Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ever heard of faux Christmas shopping?

While perusing Face Book this morning I came across this post by an on-line writer friend. It says it all…..about Christmas shopping, I mean, especially for most men.  Seems like the girls can handle it a little better but, honestly, it gets to me so much I do it all on-line. Sorry, retail businesses.  I know this is killing you, but it’s all about staying alive. Check out John Stapleton's observation

"Today, I discovered something worse than Christmas shopping...faux-Christmas shopping- its with all the same shit except you browse, compare retail sales prices to online deals, and you really don't get anything done. You still get all the highlights, with rude customer service, rabid people that lack all sense of shame, and wanna-be Tony Montana drivers that act like they hit a big pile of Peruvian snow before they decided to play MarioKart in the parking lot.

Oh yeah...tis the season to be jolly! Now where's my drank????"

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Putting Books on My Christmas List

 Book Blogger Holiday Blog Hop
Welcome to my blog She-Writers and Happy Holidays. Do come in an take a look around. I hope you enjoy your visit.

Again this year, I will be giving some of my closest friends and relatives books for Christmas gifts. Most of them are avid readers and appreciate a thoughtful choice for their library. I decided to give my two emergent writer friends, Stephen King’s On Writing, a wonderful book that should be in every writer’s library. Although it’s been around for a while, it’s the kind of book you can re-read and enjoy time and time again. It is so funny, honest, and downright enjoyable…nothing stuffy about Mr. King. I know both recipients will be delighted.

For those interested in culinary endeavors, I've chosen Rachel Ray's new cookbook, My Year in Meals, written with her husband, John Cusimano. It's filled with recipes cooked while the camera was rolling in her own kitchen.  It also includes personal stories, notes about her travels, and wonderful photos of her creations.

The third book I'm giving is also a cookbook. It's a beautiful little book based on the new TV show The Chew, hosted by 5 award winning cooks, two of them Iron chefs.  The book, filled with colorful photos of food and great recipes,  is titled The Chew, Food, Life, Fun and is I believe a perfect selection for my 14 year old grand daughter who loves to cook.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Championing Women Writers

According to Belinda Jack of Oxford University, author of the upcoming The Woman Reader, no literary force has done so much to change the world – nor continues to do so – than the historic team of women novelists and their eager, overwhelmingly female readers.

Snobbism about women’s fiction “goes back a long way,”  Jack tells us in her new book.  And before snobbism stretch millennia of active suppression during which women were prohibited from writing almost anything. “Public speech and harlotry were very closely associated,” Jack said in an interview, describing the very narrow range and reading and writing permissible to women up until the 19th century.

Some psychologists and neurologists trace the origin of the fiction gap to women’s demonstrably superior capacity for empathy, which is thought to enable them to occupy the minds of fictional characters with greater ease than men. And profit: New theories of literature see an evolutionary advantage in the ability to infer the motives of others, a talent that sharpens with reading fiction – and would seem to depend mainly on women to function.

Jack explains women’s historical affinity for the novel in terms of its role as a liberating force. Trapped in a domestic space that forbade self-expression, women traditionally turned to novels “to see more of the world,” according to her. “The amount of life that could be seen at first-hand was limited, and so seeing it at second-hand through reading was attractive,” she said.

Reading novels was in itself an act of subversion, and themes evolved to suit the enterprise. “A lot of the novels that many women would say were the greatest novels do explore unconventional patterns of female behaviour and female life,” Jack said, adding that history is repeating itself today among women in Muslim countries who risk severe punishment in order to read imported novels by, for and about liberated women in the West.

Meanwhile, back home, the Internet regularly launches new literary careers without interference from any gender filter that might once have operated in traditional publishing houses. It made 27-year-old Amanda Hocking, a lonely outcast from the U.S. Upper Midwest, a millionaire with her 99-cent tales of paranormal romance. It shocked and appalled British clerics by making former British call girl and blogger Belle de Jour a national sensation. (article by John Barber,The Globe and Mail, Sept. 06 2012) 

* * * *

On the writer's website, hundreds of women writers are coming together to support each other in their their writing and the publishing of their  novels, memoirs, articles, essays, and blogs. It is a safe haven for discussion, exploration and testing....a place where they are free to create and express their thoughts through words, no matter how bold or timid...a place to exchange helpful and interesting information and ideas with an atmosphere of  healthy balance between support and gentle criticism..............Nancy

The following She Writes women writers
 and authors discuss their latest projects on their blogs 
or websites. Visit their blogs and comment. 

Nov. 25: Nancy Hinchliff  " I have started a new memoir which focuses on my crazy family...."
Nov. 26: Julia Hanna "I am working on a novel which I can best describe as contemporary fiction that re-envisions the traditional romance novel. It is about how a woman can be happy for the rest of her life even if she does not get married. Being an old maid is not some reprehensible thing."

Nov. 29: Thelma Zerkelbach
Thelma will talk about her new memoir Stumbling Through The Dark

Nov 30:    Marcia Meier
" I plan to talk about my completed memoir, Sweeping Down the Sky"

Dec. 3rd: Carol Clouse:
"My project focuses on Native American philosophy in conjunction with sustainability in Architecture."

Dec. 4th: Susan Bearman:
"I wrote and self-published a picture book called the Animal Store Alphabet Book 
( based on my husband's pet shop. My illustrator and I 
launched a successful $10,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing and 
distribution of the book and companion products (coloring book, poster, canvas 
prints and book bag)."

Dec. 5th: Valerie Neiman
Valerie will talk about her  new book, Backwater, a taut crime novel and coming-of-age story, as a teenage girl struggles for her identity – and her life – against the backdrop of her cousin’s murder.

Dec. 7th:  June OHara
"I'm finishing up a humorous memoir about being a psychotherapist and having my own breakdowns, neuroses and humorous life circumstances."

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

A really creative video

I am not posting this video to talk you into joining Facebook; although, if you're a writer and building your platform it might be a good idea. I just thought this was one of the most creative videos I've seen in a while and wanted to share it with you. Take a look.................

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Let's give a big hand for the Women Senators of the 113th Senate!

Up from seventeen, the 20 women voted in as senators in the recent election are making history in Washington. A victory for women all over the world.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Has Phillip Roth really stopped writing?

 I was surprised to read on Salon and in the Huffington Post that Phillip Roth is fed up with writing.

Here's what Roth told Les inRocks (translation from French)
"I do not intend to write for the next ten years. To tell you the truth, I'm done. Nemesis will be my last book. Look at E.M. Forster, he stopped writing fiction aged 40. I used to write book after book, but I haven't written anything for three years. I preferred to work on my archives for my biographer."

He goes on to say "I decided to reread all my books, beginning with the last one, Nemesis. Until I got fed up just before Portnoy's Complaint, which is imperfect. I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing. And I thought it was rather successful."
 And finally "I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. To the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life. The thought of sitting down to write one more time is an impossible one for me. And if I did write a new book, it would most likely be a failure. Who needs to read another mediocre book?" ( Huff Post, Nov. 2012)

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Times They Are a Changin' (We hope)

 An online friend of mine posted this video today, with the instructions to pass it on, so that's exactly what I'm doing. This video does not necessarily reflect my own personal leanings. And I am not advertising for either presidential candidate. I'm trying to look at both sides of this issue and keep and open mind.

"...after all these years, we still have to fight for control over our own bodies. Don't forget to vote, sisters." Roberta Kyle, Political Packrat

I love comments

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Should authors pay for reviews?

Check out this article about paid reviews by  Carrie Stager on The Mad Reviewer. It brings up an issue writers sometimes have to deal with. Have you ever paid for a review? If not, how do you go about getting reviews?  How do you make sure they show up in places that will benefit the sale of your book?

"Reviewers: We have an obligation to our readers to tell the truth as we see it.  If you are accepting money in return for a good review, you are lying to your readers and yourself. It will eventually come out if you're charging for good reviews." (Carrie Stager)

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Not so positive review of Eat, Pray Love

I came across this interesting review of Gilbert's book. It's a different take on the many reviews that have been done so far. It draws into question the author's honesty, in relation to her writing of the book and what she had to do to make it entertaining. In fact, Ms Mertz found it embarrassing.

Traveling for the Book – How Far Must a Writer Go?
A Review of Elizabeth Gilbert’s
by Carol Mertz

As is often the case, travel contributes to the making of a book.

Elizabeth Gilbert created Eat, Pray, Love following a lengthy respite from her normal activities as a writer. She traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia and conveniently used the three “I” countries as sub-divisions within her book.

I found this memoir, though it presents more like a novel, outright embarrassing, so much do we learn about aspects of Gilbert’s private life we’d rather not know. Because of her humor and her ability to write with clarity and with what many regard as honesty, she nearly won my respect. In the first part, particularly hilarious, she is nearly undone by Italy’s pasta offerings and within weeks gains about twenty-five pounds. Was this true, or did she as an author, know how to play up her food indulgences for the sake of her book’s structure? This very overindulgence is what draws her so-called honesty into question.

One senses Gilbert worked intensely with her editor, and together they knew just how far she had to go to make the book entertaining. Her subsequent movie deal and the popularity of her book prove she was successful, by today’s cultural standards. (Eat, Pray, Love was released by Columbia Pictures four years after the book’s publication in 2006.) My slanted eye notwithstanding, her writing, to me, is suspect. She’s willing to go to any lengths. Since she portrays herself as one who knows no boundaries in her writing life or in her private life, she appears willing to risk all for the sake of the sale. This ultimately makes her writing contrived and perhaps unworthy, in my judgment.

If we take Gilbert’s self-portrayal at face value, we see a woman with enough financial resources to travel far and long enough to sort through the devastations of her failed marriage and to select a new path, in this case, an initially salacious arrangement with a Brazilian. The relationship may or may not prove to be one of ultimate loyalty.

Many women, I imagine, are shocked by, or envious of, her ability to travel alone. This freedom is not an essential “plot” element of the memoir, but underlies it. It’s easy to assume most women in the throes of divorce would not be emotionally free enough to take off on a trip, or physically free enough to travel with no foreseeable deadline and no urgent financial or familial obligations. Those of us who bear real family allegiances might be justifiably envious.

Gilbert portrays little guilt about her failed marriage and yearns only for freedom and escape from her suffering. Early on, she tells us she has no religious guide in her life except the zen teacher to whom she is introduced in NYC.

The author contrasts each three segments of her book vividly and artfully. Throughout she exercises no restraint in any of the countries she visits and portrays herself as entirely free to follow her inclinations into any pursuit. I find her attempts at meditation in the ashram not entirely plausible, depicted as passionate strivings toward an elusive something. In my view, Eastern meditation practices value detachment over striving.

Gilbert gains twenty-four pounds during her first few weeks in Rome. In India (Pray, part two of the book) she scrubs floors and supposedly does learn how to meditate, with the help of her guru.

In part three she finds her man. And vah-voom! How she and her man click! Again I ask, contrivance?

If Gilbert truly fund-raised among her U.S. friends to provide housing for a poor woman she meets in Indonesia, and if, as is hinted, she used funds from the sale of her book to help this woman, perhaps we can forgive her her exaggerations.

Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love Viking (Penguin Group) New York, NY (2006) ISBN 0-670-03471-1

- Carole Mertz

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Lee Child Debunks the Biggest Writing Myths

Author Lee Child
Born is Covertry, England in 1954, author Lee Child finished law school in Sheffield and ended up in the theater. He then joined the Grenada Television company as a director, where he remained for the next 18 years. He was fired at the age of 40 as a result of restructuring, and, having been a voracious reader, decided to try his hand at writing.
The result was a successful novel by the name of Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series. The Killing floor, which launched the Reacher series of thrillers, has grown in sales and impact with every new installment.

In the following article, written for Writer’s Digest magazine, he explains what really keeps a reader reading until the end. Like his famous protagonist, Jack Reacher, Lee Child is a bit of a rogue badass—especially when it comes to his thoughts on writing, and debunking popular myths. Here, he tells us  “Why Writing Rules are Mostly Wrong,”

Show, Don’t Tell
Picture this: In a novel, a character wakes up and looks at himself in the mirror, noting his scars and other physical traits for the reader.
“It is completely and utterly divorced from real life,” Child said.
So why do writers do this? Child said it’s because they’ve been beaten down by the rule of Show, Don’t Tell. “They manufacture this entirely artificial thing.”
“We’re not story showers,” Child said. “We’re story tellers.”
Child said there’s nothing wrong with simply saying the character was 6 feet tall, with scars.
After all, he added—do your kids ever ask you to show them a story? They ask you to tell them a story. Do you show a joke? No, you tell it.
“There is nothing wrong with just telling the story,” Child said. “So liberate yourself from that rule.”
Child believes the average reader doesn’t care at all about telling, showing, etc. He or she just wants something to latch onto, something to carry them through the book. By following too many “rules,” you can lose your readers.

Don’t Start With the Weather
“If the weather is what’s on your mind, start with it,” Child said.
Simply put, all-time great Alistair MacLean did it all the time. Enough said.

Suspense is Created by X, Y, or Z
For instance: Suspense is created by having sympathetic characters. More and more, Child said, this rule doesn’t add up. Case in point: In The Runaway Jury by John Grisham, Child said there isn’t a sympathetic character in the entire book—there are bad guys, and worse guys. Instead of sympathetic characters, the book is driven by what the verdict of the trial at the heart of the story will be.“And that’s how you create suspense,” he said—it all boils down to asking a question and making people wait for the answer.

Child added that one thing he has learned throughout his career as a television writer and novelist is that humans are hard-wired to want the answer to a question. When the remote control was invented, it threw the TV business through a loop. How would you keep people around during a commercial? So TV producers started posing a question at the start of the commercial break, and answering it when the program returned. (Think sports—Who has the most career grand slams?) Even if you don’t care about the answer, Child said, you stick around because you’re intrigued.

Ultimately, he said writing rules make the craft more complicated than it really is—when it comes down to it, it’s a simple thing. “The way to write a thriller is to ask a question a the beginning, and answer it at the end,” he said.

When he’s crafting his books, Child doesn’t know the answer to his question, and he writes scene by scene—he’s just trying to answer the question as he goes through, and he keeps throwing different complications in that he’ll figure out later. And that very well may be the key to his sharp, bestselling prose.
“For me the end of a book is just as exciting as it is for a reader,” he said.

You might also like:
Ann Rule on Breaking Into True Crime
Marketing Essentials Every Writer Should Know About
Thriller Writing Made Easy: 4 Steps to Starting a Thriller
Catherine Coulter: 9 Simple Ways To Be a Better Writer
Giveaway: Win a day pass to ThrillerFest, featuring Jack Higgins, Lee Child, Ann Rule and many others

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Science Fiction at its best: Karen A Wyle author of Twin-Bred

Author Karen A Wyle

      I met Karen Wyle on line at my favorite women's writer's site:  She WritesKaren is a member of one of the groups I'm involved with there, and shared a little about her new science fiction novel, which was published in October of 2011. Despite the fact that I am a memoir and non-fiction writer,  I was intrigued by the subject matter and asked her if I could post a little about her and her book on my blog. The rest is history, so to speak.

 Bio: Karen was born a Connecticut Yankee, but eventually settled in Bloomington, Indiana, home of Indiana University. She now considers herself a Hoosier. Wyle's childhood ambition was to be the youngest ever published novelist. While writing her first novel at age 10, she was mortified to learn that some British upstart had beaten her to the goal at age 9. 

Wyle is an appellate attorney, photographer, political junkie, and mother of two daughters. Her voice is the product of almost five decades of reading both literary and genre fiction. It is no doubt also influenced, although she hopes not fatally tainted, by her years of law practice. Her personal history has led her to focus on often-intertwined themes of family, communication, the impossibility of controlling events, and the persistence of unfinished business.
      Of course, after reading her bio, I was even more intrigued by her and wanted to know why she decided to write the book she did. With as little research, I found that according to Karen,  

"The origin of Twin-Bred was an article I read about interactions between twins in utero -- synchronized movement, touching, even kissing. Either this article or a comment on the article mentioned the long term effect of losing a twin in utero. As an avid science fiction reader, I tend to see the sci-fi potential in any event or discovery. I imagined a scientist seeking to overcome the comprehension gap between two intelligent species by way of the bond between twins. It would be natural for the scientist who conceived this idea to be a twin; it would be intriguing if she were a twin survivor, and if she had somehow kept her lost twin alive as a companion, who could be a character in the story."

Synopsis of Twin-Bred

Can inter-species diplomacy begin in the womb? After seventy years on Tofarn, the human colonists and the native Tofa still know very little about each other.  Misunderstanding breed conflict, and the conflicts are escalating. Scientist Mara Cadell's radical proposal: that host mothers of either species carry fraternal twins, human and Tofa, in the hope that the bond between twins can bridge the gap between species. Mara lost her own twin, Levi, in utero, but she has secretly kept him alive in her mind as companion and collaborator.

Mara succeeds in obtaining governmental backing for her project - but both the human and Tofa establishments have their own agendas. Mara must shepherd the Twin-Bred through dangers she anticipated and others that even the canny Levi could not foresee. Will the Twin-Bred bring peace, war, or something else entirely?...
Karen's book can be purchased at Amazon (Paperback)  (Kindle). Or at  Barnes & Noble.  
And you can find Carol at her website or on face Book

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Release: No Remorse, by MaryLynn Bast

Now available at Amazon in paperback or kindle format, No Remorse was released on March 17, 2012. It is Ms Bast's first novel and is slated to be part of the paranormal  fantasy series titled "Heart of A Wolf".
     Due to her unusual birth, Amber has abilities no other werewolf has ever possessed. On the run since childhood, the lone wolf avoids contact with other werewolves at all cost, continually moving, constantly looking over her shoulder and always alone. Everything changes when Amber saves a werewolf from the mere brink of death, Blake, the only werewolf to ever protect her. 
     Love blossoms, but not without tribulations when Amber realizes she must help her new pack rescue a member who is being held hostage by a rival pack. Warring with emotions of going from lone wolf to the pack leader’s mate, Amber must decide if she is willing to risk Blake’s life to know true family and friendship despite the fact that the Council is hell bent on locating her and will stop at nothing until she is found. Will Amber’s special abilities be enough to keep everyone safe?

About the Author

MaryLynn Bast is from Texas, currently living in Las Vegas and writes paranormal fantasy romance-mystery-adventure books about werewolves and other were-creatures.  Her writing is influenced by Christine Feehan, Sherilynn Kenyon, and Laurell K. Hamilton.  Bast writes fantasy romance because ..." it allows my imagination to run rampant, permitting the characters of my stories to obtain abilities not possible in the real world."  
Bast is a member of the Las Vegas Romance Writers (a division of Romance Writers of America), the Mainstream, Paranormal, and Erotic Romance Writers of Atlanta and SheWrites – Blooming Late. She is a wife, mother of three, step-mother of three, who loves reading and traveling the world. You can find her mateials on her blog at

Face Book: Heart of a Wolf
Face Book: Author page

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Interesting Interview with Joe Hill, the writer: son of Steven King the writer

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Friday, March 23, 2012

New book release: Ultimate Justice by Ryder Islington

purchase here
Ultimate Justicea Trey Fontaine Mystery, is receiving rave reviews from readers.

The small town of Raven Bayou, Louisiana explodes as old money meets racial tension, and tortured children turn the table on abusive men. FBI Special Agent Trey Fontaine returns home to find the town turned upside down with mutilated bodies. Working with local homicide detectives, Trey is determined to get to the truth. A believer in empirical evidence, Trey ignores his instincts until he stares into the face of the impossible, and has to choose between what he wants to believe and the ugly truth.

Author Ryder Islington
A graduate of the University of California and former officer for a large sheriff’s department, RYDER ISLINGTON is now retired and doing what she loves: reading, writing, and gardening. She lives in Louisiana with her family, including a very large English Chocolate Lab, a very small Chinese pug, and a houseful of demanding cats. She can be contacted at or visit her blog.

Ms Islington discusses the question: What Is Psychological Drama?

I wish there was a section at the book store just for psychological drama. Unfortunately, there is no such place because there is no such genre. Almost every genre can have psychological drama in it, though I like it in mysteries, thrillers and suspense.

Psychological drama is all about what is going on inside the head that induces, or forces, a person to take certain actions. What goes on inside the head of a girl who watches her dad beat her mom for years, and then finds herself in the same kind of relationship? Why does that happen? What goes through the mind of a man who is attracted to five year old girls? Why does he feel this need? What makes a person feel the need to set fires and watch them as if they are lovers?

One of the first things I learned as a writer was that characters must act out of motivation. The reader has to see why the character is taking each action. But I couldn’t stop with a simple answer. Women are attracted to men like their dads. We live lives that are modeled for us by the adults in our lives. That might satisfy the reader. It doesn’t satisfy me.

I want to know how that woman feels, what makes her feel it, and what it takes to get her to feel differently and thereby act differently. I want to put the reader in the place of the character and have them feel what the character feels. I like to go for that deep emotional motivation that forces the character to act.

In my debut novel, Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, I made sure each character had motivation and tried to bring the reader right into the middle of the psychological drama occurring inside those characters. This story is about serial killers, a drug addicted FBI agent, and two homicide cops, one Black and one female, in the Deep South. And it’s not all about the action. Yes, there are fights, and deaths, and fights to the death. But every action is backed by the deep seated pain, anger, or need, of the characters.

I watched dozens of movies, read dozens of books and did research online, in an effort to really get down to the real reason people who seem perfectly ‘normal’ can do things so completely out of character—at least it looks that way from the outside. And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes people just snap. Sometimes we make bad decisions that no one could see coming. Sometimes we just don’t think. But deep down inside, something lurks.

Often, in thriller or suspense movies or books, there’s something in the basement. Everyone knows it. But the character just has to go down there and see. And it always ends badly. Sometimes, that’s the way the mind is. In the basement of the mind, locked away where no one can see, is a scary, ugly, dangerous creature, just waiting for the perfect set of circumstances to set it free.

Do your research. And then, when you’re writing those scenes that need some punch, dig deep down and see if you can find that creature. You may find it in your character. Or you may find it in yourself.   (Ryder Islington, 2011)

*Note: For blog tour schedule, go to:  ll-publications or Ryder Islington's blog

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review: Fearless Confessions

Sue William Silverman, a writer, teacher, and speaker has written a book that will appeal to both experienced and beginning writers. It offers a thorough and understandable explanation of how to write memoir and how it differs from other types of literary nonfiction. More creative nonfiction writing classes should use this as one of their textbooks.

Amazingly straight-forward and helpful in the quest for our authentic self, the book is an account of her journey as a writer interspersed with unique and thoughtful exercises that are clearly written with students in mind,  There are reading selections here and there, but the book manages to make these elements feel like seamless parts of a carefully considered whole. Silverman offers san excellent description of voice I've and explains the craft of writing, and elements such as “the voice of innocence” and “the voice of experience” She includes websites, books, marketing opportunities, and publishing options.

This is probably the most important memoir writing instruction and inspiration that I've ever read. Extremely powerful and transforming!  For anyone who has ever thought of writing a memoir, this is the first and last book you will ever need. I would recommend this to everyone, whether you are writing a memoir or not. Even journal writers will find ideas and suggestions in this short book that shed light on why we write.

Bio: Sue William Silverman won an Association of Writers and Writing Programs award for Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You. A speaker on child abuse and addiction, she teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. As a professional speaker and writer, Sue has appeared on many nationally syndicated radio and TV programs including The View, Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN; a John Stossel Special on ABC-TV; CNN-Headline News; the Montel Williams Show; the Ricki Lake Show; the Morning Show with Mike and Juliet; and both the U. S. and Canadian Discovery Channels. She was also featured in an episode of "The Secret Lives of Women" on WE-TV.

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