Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

The Memoir Writer’s Hidden Nerve by Susan G. Weidener — August 3, 2015

The Memoir Writer’s Hidden Nerve by Susan G. Weidener

Today my guest is Susan G. Weidener, author of A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story, her first novel based on a true story. In addition, Susan has written two memoirs, Again in a Heartbeat: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Dating Again and Morning at Wellington Square.
As part of her WOW! Women on Writing blog tour, Susan shares her thoughts on the memoir writer’s hidden nerve. Please join us in the comment section to share your own thoughts on this topic.

Welcome, Susan!

divider

Author Susan Weidener

All writers have “a hidden nerve,” a “secret chamber” which stirs their prose. For some, the hidden nerve is so deep, they can’t write about it – not yet.

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, what do we see?  A reflection? Who are we? Who are the people we write about? Is our honesty compromised in an attempt to “protect” them and/or family secrets and myths? Do we undermine our writing by trying to protect ourselves and others?

It’s easy to confess. Introspection takes a whole lot more courage. Sometimes we don’t even know what we want or need to confess. In A Portrait of Love and Honor, Ava asks Jay what drew him back to West Point year after year even after he kept experiencing pain and rejection. At first, he tells her it was always his “dream” to attain “those gold lieutenant bars.”

As he works with her on his memoir, he begins to realize that it goes much deeper . . . that there were spoken and unspoken messages and expectations by his strong-willed mother. Jay begins to understand that it was his mother’s “dream” to move beyond the immigrant experience and become part of the American success story. “I suppose if my mother could say her son graduated West Point then it would make up for her own disappointments,” Jay tells Ava. And if he dropped out of West Point, he ultimately disappointed and defeated her.

In my memoirs Again in a Heartbeat and Morning at Wellington Square, I write about a woman in white wedding gown who believed that good things come to good people – she believed life was something she could control  . . . until her illusion is shattered by illness and death. As I wrote my memoirs, I wrestled with my guilt and shame. Why had I not been a better wife to my husband at the end of his life? Why had I blamed him, not the disease for shattering my dreams of happily-ever-after?

In writing my memoir, I dropped the pretense that I was ‘perfect’ and tried to make peace with my own unique quirks and flaws . . . and in the process, forgive myself. I had been hard on John because I was losing my dreams and youth.  There were other revelations, too.  John was irreplaceable, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t do it all over again in a heartbeat.

The “hidden nerve” is what makes us tick as writers . . . it’s what makes us want to write our stories.  It’s what memoir writers wish to uncover. dividerAbout A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story

A Portrait of Love and Honor by Susan G. WeidenerNewly-divorced and on her own, 40-something Ava Stuart forges a new life. One day, at a signing in the local library for her novel, a tall, dark-haired man walks in and stands in the back of the room. Jay Scioli is a wanderer – a man who has said good-bye to innocence, the U. S. Army, and corporate America. His outlook on life having changed, his health shattered by illness, he writes a memoir. In his isolation, he searches for an editor to help him pick up the loose ends. Time may be running out. He is drawn to the striking and successful Ava. Facing one setback after another, their love embraces friendship, crisis, dignity, disillusionment. Their love story reflects a reason for living in the face of life’s unexpected events.

Based on a true story, A Portrait of Love and Honor takes the reader from the halls of the United States Military Academy at West Point during the Vietnam War to a moving love story between two people destined to meet.

Note: If you wish, you can read my review of A Portrait of Love and Honor: A Novel Based on a True Story at this link.

Get to Know Susan G. Weidener:

Susan G. Weidener is a former journalist with The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has interviewed a host of interesting people from all walks of life, including Guy Lombardo, Bob Hope, Leonard Nimoy, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Mary Pipher.  She left journalism in 2007 and after attending a women’s writing retreat, wrote and published her memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again, about being widowed at a young age. Two years later, she wrote and published its sequel, Morning at Wellington Square, a woman’s search for passion and renewal in middle age. Her novel, A Portrait of Love and Honor, completes the trilogy, inspired by and dedicated to her late husband, John M. Cavalieri, on whose memoir the novel is based.  Susan earned a BA in Literature from American University and a master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania. An editor, writing coach and teacher of writing workshops, she founded the Women’s Writing Circle, a support and critique group for writers in suburban Philadelphia. She lives in Chester Springs, PA.  Her website is:  www.susanweidener.com.

You can connect with Susan via:

https://twitter.com/Sweideheart
http://www.susanweidener.com/
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004G7AXQY
https://www.facebook.com/susan.weidener

dividerWhere You Can Purchase A Portrait of Love and Honor:

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=founbetwtheco-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=069233078X&asins=069233078X&linkId=YCHOJFWKMHJLUTYS&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=C02D00&bg_color=D7F706barnes_and_noble_logo

Some links contained in this blog are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and choose to buy from the affiliate I receive a small commission, which funds are used to support this blog. The fact I receive a commission does not cost you any extra. I only recommend high quality products and services I know and/or trust, whether an affiliate relationship is in place or not.

 

 

Ups and Downs of the Writing Life — July 16, 2015

Ups and Downs of the Writing Life

Quote from Sandra Brown
Quote from Sandra Brown

When we sit down the first time with either pen and paper or in front of a computer, we’re not fully aware of what the beckoning calls of the writing life hold for us. And if we haven’t availed ourselves of the vast published books on writing, we need to do so.
The ideas were fermenting in my heart and mind long before I ever set one word down. I knew I had a story to tell, and I wanted to tell it. I made several assumptions about writing a memoir:

  • I knew the story inside and out. How hard could it be to write it down?
  • The characters were real, living and breathing human beings, my family. How difficult could they be about my writing this story?
  • Little or no research would be needed making it a faster process. HA!
  • I loved writing, but everything I had written had been a short essay or some project at the office. I knew nothing about writing a book.
  • And I could give you a longer list, but I don’t want to bore you.

Here I am nearing completion of a manuscript. I’m thinking about titles, beta readers, editors, marketing, publishing. I have many questions tossing and turning in my head:

  • Is my platform strong enough?
  • Traditional vs. self-publishing?
  • Digital only or digital and print?
  • Have I made any egregious errors in my story?
  • Will I be sued by an irate relative?

And yes, there are more. [tweetthis]Bottom line is the writing life is a sacrificial existence requiring hard work.[/tweetthis] Without the support of an online writing community and my encouraging and Head Cheerleader, Husband Bob, I wouldn’t have made it this far.

Last week I asked you to take part in a short survey about title options. You responded, and soon I will share the results with you in a larger and more detailed fashion.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

As a result of the survey results, I face one of those up and down rides of the writing life. You see I thought I had the title I wanted, and then many of you responded with such great comments about another of the three possibilities, I am now confronted with a decision about my memoir’s title.

The strongest showing turned out to be a title I had not anticipated at all. As I think about this twist, I now perceive another way to present my story but it means some rewriting. It means a rearranging of some timing issues and placement of sections of the story.

Do I take the time to do this to make sure I have an engaging title which will attract more readers?

Do I go with the title I’ve had in mind for years now and have written around and chance losing some marketplace splash?

Do I assume that those of you who wrote such clever responses to my questions are experts on title choice?

More questions to add to those in my first list above. What’s a girl–er, writer to do?

Faced with a potential change from your original working title, what would you do if you thought it changed the structure of your story and how it reads from beginning to end? Inquiring minds, or at least this one, want to know.

Interview (and Giveaway) with Pamela Lynn France, Author of Life Soup, A Memoir: Testifying on the Healing Power of Jesus Christ — July 7, 2015

Interview (and Giveaway) with Pamela Lynn France, Author of Life Soup, A Memoir: Testifying on the Healing Power of Jesus Christ

Today I am delighted to host my guest, Pamela Lynn France, author of 

Life Soup, A Memoir: Testifying of the Healing Power of Jesus Christ

Pamela’s story of surviving a childhood of abuse is a testimony to others of their own ability to rise above and survive. A copy of Pamela’s memoir, in ebook or pdf format, will be given away to one lucky winner.

Author of Life Soup: A Memoir
Author of Life Soup: A Memoir

Pamela L. France is an educator. She received her teaching degree at Adrian College in Michigan. She worked for a number of years in Child Protective Service for the State of Michigan. She has worked as the Coordinator of Services at Southern Utah University’s Student Support Services. Obtaining her Master’s Degree from Utah State University, she spent the latter part of her career as an Elementary and Middle School Counselor in Iron County School system. Pamela lives the retired life in Kanab, Utah with her husband and her little dog Dottie. Mother of six and grandmother of twenty, she finds great joy and loves the challenge and adventure of family. Pamela is a late blooming author. Life Soup is her memoir.

Welcome, Pamela. I am so happy you could join me today. And now to our interview:

Sherrey: Why did you wait so long to write your book?

Pamela: The healing process follows its own course. It takes years to understand oneself and when abuse is thrown into the mix, it can take even longer. I have been writing all my life and I found it very beneficial to get my thoughts and feelings out in this way. I wanted to share my testimony of Jesus Christ. My hope is that it might touch the hearts of those caught in the throes of traumatic abuse. Conveying this in a readable and inoffensive way took time.

SherreyWhat is your background that allows you to offer credibility to other people?

Pamela: I survived my father’s abuse. Throughout my life I have taken many opportunities to read, study and experience what I could that would help me to deal with its effects. Along the way, I learned much and wanted to help others in similar circumstances.

Sherrey: How have you gained your love of writing and your desire to write?

Pamela: I must admit that reading and writing in my teen years became an escape. Reading especially took me away to other places and helped keep my mind off my troubles. I love most genres of literature and have immersed myself in everything I read. My favorite categories are mystery and historical fiction. I believe writing is a wonderful way to heal wounds of the heart.

Sherrey: What gave you the confidence to write a book on this controversial topic?

Pamela: Frankly, my confidence was in the Lord. I hope that by writing my book helps repay some of the debt for the blessings He provides in such abundance. Sharing my story was not easy for me. Fortunately, I have a very loving family and friends who care. These people encouraged me to continue. I believe I had more determination and hope than confidence. Mia Angelo’s quote says it well – “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Sherrey: Did you ever feel sensitivity towards those in your book whose names you included?

Pamela: When I shared my manuscript with my beta-readers, I ask if I should use real names or fictional. My sister Paula, a major character in my childhood and healing journey, said, “We are who we are.” I am so appreciative of her attitude and support. My topic is sensitive, but it is my story to tell.

Sherrey: Who has this book benefited and why?

Pamela: Since writing this book, I have been surprised at the unexpected benefits. One friend shared a wish that she could have read it many years ago. She felt it would have helped her better understand and love her own mother, who was also a victim of incest. Many have told me that they shared the book with a friends dealing with similar circumstances such as: the mother of a child victimized, a woman dealing with effects of abuse perpetrated on her during childhood and now trying to raise her own children. Other victims also shared support and appreciation that I had a voice when they had none. Abuse can make one feel so isolated. I needed to tell my story to let others know that they are not alone and that someone cares and understands.

Pamela, thank you again for joining me today to discuss your memoir. Also, thank you for sharing your story so others may learn from your experience.

And now to the book~

This is a true story told using the memories of a child – my inner child. It is a story of survival – a love story without romance, but hope. It tells of the age old struggle between good and evil, light and dark forces around us. Jesus Christ has been saving souls throughout human history. Thankfully He is a part of my story.

and to the giveaway~ 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye — July 2, 2015

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye's memoir, Conflicted Hearts
D.G. Kaye’s memoir, Conflicted Hearts

Somehow I believed it was my obligation to try to do the right thing by her because she had given birth to me.Burdened with constant worry for her father and the guilt caused by her mother’s narcissism, D.G. Kaye had a short childhood. When she moved away from home at age eighteen, she began to grow into herself, overcoming her lack of guidance and her insecurities. Her life experiences became her teachers, and she learned from the mistakes and choices she made along the way, plagued by the guilt she carried for her mother.

Conflicted Hearts is a heartfelt journey of self-discovery and acceptance, an exploration of the quest for solace from emotional guilt.

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

Imagine feeling frustrated and powerless in a situation you’re desperate to resolve. When you’re a child, that angst multiplies immensely because you are only that–a child. You have no power to speak out about what you’re feeling, and neither are you permitted to ask questions that might soothe your inner turmoil, because the cause of your dilemmas are adult matters that apparently shouldn’t concern you. ~ D.G. KayeConflicted Hearts

My Thoughts:

At the beginning of Chapter 8 of Conflicted Hearts , the same chapter from which the above quote is taken, D.G. Kaye writes the following:

We are the products of our parents. How can they teach us what they didn’t know?

Likely, these words resonate with more than one reader with parents from the same generation as Kaye’s.

The author’s fluid writing style and storyteller’s voice gives the reader a sense of sitting down over a steaming cup of coffee or tea with a friend. The friend begins to tell you what life was like for her as a child. You sit in disbelief, wondering how this positive, strong, loving woman lived through the parenting received at the mind and hands of her mother.

Yet, our author and friend lives with a guilt burdening her for far too long. This is the skin she wants to shed–the skin of her guilt feelings. It appears to this reader nothing has been D.G. Kaye’s fault with respect to her mother and her mother’s behavior. The guild is just another layer applied like frosting on a cake. Only this isn’t frosting. It isn’t sweet, and it leaves an acid taste in your mouth.

D.G. Kaye is not ashamed nor abashed about telling her story and sharing it with those willing to read. Her truthful memories will unfasten for others the doors to walk through to the other side of life. Life filled with love, happiness, and respect.

Thank you to the author for the gift of her words.

My Recommendation:

I highly recommend this book for anyone who lived through an emotionally and verbally abusive childhood, one like D.G. Kaye’s. Remember, you are not the one at fault, and reading Kaye’s memoir will help you understand that.

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt

Book Details:
Publisher: D.G. Kaye
Published: January 9, 2014
Kindle Edition: 202 pages
ASIN: B00HDTPPUQ

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Conflicted Heartsfrom the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Conflicted Hearts is available for purchase at the following booksellers:*

*Please read about Affiliate Links under the Disclosure tab above.

Meet D.G. Kaye:

Author D.G. Kaye
Author D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction writer of memoirs about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She began writing when pen and paper became tools to express her pent-up emotions during a turbulent childhood. D.G.’s writing began as notes and cards she wrote for the people she loved and admired when she was afraid to use her own voice. D.G. journaled about life, and her opinions on people and events. She later began writing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine as her interest was piqued by natural healthcare.

Becoming interested in natural healing and remedies, D.G. began reading extensively on the subject after encountering quite a few serious health issues—family and her own. Against many odds, Kaye has overcome adversity several times throughout her life.

Kaye began writing books to share her stories and inspiration. She looks for the good and the positive in everything and believes in paying it forward. “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

Her favourite saying: Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe! is her website logo, to remind herself and others that we often forget to take a pause.

You can find D.G. on social media and her author and blog pages:

www.dgkayewriter.comwww.goodreads.com/dgkayewww.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7www.conflictedhearts.comwww.menowhatthememoir.com

www.twitter.com/@pokercubsterwww.facebook.com/dgkayewww.about.me/d.g.kaye.writer

(Image and bio via Goodreads)

A Timeline Story: Behind-the-Scenes in Writing My Memoir — June 30, 2015

A Timeline Story: Behind-the-Scenes in Writing My Memoir

By Francodavi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Francodavi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Beginning next week, I start a series of posts about my timeline story, or better yet the timeline of my writing life. My purpose is to share with you where my love of words and writing is rooted and how that love prompted me to write my memoir.
I must give credit to Joel Friedlander for this idea. Joel’s own timeline series fascinated me, in part because of his background in typesetting, lithography, publishing, and related fields. You can find Joel’s series here.

The number of posts I will share is still unknown as I’ve not yet finished my timeline story. Yet I promise not to drag it out or carry on too long. No doubt the image above holds more Post-its than my writing life has interesting facts.

And it may not be as fascinating to you as it is to me. I believe my timeline story holds enough interesting background to my writing life and the lessons I’ve learned you may find something helpful in your own writing life.

These posts will be archived on their own page, A Timeline Story, at the Blog tab above. This archive will remain accessible ad infinitum.

The invitation to join me on this exploration of why I write, when I started writing, the impetus behind my book, and even a look at my writing community online is open to all takers.

Looking forward to your company in the coming weeks, perhaps months. Who knows?

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…A Very Good Place to Start — May 20, 2015

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…A Very Good Place to Start

Perhaps the title sounds a bit familiar. The words form a phrase from the song, “Do Re Mifrom The Sound of Music
When thinking of ways to make my blog focus more memoir-centric, I kept going back to the beginning. My beginning. When I started out in this life.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

It was 1946. February 10 the day. My parents had agreed on having no more children. Between them, there were already three–my mother’s son and my father’s two daughters–from previous marriages.

A short honeymoon in Chattanooga, TN, changed the course of their lives, and I entered the world a little over nine months later.

When I was born, my parents were living in an upstairs apartment on 17th Avenue South in Nashville, TN. Not a large space, the apartment became more crowded following my birth, or so I’m told. A view of the street, as it looks today, is seen here:

RCA Studio A
RCA Studio A

The address where my family lived is now home to the RCA Victor Recording Studios. The street was renamed Music Row as part of the entertainment district in Nashville. It looks quite different from the building housing my folks’ apartment.

Sometimes I jokingly tell people I was born on Music Row. If they put a recording studio on the site where you were living immediately after birth and rename the street, you aren’t to blame, are you? And it’s my story, right?

While living there, Mama stayed home with me and Daddy went off to work as a linotype operator. His apprenticeship for a newspaper in a small town south of Nashville seeded his ongoing love of printing and publishing.

Mama and me, 1946
Mama and me, 1946

I have no idea what life was really like in that apartment and among the three of us. But I want to believe it was a happy time. Here’s a photo of Mama and me when I was about six months old. It looks as though it might be in a nearby park in the area or on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

Now you know that I hail from Nashville. You know my birthdate which means you also know how old I am. And you know that the first house I lived in was torn down and replaced by a recording studio.

Memories, even bittersweet ones, are better than nothing.
~Jennifer L. Armentrout, Onyx 

These are my beginnings. As barefoot as I am in this photo, barefoot I would be every chance I got until I was much older. Wearing shoes is so un-Southern.

I hope to bring you more tales from Nashville as I move on with completing my memoir and begin the publishing journey.

What about you? Where were your beginnings? Is the first house you lived in still standing? Any memories you’d like to share? Join in below–I’d love to hear more about each of you.