Archive for the ‘Memoir’ Category

Orinda Bookstore and The Missing Kennedy Memoir

Sunday, September 27th, 2015
Here’s the announcement regarding my book signing at the Orinda Bookstore.  Hope you can join me!
Saturday, October 17, 2015 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm

Event address:

276 Village Square
OrindaCA 94563-2504

Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy was the first daughter born to Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph P Kennedy Sr. At the age of 23 she underwent a labotomy which left her unable to walk, talk or perform basic human tasks and was sent to rural Wisconsin to a Catholic run home for the mentally disabled. There she was looked after for 35 years by Sister Paulus Koehler, the authors aunt. The Missing Kennedy is an insightful, important and poignant memoir that chronicles Rose’s life and includes many never-before-seen private photos, Kennedy quotes from the author’s interviews, and anecdotes about Rosemary and her famous family.

Come and hear author Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff discuss the research and work behind the book (recently featured cover story in PEOPLE Magazine Sept 14th) and share her own personal relationship to Rosemary.

http://www.orindabooks.com/event/elizabeth-koehler-pentacoff-discusses-her-book-missing-kennedy

PEOPLE Magazine’s Cover Story and My Book

Friday, September 4th, 2015

My memoir, The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women is one of two books highlighted in PEOPLE’S cover story.

 

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Knowing Rosemary  was a blessing.  She was a treasured member of our family, whom we saw often. When we visited her, or she us, Rosie greeted us with smiles and joy.  She loved us and enjoyed the attention.  Rosemary motivated her family to create Special Olympics, Best Buddies, and much legislation advocating equality and better living, schooling, and vocational  opportunities for the intellectually challenged.

Thank you, Rosie, for your gentle grace and affection.  It was a privilege to know you.

http://www.people.com/article/rosemary-kennedy-never-seen-pictures-forgotten-kennedy

http://missingkennedy.com/

B & N Wants to Discover YOU!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

The Discover Great New Writers program celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2015, having introduced readers to more than 1,800 extraordinary literary talents – many of whom have gone on to become household names — since its inception in 1990.

Publishers, not authors, submit books and 60 are chosen as winners, presenting a total of $35.000 to six writers.

Recipients of the Discover Award include Anthony Marra, Justin St. Germain, Cheryl Strayed, Amanda Coplin, Ben Fountain, Chang-rae Lee, Joshua Ferris, Elizabeth McCracken, and Hampton Sides, among others.

Publishers recommend writers making a strong literary debut. Authors cannot submit their own work to the program; self-published writers and titles published via print-on-demand or available only as NOOK books are also ineligible for submission.

Literary fiction, short story collections and literary non-fiction, such as travel essays, memoirs, or other non-fiction with a strong narrative will be considered. Books should be intended for an adult or a young adult audience.

The Discover Great New Writers program does not publish original work; please do not submit unpublished manuscripts for consideration.

Single titles authored by more than one person are not eligible for consideration.

Submissions must be made at least three months prior to publication date.

Once selected, participation in Discover Great New Writers™ includes:

 

  • Face-out display in the Discover bay in each of our bookstores (length of display is usually 12 weeks)
  • An individual shelf-talker with a teaser line placed under each face-out
  • A 20% discount on Discover titles for the length of the promotion
  • Promotion online at www.bn.com/discover and The B&N Review as well as via consumer emails, @BNBuzz and @BNDiscover Twitter feeds, and Nook features for the Discover Award finalists and Discover Seasonal selections.
  • Special consideration for Discover-selected writers for in-store events and book group discussionsAdditionally,
  • Debuting authors and writers with fewer than three previously published books who have yet to receive a major literary award are eligible for consideration. Exceptions are sometimes made for authors who have published more titles, but have yet to break out to a larger audience. Submissions must be original publications, penned by one author.
  • Deceased authors and those previously featured in the Discover program are ineligible. Books submitted for a prior season and rejected will not be reconsidered.

    2015-2016 Submission Deadlines
Season
Submission Deadline
Late Fall (November-December 2015)
Spring 2016 (January-March 2016)
Summer 2016 (April-July 2016)
June 18, 2015
September 10, 2015
October 8, 2015
Contact

For further information on submissions, contact:

Miwa Messer
Director, Discover Great New Writers
Barnes & Noble, Inc.
122 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011

E-mail: MMesser@bn.com
Phone: (212) 633-4067

 

Why Celebrity Books Are Actually Important & Why YOU Should Write a Memoir

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

 

CandaceMemoir

Candace Bergen.  Mariel Hemingway.  Jon Cryer.  And now Barbra Streisand has a new publishing deal for her life story.  So many celebrities have penned their autobiographies and memoirs it’s amazing when someone famous DOESN’T write one.  Many mid-list “real” writers grumble about million dollar advances and attention on big names who probably haven’t written their books. Of course at the end of the day, editors will highlight celebrity books because they sell well.

HemingwayMemoir

Well, writers, I beg you to think of this situation in a new way.  Famous people’s books earn the most money for the publishers, financing them to purchase books from the rest of us.

JonCryerMemoir

 

So what’s the difference between an autobiography and a memoir?  In an autobiography, the writer shares her entire life story.  A memoir focuses on one specific event or theme in the author’s life.  Memoirs can be written by ordinary people, who have a message they’ve gained from their experience.

Writing Prompts:

1.  Even if you don’t intend to write an autobiography or a memoir, you may discover much about your life, how to capture the deeper truths, and find themes and metaphors in your writing.  In addition, either or both of these books may be treasured to your family for historical, cultural, and personal reasons.  The people closest to you may say, “I never knew this happened to you!”  Sharing specific emotional anecdotes can help others realize they aren’t alone.

So write your autobiography.  Begin with incidents that stand out in your mind.  What was your earliest memory? Why do you think it is engraved in your mind?  Write the stories that require you to dig into your feelings.  Write the stories that made you laugh.

2.  Inspire your memories by looking at old photos.  Write about each one.  Answer journalistic type questions of where you were, why you were there, what you were doing who was with you . . . The simple idea of examining the other people in the photo should bring back images and ideas about them.  By using a photo as a jumping off point, you might discover lots of material to mine.  Those new essays can inspire even more memories.

3.  Play music from the time period of your youth.  Read books that occur during the time.  How did current events affect you?  Movies, music, and foods?  Immerse yourself in your childhood culture.

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Aussie Makes Me Cry: Saying Goodbye & Writing with Heart

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Sad Aussie

Today we visited our local animal shelter to donate clean rugs and towels.   My husband and I could feel the sadness as we walked inside.  People held or stood near their beloved dogs.  All were cloaked in an aura of grief.

What were their stories?  The dogs weren’t puppies.  These owners weren’t dropping off a holiday pup just because they didn’t want to go through the bother of house training.  As we walked passed the cages, dogs made eye contact with me, their tails wagging, as if crying out, “Hey, look at me! See how cute I am! Take me home!”

“I’m so sorry,” I whispered.  “We can’t.”  Zoie, our nearly eighteen-year-old Yorkie, wouldn’t put up with it.  And we’re having our hands full giving her what she needs as she copes with her dementia, loss of hearing, sight, and other health issues. We must wait.

These dogs can’t.

On the way out of the yips, barks, and crying, I see an Australian shepherd sitting next to two men.   I knew the answer to my question before I asked it.  “Are you adopting?”

They shook their heads no.  I bent down and scratched the dog, who repaid me with kisses.

“My sister is on dialysis, and can no longer keep him.  There’s been a lot of sobbing and goodbyes.  It’s breaking our hearts,” said the man holding the leash, slumped toward the dog.  His anguish spilled out.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

Before I could say another word, an official came over.  “It’s time.”  He grabbed the leash, and the shepherd knew.  He pulled back, alarmed with fear.

With tears in my eyes, I beat a hasty retreat.

Writing Prompts

  1. Saying goodbye to animals, people and even places may be emotional and heartbreaking.  Do any of the characters in your writing say goodbye?  In your own life?  Write a story with a character or yourself in this situation.
  2. I know it won’t be long now before I must say goodbye to Zoie.  Although I’m trying to brace myself, I know I’ll be bereft when it happens.  I’ve lost friends, relatives, and my parents. Each experience filled me with grief, but later, with time, became moments of memories.  Write a scene showing those moments of joy and memories.
  3. How does the loss affect you today?  Create a poem, song, story, or another genre of art which expresses you.
  4. Living through tough times may be helped by keeping a journal.  Write about what you and your loved ones are going through helps you survive, appreciate the special moments of joy, and be creative.

 

Make a Scene with Jordan Rosenfeld

Monday, April 14th, 2014

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How can you write a scene with emotional impact, reader involvement, and suspense? 

Author Jordan Rosenfeld spoke to the California Writers Club, Mt. Diablo Branch and shared valuable tips for writers of all genres.  

 With every scene you create, ask yourself, what is the point of the scene?  Does it move your story forward, or is it just a block of setting description?  In showing setting, make your character interact with her surroundings

Great advice!  I critiqued manuscripts at one conference where a writer created a lovely Victorian Christmas which dominated the first chapter.  I suggested she weave in the setting elements as the character acted and reacted, foreshadowing the mystery ahead. 

She said, “Great idea!  But this house doesn’t play a role in the rest of my story at all.”  So why include it?  Once she began writing with her plot and character in mind, her character acted, reacted, and experienced the setting through sensory images.  It wasn’t overblown this time, and she created a reason for her scene to be there: she introduced characters and hinted at the mystery coming.

Rosenfeld advised writers create tension through emotional complexity.  Characters can experience more than one feeling at a time.  The uncertainty can be showed through their thoughts and dialogue, the writer’s word choice, how a word sounds, and imagery

For more information, read her book, Make Scenes, published through Writer’s Digest, and visit her website:  www.jordanrosenfeld.net  

Writing Prompts:

  1. It’s your turn!  Create a scene by involving your character in the setting shown through the elements above.  Make sure your scene moves the story’s plot forward.  Ask yourself:  Why must it be here?
  2. Tony Serra, attorney for Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Cow, at a federal court appearance said, “Law enforcement is supposed to investigate crime and criminal activity.  In this case, they created crime and criminal activity.”  (Source:  Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle.)  Use this quote to create a scene employing Rosenfeld’s advice. 
  3. Write an article, nonfiction piece, or essay with a scene focusing on the tips above.

 

Get Your Memoir Published by Simon and Schuster!

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Are you born before December 31, 1964? A resident of the United States? Want to have Simon and Schuster publish your memoir? The Huffington Post and AARP are offering a memoir contest NOW! Entries may be submitted through February 15, 2014.

Upload a synopsis and the first 5,000 words of your memoir written in English.

Entries must be written by the entrant and cannot have been previously published in any manner. Entries should include entrant’s name, date of birth, mailing address, email address and telephone number. Limit one per person.

Entries may be posted on the Contest Website after being submitted. Having an Initial Entry posted on the Contest Website does not constitute that the Initial Entry has met the submission requirements listed in these Official Rules.

Judges will select ten finalists based equally on originality, appeal, and the power of the storytelling.

Confirmed Finalists will be required to submit their original memoir by 11:59 pm ET on June 15, 2014. Memoirs must be 20,000-50,000 words in length and in English. Memoirs must be written by the entrant and cannot have been previously published in any manner.

Memoirs will be judged based equally on originality, appeal, and the power of the storytelling. One Grand Prize Winner will be selected.

One Grand Prize Winner will
(1) receive $5,000;
(2) receive a book publishing contract with S&S for publication of Winner’s Memoir in hardcover, trade paperback or ebook format (in S&S’s sole discretion). The approximate retail value of the book publishing contract is a book advance of no less than $5,000;
(3) be featured in The Huffington Post online site; and
(4) have an excerpt of the winning memoir printed in AARP The Magazine and posted on AARP’s online website. All components of prize, including but not limited to, publication, online feature, and excerpt publication are in Sponsors’ sole discretion.

For Contest results, send a hand-printed, self-addressed, stamped envelope to: AARP & Huff/Post 50 Memoir Contest Winner’s List Request, 601 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20049. Requests for the winner’s list must be received by December 31, 2014.

Or visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/22/memoir-contest-rules_n_4317794.html

Neighbors

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

When Zoie took me out for a walk the other day, I stopped at the curb in shock.  There, in our neighbor’s front lawn, hung a FOR SALE sign. 

No. 

It couldn’t be. 

How could they do this to our perfect little cul-de-sac?

Another neighbor and my friend, Hilde, joined us outside with her dog.  We all stared sadly at the sign.  It was as though our canine friends understood our grief.  Admittedly it wasn’t so much about losing this particular couple – after all, we hardly knew them.

But.

We’ve had a past.

Before these people lived here, a family whose kids’ police record rivaled Al Capone’s dwelled in our hood.  Okay.  So maybe I’ve exaggerated slightly.  But one kid burglarized neighbors’ homes and his parents were so belligerent and inebriated their fights were legendary – as were the holes they punched in their walls.

No, we stared at this calm, quiet house and we worried. 

Who will move here? 

“Maybe if we see motorcycles and teenagers we could all stage a noisy fight,” I said.

By this time another neighbor, Tom, had joined our worry club. 

“But they might be happy to think they’ll fit right in,” said Tom.

He’s got a point. 

“I’ll pray,” I said.

“I’ll hope,” said Tom.

“I’ll move,” muttered Hilde. 

Writing Prompts

  1. Write about a neighbor you had, good or bad.  What made this neighbor memorable? 
  2. In the writing project you are working on now, who are your character’s neighbors?  How well does your character know them?  Write a scene where they are forced to face a conflict together. 
  3. Write a scene where they are in conflict with one another. 
  4. Write a poem about neighbors. 

Writing Memories for You and Your Characters

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

While I was away on vacation in the Southern California desert, I purchased postcards and pulled out my handy purse-sized travel address book.  Flipping through the dog-eared pages, my quest for certain addresses vanished when I saw names of my friends and family who had passed on. 

My friend Marisa, who glowed in her favorite color pink (even the stripe of pink in her hair).  We shared our fondness for everything Mother Mary together.  She let me in on her favorite saint – - Saint Rita. 

When my one and only California aunt would call, she’d begin with a rant and I’d say,  “Aunt Dorothy – - ”  Then she’d respond with her hearty, gravelly cigarette one and only laugh and ask, “How’d you know it was me?” 

My mother kept notes by the phone to make sure she’d remember to tell me everything that was on her mind.   We could talk forever and never run out of anything to say.  She’d send me pin-wheel cookies with crisp, buttery goodness, making me crave just one more. 

Once I ate an entire coffee can full of these while talking with Aunt Dorothy.  When my hand reached the bottom of the can, searching for one more, I gasped. 

“Oh no!” I screamed into the phone.

“What happened?” asked Aunt Dorothy.

“You won’t believe what I’ve done.”

I couldn’t hide the crunch on the phone so Aunt Dorothy knew what I was eating.

“You ate that whole can, didn’t you?” she asked.

“How did you know?” I asked.

“Because they go down so easily.  And it’s what I would have done!”

We both exploded into laughter. 

Images flashed through my mind of writer’s group with Marisa, Disneyland with Aunt Dorothy and washing dishes with Mom in my childhood home.    

The address book’s binding  was ripping apart in the middle; only threads were keeping it together.  Why did I insist on keeping it when clearly I needed a new one?  But I knew the answer to this question. 

Each time I opened it, memory movies played in my mind, complete with scents, tastes, dialogue, and feelings.  I’m not ready to give it up yet.  Will I ever? 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Which object do you have which gives you images from your past?  Write about the object and its significance to you.   Write the scene it helps you to recall. 

2.  Choose a character from a project you are currently working on.  What object holds memories for this character?  Why?  How?  Write a back story for the object.  Create a scene which goes along with it. 

3.  You characters need memories.  If you are stuck in a story or plot, it may be because you don’t know your character well enough.  Write your character in scenes you may never need to include in your book, but YOU need to know.  Scenes such as:  What was his favorite childhood cookie moment?  Did she have a quirky aunt or embarrassing relative?  Did he have a best friend who collected something weird? 

4.  Keep a memory diary.  When they occur to you, jot words or images down.  Then when you need an idea to write about, use them as your writing prompt for the day.

Down Wedding Memory Lane

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

I’ve just arrived home from my niece’s wedding in Utah, where the bride and groom spoke of their love for each other under pine-scented air with majestic  mountains all around us. There were small touches the crowd couldn’t see, such as the tiny framed photos attached to the wedding attendents’ flowers of the grandparents’ marriages, three of them having passed away before this grand day.

This touching celebration made me flashback to her youth and my son’s, their escapades in the sandbox, water rocket bottle launches, Marco Polo water games in the pool. 

Then I flashed back to my own wedding, which didn’t flow as smoothly as this one.   Mine began on a sweltering June day in Fresno (111 degrees)  with the cake lady calling to report the frosting wouldn’t stick on the cake.  What should she do?  Maybe I shouldn’t have saved quite so much money after all, and gone with a professional baker . . . Next, after seeing the priest briefly at the church, my friend who played the piano, asked when she should begin. 

“The wedding starts at ten, so begin at ten,” I said.  Hey.  I’m from the Midwest.  We are prompt.  What I didn’t know is that California time begins much later than universal time. 

The music began and so did we.  And there we stood, at the altar, waiting for the priest to appear.  We waited.  And waited.  Where was he?  In the bathroom?  Ten minutes slowly ticked by.  We thought we’d have to get a friend to be a stand-in when he finally rushed on to the scene.

My Uncle Arnold, a sign-painter by trade, couldn’t travel to the wedding, but he made us a lovely sign which we put in the back of our car’s window.  After the ceremony and on the way to the reception across town, the sign fell down.  At a stoplight, a friend in the car next to us, opened my door to our two-seater car, pushed my seat forward, and leaned over to straighten the sign.  The light turned green and he slammed the door shut.  Problem was, I held on to the door’s frame when he pushed me forward. 

He jumped back into his car before he noticed my hand protruding outside the closed-door, and me with my mouth open, uttering sounds.

“What’s wrong?” asked my new husband.

“Uh, ug, uh,” I said which I thought were intelligible words. 

I cradled my swollen hand and refused the idea of an emergency room visit.  Fortunately, one of my bridesmaids was a nurse and knew my hand wasn’t broken, just bruised.  All the pictures show me with one hand behind my back.

The best man was so nervous he spilled wine on my dress twice – - red and white.  He shook so much before the wedding I promised him he wouldn’t be the one married that day.

And our photographer friend, employed by a newspaper, used different film he had never used before.  Only one photo came out that day.  Fortunately, we had other friends taking pictures so we did have some for our scrapbook.   And we did have memories, didn’t we?  Fortunately, compared to the wedding, the marriage has been a piece of cake. 

Writing Prompts:

1.  Write about a major celebration in your life.  What memories made lasting impressions upon you?  Others?

2.  Using a character from a current writing project, create a wedding scene.  Throw in a major or minor conflict.  What happens?  Make your reader cry or laugh or both.

3.  Use the theme of a wedding to create a poem, song or another work of art. 

4.  Write about your wedding or a wedding you have attended.  What made an impression upon you?