Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

A Summer Reading List Includes Tasty Memoirs

A Summer Reading List Includes Tasty Memoirs
My hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, devoted a full page of its Sunday books section of recommended summer reading to biographies and memoirs. If you like retrospecs on American icons, this is your summer.
The autobiographies the Trib recommends are:
All In: From Refugee Camp to Poker Champ, by poker’s Jerry Yang with Mark Tabb
If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t), by everyone’s favorite senior Betty White
Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With Frank Sinatra, by fourth wife Barbara Sinatra
Stories My Father Told Me: Notes from “The Lyons Den,??? by film critic Jeffrey Lyons
Witnesses to an extreme Century, by phistorian and psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, a memoir sequel by Alexandra Fuller
This is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography and Life Through the Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx, another memoir sequel, this time by the Motley Crue bass player
The recommended biographies are:
Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast, by Andrew E. Kersten
David Bowie: Starman, by Paul Trynka
Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, by Willard Sterne Randall
Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman, by Patricia Bosworth
Reagan’s Journey: Lessons From a Remarkable Career, by Margot Morrell
Stan Musial: An American Life, by George Vecsey
Thoughts Without Cigarettes: A Memoir, by novelist Oscare Hijuelos
The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH, by one-time Dodgers player Shawn Green with Gordon McAlpine
What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years, by Ricky Riccardi
Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, by Don Van Natta, Jr.
Happy reading!

My hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, devoted a full page of its Sunday books section of recommended summer reading to biographies and memoirs. If you like retrospecs on American icons, this is your summer.

The autobiographies the Trib recommends are:

  • All In: From Refugee Camp to Poker Champ, by poker’s Jerry Yang with Mark Tabb
  • If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t), by everyone’s favorite senior Betty White
  • Lady Blue Eyes: My Life With Frank Sinatra, by fourth wife Barbara Sinatra
  • Stories My Father Told Me: Notes from “The Lyons Den,??? by film critic Jeffrey Lyons
  • Witnesses to an extreme Century, by historian and psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton
  • Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, a memoir sequel by Alexandra Fuller
  • This is Gonna Hurt: Music, Photography and Life Through the Distorted Lens of Nikki Sixx, another memoir sequel, this time by the Motley Crue bass player

The recommended biographies are:

  • Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast, by Andrew E. Kersten
  • David Bowie: Starman, by Paul Trynka
  • Ethan Allen: His Life and Times, by Willard Sterne Randall
  • Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman, by Patricia Bosworth
  • Reagan’s Journey: Lessons From a Remarkable Career, by Margot Morrell
  • Stan Musial: An American Life, by George Vecsey
  • Thoughts Without Cigarettes: A Memoir, by novelist Oscare Hijuelos
  • The Way of Baseball: Finding Stillness at 95 MPH, by one-time Dodgers player Shawn Green with Gordon McAlpine
  • What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong’s Later Years, by Ricky Riccardi
  • Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias, by Don Van Natta, Jr.

Happy reading!

Six-Word Memoirs: A Fun Fad

Six-Word Memoirs: A Fun Fad
If you like “putting things in a nutshell,??? you’ll enjoy a trend now into its fifth year: the six-word memoir. Can you boil your life down to six words?
You can add your mini-mini-tome to the growing list at the website of the publication that launched this idea, Smith Magazine, or go to AARP Magazine, which also collects people’s six-word memoirs. Or leave it here in a comment below, and we’ll start our own collection! The concept was inspired by the master of brief writing, Ernest Hemingway who, according to legend, answered a challenged to craft a short story of only six words by writing, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.??? Several books have come out of this project, starting with Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.
Want some examples? From the Smith Magazine site: “Pregnancy: nine months of unsolicited advice.??? “Patience. Memory storage. Both maxed out.??? “We’ve considered murder but never divorce.??? “Searched for happiness, but found contentment.??? “Memoirs editable. Wish life was, too.??? Now try it yourself, WriteMyMemoirs members, right here! Then when you return to your real memoir, you’ll appreciate the freedom of rambling on as long as you choose!

If you like “putting things in a nutshell,??? you’ll enjoy a trend now into its fifth year: the six-word memoir. Can you boil your life story down to six words?

You can add your mini-mini-tome to the growing list at the website of the publication that launched this idea, Smith Magazine, or go to AARP Magazine, which also collects people’s six-word memoirs. Or leave it here in a comment below, and we’ll start our own collection! The concept was inspired by the master of brief writing, Ernest Hemingway who, according to legend, answered a challenged to craft a short story of only six words by writing, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.??? Several books have come out of this project, starting with Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.

Want some examples? From the Smith Magazine site: “Pregnancy: nine months of unsolicited advice.??? “Patience. Memory storage. Both maxed out.??? “We’ve considered murder but never divorce.??? “Searched for happiness, but found contentment.??? “Memoirs editable. Wish life was, too.??? Now try it yourself, WriteMyMemoirs members, right here! Then when you return to your real memoir, you’ll appreciate the freedom of rambling on as long as you choose!

Controversial “Tiger Mother??? Demonstrates the Potential Impact of a Memoir

Controversial “Tiger Mother??? Demonstrates the Potential Impact of a Memoir
By now you would think that every book on parenting has been published and no one could come up with anything new. Then Yale professor Amy Chua pens her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and suddenly everyone’s talking about how to raise kids as if it were a brand new topic.
Currently perched at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List, Tiger Mother examines, but largely champions, the traditional Chinese method of raising children. High expectations, top grades, gold medals in musical competitions—it’s all in there as you would expect. Chua is happy that she was brought up that way and tried to repeat the process with her two second-generation daughters, insisting that it generates self-esteem, independence and success.
This is Chua’s third book, so she already was an accomplished author. She reportedly received a six-figure advance and had a publishing company behind her to promote the book. Still, Chua says she’s surprised her memoir has touched off this firestorm of controversy. In the first week after The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt, more than 5,000 comments followed it. This demonstrates that when you have a compelling story to tell, you never know—it might just become a literary phenomenon.

Blog 80By now you would think that every book on parenting has been published and no one could come up with anything new. Then Yale professor Amy Chua pens her memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and suddenly everyone’s talking about how to raise kids as if it were a brand new topic.

Currently perched at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller List, Tiger Mother examines, and largely champions, the traditional Chinese method of raising children. High expectations, top grades, gold medals in musical competitions—it’s all in there as you would expect. Chua is grateful that she was brought up that way and tried to repeat the process with her two second-generation daughters, insisting that it generates self-esteem, independence and success.

This is Chua’s third book, so she already was an accomplished author. She reportedly received a six-figure advance and had a publishing company behind her to promote the book. Still, Chua says she’s surprised her memoir has touched off this firestorm of controversy. In the first week after The Wall Street Journal published an excerpt, more than 5,000 comments followed it. This demonstrates that when you have a compelling story to tell, you never know—it might just become a literary phenomenon.

Read This Online Autobiography to Study Memoir Style

Many of you trying to write your memoirs may never have written anything of length before now. While you’ve probably read enough—both fiction and non-fiction—as you try to craft your own autobiography it can be helpful to read passages specifically of others’ life stories. If you can read them online at no charge, that makes it even easier for you.

A classic memoir, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, is a good place to start. Click here for the online version, which lets you pull up one chapter at a time. Certainly language has evolved since Ben Franklin’s time, so you won’t want to imitate the wording. But there’s an elegance to the way he writes that you can aspire to assume for your own work. Also, these chapters give you an idea of how to structure your memoir, which topics are important enough to cover, how to introduce dialogue and how candid to be as you describe your friends and relatives.

According to the website, Franklin’s is considered to be the most acclaimed autobiography to come out of colonial America. It covers his early life, travel, professional training, romantic encounters and all sorts of details of his days from his own perspective. Although Franklin lived to be 84 years old, he ends this account at age 51. This illustrates that you can create a compelling memoir by recording what you’ve accomplished so far before without necessarily waiting until you’re in your senior years.

New Book Traces the History of Memoir Writing

blog16The urge to write memoirs has long been part of the human psyche, according to a new book, Memoir: A History, in which author Ben Yagoda connects the dots through 2,000 years of memoirs. In tackling the question of whether an autobiography must be 100 percent true and accurate, Yagoda concludes that telling your story in good faith is more important than getting every fact perfectly straight, according to the New York Times review of the book.

The aspect of memoirs that interests me more, however, is the widespread desire to write one. Why put so much energy into this task? I don’t believe that a hope to get rich from publishing their story is what drives people to write about themselves. The Times reviewer, Judith Shulevitz, theorizes that it’s a universal need to tell our side of things—to explain why we’ve done what we’ve done. Shulevitz quotes philosopher Hilary Putnam: “We are, most of us, interested in justifying at least some features of our own style of life, in the sense of giving a defense of them that would appeal to others.???

This strikes a chord with me; most of us want to be liked or, at least, understood. The latest big-deal autobiography to hit the bookstores, Going Rogue, would not have been written if author Sarah Palin hadn’t felt the need to tell her side of what went on during last year’s presidential campaign. As you write your memoirs, you may experience some of that “justification satisfaction??? yourself.

Login

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!