Writing Memoirs: Biography Fiction


Writing Memoirs: Biography Fiction

 Natalie Bright

Award winning author Jan Sikes spoke to the Texas High Plains Writers group in November about her biographical fiction series detailing life with her extremely talented husband, country singer Rick Sikes. The events are true; but to be able to share these immensely personal details, she tells the stories in third person and replaced real names with fictional names. To be able to tell the story, she fictionalized dialogue into scenes that she didn’t witness first-hand.  She noted that the series is semiautobiographical told in a fiction format, 90% true and 10% fiction.

This method poses a unique way to write your family stories, and because Jan wanted total control of the material she self-published.

Self-Publishing Key Points

Jan stressed the importance of having a “good quality piece of writing before you release it.” That means hiring a professional editor. True, there are more opportunities for writers than ever before, but self-publishing has a bad rep because of the less than quality material that has flooded the eBook market place. Constructive feedback is very important.

Have a publishing imprint and purchase an ISBN number. The $5 package from CreateSpace is limited as to where your book can go. It will only be available on Amazon.

Promotion

Jan reminded us that whether you’ve gone with traditional or self-published, writes must promote themselves. Traditional publishers have very limited marketing funds, and understandable those dollars are targeted for a small group of top selling authors. Mid-list authors, whether traditional or indie publishes, have to do their own promotion. For her particular series, Jan has seen the most success through one-on-one interaction with readers. She participates in community events and book festivals throughout the year.

For indie authors, there are numerous organizations that support and assist with promotion. Jan recommended the Texas Association of Authors, Independent Authors Network, and the Historical Novel Association.

Thinking About Theme for your Story

The success of this series and her unique writing style is in part because of a no secrets left unturned approach. Remember that old saying, “write like your momma’s passed on and will never read your story”? This is real life at its darkest. The main characters take a downward spiral into drugs, motorcycle gangs, Texas honky-tonks, and federal prison. Despite the events in life and insurmountable odds, what emerges from the chaos is a love story with music being the salvation. Rick built the first sound studio inside the walls of Leavenworth and was able to smuggle his songs out to his family and fans.

While each book can stand alone as a fascinating read, I started with the second book in the series, The Convict and The Rose, which won a first place award for biography fiction from the Texas Association of Authors. Music CD’s are also available.

  nataliebright.com 

WRITING CONTESTS BENEFITS


Writing Contests Benefits

By Rory C. Keel

It cost money; why should I enter? What benefit will a contest be for my writing and me? I’m not good enough so I’ll never win.

Those who are looking at entering writing contests frequently express these statements and questions. I know, I’ve asked most of them myself.

Having entered my share of writing contests, let me offer some positive benefits from my personal experience.

  1. Training for working with deadlines – Writing contests give a writer the opportunity to work under a deadline. Most contests will have strict dates for submitting an entry. This is good conditioning for working with agents, editors, and publishers who will place deadlines on your writing.
  2. Provides automatic platform – A platform is your audience, those who will read your writing. While your mother and “BFF” will gladly volunteer readership, contest judges can provide you with an unbiased and anonymous audience for your writing. And who knows, the judge may be an agent, editor or publisher.
  3. Gain feedback – One of the most valuable benefits of a writing contest is the critique. To have the judge’s comments noting any mistakes, suggestions for improvement and yes, even praise can help improve your writing.
  4. Build your portfolio – Writing contests are a perfect why to build your portfolio. When seeking an agent or publisher, a few writing clips, accomplishments and certificates may be the edge you need to sell the deal.
  5. Increase your confidence – Entering a contest gives a writer the opportunity to gain confidence in their writing. Have you ever written something only to tear it up or hide it in a drawer? Have you ever said, “I could never write good enough to be published!” A writing contest provides an inexpensive way to test the waters of being an author.
  6. Avoid scam contests – As with most everything, there are people who take advantage of others. Before entering a contest, research the person or organization holding the contest and make sure they are legitimate. There are a few contests that are no more than book selling scams. When your entry wins, it is accepted for publication in an anthology, with all of the other first place winners, then you must pay an outrageous price to obtain a copy. Winningwriters.com lists a few of these writing contests to avoid.To help find your next contest check out www.placesforwriters.com or www.fundsforwriters.com

7 Ways to Avoid Lawsuits in Writing


7 Ways to Avoid Lawsuits in Writing

By Rory C. Keel

 

When writing a biography, autobiography or memoir writers often worry about being sued for libel, slander or defamation. And since we don’t live life stranded on an island, our stories often include writing about other people that surround us. The truth is anyone can sue for anything even if it’s not justified. This can cost you, the writer, money.

Here are 7 ways to lessen your chances of a lawsuit.

  1. Don’t write about shady doctors and lawyers
  2. Write the truth about events, actions and conversations. Don’t exaggerate or lie except to change the identity of an individual.
  3. When disguising someone’s identity, make it difficult for someone to guess the individual.
  4. Don’t write about ex-lovers for revenge.
  5. Don’t accuse someone of a criminal act unless he or she has already been convicted. Otherwise only describe actual behavior and words, things that you can verify that were done or said in your presence. Remind your reader that this is your recollection and not a statement of fact.
  6. Don’t attribute a mental or physical disease to someone without having evidence that you can prove. Instead dramatize the person’s actual behavior from your point of view.
  7. Don’t accuse someone of being incompetent or dishonest in his or her job, a member of a cult or being a prostitute. Your best bet is to show their behavior as you observed them and describe your feelings assuring the reader of your opinion.

With these helpful hints, you can still have your First Amendment rights of free speech and confidence to write your stories with less chance of being sued.

Roryckeel.com

Memoir Exercise


Memoir Exercise

By Rory C. Keel 

If you write memoir, here’s one exercise that will jog your memory and help you start your writing.

Answer each of the following questions in one paragraph or less.

1. Describe the story the world you grew up in told you that you should become?

What message did your parents, class, society or environment in which you grew up suggest you should be?

2. What was the story of who you should become that you told yourself?

What dream did you have for yourself?

3. What is the story life has told you now, of who you are?

Where are you at in life at this stage?

Now compare your answers to all three questions, is who you are today, the same as what you were told you would be?

Using these questions, you can build a framework to develop the story of your life.

Roryckeel.com

Memoir Exercise


Memoir Exercise

By Rory C. Keel 

If you write memoir, here’s one exercise that will jog your memory and help you start your writing.

Answer each of the following questions in one paragraph or less.

1. Describe the story the world you grew up in told you that you should become?

What message did your parents, class, society or environment in which you grew up suggest you should be?

2. What was the story of who you should become that you told yourself?

 

What dream did you have for yourself?

3. What is the story life has told you now, of who you are?

Where are you at in life at this stage?

Now compare your answers to all three questions, is who you are today, the same as what you were told you would be?

Using these questions, you can build a framework to develop the story of your life.

Roryckeel.com

WRITING CONTESTS BENEFITS


Announcing

2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest

Now open for entries

 For one low entry fee you can now enter multiple categories

Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in EVERY category.

Go to:

www.Panhandleprowriters.org

Entry rules, procedures and format regulations are listed on the FiW Writing Contest page

Download FiW entry Application and mail along with your entry.

Entry fees can be check or Money order, or pay online using “Payments” on the PPW website.

Sponsored by the Panhandle Professional Writers

Writing Contests Benefits

By Rory C. Keel

It cost money; why should I enter? What benefit will a contest be for my writing and me? I’m not good enough so I’ll never win.

Those who are looking at entering writing contests frequently express these statements and questions. I know, I’ve asked most of them myself.

Having entered my share of writing contests, let me offer some positive benefits from my personal experience.

  1. Training for working with deadlines – Writing contests give a writer the opportunity to work under a deadline. Most contests will have strict dates for submitting an entry. This is good conditioning for working with agents, editors, and publishers who will place deadlines on your writing.
  2. Provides automatic platform – A platform is your audience, those who will read your writing. While your mother and “BFF” will gladly volunteer readership, contest judges can provide you with an unbiased and anonymous audience for your writing. And who knows, the judge may be an agent, editor or publisher.
  3. Gain feedback – One of the most valuable benefits of a writing contest is the critique. To have the judge’s comments noting any mistakes, suggestions for improvement and yes, even praise can help improve your writing.
  4. Build your portfolio – Writing contests are a perfect why to build your portfolio. When seeking an agent or publisher, a few writing clips, accomplishments and certificates may be the edge you need to sell the deal.
  5. Increase your confidence – Entering a contest gives a writer the opportunity to gain confidence in their writing. Have you ever written something only to tear it up or hide it in a drawer? Have you ever said, “I could never write good enough to be published!” A writing contest provides an inexpensive way to test the waters of being an author.
  6. Avoid scam contests – As with most everything, there are people who take advantage of others. Before entering a contest, research the person or organization holding the contest and make sure they are legitimate. There are a few contests that are no more than book selling scams. When your entry wins, it is accepted for publication in an anthology, with all of the other first place winners, then you must pay an outrageous price to obtain a copy. Winningwriters.com lists a few of these writing contests to avoid. To help find your next contest check out www.placesforwriters.com or www.fundsforwriters.com

2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest


Announcing

2013 Frontiers in Writing Contest

Now open for entries 

 For one low entry fee you can now enter multiple categories

Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in EVERY category.

Go to:

www.Panhandleprowriters.org

Entry rules, procedures and format regulations are listed on the FiW Writing Contest page

Download FiW entry Application and mail along with your entry.

Entry fees can be check or Money order, or pay online using “Payments” on the PPW website.

Sponsored by the Panhandle Professional Writers

I NEVER KNEW


I Never Knew

When we packed up Mom’s belongings, my sisters and I did not take time to read through all the papers in her cedar chest. We looked for the necessary documents and dumped the rest in a box. I started sorting the files one winter afternoon. Mom kept every transfer order, citation, and shipping inventory from Dad’s service career beginning in 1939 when he entered the Civilian Conservation Corps to his retirement from the Air Force in 1969. I learned things about my father.  He served in two branches of the military; the Army Air Corps in World War II and then was recalled to the newly formed Air Force during the Korean War. He was an expert marksman. His fitness reports indicated he was respected by his peers and his superiors.

I enjoyed these revelations. They brought me closer to my dad, but I treasure his green notebook. You see, I met my grandfather that day. Frank Brown died in 1941; six years before my parents married and ten years prior to my birth. But when I read Dad’s handwritten stories, I met a wise, simple man who loved his family. I also learned where Dad got some of his homespun declarations like, “You will finish high school even if I have to take you to class and bounce you on my knee.”  I’m thankful we have this notebook.

Journaling and maintaining family records might seem frivolous, but they have a purpose. For example, they validate history. Think back to your history classes. How many times was a journal or set of letters cited to verify the facts surrounding an event? Mrs. Dickinson’s writings detailed the battle of the Alamo. Letters from the American West to families back East told of the hardships involved in settling the frontier. Homemakers’ recipes spoke of canning vegetables and making jams and jellies to feed the family during the winter months. These personal glimpses of history are priceless as they involve the common man and not just the historically famous names.

While I don’t believe it necessary to record putting the carrots in the Crockpot, I do suggest recording special events for posterity. I wish I had listened when my parents and grandparents spoke of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl days. I further wish I had recorded the stories. My nieces and nephews will never hear about the events from the viewpoint of a family member. There is nothing to pass on to them so that they will know their great-grand parents and great, great-grandparents contributions to history. My father was wiser than I. After all, I got to meet my grandfather seventy years after he died.

Cait Collins

WELCOME


Welcome –  Nandy Ekle

Homer, in Book I of The Odyssey:

“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns

driven time and again off course, once he had plundered

the hallowed heights of Troy.” (Robert Fagles translation, 1996)

Ideas

As a writer one question I hear all the time is, “Where do you get your ideas?” The theme of my part in this blog is to find all the writing ideas hiding in plain sight all around us. Think of those old hidden picture puzzles and all the objects hiding in the tree bark and grass blades, a face hiding in the wrinkles of a tablecloth, and the shadows which hide the most interesting pictures of all.  Finding ideas to write about is like that. You just have to sharpen your eyes and think outside of the norm.

Traveling Muse

Some of my writer friends and I have often complained and mourned during the dry times when our muses seem to leave us in the middle of a project without so much as a so-long, see you later. Ignoring the irony of the situation, we have actually written some very poetic and profound articles about life during a muse’s vacation. During these times, I occasionally receive extremely coded messages from my muse, but must wait for her reappearance to know what to do with it. This idea of a traveling muse brought the title for my part in this blog, and I am making the pact to stick with the theme.

Who am I?

My name is Nandy Ekle and I love to write horror, suspense, paranormal and humor, but I have also been known to dabble in a little fantasy and memoir.

Join Me

So join me in searching the postcards sent from the muse to find the cleverly hidden objects in her words.

Click on the author page above to connect with Nandy.