Conversations: 6/30/2017

DON’T FORGET AUTOBIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS!

Just yesterday, a neighbor asked me a few questions about the “easy way” to pull the time-frames together as he writes his Memoir. Then he wondered: “Is a memoir the same as an autobiography?”

There was a time in my early writing career when these two categories were quite different, the memoir focusing on one brief period of time in someone’s life and the autobiography creating as complete a picture (from birth to present time) of a living person’s whole life. However, today, all the major bookstores I visit combine these two genres in one area: Autobiographies. So does Amazon, even to the point of blurring the lines between all three classifications (biographies, autobiographies and memoirs).

However, as I did my research for this month’s blogs, I came across an interesting quote from the famous writer Gore Vidal who wrote two personal memoirs: “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.” I like the clarity of that definition, and plan to use it when talking with future clients. So it is that I’ve given myself a brief bullet point outline and will share it with you today.

The Memoir:

  • Written in 1st person—the “I did this” perspective.
  • Uses less formal language/word choices.
  • Focuses on one (or two) main events/times in a person’s life, but can include birth date and short paragraphs of early memories.
  • Speaks from the more emotional perspective—how they felt when events occurred.
  • Dates/places may not be exact, such as: I was about 33 when I began this career.

The Autobiography:

  • Although “written by” the individual person(s), it often requires the assistance of a “collaborative writer.” Superb example: Having Our Say by Sarah and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Amazon lists this as a biography when it is clearly an autobiography. Grrr)
  • Offers their life history from birth to present day.
  • Written with detailed chronology facts of personal, political and/or world events, places, and the people they met and interacted with along the way.
  • Authors must also consider who they are writing this book for—their audience—and what aspect of their life is most useful to those Readers.

When I was teaching in a school setting (versus my workshops today), I loved to lunch with the teachers of World History and American History. These inspired people were always telling me about the latest autobiography (or biography) they’d discovered. Of course, the first autobiography they assign to students is Ann Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl. “These books not only reveal historic events,” one teacher told me, “they demonstrate the strength people have to survive great tribulations in life which shows our students that they, too, can survive life’s challenges.”

the diary of anne frank

SO…have you added a bunch of books to your resources bookshelves this month? I hope you’ve selected a few. The individuals you’ll be reading about will, indeed, enlighten you and the author’s writing techniques will be instructive, too. Take time to talk with your local librarian about these genres and the people (subjects) who might be most interesting to you—who have lived in a time period you’re intrigued by or succeeded in a career that is appealing to you.

Then…once you’re comfortable with the flow of these books, look around for potential clients. I’ve worked with a ninety-year-old who could tell me his life stories all day long and barely need a break for lunch. And, I’ve worked with a gentleman who gave me several pages he started writing “years ago,” then gave me additional outline points, but passed away before we could meet again. Yes, being the “writing assistant” to people seeking help with these genre categories of writing can be an emotional rollercoaster. Yet, I wouldn’t trade those days/months for anything. My writing skills and abilities have been sharpened by the experiences and so will yours. ⚓︎

 


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations: 6/23/2017

WRITE THEIR STORIES:

Developing the Biography, Part IV

STUDY your favorite biographies! These authors have walked this path before us and have much to teach us. Plus, their works are useful illustrations of both the art of biography and adjusted techniques of storytelling. Just a few days ago I received a marvelous little book on the life of Jules Verne. It is a library hardcover edition for “young readers” age eight to twelve. It is, for me, a very concise outline of how to write a biography—one that is quickly accessible and understandable for any age or writing community interested in writing biographies. The title is: Who Was Jules Verne? by James Buckley Jr. (There is a whole series that start with WHO WAS. I’m certain you’ll find one or more to enjoy.)

However, don’t forget the biography classics. Included in my collection is author Jean Fagan Yellin’s narrative biography of Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. For writers who wish to develop realism in their novels about the early history of America, or any biography attached to this time period, this book is essential reading. Yellin is admired for her “groundbreaking scholarship” in the writing of this book because it “restores a life whose sorrows and triumphs reflect the history of the nineteenth century.” Can you even imagine hearing your words acclaimed as bringing someone’s life back to life?

Although the majority of the biographies/memoirs that I may write will, most likely, never reach the acclaim that this book has, I approach the writing of it as if it will—as if this person is the most important person on the planet.

One of my all-time favorite writers is C. S. Lewis and until recently there has been only one highly acclaimed biography of his life: JACK: A life of C. S. Lewis by George Sayer. Within these pages are found instructive information nuggets about writing on many levels. However, recently, a new book has arrived on the scene titled: C. S. Lewis and the Art of Writing by Corey Latta. It is already being heralded as “…a treasure trove of eminently practical advice for the aspiring writer, and fills readers with a poignant sense of the nobility of the writing vocation.” It is also shorter than any of the others I’ve seen about Lewis! I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy!

biography of john carey muriel kinney and carol kinney grimes

Each of the four books mentioned above will offer writers unique insights to build our own biography writing skills. And yet, I offer you one more to bring into your resources collection. The title is: The Biography of John Carey by Muriel Kinney and Carol Kinney Grimes. These ladies became passionate about their family ancestry—the heritage they are carrying forward. Because they wanted to honor their grandfather, they’ve written the story of one of America’s pioneers and, in doing so, offer readers detailed history lessons we’d never find in a textbook.

This is what I love about well written biographies—the blend of storytelling and well-researched historic facts. This is how a whole lot of other Readers also learn history—as they take our books home!

What I hope you’ll take away with you today is that Biography writing IS FUN! Writing within this one genre we can enjoy the writing techniques of other genres such as: children/young adult books, American (or any country’s) ancient to current history, books on “the writing life,” and personal genealogy. Who is the person who has captured your interests? What questions would you ask them if you stepped into a Starbucks and saw them sitting there? Make a list of people and questions today! Contact your local librarian to find out what has already been written about that person. Your approach to their story will be distinctive. It needs to be written and published! ⚓︎

 


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

Conversations: 6/9/2017

WRITE THEIR STORIES:

Developing the Biography, Part II

WHEN I became interested in writing Biographies (sometimes called Memoirs) I had no idea how to find a client who wanted their stories told. So I filed away the best idea resources I’d collected for that genre and got busy writing other projects. About a year later I received a phone call from the editor of a small newspaper. I’d sent a brief “thank you” note to her applauding their cover story about a local woman linotype operator and how a neighbor was helping her write a book about her life. This editor informed me that my note would appear in their “Letters to the Editor” column the following month. She would also be including my business website and contact information because “we need more people like you who will help folks write their life histories.” WOW! Such a nice surprise; it still warms my heart when I recall the exchange.

That one contact led to eleven (11) queries. Although only one became an actual client that year, I am forever grateful for being nudged into the biography-autobiography-memoir writing business. Until you’ve experienced it yourself, it is difficult to understand the depth of joy and satisfaction it brings to the “writing assistant.” And, that is what we become: writing coach and editor, research assistant, creative storyteller, hand-holder and friend/brother/sister/counselor.

SO…how do you set yourself up as a writer of biographies?

I much prefer the personal contact avenues—as you might guess from the example above. However, if you’ve considered writing “for” other people, you’ve probably created a website and may be a member of one or more Facebook writing communities. Other ideas are:

  • Research FREELANCE WRITING sites where you can submit your resume for FREE.
  • Consider your own interests while asking yourself “What makes a person famous enough to make the effort to write a biography?” Do you have biographies on your bookshelf? I have several biographies of authors I admire. Is there an author you admire who doesn’t have a biography (or autobiography) out in the world yet? Might be worth it to contact them.
  • Look at a variety of Literary Agencies that specialize in biographies (or other genres you enjoy). If you’ve ever talked with an agent, you already have an idea how many queries they receive from people who need help. Send them your resume with an excellent cover letter.
  • Check out your favorite traditional and self-publishers and query them about becoming part of their ghostwriting team. You will need to read every word in their “contractor agreements” then decide for yourself if that is what you want. They are an excellent resource because people who need professional writing assistance will contact their favorite publisher for advice.

IF you are just beginning to test the waters of biography writing, you may need that surprise one-on-one meeting that leads to signing a client. Someone recently mentioned to me that they found their first biography client in a college library. The peaceful and intellectually stimulating environment allowed her to become acquainted with several staff librarians and one of them handed her the contact information for someone “needing help to write their grandfather’s biography.”

For me, biography/memoir writing is a very personal experience. It is the respect we have for the individuals we write for that makes the pages come alive. Our lives will be quite different than those we’re writing about and it’s critically important not to “put a modern-day spin” on what they’re sharing. Through this process we become better writers and—I believe—better human beings. As you connect with each new biography client, may the leather of their shoes and the ground along their path bless you with new insights. ⚓︎

writing poetry in the woods, national poetry month 2016


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

2009 LONDON BOOK FESTIVAL AWARDS Calling for SELF-PUBLISHED ENTRIES

London Book Festival Awards calls for unique self-published book entries:

The 2009 London Book Festival will hold its annual awards program celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the international publishing community on January 21, 2010 at the city’s famed Grosvenor House. The awards ceremony is open to competition entrants and invited guests of the festival.

The awards ceremony is open to competition entrants and invited guests of the festival. The 2009 London Book Festival will consider books in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Italian in the competition. The works may be published, self-published or independent publisher non-fiction, fiction, children’s books, poetry, art/photgraphy, teenage, how-to, audio/spoken word, comics/graphic novels, e-books, wild card (anything goes!), science fiction, romance and biography/autobiographical works.

A panel of judges will determine the winners based on the following criteria:

1) The story-telling ability of the author;
2) The potential of the work to win wider recognition from the international publishing community.

Our grand prize for the 2009 London Book Festival Author of the Year is $1500 and a flight from your city of entry to London OR Los Angeles – your choice!

ENTRIES: Please classify your book and enter it in the following categories. Multiple entries must be accompanied by a separate fee for each book.

1.General Non-fiction
2. General Fiction
3. Children’s books
4. E-books
5. Comics/graphic novels
6. Wild Card
7. Teenage
8. Science fiction
9. Romance
10. Biography/Autobiography
11. Audio/spoken word
12. How-To
13. Poetry
14. Art/Photography

FESTIVAL RULES: London Book Festival submissions cannot be returned. Each entry must contain a print-out of the official entry form, including your e-mail address and contact telephone number. All shipping and handling costs must be borne by entrants.

NOTIFICATION AND DEADLINES: We will notify each entry of the receipt of their package via e-mail and will announce the winning entries at the LondonBookFestival.com web site.

Deadline submissions in each category must be postmarked by the close of business on November 25, 2009. Winners in each category will be notified by e-mail and the results posted on the site. Please note that judges read and consider submissions on an ongoing basis, comparing early entries with later submissions.

TO ENTER: Entry forms are available online at http://londonbookfestival.com or may be faxed/e-mailed to you by calling our office at 323-665-8080. Applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable entry fee via check, money order, credit card payment or PayPal online payment of $50 in U.S. dollars for each submission. Multiple submissions are permitted but each entry must be accompanied by a separate form and entry fee. Entry fee checks should be made payable to JM Northern Media LLC.

Entry packages should include one copy of the book; a copy of your official entry form; the entry fee or receipt from online payment; and any relevant marketing materials, i.e., press kits or other material that illuminates the background of your book. Entries should be mailed to:

JM Northern Media LLC
The London Book Festival
7095 Hollywood Blvd. Suite 864
Hollywood, CA 90028, USA

AWARDS: The London Book Festival selection committee reserves the right to determine the eligibility of any project.

The London Book Festival is produced by JM Northern Media LLC, producers of the Hollywood Book Festival, New York Book Festival and DIY Book Festival. We are sponsored by the Larimar St. Croix Writers Colony, eDivvy, Westside Websites and Shopanista