Burning moments and magical thinking in our memoirs

It turned out that I led the memoir workshop: “Telling Healing Stories – How to Write A Compelling Memoir” on my own at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference last Friday. Thankfully I had the material prepared, so when my workshop mate didn’t show up, I just waded right in. I discussed the four aspects of all good literature: plot, theme, structure, and voice and gave the group a list of universal themes (which I’ll discuss in a future post). I also explained how the plot is made up of a series of events – or as they have been called – burning moments. For example, the disposition of clothes and possessions of a loved one who has died is a huge burning moment. In one of my favorite memoirs, The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion describes in meticulous detail the items in the plastic bag she brings home from the hospital after her husband died. She says, “…I remember combining the cash that had been in his pocket with the cash in my own bag, smoothing the bills, taking spe … [Read more...]

4,776 total views, 2 views today

The Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference is this weekend

This coming Friday and Saturday, June 27 and 28, I’ll be moderating two panels at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Conference. According to its program materials: “West Coast Writers Conferences presents a full weekend of panels, workshops and presentations by educators, noted speakers, and industry professionals focused on the craft and business of writing. “This conference differentiates itself by presenting individual program streams for (what we call the 3-A’s) Aspiring,Active, and Accomplished writers. Topics are offered in progressive streams, so you are immersed all weekend in an exciting and educational environment. You chose your level of participation and areas of interest, and may crossover to other levels at any time. Speakers and panelists are selected based on who is best suited to the curriculum, so you get the most informed workshops and presentations. Along with some perennial favorites, we are pleased to include important new voices and industry experts.” … [Read more...]

3,502 total views, no views today

What makes a book sell?

I attended the Digital Author’s Conference this past Saturday, sponsored by West Coast Writer’s Conferences with special recognition and discounts to Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society members. Coincidentally, both are headed by Tony N. Todaro. Tony and his staff do a great job in getting interesting and informative speakers to their events. I found some of the information presented on Saturday so beneficial to my writing life I thought I’d share a little bit here. One was a mention of a blogger I recently started following (at the suggestion of Marketing the Muse’s Marla Miller) Seth Godin. I have been marveling at how much meaningful information Seth can impart with just a few lines of short sentences, short paragraphs, and a lot of white space on the page. And Elaine Wilkes, Ph.D. who spoke about ways to place our books everywhere and how to write emails and books that get results said this is the kind of writing that is selling best right now: Short – even one-line – p … [Read more...]

2,783 total views, no views today