Showing My Flaws

Flaws, we all have flaws. We may not always be in touch with them or admit to having them but they are there, fresh and raw when uncovered. I’m typically a very private and often shy person, so laying all my imperfections out on the table for the world to see didn’t come easily.

I knew in my heart, that the story of my relationship with my stepmother June, was the one I needed to tell. Getting my inner most feelings out and onto the page was a therapy of sorts. I’d spend much of my writing time with tears streaming down my face. I often wanted to give up, the time invested was often too painful. I wanted to move to something lighter, funnier like my first book, One Clown Short. But the funnier stuff simply wouldn’t come out of my writer’s mind. Only my inner demons could make their way onto the page.

One of the first rules of memoir writing is to show your flaws. It seems people love to hear about other’s insecurities and ultimate personal miseries. It’s called the human condition. Or misery loves company. Maybe that’s true but I want to think I shared much more than that.

Friends and family started reading my book and their comments floored me. Some had been through similar situations with elderly family members and believed they were all alone. Others related to my struggle with alcohol or the burdens left behind when someone dies. I finally realized that I didn’t write A Bittersweet Goodnight in a vacuum, and even though I often felt alone, I never was.

The night I walked onto stage at the Royal Palm Literary Awards to accept my award, I cried. When I saw the cover for the first time, I cried. When I sold my first book on Amazon, I cried. Now that others out in the world have read my story and found something within its pages they could relate to, I no longer feel the need to cry. I’ve sent my story out into the universe, flaws and all, and it feels good.

We All Have a Story to Tell

We simply need to learn how to tell it, so that others can find it interesting. That’s the hard part. We all have our own style, likes and dislikes and each of us beats to our own drum. I know that A Bittersweet Goodnight may not appeal to everyone but I’d like to think I told my story in a way that others could relate to it and glean at least something that might touch them in their own life.

As I’ve written before, trying to sell my book is a mystery and a nightmare. It’s difficult to sort through all the different avenues promising to sell thousands of copies of my book if only I would fork over $200, $300 or even $500 to do so. When it comes to an author and their “baby”, everyone has their hand out. So I decided to start with a simpler option. Lots of memoir authors are willing to read a free copy in exchange for reviews on Amazon. I decided to start simple and join the crowd.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs. I always enjoyed reading them in the past and I’ve broadened my choices to help fellow authors. The books have ranged from stories of stepmothers, to growing up in the sixties and seventies, to a stand up comedian, to a famous singer and actress.

I find all of these life stories fascinating. I truly do, it’s my thing. My only wish is that some of them would spend more time on the craft of writing while telling their story. The first rule of writing is show don’t tell. Show me with words the brilliant hues of an amazing sunset don’t say the sunset was pretty that night. Show me with words how the smoky hazy cocktail bar made you feel the day you met the love of your while life sipping on a martini. Don’t say you met him at ladies night out.

I want to feel what you felt, see and smell what you saw. I want to be in your shoes. I hope that you walked a few steps in my shoes while reading A Bittersweet Goodnight. I hope that other writers, famous ones with household names included, will see my words as coaching and not criticism. If any of us is going to truly succeed as an author, we can’t just place words on a page. We need to work hard to make them dance, sparkle and shine.

Stepmother by Marianne Lile

I’ve been mixing things up a bit lately and haven’t done too many book reviews, but after I read Stepmother, I knew I had to write a review. My memoir, A Bittersweet Goodnight, is about my relationship with my stepmother, June. And it contains a few bits about my own experience being a stepmother. I believe this book is a good compliment to my own story.

The author fell head over heels in love with an older man who had 2 teenage children. That’s how it starts, falling in love without thinking about what that might mean once living under the same roof. She tried so hard to fit in and blend the family but hit a roadblock every single time.

Although my situation is different, they all are, it is so much the same. The stepmother is always viewed as the outsider by the children, the community and often even the husband. Society has some skewed view that the stepmother is second class and unable to care and love for children and families that are not her own. This is so wrong.

While I didn’t think this book was particularly well written, the message hit home. Whatever made Marianne mad, made me mad because I’d been there and felt those same crushing emotions at times. Stepmother is a great guidebook for those of you out there struggling to blend your family together. You will find within these pages comfort and understanding. You are not alone.

Book Marketing in Modern World

My intent here was to write a post about my struggles with digital marketing since the publication of my new memoir, A Bittersweet Goodnight. I thought that might be a fun diversion from my usual posts of book reviews and memoir writing tips.

And look! I’ve just surprised myself by getting this Amazon Kindle link amazingly embedded in my post. A little Amazon icon appeared on my page and I clicked on it. Voila! Here’s the link so please buy my book!!! And write a review on Amazon or Goodreads. I’m told reviews hold the keys to book selling success.

The other night I was so frustrated trying to get an Amazon link onto my Facebook page that actually looked like a link and not a long string of HTML code. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I put out a post asking for help. God bless my many and talented Facebook friends who were all able to post a beautiful and colorful link featuring the cover of A Bittersweet Goodnight for me.

I followed their advice and tried a different browser, a different device, copying the html code from different places. Nothing worked for me. But I’ll let you in on a secret. I still haven’t figured it out and I doubt I’ll be able to recreate the link above again any time soon. This was never my intent in asking, but my wonderful friends generated a lot of free publicity for me. I am still trying to navigate a new world of book promotion and I am eternally grateful for my friends. Bless you! I’ll figure all this out sooner or later, so watch out for when I do. I’m going to set the world on fire.

How to Write a Memoir without Ticking off the Family

The answer to this question is simple. I have no clue.

June, my parents, my two sisters and my brother are the only characters in A Bittersweet Goodnight with real names. All the rest have been changed. June and my parents are dead so I sent the manuscript to my siblings long before it was ever published to get their opinions on it.

Their reactions varied from interested in what I had to say all the way to denial. I calmly explained that this was my story, from my point of view. I completely understood that their point of view is totally different from mine. It doesn’t make either one right or wrong. I simply felt a reason to send my version out into the world in the form of a memoir.

No one told me not to publish it, or that they had issues with it. So I did and I’m glad I did. It’s like a weight lifted off my chest. But I’ve been smelling cigarette smoke an awful lot lately. June had a love of cigarettes so I feel she’s around whenever I smell whiffs of smoke in my smoke free home. I can’t be sure if she’s happy or mad I told our story. But since she’s the one who set the wheels in motion for A Bittersweet Goodnight, I think June’s message to me is the same it has always been, all is well.