A memoir travelogue you’ll love

I'm pleased to share information about Katie R. Aune's new book, Finding Katya, part memoir and part travelogue.     Wouldn't we all want to have the opportunity to start over and tour another part of our world? Well, you can do it by reading Katie's compelling book. Here's some information about it. *** Book Summary Finding Katya is the inspiring and compelling story of one woman who ditches everything to embark on an unconventional adventure through the former Soviet Union. On her 35th birthday, Katie Aune was at a crossroads. Still reeling from a difficult breakup and longing to find more meaning in her life, she hopped on a one-way flight to start a year-long journey of discovery. Once a Russian and East European Studies major in college, Aune plotted a course that would take her through all 15 states of the former Soviet Union. In a book that is part memoir, part travelogue, Aune takes readers along as she discovers places that are far off the … [Read more...]

Welcome Alle C. Hall and her strong authorial voice

Choices is so pleased to host Alle C. Hall during her WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR of her book: As Far As You Can Go Before You Have to Come Back. It's a runaway story with a whole different twist. Alle has also written a guest post for us about how creativity and trauma are linked. We certainly agree with that. Choices has had many essays about how healing writing is. Here's Alle C. Hall.   The Link Between Creativity and Trauma by Alle C. Hall Trauma sits like a stone over the part of the brain that stimulates creativity, squashing it. Children who grow up effected by trauma use their creativity primarily to stay alive. In the U.S. alone, five In the U.S. in 2021, an estimated 1,820 children died from abuse and neglect. There are other trauma responses, as well. For example, the survivor might plunge obsessively into their art, or computer programming. A second way of coping might result in worldly success.  While nice for the bottom line and the ego, fame … [Read more...]

A little family history

I've been thinking about writing family histories lately. The one written years ago by my husband is long out of date. Plus, other people have asked me to help them with theirs, so practicing up wouldn't be a bad thing. I was encouraged by a writing prompt I got in one of my writing groups last week. I think we all could relate to it. Here's the prompt: Imagine asking your mother and father about their past and what would they say? My husband Bob took on the task of writing a family history about both our families about thirty years ago. He looked at all the gray heads at a family gathering one day and decided he better ask them about their past before they were gone. He was quite logical about it. With some, he’d ask questions about where they came from and when they arrived in America and where they settled and what they did for work and how many children they had, and he recorded their answers on a little tape recorder. Others were willing to write their stories and provide … [Read more...]

Twenty-three years

To commemorate the twenty-third anniversary of my son Paul's suicide death, I'd like to tell you a bit about the memoir I wrote in his memory. It took eighteen years to write it and get it published, but it was all worth it. When it first came out, I thought if it helps just one person it will have been worth it. And from the comments and reviews the book has received it has helped way more people than that. The death of a child is the hardest thing a parent can ever go through, so knowing there are others out there with the same experience is a big help. Also I just heard from my publisher, Dream of Things, that in the last two years, my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother's Memoir of Living with Her Son's Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, has sold more than seventy-one hundred copies. So it is still applicable and worth reading even after all this time. A few of its early accolades: "A moving read of tragedy, trying to prevent it, and coping with life … [Read more...]

Memoir class prompts

I've been attending a memoir class for almost a year at my new senior living community. I love the class and have written some interesting essays as a result. I thought I'd share a couple of recent ones with my readers. One prompt was to write about a best friend. My response was this: A First Best Friend Early during my Swift Elementary grammar school years I met Phyllis. She lived down the block from me at a residential hotel – the Sovereign – on Kenmore Avenue in the northside of Chicago. She was tall, had short curly blonde hair, and a pale complexion. In those days I had long dark brown hair and I was short, chubby, and olive skinned. But that didn’t stop me and Phyllis from becoming friends. I had to walk right by her hotel to go to school, so I would pick her up and we would walk together. Two other girls in our class – Vicky and Lynn – also lived at the Sovereign, and although we were friendly with them, we didn’t invite them to walk with us. Phyllis lived with her … [Read more...]

Reckless Grace: a new and important memoir

Let's welcome Carolyn diPasquale who's on a WOW! Women on Writing tour with her new memoir, Reckless Grace: A Mother's Crash Course in Mental Illness. And Carolyn has generously written an essay for us about whether women can age with grace. Here's Carolyn: Can Women Age with Grace? “Your hair is so attractive. What color do you use?” a woman standing behind me in Dunkin’ Donuts asked when I was in my early forties. “Thank you,” I smiled, “but I don’t color my hair. This is natural.” Her eyes grew. “Really?” My takeaway from that exchange was that I looked old: My hair didn’t match my face. When I was in my fifties, portly silver-haired gents started checking me out. This took me aback as I used to attract the hotties. It also proved that brunette hair or not I was looking my age. My mind might have sidestepped these gentle cues. At sixty and still without one gray, I was waiting in line at a phlebotomy clinic when an elderly woman shuffled in. I let the white-haired, … [Read more...]

Read how Nancy King breaks the silence!

Choices is so happy to be part of sharing the moving memoir, Breaking the Silence by Nancy King. Please welcome Nancy while she's on her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tour. About Breaking the Silence: Secrets. Lies. Silences. Stories told by parents and their families to protect themselves. A father who defends his wife despite her damage to their daughter’s health and welfare. A mother, shielded by her husband, who perpetuates murderous acts of violence against the daughter, and keeps secret her husband’s sexual “play” with the young girl. And yet … Nancy King, determined to learn the truth of her childhood and the heartbreaking effects it has had on her adult life, uncovers the secrets. Sees through the lies. Breaks the silence. Empowered by the stories she told herself as a child, she learns to use stories as part of her work as a university professor teaching theater, drama, world literature, and creative expression. Gradually, with the help of body work and therapy, she … [Read more...]

60s Rock & Roll. Wow!

Please welcome our guest today, Neill McKee while on his WOW! Women on Writing virtual tour of his book, Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth. We are lucky to have his thoughts about living through the 1960s rock and roll culture. But here's Neill in his own words.     Surviving the 1960s Rock n’ Roll Culture by Neill McKee Chapter 12 of Kid on the Go! begins with the words: “As my hormones went from 2nd into a smoother 3rd gear, I began to follow my brother’s and our friend Blake’s lead. We often wore our shirt collars up and used lots of Brylcreem to curve our hair forward at the front and slicked down on the sides, forming a ducktail at the back, exactly like Elvis Presley. We had entered the Rock & Roll world of the early 1960s.” I also wrote, “This period of my life is embedded in my memory like a series of movie vignettes that appear to have little purpose until you reach the end.” I titled the chapter Canadian Graffiti, after the popular movie, … [Read more...]

Read all about it: psychic predicts love in Europe

I am so glad to welcome Linda Jämsén to Choices during her WOW! Women on Writing Book Blog Tour for: Odyssey Of Love: A Memoir of Seeking & Finding Linda's story about how she found love while living in Europe is fascinating especially since her new-found love was predicted by a psychic. This story especially intrigued me because I have a similar one. During my single days I had many boyfriends but no one I wanted to settle with. One day I encountered a psychic on the Santa Monica pier and decided to consult her. I'll never forget her words: "Someone will come from far away and make you very happy." Of course it turned out that that someone became my future husband who indeed made me very happy. Now on to Linda's love story:     How a Visit to a Psychic Changed My Life by Linda Jämsén Recently, I learned that my psychic friend, Angelica, had died. As I grieve this loss, I’m remembering how initially I’d been reluctant to meet her and have her peer into the … [Read more...]

Keeping my son’s memory alive

Today is the twenty-second anniversary of the suicide death of my older son Paul. And as is my tradition to visit his gravesite on his death day and birthday every year, I will go to Hillside Cemetery in Culver City, CA this afternoon. Until my husband Bob died last November, we always went to visit Paul’s grave together. The first time I went alone was on Paul’s birthday, last December 31. When Paul died, Bob and I disagreed about what to do with his body. I wanted him buried and in place close by so I could visit his grave. Bob wanted him cremated – which wasn’t very usual for Jewish people. The rabbi we consulted said we could do anything we wanted, so we chose both. He was cremated and buried, which served us both very well. Isn’t it interesting that I have recently moved to a place that is about a two-minute drive away? Visiting Paul’s gravesite on his birthday and death day every year is just to make me feel better. I don’t believe he knows or would even care that I’m there. … [Read more...]

Neill McKee is in the spotlight!

I'm so pleased to tell you about Neill McKee and his historical travel memoir, Guns and Gods in My Genes. This is the second day of his WOW! Women on Writing tour. About the book: Neill McKee, author of the award-winning travel memoir Finding Myself in Borneo, takes the reader through 400 years and 15,000 miles of an on-the-road adventure, discovering stories of his Scots-Irish ancestors in Canada, while uncovering their attitudes towards religion and guns. His adventure turns south and west as he follows the trail of his maternal grandfather, a Canadian preacher who married an American woman in Wisconsin, and braved the American Wild West from 1904 to 1907, finding a two-story brothel across from one of his churches and a sheriff who owned a saloon and dance hall, while carrying a gun with 20 notches, one for each man he had killed. Much to his surprise, McKee finds his American ancestors were involved in every major conflict on North American soil: the Civil War, the … [Read more...]

Please welcome adventurer, Rita Pomade

We are so happy to host Rita Pomade during her WOW! Women on Writing virtual book/blog tour. Rita is the author of the memoir, Seeker: A Sea Odyssey, the story of two people who meet in Mexico and fall in love.   And we thank Rita for writing this wonderful guest post: The Benefits of Spending Time Abroad When I was a child I refused to finish my porridge and was told to think of the starving children in China. I remember asking where China was and being told it was on the other side of the world. At five years old I started to dig my way there. I dug a hole so deep a board had to be placed over it. The next summer I returned to my hole, and shoveled until I hit water. My trip was aborted. The exploration of another culture would have to wait. As soon as I could afford it, I was off to Mexico. I stayed seven years. My foray into this foreign culture expanded me in every way possible. Its landscape was different from anything I’d known before, from its vast deserts … [Read more...]

I Am Not! by Rachel Boehm is brutally honest!

I'm very honored that Anne O'Connell, publisher of Rachel Boehm's new memoir, I Am Not!, asked Choices to participate in this first virtual book tour. Plus Rachel has generously written a guest post for us about her mantra - "Whatever happens, I'll handle it." Here's Rachel: Whatever happens, I’ll handle it.  by Rachel Boehm, Author of  I Am NOT! The affirmation has been my mantra for about 13 years; said now with ease and conviction, a confidence that would surprise the person I was when I first learned it. Thirteen years ago, I began my journey of healing and reclamation after years of verbal and emotional abuse from school and workplace bullies; gender bias; perfectionism; and disordered eating as I sought to achieve societal and industry norms (I was an actor and singer). Thirteen years ago, when I walked into a therapist’s office, I could not have envisioned the vibrancy of my life today. As if my life and vision then were lived through the Inkwell filter on … [Read more...]

Socializing during the COVID-19 quarantine is fun

One of the things that I find encouraging even as we are in the COVID-19 quarantine at home mode, is that we’re reaching out socially more. We’re doing FaceTime and Zoom and contacting family and friends by text and telephone. In the last couple of weeks our dinner party group has been sending each other fun video clips and quotes that are keeping all our spirits up. And tomorrow night – the night our dinner party was to occur, we’re getting together on Zoom for happy hour. It will be great to see each and chat for an hour or so. Here's a fun one: Socializing more has been on my list for some time. I wrote about it in one of my new memoir’s chapters. Here is what I wrote: Another thing that is important to my mental well-being is to get more social. I need to make more lunch dates for me and dinner dates and for Bob and me. We need to get out more instead of plopping ourselves down in front of the television screen every night at six to watch two hours of news. And while we’re … [Read more...]

Find out if you have a healthy relationship today!

Carrie T. Ishee began her WOW! Women On Writing tour of Seduced into Darkness just two days ago on March 23rd. We are very happy to welcome her here on Choices today. Her story of hope for survivors of abuse will surely captivate our readers. She has also written a guest post about the signs of a healthy relationship versus a toxic relationship and how to set boundaries to see if a person is safe for you. Here she is: A Healthy Relationship versus A Toxic Relationship by Carrie Ishee, M.A, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC,PCC, Author of Seduced into Darkness:  Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse I came to this wisdom when recovering from the psychological and sexual manipulation I experienced when I was a college student suffering from panic attacks and depression.  What was supposed to be a professional, healing relationship was hijacked and turned into an inappropriate personal relationship that focused on his needs, his wants, his desires.  I now support others to develop a … [Read more...]

What do I see for the future

This is another possible chapter that I’ve written for my new memoir about aging successfully. Again, I’d love to know what you think. Would a memoir with these kinds of thoughts and information interest you?  I’m optimistic. I think Bob is caring about his body more. He’s gotten himself some pills which he thinks will help him get stronger and more in balance. I think his willingness to do something about his state of health is a good thing. I just wish he’d eliminate sugar and cut down on his alcohol intake. But I wouldn’t say that to him. Also, he’s committed to personal training once a week, spending another hour or so at the gym on another day of the week, and walking several times a week. That’s all good. We walked the other day and he’s definitely moving better and seems less wobbly. I think the illnesses of some of our friends have gotten his attention. They’ve certainly gotten my attention. I used to say I’d probably be ready to give up my health program as I got … [Read more...]

How I spend my time

I’ve been working on a new memoir for the past year or so about aging successfully. One chapter is like this one about how I spend my time. So I’d like to try my thoughts out on you. Would you be interested in a memoir with information like this? I spend a lot of my time at my desk in my writing room. I d write a lot but I must make a true confession – I also spend a lot of time on the internet and on social media because I have a great relationship with my Facebook community. This morning I got out of bed at five forty-five, went off to the bathroom, got on the scale after shedding my pajamas, and then I dressed in my leggings and shirt to go to the gym. Once there, I vary my workouts. Lately I stay on the elliptical for about thirty-five minutes and then walk on the treadmill for twenty-five to give me a full hour of cardio and about nine-five hundred steps. I am truly obsessed, probably motivated by my Fitbit, with getting at least twelve thousand steps every day. After … [Read more...]

Writing in the Dominican Republic revisited

Instead of just referring to my post about Lindsay de Feliz, I've decided to copy and paste it here. That is because I learned yesterday that Lindsay was brutally attacked and murdered in her home country, the Dominican Republic. I am so saddened and shocked by this news, I just feel I have to share about the wonderful work she was doing when she was alive. I loved her memoir, What About Your Saucepans? and recommend you all read it. Plus she was such a great supporter of the work of her fellow memoir writers. Rest in peace, Lindsay. I will miss you very much. I send much love and condolences to your family. Writing in the Dominican Republic MARCH 25, 2018 BY MADELINE SHARPLES 6 COMMENTS (EDIT) I met Lindsay de Feliz, author of What About Your Saucepans? and Life After My Saucepans, through a wonderful Facebook group called We Love Memoirs, and it was instant admiration. Her story is gutsy, heroic, and so, so different from my own that I had to share it with you. When I asked … [Read more...]

Welcome back, Barbara Barth!

Choices is so pleased to welcome Barbara Barth back for her second visit, thanks to WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tours.  She was first here in June, 2010, so of course lots has happened in the meantime. One thing for sure is she's written a new book called The Unfaithful Widow Ten Years Later. And in the last ten years she has been fortunate to have many girlfriends who keep her company and lift up her spirits. Here's Barbara and how she's thrived surrounded by her girlfriends. My Women Friendships by Barbara Barth  I am always perky in my writing, always upbeat, and hate to complain, but of course, I do at times. My girlfriends know that about me, which is a wonderful thing. I can gripe, let my hair down, and not worry someone will judge or criticize me. Instead, a downbeat moment becomes laughter and I need that. Girlfriends that are kindred spirits, some I’ve known all my adult life and some more recent that I’ve cliqued with, who are strength when I feel a bit … [Read more...]

A Happy Truth by Daisy A. Hickman

Daisy asked me to read an author's review copy of her lasted book, A Happy Truth: Last Dogs Aren't Always Last, and I'm delighted I did - even though I told her in advance that I'm not a dog person. Just last week our next door neighbors lost their dog who had been their family member for the last eleven years. They are truly grieving over their beautiful Annabelle, but have decided not to replace her. Maybe when they read Daisy's book they will change their minds. About A Happy Truth: Last Dogs Aren't Always Last (in Daisy's words): Do beloved pets hold the key to unlocking the human spirit? Have you ever lost a dog, a cat, but vowed never to get another one? Too sad. Too complicated--is it the right time, the right dog, the right season? But as Daisy Hickman's inspiring memoir reveals, the real story is MUCH bigger than a simple yes or no. Getting from one beloved pet to the next can be an awkward and emotional transition, however. Never "just a dog," "just a cat," after … [Read more...]