Thursday, July 24, 2014

Series: How to Begin Recording Your Life Story Part 5, Summary and Bibliography

Welcome to the fifth and final blog post on How to Begin Recording Your Life Story by J.Q. Rose. Today I want to summarize the salient points in this presentation to remind you of how important your life story is. Your experiences should be shared whether they are light-hearted, serious, instructive, or just down-right delightful reading. Click on part to link you back to the complete blog post on that subject.

At the end of this post, I included a Bibliography of books I think that will help you and inspire you to write your story. Readers are writers and these examples are great reading. Please suggest a book on writing or a memoir to add to the list. I'm always looking for new books to share with friends and family, and especially life story writers!

A Summary of the How to Begin Recording Your Life Story Series

Part 1 What is memoir/life story, why record it, spark your memories
~A memoir or life story fleshes out your story revealing your memories, but also emotions
Don't try to tell it all from the very beginning. Write in vignettes or snapshots of your life. 
A memoir can be recorded by writing your life story or by telling your story using an audio file e.g. mP3 or video format.

~A memoir can be recorded by writing your life story or by telling your story using an audio file e.g. mP3 or video format.
Can you guess
what car sported these tail lights?
Image courtesy of Matt Banks
~Your memoir can comfort and assure someone else knowing how you faced and defeated problems in your life, demonstrated grace in situations, and found joy in living an ordinary life.
~Seeing your life through the lens of time, people’s actions, emotions, and words become more clear to you than when you actually lived the moments.
~You will preserve the family history as well as telling the “real” story of historical events and how they affected your ordinary life.
~You will discover revisiting your life is a lot of fun!
~To help you spark memories and track notes on stories you remember, make a Memory Bank.
~Spark your memory by using a time line, life stages, photos, and writing prompts.

Part 2 Opening up your memories and organizing your story
~Use free writing to open up your memories.
~After writing several stories, organize them using themes you will discover in those stories, arrange in chronological order, or relate your present life to past experiences.
Vintage Typewriter
Image courtesy of koratmember
~Always include the five w’s in your writing-- who, what, where, when, why, and how.
~Show, don’t tell your stories.
~Use the five senses and your feelings to add interest and to draw the reader into the scene..

Part 3 Editing and publishing
~After writing your story, go back and make it better by tightening up the story and checking for grammar and spelling errors.
~When writing a memoir/life story, the writer must tell the truth at all times. For if the truth is not told, what is the point in writing the story?
~If you decide to publish your memoir, I listed some places for you to submit. Find more by searching online or by visiting your library.

Part 4 Using writing, audio, and video to record your story 
~There’s more than one way to record your story. Writing, making a video, recording an audio file are all ways to tell your story. Choose one or try all of them to see what fits you.

Thanks so much for visiting. Has this series inspired you to begin recording your story? I hope you will take a few ideas with you so some day you will sit down to record your life to share with others.

I am always ready to help you get started. Email me with questions at jqrose02 at gmail dot com or leave a comment below.
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Albert, Susan Wittig.  Writing from Life:  Telling Your Soul’s Story
Baldwin, Christina.  Life’s Companion:  Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest
Corey, Judy. Storysharing:  A Bridge Between Generations
Daniel, Lois.  How to Write Your Own Life Story
Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within
Heilbrun, Carolyn.  Writing a Woman’s Life
Strunk, William and E.B.White.  The Elements of Style
Zinsser, William.  Inventing the Truth:  the Art and Craft of Memoir

Sarton, May.  Journal of a Solitude

Baker, Russell. Growing Up
Bush, Barbara.  Barbara Bush:  A Memoir
Buck, Frank All in a Lifetime
Chaplin, Charles. My Autobiography
Dillard, Annie.  An American Childhood
Downing, Christine.  Journeying through Menopause
Frank, Anne.  The Diary of a Young Girl
Gilbert, Elizabeth. eat, pray, love
Goldberg, Natalie.  Long Quiet Highway: Waking Up in America
Gordon, Ruth. Myself Among Others
Grogan, John.  Marley and Me
Hayes, Helen. On Reflection
Keller, Helen. Story of My Life
King, Coretta Scott.  My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Marshall, Catherine. Beyond Ourselves
Moses, Anna Mary. Grandma Moses, My Life’s Story
Norris, Kathleen. Family Gathering
O’Reilly, Bill. A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity
Roosevelt, Eleanor. On My Own
TenBoom, Corey.  The Hiding Place
Weisel, Elie.  Night

Monday, July 21, 2014

Camping Trip to Mackinac Island, This Week

Hi Readers,

At this writing I am anticipating our camping trip to Mackinac (pronounced Mackinaw) Island. Watch this video to find out about one of my most favorite places on earth!

Come back on Thursday for the fifth and final post on How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. Oh, yes, I'll be here! See you then!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Series: How to Begin Recording Your Life Story, Part 4: Using Writing, Video, and Audio

“Too many people overvalue what they are not, and undervalue what they are.”
                                                                                                             --Malcom S. Forbes
Welcome to Part 4 in the series, How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. After last week's post my friend and fellow author, Helena Fairfax, left this comment--

Hi JQ,
I subscribe to a British magazine for women writers called Mslexia. You might be interested to know they're holding free workshops to help you write your own memoirs They also have a competition on at the moment for memoir writers. I thought it would be of interest. 

Thank you, Helena, for introducing this magazine for women writers to the readers and me and for the heads-up on the memoir writing workshop.  The post on writing memoirs was very informative and made good points for memoirists to keep in mind as they begin their writing. Lots of inspiring blog posts and writerly information to be found here.

I love being connected on the Internet where readers and writers help each other just like this.
# # # #
Using a headset
Image courtesy of Ambro /

The title of this series is How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. Recorded is intentionally used in the title because there are many ways to tell your story and keep it as a record for your family and friends. Usually we talk about writing, and I must admit, I am more inclined to give folks tips on writing out their life experiences because I am a writer. 

Instead of blocking your path by insisting on writing, I want you to be aware there are other ways to share your stories. And I must point out that you are the only one who can tell your story. You are the keeper of your life story. You are the only one who can tell the truth about your life choices or not having choices and the experiences that colored your life. 

You may want to have a writer interview you and let her put together your story on paper for you or record your accounts on video or audio.

Dealing with the technology may be too difficult for you and overwhelming. If you wish to do it  yourself, ask someone in your life like the kids, yeah those young whipper-snappers, who know all about the programs available. 

Deciding to take the DIY approach, I've been exploring methods to accomplish this. There definitely is a learning curve on all this technology, so if you want to try learning about making a video or audio file, Youtube is your best friend. You can find out about everything on Youtube!! Your next place to discover how-to information is to "google" the information. Go to or your favorite search engine. In the search bar, place "audio file" or "make a movie" or similar key search words. Don't use the quotation marks around your search words.

I have listed the places I explored:
  • Windows Live Movie Maker--to find out if you have this program, click the colorful round circle (start button) at the bottom left side of your computer screen. Then type in movie maker and it will come up. Click on it, but when you see the screen don't run. Just hop over to Youtube and learn how to use it!! I would love to see a video filled with old photos of your family. Perhaps you have a photo of your grandmother you could use, her house, her wedding photo, add some photos from of things she was interested in like horses, sewing, playing the piano, etc. You can type your story on each slide and select free music from Kevin McLeod's to play in the background. You may prefer to record an audio to accompany each slide. Remember to talk about your grandmother, how she is related to you, share some anecdotes about her, and your feelings about her. Then you can upload the finished movie to Youtube to share with everyone or just family members.
  • Microsoft Power Point--I am ashamed to admit I don't know how to use Power Point very well. This program uses slides and audio can be added to them to make a wonderful presentation. I vow to learn more about it. I'll post it on my blog once I get a decent video made.
  • Video camera--You can have someone video you or set up the video camera so you can talk about your family. You could make a dish your mother was famous for preparing for a family dinner or teach viewers how to crochet a favorite item she used to give as gifts. And again, don't get caught up in the activity only, talk about your mother, your feelings about her, and your relationship to her.
  • a powerful program to record audio files. I played around with this to make an audio file which can be exported as an mp3 file and used as a podcast. I really, really wanted to have the file here on my blog to share with you, but, even after googling and watching Youtube videos on how to embed the file into Blogger accounts, I wasn't successful.

I was able to add it to my J.Q. Rose author website. If you recall, I suggested in an earlier post to write a letter to your ten year old self, so I recorded my letter to Janet Lee at Ten. If you're curious and wish to listen to it, scroll down the page and you will see the player right next to the badge for How to Begin Recording Your Life Story. 

Big thank you to my daughter, Lee Ann, for helping me figure out the microphone and answering a lot of questions about the program. (She did voice overs and was a DJ so she had experience with microphones and making audio files.) Let me know if the player worked for you and if volume and clarity are good too. Watch out! If you like the recording, there may be more along the way!!Next week, we'll wrap up the series. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have for adding more information or clearing up any questions about life story writing. Thanks so much for stopping in.

“You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand.” ---Irene C. Kassorla


Monday, July 14, 2014

bReaKInG THE ruLes of WriTinG, This wEek

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /
bReaKinG THE  ruLes by J.Q. Rose

When I break the rules, an evil grin tips up the corners of my mouth and I want to laugh out loud like the evil laugh of actor Jack Nicholson.  I feel so wicked when I wantonly throw an empty ketchup bottle, not even rinsed out, into my kitchen waste basket instead of properly disposing of it in the recycle bin provided by Waste Management.

Have you ever actually walked IN to the Sam's Club exit door? It took me a bit to screw up the courage to do it because I thought alarms would sound and a huge woman in a security uniform all puffed up with authority would clasp me around the neck and throw me OUT through the exit door. But when I sashayed into the building, not showing my membership card by the way, nothing happened and that evil grin slid onto my face. I am here to report that I have blatantly repeated this rule breaking when I walked IN through many exit doors of lumber companies and big box stores with their gaping doorways marked specifically for entrance and exit, but not once has anyone thrown me out!

In writing there are rules to follow too. After reading several blogs by people-in-the-industry and experiencing input from my editors, I have gleaned some "rules" for contemporary authors of fiction to follow.

  • Set up the protagonist and her problem to overcome in the first chapter or second chapter. 
  • In romance, meet the main characters in the first chapters
  • Grab the reader with the first paragraph. No long narratives or descriptions to slow down the action
  • No head-hopping. The point of view of one character appears per scene or chapter as if that character is seeing everything through her video camera
  • Good spelling and grammar rules should be followed.

It's fun breaking the rules when I feel like it and then I wonder if the publisher/agent/editor would not take the manuscript I submitted because I actually broke the rules of grammar or formatting. I believe there is a rule about run-on sentences that may be the one I love to break the most because I don't think in my head with capital letters and periods or commas or question marks because my thoughts come so quickly and I have to get them down on paper. (Evil grin appearing now.)

How about you? What rules of writing can you add to my list? Do you break the rules of writing? What is your biggest rule breaker? I promise not to tell anyone if you fess up to it in the comment section below.....
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This Week:

Thursday, July 17--The series, How to Begin Recording Your Life Story, continues this Thursday.  Catch the first 3 parts in the series, then join in on Part 4 this Thursday. The links to the earlier parts of the series are below.
Part 1 What is memoir/life story, why record it, spark your memories
Part 2 Opening up your memories and organizing your story
Part 3 Editing and publishing

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How to Begin Recording Your Life Story Part 3: Tips on Editing and Publishing, Prizes

Sharing Your Stories

When most of us write, we want to convey more than the details of our lives. 
We want to convey the meaning of our lives and the lives of those around us
.---Susan Carol Hauser, You Can Write a Memoir


Let’s fast forward to the time when you have completed your first draft of your memoir. If you are recording it as  an audio or video file, this is the time to check for clear sound and well-lighted video. If you used slides for your presentation, be sure they are in sync with your narration.

Whether writing or recording your life story, you will need to check the following:
Is each story as clear and as well organized as you can possibly make it? Do you have the facts, the descriptions, etc., in the right order for clarity?
 Do you have “over-used words”?  Use Roget's Thesaurus of the English Language or a thesaurus online to help you find different words to use.  
 Do your stories need cutting?  Eliminate wordy paragraphs by not repeating the information over and over and over and over…..
Write/speak in the active not passive voice.
Have you clearly identified every relative you mention?
Have you told enough about your characters for your readers to be able to see and understand them?  Use clear descriptions of the characters and scenes. Include small details    
Did you SHOW rather than tell your story?
For Written pages check to be sure:
All paragraphs should deal with the main idea.
Are sentences complete?  Are transitions smooth?  Do pronouns agree?
Did you check your spelling? Even a spell checker will okay “to” because it is spelled correctly, but you may mean “too” in the sentence.  How about their and there or hear and here?  Use your dictionary or a dictionary online to check spelling.
Did you check punctuation?  Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!  Did you remember to use question marks at the end of a question?  And use commas sparingly. Check out Jodie Renner's blog post on the Kill Zone blog for punctuating dialogue.

Find someone you trust to read over the story and check all of the above.
--adapted from How to Write Your Own Life Story by Lois Daniel

I must caution you to remember this will be read now and in the future (perhaps e-books or some other device not even created yet). People not even born yet will be reading your story. You want to present the best story you can so that means revising, editing, and revisiting the story several times to polish it.

I realize these stories are very personal. Some of you may not be ready to reveal all your life experiences, let alone share, some of the painful stories in your life. Then do not write them. When you feel you can handle letting go of the story, then do it. Don’t feel you HAVE to write everything.

Above all, I believe when writing a memoir/life story, the writer must tell the truth at all times. For if the truth is not told, what is the point in writing the story? So, don't write it till the truth can be told throughout the entire story. Then when you are ready, let it go, and discover the story from your own perspective at this time rather than when the experience occurred. 
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Exercise: Write a letter to your ten-year-old self. What advice would you give her now after getting years of life experience under your belt? Do you understand now why people in your life acted the way they did? Do you know why you didn't get to go on the vacation your parents promised? Explore your feelings and don't just give the facts of where you lived and what your favorite songs were.

If you decide to publish your memoir, I have listed some places for you to submit. Things change quickly in the publishing business, so google “memoir publishers” or “life story publishers” to keep up-to-date.

Six-Word Memoirs

Bookmaking—Blurb Books

·         Memoir Writing Sites

Write a memoir using only six words. This is a challenging, but fun, exercise for you. Click on the link to give you some ideas. 
When it’s polished, submit to the magazine. Feel free to share it in the comments section below. I'll send you a prize if you do!!

Thanks for stopping in.  If you have questions, please ask.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Characters Interview:Mitch Malone Grills Pastor Christine, This Week

 I really enjoyed traveling around cyberspace on my winter virtual book tour for Coda to Murder in 2013. This is an encore presentation of my guest post for my visit to mystery author W.S. Gager's author site. Or rather I should say Pastor Christine's interview with Wendy's main character, newspaper reporter Mitch Malone. Please take a peek at the mysteries by Wendy at the W S Gager books site. She has developed a series of entertaining reads with her hard-hitting investigative journalist Mitch Malone who is driven to get the story first and always on the front page.
W.S. Gager

Mitch Malone Inteviews Pastor Christine

Mitch Malone here. I’ve been following a hot story and my remains were almost found in a compromising situation but I can’t say more. You will have to read it in A CASE OF VOLATILE DEEDS, my latest exclusive. Today I have Pastor Christine visiting. Seems she doesn’t have any secrets. We will have to see about that. I’m happy to do the interview on account of Elsie Dobson from A CASE OF ACCIDENTAL INTERSECTION set it up and also sent a plate of cookies. She is one of the best bakers, but I digress. 

MM--Pastor Christine, it is a pleasure to meet you.  Correct me if I’m wrong but you are from J.Q. Rose’s latest release called CODA TO MURDER.  You made headlines recently because you killed somebody at your church. Could you tell me about that?
Pastor Christine--God bless you, Mitch Malone. <chuckling>  Your reputation precedes you. I know you’re always trying to get your stories on the front page and garner awards to add to your resume. But, sorry, no headlines about me killing anyone!  
Unfortunately our talented Director of Music, William White, was found dead in our church basement the morning after our Wednesday night dinner and  studies. I cannot believe anyone would murder this vibrant, kind man. But Detective Cole Stephens certainly considers our custodian, Dutch, and myself to be “persons of interest.”  You might want to dig around for some information so you could help  clear Dutch and me.  Now that would be an amazing headline if you could solve this murder.
MM--No need to get all huffy. I have to ask the tough questions to gauge your response.  How about we change the subject? It is a bit unusual to have a female pastor. Can you tell me how you came to minister to the people at Dayspring Church?
Pastor Christine--I love being the spiritual leader of the folks at Dayspring. I have been there about a year now, but I’ve been in the pulpit for five years at another church. I was happy to move away from the area, not because I had problems at the other church, but because I could put distance between my ex-husband, Brad, and me.
I have enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people at Dayspring. We are becoming a family. Of course, there are always conflicts that arise when dealing with so many personalities. The president of the women’s group is not exactly happy that I am caring for a pig and kangaroo in the back yard of the church parsonage or that I have taken in Mrs. Whitcomb’s cat, Bitsy, to care for until I can find a family who wants this darling tabby cat. Bitsy is litter trained and absolutely no accidents on the church owned parsonage floors. Now the backyard is another story…you know pigs like to root up the ground and eat everything in sight. I keep telling  President Jewell, it is just temporary, and I will replace all the bushes, trees, flowers, and grass when their owner re-claims the animals.
MM--The book is called CODA TO MURDER. Did the dead guy get hit with a Coda? What is a coda and why is it in the mystery?
Pastor Christine--Coda is a musical term. I’m an accomplished organist. William and I are both known for our musical abilities at the organ and knowledge of church music.  I guess J.Q. chose a musical term because of our background in music. Coda is the sign that signifies the final section in a musical piece.  Unfortunately murder was the final ending to William’s life.
MM--Now I understand you have a single friend that might want to date a single reporter? She has a penchant for coming up with some rather lawless ideas to solve crimes. Tell me about your friendship.
Pastor Christine--Oh yes, Lacey has become a valued friend. You can hang around awhile, Mitch, and you may get to meet her. She’s a florist and well, you know, weddings and funerals at our church. She’s always delivering flowers to the church, so we have time to talk and get to know each other. Although we are completely opposites in looks, she’s a petite strawberry blonde and I am six feet tall and with brown hair, we have lots in common. We are both single, career women, and survived bad marriages.
MM--So you are single too? I’m not sure you want to be seen with a reporter who might not always follow the right spiritual path.  Can you date being a minister and all?
Pastor Christine--Hey, Mitch, I’m not a monk! I’m a real person who likes to enjoy a date, a movie, friends, these delightful cookies, and beer with my pizza!
MM--Okay, no more tough questions. I think we're done here. 

If you want to find out more about Pastor Christine, or better yet, purchase CODA TO MURDER check out these websites: and major online booksellers.

MM--Thanks for coming by and make sure you pass along that I did the interview to Elsie. Better yet, maybe you shouldn’t. You seem pretty upset and I don’t want to lose my cookie connection.
Pastor Christine--Heaven forbid you lose your cookie connection, Mitch. You don’t beat around the bush with your questions, but actually it’s been fun meeting you. I just wanted to add a thank you to W.S. Gager for hosting me on her author site.

BIO- After writing feature articles in magazines, newspapers, and online magazines for over fifteen years, J.Q. Rose entered the world of fiction writing with her first published novella, Sunshine Boulevard, released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2011. Coda to Murder, was released in February. Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at
J.Q. Rose blog
Author website
J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page

                                     Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she                                                 would be caring for a flock that includes                                         a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.

Book Trailer for Coda to Murder

This Week:
Thursday, July 10--Part 3 in the series How to Begin Recording Your Life Story continues. Please join us for tips on finding places to submit your memoir if you wish to share your story with readers.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Begin Recording Your Life Story, Happy Fourth of July

Because of the Fourth of July holiday this week, the How to Begin Recording Your Life Story series will resume on Thursday, July 10. If you're in the USA, I'm sure you'll be celebrating the anniversary of the birth of the USA! Stay safe...

Wishing you a fun and safe Fourth of July USA!