Should I Reveal Family Secrets?

I recently read a friend’s blog post about whether it’s right to reveal your parents flaws in a memoir. I thought about that for awhile.

In my memoir, A Bittersweet Goodnight, I had a lot to say about my parents and their lack of parenting skills. I didn’t put those words on the page without angst and anguish. But I had to in order to resolve my own feelings about my upbringing at this late stage of my life. I came to realize that I stored way too many unpleasant memories in a deep dark corner. Writing them down helped me to set myself on a happier path.

My parents both passed away many years ago. Even though I never had a close relationship with either of them, they did teach me respect for others. I never could have written this book if either of them had still been alive and able to read my writing. But I often smell cigarette smoke for no reason, which tells me that my stepmother, June, is on board with my story that revolves around her role in my life.

I don’t believe the choice is a matter of right or wrong. For me it’s what felt sincere for me in my life. Much of the feedback I’ve gotten from readers tells me that many people have had similar life experiences and were grateful to know they had company in that regard. We don’t have to reveal every single family secret in a memoir, choose what is meaningful to the storyline, put an appropriate spin on the rest or leave it out altogether. The choice belongs to the author.

Reading and Writing

In my quest to read all the books on my Kindle, I have come across more than a few duds. They must have found their way to me as freebies because I can’t think of any other reason I would have picked them up.

I’m a person who once I start a book, I have to finish it. Maybe that’s why I can’t make any real headway on my Kindle list. Right now I’m reading a book that shall remain nameless for now. I can’t wait to finish it, not because I love it but because it’s making me angry.

The protagonist is a doctor from New Zealand who now lives in London and who ended up in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. She speaks with a British accent and all the Americans she comes in contact with do too. Ugh. Next she got on a plane from Baton Rouge to Boston and expected to sleep for six hours on the flight. A non stop flight on this route takes 3 1/2 to 4 hours tops. This author took on an American plot line without much knowledge of how Americans act, talk and think.

The story line that irritated me most however, was Hurricane Katrina. Having lived through my fair share of Category 3 and 4 hurricanes during my forty years of living in Florida, I don’t feel this author did any justice to the pain and suffering of that time. The pacing of the story for me made it all look too easy. The aftermath of a storm like Katrina continues for many to this day, fifteen years later.

As an author myself, maybe I’m too critical of others. What I learned from reading this story is that research is paramount especially when you are dropping fictional characters into real life events. Editing comes next to make sure not only that the periods and commas are in place but that speech and dialect are true to the story line as well as the character’s speech pattern.

Even though I want to move on to a more captivating book, I will stick this one out. And I will study my own writing to make sure I don’t make the same stupid mistakes and irritate my readers. Because without readers, my writing has no meaning.

The Cheating Continues!

I’ve been remiss in keeping all my fans updated on the status of my Kindle. I try not to look at it regularly because it’s too depressing. But I did take a peek and sadly I still have 7 pages of books on my Kindle. I’m reading like crazy but the list never seems to get any shorter.

I admit I’m a sucker for free books. Net Galley tempts me with free books every few days. I follow several reading groups on Facebook and they talk about loads of different books that all sound interesting. When a title piques my interest. I put them on hold at the library even though I promised not to until I made a dent in the Kindle. I’m a proud member of the Florida Writer’s Association and they want to give me money to buy their recently announced Published Book of the Year and write a review for it. I simply can’t refuse an offer like that.

I just finished reading The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. Those Ya Yas were crazy, naughty girls but oh how lucky they were to have friends like that. But their message was as clear as the Louisiana bayou they swam in. None of us are perfect and we all need to embrace our flaws.

I am far from perfect. And I am addicted to books. Things could be a lot worse. I am tenacious and I made a promise. I will read everything on my Kindle. Eventually.