Thursday, April 27, 2017

Your stories about choosing courage

“What we need are people with chests,” said C.S. Lewis. In other words, we need people with fortitude, pluck, mettle, guts, gumption, courage.

And the Bible tells us—as do our parents and teachers and coaches and pastors and heroes—that we must be courageous.

“We need people with guts,” writes Chuck Swindoll, “who will say, ‘I will stand for this, and if I must die for it, then I die,’” (referring to “If I perish, I perish” in Esther 4:16).

And yet, “No one is born courageous,” Swindoll says. Have you ever thought about that?

So how do we learn to be courageous? One way is to watch someone who has chosen to be brave.

And we parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents can teach younger generations to be courageous by modeling how to be brave.  By telling them stories—our own or those of others—about choosing courage.

You know where I’m going with this: What stories about courage can you include in your memoir?

  • Who modeled for you how to look fear in the face? Stare it down?
  • Who showed you what it’s like to defy fear?
  • When did you stand up against what scared you?
  • How did you overcome cowardice?

The quotes below will inspire you to write about courage—experiences you and others have had, stories to teach and strengthen your readers when they need to be brave.

“Do it trembling if you must, but do it.” Emmet Fox

“If there is ever a tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” A. A. Milne

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Winston Churchill

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill.

“Our heart, which is the center of our being, is the seat of courage…. Courage often starts in small corners: it is courageous not to participate in gossip, not to talk behind someone’s back, not to ridicule another. It is courageous to think well of other people and be grateful to them even when we live different lives than they do.” Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey: The Diary of His Final Year

“Fear is a genuine thing; without it there is no courage. The courageous man is the one who overcomes fear.” Oswald Chambers, He Shall Glorify Me

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” Harper Lee’s character, Atticus Finch, in To Kill a Mockingbird.

“Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.” John Wayne

“…Bravery is not an act—not a moment—it’s a lifestyle. It’s an attitude. It’s a steady, long pursuit. It’s a posture by which we live.” Danielle Strickland, A Long Posture of Bravery (as originally published in She Loves Magazine)

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

The Bible has many other verses urging us not to be afraid, to instead be courageous—and how. Be sure to use those in your vignettes, too.

So there you have it: 
Write your stories about 
courage, fortitude, pluck, 
mettle, guts, and gumption

God can use those stories 
to encourage and strengthen others.

And when you get those stories in writing, 
let us know here at SM 101 
by leaving a comment below 
or on the Facebook Page, 
or by sending a private message.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

On self-publishing and marketing your memoir

Let’s face it: Most of us will never sign a contract with a traditional publishing company. Thousands of writers don’t make the cut, not even good writers—not even great writers.

But nowadays we have publishing options we didn’t have only a few years ago: self-publishing companies. They offer various services for various prices.

Note: They also publish books of varying quality, in both contents and materials. Too many self-pub books can’t be described as “high quality.”

Having said that, many self-published books are top-notch quality, so much so that some prolific traditionally-published authors are now going the self-pub route. Self-publishing can be an excellent choice for most of us.

Nevertheless, some people continue to turn up their noses at self-publishing.

“Some writers will think you’re not a good writer because you’re self-published,” writes Joanne Dannon. “There is still a stigma that you’re not good enough since you’re not traditionally published….”

But if you want to be a good writer, Joanne says, “Focus on being the best writer you can be. Self-publishing is not for bad writers, it’s for motivated, savvy writers who write quality books….

Successful self-published writers have excellent books with a well-written story, professional editing and formatting as well as a quality well-made cover (not home made)” (What I wish I’d known before self-publishing).

To write and publish a professional-quality memoir, you must work hard.

Become a student of everything related to writing, publishing, and marketing.

Among other skills, improve your self-editing abilities. Bethany Cadman offers tips in Practical Advice for Editing Your Manuscript.

Also check out Jami Gold’s post, Writing Habits: We Can’t Fix What We Don’t See.

And then there’s successful marketing: We must educate ourselves, pre-plan, and commit to hard work. Look over Joanne Dannon’s blog post, What I wish I’d known before self-publishing.

I highly recommend Sandra Beckwith’s blog, Build Book Buzz. Begin by checking out Facebook advertising for authors: A quick-start guide.

If you want to be
“motivated, savvy writers who write quality books,”
educate yourself.

Make it your goal to publish a well-written book,
professional in editing and formatting,
whether you’re publishing your memoir for only friends and family,
or for the masses.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Writers can mentor those they never meet

Sometimes you wonder whether writing your memoir will be worth all the hard work. Will anybody read it? Will it make a difference in anyone’s life?

But take heart. Your stories can impact others in ways you might never imagine.

Take, for example, what David Ramos recently said:

“Over the years I have had the opportunity to read hundreds of books by dozens of brilliant, God-loving, life-seasoned authors. Of these, a few have left impressions deeper than most.

I wholeheartedly believe you can be ‘mentored’ by men and women you have never met. If you take the time to read their words and think deeply about why they wrote them, you cannot help but be shaped by them.

“These men have met me at the mountaintops and valley-lows in my life. They took my mind’s hand and led me to new places. Both places I didn’t know existed and ones I deeply feared….”

Hand in hand with God, 
write your stories.

Others need to know them. 

God can use your efforts 
and finished memoir 
to bless, encourage, mentor, 
and inspire your readers—
sometimes beyond your wildest imagination.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Your key people: Who are they and how did they shape you?

Today we continue looking at ways to rediscover stories from the past so you can include them in your memoir. 

(Click on these recent posts if you missed them: Your stories: Where do you find them? and Where can you find your stories? And don't miss Sharon Lippincott's comment: "I just wrote a section for my Work in Progress about all the stories packed into a copper Aztec calendar that has hung on walls in four houses for nearly fifty years now....")

Look over the list of people, below. Take your time. A few will stand out because they played a significant role in shaping who you are today. Their words or actions caught your attention, taught you, inspired you, helped you make good choices—and maybe even changed the direction of your life. 
  • your best friend in high school
  • grandparent
  • pilot
  • school bus driver
  • neighbor
  • boss
  • lifeguard
  • parents
  • politician
  • college roommate
  • janitor
  • pastor
  • grandchild
  • professor
  • fireman
  • Scout leader
  • librarian
  • law enforcement person
  • pediatrician
  • sibling
  • teacher
  • garbage collector
  • farmer
  • foster parents
  • Sunday School teacher
  • crosswalk guard
  • aunt or uncle
  • fellow student
  • boss
  • homeless person
  • author
  • teammate
  • a person with Down Syndrome
  • social worker
  • in-laws
  • military veteran
  • a stranger

Did one or more person catch your attention? If so, ask yourself how different you’d be if that person hadn’t come into your life. Jot down ideas now, and in coming days and weeks craft a rough draft.

Sometimes the best life lessons result from dealing with negative people—they model the kind of person you don’t want to be. Ask yourself what you learned from people who:
  • gossip
  • bully
  • lie
  • break promises
  • whine
  • manipulate
  • steal
  • criticize
  • judge
  • abuse
  • complain

Think about people who are:
  • fickle
  • jealous
  • addicted to alcohol or drugs
  • perfectionists
  • irrational
  • unpredictable
  • violent
  • moody
  • temperamental
  • bitter

How did they model the kind of person you did not want to be?

Also think about positive examples demonstrated by those who are:
  • cheerful
  • faithful
  • affectionate
  • helpful
  • patient
  • complimentary
  • grace-filled
  • optimistic
  • kind
  • longsuffering
  • funny
  • gentle
  • soft-spoken
  • generous
  • encouraging
  • affirming

How did they inspire you to be the kind of person you are?

Think of the people who modeled for you:
  • trust in God
  • forgiveness
  • tenacity
  • love of life
  • integrity
  • creativity
  • spunk
  • thoughtfulness
  • inquisitiveness
  • commitment
  • joy
  • self-discipline
  • honesty
  • loyalty
  • humility
  • contentment

Believe this:

Your stories can serve as guides
for your kids, grandkids, great-grands, friends, and other readers.
Your stories can influence who they choose to be.

Write them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Where can you find your stories?

Today we’re following up on Your stories: Where do you find them?

Set aside time to think about a key item and its significance to you and your family’s history.

Ponder its importance while you drink your morning coffee, when you do your chores, and sit in the dentist’s chair, and fold laundry, and exercise.

If those items could talk, what stories would they tell?

Also check out Dr.Lori Verderame’s article about how old possessions can boost memories of Alzheimer patients.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Writing your memoir: A sacred calling

You, dear memoirist, are divinely linked to the reason Jesus told parables.

There’s a reason Jesus replied with a story (Luke 10:30).

That reason? Stories are among God’s most powerful and effective tools.

Your stories can be among God’s most powerful and effective tools.

You see, there’s a reason you won’t find spreadsheets and charts and bullet points and graphs in the Bible: Research confirms that story impacts humans in ways other types of information don’t.

The Bible is full of stories because our minds and hearts respond differently to stories. We engage with a story’s message more than we do with databases and worksheets and tables and lists.

Stories uniquely illustrate, illuminate, and educate.

“The human brain is literally hardwired to process stories differently than other forms of information….They create meaning from stories differently…. Stories can lift human hearts and make them soar into the heavens. Stories can literally change lives! The same information delivered in a non-story form rarely does so….” (Kendall Haven)

Peter Guber says it this way: “Stories…are far more than entertainment. They are the most effective form of human communication, more powerful than any other way of packaging information….

“Without stories,” Guber continues, “we couldn’t understand ourselves. [Stories]…give us much of the framework for much of our understanding… While we think of stories as…something extraneous to real work, they turn out to be the cornerstone of consciousness.”

Whether or not Haven and Guber knew it, they’re referring to the fact that God created humankind to respond to stories.

God uses stories. They are powerful. Stories are among God’s most compelling and successful tools.

As you write your memoir, then, recognize this: You’re participating in a God-inspired, God-planned practice that has taken place since before recorded history.

Yours is a sacred calling.

Your stories help readers examine their lives and make sense of who they are and why they were born.

They can help people find their way.

Your stories can pass on wisdom (which you might have earned the hard way) and motivate people to do the right thing.

They can calm anxiety and offer tenacious hope.

They can shine light on possibilities, offer solutions, and change a life’s direction.

Your stories can illustrate truth, honesty, and integrity.

They can inspire loyalty and commitment.

They can transform hate into love, fear into courage.

Your stories can teach, influence, empower, and heal.

They can break down barriers.

They can offer comfort, cheer, and redemption.

Your stories can solve mysteries.

They can inspire an awe of God.

They can lead people to His love and grace.

God can use your stories to change lives for now and eternity.

Read more of Peter Guber’s thoughts about story
and Kendall Haven’s rich insights

And then, write your story.
You’ve received a high calling.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Three tips for writing a compelling memoir

Listen to the advice of this pro. Take in his message.

Jerry addresses writers of fiction but his instruction pertains to writers of memoir, too.

Click here to read Jerry B. Jenkins’ post about studying the art and craft of storytelling.

Click here to read his post on creating compelling characters.

Click here to learn from Jerry how to be a ferocious self-editor.