Archive for Personal Memoir

Client Success:  Heather Dobson’s “Memoirs of a Future Ghost” Reveals the Truth of the Paranormal

“One Sunday morning while grumpily clutching my coffee, I tuned into Ghost Adventures where Zak Bagans yet again found himself possessed by a demon,” Heather says, rolling her eyes.  “I became frustrated, deciding right then and there that I would write an honest and thoughtful account of what it’s really like to investigate the paranormal.”

Memoirs of a Future Ghost shares the truth—the freaky, the funny, even the forlorn—of Heather Dobson’s 12 years investigating ghosts and the people they haunt.  At its heart, this first memoir in a trilogy comes from her childhood fears of the unknown reflected by those of her children when they were wee tots, afraid of what was in their closets, under their beds, and outside their windows.  As diligently as she pursues evidence to prove the paranormal is, well, normal, she seeks the answer to the proverbial question, “Is there life after death?”  This passionate lifelong exploration, active on the front lines with her group Paranormal Georgia Investigations, combined with her love of science, a wicked sense of humor, and a maternal instinct, make her ideal to guide readers—even the most scaredy-pants ones—into the real world of the paranormal.

Heather (center) at her book launch, August 2019, with Wayne and Sheryl

On writing, Heather unabashedly admits, “I am my own worst critic, so I knew I needed an editor. Whenever I searched for editors, the web results sounded cold and distant. My neighbor and friend Sheryl Parbhoo recommended Wayne from his work on her novel The Unexpected Daughter, so I reached out and our rapport was instant!”

Heather felt her book was practically finished when she submitted it to me.  Assuring her I could do the quick edit she requested, I admitted that I was taken with the writing but felt cheated.  I wanted to feel like I was there with her and the shadows, the disembodied voices, the other investigators.  I suggested she rewrite the collection of blog posts, giving herself freedom to flesh out the details to create a vivid account of these fantastic stories.

Her resistance was immediate but ephemeral.  “Because of Wayne’s coaxing, coaching, and belief in my writing skills, my book became a cohesive story that I believe everyone could enjoy, whether ghost stories scare them or not.”

“Though working with Wayne was easy, it was still challenging when he would say, ‘I know there’s more here. I want more.’ I would ignore that note, move on to easier things in the manuscript, and walk away from my computer, stewing on ‘more.’ Usually the next day, I was ready to give more. And then I got him back by inserting more exclamation points than he knew what to do with!!”

I survived the onslaught thanks to the “delete” key.

Heather adds, “My biggest lesson from this experience is that I’m capable of writing a book. And that I have a voice people enjoy reading. And to tell Miss Negative Nelly who resides in my head that she’s a bitter woman who needs to shut the hell up.

“Honestly, across the board, even when I do things well, I feel as though I’m a failure. For the first time in my life, I’m really proud of myself. And that’s saying something.”

And that’s an everlasting truth…to be continued as Heather concurrently works on her second and third books in the trilogy to be published in the summers of 2020 and 2021, covering your reading for the next three Halloweens.

Buy Heather’s book or e-book, or see her at  DragonCon or other appearances.

 

 

 

Client Success: Ann Temkin’s Memoir Illustrates Personal Struggle to Revelation in Spiritual Quest

“I know others have held the same secret,” Ann J. Temkin said of her newly released memoir. “I needed to explore this period of my life, and I wanted to let them know they are not alone.”

The Smoking Nun recounts a woman’s conflicts over loving God, humanity, and one forbidden man.  Passion, struggle, and betrayal ignite this true story lived amidst the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam War. Advanced readers found the book inspiring, relevant, and revealing for our current times, calling it “a spiritual quest bound with an inextricable thirst for justice.”

In late 2015, Ann saw the Oscar-winning film Spotlight about The Boston Globe investigative journalists who found proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.  Even though her situation was not the same, Ann began to think differently about a part of her life she had kept secret.  Then came her struggle with whether or not to write about her hidden love affair with a Catholic priest.

Soon, she went to the book signing of a friend.  “She didn’t know my story. No one did.  And when she signed my book, she wrote, ‘Tell your story.  It matters.’  I took that as a sign and began to write.”

Though possessing a career’s worth of writing experience and a published author of 2014’s memoir Sight In The Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine, Ann shared that writing this book was often painful.

“My story involves an early time when I was not in touch with my own feelings and in an environment that encouraged denial. Writing about it, I often asked myself, ‘What was I feeling?’  I had to confront realizations and emotions that had never surfaced before. And it was scary to make myself so vulnerable, not just about the secret, but about my spiritual life.”

As her editor, Ann and I worked from initial writing through publication.  “Wayne got it, and when he didn’t, he asked questions and remained encouraging.”  I facilitated a focus group to lead into final revision, and she credits the stellar panel for their insight and praise. Ann’s cover designer Cristina Montesinos, along with fellow authors, friends, and Mort, her husband of 35 years, were positive influences during the two-plus years of process to publication.

Ann always welcomes opportunities to share her book and hear reflections from readers. For details about readings or to inquire about having Ann speak with your group, please visit www.anntemkin.com or follow her on Facebook.

For budding writers, Ann advises, “Just start somewhere.  Anywhere. Then just write. Thinking about it comes later.

Through her journey of revisiting and resolving the past, Ann came out stronger on both life and writing.  “I’m not at all shy about calling myself a writer now.”

Client Success: Lynne Byrd Celebrates Community Visionary and Best Friend

“I knew Joyce and her friends very well,” Lynne Barfield Byrd shared of her best friend Joyce Amacher, the community visionary who passed away in February 2017 and is featured in Lynne’s latest book The Queen of Dunwoody.  Lynne and Joyce became fast friends when Lynne’s son and Joyce’s daughter dated and eventually married.  They grew closer as co-grandparents of two little girls, co-authors of The Story of Dunwoody: 1971-2001, and co-founders of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.  “Joyce and I worked hard to identify the descendants of pioneer families and save the remaining historic homes in Dunwoody.”

“The book began with tributes from her friends along with remembrances of people who worked with her to make Dunwoody a great place to live.” Lynne, the author of three books and a historian who has placed three Dunwoody homes on the National Register of Historic Places, started the book’s research by interviewing Joyce’s husband of over fifty years.  “I had some pleasant surprises when talking with Bill.  He’s a reticent kind of man, but he straightened me out on a lot of details.”

The Queen of Dunwoody is the story of Joyce Amacher, an Atlanta native who moved to Dunwoody in 1968 where she and her husband raised their family and she focused her talents and passion on community enrichment, fighting the effects of urban sprawl while advocating for architectural design standards.

As a visionary leader, Joyce knew the talents of other community members, encouraging them to contribute their best.  She served as charter member and one-time President of the Dunwoody Homeowners Association, the volunteer governing body until Dunwoody became a city in 2008. When the county planned to expand Ashford Dunwoody Road into a 4-lane, she was influential in gaining permission and funds to beautify the road with a tree-filled median.  In 1998 after a devastating tornado, she led efforts to replant the Dunwoody Forest.  She and Lynne spearheaded efforts to purchase and restore the Cheek-Spruill House, known as the Farmhouse.

In writing and compiling this book, Lynne credits encouragers like her husband Noah who organized over 100 photos for this full-color publication, as well as a local group of first-time writers called “The Wow Girls.”

And this is the second book Lynne has completed with me.  “I was fortunate to meet Wayne South Smith at his workshop at the Dunwoody library in 2013.  Wayne was the editor and project manager on my first book, a memoir called The Sweetness and the Pits: Remembrances of a Georgia Peach. I never could have done it by myself and probably would have given up trying without his help.  It was wonderful to work with him again on The Queen of Dunwoody.  Wayne is the most patient and encouraging person a writer could work with.”

The Queen of Dunwoody will launch at the historic Donaldson-Bannister House on May 5, 2018 from 2-4pm.  Proceeds from sales will be evenly divided between Joyce’s three favorite non-profits:  The Dunwoody Preservation Trust, The Dunwoody Garden Club, and the Dunwoody Homeowners Association.

Client Success: Barbara Gray Armstrong Honors Family & Cultural History

Barbara.Armstrong.book.signing1“I got the idea to write my book when I thought about how little my children knew about my birth family, my early life, and American history, such as slavery and the civil rights era,” shared author Barbara Gray Armstrong. In Honoring My Journey, she has written a rich family memoir woven into a larger, societal context to tell a story both personal and universal.

“I am not a product of poverty or of wealth. I came from people who were working people, many educated, who wanted a piece of the American pie.” Among stories of African-Americans who lived during this time of widespread bigotry, discrimination and denied rights, Armstrong shares, “Mine is not a unique story, yet it is a story seldom depicted in literature or media. It seems as we have to be on either extreme end of the spectrum to be recognized.”

Coming of age in the Jim Crow South during the 1950s and 60s, Armstrong shares stories about her life with her parents, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives. She includes information on great-grandparents born during slavery and her own experience of working as a nanny for a white family, among others.

Some research came from her elders; the rest is her learned and observed truth. She adds, “Of course, truth is certainly subjective when writing about family and friends. I tried to be fair to the characters, even though most of them are dead.”

Barbara.Armstrong.Honoring.My.JourneyHer process from the first essay to publication took four years. “The experience was mostly positive. There were many days and even months I couldn’t write. Sometimes I felt confused about the family relationships I included. Other times, I agonized over whether to include an experience. Sometimes, I even felt that writing the book was a job, and that was when I would put it away for a while.”

“My family was not quite sure what I would write or how revealing I would be. I’m not sure they believed I was serious. However, they allowed me space and respected the idea that I was writing. Still, I needed someone to keep me on my toes.”

She experienced my work with writers in forums and a public library seminar. “I observed Wayne’s spirit, attitude, and demeanor. I decided he was who I needed so I could really commit to doing the writing.”

We developed an easy rapport, even when faced with challenges. “We could talk about living in the South, race matters, family, politics, religion, and whatever came with ease. The most challenging was when he wanted me to edit something I wanted to hold on to. It didn’t happen often, but it did happen.”

She experienced an even bigger lesson after gaining momentum with her first essays: she misplaced the thumb drive that held her writing. “After searching for weeks, I realized it must not have been how I was to proceed. I started listening to my inner voice and was able to start writing again.”

After final edits, and then cover and interior photo designs by her daughter Monique L. Armstrong, she published with Abbott Press in October 2014. Sales have sparked through sharing copies with friends and at book events, Wayne.South.Smith.and.Barbara.Armstrongincluding a combination book launch/birthday party at the Decatur Marriott. With over 50 family and friends in attendance, she shared stories of the writing experience alongside readings from the book. As more read the book, former relationships have reignited and feedback continues to pour in.

To anyone considering writing, Armstrong says, “As with anything that comes up in your mind and heart to do, go for it. Make the effort and open up to learning.”

And share it.

Honoring My Journey is available in hardback, soft cover and e-book. To purchase, along with more information about the book and the author, please visit www.honoringmyjourney.com