Monday, January 27, 2014

Tales From My Memoir Writing Class: Character Study

Today's memoir writing class was a lot less intimidating than the first session. For one thing, the class crazy dropped out so we no longer had to deal with her. In our last class, she'd flipped out over our instructor's (rather mild) critique. Apparently her anger went further than that; after class, she literally cornered and threatened our teacher. Yeesh! I hope this woman never decides to submit her work to agents because she's in for a rough road if she can't take the slightest constructive criticism. Needless to say, I'm happy that she's gone because I dreaded having to comment on her work.

Next week we'll begin critiquing each other's work, but today we discussed the introductions of two memoirs: Stitches, a graphic novel by David Small and Seeing Ezra by Kerry Cohen. I'm not a big fan of comics or graphic novels, so reading a memoir in that form took some getting used to. But it's a compelling story about a boy's horrific child and I'm interested in reading more. Seeing Ezra, which is about a mother coming to terms with her autistic son, was less gripping in my opinion, but still very well written.

I really enjoyed participating in the discussions of these books. Everyone had different opinions and interpretations of the stories, but we were all fired up and eager to share our views. I felt as if I were back in a college literature class! It was fun and very invigorating.

After, we talked about the "characters" in our memoirs and how we can present them and flesh them out. I'm still not sure if I'm going to actually write a memoir for publication, but I feel that I took away many ideas that could be used for my novel. Even though I took a memoir writing class, it's really a course about simply writing well.

I handed in my first assignment today so we'll see what the teacher thinks of my work. All I know is that throughout the class, I kept wishing that I could go back and edit some things. I'm sure that whatever suggestions I'm given will be helpful.

Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Tales From My Memoir Writing Class

One of my beliefs is that you're never too good at anything to stop learning. This is why I'm always taking jewelry classes and reading up on new jewelry making techniques. And this is why I've signed up for a memoir writing class.

When I told my friends that I'm taking this class, a few were like, "Why? You wrote for a magazine and have a novel out. You're always writing blogs. You can probably teach the class." While their statements are very flattering, I disagree. I've never written a memoir. It's one thing to write a blog post or short essay about my life; it's another thing to write an entire book. I signed up for this class assuming that I know very little about writing memoirs -- and I was right.

I've only had one session so far, but I can tell that it's going to be a tough course. I signed up for it for "fun," but there are frequent deadlines, assignments and critiques. Our first in-class assignment was to write about 10 memorable moments in our lives, moments that changed us forever. I thought that I came up with 10 decent ones, but as we went around the class sharing our work, I realized that I hadn't quite zeroed in enough on the moments. The instructor noted that my descriptions were too vague and that I needed to focus on everything that happened in that one second of change. It was an hour into the class and I was already being told what I could do to improve!

As we went around the class introducing ourselves, I learned that many of my classmates are true survivors. Some have overcome drug addiction, rape and mental illness. They have tragic and fascinating things to write. I'm very, very, very glad that I haven't experienced any of these things, but from a writer's point of view, I'm not sure that my life is that interesting. For the few parts that are "interesting," I'm a little reluctant to share them. I've been pretty open on this blog about my writing and publishing experiences, but it's another thing to share your deep, dark secrets with the world. For now, I think I'm going to work on a memoir draft simply for the sake of learning to write. Perhaps I'll publish something in the future.

After class, I went into a bit of a panic as I thought about the impending deadlines. Also scary is the idea of getting critiqued by committee. When it's your turn to have your work commented on, you have to sit there and listen -- and can't say anything. I HATE that; it makes me feel kind of vulnerable. I don't mind receiving criticism, but I enjoy discussing it. It helps me have a better idea of how to improve.

I still have some reservations about this class, but I completed my first assignment and we'll see how it goes. I'm not getting graded for my work, though the idea of once again having writing deadlines is making me anxious. I had a long talk with some friends who've encouraged me to stick with it. It's only ten classes total and if I hate it, I don't *have* to stay.

For now, I plan to stick it out because I really think that I can learn something. I have some friends who've taken the class and ended up loving it. Perhaps I will, too.

Meantime, please read and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Getting Back Into Blogging

It's been a really long time since I've blogged about my writing, but all has been well. My jewelry businesses, Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations, have really taken off in the past few months. I've also been busy at work finishing up the first draft of Novel No. 2. So a lot has been going on.

I'm really pleased with how Novel No. 2 is turning out. My draft ended up being over 100,000 words, so it's longer than BAND GEEK. It's also a bit more mature and intense. My writer friend Amy did a read on it and made some great suggestions -- and says that she likes it more than BAND GEEK. I'm also having another friend do a professional edit of my work. With BAND GEEK, I had some people note editing errors and typos and I want to make sure that this doesn't happen with the new book.

I'm not exactly sure when the new book will be available. I'm waiting for my friend to finish her edits, which is taking longer than we both anticipated. Still, I figure that the more time that's put into it, the better. I don't want her to rush through it. I'm hoping to have it ready by the spring. I feel like the story is very tight and focused; it's just a matter of rewriting some scenes.

I plan to do another virtual book tour and place my book on Amazon Kindle. However, I think that I'm going to try some other author outlets, as well. I want to try Smashwords and see if I can get some sales in other venues.

I'll admit, I've been kind of lazy about promoting BAND GEEK, but I only have so many hours in the day and I wanted to devote my time to finishing my book and promoting my jewelry. It's no surprise then that sales haven't been so great. The good news is, I've gotten some nice reviews on Amazon, so I at least know that my story is entertaining some readers. For the most part, I've been trying to stay away from reviews, but it's hard to resist reading them when you find out that someone gave your book five stars.

This year I'd like to see if I can regain some of the publicity I lost. I have to give credit to those self-published authors whose e-books become best sellers. You not only need a good story and great word-of-mouth, but you have to put in a LOT of work to keep readers' interested. Those authors are constantly on Facebook or Twitter, or in the Goodreads forums... and frankly, I don't know how they do it! They really work for their success and understand the business side of writing.

Meantime, I'm going to update this blog more often, at least once a week. Be sure to check out my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD on Amazon.