Friday, November 13, 2020

Marketing 101

The Rappahannock Writers Conference held virtually last Saturday went off without a hitch, thanks to our talented CRRL librarians. The speakers did an amazing job traversing the new technology challenges. One of the questions that I didn’t have time to answer enough was on marketing. It was almost like, where do I begin. So, I’ll post this on my blog and website and hope the person who asked the question will find it. I hope all aspiring writers know by now that no matter how you decide to publish – traditional with an agent, hybrid, or Indie, it’s up to the author to do the marketing. In one of the sessions on publishing, the speaker stated that shelf life of a book in a book store is three months. Three months. The author has to work very hard to market their books to drive sales. When I self-published my first book, I had no idea where to start. I sent a note to most of my email contacts, and posted the book on my Facebook page. Since that time with books number two and three, I’ve expanded my marketing. I list on Sisters-in-Crime website, my blog post, website, LinkedIn, make bookmarks, get articles/interviews in local papers, library/ book group presentations, search for events where I can sell books (pre/post Covid), and Goodreads. This list changes and is added to with each book I publish. Some authors sponsor launch parties, send out newsletters, buy Amazon or Goodreads ads, drawings for a free copy. There are many ways to market and each author has to find their own way. Marketing is a whole other skill set that we all have to learn. Presentations to library groups can be such fun. Below is a photo of me talking with the Lansing, New York library patrons.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Understanding Scenes in Memoir Writing

On Saturday November 7 I will be giving a presentation on writing scenes at a virtual Rappahannock Writers Conference. Registration is open to anyone, anywhere at There’s a great line-up of speakers and a panel on publishing. The sessions will remain available on the library’s website through Nov. 14 for those who cannot make it on Saturday. My presentation, Scenes: The Essential Ingredient, is about understanding that scene writing is critical for any type/genre of prose you are writing, including memoirs. I describe scenes as: A sequence where a character or characters engage in some sort of action and/or dialogue. Scenes should have a beginning, middle and end (a mini-story arc), and should focus around a definite point of tension that moves the story forward. Or: individual story units smaller than chapters (but somewhat self-contained), show us sequences of actions and incidents that reveal place and time, characters’ actions, reactions or dilemmas. Basically, scenes are the building blocks of your story. Like any book the first or launch scene is the most important and will also be the most difficult to craft. It needs to capture the interest of the reader and give the reader a reason to continue. It helps to think of your memoir as a movie. The summary is the wider camera view. A scene is more of a close-up when you slow down the pace, express emotions, sights, sounds, smells – the five senses. Each scene is like a mini-story and when added together make up the whole. Before you jump into writing, take some time to plan. What do you want to accomplish? Who will be your audience – and that can be just you. Will your memoir have a theme or will it be a collection of life stories? Who will be the narrator – this is called Point of View.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Living History and Journal Writing

In March 2020 our lives changed. It happened so fast. We were enjoying having our grandchildren visit us in Florida. They rented a golf cart, biked around the island, went parasailing. But within two days our world fell apart. Our son and daughter-in-law were afraid their airport would close and they wouldn’t be able to get home. They packed up in a hurry and left. I was devastated. Then photos of empty grocery store shelves across the country appeared in social media and in newspapers. Fear of others, fear of going out overcame us. I made quick trips to Publix to stock up on non-perishables to take home with us. Paper goods and cleaning products were nowhere to be seen. Nothing like this had happened in our lifetime. Not since the 1918 Pandemic. Years ago my husband and I heard a talk by historian David McCullough. He said, if you want to be remembered, keep a journal. We took his advice seriously. For the last nine months I’ve documented the Novel Covid-19 pandemic, at least as it has affected our lives. We are living history, and it’s important to capture how this event has changed your life, and will continue to do so. This is a great chapter for your memoirs. In time, we hope, the pandemic will be behind us. What you and your family went through during this year or more will be invaluable family history.
One paragraph in my memoir titled “2020” states:’ By Friday, March 20, social distancing announced. Manatee beaches closed with the hope that tourists and college age kids return home. Although beaches closed, if you can get to the beach, you can be on it with limited number of ten. Island emptying out. Counted only five planes coming into Sarasota airport. CT, NY, NJ closing all non-essential businesses.”

Friday, October 30, 2020

Before the Library Burns

My brother, Skip and I ready for school I have volunteered to facilitate the memoir writing group virtually through the library. BC (before Covid), our small group met at the library, and during one of those sessions I learned there are different definitions of memoirs. One train of thought is that a memoir is a written account of one theme running through a person’s life. Let’s say you loved drawing and painting since you were young. You followed your dream, your passion to be an artist, but there were bumps along the way. Maybe your parents thought it was a foolish waste of time, or refused to pay for art school. And then there are the blue ribbons you won for your artwork. Another definition is: a narrative composed from personal experience. When I wrote my “memoirs” in a writing group during the early 2000s, I wrote individual chapters for each experience. What my home looked like, my best friend, Thanksgivings, and how other holidays were celebrated. I’ve decided to call my next group of memoir writing – Life Stories. A woman in my library memoir writing group has titled her book “Before the Library Burns,” referring to the fact that when she is gone, her life experiences, if not written down and shared with family, will be lost forever. We can’t let that happen to our families. Writing advice tells us to write what you know; start with yourself; start with action. Or, write down story topics: When/where you were born, your parents, special memories of your grandparents/aunts/uncles; your favorite toy; accomplishments you are most proud of; turning points in your life; family traditions/culture; holidays; pets; jobs; military service; education. On this last point, from first to third grade I attended a rural two-room school. Our school “bus” was a station wagon. That’s an experience my children and grandchildren will never have. Nor will they feel what it was like to swim across Cayuga Lake at the age of twelve. Or, growing up in a restaurant. These are all stories I’ve captured for them in my first volume of memoirs. Take each of the above suggestions, or think of your own, in no particular order and start writing. As you go through that process, more memories will come. Most of all, have fun.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Rappahannock Writers Conference - November 7, 2020

The Central Rappahannock Regional Library, in partnership with the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA is hosting its 3rd annual writing conference. Due to the Pandemic, this year the conference will be virtual. The registration link went live today. I will be giving a presentation on writing scenes. They are the building blocks, the DNA, the essential elements of any prose genre.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It’s launch day for #TheOrphanCollector by Ellen Marie Wiseman, a moving and timely novel set during the 1918 influenza pandemic! Order your copy anywhere books are sold: Autographed copies are available from @RiversEndBookstore too!

Several years ago I read Ellen Marie Wiseman's book set at the Willard State Hospital in Upstate New York, "What She Left Behind." This book was of great interest since my ancestors lived near the hospital, and some worked there.

Ms. Wiseman is a gifted writer and I am honored to help her launch her latest book, set, ironically, during the 1918 pandemic.

Please consider purchasing a copy, and note that a signed copy is available from Rivers End Bookstore (link above).

Check Ellen's website for her other titles.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Women as bright as Stars - by Rosemary Rowland

I started writing when I wanted to share my genealogy research. Encouraged during a session at the New England Regional Genealogical Social conference to write it up and share it now - I took one ancestral line, researched as much as I could of each person, and turned that research into a readable paragraph. My first attempt at a monograph was put together for a family gathering of the Agard family. I then followed up with a monograph on the Hardenbrook family, and then my father's line, the Nunn family. This process honed by writing skills and made it easier when I turned my hand to writing mysteries.

Rosemary Rowland has taken a slightly different approach. Realizing that women, for the most part, are left out of history, it was her goal to research, document, and feature the women who lived in the rural community of Newfield, New York during the 19th century.

Her writing is beautiful, crisp and clear. Her book will encourage anyone writing a non-fiction book.

If you wish to obtain a copy, contact Rosemary directly at: