Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

Every ordinary life story is extraordinary!

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.

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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!