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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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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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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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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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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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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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...]

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