Posts Tagged ‘What is a memoir’

Feeling Insecure and Writing Wednesday…


June is another one of those months that seems to pull the rug out from under our feet.  It seems to be over before I give it a chance to start. I’ve been buried in my editing cave, trying to manage some DIY projects in the house, putting together fall schedules, marketing plans and juggling family stuff, while still grieving and the whole month my mind and body have been screaming for me to slow down and allow things to happen the way they are supposed to happen in June, slower.

My plan for July is to slow down and be conscious of each and every minute.

The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG.  This is one AMAZING group of talented, wanting to start writers, beginners, and professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.

To find out more about the IWSG or to join us, visit:









I have also started ‘Writing Wednesday’s’ here. Every Wednesday I am going to share some of the things I have found that worked and some that didn’t work so well along my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. Being insecure at times is one thing I had to and still deal with in my writing. Learning to listen to other writers, taking their advice and learning to write through those insecurities is a must.

Writing Wednesdays

Typewriter envy










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I have run into a dilemma with The Stranger in My Recliner. It is the true story of Sophie, a homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She ended up staying with us for nearly three years.

I believe wholeheartedly that when you are telling a true story you should be 100% honest, unless that honesty could egregiously and irreparably hurt someone. Someone, that may or may not be completely innocent.

Sophie made me promise to tell her story. That story revolves around people in an anonymous group. I am not part of that group, so I didn’t give much thought to using their real names if they were part of Sophie’s world. Perhaps I even had an attitude or a bit of a grudge against a few of them.

My editor pointed out that grudges and revenge are not the best reasons for memoir. She suggested that I reach out and try to speak with a few of these people and try to get their side of the story, to balance things out a bit. I took that suggestion and decided to hit the research trail.

Writers Clock

I was feeling depressed and wondering if this book would ever reach, the end.  I was having trouble figuring out where to start to find these people.  I brought it up in my writers group. This group, Lower Bucks Creative Explorers (amazing group) meets an hour and fifteen minutes from my home. It is on the other side of Philadelphia in another county.

What are the chances that when I mention I have no idea where to start locating friends of Sophie’s in yet another area, the town of Glenolden, Pennsylvania that one of our members would say I have a new boyfriend and that is the town where he lives. Jokingly, I said call him and ask him if he knew Sophie. She did and yes, he knew Sophie and her family. We arranged an interview and he gave me information that facilitated more interviews and suddenly Sophie’s story began to breathe in a way I didn’t see coming.


Drawing on my journalism skills of being able to present both sides of a story in a fair and impartial way I have decided to only use the first names of the members of this particular anonymous group. That way they will recognize themselves in the story and others in ‘that’ group may even recognize them but outside of that, it doesn’t change the direction; the truth or the impact of Sophie’s story in any way.

I think I feel relieved by that decision and yet still a bit insecure.

Do you get frustrated when reading a true story knowing the author has changed the names and even sometimes the locations of the actual story?

Do you want to write a memoir but you are worried about angering or hurting someone?

Does knowing those changes were made distract you at all while you are reading, do you wonder what else is not actually true in the story?

Have a wonderful Holiday,


Writers rules poster


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Writing Wednesday Writing Memoir


Typewriter envy



                                      Writing WednesdayThe day I share what I have learned on my journey to publication. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them.


Writing Memoir

What exactly is a memoir? Let’s start with what it is not. It is not an autobiography which is the story of your entire lifetime. Unless you are somebody famous that has many accomplishments to your credit readers will not be interested in your entire life. It also is not a biography, which is also the story of an entire lifetime.

What a memoir is, finally clicked with me when my editor said, imagine someone is taking a walk around the block and they see your house and walk up to look into your large picture window. This day happened to be the day that “it” happened. The “it” is what changed or altered the course of your life forever. What would that person see? Whatever it is that the person would see is the beginning of your memoir. After the event there should be some brief back story, the resolution and how you arrived there and a bit about where you are now.

  • A memoir is about an event, an incident, something that changed you in a positive or a negative way. It explains how you dealt with the “it,” The author questions what happened, tells the lessons learned and where you went from that moment on.
  • The memoir can be written in first person from the author’s point of view. It can also be told as Narrative nonfiction which is written like fiction-in story form.
  • There is little dialogue.
  • The reader should learn something and their life should also be affected in some way.
  • Memoirs should never be about revenge and should not be a book length rant.
  • They are between 90,000 and 100,000 words.
  • When writing nonfiction it helps to start with an outline.
  • Make a list of any research you will need to do
  • If you are writing nonfiction, you need to write the truth. Real names and places should be used unless using them will cause great harm. If you are planning on using fake names and places consider writing fiction, instead.
  • If it happened to you, it is your story and you own it.

Writers Clock

An outline starts with a brief description of your story. The description should include the beginning, the middle and the end in a concise three paragraph’s. Next, write a paragraph or two on each chapter. Name your chapters and choose a title for your memoir. Nothing is written in stone, this is just the starting point.

I find it helps to have some photo’s and personal items that remind me of the time I am writing about on my desk, while I write.

Once your outline is finished the next step is the proposal. The topic for the July 9th  Writer Wednesday will be proposal writing.


     Every minute you spend angry is a minute of happiness that is lost forever. Choose Happy.

Pic of Maya Angelou quote Writing


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