By the Wind Grieved

By the Wind Grieved
“O lost, And by the wind grieved, Ghost, Come back again.” Thomas Wolfe

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Veering Off the (Safe and) Beaten Path in Memoir


The author (on the right) about to undergo early fitness training.


Last week, I had such fun with Lisa Reiter's Bite Size Memoir, that I decided to do it again. I expected to take another pleasant stroll into the past, but this time the exercise prompted a deeper reflection of the process of writing memoir: to wit, the memories often veer off on a path you did not expect. And when they do, do you follow the wolf to Granny's house or do you stay on the safe and sunny path?

If you recall, Lisa's challenge is designed to help anyone record some personal memoir in small manageable bites. There’s a prompt every week and some constraints to keep it small (with full details on the page linked above). Essentially, you create your piece in 150 words, or in ten "I remember" statements. 

Last week I responded to the "Magic and Fairy" challenge with ten statements. This week, I am trying out the 150-word format on the theme of what in England is called "Sports Day" and in the US "Field Day."

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Bite-Size Memoir

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I am going to take a break today from my usual preoccupations with "The Book" and introduce you to a delightful writer and blogger that I crossed paths with on a Linked In group I participate in. (And yes, this post has to do with fairies and magic, as you will see.)

Lisa Reiter blogs at Lisa Reiter--Sharing the Story, and true to the name of her blog, she does just that in her introduction. Lisa's story is a powerful testament to courage, hope, and good humor in the face of dark chance and capricious fate, and if  you need a good dose of optimism yourself, I highly recommend you read her account of surviving cancer.

Lisa recently inaugurated a writing challenge on her blog that even the most harried and time-challenged writers should be able to manage. Called the "Bite Size Memoir" challenge, she invites readers to write on a weekly prompt using one (or both) of two formats: a simple list of ten statements, or a paragraph limited to 150 words. In this way anyone can record some personal memoir in small manageable bites. You can find further instructions and guidelines on her blog.

This weeks Prompt # 3 is "Magic and Fairy Tales." I must say I was rather chagrined to find that I had few associations with this rich topic, (were there no fairies in Arizona?) and I felt rather sad that I did not remember being the kind of child that believed in the magical, but I did come up with a list to share here. I invite you to share your own list with me in the comments box, or sign up on Lisa's blog. You can also find her on Twitter by searching her name or #BiteSizeMemoir.

I may yet write a paragraph about this, but here is my list: (and, I hope you share yours!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Titles: What's in a Name?

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Naming a book is something like naming  a baby. It can be fun, but you need to be careful. It shouldn't be too outrageous (I once heard a mother call out "Tink" to her young daughter and was, upon inquiring, informed that the nickname was short for Tinkerbell!) but you want something memorable, something suggestive of a budding personality, something creative yet appropriate. Above all, you want something that will compel readers to pick the book up.

There is, of course, a real science to naming a book, and with my manuscript nearing completion, I scoured Amazon for immigrant and medical memoirs to see what catchy titles had been created. Regarding the latter genre, I came across some great ones: The Scalpel and the Soul; The Healing Blade; Intern; Heimlich's Maneuvers; Blue Collar, Blue Scrubs; and (among my favorites) the humorous In Stitches.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Beating a Path to Publication


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I have been a very neglectful blogger, and broken the cardinal rule of the social media guidebook, i.e., be prolific with posts, tweets, and updates. But I am back today with an update on my memoir project.

It has been a year and a half since I started working with my client, a prominent retired neurosurgeon. The last months have been taken over with administrative tasks for which my old job as an academic program coordinator prepared me well. (Lesson: Do not disdain the desk job you may have now; the skills you are learning will enhance the writing career you may someday fall/wander/ or otherwise move into.)

With a manuscript that has been beaten into a form presentable enough to shop around to agents and publishers, I have spent the last months toiling away at the following tasks: researching the market for books similar to the one I have written; researching agents and publishers, including university presses; crafting query letters to agents; processing comments from Beta readers and tweaking the manuscript; assisting my client with brainstorming his own contacts (some pretty prominent ones there); formatting, printing off, and mailing the tome to connections out there who might provide a trenchant blurb or a referral to an agent; and taking gross advantage of my writer and editor friend Kathy Papajohn's expertise, not to mention her tendencies toward grammar totalitarianism.