Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Art of #Writing a Memoir

Unless you are a memoirist, you may scoff at the idea of art being involved in creating a work of nonfiction. However, the memoirist traverses a narrow passageway along a sheer cliff when writing their personal story. If they slip up and become too preachy, they fall. If they don't write truthfully--even if means casting themselves into a harsh light--they fall. If they aren't eloquent in the delivery, they fall. It truly is a challenging hike.

All writers make themselves vulnerable when writing. That's what makes us unique in the world where most individuals hide behind social masks. Writers by nature know how to open our hearts and say, "this is me."

Memoirists take it to another level of transparency by telling the no-holding-back account of their real lives. The art in doing this is to make it relatable to their audience with emotional hooks that draw a reader in so they feel they are relating to the author's journey. To create such an emotional hook in nonfiction is easy if you're willing to truly become vulnerable to the process.

You see, everyone has a story--but we writers have the ability to tell it that we often take for granted. Writing is easy for us so we may shrug and dust off the idea that being able to express ourselves in this way is ordinary. It's not. If you feel you have a story inside you that others could relate to and are brave enough to put it into words for the world to read, then don't hold back because you think, "I'm not unique, everyone has a story to tell". There are people out there in the world who may share your struggle and aren't writers, who crave the knowledge that they aren't alone or seek inspiration that they can do what you've done. So, yes, in reality everyone does have a story tell, but can they?

I've written a memoir, which was a painful process. I think I cried over every word as I typed. I pushed through to the end, though, not because I felt I was special--but because I never wanted anyone out there in the big bad world to ever feel as alone as I did. I've received countless emails from all over the globe from others who shared a similar journey and thanked me for letting them know that their experience was "normal" for the situation.

Below are steps to writing a memoir that are born out of experience, but in no way should be construed as "rules", only as guidelines to help you get started.
  • Use journals if you have them. Before I began, I brought out all of the journals I'd written during the time. I read them all, cover to cover, to make sure the content was fresh in my mind. This wasn't easy, but it was necessary to remind myself of the facts. 
  • Before you begin, write yourself an intention statement. This is for you alone at first, but later can be tweaked to form into a query or back cover copy. Before you write one word of your memoir, sit quietly and think about why you're doing this. What is the point you want to get across? What is your message? Why are you willing to go out on a limb? Scribble it all down, whatever thoughts come to mind. Imagine yourself sitting across from Oprah and she says to you, "Why did you write this amazing memoir?" What's your answer? You need to know this before you begin. After you write your initial thoughts, streamline it down to one clear sentence that can be your mission statement that all of your chapters support. 
  • Outlining. As a fiction writer, I don't outline. As a nonfiction author, I do. With nonfiction, it is important to have a carefully laid out blueprint of what it is you intend to say in each chapter. This way you stay focused and clear. 
  • Start where you want to start--where you feel it's necessary for readers to understand the purpose of your book.
  • Beware of backstory. If you feel it's necessary to have a build up to where the nut and bolts of your story begins, then take time to figure out if you're truly beginning where you need to be. If so and you still want the long backstory, whittle it down to snippets rather than pages. Work it into conversations if you can. Make it flow. Memoirs, just like novels, need to flow well to be read well. Too much backstory is a speed bump. Keep that in mind. 
  • Don't hold back. If you screwed up, say so. If it's painful, let the reader feel your pain. If it's funny as hell, make us laugh out loud. How do you do this? By removing your filters. Memoirs more than any other genre of literature need to be ripe with honesty--the good, the bad, the ugly, the hilarious, the poignant--we want to feel everything you've felt. This can only be achieved if you do not censor yourself while writing. 
  • Don't include the mundane. No, that's not censoring--it's keeping your focus. I don't care if you washed your car or what you ate for breakfast unless it directly affects the story. Look at your outline. Every single word you write needs to be in line with both your mission statement and the outline you've created. No one cares about anything else. Just because it's a memoir doesn't mean we need to know the meaningless details. 
  • Just like you need to start in an appropriate spot, you also need to know when to end. Yes, you're still alive so technically the memoir could go on and on--don't let it. If you've delivered your message, then you're done. Write "the end" and move on. 
  • Hooks. Craft beginnings and endings of chapters to include emotional hooks that keep the readers turning the page. This should be easy for you to do because, if you're passionate enough to be opening your life for the world to see, I'm confident you can come up with emotional hooks.
  • No, you don't need to be famous to write a memoir. I wrote one that ended up being named 4th on the "10 Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list and hit both national and international bestseller lists. I'm just a writer who lives in the mountains with my dogs. I'm just like you. I read a memoir by a lady who moved with her husband to Costa Rica called, "Happier than a Billionaire." She's not famous, but she wrote a damn good book. People will tell you "you're not famous, who cares?" Believe me, someone out there will care. Write your book. 
I hope that helps. 

Write On!
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Five Reasons Why Writers are Amazing #Motivation #AmWriting

 Monday Motivation

Despite being a professional writer for a few decades now, I'm still put in the hot seat by relatives and random strangers about having a "real" job. I hear this complaint from other writers, too. It seems like our lifestyle truly irks others a lot more than it bothers us.

Today for Monday Motivation I want to remind you why you are amazing:

  • Writing is hard work. It takes discipline and focus. Not everyone can do what we do. They may say that they have an idea for a book, but it's a whole other animal to actually complete a manuscript, let alone publish it. There's nothing easy about it. Sitting down to write, rewrite, edits, rejections, rewriting again, pitching...it's a far cry from easy. We may love it, that's true, but being passionate about our jobs is a good thing and doesn't negate the effort involved. We freelancers know the meaning of "hustle" because--if we don't meet deadlines, come up with original concepts, and pitch our projects well--then we don't eat. That's hard work and we need to give ourselves credit for all of it. 
  • As solopreneurs, we create our own hours. If our child has a school field trip, we can rearrange our schedules to chaperone. Need to go to the doctor? No problem. We're flexible. 
  • We're brave. We're willing to risk public criticism on a daily basis by putting our work into the world. More than that, we've abandoned the status quo to roll the dice on a freelance lifestyle. We're modern day warriors! (Well...warriors may be an exaggeration...but we're definitely braver than the guy who sits in his cubicle all day hating life because he's too scared to lose the security of a steady paycheck and too afraid to risk anything on a dream. Fail or succeed, we have gone into the unknown and tried. Do you realize how many people never try?)
  • We are masters of our Fate. We control everything from the amount of projects we take on, the prices we set, the continuing education we seek, the marketing we embrace or discard, the exercise we work into our schedule--all of it is one hundred percent our decision. We alone decide what our brand is, what ideas we'll pursue, and what our intentions are each day. No one is handing us anything. 
  • We are free. We can work anywhere at anytime. Don't forget about the "free" in freelancer. We can be working on the beach or sitting at our desk. We are free of the constraints of 9-5! We are free of the commute! Have a client who wants to meet at 9AM? It's up to you to decide if that works with your schedule. Perhaps you'll want to ask them to bump it to later in the day so you can avoid rush hour. (Just tell them you have a scheduling conflict, which is true, they don't need to know anything else.) We're FREE! It's the digital age where we can have Skype calls with clients anywhere in the world...from anywhere in the world. 
So the next time some snotty know-it-all sneers when you say that you're a writer and responds with something like, "so what's your real job?" or "so you're actually unemployed, right?" Look them in the eye with confidence and say, "If by real job, you mean ordinary, then, no, I don't have a real job. I'm a writer. I create something from nothing. I have an extraordinary lifestyle...much better than ordinary." Then walk away because people like that aren't worth your time. You are too busy being amazing. 

Be proud of what you do and what you're creating. It's special. Hold your head high and be proud to be a creator. 

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Why Authors Need to Blog #Writing #BookMarketing



Fresh content, like fresh meat, incites interest amongst the hungry. In our case, I'm talking about readers hungry for content rather than starving beasts gathering around road kill. 

I've met numerous authors who tell me that they don't blog because they don't have anything to say or because they don't have time. Yet you'll find them on social media every day tweeting out buy links or posting on Facebook about their husbands or their cats or their coffee. This is a mistake in time management. Blogs are one marketing tool all authors need to utilize on a regular basis. 

I admit that this might be easier for me because of my journalism background. I'm accustomed to coming up with topics and creating daily content. So, yes, I admit that I may have an advantage in that area--but that is where the advantage stops. I still need to plan out my topics on an editorial calendar, sit down to write them, and consistently publish. 

Blogs give readers the opportunity to stay connected with you. Perhaps they'll share a great post with their friends or comment on your article. Your posts may reach people who have never heard of your books, but they might check them out after reading your blog. You can also monetize your blog for some passive extra income. 

The concept is straight forward: You, the author, writes fresh content. That content is free and available to an unlimited audience. That audience arrives on your blog, likes what they see, checks out your books that you have linked on your sidebar. Perhaps you have an e-course, too, that they may be interested in or a Pinterest board for them to follow. 

But what to write about? Does it always need to be about your book or genre? No. Do you have great recipes that you'd like to share? Blog it! Do you have an interesting hobby? Blog it. Do you have opinions about current headlines going on in the world? Blog it. Do you like reviewing books or movies? Blog it. Do you have cute pets who are always stirring up trouble? Blog it! Do you have an interest in the paranormal? Blog about it! Are you getting the gist here? 

We're in a visual age--so add photos that are eye-catching and relevant. (also get them legally) Pin them to Pinterest and add them to Instagram--yes, those venues work for authors, stay tuned for a future blog post. 

There are no limits to what you can do! It's your blog! You can write about anything that will interest your readers. Just like people get sick of hearing political ads about "vote for me, vote for me," they also get tired of hearing "buy my book, buy my book" with everything you share. 
I have a blog where I write flash fiction every Friday. It's fun for me to challenge myself by writing a very, very short story on my personal blog. I also write about being a widowed mom and the challenges that presents. On another blog, I write about all things romance--from what's sexy in today's fashion to romantic ideas to guest author promotional stops. On yet another blog, I write about paranormal events and all things unexplained (because it's fun for me). On this blog, it's all about the writing industry because I'm a full-time editor who likes helping authors. 

Do you see what I'm saying? All of that content is circulated constantly. On each of my blogs, I post at least twice a week. Each post is shared on Triberr, Google Plus, Tumbler, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. How much does this exposure cost? NOTHING. 

Do I still have time to edit for my clients? Yes. Do I still have time to write novels and meet deadlines? Yes. Do I ever see the sunlight? Yes. No, I am not superhuman. I am disciplined. 

If you don't have a blog, get one now. If you have one that you only use when a new release is about to launch, stop being lazy. There are people out there who aren't authors--who are simply professional bloggers--who are making money talking about being a parent or doing crafts. Some of these people have quit their jobs to BLOG. That's it. They have sponsors, they utilize Google Ad Sense, they sell e-courses about blogging or crafting. They use their blog content (free) to draw readers to their site to buy something (crafts, parenting supplies, etc). WE as authors have an advantage because we know how to write. We already have a product to sell (books)...yet it's sad how many authors I know who don't utilize this forum at all with the lame excuses of "nothing to say" or "no time." 

Let me clue you in on something: there is always enough time if you correctly manage it. What's important to you? How are you managing your book marketing time? Where are you putting your attention? How are the tools you're utilizing working for you? If you know something isn't working, then stop doing it. Waste no more time on it. Focus only on what works. Experiment. Blog! 

Write on! 
Amber Lea Easton

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.