Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

What You Can Learn From Olivia de Havilland

We all want to own our legacies, but we’re not fully in control of that. The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it would not consider 102-year-old “Gone With the Wind” actress Olivia de Havilland’s claim that a TV show needed her permission to present her likeness and character. The FX miniseries “Feud: Bette and Joan,” was based on the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In it, Catherine Zeta-Jones portrayed de Havilland as somewhat of a gossip, which the elder actress found offensive. The Supreme Court let stand a California appeals court’s decision that de Havilland had no say in how she was depicted in art. The decision read in part: “Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star—‘a living legend’—or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history. Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator’s portrayal of actual people.”

You’re probably not famous, and you most likely will not find yourself portrayed as a character in a movie or TV show. But you still could be mentioned in someone’s memoir. Right now, someone who knows you could be writing up an account of your actions. Maybe in that person’s eyes you were the unfair boss, nerdy cousin or mean girl in high school, while you recall a completely different dynamic to the relationship between the two of you. Go to any of the memoir discussions on social media, and a common question is: Should I change the names of the people I include in my memoir? The thing is that changing the name doesn’t necessarily hide the identity. People who know the author are likely to recognize the person whether the name is real or not.

Sometimes these authors will approach the people and ask whether they mind being included in the memoir. If you’re approached, you can always plead with the author not to include you. That may work, or it may not. Sometimes all the author is doing is giving you a little advance notice, but the mention is a done deal. So what can you do? Write your own story. Own your truth. Provide the narrative of your life as you recall it. That way, you’ll at least have your version and, unlike Olivia de Havilland, won’t have to ask the Supreme Court to decide whether you’re a gossip or just a really open person.

Memoir Watch for June 2018

One way to motivate yourself while you’re writing your own memoir is to read other people’s memoirs. At Write My Memoirs we like to keep you up to date on the upcoming autobiographies that will be available each season. Here are a few of the memoirs coming out in June alone. Follow us on Twitter for more!

Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home
Natalie Goldberg
Publication date: June 5
A potentially fatal form of cancer forces the author, a writing teacher and Zen enthusiast, to take a new approach to living and dying.

My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie
Todd Fisher
Publication date: June 5
Losing his mother, Debbie Reynolds, and sister, Carrie Fisher, just a day apart inspired Todd Fisher to share his family’s personal stories and photos.

Sick: A Memoir
Porochista Khakpour
Publication date: June 5
As Lyme Disease gains broader awareness, author Porochista Khakpour’s account of her own struggle with the condition is timely.

Hunger
Roxane Gay
Publication date: June 19
Prolific writer Roxane Gay looks at body image issues in the aftermath of her weight loss surgery.

Once Upon a Farm
Rory Feek
Publication date: June 19
The surviving half of a country music duo, the author chronicles his life with his young daughter in the two years since the death of his wife and singing partner, Joey Feek.

Room to Dream
David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
Publication date: June 19
Interviews with friends, family members and colleagues give director David Lynch’s memoir a biographical spin as he explores his creative projects and life’s journey.

Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds
Nick Foles
Publication date: June 26
The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback reveals how he miraculously came back from a torn ACL to lead his team to Super Bowl glory.

 

Think You’re Funny? Write a Memoir

Think You’re Funny? Write a Memoir
Everybody’s a comedian, right? If you’re witty and thinking about writing a funny book, you might want to start with a memoir. New writers are always advised to write about “something you know.” What do you know better than your own life? And if you’re naturally funny, you’ve no doubt been picking up comedy material for decades about your relatives, your pets, school, your workplace, colleagues, friends and the typical, yet absurd, situations in which we all find ourselves. Write out all of those stories, one by one, and soon you will have the chapters to your humorous memoir.
Coming from the opposite direction, you may start out to write an ordinary memoir and discover that through your writer’s eye everything comes out funny. Even though you document your life’s dry facts and chronicle some unpleasant milestones such as parents’ deaths, you may find that what you recall best are the amusing, often heartwarming anecdotes that accompany even the saddest occasions in your life. In developing your voice as a writer, you should embrace that approach not only because it’s your natural voice, but also because humor keeps the reader engaged.
As part of your research, read some funny memoirs! There are plenty available; catch these links on Bookish.com and more on Flavorwire.com. From The Lottery author Shirley Jackson’s 1953 autobiography, Life Among the Savages, to recent memoirs of comedy icons like I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me by Joan Rivers and Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres, you will be laughing as you pick up tips for the construction and flow of a funny memoir.
http://www.bookish.com/articles/can-we-talk-recent-hilarious-memoirs-by-women?=edit1
http://flavorwire.com/281223/10-of-the-most-hilarious-memoirs-youll-ever-read

Everybody’s a comedian, right? If you’re witty and thinking about writing a funny book, you might want to start with a memoir. New writers are always advised to write about “something you know.” What do you know better than your own life? And if you’re naturally funny, you’ve no doubt been picking up comedy material for decades about your relatives, your pets, school, your workplace, colleagues, friends and the typical, yet absurd, situations in which we all find ourselves. Write out all of those stories, one by one, and soon you will have the chapters to your humorous memoir.

Coming from the opposite direction, you may start out to write an ordinary memoir and discover that through your writer’s eye everything comes out funny. Even though you document your life’s dry facts and chronicle some unpleasant milestones such as parents’ deaths, you may find that what you recall best are the amusing, often heartwarming anecdotes that accompany even the saddest occasions in your life. In developing your voice as a writer, you should embrace that approach not only because it’s your natural voice, but also because humor keeps the reader engaged.

As part of your research, read some funny memoirs! There are plenty available; catch these suggestions on Bookish.com and Flavorwire.com. From The Lottery author Shirley Jackson’s 1953 autobiography, Life Among the Savages, to recent memoirs of comedy icons like I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me by Joan Rivers and Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres, you will be laughing as you pick up tips for the construction and flow of a funny memoir.

Memoir: “Changing the Narrative”

Memoir: “Changing the Narrative”
This morning here in “Chicagoland,” as we call it, we awoke to more snow falling—no surprise there—but also to the news that our city’s own Jesse Jackson Jr. is planning to write a memoir. The announcement comes as Jackson is awaiting sentencing after he and his wife pleaded guilty to a bit of crime—filing false tax returns for Sandi, mail fraud and making false statements for Jesse Jr.—that could land Jesse in prison for up to nearly five years. Jackson also has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
An unnamed source told The Chicago Tribune that Jackson wants to write the memoir in order to “clear up his legacy” and, since “he has nothing else to do right now,” he’s “desperately trying to change the narrative of his life story.”
As I’ve noted before in blog posts, this is a common reason to write an autobiography, even for people who are not facing jail time and are not famous. It’s human nature to want to clear up and clean up your legacy by correcting the perceived “facts” of your life, justifying your behavior, explaining your intentions and, perhaps, expressing contrition for some of what you’ve done. It’s tricky, though. This type of memoir can sound whiny and be seen as making excuses or blaming other people for your bad decisions. But it also can be very satisfying. Even if you don’t change anyone’s mind, you’ve had the gratification of telling your side of your own life story.

This morning here in “Chicagoland,” as we call it, we awoke to more snow falling—no surprise there—but also to the news that our city’s fallen hero, Jesse Jackson Jr., is planning to write a memoir. The announcement comes as Jackson is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a bit of crime—conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and making false statements—that could land Jesse in prison for up to nearly five years. Jackson also has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

An unnamed source told The Chicago Tribune that Jackson wants to write the memoir in order to “clear up his legacy” and, since “he has nothing else to do right now,” he’s “desperately trying to change the narrative of his life story.”

As I’ve noted before in blog posts, this is a common reason to write an autobiography, even for people who are not facing jail time and are not famous. It’s human nature to want to clear up and clean up your legacy by correcting the perceived “facts” of your life, justifying your behavior, explaining your intentions and, perhaps, expressing contrition for some of what you’ve done. It’s tricky, though. This type of memoir can sound whiny and be seen as making excuses or blaming other people for your bad decisions. But it also can be very satisfying. Even if you don’t change anyone’s mind as you attempt to “change the narrative,” you have the gratification of telling your side of your own life story. And everyone has the right to do that.

Why We’re Drawn To Biography, Part II

Why We’re Drawn To Biography, Part II
As we discovered last week, every nonfiction best-seller list is peppered by, and sometimes dominated by, well-crafted biographies and autobiographies. The lion’s share of these life stories focus on the famous and infamous. From heads of state and war generals to rock stars and athletes, famous people fascinate us. On the dark side, we also want to know all about political assassins, dictators and Mafiosos.
Ordinary human nature is intriguing enough, but when the person rises to become a household name, we enjoy tracing the entire life. How did the person become famous? Was it a level of genius or talent—or evil—that seemed to be there from birth and would stand out no matter what? Was it the upbringing? Circumstances and luck?
We’re curious for a lot of reasons. Some people read these stories looking for a sort of playbook: what route should I take to become a U.S. president, or how can I raise my child to be the next Major League home run hitter? If the subject hails from royalty or generational wealth, the story lets us peek into a world to which we have no other access; we can live vicariously for the length of the book. We’re interested, too, in what goes on in the mind of a criminal, perhaps to make sure that we or our children are not headed in that direction.
There’s one more reason we love reading about famous people. Check back next time for that one!

As we discovered last week, every nonfiction best-seller list is peppered by, and sometimes dominated by, well-crafted biographies and autobiographies. The lion’s share of this genre focuses on the famous and infamous. From heads of state and war generals to rock stars and athletes, famous people fascinate us. On the dark side, we also want to know all about political assassins, dictators and Mafiosos.

Ordinary human nature is intriguing enough, but when the person rises to become a household name, we enjoy tracing the entire life. How did the person become famous? Was it a level of genius or talent—or evil—that seemed to be there from birth and would stand out no matter what? Was it the upbringing? Circumstances and luck?

We’re curious for a lot of reasons. Some people read these stories looking for a sort of playbook: what route should I take to become a U.S. president, or how can I raise my child to be the next Major League home run hitter? If the subject hails from royalty or generational wealth, a memoir or biography lets us peek into a world to which we have no other access; we can live vicariously for the length of the book. We’re interested, too, in what goes on in the mind of a criminal, perhaps to make sure that we or our children are not headed in that direction.

There’s one more reason we love reading about famous people. Check back next time for that one!

Why People Are Drawn To Biography, Part I

Why We’re Drawn To Biography, Part I
It’s not difficult to figure out why someone would write a memoir. People have all sorts of reasons for wanting to examine their lives, record the facts and share their memories and point of view. But what compels people to read about others’ lives? Check the New York Times best-seller list of nonfiction any week of the year. You’ll typically find that biographies and autobiographies dominate the list. People are undisputedly interested in reading real-life accounts of real lives.
Look at this week’s NYTimes list, for example, and you’ll find this list of nonfiction with the highest sales:
Killing Kennedy, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, recounting the events surrounding the 1963 Kennedy assassination.
Thomas Jefferson, by Jon Meacham, celebrating Jefferson’s skills as a practical politician.
Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, on the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln
No Easy Day, by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer, an account by a former member of the Navy SEALs of the mission that killed bin Laden.
America Again, by Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Tom Purcell et al., satirical advice on how to bring America back from the brink.
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, an Olympic runner’s story of survival as a WWII prisoner.
The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver, an analysis of predictions.
Bruce, by Peter A. Carlin, a biography of Bruce Springsteen.
Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, an autobiography by country icon Willie Nelson.
Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo, a report on families living in a Mumbai slum.
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about the author’s 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.
A Higher Call, by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander, about an encounter between an American pilot and a German pilot in the skies over 1943 Germany.
Waging Heavy Peace, a memoir by rocker Neil Young.
The Last Lion, by William Manchester and Paul Reid, a partial biography of Winston Churchill.
The Patriarch, by David Nasaw, a biography of Joseph P. Kennedy.
Quiet, by Susan Cain, a close look at the introverted personality.
Total it up, and you’ll see that 10 of the top 16 sellers are biographies or autobiographies. Check back here next week and we’ll talk about why this literary genre is so popular.

It’s not difficult to figure out why someone would write a memoir. People have all sorts of reasons for wanting to examine their lives, record the facts and share their memories and point of view. But what compels people to read about others’ lives? Check the New York Times best-seller list of nonfiction any week of the year. You’ll typically find that biographies and autobiographies dominate the list. People are undisputedly interested in reading real-life accounts of real lives.

Look at this week’s NYTimes list, for example, and you’ll find this list of nonfiction with the highest sales:

  1. Killing Kennedy, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, recounting the events surrounding the 1963 Kennedy assassination.
  2. Thomas Jefferson, by Jon Meacham, celebrating Jefferson’s skills as a practical politician.
  3. Killing Lincoln, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard, on the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
  4. No Easy Day, by Mark Owen with Kevin Maurer, an account by a former member of the Navy SEALs of the mission that killed bin Laden.
  5. America Again, by Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Tom Purcell et al., satirical advice on how to bring America back from the brink.
  6. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, an Olympic runner’s story of survival as a WWII prisoner.
  7. The Signal and the Noise, by Nate Silver, an analysis of predictions.
  8. Bruce, by Peter A. Carlin, a biography of Bruce Springsteen.
  9. Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, an autobiography by country music icon Willie Nelson.
  10. Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo, a report on families living in a Mumbai slum.
  11. Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir about the author’s 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.
  12. A Higher Call, by Adam Makos with Larry Alexander, about an encounter between an American pilot and a German pilot in the skies over 1943 Germany.
  13. Waging Heavy Peace, a memoir by rocker Neil Young.
  14. The Last Lion, by William Manchester and Paul Reid, a partial biography of Winston Churchill.
  15. The Patriarch, by David Nasaw, a biography of Joseph P. Kennedy.
  16. Quiet, by Susan Cain, a close look at the introverted personality.

Total it up, and you’ll see that 10 of the top 16 sellers are biographies or autobiographies. Check back here next week and we’ll talk about why this literary genre is so popular.

All Hail the Presidential Memoir

Hail to the Presidential Memoir
Since newly reelected Barack Obama already is a best-selling author, we can probably expect him to pen a presidential memoir when he finishes this next term. Most modern presidents do and there’s certainly a market for the first-hand presidential account. Bill Clinton’s memoir, the 900-page, unoriginally titled My Life, has sold in the neighborhood of 2.25 million copies, and sales of George W. Bush’s Decision Points are rivaling that record.
But the champion of presidential memoirs in terms of critical acclaim, you may be surprised to learn, is Ulysses S. Grant. His autobiography focuses more on the war than on his presidential years and had the advantage of Mark Twain as an editor or, some suspect, a ghostwriter. The book stands out for its humility; Grant readily admits to errors and lets hindsight guide him toward an objective evaluation of his actions. Pretty much every other president uses the memoir as a means to justify decisions, self-promote or spin the facts. An apt example is James Buchanan, who was our country’s first president to publish a memoir. And “Silent Cal”? Calvin Coolidge lived up to his nickname, penning the shortest presidential memoir at just under 250 pages. But perhaps the most “silent” was Richard Nixon, who wasn’t one to self-reflect and glossed over the Watergate scandal in his memoir.
Not to be left out, we may see Michelle Obama write her own account of White House life. Both Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford published autobiographies that outsold their husbands’ memoirs, while Hilary Clinton’s Living History has topped $10 million in sales. Time will tell.

Since newly reelected Barack Obama already is a best-selling author, we can probably expect him to pen a presidential memoir when he finishes this next term. Most modern presidents do, and there’s certainly a market for the first-hand presidential account. Bill Clinton’s memoir, the 900-page, less-than-originally titled My Life, has sold in the neighborhood of 2.25 million copies, and sales of George W. Bush’s Decision Points are rivaling that record.

But the champion of presidential memoirs in terms of critical acclaim, you may be surprised to learn, is Ulysses S. Grant. His autobiography focuses more on the war than on his presidential years and had the advantage of Mark Twain as an editor or, some suspect, a ghostwriter. The book stands out for its humility; Grant readily admits to errors and lets hindsight guide him toward an objective evaluation of his actions. Pretty much every other president uses the memoir as a means to justify decisions, self-promote or spin the facts. An apt example is James Buchanan, who was our country’s first president to publish a memoir. And “Silent Cal”? Calvin Coolidge lived up to his nickname, penning the shortest presidential memoir at just under 250 pages. But perhaps the most “silent” was Richard Nixon, who wasn’t one to self-reflect and glossed over the Watergate scandal in his memoir.

Not to be left out, we may see Michelle Obama write her own account of White House life. Both Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford published autobiographies that outsold their husbands’ memoirs, while Hilary Clinton’s Living History has topped $10 million in sales. Time will tell; it always does.

Be Glad You’re Not Famous

Be Glad You’re Not Famous
Now that the Arnold Schwarzegger memoir, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, has hit bookshelves, I’ve been watching A. Schwarz on various talk shows as what the New York Times calls his “apology tour” continues. Sooner or later the interviewer asks Arnold a question that he doesn’t address in his memoir, and the “tell-all” is exposed as a “tell what you feel like telling.”
The book covers the love child who surfaced, which is the major reason Maria Shriver left their marriage. But interviewers demand more. They want him to discuss his current relationship with the son who was born from it. They ask him to expound upon rumors of other cheating instances. Citing consideration for his family’s feelings, he declines to provide those juicy bits. I don’t really have a problem with that. The success of any movie or political career—and Arnold has had both—rests upon the person’s appeal to the public. If his fan base weakens, he’ll know that people didn’t care for his approach to sharing only what suited him.
This all made me think about you, our members at Write My Memoirs. In all likelihood, your memoir is intended only for family friends. You will not be asked to go on Jay Leno’s show, and bloggers won’t berate you for omitting details or bending facts to suit yourself. With your memoir, you have free rein to fashion it however you please, and it will be received warmly. Aren’t you glad you’re not a celebrity?

Now that the Arnold Schwarzegger memoir, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, has hit bookshelves, I’ve been watching A. Schwarz on various talk shows as what the New York Times calls his “apology tour” continues. Sooner or later the interviewer asks Arnold a question that he doesn’t address in his memoir, and the “tell-all” is exposed as a “tell what you feel like telling.”

The book covers the love child who surfaced, which is the major reason Maria Shriver left their marriage. But interviewers demand more. They want him to discuss his current relationship with the son who was born from it. They ask him to expound upon rumors of other cheating instances. Citing consideration for his family’s feelings, he declines to provide those juicy bits. I don’t really have a problem with that. The success of any movie or political career—and Arnold has had both—rests upon the person’s appeal to the public. If his fan base weakens, he’ll know that people didn’t care for his approach to sharing only what suited him.

This all made me think about you, our members at Write My Memoirs. In all likelihood, your memoir is intended only for family and friends. You will not be asked to go on Jay Leno’s show, and bloggers won’t berate you for omitting details or bending facts to suit yourself. With your memoir, you have free rein to fashion it however you please, and it will be received warmly. Aren’t you glad you’re not a celebrity?

Memoir as Mea Culpa

Memoir as Mea Culpa
Lance Armstrong’s recent announcement that he will give up his medals rather than formally fight the doping allegations has me wondering whether we’ll see a Lance Armstrong memoir in the future. And if we do, will it be an attempt to exonerate himself by telling his side of the story? Or will it be a “mea culpa” apology and admission of lying?
We see both types of memoirs rolling off the presses. Certainly people use a memoir to try to gain sympathy and deny rumors. There are reports that former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is currently writing a memoir from prison, presumably to claim he was falsely convicted of child molestation. However, Olympic runner Marion Jones admits doping and apologizes profusely in her memoir, On the Right Track. And in Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Jose Canseco finds a middle ground, detailing the use of steroids in major league baseball but offering more of an explanation than a true apology.
Most people who write an autobiography attempt to present themselves in a positive light. But some, like Jones, put all of the unflattering truth out there in a way to take accountability so they can start fresh. Perhaps your story falls into one of these categories. Whether you want to “get it off your chest” and accept blame for your worst actions, or you intend to defiantly deny accusations of wrongdoing, a memoir is a good place to start. Then people hear it “from the horse’s mouth.”
http://www.amazon.com/Right-Track-Downfall-Forgiveness-Strength/dp/B006W41A7U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1346160767&sr=1-1&keywords=marion+jones+on+the+right+track
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Lance Armstrong’s recent announcement that he will give up his medals rather than formally fight the doping allegations has me wondering whether we’ll see a Lance Armstrong memoir in the future. And if we do, will it be an attempt to exonerate himself by telling his side of the story? Or will it be a “mea culpa” apology and admission of lying?

We see both types of memoirs rolling off the presses. Certainly people use a memoir to try to gain sympathy and deny rumors. There are reports that former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky is currently writing a memoir from prison, presumably to claim he was falsely convicted of child molestation. However, Olympic runner Marion Jones admits doping and apologizes profusely in her memoir, On the Right Track: From Olympic Downfall to Finding Forgiveness and the Strength to Overcome and Succeed. And in Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ’Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Jose Canseco finds a middle ground, detailing the use of steroids in major league baseball but offering more of an explanation than a true apology.

Most people who write an autobiography attempt to present themselves in a positive light. But some, like Jones, put all of the unflattering truth out there in a way to take accountability so they can start fresh. Perhaps your story falls into one of these categories. Whether you want to “get it off your chest” and accept blame for your worst actions, or you intend to defiantly deny accusations of wrongdoing, a memoir is a good place to start. Then people hear it “from the horse’s mouth.”

Top Memoirs for Summer 2012

Top Memoirs for Summer 2012
I love this—“When you finish a memoir there’s a sense of satisfaction no novel can give: you’ve been let in on a truth about another person, living or alive.” That observation comes from Forbes blogger Meghan Casserly, who has declared this to be the Summer of the Memoir. Combining Meghan’s Top 10 memoirs for women released this year with the five favorite 2012 celebrity autobiographies listed by The Telegraph blogger Mark Sanderson, here are 15 memoirs worth a read during the remaining summer days:
Mimi Alford, Once Upon A Secret: My Affair With President John F Kennedy and its Aftermath, recalling a youthful, not altogether voluntary, affair.
Harry Belafonte, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race and Defiance, for more than just “Banana Boat” fans.
Monique Colver, An Uncommon Friendship, tracing the effects her husband’s mental illness had on their marriage.
Maggie Fergusson, Michael Morpurgo: War Child to War Horse, which sounds like a biography rather than an autobiography but that’s only because she sees herself as a combination of six “selfs.”
Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones & Butter, a sort of food memoir from the owner of Prune, a restaurant in NYC.
Diane Keaton, Then Again, a self-analysis with the help of her mother’s journal.
Carole King, A Natural Woman, from the “Tapestry” folk-rock queen.
Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter, focusing on the former secretary of state’s early years.
Louise Krug, Louise Amended, chronicling the struggle to recover from a brain hemorrhage.
Ann Lamott, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, on ushering her son into fatherhood when he was just 19.
Terry Leahy, Management in 10 Words, part memoir and part business advice from the former CEO of Tesco.
Jane Lynch, Happy Accidents, a humor-driven account of the actress’s road to stardom.
Anna Quindlen, Lots of Candles & Plenty of Cake, the latest navel gaze from the prolific NYTimes columnist.
Billy Bob Thornton, The Billy Bob Tapes, as told to Kinky Friedman.
Mitch Winehouse, Amy, My Daughter, about the late British rocker.

We love this—“When you finish a memoir there’s a sense of satisfaction no novel can give: you’ve been let in on a truth about another person.” That observation comes from Forbes blogger Meghan Casserly, who has declared this to be the Summer of the Memoir. Combining Meghan’s Top 10 memoirs for women released this year with 10 of our own WriteMyMemoir picks, here are 20 new(ish) memoirs worth a turn of the page during the remaining summer days:

  • Mimi Alford, Once Upon A Secret: My Affair With President John F Kennedy and its Aftermath, recalling a youthful, not altogether voluntary, affair.
  • Harry Belafonte, My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race and Defiance, for more than just “Banana Boat” fans.
  • Gail Caldwell, Let’s Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship, a year or two old but an uplifting tale of devotion.
  • Monique Colver, An Uncommon Friendship, tracing the effects her husband’s mental illness had on their marriage.
  • Andre Dubus III, Townie, offering insight into the two polar societies in which the author grew up.
  • William Foege, House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox, explaining the author’s role in wiping out the dreaded disease.
  • Gabrielle Hamilton, Blood, Bones & Butter, a sort of food memoir from the owner of Prune, a restaurant in NYC.
  • Diane Keaton, Then Again, self-analysis with the help of her mother’s journal.
  • Carole King, A Natural Woman, from the “Tapestry” folk-rock queen.
  • Madeleine Albright, Prague Winter, focusing on the former secretary of state’s early years.
  • Louise Krug, Louise Amended, chronicling the struggle to recover from a brain hemorrhage.
  • Ann Lamott, Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son, on ushering her son into fatherhood when he was just 19.
  • Jane Lynch, Happy Accidents, a humor-driven account of the actress’s road to stardom.
  • Garry Marshall, My Happy Days in Hollywood, the TV and film director’s account of his long career.
  • Caitlin Moran, How To Be A Woman, the British media personality’s look at her life through a modern-day feminist lens.
  • Sal Polisi and Steve Dougherty, The Sinatra Club: My Life Inside the New York Mafia, released just today, told by the mobster-turned-state’s-witness against John Gotti.
  • Anna Quindlen, Lots of Candles & Plenty of Cake, the latest navel gaze from the prolific NYTimes columnist.
  • Billy Bob Thornton, The Billy Bob Tapes, as told to Kinky Friedman.
  • Paul Wortman, Think Jung! How I Found Meaning in My Life, a self-published memoir by a guy whose letters frequently appear in the NYTimes.
  • Mitch Winehouse, Amy, My Daughter, about the late British rocker.

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Then just set up a chapter and start writing your memoir. Don’t worry about rules. There are no rules to writing your memoir; there are only trends. These trends are based on techniques and features identified in current top-selling memoirs. At best, they’re the flavor of the month. If you’re capturing your life in print for your family, for your own gratification or to inspire readers, rather than aiming to set off Hollywood screenplay bidding wars, these trends don’t even apply to you. You’ll write the memoir that suits you best, and it will be timeless, not trend-driven.There are no rules, but there are four steps:

1. Theme/framework
2. Writing
3. Editing/polishing
4. Self-publishing

You’ve researched this, too, and you’ve been shocked at the price for getting help with any one of those steps, much less all four. That’s because most memoir sites promise to commercialize your work. They’ll follow a formula based on current memoir trends, because they want to convince you that they can turn your memoir into a best-seller. These sites overwhelm you with unnecessary information not to help you, the memoir author, but to address Search Engine Optimization (SEO) algorithms so they can sell more.

That’s not what we do at Write My Memoirs. Our small community of coaches, writers and editors are every bit as skilled as any you’ll find, and we charge appropriately for their expertise and the time they’ll spend helping you craft a compelling, enjoyable read. But you won’t pay an upcharge for other websites’ commercialization, the marketing that follows, and the pages of intimidating “advice.” You can sell your book if you like—we have ISBNs available for you—but our organic process of capturing your story takes a noncommercial path.

If you want help with any or all of the four steps above, choose from our services or save money by selecting one of our packages. If you’d like to talk about what’s right for you, schedule a call. One year from now, you can be holding your published memoir in your hand. And at that point, it will be a big deal!