at Dream of Things and I have been doing a lot of planning to get ready for the launch. Mike made an excel spreadsheet with activities to accomplish between now and January. Here are some of the things we’re doing right now: I’ve communicated with friends and family about the launch and asked them to write a review and post it on Amazon if they’ve alr … [Read more...]

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Dream of Things

For the last 40 years or so, I have had a serigraph on my wall created by (sister) Corita Kent with the quote from G.B. Shaw: "Some people see things that are and say why? I dream of things that never were and say why not." Seems like synchronicity to me that my new publisher is Mike O’Mary of Dream of Things. I met Mike through my friend, mentor, and go-to person for all things related to publishing, Mark Shelmerdine, CEO of Jeffers Press. I contacted Mark as soon as I heard Lucky Press, the first publisher of Leaving the Hall Light On, had decided to go out of business. However, I also took Mark’s advice and waited to contact Mike until I had time to distress and unwind while on vacation. That said, I wrote to Mike the Monday after we returned home. And Mike responded favorably from the start. I am so fortunate for that. Since Mike decided to become my publisher – he’ll publish paperback and eBook editions by the end of July – we’ve been busy. We first created a … [Read more...]

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I’m querying again

Well, I’ve already sent out mini query letters to a couple of recommended prospective publishers. I’ve included information about my book and links to sample chapters of my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On, and I’ve told them I’ll have all the files in native QuarkXpress and pdf. So if they want to add my book to their portfolios it should be a slam-dunk. Plus I’m not interested in another hardback run. I would prefer a paperback and/or e-book. I've also made a little pitch about my current writing work with links to my blogs Choices and Red Room, and to the PsychAlive and Naturally Savvy websites, where I blog every month. And now the waiting begins. I hate this part. The querying and waiting.   I thought I wouldn’t have to do it again until I’m ready to market my novel. And, now I wonder if it is even worth it. Readers, I need your advice on this one. Should I even try to find a new publisher or should I just go ahead and self-publish? Wh … [Read more...]

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My 2012 writing resolutions

It’s time to get back to my writing life again. I know this list looks daunting but it’s not much more than I’ve already been doing for the last six months or so. But I must say that writing this all down makes it seem more ambitious. Hopefully, this list will encourage my writing readers to join me. · Participate in the January River of Stones project – notice something properly and write a small piece (stone) about it every day this month · Finish Doreen Cox’ Adventures in Mother Sitting book and write a review · Read and comment on other writing blogs to get ready for a May blog tour promoting the release of the eBook and paperback editions of Leaving the Hall Light On · Write a thousand words a week on my novel · Write at least one poem a week – use Robert E. Brewer’s prompts at Poetry Asides as a jump start · Enter a poem into a contest or for publication at least once a month · Post a poem a week on my Facebook poetry group pages, Poetr … [Read more...]

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The eve of New Year’s Eve

I think this is a perfect day for looking back. Usually we go to an eve, eve party where we always share about our events of the year. Since it was cancelled this year, I'll share our major happenings of 2011 here. Major Happenings of 2011: 1. My husband, Bob, and I traveled to Amador County and Sutter Creek, CA with Manhattan Beach friends to taste some native zinfandel wines in January. On our first night there Bob fell and broke the three metatarsal bones in his right foot. Bob had foot surgery to repair and pin his broken bones together in February and had to be off his foot for eight weeks. He got around on a knee scooter (Rolleraid) or crutches. I was his driver. Bob on his knee scooter (Rolleraid) 2. On May 8 (Mother’s Day) my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was released by Lucky Press. My successful book launch reading and signing at our local independent bookstore, Pages, was held on May 12. A couple of weeks later we celebrated my birthday in Lake Os … [Read more...]

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Midweek Work Progress Report

This week has been very productive. I’ve sent off my second piece for the PsychAlive website, and I got word from the editor that it’s ready to go live. The piece is called “Comforting Those Who Grieve.” I’m still awaiting word from my Savvy Over 60 editor about when my November piece for them will be up. I also started working on a piece for a new blog I’m interested in called, Heartache to Healing, founded by grief coach, author, and speaker, JoAnne Funch. Hopefully, the piece will be good enough that I’ll be allowed to contribute there once in a while as well. And I started working on my speech that I’m scheduled to make on November 19 for our local chapter of the American Association of University Women. It was suggested I talk about the mental health and suicide prevention services available in our area. I’ll do that and expand the speech to tell my story of healing after my son’s suicide that I describe in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. And s … [Read more...]

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Pirates and book sales – any connection?

October started out with a bang and a trip via the Catalina Express to Two Harbors for Lisa Smyth’s pirate birthday party. This was Buccaneer Days on the island and everyone came in costume. Lisa won the prize with seven costume changes. Bob and I bought pirate hats and he got a swashbuckler’s black velvet coat with brass buttons, while I mostly commandeered stuff hanging in my closet to bring for the festivities. Needless to say many people we met enjoyed themselves with their brains thoroughly adjusted by pirate’s rum. I stuck with my usual red wine. The Birthday Wench  As you can see the Two Harbors (formerly called Isthmus) village of Catalina is almost barren – one hotel, one restaurant and bar, lots of camp grounds, boating and other water activities, about 300 locals, and lots of buffalos left over from an old Tom Mix movie. It was absolutely beautiful this past weekend. Gorgeous Harbor   And now that that not-to-be-missed experience is over it’s back t … [Read more...]

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It’s Not Just About the Money

Paul Sharples 1971-1999 The Red Room Where the Writers Are blog (http://www.redroom.com/) prompt this week was to write about "writing for free." Here is what I had to say about that. I’ve been writing without monetary rewards virtually all of my life. However I’ve stepped up the pace in the years since the death of my son in 1999, when I found that writing paid me in comfort and healing. Writing about the unhappiness and tragedy in my life transfers the pain from my body onto the page. Writing is like an addiction to me; I get itchy if I don’t do it. My office, where I write, is like magic to me. I could spend all day in there and never feel confined. I see the outside garden and the fountain from my writing table. The fountain attracts the most beautiful orange and yellow birds. Some have red heads, some take little dips in the pool, some surf on the leaves that hang over the fountain, some just hover over the water too wary to wade in. The time I spend writing in my offi … [Read more...]

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Now there’s a poem

Red Room the author's website http://www.redroom.com asked us to blog about one of our greatest discoveries. Here's what I wrote. Writing has been a part of my life for a long time. I was a feature editor of my high school newspaper and went on to study journalism in college. And though I didn’t pursue a career as Brenda Starr Reporter, I worked most of my professional life as a writer and editor of proposals for the aerospace industry. Later on I started taking writing workshops and even dabbled in poetry – though my love of reading poetry that started when I was a child far outweighed my desire to write it. That is until poems just seemed to flow from my pen while I was in an Ellen Bass Writing About Our Lives workshop at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California – just a few months after my son Paul died. Poetry seemed to be the only way I could really express my emotions. For a long time my poems were all about Paul, many of which will appear in my memoir about how I†… [Read more...]

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Recap of 2010 Events

Before I move on to 2011, I thought I'd recap some of our family's 2010. We sent this list along with our holiday cards. January: Bob recovers from knee surgery Bob publishes Volume 1 of Family History – Bob's family story Bob’s brother Richard’s dies; Madeline and Bob travel to New York February: Ben and Marissa announce intention to marry Madeline takes novel writing workshop at UCLA and begins first novel March: Madeline begins blogging on Red Room, a writers website -http://www.redroom.com/member/madeline40 April: Madeline retires from Northrop Grumman on April 30 May: Madeline has several poems published at Survivor Chronicles, unFold, and Poetsespresso Bob ends 14 years of consulting for TRW/Northrop Grumman on May 7 Madeline and Bob begin five-week vacation with trip to Chicago, Washington, and New York City to see family and friend June: Our five week vacation continues to London, cruise from South Hampton to Scandinavia … [Read more...]

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