Tag Archive for memoir

Guest Post: Author Ann Temkin and The New Term for “Book Marketing”

“The real work begins after the book is published,” Wayne said to me a year ago as he shared marketing ideas.

Don’t think so, I thought. I’m working like crazy now writing it. And besides, I despise marketing.

The day before Thanksgiving 2014, Sight in the Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine was published. My book combines personal memoir with stories about the very Jewish, liberating Jesus living in turbulent 1st century Palestine ruled by the violent Roman Empire.

Ann.Temkin.book.signingOnce it was published, reality hit: I had to sell some. I wrote the book to say something, and over time I had even come to believe that what I had to say was important. So I wanted people to read it. Then there was the practical reality: I’d spent money getting published with fees for design, copyright, bar code, editing, etc., and I needed to recoup costs.

That meant getting the word out. But how?

For months I worked every day at something I didn’t call “marketing.” Nine months in, I’m still doing that, but not every day. Though Amazon and Kindle helped, I’ve found over 60% bought directly from me, and probably at least half those who purchased through Amazon did so because of some connection with me or with someone who bought a book from me. So, I’ve focused on four areas: book signings; book store events; webpage and social media; and what I call “wherever-I-go-the-book-goes.”

Ann.Temkin.Sandstorm.finalA solo book signing event where I have 45 minutes to talk about the book, read a brief section, partake in Q & A, and sign books is my favorite. Excited friends at two churches offered to host book signing parties right away. I sold and autographed 39 copies between the two wonderful events. I have some booked in the future and am exploring possibilities at churches, synagogues, and other spiritual centers by asking people I know. I’ve met great people and had wonderful conversations, and when people meet an author, they generally want to buy the book! Maybe two or three!

Bookstores haven’t been so great. Most bookstores won’t give a self-published author a solo, and I understand that. I have joined events with multiple authors where I get three minutes for “the sales pitch.” Though the owners were great and it was interesting to meet other authors, my experience was that most people come to these events looking for mysteries, romance, or children’s books.

Social media is a must to build momentum; I focus my efforts on Facebook. Everyone says you have to have a website and blog. In my case I haven’t seen a lot of results from these. Writing blog posts is a huge task, and I haven’t committed the time.

Ann.Gurney.Book.Sales“Wherever-I-go-the-book-goes” has been really fun and the biggest surprise. I’ve learned to carry the book deftly with the back cover facing people as close to their eye level as possible. Doing this casually takes practice! People see the picture and say, “That’s you! That’s your book!” and pretty soon I’m selling a copy and signing it for them. I’ve done this at meetings, professional organizations, even the dentist, but I pushed the farthest when I was at the hospital for a colonoscopy. There I was, lying on a gurney covered with a sheet, clutching my book—back cover up—on top of my stomach…and two nurses wanted it!

Most of “us writers” don’t like marketing. And in general we aren’t good at what we don’t like. So I deleted the term “marketing” from my brain, and I began to think “teaching” or “healing” or “having fun experimenting.”

What name would work for you in boosting your enthusiasm and confidence to get your book sold?

Ann’s book is available on Amazon, or pretty much wherever you happen upon her!

Client Success: Vanderyt Publishes Memoir Sequel “Obsidian Rose”

Memoir classes scheduled in Winter and Fall.

“My inspiration for writing Obsidian Rose was feeling like I had unfinished business,” Karen Vanderyt said about her sequel to 2012’s Afterglow. “My writing process was smoother, probably because I had a bit more confidence after editing and publishing my first book, but also because I had worked through a lot of things emotionally.”

Vanderyt.Obsidian.Rose.coverAfterglow: Remembering A Life Well Lived, her memoir about commitment and family, heartbreak and loss, was heralded a love story. This exercise in remembrance came soon after losing her husband of 39 years, Bill, to incurable brain cancer. She wrote to attempt to make sense of those swift three months from diagnosis until his passing.

Obsidian Rose: Reclaiming A Life After Loss shows her reality still full of memories and mourning, but how bringing a Lab puppy into her home while navigating everyday hills and valleys reinforced her determination to create a new life for herself. The pup became a touchpoint, and in turn, the title of the book. To all who know her, she’s lovingly called Siddie.

“Writing the sequel enabled me to be more proactive about doing something about the disease that Bill died of. I have worked through a lot of anger, and I want to feel as if I have made a contribution by supporting Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure and sharing with others my own healing process.” Karen donates all proceeds from both titles to ABC2 for their mission “to invest in research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure.”

Shortly after publishing her first book, Karen began anew. “It was nice to take a break from the writing routine, but I found I missed it and started carving out a few mornings a week to write, and the process flowed.”

Her biggest encouragement came from family and friends, even strangers who identified with her grieving process. “There is a special bond that only another person who has suffered a similar loss can truly understand.”

kv.Kirby.Siddie.porch.back.cover With our ongoing creative relationship of 14 years, she credits our bond of trust and our lively concept meetings as the most fruitful part of her writing process. “They encouraged me to explore deeper levels of meaning,” Karen said. “You push writers to better themselves and their product.”

“Getting the book to print was challenging because there were several things going on at once: editing, proofing, website design, navigating social media, and traveling to visit my three grown children and my eight grands! Life does go on…” She also set a deadline to publish in May to coincide with Brain Tumor Awareness Month, which we achieved.

Currently, she is building a home in Oregon on land she and Bill bought decades ago, land where they planned to fulfill a dream of retirement, a dream she is realizing. “I’m giving myself permission to take a break from writing, and then, I’m going to explore writing a love story about my parent’s early years together based on the love letters my dad, Norm Van Brocklin, wrote to my mom, Gloria Schieve, during the special time in our nation’s history after WWII. And, either concurrently or after that, I’ll work on closing the trilogy of memoirs, writing about restoring life after loss. But I realize that requires living life for a while! And there is great fulfillment in saying ‘yes’ to life.”

And no doubt, Siddie will be right by her side.

Visit Karen’s website and order books in paperback and e-book formats.

Guest Post: The Charming Light Box and a Literary Fetus

This guest post by Creative Writer’s Workshop member Kim Chamberlain, who is steadily making excellent progress with her memoir. Kim is a music teacher, clarinetist and jazz singer with lots of great stories. Kim can be reached at chamberlaind@bellsouth.net.

My writing coach’s words from a month ago reverberate inside my head: “You have four long weeks to get a lot done.”

Now, my deadline looms at midnight. In my basement writing room, twenty-seven chapters, hiding inside 2 large binders, remind me that I’ve got Writer’s Block.

Light Box by Kim ChamberlainI can write. A lot. I can quickly churn out another chapter for my memoir, sending it on its way to Wayne’s Thursday night writers’ group.  I recall the ending of my group evaluation at our last meeting weeks ago:

“Consider choosing five chapters that anchor the plot best, and start building structure from there,” Wayne suggested.

Five. Yeah, right.

The glow from a nearby lamp radiating off the top of Wayne’s pate inspired me to ponder the reflective quality of human skin. My mind meanders down a trivial trail into a thicket of distraction.

His mouth continued to form words. “Why not start by identifying the setting, characters and theme?”

I wonder if Wayne’s crown feels silky or maybe a little bumpy. That Yul Brenner look requires a nicely shaped head like Wayne’s.

Ann, the first published author among us, chimed in. “It may be difficult to pick five, but I learned a lot by doing the same thing.”

Back from her year-long sabbatical, a time spent publishing her book, Ann has plunged into her second work while still finding the time to promote the first one. She manages to simultaneously write new material and present workshops requiring airline and hotel reservations.

Will I even get to the editing stage?

Ann flashed a wide grin. “Just spread the chapters all around on the floor like I did. You’ll figure it out.”

She had a point. I earned my Masters in Library Science in a maelstrom, broadcasting my handwritten notes, rough drafts, markers, and pens upon a wide table in the library. The debris always managed to write itself. But writing memoir was different.

I imagined a hurricane of papers scattered haphazardly on my already cluttered writing room floor. I pouted and replied, “Well, I’ve put all 27 chapters in 3-ring binders.”

Wayne’s timer trilled, and everyone folded up their notes on my work and passed them to me.

Wayne smiled, “Good work, Kim. Karen? You’re on.”

A masterful weaver of imagery, Karen often apologizes for not producing enough. Yet her book is organically forming itself.

“I didn’t get much done,“ she confessed, as I unfolded her 2000-word entry of the week and contemplated my commentary next to hot sauce stains that I’d added at lunch earlier in the day: “Brilliant as always! You’ve accomplished so much!”

Enjoying a mini-sabbatical herself, the soon-to-be online published Hana checked in through Wayne. We learned that while she drove her son to a soccer tournament, her characters frolicked in her mind, concocting the next plot twist.

Wayne wrapped it up. “See y’all next month! Do good work!”

Flanked by my fellow writers, I stumbled toward my Subaru, noticing one benevolent star at the far end of the plum-hued sky. It was a hopeful sign.

As soon as I pulled into the carport, I made a beeline for my basement writing room.

I’ll start tonight!

It wouldn’t take long for my chapters to come together and form an embryonic entity, the way primordial organs adjoin in utero. By July, there’d be a memoir, a literary fetus. At group, everyone would coo, “Look! You can see all of its parts, and there’s a cute little ending. How adorable!”

Still warm from group, I hole-punched the group’s notated papers and snapped them into Binder 2.

Better start fresh in the morning.

FullSizeRender 9That was a month ago.

I’ve gotten a lot done over break, but I haven’t touched my memoir.

First, Dave and I spent four days with our son at his future college. Exuberant student representatives plied us with window decals, plastic coffee cups, T-shirts, and brochures. Time had to be spent to sift through it all.

Next, I succumbed to my thrift store addiction. Rather than heed Wayne’s words, I made things from purchased wooden boxes, bric-a brac, knick-knacks and picture frames. Whenever I’d sit down at my writing table, my creative brain focused on crafting.

Hmm. If I remove the glass from that picture frame and put it inside that wooden box, I could make a nifty case for my clarinet reeds.

The hours ebbed into lost time, yielding unique folk-art masterpieces and charming light boxes.  My writing room is ablaze.

I did work on my memoir just a bit. One day I cleared a place at my long folding table, and I skimmed a few chapters from Volume 1. Jotting down the main characters, setting, plot, and themes onto index cards, I realized that some of my work belonged in the “reject” folder.

The next day, I slammed volume 2 onto the table with a thud. I froze. I fell asleep.

Hours dribbled into days until I had less than 72 hours left.

Volume 2 just sat there—a Stonehenge monolith—impenetrable, looming and impossible. Rather than turn to another craft project for diversion, I realized that worry and grief work just as well.  I was seriously nutting up.

Last Friday evening with three days left on the break, my husband and son found me plopped on the couch, as intractable as my binders.The Chamberlains, photo by Tom Marnell

“Do you want to come with us to a show in Marietta?”

“You guys go and have a good time. I’m going to work on my writing.”

I listened to the truck pull out of the driveway and reached for my son’s gaming remote. I turned on the TV and scrolled down to You Tube.

In the search bar, I typed in “The Illuminati and UFOs.”

Five more minutes and I’ll go down to the basement.

I scuttled deeper into the sofa.

Wow, I didn’t know that ex-Presidents are working for some new world order!

The television droned on. I dozed off then jolted awake to fuzzy images of naked billionaires sacrificing goats at secret rituals deep in the California woods.

Goosebumps erupted on my arms as a male voice warned, “Wake up, people! The signs are all around us!”

The weekend vanished with only hours left.

I heard Wayne’s voice in my head, “You have four weeks…”

Forget about the chapters. Write. Just Write.

That’s what I did.

Now at the deadline’s midnight hour, I finished this and emailed it to the group. On Thursday, they’ll tell me they still have faith in me. Then on Friday, I’ll fling twenty-seven chapters onto my writing room floor and see what happens.

Photos 1 and 2 courtesy of Kim and David Chamberlain.  Photo of the Chamberlains by Tom Marnell, mineeyeshavescene.com.

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