Memoirs of Summer 2020 Have a Familiar Ring

Cover of Loni Love memoir

What do Jessica Simpson, Madeleine Albright, Ihlan Omar, Colin Jost and a whole lot of people you’ve never heard of have in common? They’re all authors of memoirs published this summer. Coming out of one of the strangest summers we’ve ever experienced, what’s different about these memoirs compared with previous ones?

Nothing.

People write about themselves for many reasons, but by the time you publish a memoir it’s because you think someone may be interested in reading about how you solved a problem, came out the other side of a challenge, managed a particular situation or just plain lived as you. That’s as true in summer 2020 as in any other time.

For celebrity authors, the book will sell well if there’s a big reveal. Hey, Jessica Simpson, what was it like to date John Mayer? André Leon Talley, what’s it like to be a Black, gay fashion editor at Vogue?

No matter how fascinating the life, for a memoir to be a good read it still must be written well. As a comedian, Loni Love has an easy time making I Tried to Change So You Don’t Have To entertaining. TV and movie director Barry Sonnenfeld knows how to stage a scene, so it’s not much of a leap to exercise a flair for description while writing Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother. It’s right in journalist Eilene Zimmerman’s wheelhouse to report on her husband’s addiction in Smacked.

Google “memoirs summer 2020,” and you’ll pull up a long list of autobiographical tales that all sound tempting to take a look at. Many of the authors are first-timers, and one summer you may find yourself on one of those lists. Meanwhile, keep writing! And keep reading. These memoirs will inspire you to craft your story as candidly and compellingly as you can.

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.

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.

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.

What You and Carole King Have in Common

What You and Carole King Have in Common
On NBC’s Today Show this morning, Ann Curry interviewed iconic singer/songwriter Carole King, now 70, about her new memoir, A Natural Woman. As she spoke about her reasons for writing a memoir and the memoir writing process in general, she reminded me of you! Judging by the email we receive from WriteMyMemoirs members, a lot of what Carole expressed is universally felt among people who decide to put their life stories into words. See whether you relate:
Ann: “People say that writing a memoir is incredibly illuminating. What did you learn about yourself?”
Carole: “Oh my gosh, I learned so much….Why did I actually do the things I did, and why did I choose the men I chose?”
In the book, Carole describes some physical abuse at the hands of a lesser-known of her four husbands.
Carole: “The writing of this story—I wasn’t sure I was going to include it in the book—but I wanted people to understand, people who go through [domestic abuse]—mostly women but some men—that you’re not alone. This is a phenomenon that can even happen to somebody like me, who was successful, who had financial independence.” The book includes information about where to go for help.
Carole on why it took 12 years, until age 70, to finish the book: “I finally felt the calmness….People have said, ‘You should write about your life,’ for a lot of my life because I have such an interesting life. But it was only until just before I was 60 that I just said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to embrace this stage of my life.”
Ann, noting that Carole has more than 400 compositions recorded by 1000+ artists to her credit, plus five grandchildren: “How do you want to be remembered…now that you’ve looked back on [your life]?
Carole: “My goal every day is to try to be a good person, to try to do kind things, to try to make the world a better place in the ways that I can. And if I have influenced one person in a good way, that’s good enough.”
Click here to view video of the entire interview.

On NBC’s Today Show this morning, Ann Curry interviewed iconic singer/songwriter Carole King, now 70, about her new memoir, A Natural Woman. As she spoke about her reasons for writing a memoir and the memoir writing process in general, she reminded me of you! Judging by the email we receive from WriteMyMemoirs members, a lot of what Carole expressed is universally felt among people who decide to put their life stories into words. See whether you relate:

Ann: “People say that writing a memoir is incredibly illuminating. What did you learn about yourself?”
Carole: “Oh my gosh, I learned so much….Why did I actually do the things I did, and why did I choose the men I chose?”

In the book, Carole describes some physical abuse at the hands of a lesser-known of her four husbands.
Carole: “The writing of this story—I wasn’t sure I was going to include it in the book—but I wanted people to understand, people who go through [domestic abuse]—mostly women but some men—that you’re not alone. This is a phenomenon that can even happen to somebody like me, who was successful, who had financial independence.” The book includes information about where to go for help.

Carole on why it took 12 years, until age 70, to finish the book: “I finally felt the calmness….People have said, ‘You should write about your life,’ for a lot of my life because I have such an interesting life. But it was only until just before I was 60 that I just said, ‘Okay, I’m ready to embrace this stage of my life.”

Ann, noting that Carole has more than 400 compositions recorded by 1000+ artists to her credit, plus five grandchildren: “How do you want to be remembered…now that you’ve looked back on [your life]?”
Carole: “My goal every day is to try to be a good person, to try to do kind things, to try to make the world a better place in the ways that I can. And if I have influenced one person in a good way, that’s good enough.”

Click here to view video of the entire interview.

More Celebrity Memoir Beginnings

More Celebrity Memoir Beginnings
Let’s examine a few more celebrity memoirs for inspiration in constructing a first sentence or two. Michael J. Fox begins his 2002 memoir: “I woke up to find the message in my left hand. It had me trembling. It wasn’t a fax, telegram, memo or the usual sort of missive bringing disturbing news. In fact, my hand held nothing. The trembling was the message.” Readers know that Fox will receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, but the beginning still is poignant compelling.
Each chapter of the 2011 memoir of Dancing With the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke is named for a type of dance, which Cheryl uses as a metaphor for something in her personality or experience. She begins Chapter 1: “The freestyle dance is not restricted by any conventional steps or choreography. It is simply a dance in which the dancer can showcase whatever movement or emotion seems appropriate.” So you don’t have to begin with something personal. This is a little different way to begin a memoir.
Actor Alan Arkin chose a more traditional, straightforward two sentences to start his 2011 memoir: “My father said that at the age of five I asked him if he could keep a secret. He said yes he could, so I told him I was going to be an actor when I grew up.”
These authors zeroed in on an essence—ultimately the theme of the book. If you can identify what that is for you, your first sentence will write itself.

Let’s examine a few more celebrity memoirs for inspiration in constructing a first sentence or two. Michael J. Fox begins his 2002 memoir: “I woke up to find the message in my left hand. It had me trembling. It wasn’t a fax, telegram, memo or the usual sort of missive bringing disturbing news. In fact, my hand held nothing. The trembling was the message.” Readers know that Fox will receive a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, but the beginning still is poignant and compelling.

Each chapter of the 2011 memoir of Dancing With the Stars professional dancer Cheryl Burke is named for a type of dance, which Cheryl uses as a metaphor for something in her personality or experience. She begins Chapter 1: “The freestyle dance is not restricted by any conventional steps or choreography. It is simply a dance in which the dancer can showcase whatever movement or emotion seems appropriate.” So you don’t have to begin with something personal. This is a little different way to begin a memoir.

Actor Alan Arkin chose a more traditional, straightforward two sentences to start his 2011 memoir: “My father said that at the age of five I asked him if he could keep a secret. He said yes he could, so I told him I was going to be an actor when I grew up.”

These authors zeroed in on an essence—ultimately the theme of the book. If you can identify what that is for you, the first sentence of your memoir will write itself.

Celebrity Autobiographies’ First Sentences

Celebrity Autobiographies’ First Sentences
The opening sentence of a memoir is such a brain-freeze that many people give up the goal of writing an autobiography simply because they cannot come up with a satisfactory first line. Even country crooner Willie Nelson resorts to launching into his life story, The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes, with the cop-out, “They say writing the first line of a book is the hardest part.”
Fortunately, other celebrities make up for Willie’s appalling lack of originality. Consider this Chapter 1 first sentence: “My father was a very wise man who hated dishonesty more than he hated stupidity.”—from Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining, by television’s Judge Judy Sheindlin (written with a co-author).
Judy’s opening is followed by an anecdote from her youth that not only gives an example of how her dad chastised Judy when she tried to spin a bit of a tall tale, but also reveals her father’s influence on her own moral development as well as explaining the origin of her autobiography’s title. From there, Judy jumps to her first day as a judge, because her career is the focus of this memoir. The transition is deftly achieved, but there’s still a formula to it that you can borrow: begin with a statement that gets the reader curious, offer a pertinent anecdote and then make the connection to what you really want to talk about. More celebrity first-liners this next time.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0060927941/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

The opening sentence of a memoir is such a brain-freeze that many people give up the goal of writing an autobiography simply because they cannot come up with a satisfactory first line. Even country crooner Willie Nelson resorts to launching into his life story, The Facts of Life and Other Dirty Jokes, with the cop-out, “They say writing the first line of a book is the hardest part.”

Fortunately, other celebrities make up for Willie’s appalling lack of originality. Consider this Chapter 1 first sentence: “My father was a very wise man who hated dishonesty more than he hated stupidity.”—from Don’t Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It’s Raining, by television’s Judge Judy Sheindlin (written with a co-author).

Judy’s opening is followed by an anecdote from her youth that not only gives an example of how her dad chastised Judy when she tried to spin a bit of a tall tale, but also reveals her father’s influence on her own moral development as well as explaining the origin of her autobiography’s title. From there, Judy jumps to her first day as a judge, because her career is the focus of this memoir. The transition is deftly achieved, but there’s still a formula to it that you can borrow: begin with a statement that gets the reader curious, offer a pertinent anecdote and then make the connection to what you really want to talk about. More celebrity first-liners next time. Tune in!

Beware the “Tell-All” Fallout

Beware the “Tell-All” Fallout
If you’re planning on writing a memoir that dishes dirty family secrets, you might want to think it through. Be prepared for your family to be angry at you, because seeing their actions through your critical eyes does not tend to create harmony.
Moms haven’t had a good year in memoirland. There was Ashley Judd’s exposé of her famous country mama Naomi, which had both Naomi and Ashley’s half-sister Wynonna hopping mad. Next we heard about Katy Perry’s mother, who was not the subject of a memoir but, rather, the one who wrote her own memoir. In it, she lamented that Katy’s fashion taste and music were too risqué for her taste, an opinion that created what Katy’s father referred to as “tension” in the family.
The latest tell-all, set to hit stores on October 18, is Whateverland: Learning to Live Here, by Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis Stewart. Reportedly, the book gives ample evidence supporting Alexis’s conclusion that her mom “was not interested in being kid-friendly.” But Alexis has hedged her bets by dedicating her memoir to none other than Martha dearest and proactively using the dedication to more or less ask forgiveness. The dedication reportedly says: “Thanks in advance to my mother for not getting angry about anything written in this book.” If your memoir trashes a family member, you might want to try that approach. Let us know if it works.

If you’re planning on writing a memoir that dishes dirty family secrets, you might want to think it through. Be prepared for your family to be angry at you, because seeing their actions through your critical eyes does not tend to foster harmony.

Moms haven’t had a good year in memoirland. There was Ashley Judd’s exposé of her famous country mama Naomi, which had both Naomi and Ashley’s half-sister Wynonna hopping mad. Next we heard about Katy Perry’s mother, who was not the subject of a memoir but, rather, the one who wrote her own memoir. In it, she lamented that Katy’s fashion taste and music were exceedingly risqué, an opinion that created what Katy’s father referred to as “tension” in the family.

The latest tell-all, set to hit stores on October 18, is Whateverland: Learning to Live Here, by Martha Stewart’s daughter Alexis Stewart. Reportedly, the book gives ample evidence supporting Alexis’s conclusion that her mom “was not interested in being kid-friendly.” But Alexis has hedged her bets by dedicating her memoir to none other than Martha dearest and proactively using the dedication to more or less ask forgiveness. The dedication reportedly says: “Thanks in advance to my mother for not getting angry about anything written in this book.” If your memoir trashes a family member, you might want to try that approach. Let us know if it works.