The jazz age, Chicago, and murder – read Sugarland

I'm happy to introduce Martha Conway and her new book, Sugarland: A Jazz Age Mystery, to my Choices readers as part of her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book (blog) tour. About Sugarland: In 1921, two women, a black jazz pianist named Eve and a white nurse named Lena, join forces after a drive-by shooting nearly kills them. Eve is looking for her missing stepsister, and Lena wants to find out who murdered her brother, a petty bootlegger killed in the shooting. Sugarland recently received a Reader's Favorite Book Award. Genre: Historical Fiction Hardcover: 314 pages (also available in paperback and e-book) Noontime Books: June 1, 2016 ISBN: 978-0991618552 About the author: Martha Conway's debut novel 12 Bliss Street (St. Martin's Minotaur) was nominated for an Edgar Award while Thieving Forest won an Independent Publishers Book Award, the Laramie Award, a Reader's Choice Award and the 2014 North American Book Award in Historical Fiction. Her short fiction has … [Read more...]

Review of Ronald Chapman’s A Killer’s Grace

I'm pleased to have read and written a review of Ronald Chapman's book A Killer's Grace in time for his WOW!Women on Writing virtual book tour. Today, September 1, is the publication of the book's second edition.  As you'll read, A Killer's Grace is a wonderful work. I hope you'll all get your copy (see the links below). You won't be disappointed. *** My Review of A Killer's Grace A letter from a serial killer awaiting execution changes New Mexico reporter Kevin Pitcairn's life. His investigations into the content of the letter drag him into his own dark past, that of a never-convicted murderer and an alcoholic. His journey draws the readers of A Killer's Grace by Ronald Chapman into the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous and the close relationships Pitcairn made there, his love for Maria Elena who stays by his side even when she disagrees and fears his involvement with the serial killer's story, how walking with his dog companions in the early morning hours calms him after nightmares l … [Read more...]

Memoir or fiction? That is the question!

David W. Berner, my WOW! Women on Writing guest today, and I have something in common. After writing memoir we both turned to fiction stretching ourselves, as David says, as writers. We both took a true story, settings, and characters and made up things let our imagination have its way with us to enhance the story's effect. My fiction book though not ready to be published yet takes off in a whole new direction from the true facts. My family members would definitely know the people and places I write about, and might even have a problem with the way my fictionalized version of our family history turns out.  Well, I'll deal with that when the time comes. I applaud David for using his wonderful memoir, reporting, and teaching skills to become a successful fiction writer. His first fiction work: Night Radio: A Love Story, has already received rave reviews. Thank you, David, for being here at Choices today and telling us about your journey into fiction writing a story I very much relat … [Read more...]

My Choices guest today is: Jennifer-Lynn Keniston

My Choices guest today is Jennifer-Lynn Keniston, author of Afta-U. Here she tells us how she balances the fear and thrill of writing dark novels. Like Jennifer-Lynn, I believe that balance is the key to success in all our live's undertaking. I welcome Jennifer-Lynn, and I wish her huge success in all her writing. How to leave the rollercoaster of emotions on the page/computer screen when stepping away from writing a dark novel by Jennifer-Lynn Keniston As a child, I could ride all the rides in an amusement park including the big rollercoasters with daring declines and twisting turns. From what I can recall, a rollercoaster ride can be both thrilling and terrifying. When I sit down to write more dialogue and piece together a dark novel, it is like I am sitting on an amusement park rollercoaster all over again. And I'm hoping I haven't eaten too much cotton candy and fried dough before the ride starts. Emotions begin to battle one another. Now a days though, I have vertigo so I … [Read more...]

Susan G. Weidener finds writing as a way of healing

I am so pleased to have Susan G. Weidener with me today on her second stop of her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. The third book of her trilogy, A Portrait of Love and Honor, was just released, and I'm happy to say, I read it and loved it as I did her other two books, Morning at Wellington Square and Again in A Heartbeat.   Here Susan tells us how writing is healing for her. I can totally relate. Writing has been my healing balm ever since my son's death in 1999. But enough about me. Here's Susan. Writing As a Way of Healing By Susan G. Weidener In the Bible, Lot's wife ignored the angels' warning not to look back when she and her family were fleeing a devastated and rotting Sodom. We all know what came next.  As she glanced over her shoulder, she was instantly turned into a pillar of salt. For many, this story became a cautionary tale. See? This is what happens to a curious woman who looks back at her past. The story of Lot's wife is a favorite at memoir … [Read more...]

Here’s Jennifer Roland on awakening your muse

My guest today is Jennifer Roland, author of 10 Takes on Writing - her interviews with ten authors who live in the Pacific Northwest. This is her second stop of her Wow! Women on Writing virtual book tour. Please welcome Jennifer and her words about finding inspiration about writing and how to keep our seats in the chair even when your muse has escaped out the back door. For me, walking - especially on the beach works. I look at the ocean, take pictures of the gardens I pass along the way, look up at the clouds, and pretty soon, I'm ready to sit down and write. Please share what you do to awaken your muse. Here's Jennifer:  How to Find Inspiration Even When It Seems Impossible by Jennifer Roland As writers, we have a love/hate relationship with the muse. When the muse comes to visit, it's all wonderful. The ideas flow. Every word is a little bit of magic, and they come together with ease. So what's the problem? That darn muse doesn't come every day. Sometimes, … [Read more...]

Lily Iona MacKenzie and her views about poetry

Please welcome Lily Iona MacKenzie on her second stop of her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. Her new novel Fling! was just released and can be purchased through her publisher Pen-L Publishing as well as the Amazon link given below. Lily also writes reviews, essays, memoir, short fiction, and poetry. Here she relates her thoughts about poetry and perception and exploring the world from various angles like we do in photography. I find her ideas very interesting since I like to write poems that reflect the scenes I photograph. Please take a look at her poems in the collection published in 2011, called All This.               POETRY AND PERCEPTION by Lily Iona MacKenzie Many of my poems reflect a continuing interest in perception and how we try to capture fleeting moments with language. The art that comes closest to what I'm trying to do in poetry is photography, the exploration of things in the world (and in ourselves) from various angles. The attempt to penetrate surfaces … [Read more...]

Great writing advice from David Berner

I can relate. It took 68 queries before I got the "yes I'd like to publish your memoir." And like David Berner, author of There's a Hamster in the Dashboard, I kept submitting. I persevered. I believed I'd find a home for my book even though the subject matter is mental illness and suicide. So, here's my plea to all writers: David has given you great advice. Read it, believe it, and keep writing and submitting - always with the positive attitude that your "yes" will come in time. Please welcome David as he tours his new book with WOW! Women On Writing. The Best Way to Submit Your Creative Nonfiction to Small Publications and Literary Journals By David W. Berner I received more than 30 rejections to the manuscript for my second book, Any Road Will Take You There. Thirty. Each one of them arrived as an email, one after the other in a steady beat for about two years. But these are good rejections. They like the story, said my agent. The editors did like the story, but ma … [Read more...]

Six features of life-changing memoirs by M. Shannon Hernandez

I'm so happy M. Shannon Hernandez has agreed to return to Choices to discuss memoir while on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. We met her here before with her thoughts about journaling, and since I think journal writing is a great way to jump-start a memoir, it is fitting to have Shannon tell us how to write a life-changing memoir. Shannon recently launched: Breaking the Silence: My Final Forty Days as a Public School Teacher. She shares her vast experience in providing us with the six features of life-changing memoirs. How to Write a Life-Changing Memoir By M. Shannon Hernandez Life-changing! That is a tall order, isn't it? If you are an author, you most likely want to change lives with your words. Not only am I a connoisseur of memoirs, I also have written a memoir, and I coach memoir writers to turn their memories into manuscripts. I have spent much time dissecting memoirs. Here I discuss:  Six Features of Life-Changing Memoirs  1: Narrow your focus waaaayyyy down … [Read more...]

Myrna J. Smith and her thoughts on memoir

My WOW! Women on Writing blog tour guest today is Myrna J. Smith, author of God and Other Men: Religion, Romance, and the Search for Self-Love - her first book. A huge welcome, Myrna. Since Myrna's book is a memoir, I asked her to write a post about other memoirs that resonate with her. Here is what she has to say. Memoirs that Spoke to Me By Myrna J. Smith Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes has all the qualities of a good novel: sex, violence, thievery, suffering, death, and, most importantly redemption. Amazingly it is a memoir, not a piece of fiction. We wonder, how so many terrible things could happen to one family? And how could young Frank come out of that suffering to live such a rich life in America? McCourt lives in Catholic Ireland and suffers from Catholic guilt. He really believes the consumptive Theresa would go to hell because of their sexual transgressions on the green sofa. He thinks he deserves punishment for a hundred other sins, including masturbation. But t … [Read more...]

What are you afraid of?

I'm very pleased to welcome Karen Jones Gowen during her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour. Her book, Afraid of Everything really got me thinking about fears and how hard it is to overcome them. When I was a young girl I was terrified of heights and flying, stemming from my favorite uncle's death in an airplane crash. As I grew older, I rationalized that if I continued to have these fears, I couldn't see and do the things I wanted to. Especially because I had to fly to most places I wanted to go. So I clenched my teeth and whitened my knuckles and flew until my fears grew less and less. However, I also encountered freeway phobia in my mid thirties. I got over that by telling myself I had to drive on the freeways they were essential routes for someone living in Los Angeles. Therefore, I was gentle with myself, promising myself I could exit a freeway anytime I wanted to. I also opened the car's window and let in a lot of fresh air. Of course the main antidote for all my fears was … [Read more...]

Author David Berner discusses writing about our lives

Our Choices guest today, David Berner, shares with us the essence of memoir writing. He tells us what it is not - a series of diary entries that relate every detail of a life - and what it is - a story that begins with a moment rounded out with the details related to that moment. My memoir Leaving the Hall Light On, begins with the moment of my son's suicide. The rest of the book details the events leading up to that moment and its aftermath. David Berner's memoir, Any Road Will Take You There, starts with a five-thousand mile road trip  that enables him to find peace and fulfillment in being a dad after a series of heartbreaking and life-changing personal events. Please welcome David Berner. Making the Choice to Write About Your Life by David Berner A woman came up to me after a workshop I conducted several years ago about writing memoir. She held in her hand a thick manuscript and told me she was writing about her life, one full of adventures, one she wanted to share. I've start … [Read more...]

Welcome our guest Linda Appleman Shapiro

Thanks to WOW! Women on Writing blog tours I'm pleased to welcome author and psychotherapist Linda Appleman Shapiro. I feel so fortunate to have her here on the first day of her tour to promote her new memoir, She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness, published in September 2014 by Dream of Things. Here's Linda, as she speaks openly about mental illness coming out of the closet and constantly being in the news. Most importantly, she personalizes what it is like to live with a family member suffering from a mental illness by sharing her experience growing up with a mother who suffered from major depressive disorder.  An Open Discussion about Keeping Secrets about Family Illnesses by Linda Appleman Shapiro Secrets about an illness in a family is the breeding ground for a wide range of emotional problems, and, yes, even mental illness.  I've learned this not only from personal experience, but also from 30 years as a psyc … [Read more...]

Company is coming tomorrow – Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Sharpiro will join me here tomorrow on the first stop of her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour to promote her memoir, She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness. To give you a little advance information about her memoir I've posted my review here today. As you'll see I was very much taken by her book. My review of She's Not Herself: A Psychotherapist's Journey Into and Beyond Her Mother's Mental Illness I love survival memoirs and this is certainly one of the best I've read. It resonated with me and touched me in many ways: the author and I both grew up in the 1940s and 1950s, we were both children of immigrant parents hers from Russia, mine from Eastern Europe. And most important of all we both had to find a way to grow up and thrive while our mothers were never themselves. The author's mother suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression, my mother battled with borderline manic depression (undiagnosed). … [Read more...]

Jerry Waxler compares the benefits of journal and memoir writing

I'm so pleased to host Jerry Waxler on his third WOW! Women on Writing blog tour stop. He generously allowed me to conduct a two-part interview with him in September 2013 about the role of memoir in our lives today (here and here). At that time he also discussed his wonderful and very informative book about memoir writing, Memoir Revolution (see my review below). Today Jerry writes about the many benefits of journal and memoir writing and compares the two forms. Thanks so much, Jerry, for being here and providing your expertise to the many readers here at Choices. Comparing the Benefits of Journal Writing and Memoir Writing By Jerry Waxler I discovered the benefits of journal writing in the late 1970s when a spiritual teacher suggested, I write my thoughts as if in a letter to God. Allowing my thoughts and feelings to flow onto the page helped me maintain my poise so effectively, I kept going for years. When I began to read about the healing benefits of journal writing, I wasn … [Read more...]

I’m so pleased to reintroduce memoirist Kathleen Pooler

Kathleen (Kathy) Pooler and I met virtually a couple of years ago while hanging out on Google+, talking about - you guessed it - memoirs. And we've been buddies ever since sharing our books, sharing about memoir writing techniques and dos and don'ts, and forever wishing we'd someday meet in person. Alas, that hasn't happened yet. However, I'm pleased to be in her company any way I can. Today I'm reintroducing Kathy on Choices (see her other guest appearances here and here) during her WOW! Women on Writing book tour, and I congratulate her on her powerful and brave memoir, Ever Faithful to His Lead : My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, a true life, tears-to-triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found. About Ever Faithful to His Lead: A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in w … [Read more...]

Write from the wound to survive trauma

Lorraine Ash, author, journalist, essayist and writing teacher is my WOW! Women on Writing blog tour guest today. Her second memoir, Self and Soul: On Creating a Meaningful Life, is a spiritual memoir about taking stock of the traumas, losses, and disappointments we all experience by midlife. In Lorraine Ash's case, the major one was the stillbirth of her daughter, her only child. "After a time," Lorraine says, "what happens to us can feel like meaningless assaults to the self. But the book shows us meaning can be made of our life events, however disparate, if we bring them down to the soul level. In the end, it's the quality of our inner life that determines what forces thrive in our psyches and so our lives." I can certainly resonate with Lorraine's story. After the suicide death of my 27-year old son, Paul, I was able to find new meaning in my life and actual gifts that resulted from his death. Writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, was a huge help in my he … [Read more...]

Paige Strickland is back

Paige Strickland, my WOW tour guest on August 11, has returned and I'm thrilled. Thanks WOW! Women on Writing for scheduling this addition stop. Not only is Paige a memoirist with a book called Akin to the Truth about her adoption, she has had a long career as a teacher. Here are her thoughts about how children can have a positive school experience. It's perfect timing. School has just started  or about to start in the next few days. Tis The Season! by Paige Strickland             Our TVs and radios are clogged with advertisements about new sneakers, jeans on sale and handy lunch snacks. Discount stores and larger groceries have updated their seasonal aisle with rows of colorful binders, magic markers and Crayola 64-count crayons. These reminders began to trickle in just after July 4th with hopes of creating excitement and anticipation among parents and youngsters for back to school. As much as I detest having my relaxed-paced summer vacation day at the pool bombarded prematurely … [Read more...]

Please welcome my WOW! guest Paige Adams Strickland

Please welcome my WOW! Women on Writing tour guest, Paige Adams Strickland, author of Akin to the Truth. I love her topic for today, The Benefits of Being An Adoptee. Imagine coming away with a group of top-notch friends or being blessed with a soaring imagination as a result. I'll let Paige fill you in on the rest in her wonderfully insightful and sensitive piece. The Benefits of Being An Adoptee by Paige Adams Strickland My adoption memoir, Akin to the Truth, contains some universal themes, which appeal and are relatable to all teenagers, adopted or not. (Pre)junior high through high school is the period of time when young people observe more and begin to analyze and form attitudes and concepts about their personal lives and the world in general.  Often these notions lack perspective and life experience, however the young person's belief system still contains value and meaningfulness because their feelings and how they deal with them are parts of becoming mature. For me, being an … [Read more...]