Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: How can I best help you write your memoir?

Several times lately I’ve nearly cried when I think of the enormous help I’ve received from so many people in writing and publishing my memoir. Maybe you are one of them. If so, thank you, thank you, thank you!

And then I think of you. How are you doing in writing your memoir?

Every memoirist needs help from others
in writing and publishing a finished book.

I hope I’m one of those helpers.

And that brings me to today’s question:

How can I best help you write your memoir?

What do you need most from Spiritual Memoirs 101?

I welcome your comments below
Feel free to also send a private message on the Facebook Page.

In the same way that others have helped me with all of the above, 
and more,
I want to help you write your memoir.
Let me know how I can best do so.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A smorgasbord for you: Suspense

Do you enjoy smorgasbords? I grew up around Scandinavians so I know smorgasbords, but maybe you don’t.

A smorgasbord is a delightful spread of food—lots of food—an array of hors-d’oeuvres (hot and cold), salads, meats (hot and cold), fish (smoked and pickled), cheese, and relishes.

You get to sample them all!

Today’s post is a smorgasbord of writing tips for you!—tips, quotes, and links about including suspense in your memoir.

Your memoir needs suspense. It hooks your reader and makes him keen to know the outcomebut makes him wait for it.

Suspense implies an uncomfortable waiting mixed with impatience, with an eagerness for a good solution.  

Suspense arouses curiosity and keeps readers turning pages.

So let’s look at this important ingredient for your memoir: Suspense. Conflict. Tension. Friction. Anxiety.

Tension is “an essential element of any narrative worth telling. A plot without tension is a flat line, a life with no rises, no dips, no anima. Life, by definition, involves tension. . . . Tension is the medium in which we breathe every day.” Dan Allender

“Conflict is good: Stories boil down to conflict. We crave that tension and a barrier between the hero and what he/she is seeking. That’s what separates a good story from just an anecdote that may be told at the water cooler.” Slash Coleman

“Conflict has to occur not just on the larger scale . . . but also on the smaller theater of the character’s inner life. . . . Include the outer battle (the physical reaction to the conflict) and the inner battle (the psychological and emotional reaction to events).” K.M. Weiland

“The cliffhanger is a striking event that happens at the end of an episode, chapter, scene, or season of a story. It leaves doubt in the reader’s mind—usually regarding the fate of the protagonist—and all but forces them to come back to see what comes next. . . . You want each ‘scene’ to lead your readers deeper and deeper.” Robert Bruce

At FaithWriters blog, Lillian Duncan offers ways to work tension into your stories. Here are a few to enhance a memoir:

  • introducing unpredictability
  • ending chapters with a cliffhanger
  • racing a time limit
  • foreshadowing (hints at what is coming, or might come, in the future)
  • throwing out a red herring (diversion)
  • keeping stakes high

Read more at Lillian’s “Writing Suspense.” Many if not all of her fiction techniques also apply to memoir.

Find the drama in your story and highlight it—but keep a proper balance. Like Chip MacGregor says, “Unlike a novelist, you can’t dwell on conflict. . . . I’m looking for a book that will offer me a solution.”

K.M. Weiland says it this way. “Stories are about balance. A tale in which there is no conflict is going to be just about as boring as watching condensation dissipate. But a tale that never pauses to let its characters (or its readers) catch their breath is boring in its own way. We have to find ways to adjust the level of the conflict. We have to give our characters a chance to slow down and get their thoughts gathered. . . .”

So there you have it: A smorgasbord of writing tips!
Find nourishment, enjoyment, and inspiration in sampling them.

I’ve critiqued many rough drafts and can report that
a lack of suspense—
a downplaying of tension—
is often a problem.

Look over your rough draft.
How can you heighten suspense?

Remember: Your story is important.
It can bless individuals, families,
communities, towns, nations, even the world.
Your story can change lives for eternity.

Write your story!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: Read this only if you’re serious about writing and publishing your memoir

If you’re serious about writing and publishing your memoir, make a commitment to learning the art and craft of each skill necessary.

Consider yourself a student. Devote at least a couple of years to learning how to write, and then how to publish.

Join a writing group. Network.

Read the best books.

Attend writing conferences.

Develop a system for collecting information you know you’ll need in the future.

For example, I have dozens of folders saved on my computer for skills such as writing good dialog. I have ten pages of links and notes on dialog alone!

I have at least that many pages devoted to dozens hundreds of other topics including:

  • audience
  • author bio (how to write one)
  • beta readers
  • book descriptions
  • chapter titles
  • Chicago Manual of Style
  • clarity
  • copyright info
  • covers for books
  • critique
  • details describing people
  • editing topics and resources
  • formatting
  • grammar

. . . and dozens of other topics.

And here’s another bit of advice: Follow the best blogs.

Recently Anne R. Allen shared a great resource listing the top 100 writing blogs. I have learned from many of them and recommend you look into them, too—they’ll help you grow as a writer. And Anne R. Allen consistently offers rich resources, too. Follow her on Facebook.

And pray! Commit yourself and your writing to God. Ask for His help in practical, specific ways. And watch what He does.

God has often surprised me in answer to such prayers. For example, this morning He brought me a huge help to solve an overwhelming problem with formatting my manuscript for publication. WoooHooo!

If you’re serious about writing and publishing your memoir,
learn the art and craft of each skill necessary.

You can do it!

You must do it!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Are you wounded? There’s hope for you.

“Nobody escapes being wounded.
We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally,
mentally, or spiritually.
The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’
so we don’t have to be embarrassed
but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’
When our wounds cease to be a source of shame
and become a source of healing,
we have become wounded healers.”
(Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, July 8 selection)

Some people write memoirs about good, happy experiences.

We can read memoirs about adventure, about raising kids, traveling, falling in love, teaching, and about succeeding in any number of ways. And they are all so good, so powerful, so inspirational.

But some people write memoirs about their wounds and brokenness—results of their own foolishness or someone else’s evil inflicted upon them.

Wounded people’s memoirs can be good, too, and powerful, and inspirational.

How can that be?

Because of what we learn from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. It’s so important! Make time to take it all in!

Let God use your wounds and your words
to comfort others with the comfort He has given you.

In that way, you can be what Henri Nouwen called
a “wounded healer.

I believe that in the process of sharing your story,
God will continue to heal your wounds!

Hurting people out there need to know your story,
need to know how you survived,
need to know how God has sustained you
and gave you reasons to live and thrive.

Your story is important!

Write your story!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: Don’t miss William Zinsser’s advice for polishing your memoir

Polish your memoir until it sparkles. Fine-tune your manuscript until it sings.


You can find a hundred thousand tips out there, but here’s just one for today’s Tuesday Tidbit from dear William Zinsser:

He’s talking about what we call “Write Tight.” (Click on that for more outstanding help.)

Following just this one bit of professional advice could keep you occupied for a solid week, full timeor maybe moreafter you’ve revised your manuscript several times. Commit to doing just that before you publish your memoir.

There you have it, your Tuesday Tidbit.
Happy writing!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Strive to do your best: Don’t settle for anything less than a top-notch memoir

If you missed Tuesday's post, click on I’m almost ready to publish my memoir! 

That’s right! I’m soooo close to publishing my memoir! I’ve worked for years to get to this point.

If you’ve never published a book before, you can’t imagine how time-consuming it is, how demanding it is, especially toward the end when the author needs to take care of dozens of tiny but all-important details.

I’ve seen many authors get this close and, frankly, grow so weary of reading their words for the 87th time (no kidding) that they lose patience—they just want to get it over! So they skimp on their commitment to excellence. They give up on the most tedious and yet most important final details.

Don’t let that happen to you!

My challenge to you is this: Strive to write and publish a memoir that’s the very best it can be. Educate yourself on all aspects of writing and publishing. Look over years of blog posts here at SM 101. Hire editors and proofreaders and cover designers if you need to.

Don’t settle for anything less than a top-notch memoir.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tuesday Tidbit: I’m almost ready to publish my memoir!

Look at this! After formatting all 42 chapters (or is it 43?) of my new memoir, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go!, I just formatted the epilogue. Woot! Woot!

Now I need to format endnotes, glossary, author bio, acknowledgments—those things that go at the end of the book.

—And tweak the stuff at the beginning of the book, like Table of Contents.

—And resize photos to be sure they’ll work for the book and the ebook. That could take me a while.

—And do final copyediting.

—And buy ISBN numbers.

And then my cover designer can get to work. He says it might take up to three weeks.

So now you know what I’m up to these days. It’s a super busy time, but I’ve been having so much fun.

It won’t be long before I can hold a real book in my hands—and you can, too!

Check out my Facebook Page for Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go! and my author page on Facebook, Linda K. Thomas, Author.